Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Ellen Feld is talking with Diana Rowe, author of Born to Die in My Place: A Story of Unconditional Love
FQ: It is obvious that you have a deep love for our Lord and Savior. Would you share with our readers a bit about how he came into your life? Was it through your parents’ love? A special teacher? Or ???
ROWE: I must admit that I do love the Lord. My dear mother introduced me to Him when I was a young child. Every morning we had worship at home before leaving for school and my mother always reminded us (my siblings and I) to “make Jesus your best friend and you will have a friend for life.” Fortunately for me, I took her words literally. So, although
Jesus is my Savior and so much more ultimately, He is my friend. Additionally, I attended Christian schools so the Christian values I was taught at home were reinforced in school each day. Consequently, as I grew older, I learned to love Him more. In my early childhood, I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior and was baptized. It has been an amazing journey walking through this life with Him.
FQ: When did you start working with children to grow their faith? What was your initial reaction to what they knew and what they wanted to learn?
ROWE: I started working with children to grow their faith when I was a teenager helping out in Sunday School classes. One of the many questions I was asked was “Does Jesus really listen to little children?” The same child wanted to know “How can I get Jesus to stay in my heart? I was thrilled to learn what was going on in their little mind. I did my best to share my childhood conversations that I had with Jesus and He listened to me. So I assured the children that Jesus will listen to them and that He will also speak to them because He loves children. I shared the words of Luke 18:16 where Jesus said, “Let the children come to Me and do not forbid them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” I wanted the children to understand that Jesus wants them close to Him even in His kingdom. Also, I shared with them that all they had to do was ask Jesus to come into their hearts and He would. When they learned how much He loved and wanted them close to Him, they were very receptive to Him.
FQ: You clearly want to share your love for Jesus with others, particularly children. Have you always wanted to write books for youngsters to help them get closer to Jesus?
ROWE: Yes, I have always wanted to write books to help youngsters get closer to Jesus. It is amazing how so many children and young people that I have worked with believe that Jesus does not view them as significant. Thus, I wanted to do something about that. I wanted them to see Jesus as a person and also as a God who loves them and has the patience to deal with all their issues without condemning them. My books allowed me to share that message with youngsters and adults alike.
FQ: It was nice to re-connect with Anna and her grandmother. Are they based on anybody you know?
ROWE: Yes, indeed. The character of Grandma reminds me of my mother. My mother is everyone else’s mother because she embraces my friends as well as the strangers around. I also remember sitting at my mother’s feet listening to stories and testimonies of how God cared for her over the years. Anna is reminiscence of me. I always had a lot of questions
as a child and absolutely loved learning about Jesus and sharing His love with others. There is something powerfully heart-warming about an older person pouring out the love of God into the next generation. That is a tremendous blessing.
FQ: The questions that Luke asks Anna’s grandmother – are these questions that children have asked you? What is the most frequent question you get from youngsters?
ROWE: Some of the questions have been asked by different youngsters over the years. Others were some that I asked growing up (as I was reminded by family members). Overall, the questions are in the minds of many children who might feel a bit shy to ask and there are adults who struggle with some of those questions as well.
One of the most frequent question asked by both children and adults, “Is Jesus really God?” This is why I took the time to answer that in details in my second book, “Born to Die in My Place: A Story of Unconditional Love.” I wanted all my readers (children and adults) to understand how Jesus is both human and God at the same time.
FQ: Luke asks “What is Sabbath” and Grandmother’s response is “...God created [it] for people to stop working and rest while worshiping...” These days, however, stores stay open, kids sports games are held, and people seem to ignore the Sabbath. How do you think we can bring people back to church and Christ?
ROWE: I think we can bring people back to church and Christ by helping them to understand that the Sabbath was made for humans. Our world is fast paced and that can add stress to the daily life. People are moving 24 hours 7 days per week and that is not healthy. So, God in His wisdom created the Sabbath Day as noted in Genesis 2:2, 3. Therefore, He wants all people to pause and rest their body, mind, and spirit for their own health and wellness.
Demonstrating the love of God in the way we treat others can also help them to come to Christ and church. If someone is overwhelmed, we can help them by sharing a meal or volunteer to watch the children or help in the area of their needs. People don’t always need a verbal invitation to come to Christ and church, they simply need to see His love in action as in the story of the “Good Samaritan.”
FQ: You frequently quote from scripture in the story. How do you decide what quotes to use?
ROWE: The scriptures in the story came as a result of studying the Bible and asking the Lord what He wants me to write and how because I want everything to revolve around Him and who He is. I also want my readers to search the scriptures for themselves and see how it inspired the story.
FQ: I mentioned the lovely illustrations in my review. Are you the illustrator? If so, would you tell us a bit about your process? If you hire an illustrator, would you tell our readers how you go about working with her/him? Do you discuss each drawing in detail? What colors you want, what you want shown in the picture, etc.?
ROWE: I do rough sketches and some drawings, but I do not consider myself an illustrator. However, the illustrations are very vivid in my mind so I am able to write in details what each picture should look like. While I write my story, I envisioned the characters and the settings with all the details. Then, I describe in details (pages) all of the colors, all the shapes of every object, all the characters, their clothing, and facial expressions, and the different settings. I wrote more details for the illustrations than the length of
the story because the person I hired did not know what I wanted and was not familiar with the Bible stories. It was a tedious process and I often had to break down my explanations again after the first draft and provide more ideas of examples of what I want.
FQ: Grandmother tells the children about how we sometimes have to work to pay our bills, but other times we should work for the joy of helping our neighbors without the promise of payment. This is so important and a hard lesson for children to learn. Do you have any suggestions to help parents teach this lesson to their children?
ROWE: Volunteering is a great way to show others that we care about them. Parents can teach their children this lesson by helping them to see the joy in serving others at home and around the community. Also, parents may want to explain the difference between their careers that has an income attached to it and the many things they do for others with no payments
attached. It is good to remind children that “it is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). In the act of giving, there is a blessing for the giver.
Also, compassion must be understood as more than a feeling; it must also be expressed in literal kindness to others. This will give parents the opportunity to get the children involved in small family projects centered on helping a person or a group. Whenever I want to start one of these projects, I would ask the child/children to find someone or think of someone that we can help in the upcoming days, weeks, or months and let them take ownership of the steps to accomplish the goal of helping.
FQ: I enjoyed the section where you talked about Jesus loving nature and how he would go for walks to enjoy the plants and animals that God had created. What made you decide to include this in the story?
ROWE: Whenever I consider the works of creation that God made, I know that He loves nature. The intricate details of the plants and animals that we try so hard to understand had to be created by a God who is a master designer of originals. I want my readers to know that God loves His entire creation. When He sent His Son (Jesus) naturally, Jesus would take
time to walk among the trees and relax for a moment. Jesus came to this earth and lived as a human being, I know for sure that He would enjoy the animals and plants just like we do. In fact, that is a lesson for us to enjoy the beauty we see in nature because it is a good way to de-stress. As noted in my book “Born to Die in My Place: A Story of Unconditional Love,” “Jesus was really human” and His life and work is an example for us to follow.