Meet Rita Buettner:

“When the Lord closes a door, somewhere he opens a window.” After struggling with infertility, my husband and I were blessed to adopt our two sons from China. I’m a working mother who writes about family fun and faith. Oh, and I own hundreds of flyswatters. Join me on Twitter, say hello at openwindowcr@gmail.com, or follow me on Facebook

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Oh wow, what a journey that must have been, Colleen. So thankful you are a survivor.

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But it is a difficult read, especially at parts, and it really did make me realize that she has been doing so much paddling below the surface.

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Open Window

Finding God’s window: A glimpse into a child's faith


Yet again, for the who-knows-how-many-eth time, our younger son asks if he can play “You Are Mine” on YouTube. As he plays, he likes to sit and strum a guitar or pick out notes on the piano. He wants so much to be part of creating the beautiful music.

Our little boy loves the song, and he especially enjoys seeing the images on the YouTube version as the music plays. As “You Are Mine” plays, he is very serious and quiet and contained in his enthusiasm, but you can see that he is fully focused, fully absorbed.

This time as he plays the song, I stand behind him, watching and listening.

“Watch,” he said, “and I’ll show you God’s window.”

I'm confused, but I watch and wait. A few minutes later he presses pause on the screen and points to a little square in the sky.

“See! There it is! God’s window!”



It's the little square of light about a third of the way across on the top of the darker cloud.


“Wow,” I say, wondering whether someone else has pointed it out to him. “Did someone tell you that was God’s window?”


“No,” he says. “I found it myself.”

Of course he did.

I may be teaching our children about our faith, but they are also teaching me. And every now and then they surprise me by showing how they are discovering their own understandings, their own personal connections with our Father in Heaven, completely without my help.

I hope you catch a glimpse of God’s window today.

September 25, 2016 10:24
By Rita Buettner


Celebrating a dozen years of marriage


Twelve years ago I stood in the narthex of the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen, wearing my white gown, impatient and excited for the day—and this new chapter of life—to begin.

My father was there, and my bridesmaids—sisters and friends—along with a lovely flower girl and a handsome little ring bearer. There must have been other people milling around too, but that’s a little fuzzy for me.

But I remember that walk up the aisle. And I recall laughing with my father the whole way until we reached the front where John looked so, so happy.

We couldn’t wait to get married.



I’m not sure anyone ever knows what to expect of marriage, the joys and sadness you will face together. I never could have imagined the journey we would take as a couple—a journey we are still on.

But we took that leap of faith, just as so many other brides and grooms do.

And, of course, I’d do it all over again. Many days I really can’t believe I am fortunate enough to be John’s wife and the mother of our children.



We aren’t big anniversary celebrators here. We have separate plans today. I’m taking our first grader to a birthday party and John and our older son are going to a train show. We’ll be together for dinner at home. For dessert I’m making a dozen cupcakes for our dozen years of marriage.

Last night we went to Mass together at the Cathedral as a family of four, going back to where it all began.


As I was listening to the homily, I was also thinking of our wedding day there, the promises we made, the family and friends who surrounded us, the priests who were with us, the joy I felt throughout the day.



Then I looked over and saw that our 6-year-old had fallen asleep and he was leaning against his father’s shoulder, perfectly quiet, perfectly cute, perfectly exhausted from a busy Saturday. I caught John’s eye and he smiled back at me, and I thought—just as I did 12 years ago today—that I must be the luckiest person in the world. And God wouldn’t give me so much if He didn’t also expect me to do so much.



Then, toward the end of his homily, the deacon quoted from the prayer of St. Ignatius: “Lord, teach me to be generous … to give and not to count the cost.”

Wow, I thought. There it is. That’s what we are asked to do in marriage, in parenting, in whatever vocation we take on in life.


Touching the colored light on the Cathedral wall

Today as we celebrate our marriage, I don’t know what we will face in the future—but I look forward to facing it together. And I’ll try to remember to give and not count the cost.

Happy anniversary, honey.


You might also enjoy:

Remembering our wedding day


Ten Years Ago Today...


