Monday, June 23, 2008

Giving In the title of a song written by my friend in Nashville. And it's not a country tune.

I remember when he wrote it. Or at least I think I do. We had a class together in college that covered the Renaissance and Enlightenment and all the "isms" that wre birthed during that time. Or maybe it was the class we took on the "mind-brain problem." I kinda forget which one it was. We had quite a few brainy classes together. I'm pretty sure it was the Renaissance and Enlightment course, because so many people in that era were doing some serious thinking on the 'hows' and 'whys' of humanity and the universe. Reason was the new Coke, and it asked the big questions with the hope that the human mind could 'reason' the big answers. Anyway the song has to do with a sense of captivity in 'intellectual attitudes' that keep us from being able to really define the movements of God. Or in other words, man-made instruments, whether material or mental, cannot fully explain, describe, or predict the movements of God. There's an element of giving up self and 'giving in' to what you perceive with faculties endowed by your Creator that are made to resonate with His movements. One of the lines in the song goes, "I've seen how you move and I know that you're there, though I could never say exactly where."

The last week or so has been characterized by that sort of feeling. I can pretty confidently say that something inside me has perceived the movement of God -- my 'radar' has gone off, so to speak -- but I can't define the movements, say what they are, or put them into clear terms. So I'll just talk about all the seemingly unconnected things on my mind to see if something emerges by the end.

Jency and I have been married for a little over 3 weeks now (yeehaw). But last week was the first time we'd experienced anything close to beginning our lives together. The first week of our marriage was the honeymoon. The second week we came back to Chattanooga and worked Riverbend until our brains turned to mush. So last week was the first time we felt like normal life had really begun. And it's been really nice. We had Ryan and Natalie over for dinner last night, and totally felt like a married couple having friends over for dinner. And not just because we ARE a married couple that had friends over for dinner -- there's something about using the matching place settings and cooking with all your new wedding registry gear that really solidifies it. Anyway it was a cool experience because of the way the Lord magnified blessings on all of us that we didn't see coming. For Jency and I it was a great bonding experience to construct the evening together, assembling the food and atmosphere that would launch conversation. That sounds cheesy, but it really was a beautiful thing. For Ryan and Natalie it was very much a life-giving time for them to come and enjoy a peaceful meal after what was a physically and emotionally exhausting day. I could sense tensions easing over the course of the evening and I think that they walked out of the apartment feeling much better about themselves and life in general than when they walked in. So it was cool to see how God used them coming over to bless Jency and I through the preparations we made, and it was cool to see how He also used the fruit of our preparations to bless our friends that night.

It kinda reminds me of fair trade. We're in this business because we want for our daily work to contribute to the increase of love in this world. Our thinking is that doing it through fair trade blesses the overseas communities we serve, as well as the customers that shop in our store. And it blesses us in the process, providing us with work that we enjoy, believe in, and can do together as husband and wife.

Jency gave me a Bible for my wedding present. It's great. My old Bible is falling apart. If you pick it up too fast, everything from the second half of Luke on through Revelation will fall out in about 7 or 8 chunks. The new Bible is slick and shiny, and more importantly, it stays together! It's so much easier to read. So I've been reading little passages out of it to her each night before we go to sleep. A couple nights ago I read some chapters out of Isaiah, 61 and 62. Isaiah 61 encapsulates a lot of what we feel about our lives and our work. If you click one link in this entry, click that one -- it's worth your time.

Today in the shop three young ladies from Canton, GA (does that make them Cantonese? They definitely weren't Asian...) stopped in and were very excited about our merchandise and what we're doing as a business. Which was really encouraging. They made their purchases and continued on their vacation day. I was glad to have sold some stuff, but didn't really think much of it until they came back in right before closing. They had with them Chattanooga's Street Poet. I haven't caught her name yet, but many of my fellow Chattanoogans know who I'm talking about. For those who don't, she's a woman, probably in her late thirties, who roams downtown and offers to recite an original poem in exchange for a few bucks. I think she's homeless, but I'm not completely sure. I'm pretty sure she's not employed and has a hard time providing for herself. I'm also pretty sure she's not a crackhead or an alcoholic. Anyway the C.S.P. tried on a few outfits for the Cantonese ladies, who gave her their honest opinions in the way that only a group of women shopping together can. The C.S.P. picked out a blouse and skirt outfit that really made her look nice, and the Cantonese ladies picked up the tab for her. This is a woman who usually walks up to you in a grungy T-shirt and tattered jeans. She left the shop with her new clothes on and a new smile on her face. I learned later that they had also taken her out to eat earlier for some Thai food, which she had never tasted before. It was an honor to assist in my small way with such a beautiful picture of anonymous love. The Cantonese ladies did not have an air of doing the C.S.P. a favor. I think they were sincerely enjoying her company, even though they're from out of town and had only just met her.

So here again we've got blessing magnified on several angles, unexpected by all parties. You've got the C.S.P., who had a wonderful night out on the town with spur-of-the-moment friends, and who is now enjoying a nice, new set of clothes. I'm sure she feels like a million bucks right now, and more importantly, she might even have some inkling that she's worth it. I hope she writes a poem about it. Then you've got the Cantonese ladies, who enjoyed her poetry and her company, and found in her an opportunity for a really sweet ministry that even other members of the body of Christ might not have gone so far as to pursue. Then you've got all the overseas cooperatives that benefitted from their purchases -- in India, Kenya, Ghana, China and Ecuador in this case -- receiving the fruits of the fair trade movement. And then there's me, the guy at the cash register, sitting back and watching it all happen, but in the back of my mind knowing that part of the reason it can happen at all is because the Lord has placed me in this line of work to keep the shop running and open.

Incidentally, one of the Cantonese ladies is going on a year-long mission to 11 countries with her husband, and she'll be blogging about it at

So anyway.

There's not much continuity to this long, rambling post, but I feel like all these things are connected somehow. I can't really put my finger on why, but maybe I don't have to, or maybe that's the whole point. If I could really explain it, I mean really explain it, I might miss part of the mystery in the process.


Steen said...

A. Sorry about the "owner" thing, I tend to get running something and owning it mixed up!
B. Congratulations on being newly married! My 7 year anniversary is coming up and it seems like a cross between 70 years and 7 days ago! Marriage is excellent by the way, one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences you will ever face! (Besides kids... :)
C. I love your blog. I am trying to figure out how to link it up to mine...I am new at the blog thing. I love looking at all of the random acts of love and kindness from God in our lives. Its fun to see him in the small things. I think I like the fact that we may never see how it's all connected....(besides the fact it all comes from Him of course! Really, that's all that matters!)

mom2dixiechirps said...

What a great story! I love to hear how God is working downtown! Someone sent me a link to your blog while promoting your missions trip to Zimbabwe.
I can't wait to come and visit your store!