Holy Shakespeare!

holy-shakesepeare

Holy Shakespeare!

[Editor’s Note: This post includes selections from Holy Shakespeare! 101 lines or passages from William Shakespeare’s works paired with Scripture passages that appear in the bard’s classics by Maisie Sparks. I received a copy from the publisher so that I could review and pick out a few of my favorites. It was a treat for a Shakespeare fan like me! I’ve included the author’s introduction, as well. Enjoy, Divas!]

Four hundred years after his death, William Shakespeare is still considered the greatest playwright of all time. Could that be because he knew intimately the Greatest Book of all the ages? His plays, poems, and sonnets are filled with scriptural allusions and biblical imagery that, if you’re not discerning, might slip right by you.
For years they certainly passed me by. Not until recently did I see the similarities between Shakespeare’s writings and the Holy Writ. I might have received a much better grade in my English Lit class had I only noticed that his works referenced many of the Bible stories and teachings that I was learning in Sunday school.
Unlike me, however, Shakespeare’s sixteenth-century audiences understood the biblical allusions that the Great Bard made, for he lived in what’s been called a biblical culture and era. People grew up learning to read by reading the Bible. Shoppers on the London Bridge might stop to listen to traveling actors who were performing a play based on a Bible story. Churches used dramatizations extensively to teach and enact the Word of God. Along with writing out the alphabet, schoolchildren might print a verse or two from the Geneva Bible—the version that you’ll read on these pages. Contemporaries of Shakespeare felt right at home with the Bible, as it was a staple read in homes. With Scripture permeating the culture, it’s easy to see how holy sentiments appeared on paper when Shakespeare sat down to write.
What’s been fascinating to me in rereading Shakespeare is how copious his use of Scripture is this time around. The Bible is right there… hidden in plain sight. Many lovers of Shakespeare have known this fact for centuries, but over the years the study of both Shakespeare and the Bible has waned in homes, schools, and churches.
That’s why I’ve written Holy Shakespeare! It’s intended to awaken your curiosity for more of Shakespeare’s timeless works and, at the same time, the Great Creator’s Eternal Word. Holy Shakespeare! is not an exhaustive listing of every reference to Scripture that Shakespeare ever made; it’s an invitation to taste and see how masterfully creative he was at weaving the Word seamlessly into his works. I’ve paired lines from Shakespeare with passages from the Bible and interspersed some facts about Shakespeare for you to reflect on as you read the pairings. It’s my desire that reading Holy Shakespeare! will instill in you a greater appreciation of Shakespeare and a heightened awareness of God’s Word as reflected in his works.
So, turn the page, savor Shakespeare anew, and reflect on God’s Word. Along the way, I pray that you will gain strength in the recognition of its enduring power.

3. accountability

Though some of you, with Pilate, wash your hands,
Shewing an outward pitie: yet you Pilates
Have here deliver’d me to my sowre crosse,
And Water cannot wash away your sinne.
KING RICHARD II, ACT IV, SCENE 1

When Pilate saw that he availed nothing, but that more tumult was made, he took water and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just man: look you to it.
MATTHEW 27:24

27. being brought low

I am no great Nebuchadnezzar, Sir; I have not much skill in grass.
ALL’S WELL THAT ENDS WELL, ACT III, SCENE 2

The very same hour was this thing fulfilled upon Nebuchadnezzar, and he was driven from men, and did eat grass as the oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown as eagles’ feathers, and his nails like birds’ claws.
DANIEL 4:33

47. grief

O Grandsire, Grandsire: even with all my heart
Would I were Dead so you did Live againe.
TITUS ANDRONICUS, ACT V, SCENE 3

And the king was moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept: and as he went, thus he said, O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom: would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son.
II SAMUEL 18:33

48. time

…learn to jest in good time; there’s a time for all things.
THE COMEDY OF ERRORS, ACT II, SCENE 2

To all things there is an appointed time, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.… A time to weep, and a time to laugh: a time to mourn, and a time to dance.
ECCLESIASTES 3:1, 4

50. blessed quietness

Thy greatest helpe is quiet, gentle Nell:
I pray thee, sort thy heart to patience,…
KING HENRY VI PART II, ACT II, SCENE 4

For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, In rest and quietness shall ye be saved: in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength, but ye would not.
ISAIAH 30:15

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It’s OK to Dream Scared

okay-to-dream-scared

It’s OK to Dream Scared

[Editor’s Note: Please welcome back Devotional Diva founder Renee Fisher for this guest post! Thanks, Renee! ]

We are supposed to be afraid when we walk on water—when we are learning how to be bold and courageous. That’s why we walk by faith and not by feelings alone. If you currently find yourself in transition, here are a few quotes from interviews I gathered from a survey that encouraged me.