September 25, 2016 09:38
By Rita Buettner


You won’t believe what was inside this container of olives, a Caravaggio painting, prayer gatherings, pseudo-fishing, (7 Quick Takes)

Once I hit publish, I can't change the title, so please forgive me for that extra comma in the title.


~1~

What do you send in your children’s lunches? Black olives make their way into at least one lunchbox here every day.

One morning this week I opened a container of olives to pack them inside our older son’s lunch. As I peeled back the top of the packet, I spotted this.



There was a tiny star shape made out of olive pieces, and it just happened to be stuck to the roof of the container. And, even though we were pressed for time, and our children weren’t dressed or packed or fed or ready for school in any way—besides being awake—I called for them and showed them the olive star.

I don’t want to say it was the highlight of our day, but…well…you have to admit that is a fun surprise.

~2~

Last weekend we gathered to celebrate with and pray for a friend who is expecting her fourth child.

We prayed the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary together as five young children played around us. My sister had printed rosary coloring sheets for the children, but none of them seemed to want to stop playing to pray. But it still went really well.

I was struck by how they naturally quieted as we were praying. The second grader stopped and listened the whole time, the youngest baby girl was soothed into sleep, and the rest of the children watched and listened and played.



Then we had ice cream and desserts.


Please join me in praying for this little one who is due in early October—and also for Rosie’s baby, especially since she shared her concerns after recent appointments. Perhaps you’d like to join us in asking St. Therese to intercede for her little one in the novena leading up to her feast day on Oct. 1.

~3~

Last weekend the university where I work celebrated the Mass of the Holy Spirit, which marks the spiritual beginning of the academic year. We divided and conquered as a family to give our children some one-on-one time, and I took Daniel with me to Loyola for the Mass.

It was a long Mass, and he fell asleep on my shoulder. One of my colleagues took our photo as he was passing our pew.

It was an extraordinarily beautiful service, and I left feeling so good about being a member of this community.


Then, a few days later, I had just finished a work meeting on Wednesday afternoon and was walking across campus, not thinking about anything in particular, when I saw one of our Jesuits walking toward the Jesuit residence.

“Are you headed home?” I asked.

“Yes,” he said. “I have the Mass this evening.”

I asked whether he knew what he was going to say in his homily, and he told me it was the Feast of St. Matthew. He was planning to speak about a Caravaggio painting, The Calling of St. Matthew. He pulled a printed version of the painting out of his backpack and talked with me about Matthew’s reaction to being called—as well as Peter’s reaction.



We only spoke for a few minutes, but as I climbed in my car to go pick up my children from school, I couldn’t help but think how God puts us in certain places for a reason, and how blessed I am to be where I am.

~4~

We went to Miss Shirley’s for breakfast the other morning, and the waiter handed each of our sons an Etch a Sketch to play with while we waited for food.


Why didn’t I ever think of that?

~5~

Daniel has been begging us to take him fishing, and with the beautiful weather we have had lately, it’s hard to say no. But we haven’t had time to go as a family, and I have never taken a flopping, scaly fish off a hook. And, full disclosure here, I have no idea how I would react if I had to do that. I’d rather not try.

So I suggested we just go practice casting the line into the water. What were the chances he would want to do that? Well, they were quite good, and I found myself watching him cast over and over and over.


It was actually quite relaxing, and I enjoyed the time out in nature with our 6-year-old.



But now he really, really wants to go fishing, so I have a feeling I just need to get over my fear of handling fish.



~6~

We did make moon cakes for the Mid-Autumn Festival! Except they aren’t moon cakes, they are cookies shaped like moon cakes.



They were just ordinary sugar cookies.



They turned out pretty well, though, and no one complained.

Well, except the half of our family who thinks cookies aren’t worth making if they aren’t chocolate chip. That’s hard to argue.

~7~

It’s not even October, and I am already tired of homework. But I am learning a few things. Did you know there’s a Southern Ocean? Apparently the map rug I bought for Leo’s room even before we adopted him from China is already out of date.



