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Book Club Visit

Last week I met with the ladies of the “Vigilante Food Book Club” to discuss my novel, “When the Vow Breaks.” They provided me with a wonderful potluck dinner, great conversation, and some thought-provoking questions. Since it takes place in Butte, Montana, a copper mining town, I brought each a little copper mug stuffed with BUTTErfinger candy bars. Thank you for a delightful evening Patsy, Janine, Joanne, Michelle, and Kathleen!




From Jesus’ Grandma

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Imagined letters from Jesus’ grandma, Anne of Nazareth:

 Dear Cousin Elizabeth,

Congratulations on the birth of your son! Mary tells me John is a handsome and healthy child. Joachim and I are very happy for you! And thank you for welcoming our daughter into your home. We were, of course, confused, but we have come to believe, as you immediately did, that she is telling us the truth and that we anticipate the birth of our Messiah, praise be the Lord! I only hope she and Joseph will return from travel to Bethlehem for the census soon. I am afraid her time will come and I won’t be there to help her.


Dear Elizabeth,

We hear such terrible news from Bethlehem! We are told that King Herod suspected the Messiah was born in that tiny town. Mary and Joseph should have been back weeks ago. She surely has borne her child by now. Our only hope is that they escaped and are hiding. I know I must trust God that he will keep his Son and my daughter safe, but oh, how I am plagued with fear.

Just when I am about to be a grandmother for the first time, I must pray that our baby Messiah stay hidden. It is a small sacrifice we are asked to make to not yet hold him in our arms. If we were younger we would go search for them ourselves. Of course, you have shown me what women our age are capable of! Dearest cousin, you are not far from Bethlehem. I pray that Mary made her way to your home. If so, please send news with the next caravan. Not knowing pains my heart.


Dear Anne,

We too heard whispers from Bethlehem of the terrible tragedy of the little innocents, but also amazing tales of angels in the sky speaking to the shepherds of a child in a manger, and even of wealthy Magi bringing him vast riches and doing him homage. Of course, you know how tales grow, but deep in my soul I believe there must be some truth to their stories.

I have heard today about an infant who was brought for his circumcision to the temple, causing a holy man and woman to declare that they have seen the Messiah. They said his name was Jesus. Surely, this must have been your grandson! Zachariah is studying scripture to see if the prophets can offer you insight.


Dearest Elizabeth,

Great news! A merchant has brought word that our three are safe, though I know not where they have gone for they feared the wrong people would overhear. Praise the Father of Abraham and rescuer of Isaac! I hope they are far from the reach of this king! I worry what they will do for money, though Joachim assures me a good carpenter like Joseph can find work wherever he goes.


Dear Anne,

I cannot tell you how happy I am to hear of sweet Mary’s safety and that Joseph and the Child are well. I know, now that I’ve become a mother, that I would walk to the ends of the world—or even Egypt—to keep our little John safe, though I hope the three found shelter much closer than that.


Dear Elizabeth,

We know we must be patient. We continue to pray that we will soon hold our grandchild and give him our blessing. I imagine us teaching him to read the Torah, like one of my dearest memories of Mary. For now, I will prepare for them so that when they return, even if they arrive years from now in the tatters of refugees, all will be ready. We will wait, always in mind of how the child grows. Lord willing, my faith and hope will grow, too.


Dear Anne,

After all this time I rejoice to tell you the beloved Holy Family sleeps safely in our home! All are well. They will rest and then join the next caravan to return to you. Lord willing, the little Messiah will run to your outstretched arms very soon.

Like our imagined Anne, we prepare for Christ’s coming. When the Holy Child (or any child) comes to us, let’s open our arms with faith, hope, and joy.


Man to man about marriage:

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My husband George is an amazing spouse! We celebrate 35  years of happy marriage this week, so I invited him to offer advice to men about marriage. Here’s what he had to say:


  • A woman is a gift of great value to be treasured throughout your life. She is easily the most valuable gift you will ever receive on this earth, and must be treated with respect at all times.
  • Be cautious with criticizing her, even in private.
  • Never express disappointment about choosing her to be your partner, or comparing her to previous partners, or current acquaintances.
  • Never speak as though you’ve had enough, or would ever consider leaving her or ending the relationship.
  • When you’ve hurt her (or learned after the fact that you’ve hurt her), apologize. And mean it. Even if you have rationalizations in your head, just go with the apology. Try to understand why she was hurt, even if you don’t think that you would have been in the same situation. Only if you can do it without sounding antagonistic, ask her for advice on what you could have said or done differently to handle the situation.