I hope they encourage you as well.

Laura answered, “Reading through the Psalms always brings me comfort during transition; they’re a good reminder that it’s okay to feel confused and frustrated about what is happening in life.”

Francine answered, “It’s scary to be lonely and disregarded by others when status and recognition have been a part of my identity. I think the biggest fear of aging and poverty is feeling that no one cares. It’s kind of the core fear of all of reality, at any age, and in any transition.”

Melissa answered, “I made a bold step by resigning at work, something I never have thought I could do. I am excited that God has plans for me out of the previous environment. I am afraid of never getting a job again, and I’m also stepping out into the unknown.”

Allison answered, “A lot of people abort their calling in the transitional season. I’m most afraid that I won’t fulfill the call God has put on my life, and that I’ll halt His purposes in my life, and that I’ll become stuck forever and settle for less than I was made to live for.”

Alyx answered, I move forward by taking steps in one direction through faith. I just go for it— Nike style.

What about you?

I wonder how long you have been struggling to get into a good place whether in your job or relationship or personal healing? Every time you come close to moving forward, something or someone sabotages your chances to receive God’s healing.

Maybe it’s a co-worker.
Maybe it’s your bank account (or lack thereof).
Maybe it’s a family member.
Or maybe it’s your own excuses (ouch!).

Maybe you’re afraid. Maybe like me—you suffer with anxiety or depression, which makes it increasingly difficult to be bold and courageous. I want you to know one thing:

It’s okay to dream scared. Deuteronomy 31:6 #DreamDefender

The good news is that Jesus’ invitation of love replenishes our divine portion of bold courage. So divine that it’s miraculous.

He is our hope.
He is the reason we have bold courage.

Maybe there is an area of your life that is hindering you from moving forward in bold courage. I recently read this verse that encouraged me in this season:

“So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you” (Deuteronomy 31:6, NLT).

I know I’ve read that verse before, but I the second part popped out at me. I think it’s because I’ve read the part in Joshua Chapter 1 that says to be bold and courageous. Over and over it says to be bold and courageous. It honestly makes me wonder if God is a drill instructor.

But He’s not.

The Lord passed in front of Moses, calling out,
“Yahweh! The Lord!
The God of compassion and mercy!
I am slow to anger
and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness” (Exodus 34:6, NLT).

God was with us when we left California for Texas, and He will transition us out of Houston in His timing. My prayer for you that He leads you to the right dream at the right time. Because I know that boldness and courage are just half of the equation—our hearts can rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

One thing I know for sure is that God has already gone before me.

Today. Be bold and courageous. Let’s ask God to help us take responsibility. To be found faithful even when it hurts. When we can’t feel His presence or loving arms. Don’t wait until you think you have it all figured out. Obey now.

Ask God to command your fears—whatever they are.
Give God your doubts and self-sufficient tendencies.
Don’t delay because your future is waiting.

Renee FisherRenee Fisher is a spirited speaker, coach, consultant and author, who published her first eight books in under eight years. A self-proclaimed “Dream Defender,” Renee is passionate about calling dreams to life in others. A graduate of Biola University, she lives in Houston, Texas with her handsome husband and their fur child named “Star.”

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When God Says, “Slow Down”

when-god-says-slow-down

Well, this is not the post I intended to write today!

It’s been a rough couple weeks emotionally and now our whole family is down with a cold. We are also set to head back to the states for a visit!

As for what we’ve been going through emotionally, it has to do with the health of our dear old kitty Zero. It’s just such a long story, but his vet told us we would have to put him down or he could pass at any time. We sought a second opinion and he he is actually doing a lot better! Zero is at the ripe old age of 18 and has an auto immune disease. We made the decision to keep him and our other cat, Brigit, in the states under the care of family mainly because his health problems.

It has been so hard to be separated from them and we miss them so much.

I believe when you’ve just got so much going on in your life, and you have the freedom to slow things down, you should take the opportunity. It’s healthy.

Devotional Diva is going to go on a two-week break while I am visiting friends and family in the states! I’m very much looking forward to coming back refreshed!

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9 Ways to Share Your Story

share your story on devotional diva

share your story on devotional diva

9 Ways to Share Your Story

Are you a woman who wants to share her story?

Sharing your story on Devotional Diva, or “Becoming a Diva” as I like to call it, is a powerful way to encourage women all over the world and could even help you in ways you might not expect!

For me, sharing my 1st story on Devotional Diva was a healing experience, and I’ve heard the same from many other Divas!

