Ballad of the Pirate Bard

I am a pirate and I do not sleep!

I thief night jewels for me to keep.

My Lady with her treasures bold

is generous when the wee hours wax old.

The words upon her golden tongue

are by the midnight spirits sung.

I catch the songs in my jolly heart,

then bursting full I do depart,

‘n sail away to the break of day

to spread her tales far and away!

I am a pirate and I do not sleep,

my treasure is the tears you weep,

my prize is the laughter in your eyes,

for Insomnia’s bedfellow is a pirate wise.

🌴This silly song was brought to you care of
sleep deprivation and my pirate pjs! 🌴

Prayer: Quiet Discernment for Living Well

Lent is here, and as with most things, the reactions to it vary. Some people view it with excitement, rather like a mini New Years…a forty day challenge to free oneself from poor habits, gain more self-control and discipline so they can live better and be happier. Others respond to the challenge to increase prayer, fasting and almsgiving with a sense of dread…the ominous idea of dying to oneself overwhelming them, and making them want to seek refuge in a binge of Netflix’s and chocolate cookies. Maybe most of us are a mix of both…always struggling between the pull of instant gratification and the discipline required to grow and make long term gains.

But what are these three cornerstones of Lent, the season of preparation for the great feast of Easter, all about anyway? How do prayer, fasting and almsgiving lead to a better life?

In this post, I will share a few thoughts on the first one–prayer–since I went to a great talk in prayer at our parish mom’s group today. Normally, I’m busy homeschooling my kids in the morning, but today the brilliant sunshine pulled us outside, so we decided to go and have some gym time at the playground.

As we moms sat sipping coffee, nursing babies and feeding toddlers snacks, Father gave us a talk on prayer. He recommend reading something inspirational to turn our minds and hearts to God, and to help us ponder areas in which we could grow and improve. This reading can help us find God’s presence and start speaking to him from our hearts, as children to their loving father. We can then prayerfully discern how we can best live our daily lives, asking for God’s guidance and wisdom, and the grace and strength to do what is best.

This is where the will comes in: the follow through of the resolutions we have made in our prayer. Without this willingness to take action, all our inspirations would be just pretty thoughts. St. Josemaria said:

Love is deeds, not sweet words alone.

So while Christians are sometimes accused of “wasting” time in prayer, or only living for the next world, a true understanding of prayer reveals that the purpose of prayer is actually to help us live well and love well, here and now. To do God’s will in our lives means embracing our personal circumstances with gratitude and trying our best to always grow and improve in how we live, so that we can also help improve the lives of those around us.

Prayer is taking time to listen to the voice of our conscience, and asking for the strength to follow it, even when it’s hard. It’s not something for once or twice a year on a special day, but an integral part of being human, something for every day.

My sister sent me a great article called “If you’re too busy for these 5 things, your life is way more off course than you think. In it, the author emphasized the need for regular discernment about the important things in life. He described how a tiny initial error of two degrees ultimately led an airplane to crash into a snow covered volcano over Antarctica, killing all its passengers. In our lives, we can get off track in little ways that lead to huge problems later. Quietly pondering how things are going each day, and slightly adjusting out sails, can help prevent us from blundering into disasters we never intended to meet.

Prayer helps us live intentionally. It helps us to respond thoughtfully, instead of just reacting emotionally. In his excellent book, Perfectly Yourself: Discovering God’s Dream For You, Matthew Kelly describes how prayer can help “lengthen our fuses” and make us more patient and able to practice self-control. Prayer can help us find the good in difficult situations, and to endure more pain than we imagined possible. It can also help us savour the good, true and beautiful in life. For me, writing poetry is prayer, because it helps me ponder things in my heart, and to share them.

Chances are, if you’re spending some time unplugged from screens, thinking about your life and the people who matter to you, you are praying, whether or not you even realize it. It could be while you’re jogging the sea wall, looking out at the ocean. It could be while you’re folding your children’s clothes or doing dishes. It could be while you’re painting, writing, or listening to music. When we enter that temple within us, that timeless place where we connect with eternity, we are praying. The fruit of that prayer should be a renewed vigour for living well, for getting up and trying again after we fail, a humble desire to live and love better, and to pursue our dreams with courage.

May your time in prayer this Lent help you establish a deeper link with the still, small voice within you, so you can live a more fulfilling life, and daily strive to become the best version of yourself.

“The Hiding Place” by Corrie ten Boom

Last night I stayed up reading a novel till unmentionable small hours of the morning. I couldn’t put it down. I tried but couldn’t sleep. I had to know how things would turn out for these ordinary yet heroic Hollanders who hid Jewish people in their Haarlem home in World War Two. The fact that this story is true and autobiographical added a bittersweet poignancy which really captivated me.

