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God Makes Lemonade
God Makes Lemonade
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Author Interview: Sharie Robbins

Have you read this week’s Featured Story? “Marked by Love,” by Sharie Robbins, is a story about incredible sacrifice for her husband. When Sharie’s husband discovered that he and his brother had a genetic disorder that would lead to kidney failure, she decided to prepare for surgery and donate one of her own kidneys to her husband. If you haven’t read it yet, you need to head over there right away. Then come back here, since God Makes Lemonade recently had a chance to catch up with Sharie.

GML: Where do you live?

Sharie: I live in La Canada, CA in the house my grandparents built close to 60 years ago, with my husband Quinn, and my youngest daughter Justine, who is a hairstylist in our home town. My daughter Ashley and son-in-law Michael live just a few blocks away and were married in September of 2011. My son Anthony is graduating from Verdugo Fire Academy in January and will be moving to Northern California to pursue his firefighting career.

GML: What are you up to these days?

Sharie: I have been on staff at Montrose Church for the past 18 years. I started as the director of children’s ministry as a volunteer, then began helping with administration in the office. Now I am the executive assistant to the pastors on staff. I am blessed to work with great people who have become my family. Much like family, sometimes they make me a bit crazy… but I love them anyway.

I am an avid exerciser and love my weekly Pilates classes. My husband and I are still kids at heart so we purchased Disneyland passes and we go at least once per month to “get our wigglies out.”

GML: What inspired you to write your lemonade story?

Sharie: When God does a miracle in your life, you feel compelled to share it. I believe that God allows us to go through difficult times so that we can use those stories to show His faithfulness. My hope is that my story will help other people who are going through difficult situations to look for God in the midst of those hard times and see the amazing things that He does out of love for us.

GML: What was it like to see your story printed in the book?

Sharie: Sometimes we get so busy with our everyday lives that we forget the faithfulness that God has shown us. Seeing my story in print is a personal reminder of God’s faithfulness and how I need to remember all the things He has done for me—every day. I wrote a book called Some Assembly Required in 2004 that combined stories of how God worked in my life over the course of two years. It is amazing to see how many prayers God answered during just those two years. It humbles me to think that so much of my daily life is spent worrying about things that are so small, when I can go back and read how faithful God has been to me and to my family. I think it is a good discipline for everyone to journal about the things God has done and the answers to prayer in our lives, so that they can go back and read about it… and be reminded of how much God loves us on days that are full of joy as well as when life seems a little dark.

GML: Have you been able to share your story with friends and family?

Sharie:  I have shared my testimony at our church several times and with our women’s group. I try to take the opportunity to share it with whoever will listen. Even 16 years later, it is a story worth sharing.

GML: And just for fun: if you could “do it over,” what would be your dream job?

Sharie: While I do not regret starting my family young, being a stay-at-home mom, and later, having a job with great flexibility to raise my kids, I do regret not going to college. From elementary school through high school, my dream job was to work with animals. More specifically, I wanted to be a trainer at Sea World or work with elephants at the zoo. To this day, when I go to Sea World and watch the shows, I get a little teary because it was such a big dream that I never pursued. I have a lot of “what if” moments for not pursuing that dream, but I know that God placed me in the job that I have for a purpose. So I guess I have Purpose instead of Porpoise… ha ha.

Thanks for stopping by and getting to know Sharie 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.

Sharie and Quinn Robbins

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Interview with Author “Santa Rick”

Rick & Kim Wages

Have you read this week’s Featured Story? “One Saturday Morning,” by Rick Wages, is a very sweet story about a father’s love at a tender time in his son’s life. If you haven’t read it yet, you need to head over there right away. We’re sure it’ll touch your heart—especially as you all prepare to spend some quality time with the family over the holidays! Then come back here, since God Makes Lemonade recently had a chance to catch up with Rick. Spoiler alert: Rick is also known as Santa Rick during the winter months and he shared some Christmas cheer with us.

GML: Where do you live?

