“For when the horses of Pharaoh with his chariots and his horsemen went into the sea, the Lord brought back the waters of the sea upon them, but the people of Israel walked on dry ground in the midst of the sea. Then Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a tambourine in her hand, and all the women went out after her with tambourines and dancing.” – Exodus 15:19-20
I’ve read and heard the story of God parting the waters as the Israelites fled Egypt multiple times before, but I never noticed the tambourines. They danced on the dry ground with chariots from a great army on their tails and unknown wilderness ahead of them.
Author Melanie Shankle pointed me to the tambourines in “On the Bright Side,” her new book: “Because, yes, they were afraid and, no, this wasn’t their plan, but they trusted God, so they packed their tambourines. They believed and trusted that a day would come when they would dance and rejoice again.”
I haven’t stopped thinking about the tambourines since.
In the church the week after I read this book in two days, a worship song brought the tambourines back to mind:
“I will not forget You are my God, my King
And with a thankful heart I bring my offering
And my sacrifice is not what You can give
But what I alone can give to you
A grateful heart I give, A thankful prayer I pray
A wild dance I dance before you
A loud song I sing, A huge bell I ring
A life of praise I live before You”
I realized how I don’t carry my tambourine but rather anticipate how stressful a situation could possibly and get anxious before anything (good or bad) actually happens. I want to be like Miriam and live a life of praise before my God, my King – the one who makes ways when we can’t see very far in front of us.
But I sure do have a grateful heart for Melanie Shankle writing and publishing this new book. Goodness, I needed a shift to the bright side. I said I read the book in two days, but I should probably tell you they were rainy days. And, honestly, I’m over this wet winter we’ve had. The dreary, short days leave me longing for the next season. I find myself doing that with life sometimes too.
But Melanie’s new book is a breath of fresh, bright air. She’s real and funny while writing about the ordinary and important stuff that make up our lives. This book reminded me of the bright side of parenting, friendship, pain, marriage, faith, fear, and bravery.
On the bright side, the sunshine came out the other day before some more rainy days and gave me a renewed perspective of God’s faithfulness. That’s exactly what this book did for my soul. I was left encouraged and ready to finish this season well before another one begins – with my tambourine in hand, of course.
About the book
Big Mama blog founder and “New York Times” bestselling author Melanie Shankle helps us sort through our questions about being true to ourselves in a world gone crazy and what matters the most in the end.
These days, so many voices tell us what to do, what to think, and what kind of parent or friend or spouse to be that it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and defeated. Somewhere in the midst of online arguments and crazy politics and the ups and downs of life, we’ve lost sight of the gifts that are all around us: kindness, love, mercy, and joy.
In “On the Bright Side: Stories about Friendship, Love, and Being True to Yourself,” Melanie Shankle reminds us of the unchanging principles we can count on in a changing world. This delightful memoir highlights the joys of life told in Melanie’s down to earth, relatable, and totally enjoyable style. It’s a how-to guide to knowing – and living – what matters most.
“On the Bright Side” is a 224-page book available in paperback, hardback, and electronic versions. It’s published by Zondervan (Feb. 25, 2020).
About the author
Melanie Shankle writes regularly at The Big Mama blog and is the New York Times bestselling author of four previous books, including “Nobody’s Cuter than You.” Melanie is a graduate of Texas A&M and loves writing, shopping at Target, checking to see what’s on sale at Anthropologie, and trying to find the lighter side in every situation. Most of all, she loves being the mother of Caroline, the wife of Perry, and the official herder of two wild dogs named Piper and Mabel, who were the inspiration for a new children’s book. The five of them live in San Antonio, Texas.
I preordered this book, but then I also joined the launch team so I got an early PDF copy and read it almost immediately. These opinions are my own and I’ve already recommended and quoted this book in real-life conversations.