Stephanie Rische

Stubbing My Toe on Grace

Surprise Me! October 29, 2013

Filed under: Family — Stephanie Rische @ 8:03 am
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I love going places with my sister where there is ordering of any sort involved. That’s because almost without fail, when she places her order, she drops the line “Surprise me” at some point in the conversation.

 

If she’s getting a cappuccino and the barista asks what flavor she’d like, Meghan will give her trademark dimpled grin and say, “Surprise me!” If she’s ordering a salad and is offered various dressing options, her response is the same: “Surprise me!” If I’m getting her something to drink out of Mom’s fridge, I can almost guarantee her refrain will echo once again: “Surprise me!”

 

I always stare at her, wide eyed. “What if you get something you don’t like?”

 

She just flashes a grin at me and shrugs. “That’s part of the fun of the surprise.”

 

Me, I’m a planner. I like to map it all out, write a script. I cling to the illusion of control. Truth be told, I’d rather do the surprising than the being surprised.

 

But this sister of mine, she lives with her arms wide open. She embraces life, holds out her hands to accept the surprises God has for her, just the way she does with her coffee.

 

So when the time approached for Meghan’s baby to born, I should have expected that this surprise-loving sister of mine would make room for as many surprises as possible.

 

“Girl or boy?” I asked over the phone, breathless, after her ultrasound.

 

“We’re going to be surprised!” she said, and I could hear the smile in her voice.

 

“What names are you thinking about?”

 

“We’re keeping it a surprise!”

 

And of course, the details of the birth itself were a surprise. Two days before her due date, Meghan went to the doctor. “You’re progressing right along,” he said. “It should be any day now.”

 

But the next day nothing happened. And nothing the next day either, or the day after, or the whole week after.

 

And then, ten days past her due date, just when the doctor was ready to speed things along, surprise! The baby decided to make a grand appearance. And the new mom and dad unwrapped their surprise package right there in their hospital room…a little gift of a girl named Addie Mae.

 

addie4

 

And when I first looked into the face of that sweet surprise, I wondered what other surprises God might have up his sleeve. What do I miss out on when I try to make the plan and script it all out myself?

 

This little girl, this eight-pound bundle, she is teaching me already. Her life whispers, as soft as breathing, This is life! This is joy! This is a whole new world of divine surprises.

 

addie1

 

So here I am, God, with my eyes squeezed shut and my arms wide open. Surprise me.

 

addie2

 

Gospel Story: Mike & Amy October 22, 2013

Filed under: Gospel Stories — Stephanie Rische @ 8:09 am
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Two of my great passions in life are helping other people share their stories and seeing God’s extraordinary grace at work in ordinary people. So when I was given the opportunity to be part of the Gospel Stories project at my church, it felt like a beautiful collision of those passions.

 

Today I’d like to share Mike and Amy’s inspiring story with you.

 

In those quiet moments, when you stand back and take an honest look at yourself—the things you regret, the ways you’ve fallen short, the people you’ve let down—what words flash before your eyes? Selfish? Dishonest? Defeated? Unforgiveable? Maybe you’re afraid that your most significant relationships have been fractured beyond repair, and even worse, you’re too far gone for God to rescue.

 

Mike has been there. He got to a point where he thought his marriage was over and he was beyond hope. But then, after he got a tangible glimpse of God’s grace through this wife, Amy, Mike came to see himself as God sees him: forgiven.

 

At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. . . . But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.
—Titus 3:3-5

 

You can watch the video of Mike and Amy sharing their incredible story here.

 

wildman1

 

Love and Ice Cream October 15, 2013

Filed under: Marriage — Stephanie Rische @ 8:04 am
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Recently my article “Marriage Is Like Ice Cream” was published by Today’s Christian Woman. In the article I talk about the seasons of my marriage in terms of ice cream flavors:

ice cream

When I think back on the time I’ve been married, I mark the time not so much in terms of years or months or seasons but in ice cream flavors. Classic vanilla bean. Chocolate coconut. Peanut butter swirl. Cinnamon waffle. Eggnog spice. Double dark chocolate.

 

I make the claim that marriage is a lot like ice cream—how it’s not just a mixture of different ingredients but that somewhere along the way, an altogether new entity is created.

 

As Daniel and I have experimented with various ice cream recipes, I’ve pondered what an appropriate metaphor it is for marriage. These ingredients—sweet grains of sugar, rich cream, eggs whipped to froth—taste completely different individually. But combine them, heat to 160 degrees, and churn in a frozen bowl for an hour, and you get an utterly unique sensation. It’s not just five things mixed together, but something altogether new. The five melding into one.