But lest you think we’re only learning things in school, we’re also really enjoying this new Buddy feature in Pokemon Go. I never knew how much I would enjoy having a fiery horse walking by my side.



~Bonus Quick Take~

Once a month I write a column for the print issue of The Catholic Review, and my latest column just went online this week. It was funny that when I saw it, I realized how much I needed to read it myself. 

Read Kelly’s quick takes and others at her blog, This Ain’t the Lyceum, and have a wonderful weekend!

September 23, 2016 07:35
By Rita Buettner


Our son’s week as “God’s Special Child”


Every year when our children start the school year, I am tempted to tell their teachers all about them—their strengths, challenges, and what excites them. My sons are my favorite topic, and I have so much to say!

But I also want them to be able to forge their own paths and begin each year with a fresh start. As a third child, I know all too well how frustrating it can be when people think they know who you are.

So this year when I met their teachers, I said very little about them. And when our first grader came home last week with the news that he had been selected as “God’s Special Child” for this week, I read the assignment and made sure he knew he was the person in charge of picking items to share with the class to tell them more about himself.

For the same assignment two years ago his big brother took his book sharing the story of his life in China before he met us. But Daniel was firm on the fact that he didn’t want to take his adoption life book—or any pictures from the day we met.

“They’re too special,” he said. “I don’t want anything to happen to them.”

Instead he selected:


  • soccer and baseball trophies
  • a bottle of holy water
  • a Chinese rattle drum with his zodiac animal on it (the ox)
  • an Estes rocket (just a shell without the engine in it, of course)
  • a magic bank that looks like the coin disappears when you drop it inside, a treasured item we brought home from our beach vacation this year
  • a train bank he received from an aunt and uncle for his baptism
  • his chop—a stamper with his Chinese name on it
  • a box of photos of him fishing and eating snowballs with his brother and doing a bunch of other things
I loved watching his excitement as he picked each item and packed everything in a box with bubble wrap, ready to carry it to school.

You are probably wondering what his classmates most enjoyed seeing, what questions they asked, how his teacher responded, and all the other questions I asked when he climbed into the car after school. You’ll just have to keep wondering. I have no idea what anyone said or thought or admired or wanted to know more about.

I just know that he had a great day, that being God’s Special Child is fun, that he gets to be the teacher’s helper all week, and that God’s Special Child still has to do homework.

Oh, and I learned that his teacher said he can bring things in every day this week.

“Tomorrow,” he said, “I want to take my fishing rod.”

Hmm. No. I can't send a fishing rod to school. Even God’s Special Child has to face disappointment from time to time.


 

September 19, 2016 10:27
By Rita Buettner


7 Quick Takes Friday: Praying for a weekend, Pokemon hunting, Love Warrior, Mid-Autumn Festival, a Miraculous Medal, and more


~1~

During bedtime prayers last night, our younger son prayed that the weekend would start Friday morning. So if that happened, that’s why!

And, if not, let’s hope for a wonderful Friday that feels almost like a weekend. But either way, let's hope the weekend is coming quickly, especially if you feel as if this week has left you feeling like this basketball net we saw the other day.



~2~

I have no idea how many people are still playing Pokemon Go, but we show no signs of stopping here. A friend told me that we should try hunting downtown, so we went down last weekend and explored. There were so many Pokemon by the Harbor near Little Italy that it was a little overwhelming.



Somehow we soldiered on.

And it reminded me how much I love Baltimore, especially on a beautiful summer afternoon. But then Baltimore and summer and Pokemon hunting are three of my favorite things.

~3~

Earlier this summer Glennon Doyle Melton sent me an advance copy of her book, Love Warrior. I couldn’t wait to read it, and I dove in, and zipped through. Then I have had trouble thinking of what I wanted to say about it.

Even though I do read Glennon’s blog regularly, Love Warrior still felt fresh and real to me in a different way. I felt I was walking her journey at her side much more in the book than I do on her blog, where—because of the nature of blogging—sometimes you feel that at the end of a post everything is resolved, nicely tied with a bow. Love Warrior reveals pain and growth and discovery in a way that is raw and sometimes troubling.

