Mary Nodded: How to Play Your Drum for Him

Often, Middlest Boy says something that pushes my eyes wide open and downright drops my jaw. Moments like these come like an electrified zap. This time the bolt zapped with laughter and lingered with wonder. Oh, the delight of God, that my Middlest would be a mouthpiece for an advent awakening 37 years in the making. Yes, I’m slow like that.

These are words I texted to my parents just after I caught my breath:

Was just reading Samuel’s favorite “Drummer Boy” to him while he eats his “peanut and jelly”  We get to the last couple pages. I say, “Where is the baby?” He says, “Right dere! THAT is Baby Jesus!”.  I ask, “Where is his mama?” He replies and points to her, “That is his mama.” Then I ask, “Samuel, what is Jesus’ mama’s name? What is she called?”  Without a nanosecond of hesitation he says, “Mary Nodded”. Then he begins to sing as only a toddler can, “Mary nodded, pa-rum-pum-pum-pum”. 

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Laugh. Laugh with joy and delight. We sure did. It was innocent, beautiful, comical, and he was perfectly right—though I doubt he knew it.

Mary. Nodded. 

Not the drifting-off-into-sleep kind of nod. I think I can safely surmise that the song’s lyricist did not intend this definition.

Most likely the word choice was to indicate a gesture of approval as the little boy plays the drum and delights the Christ child.

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Mary nodded.

She nodded.

Jesus, I want to nod more.

What was she doing, that barely woman, when God sent Gabriel to Nazareth? On this side of the veil we can only surmise. With certainty I’ll offer the conjecture that her mind was not on the way her waistline would morph in the coming months as God made flesh would grow in her womb. She was likely busy at a chore. A daily task. 

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And it happens. Mary’s mundane is mysteriously eclipsed by miracle.

But doesn’t God so often speak BIG into our moments of little? He so BIG came to us so conspicuously little.

Moments of having little? Moments of feeling little? Moments of being little? That’s where the BIG of God happens.

Angel Gabriel greets her.

A tsunami of news—the kind of words that shake a person from the epicenter of the soul— washes over Jesus’ mama-to-be in a wave that is all swirling Spirit. And she doesn’t shake her head in belief undone. Her head never shakes in doubt. Did her chin drop in the presence of God’s messenger, Gabriel? Did she nod?

She asks a question of the herald. Is the question a doubt? No. It’s a question uttered from a barely woman who most likely looks more child than mama.

How? Mary asks with the forthrightness that reminds she still has a foot firmly in her youth.

And Gabriel’s answer? 

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Luke 1:35

And here’s where my Middlest was so unknowingly correct.

Are you ready?

Here it comes.

“ ‘I am the Lord’s servant,’ Mary answered. ‘May your word to me be fulfilled.’ Then the angel left her.”

If THAT is not an audible nod, then I’m at a loss to articulate what is.

This was a gesture of submission—a bow made with an abundance of belief, from a heart of trust.

A heart that didn’t have all the answers because there are things we just can’t know. And don’t need to know. Don’t need to know because our desire to know the “how?” pales, and falls away because we can know the WHO. The I AM. The God With Us. The Lion that came as a Lamb. The God Made Flesh, Jesus, born of Mary. Mary who nodded.

Lord, still me to see.

You, God, love so BIG in all my little.

When you call, bend me to bow.

As you speak, kneel me, drop me down.

Where I would shake my head in doubt and disbelief, shape my posture to give thanks.

To obey.

To nod and say, “I am your servant.” Amen.

It’s advent, dear one.

JESUS is coming. Coming indeed.

Nod in the joy and delight of a heart saved by and submitted to Him.

Let Him do BIG with your little. With your tired. With your “to do’s”. With your very real sorrows and with your fragile hopes.

And by all means, play your best for Him on the drum He gives you, precious child.

He’ll smile.

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John 1:1

A new year. A fresh page. Beginnings that can’t blossom until they bud, and can’t bud until a seed breaks open in the dark below. And it’s so hard to keep the trajectory true to the aim if you’ve lost sight of the launch pad. In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God” so simple. Need there be anything else? And yet so many something else things get between me and the Word, and in that fog, I wither. 

Some weeks start hard and just get harder. That was this week. No question. 

School, chores, work. The calendar–all of it necessary and of import–stared me down Sunday night. 

A hit-the-ground-running Monday was followed by a barely-treading-water Tuesday. And folks, by Thursday night I was ready to throw in the towel. Yes. It was that brutal. So here it is, flat-on-my-face Friday and I’m stunned, again, by the beauty of the simple, simply Jesus the Beautiful.

And in all of it the words of John 1:1 have been ringing in my ears.

…was the Word

…Word was with God

…Word was God

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Thank you, ever-honest Ann, for preaching the gospel to yourself and encouraging us to do the same.  In her journal last week Miss Ann wrote these words, the kind that make you stop, pivot. 

How does the church stop being a bunch of Jesus-users? And become a host of Jesus-adorers?

When did Jesus become more about business-like benefits to us instead of The Beautiful who calls us Beloved?

Looking for the beauty of Christ in the everyday isn’t some quaint exercise in poetry. It’s a critical exercise in staying alive. “Your new life, which is your real life, …. is with Christ. He is your life.” [Colossians 3]

And, friends, I am desperate for that Christ, my life, this week. How in all this spinning world am I beloved? How? Because The Beautiful One has unquestionable sight and gazes with grace. Sometimes, that gift is hard to open–the kind of gift that makes me swallow hard over the lump of imperfections that swell to nearly choking in this season of pinterest-perfect pretending. Pressure that doesn’t press me closer to Jesus is poison in my soul.

