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Bible verses and bees - not Trump - dominate new book by former second lady Karen Pence

WASHINGTON – Karen Pence used the fashion rental site Rent the Runway to find affordable looks for her role as second lady.

When Ivanka Trump asked her for tips on raising kids in Washington, D.C., Pence passed along her well-worn, dog-eared book of activities she’d used when her children were young.

During a fly fishing excursion in Montana, the Secret Service donned scuba gear in case they had to rescue Vice President Mike Pence from the fast-moving river.

That’s about as dishy as Karen Pence gets in her book, “When it’s Your Turn to Serve,” which comes out Sept. 26.

There’s very little about what she experienced on Jan. 6, 2021, when a mob of rioters – some of whom were hunting for the vice president − took over the Capitol and the Pences had to be whisked away to safety by the Secret Service.

Karen Pence doesn’t say what she thought of Donald Trump − either before or after he falsely told his supporters the vice president could block Congress’ certification of Trump's 2020 electoral loss if he had the courage.

What the book does have is lots of facts about honeybees, many Bible verses, and examples of how she put herself in God’s hands.

Pence, who more than once calls herself a private person, said she did not set out to write a memoir.

“This book is intended to encourage the reader along their journey as I expound on the ways God used me to help others,” she wrote in the introduction, which begins with Proverbs 16:24: “Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.”

GOP presidential candidate Mike Pence and his wife Karen Pence hold hands before taking the stage at the Des Moines Register political soapbox during the Iowa State Fair, Thursday, Aug. 10, 2023.
GOP presidential candidate Mike Pence and his wife Karen Pence hold hands before taking the stage at the Des Moines Register political soapbox during the Iowa State Fair, Thursday, Aug. 10, 2023.

Her book is coming out as Mike Pence is running for the GOP nomination for president, an undertaking weighed down by the significant share of primary voters who think he should’ve done Trump’s bidding and tried to overturn the 2020 election.

Karen Pence said she went to the Capitol that day with her daughter Charlotte “more out of a sense of nostalgia, with it being Mike’s last official duty after so many memories in this storied place.” During the dozen years Mike Pence served in the House, the family had eaten taco dinners on the Capitol steps, ascended to the Capitol dome as a birthday treat for their children, attended funerals of presidents and many State of the Union speeches.

On Jan. 6, the Pences motorcaded to the Capitol past their daughter Audrey’s apartment. When Audrey heard the sirens, she stepped out onto her balcony and made a circle with her fingers and thumb through which to view her father’s limousine. It’s a Pence family tradition when parting ways to make that finger circle, with the person who is leaving centered in the middle, to symbolize a circle of God’s protection of angels.

Karen Pence doesn’t elaborate on why protection was needed. She simply writes that during Jan. 6, she “was experiencing how God truly had carried my family as a father carries his son.”

Vice President Mike Pence (left) listens as Karen Pence (middle) prays and Texas Governor Greg Abbott (right) bows his head at the First Baptist Rockport.
Vice President Mike Pence (left) listens as Karen Pence (middle) prays and Texas Governor Greg Abbott (right) bows his head at the First Baptist Rockport.

As second lady, Pence said, she struggled to get press for many of her initiatives, which included promoting art therapy and supporting military families. The honeybees, which she brought to the grounds of the vice presidential residence, were an exception.

“Bees were always popular,” she wrote.

Some of her other activities were criticized because of Pence’s views on homosexuality and same-sex marriage. Her part-time job teaching art at a Christian elementary school, for example, drew scrutiny for the school’s policy of not allowing gay teachers or students.

Her championship of art therapy generated a heated debate among art therapists around the country about whether to embrace her as an advocate for their profession.

Pence doesn’t delve into how those criticisms affected her and doesn’t offer a rebuttal. Instead, she writes that sometimes she encountered thoughtful, appreciative people grateful for her work, and sometimes she was met with criticism or misunderstanding.

“Our pastor used to remind us we were working for an `Audience of One,’” she wrote.

Pence had a slightly larger audience in mind for the watercolor painting she made of the Queen Anne-style house on the grounds of the Naval Observatory that has been the home for vice presidents since the 1970s. She framed prints of her work for each of the former vice presidents and left one at the house for Kamala Harris and Doug Emhoff.

The Pences also made a contribution to the property. They planted a serviceberry tree near the spot where Charlotte celebrated her wedding in 2019. And they planted a redbud, a tree common in their home state of Indiana, to represent the whole family.

Inscribed on the plaque next to the redbud is Jeremiah 17:7-8: But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.

More: After breaking with Donald Trump, Mike Pence is selling kindness. Is anyone buying?

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Karen Pence book treads lightly on Trump and January 6