An interview with Anna Jensen
An interview with author Anna Jensen, author of 'The Outskirts of his glory'.
We chat to Anna Jensen about the publishing of her recent book and encountering God in unexpected places. We pray that you are encouraged by all she shares…
Your book ‘The Outskirts of His Glory’ was recently published, what has been the highlight of the process so far for you?
I think seeing and opening the first, proof copy from the printers was definitely the most emotional. I was a bit surprised at my reaction, but I think it was the realisation that the last two years of work and preparation now had a tangible, ‘hold it in my hand’, product. It was really quite overwhelming!
Did you have any fear about sharing your book with readers?
Yes, definitely so far as sharing with people outside my immediate family and friend group. I’d got used to giving bits and pieces to a select group of people as I went along, but I think in the back of my mind was the thought that their positive response was because they knew me and wanted to encourage me, rather than that what I had written was any good. I’m not sure that ever really goes away – every new reader is a potential disliker of what I’ve written!
Being in a completely separate, secular on-line writing community has helped a lot with the fear of exposure and criticism. I participate in a monthly poetry ‘challenge’, the feedback from which has been very encouraging – people who don’t know anything about me, and in some case have a completely different worldview to me, like what I’m putting together.
Ultimately though, I think it’s about being secure in the love of God, rather than my identity as a ‘writer’. And in the fact that I believe He called me to do it. I don’t think He did that to make a fool of me, but just maybe because He’s given me an ability to express some of what I see and hear from Him.
Have you ever experienced writer’s block? If so what did you do to combat it?
I’ve not really experience writer’s block in any big way, although at the start I did only write when the mood took me! I soon realised that if I did that, I’d never get finished, so I became quite disciplined in setting a certain time aside each week to write.
I think writing a book with very distinct parts also helps to not get too stuck – if I was struggling with one thing, I would just leave it, and tackle another. Also, writing a combination of prose and poetry helped to keep the process fresh.
There were times when I‘d realise I’d sat for almost an hour reworking just one sentence! At that point, I’d take a break and do something else. Taking a walk or doing a menial task always seemed to help, almost as though the creative part of my brain needed the freedom to just wander rather than being forced into thinking about exact words and phrases. Some of my better poems were written while walking at the beach, not really thinking about writing at all.
Your book is about encountering God in unexpected places. When did you first encounter God for yourself?
I grew up in a Christian family and went to church and youth, but I can’t say I enjoyed it too much. At the age of about 14, I decided that I couldn’t continue in this half-hearted way and that I would give myself a year to read, study, get properly involved in Christian things, and at the end of that time make a decision, before or against God. Funnily enough, God didn’t feel a year was necessary; I attended a youth function about a month into my ‘project’ where I was so overwhelmed by the tangible knowledge of God’s love for me, despite my wrong-doing and inner ugliness, that I was left with no choice but to respond there and then to His call.
If there is someone reading this who is struggling to encounter God, what would you say to encourage them?
God longs to meet with us, more than we ever do with Him. In John 10, Jesus describes himself as the good shepherd, stating that he knows his sheep, and his sheep know him. Further, he goes on to say that the sheep know and recognise his voice. I think sometimes we struggle to encounter God because we have a certain expectation as to what that will be like, maybe because that’s how He meets with our friends, or people we know at church, or what we’ve been taught.
Perhaps its helpful to try something different. Even a different Bible translation can help. I love reading from the Amplified Version as it gives me a deeper insight into what a single word or phrase might mean, using several expressions where only one is used in other versions.
And for me, being outside always helps! Romans 1:19+20 states that everything that can be known about God is revealed through the creation He has made, His handiwork; it gives us a glimpse into His ‘invisible nature and attributes, that is, His eternal power and divinity’ (yes, that’s from the Amplified). Take a look around and allow God to speak through something as simple as the colour of a leaf.
If you could meet yourself before you embarked on the publishing process, what piece of advice would you give?
Be patient! Everything takes a little longer than I expect, from proof reading and editing, through to printing and selling. This definitely isn’t a quick sprint, more a slow jog with time to look at the view along the way.
A huge thank you to Anna for chatting to us!
About the Book
SURPRISING PLACES IN GOD’S CREATION THAT REVEAL WHO HE IS
Join Anna Jensen and her family as they travel to seek out and experience the odd and unexpected of God’s creation. Often taking the less beaten paths, they encounter an elephant raised by a herd of buffalo, a community of birds in nests two metres high, a coffee tree growing where it should not exist, and much more.
In each place, Anna senses the still, small voice of God, revealing aspects of his glory and character which challenge and equip us. As well as a photograph of each place visited, every story comes with a scripture for meditation, a poem for reﬂection and a prayer for application.
As you journey with Anna, you will be inspired to slow down, stop and listen to the whispers of the Spirit as he speaks to you too through the natural world.