Winding Down

Nashville at NightYesterday it hit me that I have only six more weeks left in Nashville. I thought I had seven weeks left, which felt more like two months; but according to the calendar, I have only six weeks before I move away from my beloved city. Dang that calendar!

I have a ton to do in the next six weeks—transition out of my job, move out of my apartment, send off my visa request, and spend as much time as possible with my friends. But today I found myself thinking about what I am going to miss most about my city. Here’s a short list, not listed in any order of preference; but you can probably figure out which ones are the most important to me:
• coffee at Fido’s
• walks at Centennial Park
• symphony concerts
• Shakespeare in the Park
• the Nashville Opera
• my church
• Gigi Cupcakes
• Sweet Cece’s
• brunch at Bread and Company
• spring/fall hikes at Radnor Lake
• walks downtown
• MacAuthority
• Calypso Café
• Ann Taylor
• brunch at le Peep
• walks around my neighborhood
• mojitos at Rumba’s on summer nights
• tennis at the park
• seeing the skyline at night from the north side

Nashville has been my home for more than twelve years. I will truly miss this place.

*Image courtesy of Chuck Felix / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A Most Special Gift

Birthday Pudding that Dad made. Yum!

Monday was my birthday, and I had a wonderful time celebrating with family and friends. I think it was the best birthday I have had as an adult. I got to spend my special day with my parents, my siblings, and some of my closest friends. Everyone wanted to make this day special for me, since it would be the last birthday I would spend with my loved-ones for a while. And it was indeed special.

The best gift I received came from my dad; it was a little autobiography of his life. On Father’s Day, I gave Dad the book My Dad: His Stories. His Words. It was a journal book in which Dad would answer questions about his life, from his childhood through adulthood. As I told dad, it was a “selfish gift” because it was really a gift for me, my siblings, and our future children. Dad was supposed to work on the book while I was away in South Africa, but he finished it up early and gave the completed work to me as a birthday present. The story of Dad’s life in his own words is a priceless gift that I will treasure for the rest of my life.

Reading Dad’s story was a reminder to me that my parents are human beings. Beginning in our teenage years, the image of our parents begins to transform into something of the “other.” For some, the image is negative; parents seem like a foreign species. For others, the image is positive; parents seem like perfect beings, like angels. The latter is how I viewed my parents for many years.

Celebrating my b-day with the two who gave me life

In my 30s I began to realize that my parents were not perfect; they have made mistakes like the rest of us. But Dad’s book also reminded me that my parents have experienced many ups and downs in their lives, that they have feelings, that they have joys, disappointments, frustrations, and dreams. Unfortunately for me, I often allow the label of “parent” to overshadow the humanness of my parents.

I don’t have children, but I think being a parent is the hardest “job” in the world; and I think it gets even harder as your children grow up. Eventually, you have to let them go. I don’t know my parents’ inner thoughts, but they are dealing with my upcoming move to South Africa with amazing faith, grace, and dignity. Without their support, love, and encouragement, I would never have the strength to follow God’s call to South Africa.

 

No-Go Books

As I have mentioned several times, my books are going to be the hardest thing for me to part with; but upon a quick glance-through, there are some I definitely plan to leave behind.

Top-10 Books I Won’t Be Taking with Meno-go books

10. Moby Dick by Herman Meville (I never liked this book. I don’t know why.)

9. Henry IV, Part One (only because it has a big rip through the cover)

 8. Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak (I have two copies. I’ll be taking the hardback with me. Had you fooled, right? Doctor Zhivago is one of my top-three favorite books of all times.)

 7. Ernest Hemingway’s short story “In Our Time” (I’ll be taking the complete Hemingway short stories with me.)

 6. The Heart of the Matter by Graham Greene (I didn’t like it.)

 5. Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon (It’s full of helpful information but dry and boring as dust. Plus, it has no chapters!)

 4. Reflections on the Revolution in France by Edmund Burke (same as above)

bookcases
two of my three bookcases, not including spill-over books in corners

3. The Stuart Constitution (I was never into parliamentary history.)

 2. Tennessee: A University Portrait (Why on earth do I have this book in the first place? Someone please tell me.)

1. John Calvin: Selections from His Writings (Oh, my, the writings of Calvin. Enough said.)

 

 

 

Who Am I or Rather—Who Will I Be?

