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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Wobbly

We were gathered around a table for book club — a book club that does include some discussion of a book, but mainly provides a chance to decompress, to gather a group of women around a patio and chat without being needed or summoned by anyone else for a few lovely hours. One of my…

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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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The Fight for Time

A friend once told me that if you really want to do something, first write down all the good excuses you’ve got not to do it. When it comes to writing, I’ve got a few: All the words have been said. I don’t have the right notebook or pen. People will think I’m a fake.…

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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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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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Thankful: the sacred mundane

One of my favorite parts of teaching is writing with my students. In my Hope College class this fall,  we did a series of writing experiments — assignments more focused on exploration than perfection. One of my favorites was an imitation of a piece called “Thankful” by Amy Krouse Rosenthal. The piece is published in Rosenthal’s Encyclopedia of an…

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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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