Rick: I live in Loganville, Georgia, a small suburb of Atlanta . I live with my wife of 38 years, Kim; our daughter, Karen (she’s finishing up her last year of college to become a teacher); and four Schnauzers: Rudy, Max, Lady and Bella. I have three other married children: Kam married to Jason, a pastor, and they have our three grandchildren (Kennedy, Sidney, Joel); Keith is married to Mattie (he is a children’s pastor and they are expecting their first child); and Kevin is married to Deanna, he is a teacher and she a hair stylist.

GML: What are you up to these days?

Rick: I have built over 200 homes, but in this economy, business is nil. I have been working with my brother selling home improvements, roofing, replacement windows and doors and gutters. I am a real Santa as well, so the months of November and December are booked with personal visits to homes, parties, family gatherings, day cares, elementary schools, churches and community events. I will have over 3,000 children and adults in my lap or on my knee before the season is over. Ho ho ho! I am a blessed old fat man and though not rich with money, have literally hundreds of friends.

GML: What inspired you to write your lemonade story?

Rick:  I love to write, and have recently finished writing a Bible study with devotions that prompted me to look back at my life and see the times when God blessed me and times when He has made good out of the tough times I’ve put in His hands.

GML: What was it like to see your story printed in the book?

Rick:  It was a blessing to have my first piece in printed form. Though, I have had many stories and devotions published on the Internet in order to encourage as many people as possible. I read the book and found it to be a wonderful encouragement. Several folks had some amazing stories.

GML: Do you have any updates on your lemonade story since it was published?

Rick: A few family members have expressed how bad they felt for me at the time—though they may not have expressed it when I was younger. I have also received letters from others who understand what I was going through, and it has helped them with their own children today.

GML: Alright Santa Rick, we know you’ve been busy this month. Will you share one of your cheeriest Santa memories with us?

Rick: I was sitting as Santa at a public photo event earlier this week and a little girl came up to me carrying a picture. When she got up to my seat, the girl asked me to stand up, face away from her, and bend over. I thought I might have something on my suit pants, so I did so and asked our Photographer Elf to look too. The little girl looked studiously at the picture she carried and then back at my backside with intensity. A few moments later, she said I could sit down again. I did, and she hopped up onto my knee.  I asked what she was looking at and she showed me her picture, which portrayed Santa’s backside as he bent over in the process of spreading out gifts on a couch. Her mother had taken the picture and gave it to her as proof that there was indeed a Santa, and that I was he. She just wanted to be sure I was the “Real Santa” before she wasted any time telling me things she wanted for Christmas. I have never laughed so hard and so deep as I did that day. Ho ho ho!

Thanks for stopping by and getting to know Rick 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. The book might be the perfect last-minute gift for someone in your life, too!

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Author Interview: Christina Newell

Christina and Adalayde Newell

Have you read this week’s Featured Story? “The Magic of a Sister,” by Christina Newell, is the powerful story of her sister’s eleven-year struggle and eventual death due to neonatal leukodystrophy. Despite grief and fear, Christina held onto hope for her own children. She is now the proud mom to Adalayde and she just discovered that she is pregnant with a second child! This is a story about hope against the odds. If you need some inspiration today, you’ve come to the right place. Also, if you haven’t read Christina’s story 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 Christina.

GML: What have you been up to lately, Christina?

Christina: Well, I live in Aurora, Colo. with my husband, Matthew, our daughter, Adalayde, and our two dogs. I am lucky enough to be able to stay at home with our daughter. When I have a free moment, I love to bake, sew, or craft. I also blog about our adventures and create one-of-a-kind belly castings for soon-to-be mommas.

GML: What are belly-castings?

Christina: [Smiles] I plaster-cast pregnant bellies to create a sculpture of an expectant mom’s baby bump. Then, I decorate the sculpture with fabric and whatever else seems appropriate and unique for the mom. It’s nice. I think it’s a good way to capture the beauty of pregnancy and that special time, and belly-casts aren’t too weird to hang in your home.

GML: What inspired you to write your lemonade story?

