Stephanie Rische

Stubbing My Toe on Grace

The Amazing Grace House February 13, 2014

Filed under: Marriage — Stephanie Rische @ 8:03 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

I’m over at Today’s Christian Woman today, writing about what an old bed-and-breakfast taught me about the hard, beautiful work of marriage.

 July August 2013 043

 

When my husband and I went away for the weekend to mark our second anniversary, we were looking for a place that fit in our budget and could squeeze into the boxes on the already-full calendar. What we hadn’t anticipated was that we’d meet a house with a story—a house that served as a poignant metaphor of marriage. . . .

 

Click here to read the rest of the story

Advertisements
 

Friday Favorites for January January 17, 2014

Filed under: Friday Favorites — Stephanie Rische @ 8:03 am
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

For readers from any state in the US…

I loved this—a map with the most famous book from each state. It kind of makes me want to move out of Illinois though. The Jungle? Really? Famous Books Set in Every State Map

 ff dec5

For word lovers…

Are you feeling gusted, gruntled, or sheveled? I didn’t think so. Here’s a list of words with a negative but no opposite: 12 Lonely Negative Words

 ff dec1

For nostalgics with a funny bone…

I promise these photos of people recreating family photos from their childhood as adults will make you laugh. And maybe even try it yourself: Recreating Ridiculous Family Pictures

 

For anyone who needs encouragement to do the right thing…

Great parental advice: “You can’t come in without going out, kids. Always go to the funeral.” Always Go to the Funeral

 

For anyone who has ever felt pressure for their marriage to look one particular way…

Refreshing insights about what spiritual leadership looks like in real life: Spiritual Leadership: A Movement in Three Parts

 

ff dec3

 

Love and Ice Cream October 15, 2013

Filed under: Marriage — Stephanie Rische @ 8:04 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

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
Tags: , , , ,

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.

 

February Book of the Month Club: The Meaning of Marriage March 1, 2013

Meaning-of-Marriage1Thanks to everyone who joined our book of the month club for February! Our selection was The Meaning of Marriage, which I introduced here.

 

Here’s how it works: I’ll bring up a few discussion topics, and I’d love to hear your reactions! You can put your thoughts about these topics (or others you’d like to talk about) in the comment section.

 

Discussion #1: The Purpose of Marriage

I found the Kellers’ perspective on marriage countercultural and refreshing. Marriage is not, they claim, about making us happy. It’s about making us more into the people God intended us to be.

 

What, then, is marriage for? It is for helping each other to become our future glory-selves, the new creations that God will eventually make us. (page 120)

 

Within this Christian vision for marriage, here’s what it means to fall in love. It is to look at another person and get a glimpse of the person God is creating, and to say, “I see who God is making you, and it excites me! I want to be part of that.” (page 121)

 

What do you think the purpose of marriage is? In what ways have you seen marriage transform you or someone you know into your “future glory-self”?

 

Discussion #2: Marriage as a picture of the gospel

One of my favorite themes in the book is that marriage, at its core, is a reflection of the gospel. Taken from that perspective, the hardest seasons in a marriage become purposeful, and the good parts become infused with meaning.

When over the years someone has seen you at your worst, and knows you with all your strengths and flaws, yet commits him- or herself to you wholly, it is a consummate experience. To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. (page 95)

 

Marriage has the power of truth, the ability to reveal to you who you really are, with all your flaws. How wonderful that it also has the “power of love”—an unmatched power to affirm you and heal you of the deepest wounds and hurts of your life. (page 146)

 

To be truly known and truly loved—this is grace. How have you seen marriage as a picture of the gospel in your life or in the lives of those you know?

 

Discussion #3: Submission

I was pleasantly surprised to see that the book isn’t prescriptive about what submission should look like in individual marriages. I also appreciated that it rises above the usual skirmishes about surface-level submission and digs deeper into the theology behind it.

 

I especially resonated with the analogy of the marriage relationship as a reflection of the Trinity. Ideally, God intended marriage to be an invitation for “male and female…to mirror and reflect the ‘dance’ of the Trinity” (page 176). Put in that perspective, submission gets taken out of the context of power and put into the context of choice. Kathy puts it this way:

 

Jesus’s willing acceptance of this role was wholly voluntary, a gift to his Father. I discovered here that my submission in marriage was a gift I offered, not a duty coerced from me. (page 175)

 

What do you think of the idea that submission is a reflection of the interaction between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? What do you think the authors get right in their exploration of submission, and what would you take issue with?

 

Discussion #4: Singleness

I was glad to see that this book includes a chapter on singleness since it’s valuable for all of us to have a solid theology of marriage, whether we’re married or not. But I have to say I was disappointed that single people seemed to be categorically lumped into two camps: those who idolize marriage and those who are terrified of it.

 

I couldn’t help but feel for the healthy, well-balanced people I know who aren’t married but would like to be. They aren’t under the illusion that marriage will be perfect or will solve all their problems, nor are they running away from marriage. Certainly some people fall into those categories, but I found myself bristling on behalf of anyone who reads this and feels like their singleness is being pushed back on them as their own fault.

 

What do you think? Did this chapter present an accurate picture of singleness in our culture?