I can’t recommend this heroic story enough. But be sure to buy Kleenex, and some strong coffee (preferably Dutch) for the mornings after you stay up way too late reading it on the edge of your seat. The sacrifice of sleep will be worth it to renew your faith in the amazing ability of humanity to survive in the most horrific circumstances…and not only to survive, but to thrive, at least interiorly. The women in this story suffer deeply, but instead of becoming darkened by hate, they become luminous…in the midst of evil, they glow. Love does this. Faith does this. Unshakable determination to do what is right does this.

I was extremely inspired by the ten Boom family, whose loving description reminded me a bit of the family in Little Women. It made me feel that my struggles are very small indeed, and that I want to pray for greater heroism in overcoming the bitterness and self-pity that can creep in through the cracks of exhaustion. Corrie, who is a watchmaker in her 50’s when she joins the Dutch underground movement, makes it very clear that any good she did came not from her own virtue or strength, but from the faith and love infused into her soul. God’s providence runs through the story like a shining golden thread.

What is amazing, besides all she did to save her fellow human beings, especially Jews, during the war, is what she does after the war, having been through harsh prisons and concentration camps. She opens homes for victims of war, where they can live in a loving home, grow flowers and vegetables and find hope again. Beyond that, she travels the world sharing her story of the power of love to overcome evil, and that God’s loving forgiveness that exists for all, no matter how dark their past. She does not neglect Germany, the land of her wartime fears and captivity, when sharing her message of peace.

The Hiding Place resonates with me in a very personal level because I have Dutch family who hid Jews in their home during the war, and my Opa himself, who worked for the Dutch radio, hid from the Nazis when they wanted him to spew propaganda. When soldiers knocked on the door, Opa Koenig would quickly open the floorboards in the attic and lower himself into a little hiding place. My cute blonde, blue-eyed Dutch stepdad and his sister would then throw a blanket over the area and sit on it playing with their toys. Thankfully, the soldiers would simply look around the room, pat their little heads, and leave. I can’t imagine the stress of this on kids, but Opa survived the war and was never caught, unlike so many others.

If you’re looking for a book to read this November as we approach Remembrance Day, try “The Hiding Place.” It’s the kind of book that touches your soul and leaves you forever grateful for the goodness of the ordinary heroes among us.

10 Reasons I love rereading the Anne of Green Gables Books!

If you’re like me and grew up reading LM Montgomery’s classic Anne of Green Gables series, you may also find that rereading them gives all the comforting feeling of coming home again after a long journey, to find that “God’s in his heaven, and all is right with the world.”

No matter what you’re going through, the wisdom, beauty and humour of Anne’s stories can’t help but bring a little more romance and hope to your life. I’ve read or reread them when home sick from school as a kid, on lazy summer afternoons and in the hospital after having a baby. I’ve been binge rereading them last week while my husband was away, but why am I enjoying them so much?

Here are 10 reasons, cause I’ve got to stop somewhere! 😉

  1. Anne is so dauntlessly hopeful. She refuses to give up on anyone, no matter how prickly on the outside. She truly believes that everyone has a story worth knowing.
  2. There are no boring characters. There are eccentric ones, stubborn ones, gossipy ones, vain ones, humble ones, brilliant ones and hilarious ones, but even one portrayed as boring or dull-witted is so cleverly described that they are amusing!
  3. Gilbert. Gilbert. Gilbert. Ok, if that seems silly to you because you haven’t met him yet, stop wasting your time and get reading! ‘Boy next store’ par excellence. Honest, kind, loyal, generous, funny, devoted and willing to sacrifice for Anne. And of course, super cute, and torturously in love with Anne for years before she clues in! I got the Kevin Sullivan Anne films for my daughter’s 13th birthday recently, and she loved them. “But mom,” she lamented after, “I don’t think they’re very realistic. No boy could ever be that nice!” Don’t give up yet honey!
  4. Every time I read one of the books I learn something new about life. These books, so full of crazy characters are also so full of life, and brimming with wisdom, but it’s shown by example, rather than preached at length. In living, loving, rejoicing and suffering with Anne, I learn along with her as well.
  5. Anne’s zest for life is so attractive. She finds beauty everywhere she goes, and joyfully shares it with everyone, helping them see the world shine through her eyes.
  6. Because in these pages I find my life…like Anne I moved a lot, have “auburn” hair and a matching tongue and temper, went to college, love writing, married my first love, had a big family, lost a little baby girl, am passionately attached to my friends, find God’s presence most strongly in his creation, and can’t quite give up in the romance of believing in fairies.
  7. Because Montgomery’s writing has all the interest of lively fiction combined with the delicious beauty of poetry.
  8. What better escape that lovey old Prince Edward Island…a little sand-swept gem, with red roads winding down blossom-laden lanes, covered in little apple orchards and rolling farms, and sweet houses bedecked with flowers.
  9. Because Anne shows that with passion and determination, humour and joy, anything is possible, even if you started out a skinny little orphan like her.
  10. Because they’re simply the best. And there are so many to keep you company. So there.

