Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Read with Audra blog tour featuring "Into the Deep" by Lauren Gaskill

Welcome to my blog's stop on Lauren Gaskill's book tour!

Here's my review of her book: 

Into the Deep: Diving into a Life of Courageous Faith is a wonderful book written by a very brave woman (Lauren Gaskill). 

She writes candidly about her real-life experience with a debilitating disease and shares how with God's help and her determination to never quit, she continues to overcome. Gaskill challenges the reader to go deep into their faith journey with God and trust Him to help you walk on water with Him as only He can carry you through the storms of life. 

The author's stories from her life journey prove that she doesn't just write about choosing joy and having a fearless faith in God, she lives it

This is truly an inspirational book filled with hope that can brighten your day and renew your outlook on life with a Bible-based perspective that shows that no matter what this life may throw at you, with Jesus Christ on your side, you can have the victory!

*I, (Alexis A. Goring), received a complimentary copy of this book (
Into the Deep: Diving into a Life of Courageous Faith ) from the author’s publisher for me to read. My opinions in this book review are my own.

Read on for an interview with Lauren Gaskill that her PR people produced: 

An interview with Lauren Gaskill,
Author of Into the Deep

When Lauren Gaskill started feeling pain in her shoulders while she was in high school, she attributed it to her swim team workouts. In college, as her health issues continued to escalate, she began to feel lost in a sea of anxiety, depression and unexplained chronic pain that was ripping apart her faith. Every week she would hear sermons about a God who delivers his people from their problems, but words only left her more frustrated and confused.

Gaskill admits she somehow missed the explanation that following Jesus doesn’t guarantee sunny skies and smooth sailing. In fact, the waters of life are often tumultuous, crashing over us. Sometimes we can feel we’re drowning in a sea of confusion, division, frustration, complacency, or disillusionment. We need more than a shallow faith to survive these deep waters. In her new book, Into the Deep: Diving Into a Life of Courageous Faith (Abingdon Press), Gaskill invites readers to dive headfirst into a life of courageous faith.

Q: What inspired you to write your new book, Into the Deep: Diving into a Life of Courageous Faith?

I should have drowned years ago. When the waves of anxiety, depression and chronic pain came crashing over me, the “faith” I’d been raised to practice couldn’t keep my head above the waves. But I didn’t drown. I’m still here. Because by God’s grace, in the undertow I discovered a deep faith in Jesus that saved me from sinking into the depths and catapulted me straight into His rescuing arms.

He saved me from drowning, and my hope in writing this book is that He might use my story to help save others who feel like they are drowning too.

Q: You’ve been a swimmer for most of your life. How were you able to relate that experience to the message you wanted to share in this book?

There is something beautiful and mysterious about water. It’s elemental to our existence, but depending on the environment, it can also be a threat. When I was little and didn’t know how to swim, the water terrified me. But once I mastered the strokes, deep waters became a place of freedom and adventure. These experiences on the swim team are very similar to the experiences I’ve lived through in my faith journey, and that’s why I chose the water illustration. Fear can hold us back from learning how to swim, but it can also hinder us from stepping out courageously in faith. There are so many parallels and biblical illustrations (I mean right there in Genesis 1:2), I knew this was the lens I had to write the book through.

Q: In the first chapter, you share your passion for helping people learn how to exercise faith. Have you always felt that way?

No, because I didn’t always realize that faith was the answer — the thing that could and would keep me from drowning. It took a long time for me to finally reach out to Jesus and trust Him to pull me up, but when I did, my life was forever changed. Faith in Jesus saved me from a life of despair, and that’s why I intend to spend the rest of my life helping others fight for faith too. I help others learn how to press on in faith and lead lives of joy through blogging, hosting a bimonthly podcast and speaking at conferences around the country.

Q: When did you first experience bouts of anxiety? What were some of the situations that brought on the feelings of anxiousness?

I started experiencing anxiety in high school, after a traumatic event triggered panic attacks.

