Veta Shepherd was in an impossible situation. She was broke, unemployed and a newly divorced single mother of a five-year-old-daughter living in Chicago.
Each day of searching for a job was another day closer to her last unemployment check. Veta didn’t know what she was going to do after the checks stopped coming. Then, right in the nick of time, Veta found the perfect job.
Publishing veteran Don Jacobson is the author of God Makes Lemonade: True Stories that Sweeten and Inspire, which is a book that highlights true stories, like Veta’s, with that unexpected blessing of hope from God after a difficult trial.
Jacobson noted, “with more than two hundred million copies of Chicken Soup for the Soul in print, the market is clearly thirsty for hope.”
“We created God Makes Lemonade because we know how tough life can be,” Jacobson said. “Many of us are struggling with lost jobs, broken families, illnesses or fading dreams. All we need is real encouragement and a little hope.”
That is what his collection of stories is about: a tall, refreshing glass of hope. Each lemonade story is about how the difficult part of someone’s life was surprisingly sweetened by something that would never have happened without the sour circumstance.
Stories like Veta Shephard’s, and those of a grieving mother that uncovers a deeper purpose behind her daughter’s illness, a homeless man that has a life-changing divine connection or a concerned wife that gives her husband a life-saving kidney transplant, are included within the pages of Jacobson’s new book.
In every case, something goes terribly wrong – but something even bigger goes right.
Jacobson experienced his own dilemma in 1980. God showed him that there is always hope in times of trouble. He was happily married and enjoying a physically demanding job in the commercial construction industry.
“I knew my future was really bright at the age of 24, and I knew what it would take to get there,” he said.
But then, unexpectedly, something happened on a cold winter night when a shooting accident changed his life forever.
“I nearly died laying out in a freezing field for hours and hours,” he said. “After nine agonizing days in the hospital, I thought my injuries would keep me from providing for my family.”
Jacobson said it took a while for that big lemon to become lemonade, but in the end he was wonderfully blessed.
“I began to work in the publishing business and now 25 years later, I can see that not being able to build things with my hands forced me to work with my head and heart,” Jacobson said.
After the accident, he served as president and owner of Multnomah Publishers, where he oversaw the production of more than 1,000 book titles. He also worked with bestselling authors including Randy Alcorn, Joni Eareckson Tada, Henry Blackaby, Robin Jones Gunn, Bruce Wilkinson and Karen Kingsbury.
Jacobson, along with his wife, Brenda, say they both know about the horrible hardships that can happen in life, but that these difficult times can also mold someone’s character and turn them toward something bigger and better.
“My wife and I love to sit around with our friends telling stories until late into the night. When I share my lemonade story with friends, two amazing things happen,” he said.
“My story inspires others and gives them hope. Then, without fail, my friends tell me their lemonade story and I am filled with inspiration all over again.”
Jacobson says that this is when it hit him. He realized that everyone has a lemonade story.
“That is the dream of the book and we invite all story tellers to share their lemonade story with the world.”
Today, the Jacobson family uses the royalties from book sales to help single parents and their children through the LemonAid Foundation for single mothers, who they call, "unsung heroes."
“We know that one aspect of pure religion is to serve widows and orphans,” he said. “Single moms face many of the same difficulties widows endure like parenting solo while fulfilling two parental roles."
He says hope can always have the last word. “Stuff happens,” Jacobson said.
“But so does lemonade.”