Christina: A friend shared a link to the GML website with me. I took a look at the site, and I thought, “I have definitely had some sour moments in my life.” But I feel like I have a blessed life too. I thought, “Maybe someone else can be inspired by this chapter in my life when a lemon turned into lemonade.” I felt like I barely met the format requirements, and I didn’t tell anyone I was submitting my store to you until I got the final draft back. It just wasn’t real to me. It’s still kind of surreal to me that my story has been published. It’s good to re-share something I’ve been pretty open about, though. Most of my friends already know the story, and some of my friends even knew Meagan. It was right after I graduated from college that she passed away. I was able to reconnect with a lot of those friends.

When I met my husband, I was in my 30s so we immediately started thinking about family. Meagan’s story resurfaced for me. The possibility that I could have children with neo-natal leukodystrophy is really scary. But that’s part of our story. We have one child, Adalayde, and she is perfectly healthy and wonderful.

GML: What was it like to see your story printed in the book?

Christina: I couldn’t believe that my story was picked! When the book came in the mail, I was still in shock. In fact, I still can’t believe it. When I was in high school, we had an assignment to write a bucket list of 100 things we wanted to do before we died. Getting something I had written published is something I’m proud that I can cross off that list.

GML: Have you been able to share your story with friends and family?

Christina:  I’m not really one to boast about things, but my husband has told everyone we know. He’s so proud of me. I have shared the book with a few close friends that were excited and wanted to read the story, and because this story is about my sister, I shared it with my mom and my stepdad (Meagan’s dad). They were deeply touched.

GML: Do you have any updates on your lemonade story since it was published? 

Christina: Hmm… We give thanks each and every day for Adalayde. We hope that we will continue to be blessed as a family. It’s very emotional for me. I feel like choosing to have Adalayde makes Meagan’s story her story too. Hopefully, Meagan’s story will be a source of courage for her. I guess that when you have kids, it’s something you hope you’re giving them—tools to be strong and to be confident who they are.

Probably our biggest update is that we’re going in for a 12-week ultrasound for our second child this week! We have the same hope for a healthy baby and are trusting this path that we’re on. It’s really exciting.

GML: Just for fun, If you could go on vacation anywhere today, where would you go and why?

Christina: Definitely Europe. My husband keeps telling me about how beautiful Europe is and how much I will love it. We are still a few years away from being able to run off on that adventure, but I can’t wait!

Thanks for stopping by and getting to know Christina 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.


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Announcing: GML Blog Tour

GML is on tour!

We’ve packed our bags & hit the road for the blogosphere. During the month of November, dozens of bloggers will be posting guest interviews, book reviews, and book giveaway contests for GML. For example, check out these blogs that have already participated:

Check our Twitter for more updates about where we’re headed next, and for goodness’ sake, catch up on your Google Reader. You won’t want to miss this chance to discover some great blogs or to participate in a free book giveaway.

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Don’s Thoughts: Kyle’s Legacy

Have you read this week’s Featured Story, “Kyle’s Legacy?” This is a particularly emotional story for me, as it was written by my sister, Penny Whipps. Her story is powerful. Kyle, Penny’s son and my nephew, died because of an accidental drug overdose. Our whole family grieves his death. He was amazingly gifted, with so much life ahead of him. We loved him and miss him so much.

Amid this horrible tragedy, something beautiful has happened. My sister sensed a calling on her life that she never expected. After talking with Kyle’s friends about his death and hearing their regret over not speaking out and getting Kyle help, Penny realized that there are many other kids out there who have friends like Kyle and they are afraid to break what she calls their “code of silence.” So she started an organization called Just1x that reaches out to those kids and helps them muster up the courage to help their friends who are living dangerously. I’m so proud of my sister.

Penny mentions in her interview that she has been a single mom for 15 years. Seeing her live through single motherhood for so many years—especially amid great tragedy—is part of the reason why we decided to give all royalties from God Makes Lemonade toward helping single moms and their children. I’ve seen first-hand what an incredible role single moms have with their children and they deserve our support and care.