Marriage is not always easy, but that is not always conveyed in writing. So I thought it was particularly interesting to read about two people who were struggling with marriage while trying to make it work. You definitely get the sense that Glennon wants to be true to herself while also being true to her husband and to her children. She doesn’t make that look easy, but she makes it feel important.

Somehow although it is not an easy read—and parts are painful—Love Warrior is a quick read, openly and honestly written, told well, and shared by a writer who has many more chapters to live and to write. Have you read it?

~4~

Do you know what plant this is? I should find out. We have one of these in red in our yard, and I think it’s beautiful. But I rarely recognize plants, even the loveliest ones.



I love this time of year. But what I love even more is the full heat of the summer, when the nights are long, and the fireflies are out. I’m a little sad to see fall arriving, but it’s my husband’s favorite season, so at least someone around here will be happy with the cooler weather—if and when it comes.

~5~

If I were more organized, I would tell you how our family is celebrating the Mid-Autumn Festival, which started in China yesterday. Well, actually, I can tell you that we have done nothing yet, but I finally ordered some molds for mooncake making. But I am planning to use a sugar cookie recipe we have had great success with. If that doesn’t work, I’ll try my friend Nicole’s recipe.

I ordered these molds, and when they come, we will make cookies. Actual mooncakes might be your favorite treat, but I’m sorry to say they’re not mine. So we’ll try this instead this year.

~6~

One morning as I was dropping our boys off at school, an older man approached us in the church parking lot. He started chatting with us, and then he asked whether I had a Miraculous Medal. When I said I didn’t, he gave me this one.



He wouldn’t accept my thanks, telling me to thank the Blessed Mother instead.

My sons were quite impressed that a stranger would approach us, give us a gift, and tell us we could thank Mary for it.

~7~

A friend who read my blog post on the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows sent me this video, “The Human Connection to Patient Care,” which so powerfully conveys what I was trying to say and takes it to another level.



We truly do not know what is going on in another person's life. I'm praying your burden is light today.

Read more quick takes at Kelly’s blog, This Ain’t the Lyceum.

September 15, 2016 11:21
By Rita Buettner


What Our Lady of Sorrows might be asking of us


A smiling Mary holding a lively Christ Child is much more appealing to me than Mary holding her Son’s body at the foot of the cross.

But although I would prefer to stay with the lighter, joyful images, as time goes on I realize the importance of focusing on how our Blessed Mother faced grief and loss.

Because as much as we might like for the greatest challenge in life to be greeting Jesus in a stable, life asks so much more from us. And it is in watching how she faced those moments herself, as we reflect on the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows today, that we see her strength, her courage, her love.




A wooden carving of "Virgen de los siete dolores y Madre de todos los que lloran" (Virgin of the Seven Sorrows and Mother of all those who cry) by Spanish artist Francisco Romero Zafra, is displayed in a church in Seville, Spain. (CNS photo/Marc elo del Pozo, Reuters)



Even in those dark days before the Resurrection, we see that she is full of conviction that Jesus is still very much with her—and each of us. If Mary can have faith and hope even before she experiences the glory of our Risen Lord on Easter Sunday, how can anything plunge us into despair?

But as time goes on, I realize that the face of a grieving but faithful Mary may be asking even more of me. Because the Blessed Mother, gazing in peaceful sadness on the face of her dying Son, is not simply offering me strength during difficulty. I believe she is also asking me to consider that I do not know the weight of the burden another person is carrying.

Even as Mary portrays strength even through her loss, I cannot fully understand the pain in her heart. That is true of every person I encounter every day.

Perhaps that more than anything is what I need to keep in mind—not just to think of Mary’s sorrows, but to recognize the sorrows others carry, and to encounter them with peace, grace, and understanding.

I can’t change the world, but I can certainly be gentler and more open to how I interact with others.

“The smallest thing when done for the love of God is priceless,” said St. Teresa of Avila.

Maybe today we can do something small for the love of God.


