When You Feel Like a Skeleton Leaf

When Autumn turns to Winter and sometimes-sun shines hot, leaves dry to crunchy underfoot. Those leaves once glorious shades of rich are now brittle, dry, broken.

So far gone, a gentle touch might be enough to break the leaf beyond repair.

I am reminded of skeleton leaves – so fine and dry there is nothing to them.

This picture came to me and I wondered if it were for you.

And maybe you feel guilty for sitting in your ‘comfort’ and your home when babes are washed up on shores in distant lands. Guilty that for all you have your heart still feels like it might disintegrate within you.

The mocking voice of how lucky you should feel, how happy you ought to be, how everyone else is managing, is like the hand that might crush you down beyond repair – like you might turn to dust and be borne away on the wind.

Because you feel bad for feeling bad and you feel like you are trapped in some cycle that will wear you down until you are no more than an invisible set of threads, that show the pattern of what was once a green leaf attached to the vine.

These are the verses I feel for you today,
“there is hope for a tree:
    If it is cut down, it will sprout again,
    and its new shoots will not fail.
Its roots may grow old in the ground
    and its stump die in the soil,
yet at the scent of water it will bud
    and put forth shoots like a plant.” 

Job 14

and maybe we don’t know each other, and maybe we do, but I wonder if this whisper from heaven is for you today.

Because you matter. We all matter – and that is the long and short and confusing and overwhelming truth of it all.

the ones who ignore
the ones who stand up and take action
the ones who kneel down and win unseen wars
the ones who are self-obsessed
the ones who are self-loathing

all matter.

Today you matter. Through the throngs of crowds, the crush, the voices – a single trembling hand that reached out just to touch the hem of His garment. That one mattered.

In the empty, broken silence can you smell the scent of water?
Just the smallest of trickles that might bring life to an empty shell.

Can you believe you might see green shoots come in your life again? Is it too great a thing for God to achieve in you?

“Though you were ruined and made desolate
    and your land laid waste,
now you will be too small for your people,
    and those who devoured you will be far away.
20 The children born during your bereavement
    will yet say in your hearing,
‘This place is too small for us;
    give us more space to live in.’
21 Then you will say in your heart,
    ‘Who bore me these?
I was bereaved and barren;
    I was exiled and rejected.
    Who brought these up?
I was left
    but these—where have they come from?’”
Isaiah 49

Because that’s the Hope I feel for you too, little, broken, dry, skeleton leaf…. that it’s not just a scent of water that will Save you – it’s that there is more for you. There is life in you, and that life will give life, and you will not be sentenced to being barren and neglected.

You will be a life-giver.

Read these words today and let them settle deep down in your dry bones. Dare to let your mind, your heart, your faith, wander again to the promises you have been given. The One who promises you is faithful.

May you know today the scent of water.

You are loved. You matter. You are noticed and heaven whispers your name. There is life for you yet.

Spirit, I am dry, crushed and broken. Help me know the scent of life. Let me live to see your promises realised.


You shall be called by a new name,
Which the mouth of the Lord will name.
You shall also be a crown of glory
In the hand of the Lord,
And a royal diadem
In the hand of your God.
You shall no longer be termed Forsaken,
Nor shall your land any more be termed Desolate;
But you shall be called Hephzibah(my delight is in her), and your land Beulah(married);
For the Lord delights in you.

Isaiah 62

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holding hope in a broken cup

one of things I read about Christian’s contribution to creativity is that we can depict both the despair of fallenness and the glory of the goodness of God’s good creation,*

most of the time I find that I have all sorts of joy in seeing the wonderful glory of God seen in his good creation and in people who wear his fingerprints all over them

but sometimes I feel overwhelmed by the brokenness, the groaning of creation and its people who bear up under the grief of genocides, of people oppressed, of women and children living in fear, of domestic violence and children sent to school with hungry tummies, of creation neglected and the pursuit of wealth and happiness above all else

I feel the weight of this stretched out scale where I live in comfort when other Christian mamas and their babes are pursued to death… and I feel it like a hot burn down the back of my throat, and I feel it like a stone in my stomach and I feel like all I can offer is dust in my hands in a desert full of dust.

