Mrs. Karen Pence, wife of former Vice President Mike Pence, was prepared and poised to speak about the art of service in this exclusive interview for Crosswalk Headlines. She desires to take her audience on a journey of understanding what it means to be of service and share the wisdom she has accumulated as a politician’s wife serving her family and country. Pence believes that when we serve, we live out our faith for others to see.
CH: How are you and the former Vice President Pence doing?
Pence: We’re doing well. After this interview, we will be on our way to New Hampshire to file to run for the President of the United States.
CH: What did you enjoy about writing your new book?
Pence: Well, it's hard to write a book. It was much more complex than I thought, especially trying to cover everything from being First Lady of Indiana to Second Lady. I wanted to include all the great things we did, but the part I liked the most was reliving some of those times I had the privilege of serving. I had forgotten about a lot. My staff when I was First Lady had kind of archived a lot of things, and there's actually a website where I could go and get all the pictures and see what I did.
CH: You’re definitely historical, and I mean that in a good way. What do you think when you look back at your time as Second Lady of the United States?
Pence: That's a good question. I think one of the reasons I wanted to write the book is I believe there are misconceptions about what it’s like to be a congressional spouse. What's it like to be the First Lady? And I wanted to be real with the reader and say, “These are some great things that happened, but there were also struggles. You might think this is a very glamorous life, but most of the time, it isn't. It truly is service,” and that's why I wanted to encourage the reader to step up and serve in their time as well. I wanted to help people understand what I went through day to day.
Every vice president has a different role. It's up to the president at the time to determine how much they want to turn over to the Vice-President. So, there was a lot we just didn't understand. You know, everyday questions like, how do you get all these ball gowns to wear to state dinners? And so, I have a chapter in the book about using Rent the Runway. I don't have thousands of dollars to spend on a gown.
CH: How did you fall in love with bees, which you mention in the book?
Pence: The bees were very, very interesting. I wasn't fond of bees either. I don't think anybody really starts out liking bees because you're afraid you'll get stung.
We like the honey, but we don't like the stinger. Ginger Bebe from Arkansas shared the idea of the beehive. I thought it was pretty interesting, so we started a beehive at the governor's residence in Indiana. When I became Second Lady, my first question was, ‘Do we have a beehive?’ And they said, ‘no,’ but that the White House has a beehive.
I immediately said, let's get a beehive. Then, as we traveled the country and the world, we visited beehives. On the return trip home on Air Force Two, my staff and I would get a piece of toast and sample all the different types of honey we had collected. We would vote on which kind we liked better. Honey has such a different flavor depending on what flowers the bees use. It taught me a lot about God, you know. If He can give this little honeybee everything it needs for its purpose in a little six-week lifespan, surely He can give me what I need when He calls me to serve.
CH: Throughout the book, you detail the many adjustments you had to make as a politician’s wife. How did you endure the adjustments without complaining?
Pence: Well, I can't say I never complained, which is what I wanted to show in the book. In this life we've lived, there were a lot of everyday, relatable moments. We moved 18 times. That's tricky. We even had to move to one of the admiral's homes on the property while Mike was Vice-President because they had to redo the whole HVAC system at the residence. Moving that many times, you eventually get your systems down. There's a verse in the Bible that says, “I go before you and search out places for you to camp.” I clung to that verse and thought, ‘Okay, Lord, here we go again.’ God has always found us a place to camp.
CH: In reading your book, one of its central themes is trusting God in any season. How do you do that?
Pence: I think sometimes trust is built on past experiences. I had to look at my past and say, “Okay, wait a minute. God came through for me in this instance, and He came through for me in that instance.” I tell the story in the book about how we struggled with infertility for six years and weren't sure we would ever have a family. However, when looking back on that part of our life, I thought I was ready when I was 28. I was 34 years old when I had my first child, and I can now look back and see it was perfect timing for us to have our kids. If we had them when we wanted, I don't know if Mike would've run for Congress. Our kids would've been in their teenage years. When they were little, we could uproot and take them with us. When I think of all their experiences, spouses, and schools, it’s evident God knew all this was coming. He knew when the right time to have kids would be, and, of course, He was right.
Now, if I question or think, “Oh, how could He possibly be doing this?” I think back on past experiences. I wanted the reader to look at their own life. Specifically, times of insecurity, doubt, and anxiousness about stepping out in faith and trust God will give grace when it’s needed.”
CH: How did you balance being Second Lady of the United States and being a schoolteacher?
Pence: That's a great story. Here’s what happened. I taught at Emanuel for 12 years while Mike was in Congress. Then, we moved home to Indiana to run for governor. Then, as everyone knows, we went back to Washington when Mike was Vice-President. About halfway through that first year, I got a call from the school. I had been the elementary art teacher there. I taught three days a week, and it was part-time. They called and said, ‘Look, this is crazy, but our art teacher just left to become a pastor. Is there any way you could just fill in?’ I created the curriculum for the program years before, so I knew every lesson and grade level. They continued teaching my curriculum, which made it easy for me to do.
What happens in the Second Lady's office? We have a very small staff. I had eight people, including the house and office, advanced people, a policy person, a chief of staff, and a press person. They needed a couple of days a week to get things ready to make sure by Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, I'm full speed ahead.
CH: What do you enjoy about art and painting?
Pence: Art can be very therapeutic. When I sit down with my watercolors, it’s like being in another world. Time goes by, you know, but I do have a bad habit. I always have peanut butter and a bowl of M&M’s when I paint.
CH: You’ve signed up three times to run for the highest office in the country. Why?
Pence: I'm really glad you asked that question in conjunction with the book because our daughter Charlotte helped me with it. She's a very talented author and a published writer who writes regularly. I wrote the book, and she helped me with the flow and structure of it. I finished the book long ago, but the edits take forever.
Mike and I started considering whether we should run again. It surprised me, but friends said, “Why was it a surprise?” I responded, “I told the Lord I've given you 20 years. I have a home now; we didn't have a house for nine years. I have three grandbabies. The country is in a lot of trouble right now. With his experience as a congressman, governor, and Vice-President, Mike said, “I have what we need to move forward. I know what to do on day one.” I told him I couldn’t imagine running again. It was a very foreign idea for me.
So, here's what we did. We started reading our Bibles to seek God's will. We don’t know if His will is for us to run, win, or be in the race. We don't know His purpose. But as we started reading through the Bible, God began to change my heart. I mentioned it to Charlotte in January when we first started considering it seriously, and she said, “Mom, maybe you should read your book.”
We’re in the race and will see where God takes us. That's up to him. We started reading the Bible together every morning, which we've never done consistently in the 38 years we’ve been married—the two of us together every morning. Today was no different. We began our day reading the Bible and praying together. God started to show us, through stories in the Bible, where He's asking for obedience.
CH: How did you remain calm and trust God [during the Riot] on January 6th?
Pence: I will tell you we had peace. Mike will say he felt anger and protection for the capital. Our kids were raised in that building. All three served as Senate pages when they were juniors in high school. It is a special place for us. We would bring taco dinners to the steps. Audrey spent her eighth birthday climbing up to the top of the dome. It’s a special place, not only for our country but for our family. It was a violation of that building, that seat of government, and that symbol. There was not a sense of fear but of resolve.
The law states once you start counting the votes, it takes 38 or 48 hours to complete the count. Once it started, it's not like they could say, okay, we'll return next week. No, they had to complete and show their work to the world. It was a sense of purpose and a laser-sharp focus. That’s the feeling I had that day.
Photo Courtesy: ©Getty Images/Paul Morigi/Stringer