September 14, 2016 11:07
By Rita Buettner


Having fun at the Nun Run


A few months ago I mentioned the Nun Run to a friend who was looking for local races, and she signed up right away. But I am not the most organized person and I never know what our weekends will involve, so I didn’t register.

I’ve also never participated in any kind of running or walking event, and I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. I imagined people who go to this type of thing wear sleek running outfits as they sprint past carrying aerodynamic water bottles. The image in my mind was a little intimidating.

But I also love the Little Sisters of the Poor and I’m so grateful for the beautiful work they do. Even if we didn’t have cool running outfits, I figured we could certainly walk a mile.

So, when we woke up Saturday morning and our children seemed to have their usual limitless energy, I announced that I was going.




Our older son only wanted to go if he would be able to participate—and I couldn’t promise that. The run started at 8 a.m., and it was 7:45. We hadn’t even started the car, or hit the ATM for our racing fees, and we don’t exactly live around the corner from the Cathedral, where the race was starting. I didn’t know whether we were too late to register, or whether we would even make it in time to start the race.

Still, our younger son is almost always up for an adventure, so we jumped in the car, stopped for cash, and drove to the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen—and the starting line.

As it turned out, we did have time to register and do either the 1-mile walk or the 5K run, but our younger son didn’t want to walk or run without his brother. So instead of participating, we hung out in front of the Cathedral.



Archbishop Lori led us all in prayer, and my son nudged me to take my hat off like the Oriole Bird, who was standing next to the archbishop. After the prayer, we shook the archbishop’s hand, and he complimented my son on his Orioles hat.

When we donated our racing fees to the Little Sisters of the Poor, a man at the table said, "I'm sorry that I don't have a receipt for you."

"If I were that organized," I told him, "we wouldn't be arriving now and asking you to take our money." We laughed, and then Daniel and I wandered around.

We chatted with some dogs who were standing around, found a snack, cheered on the runners and walkers, and took a few selfies. We even got a free balloon sword from a clown. And we saw a few people we knew, including one of our parish priests who ran the 5K.



And, of course, we cheered for my friend, who ran the whole 5K and was smiling as she ran across the finish line.

It was a beautiful start to our weekend, especially as we chatted with a few of the sisters who were there and enjoyed a sunny summer morning in Baltimore.

Next year I am determined that we will actually walk or run. I was surprised how easy and fun the whole experience was. Although there were some serious runners there, there were many families walking and running, and it was overall a very low-key event. Just our speed.



If you’re in Baltimore or not far away, maybe you’d like to join me next September? Of course, there’s no need to commit too far ahead of time. We can always decide that morning. Maybe I'll see you there!

September 12, 2016 10:13
By Rita Buettner


7 Quick Takes Friday: Back to School Night, supporting adoption at Wendy's, an unexpected gift, a veggie cake, rockets, and how much I love missing soccer season


~1~

We had Back to School Night last night and then I met with my prayer group. So forgive me if these takes are quick, quick, quick.

I don’t know how other people feel after Back to School Night, but I always leave feeling great about the Catholic education our children are receiving. I also come home thinking that I am not monitoring my children’s homework as closely as some parents do. I never seem to know what the teacher is talking about.

This year, in third grade, our older son will be getting grades for the first time. I should probably care. But I just want to know that he is kind and learning to love God more all the time. Oh, and I want him to do his best. But I didn’t pay that much attention to my own grades in school, so it’s a little hard to get anxious about my children’s.

Is this a common problem? Is this just me? Is someone going to revoke my parenting badge?

~2~

Have you heard about this offer at Wendy’s

If you go to participating Wendy’s and buy a drink, take a photo of your hand finishing the heart on the side of the cup, and share it on social media with #share4adoption, Wendy’s will donate $5 to the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption.

Our local Wendy's didn't have the cups, but, thanks to my brother-in-law, we did finally get our hands on one. You can see how exuberantly our 6-year-old photographed me making a heart.




“You could have just taken one,” I told him.



“Mama, every picture is worth $5! We are giving them lots and lots of money!”



I can’t argue that.

~3~

When I told our children we were going to Back to School Night, our first grader asked, “Who is going to watch over us?”