Here are 9 ways you can share your story:

 

Write a devotional

Write a poem

Film a video

Record your story like a podcast

Write song lyrics

Record a song

Create paintings

Create illustrations

Make a photo story

Have another idea? Great! I’m totally open other ways we can spur women forward!

Have you read the Become a Diva page? Follow This Link for more information on how to “Become a Diva” and submit your story!

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Stones of Remembrance

stones of remembrance brittany salmon on devotional diva

stones of remembrance brittany salmon on devotional diva

Stones of Remembrance

[editor’s note: This is a guest post by the sassy Brittany Salmon, of course of the TheSassySalmon.com. She’s sharing with us a look at Joshua 4 and Stones of Remembrance. Thank you and welcome to Devotional Diva, Brittany!]

We humans are forgetful people. I used to think it was just me, maybe it’s my baby brain or maybe I just have bad genetics (at least that’s what I tell my husband when looking for my phone or keys for the 120th time that day), but as I read about the Israelites, I noticed how God would do huge miracles and then command his people to not forget.

All through Deuteronomy He warned His people to take care, lest you forget (Deut. 4:9-12, 6:12, 8:11-20). But the Israelites didn’t remember did they?
When I read those big stories about God moving, I wonder how in the world the Israelites could forget His faithfulness!

How could they forget how God brought them out of Egypt? How could they forget how His daily provision of manna or how He made the walls of Jericho fall at their cry? And yet over and over again the Israelites would turn away from YAWEH and did what was right in their own eyes.

And while I’m side-eyeing the Israelites for their doubt, a twinge of recognition sets in. I’m not so unlike them, (and not because I can’t find my keys… ever).

If I’m honest, their story looks a lot like my own. I’ve seen God part the Red Sea in my own life. I’ve seen Him knock down walls, and restore places in my life that should still be broken. And yet I, too, am prone to forget that I serve a God who ordains every step, even the difficult ones.

I grumble and complain, looking back to my own Egypt longing for better days. I forget that it was His hand that provided along the way and as my steps become easier, I stop relying on God and start doing things my way (again).

But the great thing about our stories is that it’s not about us and our ability to remember; It’s about God’s unfailing love even when we’re prone to forget.

In Joshua 4, God had just brought the Israelites across the Jordan River by parting the sea. When they safely arrived at the other side, He commanded them to take 12 stones from the sea and carry them amidst the people as a sign of remembrance so that when their children asked in years to come

“What do these stones mean?” they could tell their story of redemption. And this is the part that I love! God wanted them to be able to remember and retell their story “so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, [and] that you may fear the Lord your God forever” (vs.24).

You see, our stories of redemption weren’t made to be kept hidden. They aren’t one-time miracles that only service the present moment; rather they were designed to bless our present circumstance while impacting our future faith! He miraculously provided a way for the Israelites to cross over the Jordan River, but in that same moment He provided a way to remind them of who He was and what He intended to do. Our redemptive stories are intended to be told over and over again to not only to keep us from forgetting but to declare to a broken world that the Lord is mighty to save.
So my question for you today is this, Where in your life do you need to lay down a stone of remembrance to remind you of His faithfulness? What story of redemption in your life needs to be recalled and retold?
That scar that you like to keep hidden? That old wound that you’re ashamed of? Share it. Share your battle wound and story of redemption. Lay that stone of remembrance down and when your friends or family ask about it say boldy, “Look at what the Lord has done for me!” For our boldness isn’t in what we’ve overcome, rather it’s in what He’s done and will do for us!

Brittany Salmon

Brittany Salmon is a wife, mother, and advocate for adoption. A graduate from Cedarville University, she received a MA in Intercultural Studies from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and a MA in Teaching from North Carolina State University in 2012. She writes on faith and family over at www.TheSassySalmon.com and when she’s not writing or chasing her children, she enjoys running, eating cheesefries, and spending time with her family and friends.

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Becoming a Diva – Devote Yourself

devote yourself

devote yourself

As Devotional Diva gains new followers, I want to let everyone know that YOU can have your story published on Devotional Diva! We love guest bloggers over here and want to give everyone the chance to help spur other women forward.

DD is always growing and changing, and so can guest posts! In the past, most guest posts have truly been devotionals. However, I opened up submissions to videos, music and other mediums in 2014. I think it creates a good variety of content, and I’d love to have more photography and videos to share.

This year, I’d like to open submissions up even further. Since I have been posting more travel and lifestyle content, I’m open to any ideas related to those areas, too.

Please know that “sharing your story” can be an awesome healing experience and has the power to affect so many women’s lives. That’s how I got my start here at DD!