As an extra bonus, I discovered a Montgomery novel I didn’t own yet while treasure hunting at a used bookstore with the kids last week. I didn’t know any more existed! “Kilmeny of the Orchard” is a lovely, surprising tale of a beautiful mute musician who discovers love and the power to speak.

I also highly recommend Montgomery’s last book, which she delivered to the published the day she died, though it wasn’t published in its unabridged form till years laster. “The Blythes are Quoted” is full of poignant poetry by Anne and her (by then deceased) son Walter, and also short stories, some of them with a darker flair than usual. It’s a bittersweet testament to the later years of Anne and Gilbert’s marriage, written during World War II, and the sorrow of loss runs through it. Beautiful, mature and challenging…a must read!

Gas Station Saunter

See the woman walking

light as air–

her wings filling up with the wind,

canvas shopping-bag sails dancing in the sun.

An easy, breezy escape

for 10 minutes,

popping over to the corner gas station

–alone!–

to pick up lemonade ice-tea

for her temporarily bed-bound husband

who had this special request.

She walks along in the sun

smelling the city scent of spice and cement,

free enough to notice such things

without the usual tangled parade of double stroller,

the baby in snuggly

and other kids marching two by two.

She wonders what the chances are

that she’ll get to capture

the poetry of this ordinary moment

when she arrives home

to 80,000 questions

like “Why is blood red?

What is the sun made of?

What do we do before we are born?”

and “Can I have a ‘peeburrer samich’ nooooooow?”

An obnoxious car cuts her off to turn through the crosswalk on her light

–keeping it real–

lest in her pondering she float off into the brilliant blue sky

to alight on the snow-covered mountain tops that beckon in the distance

to this winged creature:

a woman alone for a walk.

Feather Quills

When the sun sinks into the sea

–a candle snuffed out suddenly–

the silhouettes of palm trees darken

against the fading colours of the sky.

Their leaves become black as crow feathers–

old-fashioned feather quills

writing poetry upon the earth’s dome

among the shooting stars.

My brother Winston took this pic of our brother Monti’s back yard.

Prairie Walk

When I’m back home I’ll think of you

walking under the immense dome of the sky

which curves around like giant arms

until it touches the distant edges of the prairie.

You awed by the paradox

of God’s ever-watchful otherliness

and the incarnational intimacy of the earth

supporting your feet–

you tiny amidst the soaring and the solid,

utterly surrounded by God.

Confidence Comes From a Place of Quiet


We live in a society filled with experts. There are specialists who are eager and willing to tell you how to do just about everything. Want to clean out your closet? Feed your kids well? Wear the right colour for your hair? Thrive in the workplace? There are likely dozens of e-courses, books and podcasts to teach you how. Let’s just hope they all agree…lest the conflicting “experts” cause more confusion and give you even less clarity. 

While the abundance of information is potentially enriching, I wonder what it does to our confidence to feel we need to consult an expert or extensively research every decision. Who are we, after all, to decide for ourselves? And are we actually doing anything right??

This kind of insecurity can rob us of peace. It’s impossible to follow everyone’s advice, in the same way it’s impossible to wash your hair with every kind of shampoo that claims to be best. It would make you crazy to try. So we have to calmly make choices and stand by them.  Nobody else knows how to be you. Remember this, and don’t go against your gut because something is currently trendy or thought to be essential. These things change all the time anyway. 

But to shut out these clamouring voices, we need to seek a place of quiet. To turn off all our many devices and remember what it’s like to hang out with ourselves. With no add breaks. No interruptions. Just our own thoughts, and if we listen carefully enough, that still, small voice that guides our heart. The company of the one true Expert, the One who made us and knows every fibre of our being…who knows what challenges, graces, and gifts we need to be truly happy. In this place, we can remember who we are and what’s really important. 


So as the busy fall season approaches with all its potential activities, try to ask yourself quietly: “Which of these will actually contribute to the well-being of my family?” “What do we actually feel called to do?” “Which of these would maybe look good on a resumé, but lead us to being overbooked, overstressed, and short on time to enjoy being together with those we love?” 

If you ask such things quietly, peacefully, and in an attitude of listening, chances are your heart will guide you. And acting from a place of quiet, you’ll have the confidence to stand by your decisions, despite the storm of “expert” opinions ever swirling around you. In that inner quiet, you’ll find the freedom to be you.