Penny also mentions that I tried to electrocute her in her interview. Hmm. Well, that might be true but she definitely didn’t remember exactly what I said to my grandpa after he nailed me with the same electric fence. While shaking my finger at him in righteous indignation, what I actually said was, “Grandpa, Jesus ain’t going to love you.” It was actually my first lesson on the pains of hypocrisy.








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Author Interview: Penny Whipps

Have you read this week’s Featured Story? “Kyle’s Legacy,” by Penny Whipps, is the emotional story about how Penny was able to create an organization that reaches out to at-risk youth in the wake of her own son’s painful death. If you haven’t read it yet, you need to head over there right away—we’re sure it’ll touch your heart. Then come back here, since God Makes Lemonade recently had a chance to catch up with Penny.

GML: Where do you live?

Penny: Right now, I’m living in Bend, Oregon, with my brother Don and sister in-law before moving back to Sisters, Oregon, only a few miles away. I have a son and lovely daughter in-law who live in Portland and a daughter who lives in Central Oregon.

GML: What are you up to these days?

Penny: I’ve been working in publishing for many years now and I’m working on some books right now for authors I represent. I also run my own nonprofit, Just1x. I’m currently adding speaking engagements to my 2012 schedule. I’ve been speaking in public and private high schools across the country—Oregon, Minnesota, and Georgia are coming up pretty soon.

Just1x speaks at schools, youth groups and other student-organizations to challenge teens to break the code of silence on behalf of their friends and seek help for them. When kids get involved in dangerous activity, someone needs to step up. Just1x defines dangerous living as “anything you or your friends are doing that puts your life or theirs in jeopardy.” Just1x speaks to the student living dangerously now, the student who isn’t but is thinking about it, and the student who has no intention of living dangerously but knows someone who is and is keeping it secret.

I started Just1x after meeting some of the boys who were with my son, Kyle, the night he died. I was shocked to realize those boys knew Kyle wasn’t acting normally and something wasn’t quite right, but they were afraid to talk to Kyle. No one said anything. That’s what pushed me into action. Kids have got to have the courage to break the code of silence when this sort of thing happens. They have to decide whether their own popularity, comfort, or reputation is worth more than their friend’s safety, and maybe even their life. This has become a calling in my life and not something I would have chosen. But after I spoke five times within the first five weeks of Kyle’s death, I realized that if I’m willing to move past my own discomfort and pain, we may be able to save some kids along the way. If one student is saved or makes better life choices because he heard Kyle’s story then it’s been worth it.

GML: What inspired you to write your lemonade story?

Penny: Well, I really wanted people to know that you can survive the death of a child. Through faith, you can continue on with love and compassion for the people you do life with. Also, I wanted readers to hear Kyle’s story in hopes that they will be inspired to help someone they know who is living dangerously and seek help for them.

GML: What was it like to see your story printed in the book?

Penny: It’s exciting to see my story in writing and know that it may bring encouragement to someone who has lost a child. I also love that my story is among so many other stories that will give hope and encouragement. There is something really special here. I hope my story encourages people with the fact that even if the worst thing happens to you, like losing a child, there are ways that something good can come out of it.

Obviously, I’m also very excited to be a part of a project that gives aid to single moms. I was a single mom for 15 years. I had a community and family that came around me and helped me, but when I travel, I often meet single moms who don’t have any form of encouragement or help. I don’t know how they make it. Single moms struggle with feeling alone and feeling forgotten in a community. Not only do many of them deal with the shame of being divorced or feeling like they don’t fit in any more, but when tough things come, such as financial difficulty, illness, loss of job, death, you just feel devastated. This book brings communities together to bring support to these women. That is pretty cool.

I know there were times when I felt very alone—I was doing everything as a mom and a dad. We single moms are tired. Honestly, if I hadn’t had the support of the people around me during that time, I don’t know how I would have made it through. Even with the support that I had, especially in tough times like when Kyle died, you feel very alone as a single mom. I feel like sharing my story at GML is a small way for me to bring encouragement to other single moms.

GML: Have you had a chance to read other stories in God Makes Lemonade?

