Friday, August 27, 2010

Guest Blogger: Nicole Unice

So, remember when I got to be guest post on a friend's blog? crazy, right? Well, the Gaskill Rascals are excited to welcome that friend, Nicole Unice, to be our guest post for today.
We feel honored to be a part of her blog tour!
If you have not had the chance to meet Nicole, then you are missing out. I introduced her a few weeks ago here. She has recently published a Study of Jonah called The Divine Pursuit. You need to check it out. Like right now. (btw: 100% of the proceeds from the study support International Justice Mission. very cool)

So, here comes the good stuff......

Becoming a counselor is a weird sort of schooling. What other graduate program teaches you how to listen, ask good questions, and read interpersonal dynamics? Who but future counselors study nonverbal cues, birth order, and “solution-focused questions?” Counseling techniques easily transform into entertaining party tricks: “Let me guess,” I imagine saying to my unsuspecting acquaintance while swirling my drink, “your deepest fear is turning into your mother, whom you find yourself resembling more each day?”

There’s another side to studying therapist techniques. Developing questions that pry back even the hardest shell takes practice. And there’s only one person that accompanies me to sleep, to the bathroom, to work—other than my toddler. It’s me. I am the unwilling recipient of my own therapy.

So I paid attention when I got all emotional about the story of Jonah. Do you know him? The bible Jonah, the telling-God-N-O Jonah, the swallowed-by-a-fish Jonah? Think way back to Vacation Bible School. You probably sang a song about him or maybe smoothed him up on a feltboard next to a smiling whale.

Jonah disobeys and isn’t loving, or at least, that’s the point when we tell the VBS version. But when I prepared a teaching series for a women’s group on the book of Jonah, I found myself stirred up, almost resentful, of what Jonah had become in those children’s stories. Like Jonah is a flat caricature painted by a heavenly hand to make us feel good about ourselves. Hey, at least I didn’t have to be swallowed by a big fish to listen to God. At least I wouldn’t defy God like that.

I got emotional because I thought Jonah could have had some reasons for running. That maybe following God’s orders and going to Nineveh was something excruciatingly hard for Jonah, something that felt impossible to do.

And then the therapist in me listened closely and asked a piercing question: “Hmmm….interesting. What are your Ninevehs?”

Hmmm is right.

I pondered my own Ninevehs and the Ninevehs of those I’ve counseled. I thought about the pattern of fleeing, obeying and resisting God found in Jonah—and found in me. I considered the things in life that would make me want to lob a fat N-O in God’s face, modern-Day Ninevehs like:

Living joyfully in difficult relationships.

Struggling through a hard marriage (or waiting on a good one).

Fighting with addictions.

Battling fear.

Making peace with the past. Wrestling with unforgiveness. Learning to wait. Embracing uncertainity. Raising difficult children. Choosing to care for aging parents. Going back to work when you want to stay home. Having children. Not having children. And the list goes on….

Holy Spirit calling: Jonah is me.

Jonah is you, too, if you’ve ever wanted space from God. If you’ve ever escaped from Him in heart or in action. Jonah is you if you’ve ever wondered how or why God would talk to you—and if you would obey. I know one thing: Jonah’s not a platitude to mount on a cross-stitch and hang in the bathroom. It’s raw, real life. It’s one of the many things I love about God--the way He enters our disheveled reality. The way He knows our crazy souls. And the way He shows us His soul for us, and for all his creation.

If you can relate, take heart, and take another look at Jonah. You might just find a friend.

Nicole Unice is a counselor and blogger working in family ministry at Hope Church in Richmond, VA. Her six-week guided study of Jonah, The Divine Pursuit, is available as a printed version on her website. An online community using The Divine Pursuit begins 9/15.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

My new digits

I got a new phone number a few weeks ago.  Finally I am committing to Virginia as my home and said good bye to my 404 friend.  We had a good run, that number and me.  We were never as close as that amazing college number.  Seriously, you won't believe what is was, but I will give you a few hints. 
I had a number that was the same 6 numbers plus one other number.  As in, ###-##&#. 
I often think I was invited to do fun stuff only because my friends remembered my digits. 
Who should we call?
Well, there's always Anne, because I DO remember her number.

The reason I am sharing this bit of information is to tell you how surprised I am at the short break my Atlanta cell phone number took.  Someone has already been assigned my exact number.  And would you believe that his name is Daniel.  What are the chances?  Poor guy.  I wonder if he has gotten any interesting calls from long lost friends who are very confused at the time line of my child's birth when they hear a manly voice on the message saying, "you've reached Daniel. leave a message"  No, folks. My child does not have a phone and I will keep it that way until sport's practices and driving require the safety of a cell phone.
He's not even in Kindergarten yet, so we have some time.
(wiping tear away as I think about my baby growing up)

At least this Daniel fellow won't get calls from bill collectors like we did with our VA home number.  After about 50 of those, I was tempted to start asking random women if they were named Erin Blevens, and if so, would you please go pay your bill.  Debt free is a good life goal, Erin.  Don't let your slip-up be our dinnertime interruption. 
And friends, if you happen to chat with this new Daniel,  please be kind!
We chatted a few days ago and he seems like a nice guy.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

updated with evidence: Covered, Diced, and Capped

Danny asked for me to make breakfast for dinner the other day. I decided I could do better than breakfast at our house. Time for the boys to try lunch at the waffle house!
We had my favorite cheese eggs with grits(and raisin toast, of course) plus a waffle and an order of hash browns. Danny was pretty impressed at how fast our food came out. And they both were wishing I had ordered more food than that. Both boys seemed surprised that their mommy had once worked at this kind of restaurant.
(Here's a photo if you didn't believe me!  My summer trip with Campus Outreach.  I have some stories to tell.)
The best part was when I stuck a quarter in the jukebox and found a Hank Williams Jr song called Family Traditions. Our waitress started humming the tune and Danny yelled out for the whole store to hear "Mommy, we love this song!"
Maybe I need to think more about my music choices in the car?
nah...he has good tastes.
And he fits right in at the waffle house!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Like nana, like grandson

Even though I was the photographer for both incidents, we didn't discover this until we got home. 

Apparently, both Danny and his Nana have a thing for sticking their heads into the lion's mouth. 

Monday, August 2, 2010

Great party, Danny, thanks for turning 4!

More to come later on the birthday party, but first up is a photo of Danny's birthday cake.  Thanks to our sweet friend Marci and the help of her cake assistant family we had an awesome awesome cake. 
Might be the best kid birthday party cake ever. 
And that is not an exaggeration.
Danny's putt-putt party was made even more special by the fully interactive cake. had a hole where you could drop the ball in and it would come out at the bottom.  Bet you haven't seen that lately?
And most of all, it is special when someone who you love has a big part in your special day.  It is just like our wedding cake done by Scott's childhood "second" mom Gail.  When a cake is more than just a food at the party, but also a labor of love and a huge centerpiece for your special day....well, that just makes it complete. 

Not trying to compare wedding cake to 4 year old birthday cake, but both tasted delicious and were made by special friends. 
Here is a photo(even better in person!)

I mean, really, have you ever seen anything like it?