He always says it that way. It sounds so much more caring than, "Who's coming to babysit?"

~4~

A friend at work, someone I hadn’t spoken with often until recently, noticed that I wear pins on my blazers. She asked me whether I would like some of the pins she had had handed down to her, but which she never wears herself.



I said I would love them, of course. And last week she gave me a whole box of pins.

On Sunday the boys picked out five for me to wear at once. Since then, I have worn a different one every day.



They are lovely, and I am so honored that she chose to give them to me.



~5~

When you’re asked to bring an appetizer to a birthday party, what do you bring? This was my contribution.



~6~

I’m not sure how other people celebrate Labor Day, but we marked the day with a model rocket launch.

I don’t do any of the actual launching, but I do try to capture the experience with photos and video.


After all, if an Estes rocket goes up and no one is there to see it, was it ever really launched?



The most fun is when people come over to talk to us and ask questions. I know nothing, of course, except that they make great Father’s Day gifts. Otherwise, I can’t tell you a thing.

Not that you asked.

~7~

Last fall both boys played soccer for the first time. There were things that were fun about that:
  1. They looked so handsome in their uniforms.
  2. I got to sit and see them play soccer on a few days that were actually beautiful.
  3. Learning to be part of a team is probably good experience for something.
  4. Watching 5-year-olds chase a soccer ball around a field is really entertaining.
  5. This fall I didn’t sign either one of them up for soccer. When I asked whether they were interested, the responses were lukewarm at best, if not completely cold. When I asked myself whether I wanted to go through another season of soccer, I gave a resounding no.
So I didn’t sign them up for soccer. And you know what’s fun about that?
  1. We have unscheduled weekends.
  2. We have unscheduled evenings.
  3. We aren’t forced to eat one or two quick dinners in the minivan each week.
  4. I’m not sitting through soccer games in the rain.
  5. I didn’t have to buy uniforms or shin guards or cleats.
  6. We spend our evenings playing wiffle ball in the yard or doing whatever we want to do.
I know soccer is fun, and being part of a team is fun, and playing through all kinds of weather is fun, and getting team photos that cost more than your soccer outfit is fun, but you know what’s more fun than all that?

A soccer-free fall.

Aaaaaah. Enjoy your soccer games. I’ll be kicking back at home with my family.

Read more quick takes at Kelly’s blog, This Ain’t the Lyceum. And let's hope hers are quicker than mine!

September 09, 2016 12:51
By Rita Buettner


That time I took Rice Krispie treats to a blogging conference and saw a bear

I woke up early on Saturday morning and drove more than two hours to Front Royal, Va., to attend a conference for Catholic women bloggers.

Because I was alone, I didn’t have to pack juice boxes or Funyuns. I didn’t stop once for someone to use the bathroom. No one cared when I pointed out tractors and cows and train tracks. No one complained that I listened to country music the whole way—and there is some good classic country radio between here and there.



On the way, I was thinking that I wasn’t even sure what I was expecting from the day. Mostly, I was excited to see some of my friends and fellow bloggers—and meet a few bloggers I hadn’t yet. I hadn’t looked at the agenda because agendas just aren’t my thing. I had made Rice Krispie treats because yet again I volunteered to bring food without considering when and how I would make it.

(Meanwhile, my friend Emily arrived with beautifully packaged and absolutely delicious homemade fudge. Yum.)



I was feeling a twinge of guilt that I had left my family behind. Because I work full time, and because I knew I would be doing some work from home during the rest of the weekend, I was feeling just a little sad about taking a day away from my sons and my husband.

But when I arrived and I started reconnecting and meeting new people, I felt sure I was in the right place.


I was so happy to see Erica again!


A few highlights:

  • Mary Lenaburg challenged us to speak more often with the Blessed Mother: “She would say, ‘Have the courage and the faith to trust my son to do what I need you to do,” Mary told us. “Ask her. Talk to her. Ask her what you should be writing about.”

That's Mary on the left, then me, then Jenn, then Kim and Fuzzy. We had the best lunchtime discussion.

