Friday, October 23, 2009

Beauty from Ashes--Thoughts from Laura Davis

This began as an ordinary interview with an author for me, but it turned into much, much more. In fact, this may be the most powerful interview I've had.
Laura's words brought to mind this scripture, from which I took my title--Isaiah 61:3 (NLT): "he will give beauty for ashes, joy instead of mourning, praise instead of despair. For the LORD has planted them like strong and graceful oaks for his own glory."
For the first time I conducted more of a real interview by chatting--in writing--on Skype. Unlike chat rooms, Skype conversations can be copied and pasted into Word documents. I liked the real give-and-take that was possible this way. I had no idea where some of the questions would lead. So without further ado, I am pleased to introduce you to Canadian author Laura Davis, author of Come to Me (see previous blog).

Cathi Hassan: First, some questions about you. Tell me a little about yourself: your family, where you come from...

Laura Davis: I live in London, Ontario. I have two children.: Sarah, who is studying animation and Andrew, who still lives with us. I've been married for 27 years to Jim.

Cathi Hassan: Animation? As in cartoons kind of animation?

Laura Davis: Yes. She will have a BA when she is finished.

Cathi Hassan: How did you come to know Jesus as Lord?

Laura Davis: I came to know the Lord through a dream. When I was about 17 years old, I had been reading the book The Omen. It had scripture references in it from Revelations. It started me thinking. So I began to read Revelations. Big mistake! I was terrified by the time I finished it. I had no idea Jesus was coming back again!

I went to bed that night concerned that I wouldn't go to heaven. That was when I had a dream. I was standing on a corner at night and a voice shouted out to me, "Laura! Where are you going?" And I shouted back that I was going to hell. The next thing I knew - I was in hell!

I woke up terrified and wondered what to do. I remembered that someone had given me a tract of the four spiritual laws at school. I had brought them home and thrown them in my dresser, forgetting about them. I ransacked my dresser that night, desperate to find them. When I did, I read the whole thing, realized that I needed to confess my sins to God and repent of my sins. I invited Jesus into my heart and life that night and spent the rest of the evening reading the Gospel of John.

In the morning I went back to bed and had another dream. In that dream, I was coming out of a very dark room. All my friends were there, dressed in black, but I was dressed in white. I stepped through a door into heaven and sat down on a rock, looking around, taking it all in. When Jesus came and sat beside me. He took my hand and said, "Now, everything is going to be alright." And I knew from that moment on that I had done something incredible.

CH: Wow. That's an incredible testimony you have. Was that book the same one as the movie? If so, I guess it proves that God can work through just about anything.

Laura: Yes, it was. I discovered a few years ago that a lot of people came to Christ through that book. I'm not sure if that is what the author intended, but God did indeed use it for His good purposes.

CH: Amen to that. It seems to me that God has worked in unusual ways many times n your life. I understand that you were a singer before? Even wrote some of your own songs and made a living by singing?

Laura: Yes, I had a singing ministry for over 25 years. I had been singing all my life and at the time of my conversion I had an agent and had been singing in bars, etc. with a back-up band. After I came to Christ and started attending church, my pastor asked me what I was doing with the voice God gave me. He encouraged me to sing for the Lord instead and was my biggest fan, in that he had me give a concert of Christian music one Sunday for the entire service! After that, I felt God calling me to sing for Him on a regular basis and without me doing any promotion of any kind for myself, I started receiving phone calls, from various places (even from the States). Before I knew what was happening I was singing everywhere.

My parents encouraged my music and bought me a guitar and (without any lessons), the Lord gave me song after song and I would sing with my guitar (until back-up tapes came out!). Then I just used them and sometimes the occasional band.

CH: This is so cool. I wish I could have heard you sing. So what happened?

Laura: Well, I traveled around quite a bit, appeared on 100 Huntley St. a few times, recorded an album, did some concerts, etc. and then around 10 years ago, I had to go in for surgery to remove a tumour that was discovered in my abdomen. Something went wrong in the surgery though and they had to intubate me. Now, I'm not sure if it was the intubation or just God's will, but after that surgery I couldn't sing like I used to. I tried for several months to get back to where I was, but my voice kept cracking and I had no control over it at all. My singing ministry abruptly ended and that was that.

CH: That had to be devastating.

Laura: It was. I had suddenly lost something very precious to me. I felt like God had left me or was angry at me for some reason and I felt totally adrift.

