Archive for December, 2016

My weapons class which I call “Swords and Spears and Axes, Oh My!” or “Medieval Weapons 101” is now available online!  You can’t actually handle the weapons online, but… you can take the class for free!  Go to my unwillingchild.com website and click on the “About the Author” link. (Notice my fiendish plan to get you to visit the website first? Heh-heh-heh!  Actually, don’t notice that.  Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!) Then click on “History of Weapons” to enroll.

Did I mention it’s free?

Enjoy!  (But don’t enjoy so much that you don’t come to my classes at renaissance fairs and writers conferences…  At least there you’ll get to handle the weapons and ask questions.  However, you could always ask questions via email, my blog, and facebook.  Stop that!  You’re telling them too much!)

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It’s a ridiculous scenario, really—Mary has just given birth to her first Child and some little twerp wants to beat a drum and wake her sleeping Baby.  I mean, seriously?  Even as a dad (well, foster/stepdad in Joseph’s case), I can’t imagine saying, “Yeah, sure, kid.  Give us a drum solo.”

But I love this song.  In fact, I can’t quite get through it due to all the emotions it stirs in me.

Come, they told me, pa-rum pum pum pum,

Our newborn King to see, pa-rum pum pum pum.

Our finest gifts we bring, pa-rum pum pum pum,

To lay before the King, pa-rum pum pum pum,

Rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum.

So to honor Him, pa-rum pum pum pum,

When we come.


Little Jesu, pa-rum pum pum pum,

I am a poor boy too, pa-rum pum pum pum.

I have no gift to bring, pa-rum pum pum pum,

That’s fit to give our King, pa-rum pum pum pum,

Rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum.

Shall I play for you, pa-rum pum pum pum,

On my drum?


Mary nodded, pa-rum pum pum pum.

The ox and ass kept time, pa-rum pum pum pum.

I played my drum for Him, pa-rum pum pum pum.

I played my best for Him, pa-rum pum pum pum,

Rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum.

Then He smiled at me, pa-rum pum pum pum,

Me and my drum.


But let’s be fair, shall we?  This never really happened.  There was no boy with a drum at the stable, playing at the manger-bed of the newborn King.  The magi or “wise men” from the east didn’t arrive for some time (months to years after the birth of the Son of God) and they didn’t go to the stable; they visited the Child in a “house.”  And so, contrary to what the song says, no “ox and ass” kept time.  And anyone who has held a newborn baby can tell you that the odds of him smiling are astronomically remote.

So, it never really happened.

Or perhaps it has happened countless times.

As a young missionary in South Korea, we had worked with a particular man for several weeks.  We had gone through all the discussions.  He believed, he’d been to church, but he had a weakness for the “night butterflies” (a.k.a. prostitutes).  We realized that he either was going to repent and move forward, or he wasn’t (at least at that time).  So one morning, as my companion and I prayed before we went to see him, we felt the warm assurance of the Spirit.  We hurried over to meet our appointment, feeling great joy that another brother would join us at last.

But when we arrived, our investigator was not at home.  His wife informed us that he was “at the market.”  Since men did not do the shopping, this could only mean one thing.  And his wife knew exactly what that was, and so did we.  Sadly, out friend had made his choice.

My companion and I went about the rest of our day feeling very dejected.  What about the answer we’d received that morning?  The warm assurance of the Spirit?  How could it have turned out that way?

That night, as we knelt in prayer, the answer came.  The words were as clear as if we’d both heard them with our physical ears, though we had not.

“Your offering is accepted.”

Our efforts had been imperfect, and the results were not what we had hoped for.  But as is so often the case in mortal life, what we had placed on the altar was acceptable to the Lord.

That is why I love “Carol of the Drum” and why I can’t quite get through it.  I can imagine myself as a boy, poor, unkempt, dressed in rags, and without a proper gift for the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, even the Son of God.  So I offer Him all that I have—my best, imperfect drum solo—devoid of words, harmony, or even a tune—just an imperfect rhythm—the most inappropriate gift imaginable for a newborn Child.

But then… He smiles at me… me and my drum.

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