 

Overall Thoughts

Not including the chapter on singleness, I would give this book five stars. I appreciated that it is both theological and practical, that it casts a sweeping vision for marriage yet is still rooted in the real world. I’d recommend it to everyone I know who is married or is considering marriage.

5 stars

How many stars would you give this book?

 

{Reminder: I will give away a free book to one randomly selected commenter!}

 

Book of the Month Club: Announcing February’s Selection February 5, 2013

First of all, congratulations to Diane for winning the free book for January’s book discussion! (You can check out our lively conversation about twins and ghosts and mistaken identities here.}

 

And the book of the month for February is…The Meaning of Marriage by Timothy Keller with Kathy Keller!

Meaning-of-Marriage1

 

I’ve already started the book (thanks to Nancy and Kim for the Christmas present), and I’ve been highlighting so profusely that by now the white part is starting to stand out.

 

Here’s the blurb about this book:

Modern culture would have you believe that everyone has a soul mate; that romance is the most important part of a successful marriage; that marriage does not mean till death do us part, but merely for as long as my needs are being met; and that when serious differences arise, divorce is the best solution.

According to the Bible, all of these modern-day assumptions miss what marriage is all about. In The Meaning of Marriage, Timothy Keller, along with Kathy, his wife of thirty-six years, draws a profound portrait of marriage from the pages of Scripture that neither idealizes nor rejects the institution but points us back to the relationship between God and man. The result is a vision for marriage that is refreshingly frank and unsentimental, yet hopeful and beautiful. This book is for anyone from singles, to couples considering marriage, to those who have been married recently or for a long time.

 

If you’d like to hear more, check out the interview of the authors sharing about the book here.

 kellers

 

We’ll be discussing the book at the end of February (and again, there will be a free book giveaway for one lucky commenter). Please join us!

 

 

My Month of Dating Disasters June 13, 2012

Filed under: Love — Stephanie Rische @ 8:09 am
Tags: , ,

Today marks the two-year anniversary of my first date with the man I married, so it seems fitting to reflect on the person who has been one of the most tangible expressions of God’s grace in my life.

When I met Daniel, I was taken with him from the very beginning—“smitten,” as my sister frequently reminded me. So I wanted to do everything I could to make a good impression on this man. It quickly became apparent that wasn’t meant to be. Within the span of just a few dates, I managed to make an egregious fool of myself on three separate occasions.

 

Occasion #1: The two-smoke alarm dinner

I’m not exactly a cook, but I do have about three standby meals I feel fairly confident about whipping together. Daniel was coming over for dinner and we were still in the “under three” category, so while I was a bit nervous, I wasn’t panicking. The star of the meal was my sister’s famous focaccia bread recipe, something I’d made plenty of times before.

However, it wasn’t long before my visions of golden-brown crusty deliciousness went up in smoke—literally. Daniel and I were chatting in my kitchen when suddenly I heard the piercing beep of not one but two smoke detectors. I opened the oven to discover, to my horror, that the bread wasn’t just overcooked. It was actually on fire. So much for Betty Crocker.

 

Occasion #2: The face plant

Something you should know about me is that my footwear of choice tends to be slippers or flip-flops, depending on the season. Any heel measured in something larger than centimeters is reserved for the occasional bridesmaid duty. I’m not sure what possessed me to wear the strappy, impractical sandals on my third date with Daniel, but it seemed like a good idea at the time.

That night as Daniel walked me to my car, I never saw the tree branch protruding from the grass. I was on the ground before I knew what had hit me. It wasn’t one of those graceful missteps either—it was an all-out tumble, the kind where you biff so hard you don’t have time to break the fall and the contents of your purse spill out all over the grass. Hypothetically speaking.

Occasion #3: The navigational disaster

It was the fourth of July, and Daniel was going to a picnic to meet my church friends for the first time. I’m infamous for my navigational impairments, but I hadn’t exactly mentioned that to Daniel yet. I had carefully researched and printed out directions, and I thought I was ready.

Until we got to the street where the party was being hosted…and there was no house with the specified number. After some unproductive wandering and several confusing phone calls, I finally discovered that the address was indeed correct…but the city was not. Uh, yes, minor detail.

***

As chagrined as I was for royally botching things up on each occasion, ultimately these flubs turned out to be the best thing that could have happened in our young relationship. For one thing, Daniel might as well have known from the beginning who I am: a girl who is, inherently, a mess. A girl who can’t go many consecutive dates before things go up in smoke.

And it turned out that my faux pas gave me a glimpse into the character of this man I was coming to appreciate more and more. In each situation, Daniel responded with the kind of grace that made my knees go weak. As the smoke alarms went off, he fanned the air and assured me we had plenty of food to eat. After my spill, he helped me off the ground and gently made sure I was okay. When I found myself directionally flustered, he patiently drove around a three-city radius until we finally reached our destination.

I received the gift of his grace that month, and I also had the rare window of seeing how this man would respond one day in the future, when the stakes were higher than burned bread. Two years later, I see that my hunch was right: this man is a daily reflection of God’s grace to me.

Happy two years of knowing you, Daniel Rische.

“I do not understand the mystery of grace—only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us.”
—Anne Lamott