Q: You are very open about your struggle with chronic pain and the recurrent anxiety and depression that come along with it. How did your physical issues cause you to lose faith? Tell us about how you’ve learned to overcome these challenges.

Hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos is a nasty disorder — I truly wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. One day, you can wake up feeling like you’ve been hit by a bag of bricks or two semis. Other days, you can’t move without being in pain or risking injury from loose joints making bones pop out everywhere. Having unstable joints means arthritic pain is a constant companion and makes it hard to do “normal” tasks like lifting bags, exercising or evening cutting vegetables for dinner some days. These difficult physical challenges made it hard to keep faith in the beginning because I didn’t understand why God wasn’t healing me. When I finally opened my heart to the possibility of healing, bad turned to worst, and it made me question everything I believed in.

After years of diving deeper with Jesus, at the end of the day, no matter what pain I experience, I know in the deepest parts of my soul that I will be OK. Not because of who I am, but because of who God is. He is a good, good Father. He is always with us and always for us, just like His Word says He is. He cannot not be faithful and His Spirit — the very hope of Christ — lives in me.

When I think about all of those things, I find everything I need to overcome because the Jesus in me is stronger than the waves of darkness that try to overtake me. In Him, I have nothing to fear.

Q: After college, you sought out the help of a Christian counselor. What did you learn about the connection between your struggles with your faith alongside your battles with anxiety and depression?

I learned that God wasn’t punishing me with anxiety and depression, instead, He was allowing it as an opportunity to deepen my relationship with Him. I also learned that having anxiety and depression didn’t make me any less of a Christian, it just meant I had different areas I had to learn to trust God with. In this case, that involved areas of mental health.

Q: You write that faith is the answer we’re all looking for — the solution to all of our hurts, pain and sorrows. Why do you think women reach for other solutions often before they reach for Jesus?

Faith in Jesus can be a hard thing. It’s like navigating a ship through a high seas storm. The passengers can’t see what lies ahead, they just have to trust the captain knows what he is doing and will get them safely to the other side. If we don’t trust God, that makes it hard to have faith in Him and easy to turn to earthly solutions that are more immediate and absolute.

The other thing we must consider is the world we are living in. Our world is becoming increasingly faithless. We’ve lost faith in the things we can see, so it’s no wonder we’ve lost faith in the things we can’t see.

Q: One of the chapters is entitled “Six Things You Need to Know.” What are the six things you want to make sure readers will take away from this chapter?

I believe words have immeasurable power. That’s why I’m a writer. That’s why I strive to think long and hard about the words I choose before I write or say them. That’s why I fight daily to speak life, love, hope, and truth over myself in order to drown out the cruel, untruthful things others have spoken over me. Words are powerful no matter what we are going through, but they are even more powerful when our faith is tested.

I wish I could forget some of the things people said to me when the waves of life came crashing in. “You’re never going to get over this,” they told me. “This is going to haunt you for the rest of your life.” Or my personal favorite, “Do you have unresolved sin in your life? Maybe God is punishing you for something.”

When we feel like we are drowning, we are susceptible to believing the lies and hurtful things we hear from the outside world. What I want women to know more than anything, is that in their hurt:

1. God is not punishing you.

2. You are not alone.

3. You are going to be OK

4. Darkness does not define.

5. You were made for the deep.

6. God’s love will carry you.

Q: You write, “We have to deeply know and trust God if we are ever going to fully have faith and experience freedom in Him.” How have you learned to trust God on a deeper level over the years and what have you learned on that journey?

One of the biggest obstacles I had to face was giving up control because I used to be a control freak. I had to have everything planned out and go a certain way in order to feel at ease. Once I was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos Hypermobility, however, God began to do a work in my heart. I began to see that it’s futile to try and control everything because in the end, God is the one in control — not me. And that’s a beautiful thing.

Q: Hebrews 11 is often called the Hall of Faith. Why is it important to study the faith of our ancestors? What can we learn from them?