Penny: Yes, I read through the book and some stories had me laughing and some crying. Mostly, it’s just encouraging to read other people’s stories of how something so painful turns around and becomes something so beautiful and useful.

GML: And just for fun, can you tell us one of your funniest family memories growing up with Don Jacobson?

Penny: The story that is told at almost every family gathering is about the time when my big brother got in trouble for shocking me with an electric fence. I was very little… probably four and Don was maybe six-years-old. Or maybe he was eight and I was six. Who knows? We were at my grandparents’ farm and Don kept telling me to go touch the electric fence (because he wanted to see me get shocked). I must not have been very keen on the idea, but he coaxed me with, “Don’t worry, I’ll turn off the fence. You won’t get shocked.” Somehow, Don convinced me the fence was turned off, so I touched it and sure enough, got shocked and went running to the house crying. At that point, my grandpa was watching from a distance and saw the whole thing happen.

He came out and told Don the fence was turned off. My grandpa didn’t actually turn it off though. He upped the voltage to teach Don a lesson. Trusting my grandpa’s words, Don went out there and touched the fence. He got one of the biggest shocks in his life! One of the best parts was that after it happened, he looked up at my grandpa and said, “Grandpa, Jesus isn’t going to like you very much.” He didn’t realize he had been caught. And he got it big time. Hahaha. Really though, Don has always been my protector. We goofed around a lot as kids, but he has always watched out for me.

Thanks for stopping by and getting to know Penny 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.

Author Penny Whipps







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Don Jacobson to Speak at Idaho Book Extravaganza

If you’re in Idaho this weekend, don’t miss out on an opportunity to hear Don speak at the Idaho Book Extravaganza. He is a featured speakers for the event, where you’ll have meet-and-greet opportunities and access to a host of great resources for writers and book-lovers alike. The event is happening Oct. 28-29 in Boise. Click here for more details.


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Don’s Thoughts: Heavenly Harvest

Have you read this week’s Featured Story, “Heavenly Harvest?” Mariane Holbrook actually has two stories published in God Makes Lemonade. I’ve had the chance to hear a few sweet and inspiring stories from Mariane’s years as a writer, family historian, teacher, and mom. “Heavenly Harvest” is one of her most poignant lemonade stories. Just when her family thought the Great Depression might take everything they had left, the garden they planted produced an abundance they couldn’t have imagined. Her story is incredible and I am so glad we can share it with you.

These days, abundance is hard for many of us to imagine. Do you cringe whenever newscasters start talking about the economy? For many of us, the recession of recent years means more than just Wall Street protests, scandals, and constantly fluctuating markets. It signifies personal losses. I know people, as I’m sure you do, who’ve experienced terrible financial losses which have led to even greater losses in other areas of their lives: unemployment, insurmountable debt, foreclosure, even medical issues such as depression and anxiety.

When times are tough, it can certainly be difficult to stay encouraged and keep tending the garden, so to speak. That’s why I love lemonade stories like this one—you never know when something sweet will spring up out of nowhere. Not only did Mariane’s family have enough produce to keep their table full, but they had enough to give away to the neighbors. Lemonade does happen.

You may remember my post a couple weeks back about Vera Shepherd’s story, “Timing is Everything.” I wrote about why my wife and I are giving all of the royalties for God Makes Lemonade to single moms. We believe these stories can inspire and encourage you and we also believe that together, we can all encourage single moms and their kids through the Lemonaid Foundation. It happened for Mariane’s neighbors, and I believe it will happen for ours.

Later this week, I hope you’ll stop by again for another inspiring true story.





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Author Interview: Mariane Holbrook

Have you read this week’s Featured Story? “Heavenly Harvest” by Mariane Holbrook, is an inspiring story about a Depression-era family whose small house garden miraculously produced enough to fill their table and the neighbor’s just when they were at the risk of going hungry. If you haven’t read “Heavenly Harvest” yet, you need to head over to our featured story page right away—we’re sure it’ll make your day, especially if you’ve been touched by economic hardship in recent years. Then come back here, since God Makes Lemonade recently had a chance to catch up with Mariane.

