Sunday, 25 October 2020

I Interviews

Interview: Laura Harris Smith

Hi everyone, I’m Laura Harris Smith and here’s a word I want you to remember:

Edutainment-n.“Entertainment that is designed to be educational.” I love to teach through my writing and speaking, and I prefer serving meat over milk, but I once had a dream that has forever shaped how I do both.  I was in a kitchen preparing a huge meal to feed scores of people, and since I hate to cook, I was pretty stressed.  All of a sudden, I saw this endless stack of Lunchables on the counter and on them was a note from my father: “Serve these to the people.”  I knew that was God’s way of saying, “Keep it simple.”  And it wasn’t that God was just making it simple for the cooker, but also for the eater.   But knowing that this teacher likes to teach on more meaty subjects than can symbolically be represented or provided by a Lunchable snack, there was one more part to the dream.  There was a knock on the door and when I answered it, a messenger reached in and handed me a baby fork and a baby knife.  Aha!  Through this I knew that in the future God would allow me to serve up those steak-dinner topics -- those tough ones nobody wants to tackle in the Church -- but only if I would cut them up in bite-sized pieces for the listeners.  This is where my writing, poetry and entertainment background came in handy.  Edutainment to the rescue!

Whether writing and speaking on subjects as milk-like as acting and directing, or as meat-like as spiritual dreams and nightmares, Smith accomplishes her goal to edutain. You can see snippets of her versatility to serve up a Lunchable or a full course steak dinner in our interview as we chat about her media experience, adrenal exhaustion and of course, the holidays.

MN-Your bio has a unique and interesting line. It states that you have “one foot in ministry and one in the media.” Explain what that means.
LHS-Well, I’ve been in media since I was 3 years old when I did my first television commercial, and my school years were spent on a stage. I was saved at age 10 and my step-dad helped start the TV ministry at our church and so we spent every Sunday afternoon at our local television station editing that day’s service. I would sit there bored, watching them edit, and yet to this day I love the editing process and have put those skills to use many times for various media projects. At 13 I started leading people to Jesus in my front yard and holding Bible studies for kids and had a big heart for ministry even though I didn’t call it that. Once I got to college I studied two things--theatre and religion—and they were the sum and total of my passions. As an adult, I would serve in churches in creative departments and yet was always called upon to minister and teach too.  And then when my husband, Chris, and I planted Eastgate Creative Christian Fellowship in Nashville, both of my passions collided:  ministry and creative media.  And you can see them colliding in each weekly service.
MN-Before we talk about the specifics mentioned in your book, let’s talk about your personal experience. You said that it took 30 years to accumulate a sleep debt that began shutting vital organs and systems down. Can you briefly share your story with our readers?
LHS-I am a total creative night-owl! And I love what I do for a living! So working from home is risky because there are few boundaries for writers and I could just stay up all night and finish that last sub-chapter… I’d often put on a pot of coffee at midnight and get that late night burst of creative energy and stay up til 2, 3 or 4 in the morning.  Then I’d be back up the next morning at 7 or 8 to homeschool my 6 kids.  I did this for decades, averaging about 4-5 hours sleep. Not always, but lots of the time.  Plus, we live an action-packed, fast-paced life full of ministry, business, kids, grandkids and perpetual creative projects and so all put together it added up to a massive sleep debt.  Suddenly I began experiencing strange things in many of my organs.  My blood tests showed my levels doing crazy things in most all of my body systems. When I got the contract to write Seeing the Voice of God, one of the first things I did was interview a sleep study doctor for the chapters on sleep and dream cycles, and during that interview he began talking about the dangers of sleep deprivation.  I still didn’t think that meant me. I had no clue that’s what I was doing to myself, but when I went in for a routine doctor visit and discovered that I had hardly any adrenaline left in my body for energy— or cortisol for stress — I remembered Dr. Evans’ words and wondered if I was in danger.  Blood and saliva tests all confirmed that I was in stage 3 of Adrenal Fatigue. Stage 4 is where your organs shut down entirely and you die.

