Have you ever wished you could sit down in a casual coffee shop with one of our authors and speakers and chat? We are so thankful for the amazing women of God we have the privilege of working with regularly. And while we can’t all gather in our favorite downtown coffee shop, we want to give you the opportunity to know them a little more personally.
Every so often we’re sharing a fresh “coffee chat” with a member of the Lifeway Women family to give you the opportunity to get to know her a little better.
This month, get to know Hannah Anderson!
Tell us about your writing process. Any favorite pens, locales, teas to drink, and music to listen to?
I began writing when my children were young, which meant that I didn’t have long periods of time to devote to it. So I did a lot of my thinking on the go—while driving or grocery shopping or cleaning. When an idea came to me, I’d grab the nearest piece of paper and scribble it down. I joke that the first “draft” of my books are piles of napkins, receipts, and Post-it notes. I am now in a season of life where I have more time, but I find that old habits die hard. So I still do most of my thinking away from the keyboard. This means that once I sit down to write, words tend to come out quickly. The important thing that I’ve learned it that thinking and writing go hand in hand, and if you find yourself staring at a blank keyboard, it might be because you haven’t thought through your ideas enough yet. Writing is not just the work of typing or scribbling. It is the work of observing and considering and imagining. And often this work can’t be done in an office. So today, whenever I find myself stuck staring at a blinking cursor, I go bake a cake or take a walk or even take a nap. And I think and pray and wonder until God brings the words I need.
What is one of your favorite travel destinations? Is there somewhere you haven’t been that is on your wish list?
I grew up in a pretty rural area and didn’t travel much except to visit relatives or go camping. This means that as an adult I can never get enough travel, and I’ve had the good fortune to visit so many beautiful places. One of my favorite trips was one my family took to northern California in 2021. We were just coming out of COVID shutdowns, and my daughter had asked to see the redwoods as a graduation present. We spent a little over a week road-tripping along the coast and through the mountains. I remember feeling particularly grateful to be traveling after being grounded for so long. And just given the dramatic topography and views, there was a freedom and wildness to the trip that felt both humbling and inviting. It reminded me of that quote from author Frederick Buechner: “Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid.”1
What is the best advice you have ever received?
This isn’t advice so much as an observation: “People do what they want.” Let me explain. People can’t always get what they want, but what we want shapes our choices. Our desires lead us. It’s not our minds or wills such much as our hearts. And this is why Proverbs 4:23 says, “Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life.” It’s also what Jesus is talking about when He said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt. 6:21). What we want, what we treasure, what we desire shapes the course of our lives. This has helped me examine my own choices and drill down into them. When I don’t understand my own actions, I ask myself, What am I really seeking here? What is that I’m trying to get? And that’s an incredibly clarifying process. It has the potential to lead to a lot of self-awareness. For example, sometimes I find myself trying to manage people or situations. I try to make circumstances come together or convince people to act in a certain way. Curiously, I don’t really want to be in charge, but I might be anxious about a particular situation. I might be nervous. So what I really want is safety. I’m trying to get safety. And once I realize this, I can go to God and say, “You know what, I’m feeling really scared here and I really need you to care for me right now.” And then I make my choices from a place of peace rather than a place of fear.
You have a new Bible study with Lifeway called Life Under the Sun. Tell us a little about it.
Life Under the Sun is a study on the book of Ecclesiastes. I was drawn to this project because of my love for wisdom literature as well as the raw, honesty of this book. If you know anything about Ecclesiastes, you know that it hits a bit differently than other passages of the Bible. So much so, that sometimes readers wonder why God included it in the Bible in the first place! But I love Ecclesiastes because it reveals God’s heart for doubts, questions, fears, and even anger at the injustice of the world. It’s almost as if God is inviting us to bring it all to Him and then asks, “Do you have anymore?” Ultimately, I want readers to know the goodness of God that lets them voice their questions—questions that Jesus Himself eventually answers.
As you worked on Life Under the Sun, what were some new things you learned along the way?
Ecclesiastes is wisdom literature which means it uses a lot of imagery and poetic language. It doesn’t move forward in a logical, linear way so much as it cycles, returning to different themes over and over again. As I studied, I realized that this form is probably intentional. It actually gives the reader a visceral experience of Ecclesiastes’ central theme. As you read, you begin to feel like you’re turning in circles. You can easily become disoriented and unsure of where you’re going. It feels like you’re spinning, just like the earth itself spins. Just like life spins. In other words, you’re supposed to feel a bit disoriented because the whole point of the book is to give voice to the confusing nature of life. You’re supposed to feel a little overwhelmed so that you’ll reach for the stability that only comes from trusting the One who is beyond the sun.
ABOUT HANNAH ANDERSON
Hannah Anderson is an author and Bible teacher who lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Her books include Humble Roots: How Humility Grounds and Nourishes Your Soul, Turning of Days: Lessons from Nature, Season, and Spirit, and the recently released, Heaven and Nature Sing. Hannah’s goal is to encourage believers to think deeply and broadly about how the gospel transforms every area of life.
Want to learn more about Hannah’s new Bible study, Life Under the Sun? Through this 8-session Bible study, Hannah Anderson invites us to consider the wisdom of Ecclesiastes afresh as we search for a solid foundation for life under the sun. Together, we’ll learn to name our anxieties, concerns, and disappointments. We’ll discover how Ecclesiastes is more than self-help or good advice—how it frees us to ask the questions that Jesus Himself will eventually answer. And through its raw honesty and unflinching commitment to goodness, we’ll find hope in the One who guides all days under the sun.
1. Frederick Buechner, “Grace,” Frederick Buechner Center, September 9, 2016, https://www.frederickbuechner.com/quote-of-the-day/2016/9/9/grace.