in·ten·tion·al

inˈten(t)SH(ə)n(ə)l/ adjective:  done on purpose; deliberate. Synonyms: calculated, conscious, intended, purposeful I talk to my writing students about audience all the time — “Know your audience,” I tell them,  “Your tone, your style, your voice depends on your audience.” But when I sit down to write, the audience member I most often put in focus…

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Turn

I’m a sucker for all things nostalgic — old photo albums, worn notes or ticket stubs. I can’t resist the “On this Day” Facebook pictures that pop up, showing me my posts and memories from this day just two, five, eight years ago. I’m a slow, distracted organizer because I’m constantly pausing inside drawers and…

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Meet Murray

I’m writing today from my sunroom table, my favorite summer writing spot. I’ve mentioned this favorite place before — the light breeze through the screened doors, the farmer’s fields lit up bright green by the morning sun, the robins chirping away. But this morning I had to make myself sit here. Make room on my…

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At Me

One of the most maddening, is-it-bedtime-yet moments in my parental life is when, most often in the car, one of my kids whines because his brother is looking at him the wrong way.  “He is smiling at me,” they cry and whine.  Or even “He keeps looking at me.” The key words here are at…

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Saving Up Stories

This blog post was originally published on The Twelve.  My grandpa passed away last winter. One of the things I miss most is saving up stories for him. My family still gathers around grandma’s table every Sunday, and most weeks my husband, kids, and I are there. My Grandpa was never one for much small…

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Hidden Hope

  (A version of this piece was first published on The Twelve.) During the summer, my schedule permits me to take a walk nearly every morning, just after sunrise. I pop in headphones, tune into a podcast, and head for my favorite path. Quiet neighborhood sidewalks open into a paved trail that winds through a farmer’s…

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A messier manger

It was nearly five years ago when Caleb and I participated in a craft night at church to make a nativity scene. I remember that when it was time to draw the faces on our little wooden figurines, I cringed as he grabbed the black Sharpie and haphazardly scratched in the eyes, noses, and mouths.…

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Falling

“By facing God, we also face our own inner chaos.” — Henri Nouwen It was a warm, fall, Michigan Sunday; what I knew would likely be our last for awhile. Twenty-some family members had just left my house, and the dishes were in the dishwasher, the floor was swept, and my husband wanted a couple…

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Out of tune

  I was in choirs when I was a kid. I loved to sing, and I thought I was pretty good at it.  Along with my cousins or youth group friends, I’d even perform “Special Music” (a phenomenon of 1990s West Michigan church culture) at night services, and was always among the first to try…

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Middle

Definition: (Adjective) At an equal distance from the extremities of something  Synonyms: Center or Midst, suggesting that a person or thing is closely surrounded or encompassed on all sides, especially by that which is thick or dense; such as the midst of a storm. When I tell someone I teach in a middle school, the…

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