The Couch

The secret of the Lord is for those who fear Him, and He will make them know His covenant. (NASB)

“Did you know the root word in Hebrew for secret can mean a couch?” the songwriter asked as she rummaged through her file looking for the draft of her new song.
Blogging at Ishshah’s Story this week.

Ishshah's Story

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“The greatest freedom is having nothing to prove.” – R.T. Kendall

When I look at the big comfy couch and overstuffed armchair here in my living room, I think of open-hearted conversations with friends. I think of the times people have trusted me with their stories as we sat on sofas covered in white brocade, brown leather, floral print (like this one at Karen’s cottage) or, in student days, something that looked even worse than the army blanket covering it.

Many times friends gave me the chance to be unguarded as I offered them the same privilege. We laughed, cried, challenged and encouraged each other. I welcome unadorned truth from friends close enough to genuinely care and who can extend me the same grace they have received from the Lord. Other than the entryway, where the deepest conversations seem to be accompanied by one hand on the door knob, the…

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Give Me Understanding

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I know now, only one summer later, why this outdoor bench was on sale. I need to scrape it down and re-paint it already.

At first it fit the landscape plan perfectly. Now? I really need to paint it.

Sometimes the Lord gives us places to sit and enjoy the scenery on this spiritual journey and they are good places to settle – for a while. Sometimes we discover, when the paint chips off, that we need to get up and pursue a closer relationship with God, a better understanding, a sturdier orthodoxy and more effective orthopraxy that can handle new situations we encounter.

I overheard this discussion between sisters, one three-years old and the other seven-years old.

“I came out of Mommy’s tummy!”
“No. You came out of her uterus.”
“A stomach is for digesting food. You couldn’t have been in her tummy or you would have come out like poop.”
“I am not poop!”
“That’s because you grew in her uterus not her tummy!”
“Mommy said! I was in her tummy and you were in her tummy too!”
“Uterus. Or sometimes they call it a womb, but it’s not a tummy.”
“Mommy! Daisy is lying!”

I’ve seen a lot of discussions between Christian adults take a similar turn lately. When we are learning the basics of life the knowledge that babies come from mommies’ tummies is profound enough and a good place to settle. There is grace for that level of understanding when we love and respect each other. There is also grace for people who have settled on the next bench, and the next, however temporary those positions may be as they continue to journey.

You should have seen the expression on my grandson’s face after his dad told him how babies got in there. “Oh Grammie, it’s nasty! Just nasty! You wouldn’t believe it!”

Some information is too heavy for toddlers. It’s hard enough to hear when you are school aged – or even grandmother-aged. But you can’t avoid that knowledge forever, and it’s best you hear it from parents who are vested in your long-term well-being.

Simple explanations are good enough for babes in faith. Some people are happy to settle there indefinitely and will insist you agree with them. The explanations they are contented with are not untrue (tummy can be a pretty general term), but there is more to be learned in time. When the Lord teaches me something new I am sometimes shocked. I feel unsettled, unsure. I don’t have a grid for it. There is a period of letting go of old incomplete concepts to make room for things I just don’t get yet. For a person who has had trust issues and accepts change slowly this can be a challenge. What do you mean it’s a little more complicated than what I thought?

As the Lord is giving me a more in-depth picture of his holiness and the utter horror and ugliness of sin and how it leads to death, he is also giving me an increasingly overwhelming picture of his majesty, grace and a love I cannot comprehend. It’s a shocking paradox that only makes sense when viewed from where he sits. This requires some adjustment to my thinking. It’s too massive a concept to grasp all at once.

You go before me and follow me.
You place your hand of blessing on my head.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too great for me to understand!
(Psalm 139:5,6 NLT)

I want to understand more. I need much better insight. How can God continue to love people who reject him and hurt each other? How can I do that when I’m disgusted by my own attitude sometimes, let alone the attitude of people who hate me for not agreeing with them? How do I love? What IS love, anyway?

This morning I pray with the cry of the Psalmist:

Let my cry come before you, O Lord;
give me understanding according to your word!
Let my plea come before you;
deliver me according to your word.


