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On the Side - July 2012

Ties That Bind
by Carol Shrader

The airplane has reached a safe altitude for me to pull out my electronics. So I can delightedly type while we are on our way to a much-anticipated vacation. Family time brings such a deep sigh. No medical emergencies can call my husband away from us. No phone can interrupt our meal times. No emails will demand his attention.

Ah. Such a deep, deep sigh.

I remember when my new groom of less than a year asked me what I thought about him considering medical school. I smiled. My mouth said I would whole-heartedly support him – I was, after all, a fairly new bride. But even then, my heart was moaning pretty loudly that I need more attention than having a medical husband can afford.

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’” (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV 2011).

Trusting God’s word, Wade and I began to take the steps necessary for him to go to medical school. Each was preceded in so much prayer that by the time we moved to Chicago for him to actually begin school, my heart was completely transformed with gladness in the anticipation of our calling as a family.

There were still fears, still concerns. Could we navigate the medical school years? What would residency mean to our marriage? Could we have children – and nurture, love and support them through the trying years of training?

God had the answers, even before I had the questions.

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well…Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” (Psalm 139:13-16, NIV 2011).

However, the truth is that in the day-to-day struggles, resting in God’s plan can be a challenge. The years have not dimmed the memory of me and my three toddlers dining at their child-sized table for most meals, because Daddy was not home. Nor have I forgotten the parent-teacher conferences I attended alone. Or the date nights cancelled for an emergency in the operating room.

But remembering that the ONE who knit me together in my mother’s womb, KNEW this was my path – our path as a family -- brings a comfort that motivates me to push through. Remembering that brings a determination to not just “make-it-through” but to succeed, to flourish, to bring God glory in the calling of not just my husband, but the calling of our family.

And so, we did – and do – what we have to do. During residency, we had years where our “holidays” did not align with a traditional calendar because we chose to rearrange them to accommodate Daddy’s work schedule. Toddlers cannot read a calendar.

We had Easter egg hunts in the call room and family meals in the hospital cafeteria.

And when he has time off, we celebrate. We choose to leave town – to allow distance to give us the necessary margin around work. We took the kids to a hotel with an indoor pool when the budget – and weather – permitted not much else. Today, we have a vacation plan five years out – emphasizing the importance my husband puts on the quality family time we carve out.

Once when our trio were barely four, my daughter looked at her dad and asked him, “Why do you have your hotel voice on?” And we all laughed – because her very perceptive ears had picked up on what we had not even realized yet. Dad was able to completely relax when we were having our carved out, family-time.

Can I encourage you to make that time a reality in your medical marriages? Kids’ schedules get busy and doctors’ schedules are not light, but the blessing you receive from quality time together will be the ties that bind.

Blessings dear ones,

Carol Shrader loves to travel with her husband Wade and their four Mickey Mouse-loving children, Benjamin, Mason, Claire (all 15) and Cate (6) as often as time allows. When on the ground, however, they live in Phoenix, Arizona, where Wade is a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at Phoenix Children’s Hospital.