GML:  What are you up to these days, Mariane?

Mariane: Well, I live on the beach in North Carolina with my husband, John. We’re both retired. He used to teach junior and senior high science and I taught fourth grade.
About five or six years ago, we built our house on the beach. At the time, we decided to add an apartment for our children (two sons) and grandchildren to come visit. Good thing we did because one of my sons recently lost his job so he and his wife and two little boys (ages six and ten) are staying with us now. We love having them here. They are just delightful. We know it won’t last forever because they’ll move when their dad gets a job, but we love it for now. Our other son lives in Raleigh and runs his own business. He and his wife have four daughters.

Other than that, I love to write and have self-published two books: “Humor Me” and “Prisms of the Heart,” collections of my poetry and short stories, written over a thirty- year period. I love music and play the organ/piano for my own pleasure, and I am an amateur artist, concentrating on folk art wooden eggs for “fun and profit,” as the expression goes. I usually end up giving away far more than I sell, though [smile]. My website has more information on what I do:

GML: What inspired you to write  your lemonade  story?

Mariane:  I wrote “Heavenly Harvest” as a tribute to my father, the most honorable man I’ve ever known. I was born during the Great Depression, the sixth of seven children. The story of my father’s garden is true and though I was too young to remember it, it became so well-known that relatives and friends still talk about it. We lived through the Depression. He was within $500 of paying off his house and he lost it. He went to my uncle to ask him for financial help, but because of personal differences, my uncle refused. I never saw my parents waver or lose faith, and that was a lifelong lesson for all of us kids. My parents just held on. That garden turned out so strangely. It showed all the neighbors and everyone in that tiny town hope. We had more in our cellar than we had ever had before. We had food coming out of our ears. That garden was a lesson in faith that I’ve treasured all my life.

GML: What was it like to see your story printed in the book?

Mariane: I was thrilled to be part of the inaugural edition. I foresee this project becoming as popular as the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” series. The generous payment for each story, as well as ten free copies of the book, is definitely a plus!

GML: Have you had a chance to read other stories in God Makes Lemonade?

Mariane: Yes.  I liked the first two very much. I like to skip around to read them. I’ve read almost all of it now, and I’ve just loved it. It’s such a good variety. We’re all so different. Some people are so courageous, dealing with illness and death. I’m high on that strength in those stories. I come from a family of missionaries and pastors so those things are important to me.

GML: And just for fun, since you already live where some people dream of vacationing, where would you go on vacation today and why?

Mariane: Hawaii or Alaska because of how extremely different they both seem. I grew up in New York State and now live in North Carolina. Alaska and Hawaii seem so different. My son went to Alaska and said there’s no way to describe it. He said it was like another country. I can’t really travel anymore, but I wish I could have gone when I was younger so I could appreciate their unique beauty and flora and fauna. And I’ve also always wanted to take a tour of the cathedrals in Europe, they look so gorgeous and worshipful.

Thanks for stopping by and getting to know Mariane 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.

Author Mariane Holbrook

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Announcing: 1st Ever Lemon Drop Contest!

God Makes Lemonade was created to share hope, but the book isn’t the only way to do that. We can tell stories here on the website too. That’s why we’re excited to announce our monthly Lemon Drop Contest.

We’ll post a prompt every month or so, and we’d like to invite you to pull up a chair at our back porch and share a lemon drop with us—a short, true story about hope. We’ll choose one especially sweet lemon drop from each prompt to feature on our website, and Don will send the author a free copy of God Makes Lemonade. He’ll also send a special gift to a friend of the winner who needs encouragement!

Our First Lemon Drop Contest Prompt:
Now that school buses are mixing into the morning commute and apple trees are bursting with color, we keep finding things that remind us of our school days and some of those amazing teachers and mentors who helped us through. Tell us about a teacher who changed your life.

To enter, simply:
Send your name, a brief description of where you live and what you do, a brief description of a friend you’d like to encourage with a copy of God Makes Lemonade, and answer the prompt in 200 words or less in the body of an email to

Deadline: Friday, November 4.




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