An Oh Wondrous Grace Chronicle Writer/Poet Portrait
Anna is a British ex-pat who has resided in South Africa for a little over 20 years. She lives with her husband and two teenage children on the east coast, a few miles north of the city of Durban. Anna’s first book, “The Outskirts of His Glory,” was published in May 2019. This Christian devotional and poetry collection explores the surprising ways that God can speak to us through his creation. Anna has drawn on her travels in and around South Africa to inspire each of us to slow down and listen more carefully to the “whispers of his ways” (Job 26:14) that are all around us.
Since releasing her book, Anna has had the privilege of speaking at a number of local churches and even has a weekly slot on a Christian radio station. email: firstname.lastname@example.org website: www.annajensen.co.uk
Tell me a bit about your background and family. How did you become a Christian? What was it like the day you asked God into your heart?
I grew up in the UK, only moving to South Africa a little over twenty years ago when I got married. My family–Mum, Dad and sister–still live in England, so I don’t get to see them as often as I like. We were a church-going family from when I was a young girl. As a teenager, I joined our local church youth group, more for something to do than for any other reason. One year, when I was about 15, I felt challenged by God that I needed to make a decision about Him once and for all, either for or against. I gave myself a year to read and study and generally get involved in whatever was going on, at the end of which I would make my mind up.
Of course, God had different plans. Little more than a month into the process I attended an inter-church youth event. We were singing about the love of God the Father, and I was broken–messy tears and all. One of the youth leaders noticed and asked if I would like to ask Jesus into my heart right there and then. I said yes and so we prayed together.
I don’t remember feeling hugely different after that prayer, but I do know my life changed. I made the decision right at that moment to follow God wholeheartedly, wherever that might take me. Little did I know all those years ago that I would end up leading a church in South Africa for several years, after which I would become a published author.
What is your favorite part of the day? What do you like the most about writing?
For writing, I think morning is probably my best time of the day, while my kids are at school and I have the place to myself. With the current Covid situation, however, that has all changed–my husband is working from home and although our daughter is back at school, our son still has online school at home. So I’ve had to adapt and learn to write when I can rather than when I prefer. Which actually has increased my productivity, I have to admit.
I particularly enjoy the time spent doing battle with words and expressions to make sure I am putting onto paper as accurately as possible what I feel God has said. A bit like a painter who needs to choose colors and textures with care, so a writer needs to make use of a full palette of vocabulary. I really enjoy writing poetry as that can be both highly technical and wonderfully creative at the same time.
Was there a specific person that made an impact in your Christian life? How did he/she help you in your walk with Christ?
The one person that springs immediately to mind is a friend I made when on a first mission trip as a teenager. Julie was one of the leaders of the trip and she seemed to notice the potential in me that I was unaware of. She became my first mentor, praying for me and guiding me in the things of a God-dedicated life. When I left high school I spent a year with her at the mission organization she was part of. Much of who I am today is thanks to her input.
Tell me about some of your hobbies and family time. How do you Quiet your mind?
As a family, we spend many happy hours in our off-road vehicle exploring in and around South Africa. We often head off for a camping trip, or just a couple of days at the nearby safari park where we enjoy the delights of watching elephants or rhinos going about their business. I enjoy crochet, and of course, like many of us, I like nothing better than getting lost in a good book.
I love being outdoors–not in an overly active way, although I do love strolling beside the ocean or meandering through a forest. I enjoy being able to engage my senses in the sights and sounds of God’s magnificent creation, a practice that always brings peace in my heart and mind. I find myself breathing deeper and the tension in my muscles eases as I choose to pay attention to something other than what is playing on my mind. As I do so, the Holy Spirit often whispers truths that bring life and clarity in whatever I am going through. Crochet is something else I find helpful–the physical activity somehow brings a restfulness to my mind.
What are some projects that are in the works with your writing?
I am currently working on a couple of 7-day devotionals for a multi-author box set which will be launched in the next month or so on Amazon. We are a group of authors, some international bestsellers, who are connected to Africa in some way and who have come together for this project, which is very exciting.
I am also working on a ‘sequel’ to ‘The Outskirts of His Glory’, my book which explored how God speaks to us through creation. This time I’m looking at the threads of His wisdom that are woven through history into our lives today. I have an interest in the past and love visiting places of historical importance where I have often felt the tug of those threads pulling at my heart. I’m not sure when this will be finished as I keep getting distracted with other, quicker projects but it is definitely in progress!