Have you read this week’s Featured Story? Sophie, by Paul Griffin, is a beautiful and moving account of an unexpected family reunion. If you haven’t read it yet, you need to head over there right away—we’re sure it’ll make your day. Then come back here, since God Makes Lemonade recently had a chance to catch up with Paul.
GML: Where do you live, Paul?
Paul: I live in Sandy, Oregon, which is a town about 30 miles east of Portland toward Mount Hood in the foothills.
GML: Does Sophie live with you?
Paul: No, Sophie is attending college in Cleveland. My wife and I have legal custody of our two other granddaughters and we’ve been raising them for about eight years now. Grace is 18 years old and is starting community college this fall. Emmaline is 14 years old and is a freshman in high school.
GML: What are you up to these days?
Paul: I’ve worked at Multnomah University for 30 years. I spent 29 years in senior finance and administration. I’m at retirement age, but I’m not retiring yet because I believe in this place and in what it’s doing. I’m able to keep in touch with countless people who are connected with the school and I pray with them and get them on board with special projects at Multnomah.
GML: What inspired you to write your lemonade story?
Paul: My friend Don Jacobson said to me one day, “I bet you’ve got more than one lemonade story in ya.” I didn’t seriously consider it much, but I talked with my wife and we realized Sophie belonged in that book. After we reconnected with Sophie, after we saw the impact our reunion had on our daughter and on us, I felt like our story could really help some folks. Reuniting with Sophie was an indescribable, unbelievable experience. It was one of the most exciting and joyous moments of our lives. It’s so strange that though we were only able to spend a couple hours with her as a newborn, we had this overwhelming love for Sophie. And Sophie’s younger sisters wanted to see her. My wife and I had been praying for her for 23 years, so this was a real miracle. We always hoped to see her in heaven, but now we’ve seen her on earth, too! It’s wonderful.
GML: What was it like to see your story printed in the book?
Paul: Strange. [Laughs] It was just kind of strange to see our story in a book. It was good for me to write it because it was cathartic. When miracles happen in your life, you want to share that joy, and maybe even encourage someone who reads the book.
GML: Have you been able to share your story with friends and family?
Paul: Both of my brothers read it and thought it was pretty great. My brothers and I have an annual reunion with some cousins we grew up with and we shared the book with them, too. At the time of Sophie’s birth, we didn’t have a lot of people we could reach out to—we were too broken to share it with many people. We love sharing this story now.
GML: Have you had a chance to read other stories in God Makes Lemonade?
Paul: Yes, and they have encouraged me. Some of them have just…Wow, I think, there’s God putting things together that we never could have planned. Don directed me to an incredible story that was on the website about a fellow whose daughter was born severely crippled. The impact she had on their lives was amazing. These are good stories and I hope people read them. To me, they bring hope.
GML: Do you have any updates on your lemonade story since it was published?
Paul: We continue to be in contact with Sophie on a weekly basis. She calls us or we call her. She goes on Facebook with her birth mother and our grandchildren. She’s back in college and she’s working her way through, so she asks me for input sometimes. We all just really look forward to having her come out here to join us at Thanksgiving this year.
GML: Just for fun, we hear you have a funny date story. Want to share it?
Paul: [Laughs] Oh my, well I think it’s a pretty funny story anyway. My wife and I met on a blind date. My college roommate and his girlfriend set up a double date with us. On our first date, I was blown away by how beautiful she was. Afterward, I told my roommate that I was going to marry that girl someday. I didn’t know at the time that my wife actually told her mom that she thought she was going to marry me, too! Our next date was a formal dance. So she kept me waiting about 15 minutes and I had to talk to her folks while we waited. When she came into the room, I was blown away again by her beauty and I said these very romantic words, “You are so beautiful it must have taken you all day to get ready.” Immediately I added, “Uh-oh, I didn’t mean it that way!” We’ve had a lot of laughs about that one over the years.
Thanks for stopping by and getting to know Paul a bit better. Come back next week—we’re already working on another interview with the author of our next featured story. Or you can pick up a copy of God Makes Lemonade, where you’ll find more than eighty inspiring stories like this one.