This month our interview is with Eilene Sheppard. Enjoy and I wish you all a Happy Fourth of July!
Who is your family and additional support system outside of H.O.P.E.?
My two daughters, Erin and Carol, and my son, Winston are on my support team, as well as many friends, one of whom has been my friend since 6th grade -- 38 years! I am so grateful for the many supportive friends, co-workers, partners in ministry, etc...that God has blessed me with.
How long have you been a H.O.P.E Participant?
I have been a regular H.O.P.E. participant at least 3 years, but did come sporadically the 1st year as I struggled to muster the courage to come into the room--sometimes just peering in from the lobby.
What is the most useful tool you have received in H.O.P.E. and why?
This is a tough question. How does one choose one most useful tool? The tool I believe I use the most is the tool of accepting and liking myself, just as I am, for the characteristics that God gave to me. Just today, I began to feel inadequate in a situation where I was moving slow. As I talked to myself, I was able to turn that whole thing around and ask why others were moving so fast!
What has been your greatest accomplishment through the H.O.P.E. program?
My greatest accomplishment through the H.O.P.E. program has been a deepened relationship with my Savior, Jesus Christ. Since I am divorced and my children are grown, I am alone much of the time and have to trust in HIM for my comfort. One of my favorite verses is Isaiah 54:5 My maker is my husband. The Lord Almighty is his name.
I have also been able to come to the difficult place of realization that I needed to change my employment to one that is more healthy for me. I have done that as well.
What has been your greatest challenge on your journey of lifestyle change?
Time management by far has been my greatest challenge. Prioritizing and keeping myself and the care of myself in my time schedule has been very difficult. I have to block off time to devote to myself, as if I have an appointment, or it simply will not happen. That includes blocking off time for grocery shopping instead of fast food runs.
What does the H.O.P.E. program mean to you personally?
I often tell others that H.O.P.E. is the best kept secret in Charlotte. H.O.P.E. has been a place of belonging for me, when there was no other place that I felt like I could be accepted. There is so much communication that is unspoken among the H.O.P.E. participants. I feel like we have all been in many of the same places emotionally, at some time or another.
Can you share some words of wisdom with others who are just beginning their journey of lifestyle change?
Establish ROOTS! Without the strong roots needed, the storms of life may blow you over or destroy you. Dig DEEP, and do the work necessary to have a strong root base, and the sprouts will be outward signs of healthy lifestyle change that will continue to grow.