Attitude,  Faith,  Gratitude,  Humility,  Missionary Shenanigans,  Neighbors

When You Don’t Wanna Bloom Where You’re Planted


When the Mary Englebreit craze invaded 1996, I joined millions of other fans and hung her calendar on my wall. I liked her one-two faith punch:

“Everything is a risk. What if it doesn’t work out?” 

“Oh—but what if it does?”

Over the years my floral style changed, but I now see that she produces black and white art, and her sayings/phrases are clever with a side of sass.

For example, you’ll find these on some of her recent cards:

“When you thought everything would be easy peasy lemon squeezy, but it’s actually difficult, difficult, lemon difficult.”

“When life shuts a door, open it again. It’s a door. That’s how it works.”

“Yeah, that happened. Now, move on.”

“If life doesn’t also hand you sugar and water, your lemonade is going to suck.”

But one of her first and most famous pieces simply said, “Bloom where you’re planted.”

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash


Easy advice to receive when you love where you live. Not so much when you’re confused about how you ended up back in suburbia with matching stucco houses, six-lane freeways, and The Joneses.

It’s not that I don’t want to bloom where I am. I do.  

But I think I had some warped view that if God moved us out of Baja, the next location would be somewhere more challenging. Or exotic. Or difficult.

I didn’t desire a black mamba in the yard, brown recluse sightings, or more cockroaches in my kitchen… just somewhere a little more missionary-like. Returning to Southern California felt like a step backward with a side of failure.

“The Temecula Valley is a huge mission field!”

“There are 149 churches on Yelp. Just pick one and jump in!”

“You can be a missionary anywhere, Carrie.”

Yes, I know. Thank you. 



We have now been back for a year. New schools, a new job, and two moves in six months got us tired but grateful.

Outward-focused, thoughtful people always ask the same question: “How has your transition been?”

To which I always give the same answers: 

“The boys have been great.”

“Doug is way better than he was in the fall.”

“I still feel funky.”

After living, eating, breathing, sleeping 24/7 ministry for 12 years, moving back into a track house and just going to church on Sundays felt… anti-climactic. Where should I serve? How will I fit into a new ministry?

But since it was so obvious that God wanted us here, I knew I had to choose to jump in. My dumb attitude kept me from wanting to bloom, but I could at least fertilize the soil where I had been planted. 

After joining one of those 149 churches and finding a home group, I started pursuing our neighbors. If you read I Met 19 New Neighbors! It Was Weird, you know what I mean when I say my mission field starts on the other side of my front door.

So does yours.


Our Year

Wrapping up 12 years in one town took us from the last ortho visit,

…to some final walks in our valley:

And then we came to July 2017 and the last night in our old house:

It felt strange, and sad, and weird. At least the carpet was soft.

But high school football games got us back in the groove:

Living near the cousin tribe did too:

Three weeks into our new rental and we were told we had to move again. Out to model homes we went, looking for ideas and finding ridiculously large showers with bathtubs inside. Really? Please take me back to my double-wide.

Four months later we found it—the perfect house for our family, minus the unfortunate rose-colored garage. 

Photo cred: Stevi Conner


So we signed half a tree worth of papers and told the boys to jump off the soon-to-be-torn-out wall. Woohoo–welcome to being back in debt!

Then we ripped out old, nasty carpet and invited a bunch of friends to come sign our floors before the new cush went down:



Good thing we brought our washing-machine-drum-turned-fire-pit from Porvenir. Can’t imagine s’mores without it. After sitting around it with hundreds and hundreds of students over the years, you can call it ghetto—we call it glorious.

Old friends welcomed us back with creative gifts…

while our boys slowly became more comfortable in their new digs. #wallflowers


Sometimes my heart sinks when I realize one son is losing bits of his Español. But when I found “Mayonesa” on my shopping list because he can’t spell mayonnaise, my smile returned.


Onward & Upward

After we threw our first-annual 4th of July block party,

…I found an old sticker sign I bought years ago and never used. Perfect reminder for me: Welcome any and all, Carrie. You have no idea how God is going to use this home.