The stories of our biblical ancestors aren’t perfect, tidy stories. Many of them lived complicated, messy and wounded lives, just like us. But they also had a choice to keep the faith and press on. The same choice is available to each of us today, and by studying Abraham, David, Esther and all of the others in the Hall of Faith, we can learn how to overcome our unbelief by resting in God’s promises, asking for provision and resolving to persevere just like they did.

Q: What does life look like when we make it a priority to actively pursue God?

When we actively pursue God, our perspective on and attitude toward life changes. We realize that this life never really was about us anyway. It’s about getting to know our Creator and enjoying life with Him. Our eyes become open to the things that truly matter: loving God and loving others.

Q: What does it mean to “faith suit up” every day? Why is it important and what does it look like practically in daily life?

From the moment we get up we have an important choice to make: Do we live the day in a frenzied, selfish state, or do we live the day with a holy intentionality? One choice leads to chaos, the other leads to confidence in Christ. As God continues to deepen my faith, I’ve learned that joy, hope, courage and faith are found when I choose to live the day with a holy intentionality from the moment I open my eyes. What that looks like is praying to God and surrender the day to Him; seeking His presence throughout the day; and reading His Word and declaring His truths over my life.

Here’s a real, practical example: Let’s say I have a speaking event I’m preparing for. I know I have to “faith suit up” to protect myself from the arrows of the enemy and also prepare my heart for what I need to do. If I don’t suit up, I am more vulnerable to being taken aback by any tidal waves that come up, however big or small they may be.

Q: The book ends with a series of stories about warriors of the deep. What can women learn from these stories? What makes a woman a warrior?

This is one of my favorite chapters of the book. There is nothing more powerful and inspiring than a testimony! These women are warriors because they chose to give God a chance and take Him at His Word. Every day, they choose to place their past, present and future into His hands, and because of that choice, their deep despair has been replaced with a deep faith and faith to overcome anything that comes their way. They are warriors because they have learned to let go and let God. And that? That is true faith.

About the Book:

Develop enduring faith for the turbulent waters of life.

Following Jesus doesn’t guarantee sunny skies and smooth sailing. In fact, the waters of life are often tumultuous, crashing over us. Sometimes we can feel that we’re drowning in a sea of confusion, division, frustration, complacency, or disillusionment. We need more than a shallow faith to survive these deep waters.

Into the Deep is an invitation to dive headfirst into a life of courageous faith. With endearing warmth and authenticity, Lauren Gaskill shares how she and others have learned to swim with Jesus in the deep waters of life—facing challenges such as anxiety, depression, and chronic illness—only to discover a more authentic, enduring faith that cannot be shaken by circumstances. In addition to examining the character of God and the lives of women and men of the Bible who chose to dive deeper with God, she provides practical examples and tools that help us take our faith to the next level by learning to make decisions by faith alone, control our reactions to overwhelming situations, and live a life rooted in love.

Get ready to exchange fear and frustration for the boldness, courage, and holy confidence that lead to a life of deep faith and joy!

About the Author:
Lauren Gaskill is an author, speaker and host of the Finding Joy podcast and Finding Joy Ladies Night Out events. 

After being diagnosed with an incurable connective tissue disorder, Lauren made it her life mission to encourage others to fight for faith and find joy — no matter what life’s circumstances might bring.

Gaskill is a storyteller who believes stories are powerful and loves how God uses them for His good. She writes and speaks to motivate and inspire others to experience abundant life in Christ. 

She is particularly passionate about encouraging women to fight for faith and go deeper in their relationship with Jesus. Gaskill also writes and speaks about what it looks like to walk with Jesus through pain and suffering.

She lives in Raleigh, NC with her husband and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.

Find her online at LaurenGaskillInspires.com or on Facebook (lauren.gaskill.inspires), Twitter (lauren_inspires) and Instagram (lauren_inspires).

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