If you’d like to Become a Diva and spur other women forward, please contact me at editor (at) devotionaldiva.com

For more information on guest blogging for Devotional Diva, please see the Become a Diva page.dd-sig

 

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When the Writing Won’t Flow

writing-flow.jpgWhen the Writing Won’t Flow

[editor’s note: I wrote this piece immediately prior to “My Doubtful Voice.” I guess my strategy was helpful! Writing that was so cathartic for me and I felt so at peace afterwards. I felt stronger in my decision to move to Italy, and just less stressed about it in general.]

For some time I’ve felt a responsibility to myself and Devotional Diva readers to share more. I wanted to write about how “crazy” my life has been lately, and all the things I’m learning along the way. Having a baby, renting out our home and moving internationally during the holiday season has been quite the educational and heart-opening experience.

I have learned a lot, and I would like to be able to share those lessons. Since the goal of Devotional Diva is truly to share your story and spur other women forward, I really wanted to use my experiences for good!

But when I try to sit down and write, the words just won’t flow. My writing feels clunky. My voice doesn’t feel as clear. When I read back what I manage to put on the page, I’m disappointed in myself. It’s like I’m doing a disservice to the topic of the post.

I wondered if it was  due to my tiredness, or my stress level.

2015 was an incredibly exhausting and stressful year. Obviously a new baby will cause exhaustion, but becoming a parent has been very stressful for me, too. Throw in all the other changes and preparations throughout the year, and I have not felt like myself.

I told myself to give writing a break for awhile.

But I still feel like I have so much to say. I feel like I have words that want to come out, but they just won’t. At least, not in a way that sounds good after it’s written.

I do think that God has given me this platform for a reason. Sharing my story on Devotional Diva and helping other women out there  is really important to me.

If I can come up with sentences that make sense in my head, why can’t I put them on the page? Do they legitimately sound sub-par, or am I somehow being overly critical?

Am I now out of practice? Is that the problem? Did my purposeful  “break” from writing actually sabotage it instead?

I still don’t know, but my plan now is to at least try to write.

Just…try.

No more “well this is clearly not working.” I don’t want to lose these feelings and these thoughts. They could still be something great! I’ll just get something down on the page and if it really does suck, I’ll fix it later. What I’m writing right now doesn’t sound too too bad…

My new strategy: onward!

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Christian Books for Girls

scarlett gray joins the parade christian books for girls series devotional divaI know there are a lot of mamas who read Devotional Diva, and it seems like it can be quite a challenge sometimes to find appropriate books for Christian kids. I’d love to introduce you to a new series of Christian books for girls from Suzanne Stamboulieh.

Suzanne Stamboulieh on Devotional DivaSuzanne Stamboulieh is the author of the new Christian book series, Scarlett Gray. Each book in the series will be centered on a single Biblical scripture. “Scarlett Gray Joins the Parade” is the first of the series and reminds children that God has given them parents to guide them through life. Suzanne has a Masters degree in Marriage and Family Counseling. She previously worked as a therapist for her church. Suzanne lives in Mississippi with her husband Stephen, daughter Scarlett Gray, and their large, but lovable, German Shepherd.

Below is a short interview with Suzanne where she shares more about Scarlett Gray and providing good reading options for kids.

Could you tell me the basic story line of “Scarlett Gray Joins the Parade?”

“Scarlett Gray Joins the Parade” is a Christian short chapter book for young girls ages four to eight. It is centered on Ephesians 6:1 and reminds children that God has given them parents to guide them through life.

The story tells a tale of a young girl, Scarlett Gray, who can’t wait to attend this year’s Fourth of July Celebration with her parents and her best friend, Georgia. Scarlett Gray promises to follow her parents’ safety rules, but the excitement of the parade and her inattentiveness overcome her promise to obey the rules and she gets lost. She is not an actively defiant child, but her poor judgement in one instance illustrates how one bad decision can lead to another without you even knowing it. I think any child can relate to this!

How did you come up with the idea? Did you feel called to write?

As a homeschooling mother, I read countless books to our little girl. I purchase almost all of them at Goodwill for a quarter so it is nothing for me to purchase thirty at a time. I always try and scan the books as best as I can while I’m in the store (with a toddler in tow), but almost every time, when it came time to actually read them, I would realize that a good portion of them were not suitable material for our daughter. While many of these books were “best sellers” and very popular, they contained the words “dumb, “stupid,” “hate,” and other inappropriate words. As a mother, I know there will come a time when my child might say those things and need to be corrected for doing so, but I don’t want to feed it to her.