it’s like I am called to bring water, to be the scent of water, to bring refreshment to those who are longing and parched and all I have is a tiny broken cup

and I feel that water trickle out of me like unshed tears and drop and evaporate onto a land so dry it needs a flood

and my own lack of anything

my own barrenness

my fear

my emptiness

brings me to my knees

and with dry and cracked lips I whisper to the God who holds it all would you send streams over the dry land, would you rend the heavens and stand upon the earth, would you send a flood to wash away my sinfulness, my self-obssession, the claws of death and torrents of destruction that are sweeping like a cyclone across a desert

would you send the rain

and I am reminded, in the depths of emptiness I have access to a never-ending well

I am invited to drink deeply and freely of the waters that quench all of my longings

that even when I am a tiny and cracked cup hope can still be poured in

and Hope was always meant to be poured out – and a broken cup is a wonderful vessel for emptying its contents

a broken cup

and an endless supply of Hope

this is where I find myself today – small and broken, and cup titled upwards to the only source of Hope I know

He reached down His hand from above me; He held me. He lifted me from the raging water. He rescued me from my strongest enemy, from all those who sought my death, for they were too strong. They came for me in the day of my destruction, but the Eternal was the support of my life. He set me down in a safe place;  He saved me to His delight; He took joy in me.
Psalm 18 – the words of Hope dripping out of my broken cup today

* N.T Wright’s book Surprised by Hope has a beautiful section on this

BLT – from ashes to honor

I loved the readings this week. I was so encountered by the love of God and the beautiful justice that is his song of love. 

In a place and time where women were overlooked and judged for inability to produce offspring this week we met Hannah, Elizabeth and Mary. Women judged and misunderstood. Women with hearts of gold. Women who knew a God that met them in empty spaces and unfulfilled dreams – women who were given a home in barrenness and whose wombs were filled with life and rejoicing. 


Women who mothered children who would change nations, appoint kings, prophecy of and baptist the Messiah and parent the Saviour of the world. These women outwardly appeared failures to society and there they were doing the unseen work of investing into their next generation.

As a mother I cannot help but be encouraged by these beautiful women.


I cannot help but be blessed by God who notices those who are in the dust – poor and unnoticed – and raises them up. 

God is not, will never be limited by our outward circumstances but we limit him by the bitterness of our hearts toward our circumstances. 

This week I want to come knelt down and poor with a beautiful, broken heart and let Him do his good work.


This is my prayer, these are my meditations as I contemplated these women, those who await deliverance from the ash heap, and our new place at the table, a place clothed in robes of righteousness.


The readings I based this stitching on.

1 Samuel 2v8
He raises up the poor from the dust; he lifts the needy from the ash heap, to make them sit with princes and inherit a seat of honour. For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and on them he has set the world.



Psalm 113 v 7-9
He raises the poor from the dust, and lifts the needy from the ash heap,
 to make them sit with princes, with the princes of his people. 

He gives the barren woman a home, making her the joyous mother of children. Praise the LORD!

Luke 1:39-57


In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me?
For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy.
 And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.”
And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant. 

Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.
His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.


He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly;
he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.


He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy,
 according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”
And Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home.
Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son.


Many thanks to Rachel Held Evans for this invitation to reflect and journey with the lectionary.

If these encourage you and you want to share them, I would love to know, also please acknowledge them as my work via a link. 

The Light Will Go Green

Have you ever been stuck at the side street entrance to an intersection at night?

No one is coming the other way and yet your light, it seems, is perpetually red.

And you start to wonder if it will ever change.

And you start to consider running the red…. and then your thoughts start to justify the short-cut…. and you begin muttering under your breath and tapping the steering wheel.

But you know the truth – the light will go green.

Sometimes that light is so close to your destination, so close to the thing you want, the break you’ve been hoping for, so close you could almost just sneak through that red light and grab it.

Someone really clever developed those light systems – sensors, and wires and all sorts of somethings I can’t really get my head around. They aren’t subject to some whim of some guy at the lights desk who’s having a bad day.

Do you feel like that just now? That the light is red and you are held back against your will – desperate to short cut the system, overcome by feeling frustrated and annoyed and in some kind of hurry you can’t even explain?

This is the word whispered into my heart today – the light will go green

the light will go green

the light will go green

and muttering and huffing, and planning short cuts, and revving the engine, and entertaining frustration, and telling yourself everything you are missing out on because the light is red – these things won’t change anything

breathe

trust

hope

the light will go green

the designer can be trusted

the light will go green

don’t take a short cut,

at the right time

the light will go green

I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ.
Philippians 1v4