 

After my piece was published, I had a slew of requests for ice cream recipes (okay, there were two, but still…). I wanted to comply immediately, but there were two small glitches: (1) In all the times Daniel and I have used our ice cream maker, I’ve made ice cream approximately zero times. The truth is, Chef Daniel is the culinary genius behind it all, and my self-appointed job is to wash the dishes (and, of course, do the taste testing). And (2) Daniel is so creative that he doesn’t use a recipe and he never makes the same thing twice—he just looks around the pantry for inspiration and works his dairy magic.

 

But I was finally able to pin him down to some measurements and step-by-step instructions. This recipe was a recent favorite, and we hope you enjoy it. (Even if you don’t make it yourself, Daniel’s witty asides are pretty entertaining in themselves.)

 September 2013 002

 

Confetti Cake Ice Cream

Ingredients:

1 ¾ cups heavy whipping cream

2 ¼ cups whole milk (aka the good stuff!)

¾ cups sugar

4 egg yolks

1 ¼ cups confetti cake mix (use 1 ½ cups to make it really sweet!)*

pinch of salt

Directions:

1)      In a medium saucepan over medium heat, whisk together milk, cream, half the sugar, and salt. Bring the mixture to close to a boil, but don’t let it boil over.

2)      While the cream and milk mixture is heating, mix the egg yolks and remaining sugar in a medium size bowl.

3)      When the milk and cream mixture has come close to a boil, remove from heat and scoop out 1 cup of the mixture. Slowly pour it into the egg yolk and sugar mixture and whisk it together. (Make sure to keep whisking—we’re not making scrambled eggs here, friends!) Continue scooping in the heated milk and cream mixture and whisk into the egg yolk and sugar mixture until it’s all combined.

4)      Pour the whole mixture back into the saucepan and return to stove over medium heat. Use a thermometer to check the temperature and continue heating the mixture until you reach 160 degrees F. (Salmonella is not our friend!) If you don’t have a thermometer, you can use a wooden spoon, constantly stirring the mixture until it thickens slightly and is able to coat the back of the spoon. This should only take a couple of minutes. Don’t boil, or the yolks will overcook.

5)      Add confetti cake mix and whisk in until smooth.

6)      Let the mixture cool and add vanilla extract.

7)      Place mixture in sealed container in the refrigerator for 24 hours.

8)      Place the ice cream maker’s freezer bowl into the freezer for 24 hours.

9)      Optional: 1-2 hours before you plan to make the ice cream, place cooled mixture into the freezer.

10)   Turn on the ice cream maker and pour the mixture into the freezer container. Let the mix thicken (about 20-25 minutes).

11)   Have your wife taste it so she can give it the thumbs-up.

12)   Place ice cream in freezer-safe container and place in freezer for at least 3 hours.

13)   Eat and enjoy!

 

*We were dismayed to find that when we cooked the mixture, the confetti colors disappeared. We recommend adding sprinkles to the scoops when serving.

 

Hope you enjoy the ice cream—and as you do, marvel at God’s creative work at merging two into one.

 

daniel and steph3

 

Unexpected Love Letters October 11, 2013

Filed under: Love,Marriage — Stephanie Rische @ 8:12 am
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love lettersToday’s Christian Woman just posted my article about love letters…and how they’re sometimes written with something other than pen and paper.

 

Unexpected Love Letters

 

I’m a sucker for old-fashioned letters and old-fashioned romance, so I felt like a teenager at prom when I happened upon a book called Love Letters of Great Men. I waited all day before cracking it open, eager to sink my teeth into it as if it were the literary equivalent of dark chocolate.

 

At first I was savoring the letters—these epistles dating as far back as Pliny the Younger almost 2,000 years ago and capturing the words of some of the political and literary greats in the centuries since. I was taken by the beauty of the language, the permanence of the sentiments, and the artistry of the writers as they sought to capture their passion and pin it down with ink and paper. In short, I wanted to love those love letters.

 

But then something unexpected happened: I started digging up biographical information about a few of these “great men,” and suddenly their words sounded less like soaring symphonies and more like discordant clanging.

 

You can read the rest of the article here.

 

Passing on the Good Story October 8, 2013

Filed under: Faith,Family — Stephanie Rische @ 8:03 am
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robin4I had the privilege of writing for Pick Your Portion recently. Here’s what I shared about my grandmother’s unexpected gift . . .

 

 

Last weekend the women in my family got together to celebrate the upcoming birth of my sister’s baby. We don’t know the name or the gender yet, and we don’t know this little one’s hair color or personality or special talents. But one thing is for certain: this baby is already incalculably loved.

