Have you read this week’s Featured Story? “Timing is Everything,” by Veta Shepherd, is an uplifting story about a single mother finding the right job at the right time. 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 Veta.
GML: Where do you live, Veta?
Veta: I live in the South Shore neighborhood in Chicago, Illinois, really close to Lake Michigan. I live with my second husband, Lawrence. We have four adult daughters who live in New York, Florida, and two of them live in California.
GML: What are you up to these days?
Veta: Believe it or not, I’m still working at that non-profit I began working for in the story. I’m the administrative assistant and outreach worker in the children’s division at Human Resource Development Institute. HRDI works to prevent and resolve substance abuse, mental illness, teen pregnancy, and underage drinking through community programs for adults, teens, and children. Our office works mainly in neighborhoods on the Southside of Chicago.
Outside of work, I’m a volunteer secretary at my church and I’m in charge of the drama at church, so I coordinate that and help the pastor with a program to mentor youth in music and art. I also fill in for characters in the drama with a character I’ve created named Ms. Jenkins. She’s a comedic church lady who was saved later in life and doesn’t have all the church rules right.
Oh, and my job got me started volunteering for some outreach organizations that help girls in the neighborhood with self-esteem issues and attitude problems and I just keep volunteering with them.
GML: What inspired you to write your lemonade story?
Veta: A while ago, I wanted to know what else I should do with my writing talent and prayed about it. Two days later, by accident, I came across an online ad for submitting lemonade stories. I thought I should give it a try—I had written my story about how my lemons have been turned into lemonade in my journal. It was the perfect lemonade story because I remember feeling squeezed or wrung out by all these tragedies that were hitting me at the same time. When I got a response back from you guys so quickly, I was surprised! My friends and I laugh about how I became a “professional writer” overnight. I’m published now.
GML: What was it like to see your story printed in the book?
Veta: It made my family so proud. It was an answer to my prayer to get me started on my writing journey again.
GML: Have you been able to share your story with friends and family?
Veta: Yes and I’ve been told that my story is inspiring. Friends said that my story inspired them to hold out for what they believe in. I am so satisfied knowing my story has been used in that way.
GML: Have you had a chance to read other stories in God Makes Lemonade?
Veta: Oh my goodness, those other stories are so inspirational! They have made a huge impact on my life. The stories come to mind all the time when I need something to share to lift someone up or when I just need some encouragement. I’ve been touting it to everyone I meet, and telling them they better bring their box of tissues when they read.
GML: Do you have any updates on your lemonade story since it was published?
Veta: I had a second chance at love and married a wonderful man I met at church. My daughter from the story is very successful and living in Florida. And now I have three new daughters from my husband, with three sons-in-law and seven grandchildren. God has truly turned my lemons into lemonade.
GML: How did you find your second chance at love?
Veta: Oh, [smile] that was through the drama program at my church. We were both working on a play about God showing my character how to trust in Him and believe in herself. My now-husband was cast as God, so we had a lot of lines back and forth. A friend suggested that we get together to run lines. I was really not into that because I was newly divorced and really protective of my daughter. She was pretty protective of me too, so we didn’t have any male figures coming around the house at the time. But I said, “Ok, we’ll just run lines.” And from there, we’d always end up talking about each other’s lives. There wasn’t any romantic interest there until one day I forgot that my daughter would be home when he was coming over to run lines. I thought, “Oh no, she’s going to freak out.” Instead, when she saw him at the door, she ran over to him and gave him a huge hug. I couldn’t believe it. Come to find out, he was the nice man at church who would hand out candy to the Sunday school kids when their class was over. She thought of him as the Candy Man. Shortly after that, we thought maybe we should look at each other more romantically because there was something special there. It was a process, but we wound up getting married and blending our families.
Thanks for stopping by and getting to know Veta 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.