  • In her keynote remarks, Elizabeth Foss managed to explain why I love blogging. “The gift that my blog has been to me is to keep me connected to my own heart,” she said. “Your blog is going to resonate with people when you live and love your actual life.” She reminded us to write what we know, to let our heart be seen on our blogs, to be empathetic writers, and to see ourselves as artists and servants. “You can find time to write,” she said, “if writing is what you do to nurture yourself.” Yes, yes, yes, and yes.
  • I saw my first bear! It was a cub—maybe about the size of a German Shepherd?—and it loped past the house where we were meeting. Jenny Ryan was speaking, and she yelled, and everyone ran to the window. Somehow even though we had a house full of bloggers, all of whom had cameras of some sort, no one managed to get a photo. All I can offer is a picture of one of the chickens I saw, but that’s not really the same.
  • I met so many terrific people, some whose blogs I already follow and some I am starting to follow more closely now. And I met Kelly, who hosts the 7 quick takes every Friday, and somehow managed not to take a selfie with her or with most of the people I talked to. So you’ll just have to see all the cool people I rubbed shoulders with by looking at the group photo.

I’m so grateful to Rosie for hosting, and to Rachel, who took professional head shots of us (I'll share mine as a quick take on Friday), and to all the planners who put so many hours into making the conference such a wonderful event. Somehow I heard just what I needed to hear that day. Oh, and I did take a picture with Rosie and my fellow Catholic Review blogger Julie, too!



I’ve been blogging for more than 7 years now, including 4 ½ years here, and I drove home feeling grateful and inspired and feeling confident that I still have so much to say.

Not that you were worried, of course. ;)

 

September 06, 2016 11:22
By Rita Buettner


Taking a lesson from Mother Teresa


Many years ago I read a story about a reporter who was interviewing Mother Teresa.

He questioned how much time she and her sisters in the Missionaries of Charity spent in prayer and rest.

You could be serving so many more people, he told her, if you spent less time praying and resting and more time at work, serving the poor and the sick.

Mother Teresa corrected him.

Without that time in prayer, she told him, we cannot do any of the other work. It is that time with God that makes our work possible.


Blessed Teresa of Kolkata, India, presents documents for a new house to a villager in 1994 in Mumbai, formerly Bombay. Mother Teresa will be canonized by Pope Francis Sept. 4 at the Vatican. (CNS photo/Luciano Mellace, Reuters)

I often think of that story—especially as I try to juggle my responsibilities as a wife and mother and colleague and daughter and friend. Some days I feel I am running flat-out, trying to keep up with the expectations and deadlines and needs. It can be hard to know which fire to put out first—and which can be left smoldering a little longer.

But when I think of that Mother Teresa story, setting my priorities seems so much simpler.

Time with God has to come first, along with time to rest and rejuvenate to bring the spirit, the energy needed to serve.

With God, I can remember why I do what I do. Then, and only then, am I able to continue on my journey, to meet others’ needs with a joyful heart.

I’m not good at any of this—especially not the idea of resting. What I do try to do is carve out time to remind myself why I love the work I do. Even with the writing I do for my full-time job, I love finding time to write in this space. I don’t just brush teeth and fill out order forms for milk; I play baseball and talk Pokemon with my sons. I try to find the beauty in the ordinary day-to-day of our lives—and there is so, so much beauty to discover.

We are all busy. Yet, unless we make time to re-center and re-energize and remember the real purpose for why we are doing what we are doing, we cannot do any of the work we need to do.

Only with God, walking in faith, can we fulfill our vocations on earth.

“What we need,” Mother Teresa said, “is to love without getting tired. How does a lamp burn? Through the continuous input of small drops of oil. They are the small things of daily life: faithfulness, small words of kindness, a thought for others, our way of being silent, of looking, of speaking, and of acting. Do not look for Jesus away from yourselves. He is not out there; He is in you. Keep your lamp burning, and you will recognize Him.” (No Greater Love)



What’s your favorite anecdote or quote from Mother Teresa?

September 02, 2016 10:12
By Rita Buettner

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