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On the Side: April 2019

Get the Bulbs Out of the Pot!
Carol Mason Shrader

Her eyes met mine as she poured out her heart: “I have a great husband. A wonderful child. We matched and already sold our house. So, why do I feel so depressed?”

The words to comfort her were stuck in my throat. Well, that is not exactly true. I had words that weren’t stuck at all. But they sounded more like agreement – yes, moving is awful, hard, very bad. I think I might even have been nodding before I remembered that she needed comfort, not concurrence.

But see, even though we are beyond training, we have a big move looming in the coming months, the weight of the unknown, the length of the to-do list, and the pain of the good-byes feels incredibly heavy on my heart. I had literally dragged my feet in preparation for our meeting all morning. Oh, how I wanted to curl up in my PJs and just wallow in my own depression. So, the truth is that words of comfort weren’t stuck. I was just struggling to find them. They were almost beyond me.


I have a pot of irises on my back patio. My cousin gave me the iris bulbs when we moved into this, our Mississippi home. She had dug them up from our Mama Clara’s yard before the old home place was sold. Her care of them over the years is a wonderful reminder of the beauty of our great-grandmother’s garden. And so, I have watched the growth in our short tenure here with expectation. Finally, this week, they have bloomed for the first time. The blooms are breathtaking.

I sent a photo to my cousin immediately. She responded, “Oh good. It usually takes a year or two for them to bloom after they are transplanted.”

And suddenly, I knew that this, this waiting to bloom, is exactly what is weighing down my young friend and I as we prepare to be transplanted.

Medical marriage mandates we move often. Early in our marriage, we dug ourselves up from our first home and moved to Chicago for medical school. I was new to transplanting myself and dug right in without fear. I made friends at work, at church, at school. Four years later, we dug up again to move to Rochester, MN. It wasn’t hard to bloom in Minnesota, ironically (snow and all that) because the Mayo Clinic did a beautiful job of connecting us and helping us find community.

But after five years in Rochester, we moved again for fellowship. I was a bit less eager to plant myself in Texas. We were only staying there a year after all. But still. I moved a little dirt and put some tentative roots in the ground.

After fellowship, we moved to Phoenix, Arizona. I practically took a bulldozer to dig deep in the desert. I wanted roots that went way down in the soil. I was ready to bloom and grow. But the reality is that I wasn’t in a ready-made community. There was not a group to plug in to where I would be known and understood. I had the hole dug and the bulbs buried but it took a while for me to find my place. It took a while – and some work – for me to bloom.

We stayed in Phoenix for ten years before making what we assumed would be our final move “home” to Mississippi. But here we are, four years later, moving again.

I will be honest. When my cousin gave me the bulbs I drug my feet planting them. I already had an inkling that we might not be here forever. When I finally did put them in dirt – I planted them in a pot because I decided it would be easier to dig them up from there to move them.

So yes, they have finally bloomed this spring and they are beautiful. But here’s the thing. They have not spread. They have not reached out to the flower beds surrounding them because I have them contained for easy uprooting.

Oh, my friends, how often do we limit ourselves and our involvement in the community around us because we are afraid of the possibility of uprooting? How often do we convince ourselves to stay home rather than venture out and risk the unknown?

My Mama Clara’s irises were not ever going to bloom in the gift bag in which I received them. Ever. Had I left them there rather than choosing to plant them they would have eventually just rotted away.

We can stay in our homes and refuse to engage with the community around us. We can. But our spirit will rot. Our attitude will decay. And we will be of little use to anyone.

I limited the irises by placing them in a pot. But they have still grown and bloomed and enhanced everything around them with their beauty.

You might limit yourselves to ONLY getting involved in Side By Side at first, or only engaging with friends at work. That’s ok. Small steps are still steps. Keep engaging. Keep opening yourselves up.

I intend to plant these bulbs in my new yard in Delaware. I am not wasting them in pots. I will plant them deep and encourage them to grow, bloom, and spread!

I know it won’t be easy. But I will put on my new girl smile and find a book club, a friend group, a lunch date! I will do my best to interact within my new community in the hopes that I will bloom and grow through this move!

And then, I intend to spread the bulbs around – I will share with friends who need a bright spot in their own gardens.

Already, I am praying about starting a Side By Side chapter in Delaware. I want to spread the roots of friendship and support that have held me up and nurtured me as I learn to bloom every single place God has planted us. I want to share the same.

If you are in a season of moving, please know I am praying for you. I am asking God to help your roots to fall on fertile soil.

“The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming the Lord is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.” Psalm 92: 12-15 (NIV)

And if you are in a season where you are not being called to uproot, can I ask you to reach out to make a new friend this year? Let your roots spread out of any container where you might have bound them. Do more than just welcome them – embrace them, invite them to join your book club, visit your church.

“Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” Hebrews 13:2 (NIV)

May we all bloom exactly where we are planted – in every garden God chooses to plant us!

Carol Mason Shrader

Carol M. Shrader writes from Mississippi this month but soon her writing desk will move to Delaware where her husband is already serving as Chief for Cerebral Palsy at the A.I. DuPont Hospital for Children. She is waiting on her triplets to graduate college and her 7th grader to finish the school year. She is boxing up dishes, books, and iris bulbs as she types!

Christian Medical & Dental Associations®

About Christian Medical & Dental Associations®

The Christian Medical & Dental Associations® (CMDA) is made up of the Christian Medical Association (CMA) and the Christian Dental Association (CDA). CMDA provides resources, networking opportunities, education and a public voice for Christian healthcare professionals and students.

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