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Psalm 81:1-2 – Sing aloud to God our strength; shout for joy to the God of Jacob. Raise a song; sound the tambourine, the sweet lyre with the harp.


Mrs. Eleanor was a force to be reckoned with – at least to my teenage brain – but she was not like a force I had ever known. Mrs. Eleanor was gentle and pleasant, easy-to-talk-with, and fun to be around. She was a great storyteller and quite often led the children’s time during our church worship services. Mrs. Eleanor’s force was more influential than intense. She simply love Jesus with her whole heart and wanted you to know it. She talked about her Savior constantly, and she never grew tired of praising her Lord.

Mrs. Eleanor had no problem with wiggly children in church. She wanted them to be engaged and learn about Jesus. She wanted to teach them songs and help them learn scripture. Mrs. Eleanor would break into song at the drop of a hat, and always within arm’s reach was her instrument of choice. Mrs. Eleanor’s instrument was not one I had experienced on a regular basis. I knew all about the piano and organ because my mother was quite good on those. My dad played trumpet and had taught me a little on his baritone horn. I had a friend who even played the upright bass in the youth orchestra; but Mrs. Eleanor was unique. She played as if her life depended on it, and when she provided music during church services, you just knew she had God’s attention. Something about her gift, her talent, was so beautiful because Mrs. Eleanor was more than proficient; she was an expert in her musical field. Her musical instrument of choice? Tambourine!

I have never known anyone else who could make a simple tambourine shout praises to God like Mrs. Eleanor could. Whether she was tapping it lightly with her fingers, bouncing it off her hip, or shaking it like a dog coming out of a pond, Mrs. Eleanor and her tambourine were a force to be reckoned with.

I have to admit, my teenage desire to be seen as “cool” would not allow me much more than tapping my foot when Mrs. Eleanor got to going. Younger children didn’t have that self-imposed obstacle. Kindergarteners had no reservations when it came to jumping to their feet and wiggling like the tambourine. Her singing and jingling were matched by their giggling and clapping. Mrs. Eleanor had a way of creating full-blown Pentecostal movement in our quiet little Methodist Church. Cool or not, my heart liked it.

“Sing aloud to God our strength; shout for joy to the God of Jacob. Raise a song; sound the tambourine!” David’s words of joy infiltrate my heart much like Mrs. Eleanor’s enthusiasm. In my mind’s eye, I can see David doing more than tapping his foot. Oh, to be less inhibited when it comes to worshipping my Savior! Psalm 81 doesn’t call us to be reserved. Sing aloud! Shout! Raise a song! And, for heaven’s sake, sound the tambourine!

During my current days of intentional reflection, I hope I think of Mrs. Eleanor often. May her example be a life-model for me, and may her tambourine of joy continually jingle in my memory and encourage me to sing out the glory of Jesus.

Learning to shake,
Pastor Beth


Strong God, help me to sing aloud and shout for joy to you! Release me from my self-imposed inhibitions and open me to a lifetime of telling others of your goodness. May I be willing to jump up and show my heart, ready to sound the tambourine of excitement, ready to be a force in your name. Amen.

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