Today's interview is with my dear friend and Christian author Merrie Hansen. Her friendship (and her writing) have been very inspirational to me. I hope her interview touches you as it has me.
Tell us a little bit about yourself….who you are, where you’re from, what kind of cereal you like, etc?
My name is Merrie Hansen. I am a child of the King – a wife, mother, grandmother – a daughter, sister, friend and neighbor. I love to sing, write, and read. I enjoy walking, backpacking, and roller-skating. Spring is my favorite season, yet Christmas is my favorite holiday. I call Nebraska home, but have also lived in Texas, Alaska, Missouri, and Kansas. I am not perfect…I’m forgiven by the King’s mercy and grace. My sassy mouth requires a Holy Spirit muzzle. I am self-conscious about my appearance. Eating healthy and exercising are permanent items on my New Year’s resolutions. This is not my final home…so I press on toward the goal God has set for me, humbly straining forward to reach His highest calling to take my place in His Heavenly Kingdom.
Tell us a little bit about your journey to this point in your life.
The spelling of my name gets lots of notice and has had an impact on the person I have become. My maternal grandmother’s name was Mary, but Mom liked the spelling she saw daily as my older sister and brother watched cartoons—Merrie Melody Productions. (She tells me I was lucky they didn’t name me Looney Tunes!) The spelling’s origin reminds me to be happy, joyous, and cheerful. As a wife and mother, this optimistic attitude helps me set the tone for our household. The attention to my special name along with being the youngest member of my family however invoked a bit of problem.
What kinds of challenges have you faced through your journey, what you did do to get through them?
Living within a safe, loving, church-attending family environment was wonderful. It gave space for my confidence to expand beyond the usual boundaries. Growing up in a small town “where everybody knows your name” enlarged my self-assured attitude. Add all that to my sassy personality and you’ll get a curious, competitive, confident female.
Curiosity is said to “have killed the cat.” Competitiveness can turn aggressive. Confidence is a good thing, but there’s a fine line between self-confidence and God-confidence. When out of control, the combination can be explosive. God exposed this ticking bomb to me through singing.
At the age of 14, three years after accepting Jesus as my personal Savior, I began singing solos in our church choir. Unknowingly, the flurry of compliments from the congregation initiated the distortion of my self-assurance into pride. Years later, when my husband and I moved from state to state, choir-to-choir, flattering remarks continued to inflate my bighead. After about 10 years of this, following an episode of my mouth shooting off grievances about the current music minister not giving me solos, God pulled me aside.
Let me restate that: He grabbed me by the collar making sure to get my attention, and said, “I gave you that voice for my pleasure, my ministry, and my glory.”
This was the first time I actually heard the Holy Spirit of God speak to my spirit. It also instilled the meaning of “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of the instruction for wisdom.” Moreover, it was the day Jesus became Lord of my life and not just the one who saved me.
From that time forward, singing became my offering to the Lord, a service for His kingdom and splendor—as it should be. I learned to sing “about, for, and to” the lord of Lords and king of Kings. Plus, I discovered humble and gracious ways to accept compliments while giving God the glory.
What advice do you have for others going through this kind of situation?
Now, when I hear a beautiful voice singing, see someone teaching a Sunday school class, or hear another preaching a great sermon, I thank them for offering their talents to serve the Lord. I don’t want to be about inflating egos. I wish someone had taught me these humble lessons in my growing up days because receiving such a reprimand from God is a sad story to tell. Yet, it is a lesson engrained in my heart.
What do you think is the hardest thing that young girls today face?
Proverbs 119:9 asks a similar question; “How can a young person stay on the path of purity?” and simply answers it with, “By living according to your word.” (niv)
Centuries or decades may change, but the problems of this world do not. Today, yesterday, or tomorrow, the pressures are still the same. Purity of the body, heart, and mind—the core of ones soul—the compass that leads our decisions is under attack. Society mocks and does all it can to sabotage God’s instruction for holy living. While developing the talents and abilities of the young person, society often discourages, even undermines, the maturity of character and teachings according to The Word.
Jesus said, “I have given them your teaching. And the world has hated them, because they don't belong to the world… I am not asking you to take them out of the world but to keep them safe from the Evil One…” John 17:14-15 (ncv)
What advice do you have to help them through it?
Seek and find. Let the hunt for God’s Word be as a quest for treasures of gold, silver, and precious gems. Hide each token in the depths of your memory
Psalm 139:23, 24 inspires me to check all areas of my life where pride or other sin sneaks in. I think of my heart as a child’s bedroom where a parent carrying a flashlight looks under the bed, opens the closet, pulls the dresser away from the wall and exposes the depth of my filth. I invite God to search the dark, hidden crevices for sin leeching to my life.
“Investigate my life, O God, find out everything about me; Cross-examine and test me, get a clear picture of what I'm about; See for yourself whether I've done anything wrong— then guide me on the road to eternal life.” Psalm 139:23, 24 (message)
I hope you will check out Merrie's work by going to her website. She has some amazing work I know you will just love.
Livin’ Out Loud for Jesus - www.MerrieHansen.com