Sometimes I miss gigantic puddles that span the width of the road:

Photo cred: Mike Sollom

Sometimes I miss living in close community and listening to 90 students and staff sing worship songs under a circus tent in the dirt:

Sometimes I miss being able to drive our dune buggy out the driveway and down to the riverbed:

And sometimes I miss herding cattle out of our yard:


But then I remember the wise words from Dr. Seuss: 

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”

Photo cred: Sharon Gollaher


I re-read this about six times, choked up a bit, and am choosing to move on.

This is where God planted us. This is where I will bloom.


Have you bloomed where you’ve been planted? If not–join me in the journey. It sure ain’t over, amigos!


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  • Peggy


    I needed this so much today!!! We have been back for just a month now and seem to be having a difficult time adjusting to what our next steps are to be, thank you so much for this blog, it hit home, and I love the quote from Dr. Seuss.

    I too don’t know how to answer people when they ask how we are doing back, because saying it sucks isn’t a very appropriate answer lol.

    Thanks again for lifting my spirit, many blessings to you and the family,


    • Carrie Talbott

      I can honestly say I know how you feel, Peggy. It’s such a strange space to float around in, feeling frustrated and then guilty and then frustrated again. Hang in there, amiga; time is starting to ease my angst. Thanks for your kind words!

  • Cassandra Marie

    So feel this! For a few years now I can see how God is allowing me to THRIVE in Kenya at RVA, but every now and there there is this moment of fear that creeps in. What if God calls me back to the US? That idea makes my mood drop and along with it, I start to question God. He is not calling me any where else, right now. As I read your post I could hear Him saying, “See, it would be hard, but you could do it. I would be with you, as I always am!” Thanks for your honesty and vulnerability! Praying for you to bloom wherever He has you. Trusting we all CAN thrive and bloom, when we follow His will (even if that is the US again for me in the future).

    • Carrie Talbott

      Your words hit home, Cassandra. I’ll never forget when I realized our time in Baja was truly coming to a close. SO many strange emotions of sadness and happiness and guilt for both. But your quote about what God might be saying nailed it. You WOULD be okay, even if you feel like you wouldn’t. Bloom where you are at the moment and don’t stress about the future; you might be there for decades!

  • Alaina Murphy

    This is great Carrie! Loved it! I have always loved the saying ‘bloom where you’re planted’ but right now, it kind of takes on a whole new meaning. Thank you for your openness and your encouragement to your readers!

    • Carrie Talbott

      Thanks, Alaina. Yes–being in transition doesn’t make blooming sound easy, but I think you’ll be great. You’re outgoing and will most likely do well wherever you land. Thanks for chiming in!

  • Steve Steele

    Love your honesty and writing. Seems we always long for what we don’t have, it may be a little culture reversal for us gringos to long for the simpler life and challenges of Mexico, but contentment is elusive everywhere. The apostle Paul says he found it, but you know Paul…. he’s crazy.

    • Carrie Talbott

      Gracias, amigo! Sorry about the delay–we were on vacay.
      You’re right about contentment being elusive everywhere. Now that I’ve lived on both sides of the border I can tell you the grass might be greener in certain patches, but every location still has potty spots on the lawn.

      • Marline Lutz

        Hahaha!! Oh, Carrie, I love the verbal expressions you’ve written down for my enjoyment. I seem to relate to so much of it, and I’m grateful for these chuckles and tears!!

        Keep it coming, dear Girl!!

        Love you,

        P.S. Please use my Facebook lesson you referred to the other day. I love what that tiny violet speaks to my heart! (+:

  • Kim Cysewski

    Thank you for this Carrie. I’m in the same place as you, trying to bloom where I’m planted here in Yuma, Az. Transition time is weird but this too shall pass… Right? Lol.

    • Carrie Talbott

      Hola, Kim! Yes, you’re right–this too shall definitely pass. Have you met your neighbors? 🙂

  • Edgar Tiznado

    Tu historia me suena familiar, espero que Edna no olvide como escribir mayonesa.

    También extrañamos Porvenir.


  • Chris Baker

    Great one, Carrie!! You continue to out-do yourself. I really needed to hear these words this Morning, and they made me cry. Thank you for sharing your wonderfully crazy life with the rest of us!! ❤❤