Have you read this week’s Featured Story? “An Unlikely Christmas Tradition” by Anne Forline is a wonderful story about a community joining together to spread Christmas cheer and bless the needy in their midst. If you haven’t read it yet, you need to head over there right away—it may not be Christmas season anymore, but there’s never a season when this kind of care and unity won’t change a community for the better!
GML: Where do you live?
Anne: I live in southern New Jersey, in Bellmawr, which is very close to Philadelphia. I live with my husband of thirteen years, Steven, and our nine-year-old daughter, Cara. We also have two bunnies (Patches and JoJo) and a goldfish named Jaws.
GML: Have you been able to share your story with friends and family?
Anne: After friends and family read my story, I share its special significance to them. You see, “An Unlikely Christmas Tradition” takes place in Camden, New Jersey, a city that is sadly known for drugs, crime and poverty. This past August, my brother, Chip, passed away due to drug-related causes in the same exact lot that my family and I had been standing only months before.
GML: Wow. This must be a very powerful story for them. What are you up to these days?
Anne: I’ve started a blog, anneforline.blogspot.com, and I’m working on a devotional that I hope will one day be a published source of encouragement for families that have a drug-addicted family member. I enjoy writing and telling stories. I write for the Gloucester City News and other local newspapers. Patches and I appeared in the “My Pet and I” column in the November 2011 issue of All You. I’ve also contributed stories to I Love Cats and Cat Fancy. Aside from all that, this is my fifth year home-schooling Cara. In the afternoons, I work in an after-school program in Gloucester City teaching second-graders. Steve and I help in our church’s junior department and we also enjoy coaching Cara’s soccer, basketball and softball teams.
GML: What inspired you to write your lemonade story?
Anne: As soon as I read the writer’s guidelines for God Makes Lemonade, I knew I had to send in my story. I am so happy that things turned out the way they did. We had so much fun on Christmas Eve and we talked about it all year long.
GML: What was it like to see your story printed in the book?
Anne: I still look at it sometimes and say, “Is that me?” I am still so appreciative of the courtesy and respect that the entire GML editorial staff has extended to me. They all treat me well, and dare I say it? …like a “real writer!” It’s still a tremendous blessing to see my name and story printed in a book.
GML: Thank you for the compliment, Anne. We love the opportunities we have to make a connection with writers and storytellers like you. Have you had a chance to read other stories in God Makes Lemonade?
GML: Do you have any updates on your lemonade story since it was published?
Anne: On Black Friday this year, Steve, Cara and I went out with other volunteers from Street Ministries to go shopping for all the toys that will be distributed on Christmas Eve. We had a great time helping again this year!
GML: And just for fun, tell us a good dating story.
Anne: My husband and I both grew up in Bellmawr, but we didn’t meet until we were in our early thirties. I visited a new church one Sunday and there he was. He waited three months to ask me out, and when he finally did, we went to see a Living Nativity and Christmas lights and then out for dinner in Philadelphia. He asked me to marry him ten days later, on Christmas Eve! We got married six months later and we’ve been married for thirteen years.
Thanks for stopping by and getting to know Anne 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.