As a former therapist, I saw firsthand how outside influences greatly impact our minds, thoughts, beliefs and actions. Therefore, I think it is crucial that we as parents are vigilant in protecting our children. In today’s world, our children are inundated with negative messages and as Christian parents; I believe we have to work twice as hard to keep our children on track. I became very frustrated and disappointed with the material that was available for young readers. After expressing my frustration about the lack of Christian options for young readers to my husband, he strongly encouraged me to do something about it and write a book myself. And that is when the journey began.

I honestly don’t know if I have been “called” to write, but I will say that God has opened up doors that only He could, so I certainly feel that I am in His will and have His blessing. And although I wasn’t schooled in writing and it didn’t come naturally, I learned that with hard work and His help, it could be accomplished.

Why do you think it is important to provide faith-centered reading options for our kids?

I think our children are inundated with negative messages from every direction in life and they need to be reminded of what is right.  That is why I believe it is important to provide faith-centered reading options for our kids so that they have positive, Christian role models to look up to. Of course, they might have Christian family members in their lives that greatly influence them, but so many children emulate characters they see on TV or in books that they read, so I thought what better way to reinforce those good character qualities that parents want to teach their children and ended up writing a Christian children’s book.

My aim is to inspire young readers to seek God in their daily lives, and to honor Him with their choices. It is my hope that parents can confidently share my books with their children, knowing the message meets their high standards.

I believe this can help open the dialogue between parents and children about what might be an awkward topic for some to approach. I think many parents could use it to help open that door for discussion. And as a parent, I find that when I’m reading to my child, I recall Bible stories that I have since forgotten so I’m able to learn along with my child and other parents might also enjoy that aspect of it, too.

What could be next for the Scarlett Gray books?

The next book in the Scarlett Gray series will be on wise spending. Scarlett Gray Publishing is dedicated to publishing children’s books centered on God’s word, so it will also be centered on a Bible verse. If all goes as planned, it will be available in the early spring.

You can follow Scarlett Gray Publishing, LLC on Pinterest to keep up to date on books that are released!

“Scarlett Gray Joins the Parade” is available on Amazon.

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This is a “feature post.” It’s important to me to provide great content for Devotional Diva readers while helping to promote Christian businesses, bloggers and authors. I take who I partner with very seriously, and all opinions are truly mine. You can learn more about feature posts and sponsorship on the sponsorship page here.

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For Unto Us

for unto us a child is born devotional diva

 

Yay! Next week begins our 1st ever Christmas guest post series! The theme of the series is “the gifts God has given you.”

Christmas is a very special time, and I wanted to do something special on Devotional Diva because Jesus is the best gift of all!

For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6

The week will start early, kicking everything off on Monday, December 8th instead of our regularly-scheduled Tuesday — there will be other special days like that this month!

I still have a little room for extra posts on those “special” days, and I know there were a few of your who said you might submit. If you still want to, NOW IS THE TIME! The deadline is December 11th.

Find more information about the series here!

 

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Christmas Guest Post Series: Submit Your Stories!

 devotional diva christmas guest post seriesI wanted to take this opportunity to announce the 2014 Devotional Diva Christmas Guest Post Series!

This is an idea I came up with for my first Christmas as editor-in-chief here. I knew I definitely wanted to have Christmas-themed guest posts during December, but didn’t really know how to go about it. I came up with a “theme” that I would like all of the guest posts from December 9th – 23rd to follow.

Since we have a Tuesday/Thursday guest post schedule, that means there’s only 5 official spots. However, depending on the response I receive, I’m open to adding more spots on other days between those dates.

Now, are you ready for the theme? I’d like to hear your stories about…

The Gifts God has Given You

The holiday time is really focused on gifts — but I want to bring some of that attention back to God.

I’m looking for guest posts that are about amazing things that have happened in your life — events, actions of others, or just the way things happened for you — that were truly gifts from God.

Just to be clear, I’m not looking for what talents God has given you (that would be a cool future guest post series, though!). I want to know what miracles have happened in your life. I want to know what people have come into your life at just the perfect moment. I want to know what breathtaking surprises from God you never saw coming.

This is a way to praise God and show gratitude for what amazing works He has done for you! While we’re getting & giving gifts to our friends & family, let’s celebrate Jesus’ birthday by talking about the gifts He has already given us!

Devotional Diva’s guidelines for guest posts are: 500-700 words with a 3-4 sentence bio and a current picture. Email your submissions or queries to editor@devotionaldiva.com

Don’t hesitate to ask any questions you may have!

I hope you’re as excited about this series as I am, and I look forward to reading your stories!

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photo credit: JD Hancock via photopin cc

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