one girl's struggle to embrace God's design for relationships,
one woman's journey into wholeness in marital intimacy.

Interview by Jerold LeBlanc
The Wetaskiwin Times-Advertiser

Jerold LeBlanc
Staff Writer, Wetaskiwin Times-Advertiser

Wetaskiwin-area writer Nancy Fowler Christenson has released her second book—Made in Heaven, Fleshed Out on Earth. The faith-based story is about Christenson’s own personal experiences, and her close relationship with God.

Christenson recently sat down with the Times, and answered questions regarding her book, the writing process, and her personal beliefs.

What church do you attend, and why?
“It’s called Lifegate Community Church, and it’s a relatively new work here in town. I find this church very real; the relationships are real; the people are free to express where they really are at and get real help and real relationship with one another—none of this pasting on a mask and smiling and saying everything is fine.”

What is the principle message you are trying to convey in Made in Heaven, Fleshed Out on Earth?
“God’s designs for love, sex, and marriage are, in my perspective, absolute, and the farther we walk from those, the more grief we will have. Not because He punishes us, but because he has set laws in motion—what you sow is what you reap.

“My heart aches for young people as I see them dabbling and just following what the world is teaching them is the way to do things. I grieve, too, for relationships. I see marriage relationships, I sense something has died and blown away.

“Church families, you see them function side by side with all their kids, but there is no spark left, no tenderness left; and I suspect sometimes they may be subject to some of the hang-ups and pains that I was. I think everything can be healed, everything can be restored, and there is always a clean slate to be had, no matter where you’ve been. And not just one go-around, but as many times as you fall and transgress; it doesn’t even matter; you can always come back.”

How did you become a born-again Christian?
“I really didn’t decide to turn to God, and I always say I wasn’t really searching. A year before I actually found the Lord, I was living with a fellow, and he was killed in a hang gliding accident. It made me ask some very deep questions about life and death and eternity. I was only 23, and what do you know about life, never mind death?”

In parts of your book, you address readers as ladies. What is the reasoning behind choosing to speak specifically to one gender?
“I guess I always feel like I am speaking to ladies in this book, and yet, I don’t feel it’s just a book for ladies. My husband (Greg) hopes many men will read it, and young men, too, although young people don’t read so much, and young men, probably the least of all. But he said if men of all ages read this book, they would honour their girlfriends better, they would understand their wives more.”

Due to allotted time or space, was there anything important you wanted to add to your book?
“The book was actually half again as long when I submitted it to the publisher. When they finally got through reading it, as I waited on tenterhooks back here, I finally got an email from the director of acquisitions, and she said she was very impressed. She really liked it, and ‘there is only one thing that is preventing me from offering you a contract right now, and that is that we can simply not publish a book of this size—it’s simply out of our parameters.’ She said, ‘I know this is a hard thing to ask a writer, but would you ever consider cutting it down?’

“Well, I pushed myself away from the computer, just knocked down. I walked into the kitchen … and I felt the Lord spoke to my heart and said, ‘Remember, when you set out to write, you only wanted to write to the end of your healing’ … but I had continued to write and write and write. So I chopped out 50,000 words, and it’s sitting there waiting to be a sequel.”

What is your favourite scripture and why?
“In regards to this book, it is: ‘Thanks be to God, who always causes us to triumph in Christ.’”

Your book is such a personal tale; were there any aspects you hesitated to leave in?
“I’ve always been a fairly transparent person, even before I was a Christian. That just seems to be peculiar to my nature, much to the chagrin of my parents over the years,” she says with a chuckle. “I always feel that the more vulnerable I am, the more vulnerable it allows my listener or my reader to be, and opens them up to the possibility of healing.”

In your book, you say that even kissing is fornication. Do you still hold onto that ideology today, and if so why?
“Kissing for fun, for stimulation, in a passing relationship, is of the spirit of fornication. Kissing—intense kissing—is meant to be the beginning of lovemaking. I did a lot of dabbling like that, even while I remained what I thought was pure in the Lord’s eyes. I got a lot of stimulation out of that, and definitely caused a lot of stimulation to the other party or parties, which isn’t right when you have no intention of going anywhere with it. In this scenario, it’s not about the person— knowing them, loving them, being committed to them.

“I believe there are bonds formed—definite, deep bonds formed—in the sex act, but I believe those bonds can also be formed even with kissing. I just think people would have less baggage [if they refrained from these casual encounters].

“It’s not that I frown on any person who partakes in that [kind of kissing], and God doesn’t either. He says, ‘My dear, I know what will make you happiest and the most fulfilled, and the better you can listen to Me and see My parameters, the less pain you will have to suffer, and the more joy you will ultimately get from that experience.’”

How long did it take from the initial concept of coming up with the book to having it published?
“Even right after I published the Cowgirl book, which was 12 years ago, I knew I wanted to write this—that this may be the most important story I would tell in my life. In 2003, I began this (book), and then in early 2005, 16 months later, I laid aside the devotional [project I had also been working on]. It was just a little over five years altogether until I turned it in to the publisher.”

It took until the 11th year of your marriage to find the wholeness you had been seeking. What do you say to couples in the same predicament, or having second thoughts?
“Many people, when they run into trouble of any kind in marriage, one of the first things they will say is ‘I think I married the wrong person.’ I’ve always said, ‘Well, maybe you married the wrong person, but now that you are married, it is the right person, and God will make it right.’

“I think I said in the introduction [of the book], ‘May you be encouraged to look to God, because all the answers are in Him.’”

It’s been years since you moved to Wetaskiwin. Have your perceptions of the community changed?
“People used to ask me, because I moved from beautiful B.C. to come here, ‘How do you like Wetaskiwin?’ ‘What do you think about Wetaskiwin?’ I would just say that I am thrilled to be married to my husband, that I hadn’t really noticed,” she says with a laugh. “Or—‘I like being wherever he is.’

“As a community—I don’t think my perception of it has changed over the years. I always found it ‘small town,’ which I like: even Wetaskiwin is too big a town for me. When it comes down to it, that’s why I like to live out in the country.”

What is the one thing Christians should be doing more of these days, and why?
“They need to spend real time with God, and take the time to know they are connected with Him. And the reason I say this is because out of that everything else spontaneously comes.”

Where can the book be purchased?
“Locally (in Wetaskiwin) Caelin Artworks is carrying them; in Camrose, Wisemen’s Way Christian Bookstore; there are some stores in Edmonton. Technically, it can be ordered from any bookstore. Or they can go online to Tate Publishing, tatepublishing.com. The book can also be purchased during the Wetaskiwin Farmers’ Market, every Wednesday at the Wetaskiwin Mall.”

– jleblanc@wetaskiwintimes.com