 

We sat around the living room sipping raspberry punch long after the shower was over, telling stories about Meghan as a baby and retelling family lore—about sons and daughters, aunts and uncles, cousins and siblings. At one point I just sat there looking at all the beloved faces, trying to let the moment soak in. There were four generations represented in that room—my grandmother, my mom and a smattering of aunts, my sister, and the baby we were eager to meet.

 

robin1The guests had been asked to bring a book they’d loved as children, and the selections were a delightful mix of classic and modern, serious and fanciful, playful and deep. Then Meghan opened the last gift, unobtrusively tucked in a small bag at the back of the pile. As soon as she revealed the contents, the room drew in a collective breath.

You can read the rest of the story here.

 

 

 

 

Happy (Thirty) Sixth Birthday to Me October 4, 2013

Filed under: birthday — Stephanie Rische @ 7:46 am
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Thirty years ago today—my 6th birthday—the Worst Birthday Disaster Ever turned into my Best Birthday Party Ever. (Because obviously, when you’re six, the world is one big superlative.)

 

When September rolled around, Mom said, “It’s time to start thinking about your birthday!” just as she did every year. So we sat down at the kitchen table and went through the annual checklist to pull off a party personalized just for me. And as always, I felt like the most special girl in the whole world.

 

What theme do you want for your party? (I must have had some undue influence from Rainbow Brite, because the theme always seemed to include some variation of rainbows and hearts.)

 

What shape do you want for your cake? (Yes, Mom made it from scratch.)

 

What flavor do you want for the cake? (Cherry. Every single time.)

 

Everything was nailed down, and I could feel my little heart fluttering in anticipation.

 

But then came the final question:

Who do you want to invite to your party?

 

I swallowed hard. “Mom,” I said, “I wish my birthday was in the spring, not the fall.”

 

She looked at me quizzically. “Why, honey?”

 

“It’s too early in the year. I don’t have friends yet.”

 Birthday 1-1

 

And it was true. I was the slow-to-warm-up kid, the shy girl, the one who stood on the outskirts at recess until she worked up the confidence to break in sometime around second semester.

 

Mom didn’t miss a beat. “No problem,” she said. “We’ll just invite all the girls in your class.”

 

There was no trace of panic in her eyes, but looking back now, I have to wonder if she was secretly hyperventilating. How on earth would she fit 16 girls in our house?

 

But at the age of almost-six, I didn’t notice. My eyes were already dancing with visions of hearts and rainbows. In an instant, through the magic of Mom’s words, I’d gone from having zero friends to having 15.

 

And when it was time to blow out the candles on my heart-shaped cake, surrounded by every single girl in my class, I felt so happy I might as well have swallowed a rainbow whole. For once, everything seemed so perfect I could hardly think of anything to wish for. I remember offering a halfhearted wish for the ultimate icing on the day: an actual rainbow in the sky.

 

But I have a hunch God gave priority to a mom’s prayers in that moment. A mom who was whispering prayers for the heart of a little girl who wanted a friend. A mom who was making a wish herself—for a day free of rain (and accompanying rainbows) so there would be room for 16 little girls in party hats at the table outside.

 

This is 30 years late, but thanks, Mom. Thanks for the Best Birthday Party Ever.

 Birthday 2-1

 

Announcing the Book of the Month for October October 1, 2013

Congratulations to Marie, the winner of the book giveaway for September! You can catch our discussion about And the Mountains Echoed here.

 

And now, announcing the book of the month for October . . . Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist.

 breadandwine

 

Here’s a taste (pun intended!) of what you’ll get from Shauna’s latest book.

 

As a follow up to her two bestselling books, Bittersweet and Cold Tangerines, author and blogger Shauna Niequist returns with the perfect read for those who love food and value the community and connection of family and friends around the table. Bread & Wine is a collection of essays about family relationships, friendships, and the meals that bring us together. This mix of Anne Lamott and Barefoot Contessa is a funny, honest, and vulnerable spiritual memoir. Bread & Wine is a celebration of food shared, reminding readers of the joy found in a life around the table. It’s about the ways God teaches and nourishes people as they nourish the people around them. It’s about hunger, both physical and otherwise, and the connections between the two. With wonderful recipes included, from Bacon-Wrapped Dates to Mango Chicken Curry to Blueberry Crisp, readers will be able to recreate the comforting and satisfying meals that come to life in Bread & Wine.

 

Hope you will join us! Remember, there will be a free book giveaway for one lucky commenter at the end of October!