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”. 


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.


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. 


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.




When Disappointment Seems to be Winning…

{For several friends who know their share of this and who deal with it far more gracefully than I. Your ongoing witness to His goodness, faithful ones, has bolstered me today.Thank you!}

It came sneaking up on me. Again. You’d think I’d have learned by now. Disappointment plays dirty. Not a one of us escapes it.

I told myself I wouldn’t get my hopes up (And who hasn’t engaged in this futility?). And where else does hope go but up until the moment when it might come crashing down? And up they went. Those hopes. My hopes. And the more determined I was to not hope, hope rose all the more. Until the dough was punched down.

The tears that come with it lay bare where the eyes of a heart were focused– the gaze set, a hope rising. More than anything, disappointment is a truth-teller, a gut-check. Stinging salt says, “This is what you really hoped for”.  And it’s anything but gentile. Disappointment  never makes amends. It pads in, claws all agleam, and it pounces–rips a hoping heart wide open, leaves gashes where the bits and pieces of a dream spill out. And the stench of the ache lingers. Quick in the attack, it leaves the heart to mend and the mending is so very slow.


IMG_5279Shaking my head as tears fall in my lap I sit and rock, hands clenched. Balled up. Clinging tightly to what I think I want. What will not be. What isn’t in the plan. I’m angry about the plans I can’t see.  (I don’t want to be humbled and broken right now! I would rather throw a rock than hide in the cleft of the rock. I don’t want to learn the lessons. I want what I want.)

1 Peter 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. (NIV)

And in the quiet and the light that breaks between the rain storms that have marked the late-June day, the question that rattles my core whispers in my soul. Would you rather be coddled or cared for? Caring is noble. Caring is a hallmark of commitment. Caring sees beyond the hurts of now and into the forever of a glorious when that will surely come.  It’s hard to uncurl my fingers and open my hands in submission. But I can’t cast with knotted hands. Because if I’m learning anything at all, the posture of the cross means my hands must be open. Who submits with a tight grip? Who receives a gift with closed hands? Who serves with fingers wrapped and palms hidden? 

In my ugly sin I’m immeasurably more willing to let my gaze fall on the disappointing details than let it rise to rest on the far-surpassing blessings that bring bowed and hallowed adoration. This is the place my heart doesn’t want to go. The hard eucharisteo always comes. Today it came when the Hoped In who holds my heart reminds me that what he gave on a cross trumps my earthly hoped fors. Every time.

And this doesn’t make what was hoped for mean less. Doesn’t make it insignificant. Doesn’t cheapen it. (Romans 12:12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.) It’s alright to have hopes, knowing full-well that only Hope in Him saves and the fulfillment of temporal hope is His to give. Or not.

The silence swells until my pride ruptures and my heart slowly forms the words.

Thank you.

For what you’re doing and I can’t see, thank you.

For caring and not coddling, thank you.

For having a plan better than mine, thank you.

For grace unending, thank you. 



His world, His way.

I know next to nothing.  Glaciers move faster than I learn.

Late winter morning light begins to warm and soften the edges of the room. I named my biggest enemy  a few days ago as my crawling through Lent began. What I can’t get back. The battle plan is surrender. Unbeknownst to me, this battle is being rendered nanosecond by nanosecond. I had to will my hand to catch up with the calendar this morning.

Familiar refrain spilled into my thinking from down the hallway. First Son voicing the only line he can remember and humming where words fail. And after those five  girding words what other words are needed? This is my Father’s World. He sing-hums over and again as he comes into the kitchen because this is how the One who breathed life into me reminds me–in the voice of a child given to me.

And in the voice from the One who was a child given for all:

“Let these children alone.  Don’t get between them and me.  These children are the kingdom’s pride and joy.  Mark this; Unless you accept God’s kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you’ll never get in.” Luke 18:16-17 MSG

God’s kingdom. This is my Father’s World.  Simply stated. There it is. Accept in simplicity. Surrender the complications I create. Stop sabotaging the battle plan. Shalom is found in the simple surrendering to a world not mine. Thankfully, a world not mine. “This is my Father’s world, I rest me in the thought…” Rest because He doesn’t.

Innocent anticipation of the wonders of the everyday that appear every day comes as easily as breath for First Son. A Spirit gift is before me– a do-over on my attitude about my calendar turning this morning. My feet find the way to his room and my hands deliver his calendar to the table. Delight and sweetness are the fragrance of his countenance as he sees only the looking forward of faith. The looking back is the stone where I stumble. This is where I gladly drown in grace for the harrowing that happens at the table with a child.

And precisely because I did not want to sing-hum them, the refrain now spills from me.

This is my Father’s world

why should my heart be sad? 

The Lord is King; let the heavens ring! 

God reigns; let the earth be glad!

In the nanoseconds of today I will try to see what First Son sees. He tells me this afternoon that he wants me to take a picture of the sky because he sees God’s two hands in the clouds.

Oh, Jesus, open my eyes. Teach me to see.

My ashes, my earthen soul, be glad!

Knowing next to nothing has never felt so grand.