  • Don’t ever talk about money as though it were ‘yours’. All money is ‘ours’ in the family, regardless of whose paycheck it comes from.
  • Never treat your job as more important than hers, whether you make more money than she does or not.
  • If she does take a traditional role in your family, such as at-home mom, remember that she’s doing this by choice for your good and the good of the family, not because she’s any less capable.
  • With your children, take care that they realize that her staying home or working away from home are options, and neither is an expected role for women.



  • Thank her for the normal things she does daily for you and the family. Even if you thank her every day for the same things. There should be several times each day when you acknowledge her efforts and thank her:
  • When you get up from a meal: “Thank you for dinner!” (And clear your place.)
  • When clean clothes appear in your drawers or closet: “Thanks for the clean clothes!” Or when there’s clean laundry on the bed to be folded: “Thanks for doing the laundry!” (Help fold them and put them away, at least your own items.)
  • New groceries in the fridge or cabinet: “Thanks for shopping for us!”
  • When you notice that a room looks especially nice, tell her so! (But avoid any comparison with past condition.)



  • Give her a generous hug, at least three times a day. Hold on to her as long as she wants.
  • A woman needs to be told that her looks please you. And she needs to hear it frequently. Never just count on her ‘knowing’ that you love how she looks all the time (even if you do). When you notice something nice about her clothes, or hair, or face (or figure!) or whatever, tell her she looks great, or pretty, or nice, or whatever you feel. But don’t force it, or make something up. This shouldn’t be hard; of course you love how she looks! And don’t compare to any previous time (you look better today than yesterday). And don’t say that she looks nice ‘today’ (possibly implying that she doesn’t on other days). But OK to say that she looks ‘especially nice today’.



  • Don’t tease her by saying something that isn’t true, or isn’t what you mean, as a joke. Don’t make her guess if what you say can reliably be taken at face value, or must be tested for believability before accepting it. It may be funny to you, but never is to her. It’s embarrassing to be made to feel stupid by believing something false that was said in jest.
  • Be cautious with other teasing, as well. Preferably don’t tease her about anything! Teasing is never nice, even if she seems to laugh, go along with it, and say that it’s OK. She could fear that there’s a grain of truth in whatever
    you’re teasing her about, whether there is or not (and there often is).
  • Talk with her! She loves talking with you, about anything (as long as you’re not the one doing all the talking).
  • Listen to her! And pay attention while you do. She needs to know that you’re hearing what she has to say. Ask her, every day, how her day went. And listen while looking at her, not while reading, or checking email, or watching TV. Remember that sometimes she just wants to be heard, and doesn’t want to you offer advice or try to ‘fix’ the things she tells you about. (But be sure that when she does ask you to fix something, you take it seriously!)
  • Learn how to disagree (and even express your anger) without raising your voice. A raised voice in a man is a danger signal to a woman. No matter how well she knows you, she may fear being physically or emotionally hurt.
  • If not done as part of your marriage preparation, realize that you likely have different methods of resolving conflicts, and that you now need to have a common method. It’s best to have some rules that you discuss when you’re not emotional.
  • Never try to make her feel stupid.


Family & Friends:

  • Women need family and relationships, much more so than you might. Don’t try to keep her from seeing or communicating with friends or family. And be sure to consider this strongly in decisions about where you’ll live or what job you’ll take.
  • Never complain about your wife to friends or family.
  • Never embarrass her in front of the children, or anyone.
  • Make an effort to compliment her in front of others, and say how proud you are of her, for whatever reason that you are. Or what you like about her, or why your treasure her.


The Future

  • Realize that you both brought dreams, goals, hopes, and desires to your relationship. Some of those now need to be subjugated to hers, and to the higher dreams and goals of the relationship. When you marry, you agree that your personal priorities will change to support your joint relationship. You don’t need to give up everything, just realize that some things may not be possible right away, and that some may no longer be appropriate.
  • Ask her what her dreams and goals are, and what she’d like to see in the relationship. And then, simply listen, and listen some more.


Betty here: Didn’t I tell you he is an amazing guy? Some of these recommendations come naturally to him and some we’ve learned the hard way, over the years.

Ladies, be careful how you show this to your husband so that he doesn’t feel criticized! Maybe instead, thank him for how he currently shows his love for you. Positive reinforcement goes a long way!

Blessings on your week!

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