The power of prayer, my life as a personal chef, miniature golfing, and reading at the grocery store (7 Quick Takes)


My sons and I went shopping one afternoon to find a few items for our beach trip, including a sun hat for me.

As we passed a store employee who was arranging merchandise, I saw that she was wearing a dragonfly necklace. I like insect-inspired jewelry, and hers was particularly lovely. I stopped and said, “I just love your dragonfly necklace. It’s so different.”

“Thank you,” she said. “I wear it to remember my son who died in February.”

She started telling me about him, the young children he had left behind, and how much she and her daughters miss him. I told her how sorry I was, asked his name, and promised to pray for him and for them. Then we went on our way.

We have carried her and her family with us in our prayers. I know in today’s secular world there’s a tendency to feel that prayers are in lieu of action and don’t have any real effect. But I believe strongly in prayer. It’s one beautiful, powerful thing we can do for one another.


The other day we spotted a store with my brother’s name on it.

“You’ll probably want to take a picture of that sign to send to Ricky,” John said to me.

He was right, of course. After almost 15 years of marriage, he knows me fairly well.

So, we stopped, and I took a picture. So, Ricky, this take’s for you.


We spent last week at the beach with my sister Maureen and her children—and I have so much more to share about that experience than I can fit into these quick takes. Toward the end of the week, Maureen turned to me and said, “All you do is cook soup—all the time.”

That’s a fairly accurate assessment of my life, especially while on vacation. My children do eat quite a bit of soup throughout the day, and they’re not going to eat it cold.

One day someone will say, “How did Rita spend her life?” And the answer will come, “Whenever I saw her, she was cooking soup.”

It could be worse.


Now, for the record, since we were vacationing with my sister and her children, I did make a few things other than cans of chicken noodle soup.

One night I made tacos because I knew that would work for everyone in the group. I cooked way too much meat, but I didn’t hear anyone complain.

Thinking of meals that will work for a big group can be challenging. We had pizza and pasta one night and pulled pork another. I feel like there’s an art to vacation cooking that I haven’t quite mastered. But I cook a mean can of Progresso soup.


Whenever we go to the beach, we have to go miniature golfing. Every time we go, I wonder why.

Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed mini golf way back when we were newlyweds on our honeymoon in Fenwick Island. And I have had some mini golfing experiences that have been enjoyable.

But most of the time I feel like the game is taking forever. The children are frustrated with the ball and with one another. The course is impossible. The mosquitoes are biting. The people playing behind us are rolling their eyes or tweeting about how slow this group in front of them is.

When I get to Purgatory one day, I am going to find myself stuck on the second hole of a miniature golf course surrounded by a sea of people who are debating whose ball is farthest from the hole.

I just hope no one asks me to keep the score.


Earlier this week I had plans to meet three Catholic women writer friends for dinner about 45 minutes from home. I was excited to see them and talk about faith and the projects we dream of starting and our families. I knew it would be a fun evening.

As I started driving, though, I could see large clouds moving in. As I continued, I saw sheets of rain coming toward me. Torrents of rain surrounded my car, bolts of lightning streaked across the sky, and the traffic slowed to a crawl.

Even though I desperately wanted to make the trip, I felt I had to turn around. I was making no progress, and the storm was terrifying. On my way home through the downpour, I saw downed trees and tree branches, a traffic light that was out, and a traffic barrel rolling in the wind almost hit my car.

Add to that the fact that my gas tank was running low as I sat not moving on the beltway, and I wasn’t sure I would make it home. But I did, disappointed to have missed dinner with my friends, but relieved to be safe. My husband and sons hadn’t eaten yet either, so I cooked breakfast for dinner, and we sat and laughed at a movie together while the storm finally moved on.

Disappointed as I was, I was relieved to be home with the people who matter most to me in the world.

Then I glanced outside and saw a rainbow—the promise of God’s love and a sign that beauty and peace can come after turbulence. There will be another time, and I was right where I needed to be.


When we went grocery shopping the other day, our sons were both in the middle of books and simply couldn’t put them down. So, they brought them into the store and read as I picked out the groceries we needed for the week.

It was fascinating to me how people did double takes to look at our children who were reading as they shopped. If they had been on devices of some type, no one would have even glanced at them. Instead, I was fielding comments from people who were intrigued by how focused the children were on their books.

“It’s so inspiring,” said one woman. “I have some reading to do for a class I’m taking, and they make me want to go home and read.”

~A Bonus Take~

Our youngest niece will be baptized tomorrow! A bunch of cousins are coming to town, and—barring illness—all my siblings will be in one city at one time for the first time in about a year and a half.

If that statistic isn’t true, they’ll correct me soon enough.

Read more quick takes at Kelly’s blog, This Ain’t the Lyceum, and have a wonderful weekend.

Rita Buettner

Rita Buettner

Rita Buettner is a wife, working mother and author of the Catholic Review's Open Window blog. She and her husband adopted their two sons from China, and Rita often writes about topics concerning adoption, family and faith.

Rita also writes The Domestic Church, a featured column in the Catholic Review. Her writing has been honored by the Catholic Press Association, the Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Press Association and the Associated Church Press.