The Couch that Launched a Movement


Not many couches can say they’ve launched a women’s movement. Or a Book Club. But the red couch in our living room did. 

Leigh Kramer visited one Thanksgiving and when I’d asked her to start a SheLoves bookclub, she thought about this iconic piece of furniture and emailed back: What if we called it the Red Couch Bookclub?

So, we did. Annie Rim, our current bookclub editor, has never sat on the red couch, but she’s invited readers month after month to join us to read on the Red Couch.

Scott and I bought the couch when I was pregnant with our first child. We’d sold our condo and were waiting to move into our new house. The move-in date was after my due date. We just knew this was the house and the neighbourhood, so we signed the papers and prayed and hoped I would’t be giving birth under a tree in Point Roberts. We loaded furniture into a container, had it stored for six months and moved into the family cabin. 

We looked for a couch everywhere. My husband dragged my pregnant body to every furniture store known to mankind. I was still so new in the country. I had never shopped for a couch and I really didn’t know what I liked.

But there was one store I had discovered downtown Vancouver that was everything I wanted to be in this world … if I could be table settings and flatware and candles.

Chintz & Co was huge—two floors of lush, unique, beautiful and sometimes whimsical furniture and accents. That’s where we found the red couch.

Scott and I don’t agree about many things. But when we do, we know it is the right thing. The red couch was the right thing. I loved it. Scott loved it. It was the piece we built the rest of the living room around.

That red couch became an invitation to sit down.

I hosted the first Lifegroup from that couch on a Thursday night. That group became a SheLoves Circle and that formed the backbones of this movement of SheLoves.

We sat on that couch, Thursday night after Thursday night. You just knew you were welcome to put up your feet, snuggle in and get real. 

I wrote so many posts curled up on that couch. But I will never forget the blogpost I wrote on my 37th birthday. I invited my world to join me in supporting a hairdressing school in Nairobi. I spent my whole birthday on that couch—first writing the post, then hitting publish, then watching—rather astounded—as emails came in of people who supported the idea with their Love and finances.

Writing that post then launched a trip to Kenya to go to my first ever Amahoro Africa and also visit that hairdressing school.

That trip is when I started becoming myself. I was named and blessed and invited into friendship. I found my heartbeat and pieces of myself that had been missing. I found myself.

We had years of SheLoves editorial meetings from that red couch on Saturday mornings. Now these meetings are all online, but there was a long and good season when I used to put on the coffee and wait for the editors to show up on a Saturday morning. 

Friendships were forged on the couch and from that couch.

We’ve lived in this house now for 14 years—nearly 15. Gabi was born two days after we moved in.

Two years ago the red couch got a big black burn on its back. It had stood too close to the fireplace. You couldn’t see the burn mark from the front, but it was there and I knew it was there.

The fabric was no longer lush and gorgeous. It had faded and was getting thin. The couch no longer felt right.

It seemed wrong to get rid of the red couch. This iconic piece of furniture had been such a big part of SheLoves.

In my vision statement for 2018 that I wrote at the beginning of the year, I mentioned that we got new couches this year. It was time, but I didn’t know how we would ever replace it. And I honestly didn’t have the energy for the Big Couch Search of 2018.

Then, this past summer, we painted the inside of our home. That Saturday I just knew I couldn’t put the old couches back into our fresh living room. I showed Scott a picture on my “Home Inspiration” board on Pinterest.

He did a search on Craigslist and that night I found and bought our next couch. No Drama. It just beautifully unfolded. And I was so grateful.

The new-to-us couch is perfect. Already it’s become a gathering place for our family.

But what to do with our beautiful, favourite red couch with the burn hole and the loss of lustre?

We put it on the front lawn for a friend of a friend to pick up, but it was too big for them. No thrift store would touch it. So, finally I called the city to pick it up. 

It was the end of an era.

I voxed Kelley and said, The red couch is no more.

“What???” she responded right away. “Where will the red couch go??? Will there be a ceremony or a wake or a moment of gratitude???”

But I was so tired and relieved, to be honest, I didn’t know how to honor the couch.

It’s a couch, after all.

Still, this couch was the symbol of what we longed to be in this world: an invitation, a gathering place, a launching place, a conversation. Home. 

This couch said we belong to the human family together. Whether you are a woman in Nairobi, Vancouver or Iraq, a woman in Amsterdam or Cape Town, we are connected. 

Life happened on the red couch and from the red couch. Everything about the red couch was an invitation.

A few Friday nights ago, when we hosted a family dinner for our niece visiting from Dublin, we carried the red couch from the front lawn to the backyard. I postponed the pickup date with the city. And we’ll still have some end-of-summer nights to enjoy the red couch on the patio.

But that is it. It is the end of a season.

It actually feels like the end of a season in so many ways in my life. But I am excited and grateful. So grateful for what has been. And nervously excited for what is to come.

We are launching SheLoves circles this month.

We have been training up leaders all summer. There are women ready to host circles—online and in person. So, keep your eyes open for the signup. There’s a SheLoves circle coming to an actual couch or a virtual living room near you. 

The Red Couch Bookclub will continue on and carry the legacy of a beloved couch where I curled up on many days and fell asleep many nights, where I sat with friends and cried with God, where I read and wrote and talked and rested.

Would you take a moment with me to express my gratitude?

Dear Red Couch,

Thank you for representing my heart and for inviting the world to come and sit. Thank you for helping to forge friendships and for launching us into the good works we have been called to do. You communicated my heart. You made room, you held, you comforted and you stayed up with us into so many late late nights.

Thank you for your service.

Thank you for loving me, our family and everybody who ever sat on you, so so well. 

There must be a special spot for red couches in heaven.

With Love,

Idelette and everyone you’ve ever held.