Stephanie Rische

Stubbing My Toe on Grace

A Year of Stubbing My Toe on Grace January 1, 2013

Filed under: Revelation — Stephanie Rische @ 3:35 pm
Tags: , , , ,

I realize that a new year is little more than an arbitrary flip of the calendar, a changing of digits we have to recalibrate to each January. But even if it’s just a psychological prop, I still get a bit of a rush as one year comes to a close and a new one gleams, fresh and untarnished, on the horizon.

 

On this last day of 2012, I find it hard to believe I’m wrapping up my year of reading the Bible chronologically and posting my musings about it. I’d like to thank you, my readers, for putting up with my ramblings, for encouraging me with your comments, for calling out places where you felt I missed the mark. I appreciate each of you more than I can say.

 

As a way to recap this past year of “Stubbing My Toe on Grace,” I thought I’d share with you the most priceless gift I received this Christmas. My husband, artist that he is, made a beautiful handcrafted book for me with the top 10 posts from the past year. (Obviously, I cried.)

December 2012 009

Here they are, in chronological order:

10. The Burden of Love

9. Grandma’s Prayer

8. God’s Tear Jar

7. On His Hand

December 2012 011

6. Once Upon a Time, I Wore a Pretty White Dress

5. On Priests and Awkward Moments

4. A Letter to My 25-Year-Old Self

December 2012 012

3. Like Amish Peanut Butter

2. Dumpster Diving

1. What My Two Favorite Toddlers Taught Me about Faith

 December 2012 013

On this day that marks both endings and beginnings, it seems fitting that today’s reading includes these words from Christ:

 

Look, I am making everything new! . . . I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End.

—Revelation 21:5-6

 

As we look back on the year just behind us, we have the assurance that God was the God of everything that transpired in the past 365 days. And on the precipice of a new year, we have the assurance that he is the also the God over all the unknowns that await us in the year ahead.

 

Whatever your year has held—and whatever life has in store for you in the year to come—may you rest in the arms of the One who is both the Beginning and the End.

December 2012 004

 

Small Beginnings October 2, 2012

Filed under: Zechariah — Stephanie Rische @ 8:14 am
Tags: , ,

My friend Catherine and I were in the midst of planning the annual Plaid Flannel Party when she paused mid-sentence and said to me, “You know we make such a good team? I’m a starter, and you’re a finisher!”

We cracked up, but it was true. Catherine has a gift for brainstorming creative ideas and giving them an energetic launch. I, on the other hand, often feel daunted by the beginning of something big and tend to be shy about pulling the trigger. But once things are in motion, I enjoy carrying the event out to completion.

As someone who can feel daunted by the beginning of things, I can relate to the Israelites who felt intimidated as they started the monumental task of rebuilding the Temple.

Perhaps you find yourself at a daunting starting point right now yourself, wondering how you’ll ever make it to the finish line. The wall is so big, the rocks are so heavy, the progress is so slow, and it’s tempting to give up. It would be easier, less risky, to just quit now. My message to you is the same one God gave to the Israelites all those years ago:

Do not despise these small beginnings.

—Zechariah 4:10

Maybe you have a toddler who is defying you at every turn. You’re trying to set firm boundaries, but it feels like you have to battle for every inch of progress.

Do not despise these small beginnings.

Maybe you’re trying to get out of debt, but the shovel is so small and the hole is so deep.

Do not despise these small beginnings.

Maybe you’re recovering from surgery, and healing seems like it’s light years away.

Do not despise these small beginnings.

Maybe you’ve been praying earnestly for someone you love, but so far you’ve seen only sporadic glimmers of hope.

Do not despise these small beginnings.

Maybe you’re trying to change something about yourself that is so deeply embedded you’re not sure change is even possible.

Do not despise these small beginnings.

Whatever daunting challenge you are facing today, may you know that God delights in your efforts, even those small beginnings. And I pray that along the way you will have friends who come beside you—a starter to encourage you to begin, and a finisher to help you end strong.

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.