MN-Adrenal exhaustion is so real and many may be experiencing it without really knowing what it is. What are some of the signs that accompany adrenal exhaustion?
LHS-Well, in my case, there were very few symptoms at first.  I have a strong constitution and a disciplined work ethic and so I just pressed through my fatigue.  Adrenal fatigue often gets confused with “chronic fatigue syndrome,” but honestly, I wasn’t overly tired or fatigued.  Not at first.  But once I decaffeinated myself and realized how propped-up on coffee I’d been, the real
symptoms began to emerge.  I’d have a hard time even climbing stairs and would be winded at the top.  I’d be at the gym working out and would feel like I was going to pass out on the treadmill.  My pulse would be fine but I couldn’t figure out why I felt so weak.  It was because my body was out of adrenaline and was having to steal from other organs to get fuel for everyday activities.  And my other organs were about to go on strike. I tell you, if you don’t go to sleep your organs will go to sleep for you!
MN-You address sleep and factors that hinder it because you believe God longs to communicate with us through dreams. Million dollar question: how can we discern between a “pizza dream” and a prophetic dream?
LHS-Well, “pizza dreams” are basically restless dreams full of nothing but crazy symbolisms, but Ecc. 5:3 indicates that restless dreams come through much activity, stress or busyness, so sometimes a “pizza dream” can be God’s way of letting you know you are stressed out and that you need to relax and slow down. But on the other hand, not everything that seems to be a pizza dream actually is. I mean, Ezekiel saw some pretty crazy things — wheels with eyes, etc. — and aren’t we grateful he didn’t call those pizza dreams?  So we always have to stop and ask the Lord, “Lord, was that You?”

MN-You say that we have dozens of dreams each night, but many readers will counter that they aren’t remembering them. Is there a reason for a lack of recollection and are there ways to improve dream recall?
LHS-Yes, there IS a way to improve dream recall!  There are vitamins and minerals you can take to improve your dream retention and that’s what Chapter 5 is dedicated to (“Dream Recall”).  And if you don’t want to take them in supplement form, I list foods which contain them so you can use your food as medicine and get them that way. But get healthy with these well-researched tips and take back your dreams!

MN-What about nightmares. Is there a way to stop those from occurring?
LHS-Sure, but a lot of what people call nightmares are are actually warning dreams.  I list the most 10 common type of dreams in chapters two and three, and one of them is warning dreams, which are sent from God to warn you of impending danger, or to alert you to some coming scheme that the enemy has planned to harm you or someone you love.  Think of how God warned Joseph in a dream to take Jesus and flee the country because Herod was killing all the baby boys.  So even if you see something bad, you should wake up with a sense of calm and purpose, understanding that you have the ability to change the outcome by partnering with God in prayer and letting Him direct your steps!  But if it is truly a nightmare, and you wake up and are left with utter terror, that is not from the Lord and you can pray and take authority over your dreams. If the person is saved, free from all activity in his or her life that opens doors to the enemy, prayer can often take care of nightmares promptly. I created a video for people who truly are suffering from nightmares and it’s free here

MN-Tell me about the iPhone and Android sleep cycle app.
LHS-Well, I reviewed about a half dozen different ones for iPhones and the same for Androids and put all the results in Chapter 4 of Seeing the Voice of God (“Sleep, the Mattress of Dreams”).  They all use your smart phone’s very sensitive accelerometer to track how you’re sleeping at home by placing the phone near you at the top of your mattress as you sleep.  You wake up and get a snapshot of how you slept, based on the theory that we are paralyzed during REM dream sleep (so that we won’t act out our dreams) and so these apps track your movements and record how those compare to the various sleep stages.  Some of the apps also give you peaceful sounds to go to sleep with and some will learn your sleep cycles and wake you up when you’re NOT in deep sleep, since waking someone during this stage results in grogginess.  In other words, these apps are wonderful for learning your sleep patterns and waiting to wake you up when you’re still and in dream sleep, the benefits of which are that you will be easier be alert faster, AND you’ll also remember that waking dream better!

MN-Speaking of dreaming....many readers are dreaming of a white Christmas this time of year. What is your most pressing holiday wish?
LHS-Holiday wish?  I want the world — every man, woman and child — to awaken to Jesus this Christmas and to know that communication with God is the birthright of every Believer.  I do my small part, and if you do yours, we can make it happen together.  Merry Christmas!
Author Bio- Laura, and her husband, Chris, are the founding pastors of Eastgate Creative Christian Fellowship in Nashville, TN. Laura has been in television since age 3, eventually becoming a host on the Shop At Home TV Network in Nashville.  Having always had one foot in ministry and one in media, Laura is a published poet, the author of multiple books, speaks and ministers internationally across denominational lines, and is known for bringing a light-hearted look at the heaviest of Biblical topics.

"Seeing the Voice of God: What God is Telling You Through Dreams and Visions" has risen to the top of Amazon's Best Sellers List and held the #1 spot in several Christian Categories, with its Kindle version next to it as #2 on the list.

Married for 30 years, Chris and Laura have 6 children--all home schooled--and a growing list of grandchildren that now outnumbers the kids.
To book Laura to speak, visit her website. You can also find her on Facebook.


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