CH: So how did you deal with this loss?

Laura: I fell into a deep depression. Then I slapped myself across the face and said enough is enough and began to pray. I prayed for the wrong thing though. I prayed to get my voice back rather than seeking God's will on the matter. So, when I finally came to my senses and stopped trying to make deals with God (If you give me my voice back I'll do this...), I finally started to hear Him speak to me. He told me He wanted me to write a book about Him and I said, "No. I don't think so, I just write songs." I then began to argue with Him. I was one stubborn cookie!

Finally, I surrendered to His will and said, "Okay, Lord if you want me to write for you then you will have to show me how and what to write." So I sat down at my computer and said, "Use me Lord as you see fit." Before I knew what was happening a story was flowing through my fingertips. It took me three months to get it all out and another 3 or 4 years to edit.

CH: Cool. You have been a living lesson, I think, of what it means to be open to hear God speak. And to accept His will even when it isn't what we are wanting.

Laura: That has been the hardest lesson for me in life. Accepting new things, new directions that God could be leading me into. I often wonder how many opportunities I've missed because of my stubbornness.

CH: Well, I think that is true for all of us. I know it is for me.

Laura: You are probably right.

CH: So, once you started writing, you told a story from Mary's perspective. What made you choose this story?

Laura: It was what the Lord wanted me to write--about the life of Jesus from Mary's perspective. I sensed that it was to be a book that anyone could read, who was looking for God, to find out about Him. It had to be fiction as well as fact. I included scripture references as well so that the new believer or seeker could look up these stories in the Bible for themselves.

CH: I really like the tone if the book. It made me feel like I was there beside Mary, like she could have been a neighbor, even though it was a very different time and culture. You must have done quite a bit of research.

Laura: Thank you. I wanted to present the people in the Bible as real people, not biblical characters with halos over their heads. They were real people, like you and me, that went through some extraordinary events. I spent a great deal of time in research. Almost three years studying just the Gospels and then more time on the customs and culture of the time period.

CH: I understand that you are working on a new novel now?

Laura: Yes, I have a few on the go actually. The one I'm currently working on is called Finding Claire. It is a coming of age book that deals with suicide and depression in Christians. The other one is called Upon this Rock and it is a sequel to Come to Me. The third one is untitled and is a Christmas novella.

CH: Suicide and depression. Sounds like really heavy stuff, but timely. I used to think that Christians shouldn't ever suffer from depression or mental illness, but I've had to readjust now that the facts have been flaring in my face so often.

Laura: It is heavy. I used to think that way too, until I suffered from it myself. That is why Come to Me is so important today. Mary surrendered to the Lord during difficult circumstances. Jesus surrendered to the Lord, knowing He would be tortured on a cross. Surrendering to God when we are at our lowest is what can take us to the highest levels of joy in our relationship with the Lord.

CH: You've been learning these lessons in your own life, I know.

Laura: Indeed. Writing the book was a healing process for me.

CH: And I believe God is using it to bring healing to others as well.

Laura: I hope so.

CH: I know that Come to Me is available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Are there other sources for readers to get a copy?

Laura: Yes, it is available at some brick and mortar stores, but it is best to order through Amazon or B & N. I have a listing on my website of the other stores (they are all in Canada).

CH: Okay. I'll be sure to include a link to your website with this interview.

I really enjoyed talking with you, Laura. You have a sweet spirit that shines through your writings. I know you have gone though many hardships, but, like you said, God has worked through them to bring you to a higher level. Certainly a closer walk with Him.

Laura: Well, I can't take any credit for my spirit. God has given me all these hardships because I'm pig-headed and don't listen to Him enough! He's constantly refining me.

CH: LOL. Yes, I guess many of us have to learn over and over again. Me, too.
Well, thank you so much for talking with me. It's been a pleasure.

Laura: Thank you so much. You are such a sweetheart for doing this.

CH: Nah, I just felt like I was supposed to feature you again. I learned more than I expected tonight. Your testimony was really amazing. God is amazing!

Laura: Indeed He is.

Laura has a wonderful website and blog at You can also read an excerpt of Come to Me at the website.

1 comment:

Julie said...

This is a great interview. It's nice to know more about the people I'm ministering with. I need to get a copy of Laura's book. I remember being interested last year, but still haven't purchased it.

Julie =)