On the Side: April 2021
Carol Mason Schrader
The call came maybe five months after we moved into the house I had dreamed of my whole life. Big front porch. Two porch swings. Rockers. And the icing on the cake—azalea bushes circling the big huge trees in my new front yard. I was anticipating the first of many, many years of Easter photo sessions in front of those bushes. But for that phone call.
We had moved “home” to Mississippi two years prior. Our oldest—triplets—were all in various colleges in the area. Our youngest had a circle of sweet friends in her new school. And mere weeks before the call, I had begun a Side By Side chapter and had already fallen in love with the women I was having the privilege to serve.
No way did I want my husband to return that call.
But I was in my 26th year of adventure with my wonderful Wade. We had taken several roads in the course of our marriage that we never dreamed of but felt certain God led us down. I knew I had to trust God with this.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6, NIV).
But in all transparency, knowing I had to trust God, trusting God and liking it….well those were three wholly different things.
We did what we always have done where big decisions are concerned: we talked about it all the time. We took it apart at every layer. We weighed pros and cons, and then we weighed them again. We prayed about it daily.
And when Wade was at work and Cate at school, I spent a significant number of hours curled up in a fetal position on my couch asking God why.
We visited Delaware together a few months later. It was simply the confirmation that this was where we needed to be. Wade and I were both not simply at peace, but we were excited about the opportunities to further our family mission of offering hope and healing to families affected by Cerebral Palsy.
It wasn’t the easiest of choices. Wade would begin the new job, while the triplets still had a year and a half remaining of college. Because of his Cerebral Palsy, Benjamin would need me to remain close. We opted to have Wade move alone temporarily. We spent the next 18 months with him flying home at least two weekends a month and Cate and I flying to see him one weekend. We decorated his little apartment and even spent one summer and a Christmas break with all six of us plus two dogs crammed into the little bitty living space.
When it was finally time to move up, I was so relieved to have us under the same roof—one with enough bathrooms—I had long forgotten my initial sadness at the prospect of a move. (God works that way, right?) And while our new home doesn’t have a front porch, it has a back porch and built in the fieldstone style of the area makes me smile every time I drive up.
Now while a worldwide pandemic has quite gotten in the way for the last year (understatement, right?), I have to tell you that God has given me so many opportunities to work alongside Wade here. We have been able to work as a family to care for his patients and their families. It is a gift and an honor, and I could not love it more.
And that pandemic also gave me something I didn’t think we would have here—an opportunity for all six of us to be under the same roof! One of my whinier moments with God as we made the decision was that we wouldn’t have a chance to make real memories in this house with all six of us as the trio scattered for graduate school. But Mason has finished his master’s degree virtually from the office we set up for him here. Under this roof! He has been here for game nights, family dinners, Netflix binges. We have made memories all together right here.
Late one night right after the move, I was restless and, as a result of that, scrolling through social media when a notification popped up. One of my Side By Side sisters in Mississippi sent me the sweetest message accompanied by several photos: “In case you ever doubt why God took you on your random journey to random places…remember us.” The photos were from a Girls’ Night Out with Side By Side-Jackson. And sweet Olivia was offering me the best reminder that as long as we let Him, God can use us for whatever time He gives, wherever He gives it. Her words were exactly what I needed to hear.
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:…a time to plant and a time to uproot” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-2, NIV).
Throughout my life, I often think about Esther. Even as Mordecai implored her to help her people, he assured her that God could protect them without her help. But he reminded her that this very moment was an opportunity for her to serve.
“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14, NIV).
I thought God was giving me my heart’s desire of a front porch and yard filled with azalea bushes. But God was giving me an opportunity to plant Side By Side in Mississippi before moving me on to the next place, the next purpose. He is gracious and good—I have azaleas blooming in this yard—but His purpose is far greater than the size of my front porch.
Oh sisters, I don’t know where you are being planted today. I don’t know what relationships, situations, homes you are having to uproot. But this I know; you are being planted—perhaps transplanted—for such a time as this. Rest in the One who knows the plan. Rest in the One who knows exactly what He will have you do. Rest in the One who wrote your story.
Blessing and hugs,
Carol Mason Shrader
Carol Mason Shrader lives with her hubby, three of her four kids and three dogs in an area filled to overflowing with flowers, fauna, foliage unlike anything she has ever seen. Thus far in her life, God has planted her in the humidity of the South, the snow of the tundra north, the cacti in the desert southwest and now the rolling hills of Delaware. We serve a creative God.