The unfolding of your words gives light;
it imparts understanding to the simple.
I open my mouth and pant,
because I long for your commandments.
Turn to me and be gracious to me,
as is your way with those who love your name.
(Psalm 119: 169, 170, 130  – 132 ESV)

I don’t understand, but You do, Lord. I trust You.


Maybe I should use a hardier paint on the bench this time.  Boat paint?


In case you missed it…

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A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.
John 13:34

By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.
John 13:35

This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
John 15:12

These things I command you, so that you will love one another.
John 15:17

Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.
Romans 12:10

Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.
Romans 13:8

Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.
2 Corinthians 13:11

For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
Galatians 5:13

…with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love…
Ephesians 4:2

And may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you.
1 Thessalonians 3:12

Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another.
1 Thessalonians 4:9

We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing.
2 Thessalonians 1:3

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.
Hebrews 10:24

Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart.
1 Peter 1:22

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.
1 Peter 4:8

Greet one another with the kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ.
1 Peter 5:14

For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.
1 John 3:11

And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us.
1 John 3:23

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.
1 John 4:7

Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
1 John 4:11

No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
1 John 4:12

And now I ask you, dear lady—not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but the one we have had from the beginning—that we love one another.
2 John 1:5



With Endurance and Calm

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On this day, three years ago,
-I didn’t know where my elderly father was and if he had been evacuated from the senior’s home beside the river,

-my sister-in-law had to wade through water to get to her patients at the hospital,

-my brother, cut off by wash-outs, refused helicopter rescue and stayed to help neighbours whose property was crumbling into the raging Cougar Creek,

-my son’s family’s home and vehicle was under eight feet of water and sewage after the Highwood River changed course and the berms meant to protect the town center redirected water into his neighbourhood 3 kilometers away,

-I was in Edmonton on the other side of the mountains from my husband with washed out bridges and roads between us,

-our daughter’s family couldn’t get back to their home in Alberta for the same reason,

-the familiar landmarks of my childhood in downtown Calgary were submerged,

-and soldiers drove tanks down the Queen E II highway on rescue operations.


That day this verse meant a lot to me: When you face stormy seas I will be there with you with endurance and calm; you will not be engulfed in raging rivers. If it seems like you’re walking through fire with flames licking at your limbs, keep going; you won’t be burned.                         (Isaiah 43:2 The Voice)

On this day, three years later, I can say God has been with us with endurance and calm. We were not engulfed. I have hope and an even stronger sense that God is good.

Thank you, Lord, that when we are on a difficult or lonely road you have already placed provisions we will need there in advance. We just need to look to you to see the bigger picture.

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Stop and Smell the Roses

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I’m running away.

I’m tired of ugly words. I’ve read too many words by frightened people pointing out other people’s sins and stupidity  today.

And now I’m doing it too.

I’m not burying my head in the sand; I’m burying it in the roses.

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We drove down to Sandpoint, Idaho for a break (and to buy corn tortillas and a brand of cheese we can’t get here.) I stopped the car for a moment to get something out of the trunk. Then I looked up and saw, in this place for stopping and doing nothing (a parking lot), hundreds of roses blooming on the embankment below a busy highway.

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It was a reminder to literally stop and smell the roses.

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Can I admit that lately I have found that any time I have been invited to join a group with “Christian” in the title it is nearly always an invitation to entertain contentious frightened people’s conflicting opinions? I long for a place where followers in Christ live in peace and joy. A place where it is said of these people, “Look at how they love each other.”

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In the meantime I will try to remember to stop for a rose and see it as a gift from the One who is peace, joy and love.


Thank you, Lord, for your generous provision of beauty where we least expect it.



I, I, I count my blessings

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This song is playing in my head this morning. “I Count My Blessings.”

As the sun dawned on me (lying in bed but awake far too early) the thought dawned on me: You know, life is pretty good when your fret quotient is filled with worries about stuff and lack of storage space.

I have stuff.
I have a beautiful family.
Our children are excellent parents.
Our grandchildren love and are loved.
I have friends around the world with whom I can connect in the Spirit.
I have a Saviour who brings me into the throne room of the King of Kings and Creator of the Universe.
I have the Holy Spirit who lives in me and reminds me of songs about counting blessings.

And I have an old CD of the Nylons that I found again after one of my kids hid it twenty years ago because I played it on every road trip.