Stephanie Rische

Stubbing My Toe on Grace

9 Books Every Girl Should Read November 15, 2013

Whether you’re looking for a book for a girl you love or you missed these along the way in your childhood, here are nine of my top titles for girls.


The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williamsgirls book1

This book offers some profound insights about how love can hurt, but how it’s also what makes you real.


“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”

“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.

“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”



A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Englegirls book4

I’m not sure if this is an adult book that can also be appreciated by kids or a kids book that can also be appreciated by adults, but it holds up for any age, any generation. I remember reading it and having my eyes opened to the wonder and mystery just under the surface of ordinary life. I also felt a special kinship with Meg, who doesn’t seem to fit in with her peers but finds herself uniquely equipped to deal with another world once she arrives there—a world she never even dreamed of.



The Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Patersongirls book6

This was the first book I remember reading that didn’t have a happy ending. Although I felt indignant about it at the time, I grew to appreciate the beautiful picture of friendship painted in this book and how the characters’ grief prepared me to face my own losses.



The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnettgirls book5

This book serves as a reminder that friendship can blossom just as surely as flowers do, that miracles are possible, and that hope is worth clinging to.


“Is the spring coming?” he said. “What is it like?” . . .  

“It is the sun shining on the rain and the rain falling on the sunshine.”



Little Women by Louisa May Alcottgirls book9

I think every girl has a little bit of Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy in her. These sisters helped me grow up and figure out who I was, and they showed me how to stay true to what I stood for.



Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomerygirls book2

I read this series so many times the books are now practically falling apart. After I read each book as a kid, I’d give it to my grandmother (she of the red hair and the spunky personality, just like Anne) and we’d talk about it together. Looking back, I suppose it was my first impromptu book club.



Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wildergirls book8

I must have overlooked the parts about dysentery, the lack of indoor plumbing, and the absence of central air, but I desperately wanted to go back in time so I could be Laura. This book offers a poignant snapshot of a particular era in our country’s history, and it’s rich with themes of family relationships and the tough times can help us learn and grow.


“There’s no great loss without some small gain.”


girls book 3

Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren

This book is pure fun. My sister and I loved wearing colorful stockings and putting our hair in pigtails, Pippi style.



Winnie the Horse Gentler by Dandi Daley Mackallgirls book7

This book came into my life when I was an adult, like a long-lost friend, but it’s a story every girl should read. Horse lover or not, every girl will connect with the ups and the downs of being a kid, the longing for friendship, and the way the funny moments of life weave together with the more serious ones.



What were your favorite books as a kid? I’d love to hear your list.


Beauty in the Dying November 13, 2012

Filed under: Matthew — Stephanie Rische @ 5:04 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

I was walking through the woods the other day with a million things on my mind—making mental to-do lists, replaying recent conversations in my head, worrying over the usual things I have no control over. Then I glanced up for a moment and literally stopped in my tracks, right there in the middle of the path.


My jaw came unhinged as I took in the sight. Fiery maples, golden elms, and burnt-orange oaks melded together in a kaleidoscope of colors just in front of me. The October-blue sky peeked out from behind the trees, and the sun shone a spotlight onto the autumn-hued rainbow.


I couldn’t help but think about the quote by that endearing redhead, Anne of Green Gables: “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.” (Don’t ask how many times I’ve read the books and watched the PBS special. Suffice it to say, often times enough to quote liberally.)


As I stood rooted to the spot on the trail, a cyclist whizzed past me, no doubt annoyed I was blocking the path, but my feet were rooted to the spot. The scene was so beautiful I ached. Partly because I couldn’t hold all that beauty inside of me. And partly because the thing about fall is you know it can’t stay.


Then a rather morbid thought occurred to me: the leaves are beautiful because they are dying. Their chlorophyll is slowly leaking out, no more sustenance is going their way, and the trees are slowly shutting down the processes of life.


We think of death as the worst-case scenario. But we rarely stop midstep to acknowledge the beauty that often accompanies it.


Jesus, in his usual upside-down way, made this counterintuitive statement:

If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.

—Matthew 10:39


My grandpa was just in the hospital again. He and Grandma have been planning their 90th birthday bash for some time, and now it’s just weeks around the corner. They have a guest list that’s fitting for a couple as charming and delightful as they are—200 of their closest friends, their dozen children, and a slew of grandchildren and great-grandchildren.


Thankfully, Grandpa is home from the hospital now. He’s a pretty tough guy, and just stubborn enough (having 12 kids will do that to you) that I have no doubt he’ll be raring to go by party time. But Grandpa’s recent stint in the hospital was one of those moments that stopped me in my tracks, causing me to reflect, autumn-style, on his life.


As his strength on this side of eternity fades, his faithfulness for all these years—to his wife of 60-plus years, to his family, and to his God—blazes all the brighter. His life is an example of the beauty that can come with endings. The knowledge that his time here is wrapping up only directs a spotlight on those lovely, shining parts of his character.


If I hope to ever have a life that blazes like Grandpa’s, I first have to die to my own way of doing things, to my own agenda. Because it’s only when I surrender that I can embrace the beautiful life Jesus offers. It’s only by dying that I truly live.


Thanks for your life, Grandpa. Thanks for the beauty. It’s going to be one grand party.


How beautifully leaves grow old,
How full of light and color are their last days.
—John Burroughs



I’ve taken the challenge of reading the Bible chronologically this year and tracing the thread of grace through it. These musings are prompted by my reading. I’d love to have you join me: One Year Bible reading plan.