I hope you enjoy the interview with Roberta Simpson.
It is truly an honor to have the opportunity to share some of my personal thoughts and experiences as a new author with you, Beverly, and the His Heart, My Desire ladies! I am so blessed to see the work you are doing to help and encourage each other!
There are so many gifts lying dormant in the lives of women—just waiting to be discovered or understood. I pray not only that my book, Nana’s Bible Stories will be encouraging to the children in your life—but, also that my personal story will be of encouragement to many of you as you pursue your calling.
Why did you decide to begin a career at the age of 70?
ROBERTA: I was not looking for a career! I thought that raising 5 children, and being a stay at home mom was career enough! It was as if the “career” found me! It is so exciting, and I love the changes that are happening due to this new career.
I loved being a mother, and one that was able to stay at home. (Actually, it would have been very difficult to find someone to look after five kids!) Although, there were times I would have just loved to shut my eyes, shut my ears and hide for several hours! But really, I would do it all over again. I am so grateful to my husband for letting me be a “stay at home” Mom!
God chose for us to be mothers, and what a wonderful joy it is to have children, no matter how harassed we are or how tired we become. We are raising little armies for Jesus! And how wonderful it is that God continues to use us long after our children are grown!
You have been telling stories to your five children and nine grandchildren for many years. Why do you believe the art of storytelling is so important…and why do children respond so well to stories?
ROBERTA: Storytelling is so important firstly because you are engaging a child or children for a special time. I love to use my grandchildren’s names in the stories as I have done in Nana’s Bible Stories.
I believe storytelling is an adventure, and what you are doing is bringing children into the story. It is also a great time for cuddling, and being close to the kids – it is a time for bonding, and engaging their trust. I find there is not a child I have met who does not just LOVE having a story read, or told to them!
I believe that children respond to stories (if they are good stories!) because it is a time where they can listen to a story about someone or something else other than what they see and feel everyday, and many times can place themselves into the story – e.g. “What would I have done?”
While playing with kids, I love starting a story – “Once upon a time, there was a…” then I would point to one of the kids, and they would have to make up something. I would continue this way until all the kids had a turn, and we had a story! It was crazy, fun, and lots of loud laughter.
Your personal story is one of obedience. You didn’t plan to become an author. Tell us about some of the challenges you faced from family, friends, etc. on your journey.
ROBERTA: Challenges do come, and they come often. Some years ago, I did a writing seminar, here in Barbados. I remember being so excited, as I did want to write, but up until then, I had only written articles for the newspaper, and a few plays for church.
The gentleman who read and corrected all that I had written scribbled all over them with a nasty little red pen. On the bottom he wrote, “You can’t write!” I shrugged and thought, “I have five kids to raise and I have lots to do, so never mind!” He was a very influential man in Barbados – in fact, he was a well known Pastor! Lesson to be learned in this? When God says you can do it, even a well known Pastor cannot get in the way with his negative comments!
Years later, when I knew God spoke to me about writing, I felt excited and flew home (I mean drove!) and started to write. I believe what was important at that time, was obeying God, and not listening to man!
Friends and especially family have totally encouraged me on my adventure, and this is really special!
You are a Jewish believer. Do you think your Jewish heritage played a role in the telling of Nana’s Bible Stories?
ROBERTA: Yes, yes, absolutely yes! I always look on the Bible as a Jewish book to begin with. However, my love for Israel and the Jewish people is a big help. I have been to Israel too many times to count, and am in touch with the people and the culture. The land is exquisite, and when I am writing stories, I can picture the people, and the place in which the story takes place.
I do believe that often, we forget Jesus was Jewish, and many things He said and the content of the stories He told were very Jewish.
I have worked closely with the illustrator, Susan Mitchell, who was wonderful illustrator for my book. It was great fun inspiring her with pictures and describing the people as she brought Israel to life through her illustrations. I think she did a great job, in color and characters!
Do you plan to continue writing?
ROBERTA: Yes, yes, yes! I have so many stories and books inside of me; I just pray I will live long enough to write them!
Thank you for allowing me to share a part of my life and calling with you. If you would like to learn more about me or my book, please go to www.nanasbiblestories.com. You may download one of my favorite stories, The Butterfly and the Cross—the story of the crucifixion as told through the gentle and tender eyes of a butterfly. I have also included a special devotional for the story which you may share with your children this Easter season. Cuddle up with a child and enjoy!