Let’s face it, sometimes Jesus’ teachings are hard. Sometimes I wish he didn’t say some of the things he said. Take Matthew 10:37­­-39 (NRSV), for example: “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.”

I have always struggled with this passage; it makes me feel uncomfortable. God wants us to love our families, right? I love my family more than any people in the world. And who wants to take up a cross, to face known or unknown persecution? Perhaps it is verse 39 that I find most troubling: Aren’t we supposed to find and embrace life? If we lose our life for Christ, we will find it? What does that mean? Help!

 Over the years, I have come to a deeper understanding of Matthew 10:37-39. At the core, I think Jesus is talking about priorities. Whom do we love more–our families or him? As a matter of fact, it isn’t a tradeoff. The more we love Christ, the more we love our families and others. Everything falls into order.

As I prepare to move to South Africa as a cross-cultural Christian worker, I sometimes wonder if I will lose my identity. Whom will I be eighteen months from now? two years from now? three years from now? Will I even recognize myself?

For the longest time, I thought Matthew 10:39 referred to physical death: If we were persecuted and died for Christ, we would find life. But I don’t think that is the main thing Jesus is talking about. I think he is talking about giving up our life—life as we know it—for his sake, to do what he has called us to do. This new understanding of the scripture gives me hope and encouragement. As I give up my old way of life, I think I will find myself. I think I will be more fully me, the Yolanda Nicole Corlew whom God created me to be. And that makes me excited.

Just  for fun–me over the years:

Baby Nicole
Baby Me

With Dad and Little Sister
way back in the day

Mother's Day 2012
with my beautiful Mom

A New Way of Living

InterdependenceInterdependent: (of two or more people or things) dependent on each other

Interdependent—that is what God is teaching me to be, and it is a hard lesson to learn. For years, I have prided myself on being independent. A child of American individualism, I have taken that concept and have run with it. As an adult, I have made my own way in life. As a singleton, I have had to do everything on my own. I haven’t had to depend on anyone financially—until now.

Support Raising. I don’t think a single missionary enjoys this process. It’s daunting, scary, humbling, and perhaps for some, humiliating. You see, in our American culture, we have been taught not to depend on others for anything, really, except for emotional support. Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps. Make your own way in life. And Frank Sintra’s famous, I did it my way.

As Christians, we aren’t called to live life all alone; we are called to live in community; we are called to live not independently, dependently, but interdependently. And truly, that’s how we are designed to live as human beings. Even if I were independently wealthy, I don’t think being a missionary, solely dependent on my own funds, would be the way to go. When we commit to a project, organization, or cause with our time or money, we become engaged and invested. All of sudden that remote well in Haiti becomes my well too. If you feel compelled to partner with me in prayer and/or finances, my work in South Africa becomes our work in South Africa. Both senders and goers are equally important in God’s eyes.

As usual, Jesus knew what he was doing when he set up this model for proclaiming the Good News: “Soon afterwards he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. The twelve were with him, as well as some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their resources” (Luke 8:1-3, NRSV).

A lot of times, I think Jesus’ women disciples get forgotten; but they played an integral role in his ministry by traveling with him and by donating to his cause. If a life of interdependency was good for Jesus and his disciples, it is good enough for me.

 

Image Source:  thegoldguys.blogspot.com/ or www.lumaxart.com/

Transitions

A few days ago, I put away my winter clothes and brought in my spring and summer clothes. The change of the seasons is a bi-annual tradition for my closet, but this time I felt sad. The next time I perform the ritual, I’ll be cleaning out and packing up my closet for good; and I’ll be getting rid of some clothes and shoes I cherish.

One of My Favorite Dresses
I will be taking this dress with me!

When it comes to possessions, my books will be the hardest things for me to give away or to sell. Deciding which ones to take with me will be like selecting favorites from your children. Perhaps I’m being a bit melodramatic, but you get the picture. I love my books.

As much as I hate to admit it, I’m attached to my clothes and shoes just like the next woman. Deciding what to take with me and what to leave behind will be hard. Rearranging my closet was just another reminder of my transitioning life. In a way, I think I have begun to start to grieve my old life. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still super excited about the next phase of my life, but change is change; whether good or bad, it’s always challenging.