God’s Love and an Old Green Sofa

Feb 19, 2013

I want my children to know that God’s love is as real as the cupcakes and green tea we shared on Monday afternoon. It’s as real as this house that shelters us from cold and frames our daily view of the sunset.

But this is actually a hard thing to believe, and my daughter goes straight for the crack in my story: what about the kids who have no cupcakes? What about the student my health teacher just told us about? The one with no money for a visit to the dentist? The one who is about to lose his house because his parents ran out of money to pay the owner?

And I can hear the real question whispering beneath our conversation: isn’t it a terrible thing to suppose God loves one child with a gift of cupcakes while another one is left to starve?

I’ve been listening to this firstborn of mine for years, and one word that always comes to mind is wisdom.

She reminds me that wisdom doesn’t necessarily know the answer, but she does ask good questions.

That is a good question, I tell her. I don’t know the answer.

All I really know are the stories that make up my own life. While I don’t believe in the God of Parking Spaces (in other words, a God who makes my life easier and more comfortable with special little favors), I do know that God loves in big ways and small.

Maybe God is loving you right now with cupcakes, I tell her. Maybe he is loving that other child with a bowl of rice from an aid worker.

One time, I tell her, God loved me with a sofa.

It was just over a year ago, and I had this farmhouse dream in mind. It was a dream about caring for an old house and a bit of land and welcoming lots of people around our table. In my mind, it looked like an antique sofa. The kind with a carved wood frame and pretty little legs. I don’t know why the dream looked that way to me, but it did.

But I was very sick that last winter in Florida. I spent every day in bed trying to breathe, trying to avoid the wicked, golden tree pollen wafting through the air.

Until the day, dear firstborn, when I couldn’t take your cabin-fever complaints, your boredom made manifest in bickering. I grabbed you and my inhaler and took off for some thrift-store therapy. I don’t think I ever felt so far away from my dream as I did then – struggling to breathe and desperate for escape. From pollen, from warm winters, from bickering children, from all of it.

We walked into the thrift store – headed for the twenty-five cent children’s books – and I saw it. My sofa. My farmhouse sofa.

But, we don’t have room for another couch, you said. You’re right, I said. We don’t have room in our Florida house, but I don’t think we’ll always be here. Dear God, tell me I won’t always be here. Desperate for breath. Dying to escape.

I bought that sofa. It sat in our Florida garage for a few weeks until I had enough faith to write the check. That’s when I googled upholsterers.

I chose the one with the coupon and the free in-person estimate. He loaded my sofa into his white van, and I went back to my sickbed. Not even a sofa in the garage to remind me of my dream.

Months went by, and there was no reason to think we’d be leaving Florida anytime soon. The sofa wasn’t ready when he said. Weeks went by, and I emailed. Soon! he wrote back. More weeks went by, and I emailed again. Very soon! he wrote.

I tried not to think about my farmhouse (but all I could think was where is it? And when will we go there?). I tried not to think about my sofa (but all I could think was where is it? And did I pick the right fabric?).

June 23. My birthday. 5 pm and there was a phone call. Your sofa is ready, and I’m in your neighborhood. Can I bring it by?

You and I, we don’t believe in the God of Parking Spaces. You and I, we can’t ever forget that starving child (which is as it should be).

But I know my own story, and I know God gave me a sofa for my thirty-fifth birthday.

Today, I am sitting at my desk in an old, old farmhouse. I can see my sofa from where I sit.

It was made for this house.

Which is as inconsequential as a parking space. And as miraculous as anything I know.

with number four



  1. valarie

    I hope I don’t damage the laptop with my tears. This was my lifeline today, Christie. This was God…. I’ve never even met you, but I love you dearly.

  2. Angela

    This is beautiful. Having experienced the God-who-loves-me-with-an-old-green-sofa in my own life, I’m nestling up real close to my own stories, reminding myself how important it is to remember them.

    May this story be a seed that spreads… so that those who read see their own “green sofas” sprout up around them.

    • Christie Purifoy

      Oh, Angela, I hope so. That is the reason I tell stories – I want people to recognize their own.

  3. Lisa Ulrich

    beautiful story AND that is a beautiful sofa 🙂

    • Christie Purifoy

      Yes, Lisa, I need you to bring you baby girl and come sit on it. Please.

  4. Annie Barnett

    Wisdom indeed – to hold those stories and those questions, and keep walking one foot in front of the other. I needed this little whisper of hope tonight, Christie. Thank you.

    • Christie Purifoy

      Thank you, Annie. So glad I could pass on a bit of hope.

  5. Glynda


    Next time we see each other remind me to tell you my “God of Parking Spaces”

  6. crissy

    wow….i’m sitting here in awe and wondering what my “farm house” is.

    • Christie Purifoy

      He has a story and a dream for each of us, Crissy. I’m convinced.

  7. kelli

    miraculous indeed. and yes, you picked the right fabric.

  8. Rebecca @ The Reluctant Housewife

    Stories like this always leaves me speechless and in awe of the God who loves so individually and so perfectly. So many times in my life in the simplest of ways God whispers, “I see you , and I love you.” and it carries me. And, sometimes I feel like he yells it from mountaintops =) LOVE your green sofa, it’s absolutely perfect.

    • Christie Purifoy

      Yes, he is the God who sees us! We each have “green sofa” stories to tell. 🙂

  9. Kelly Chripczuk

    Isn’t it funny, though, I’ve so often been discontent with the way God loves me. Unhappy with cupcakes when I really wanted something else. Real dreams, rooted in God’s gifts for me, require so much letting go on my part.

    I have been waiting and dream of a space and I don’t know if it will ever come, in a literal sense, but I know the wait is hollowing out (hallowing out) a space in me and maybe this is what God had in mind to begin with.

    Beautiful site.

    • Christie Purifoy

      “I know the wait is hollowing out (hallowing out) a space in me …”
      Yes! So true and beautifully put. I should probably write more about all the giving up and letting go that came before this green sofa and farmhouse. Because, really, those were the best, hardest, and most important moments.

    • Christie Purifoy

      Thank you, Lisa-Jo. It’s a story I’d been waiting to tell.

  10. Shelly Miller

    I love this. It speaks of God loving us in ways that only He knows will touch the deepest places within us. Even through a couch.

  11. stephanie

    Me too. I don’t believe in the God of Parking Spaces either, and yet last week we found out we can stay in the neighborhood we love so much, just by the skin of our teeth … so there’s that.

    Love this post, love your voice. So glad for your words.



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