Author: Sarah Styf

The Perfectly-Sized Family?

Read Time: 4 min.

I had it all planned—right down to where I was going to meet my future husband, when we were going to get married, and when we were going to start a family. I come from a large extended family, so growing up, family was everything. My mom stayed at home with all four of us girls until my baby sister, eleven years younger than me, was well into her elementary school career. For most of my childhood...[Read More]

“You’re my only hope.”

Read Time: 4 min.

“Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You’re my only hope.” Early in George Lucas’s epic work, we see a hologram of Princess Leia begging the old hermit Ben Kenobi for help. When George Lucas wrote the prequels several years later, Qui-Gon Jin was convinced that Anakin, the little boy who would eventually become the baddest villain in the galaxy, was the hope that would bring balance to the Force. In the late...[Read More]

Thinking Beyond Checkpoints, Fences, and Armed Guards

Read Time: 4 min.

I grew up at the tail end of the Cold War, watching the Berlin wall fall down when I was ten. My mom told me stories about safety drills in the 1960s, when she and her classmates would hide under desks in the event of a nuclear attack. Fortunately this was not my reality, and I was able to blissfully continue on with my childhood as if big threats were a thing of the past. Over the next 20 years, ...[Read More]

Old Friends, New Friends, and the Lonely Spaces In-Between

Read Time: 4 min.

My family made four cross-country moves before I turned 18. I don’t remember the move from California to Michigan because I was just a toddler. The move from Michigan to Illinois was a mixture of excitement for something new and sadness because I quickly missed my friends of eight years. The next two moves, when I was 11 and 16, turned my already naturally introverted personality into that of a hu...[Read More]

The Consequences of Not Making a Difference

Read Time: 3 min.

I was eleven when I first read Number the Stars, my first introduction to the 20th-century atrocity known as the Holocaust. I was fourteen when Schindler’s List won the Academy Award for Best Picture. I was sixteen when I watched it for the first time, finally receiving permission from my parents to watch it with my AP US history class. I was nineteen when my World Civilization professor preached ...[Read More]

Jesus and Battle Scars

Read Time: 3 min.

Years ago, when I was a young, naïve Christian teenager, I found myself in a lengthy discussion about faith with a non-Christian classmate. This particular classmate, who eventually became a very good friend, asked a lot of challenging questions about God, Jesus, and the Christian faith. By the end of the conversation, I came to the conclusion that he just thought too much to believe in the Christ...[Read More]

“Mommy, why didn’t Jesus stop the flooding?”

Read Time: 4 min.

On August 25, 2017, the world stood still for those in Southeast Texas. After an August of news media turmoil, we were not unified in watching riots grow on television and we were not watching an eclipse. We were watching an increasingly dangerous hurricane—the first of several in the coming weeks, it turns out—prepare for landfall. We watched the eye to determine who would be hit by the winds and...[Read More]

Prayer in Public Schools—The Laws Make Sense

Read Time: 3 min.

Every year of high school I met with my fellow Christian classmates and friends during the designated Wednesday in September. We met to pray for our country. We met to pray for our school. We met to pray for each other. We met to prove that the First Amendment still gave us the right to profess our faith, even if a Supreme Court decision said we could not have school-wide corporate prayer. Most of...[Read More]

We want independent kids…right?

Read Time: 5 min.

I drove down the country roads crisscrossing Indiana and Ohio, my friend looking on a map while we tried to figure out where we were in the middle of the Heartland. We were just two high school students nearing the end of our junior year, and we were hopelessly lost. No cell phones, no GPS, and just our adolescent map skills to get us to the youth retreat that we were headed to. We had promised ou...[Read More]

We need to change what it means to be patriots.

Read Time: 4 min.

It was our first Sunday attending church in our new city. We were in a city with many Lutheran churches, so we had our pick, but we decided to start with the church right down the street. It was Fourth of July weekend. The worship service was patriotic, complete with Lee Greenwood’s “Proud to be an American.” And this politically moderate Lutheran was ready to run out of the building. It’s not tha...[Read More]

Suicide’s impact is broad. And our understanding is narrow.

Read Time: 4 min.

From the moment she walked into my classroom, I saw a little bit too much of myself in her. She was an introverted junior transfer, struggling to find a place for herself in a new school, in a new state. Over the course of the first semester, I got to know her through her writing and she frequented my classroom after school. While I have several former students who I remain close to, I normally tr...[Read More]

My Battle with Stuff

Read Time: 4 min.

It was stupid, really. Our family had recently moved from Detroit, Michigan, to a much smaller town in northern Illinois. I vacillated between anger and sadness as I watched my parents put an offer on an attractive older home away from my new friends’ neighborhoods. It was a home that clearly identified us as lower middle class. I hated that house when I compared it to my friends’ nicer, newer hom...[Read More]

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