And I just need Holy Light to shine in this place. 

Beams of sharp winter sun laser through the chinks, lays bare the heart and a life’s down-side-up priorities. But I can bow my head and look up and give thanks because the Word has always been. Always.

Jesus, The Beautiful, the WORD made flesh is with me. Me? Yes! Me! 

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Toddlers make messes. And sometimes they refuse to nap. And usually it’s on a day when Mama most needs him too. 

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Babies make laundry. And sometimes nothing comforts except Mama. And usually it’s on a day when Mama is spread so very thin.

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Big boys have school work. And sometimes there is much frustrated erasing to be done. And usually as the eraser shreds pile up, the tired mama doesn’t so much want an eraser-filled do-over on today as much as she desperately needs a new day.

The ugly is about to come barking out but there’s always room and grace for beginnings full of beauty and so she stops, this frazzled mama frozen in her well-worn ruts. Give these boys Jesus the Beautiful. Give Him to them now. Adore the WORD and let grace guide the words. Right now. 

And it happens. The rush slows. On the horizon the sharp beams of morning sun have grown to a gray that sits heavy,  presses down. 

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All that is has never been without Jesus, “In the beginning was…”. All my beginnings need Jesus. My rising needs Jesus, the Word. My first words ought not be uttered until I’ve heard the Word, His word, and preached the gospel to myself.

In this noggin there are always words, but mine clutter. They linger. They run wild, unruly, raw. And here’s the miracle in my mundane: offer them up and He fills the empty with the full of Him and He gives it in His Word and His words. They are my life. 

So this frazzled mama starts afresh, sets aside the day’s quota of disappointment and irritation and asks for the Word that has always been to sustain in the now. And He does. One. Breath. At a time. He does. 

And later, in the wee hours, the night resting on this home, babe in my arms, I am sustained with words written on a weary heart. 

“In the beginning was the WORD, 

and the WORD was with God, 

and the WORD was God.” John 1:1 

And as always, He is more than enough. 

 

Home Coming

Little faces glowed in school-colored paints as we pulled up this morning. Football jerseys long forgotten by a generation past hung draped from much smaller boy child shoulders. Under those giant jerseys is room to grow into dreams, hopes, wishes. Even these children know that there is always a time that is coming. Across the lawn the upper-grade students wore excitement and enthusiasm as they arrived draped in the threads of school spirit. Boundless energy struggles to stay in line before going into the building. Today’s is an extra loud “Praise the Lord!”, cheered out as chorus from all the lined up littles. It rings out across the neighborhood and an aching smile stretches across my face. Homesickness. My heart is heaven sick and joy heavy. 

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Homecoming. Coming home. 

Home.

Home. 

 

Musings of home have snatched my attention much lately. Is it because a piece of heaven close and near kicks, elbows, squirms inside my womb? A swelling reminder that this, all of this, is so extraordinarily temporary? 

 

Toddler head buried in my shoulder in a game of kisses while I carry him up the steps presses into my neck, and there it is. It perfumes the golden curls knotted at his hairline. Home. 

 

Biggest brother pencil scratches prick my ears as the spelling words are written just one more time during breakfast, and there, in the hand that still embodies childhood, I catch a glimpse. Again. Home. 

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My favorite season awakens me today with glorious radiance. Fog nestles in among the wheel line in the pasture by the river. A bevy of quail rush across the road. Breath rises in suspended puffs from the cattle. Gold and orange flicker in a barely breeze, plopped into a trail of color that should never end. But Harvest is upon us. Endings and beginnings. Making room for the the dark to settle, for the shadows to fall long,  for hearts to turn homeward. 

 

Time is coming. A season for everything. Home IS coming. 

 

“A time is coming” says the Messiah to the woman. Yes. It is. The time on God’s clock doesn’t go, it comes!  

 

Doesn’t that just make a soul swirl in sweet gratitude? Time is coming! Home is coming. 

 

October blue blares and the turning leaves trumpet in crisp staccato. 

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Will Heaven–my forever home–sound like autumn looks? 

Will it smell of the perfume of my son’s curls? 

Will it be beautiful like my son’s hand around a pencil? 

Will it be warm like my husband’s eyes? 

Baby shifts in the womb while my mind wades in the beautiful waters of home thoughts. The time is coming. Coming very soon. The splendor of the Father’s gifts will come from womb-bound darkness into fractured light and in this little soul, just as in all of ours, there will ever be a longing for home. Home, where the light is whole because He is and He makes us so.  

 

Jesus reminds, as only he can, “ ‘Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.’ ” (John 4:21) The forever place will displace our here. Thank you, LORD! What a future to behold! There is coming an unspeakably marvelous always that transcends and so must also transform all our ways

 

And so I will. I will worship my savior on this painfully beautiful morning. I will worship in the holy places. I will worship in my going out and my coming in.  I will worship in my rising and lying down again. I will worship when my hands grow weary in the work of life. I will worship in the ugly. I will worship in the placid. I will worship in the storm. 

 

I will worship in my broken because He is wholly holy. 

Because in the worship, here is gone and home is real. 

Because He IS, I will. 

 

Each breath ticks the clock toward a coming. 

A home coming. 

Hallelujah. Amen.