On Moving House, Like A lot

by Laura on May 25, 2011

Some Stats

12: years married, by Monday of next week.

13:  times moved, by the same day.

And the process of moving begins, again, for our family today.  Finding the lost Connect Four chips under the couch.  Dragging out the suitcases from storage and checking for spiders.  Sorting clothes and art projects and broken legs from the Bionacle-guy. Eating off of paper plates, food that you don’t have to cook.  Trying to maintain a shred of decent parenting to kids who want to play with the toys you were trying to sneak-throw away.

Selling things, trashing things.

Dismantling a life.

And while our plan is to return to Chiang Mai, we’ll be moving to a completely different part of the city when we get back in July after a visit to the States.  The new area of town is closer to stores and schools and activities for the kids, and it will hopefully be a much better place to live for the overall health of our family.  Homeschooling three kids in the countryside without a firm handle on the language and with only occasional access to a car has just been much harder than I thought.

We have a friend who says, “Do whatever it takes to stay overseas, once you get there.”  And, for us, for now, another move is our best shot at doing that whatever it takes.

And you might say that we must have made some bad decisions to have moved three times within the city, during the first year overseas with three small children.

You might say we should have planned more or researched better in an effort to avoid the upheaval of dismantling our life, again.

And you might even say that we are a bit crazy to enter into, yet another, period of transition.

And we would be the first to agree with you, wholeheartedly, on all accounts.

Because we’ve made more mistakes than we can count over the last fifteen months.  And we look around at the hearts of our kids and the condition of our marriage and the general state of us, and we are intimately acquainted, again, with the fact that we have become in many ways less than we were when we first started out.

And yet, and yet. . .

It is what it is.

And sometimes that’s just all that it can be.

And, so, yes. The Parkers are moving for the 13th time. And, no, we wouldn’t wish it on anyone else.

But this is our story, after all–

It’s just turning out to be one with a whole heckuvalot of settings.


To read about our last move, 8 months ago, click here.


Okay, go.  In the last 15 years, how many times have you moved?  Anything positive about the moving process?


  • http://ducttapechronicle.blogspot.com/ Kathi

    Wow. That means that I have been following you for eight months, as you had just moved ; )

    Praying for a smooth transition.

    • http://www.lauraleighparker.com Laura

      Thanks for sticking with me that long!

  • http://thehootsfive.blogspot.com Shannon Hoots

    We have been married 10 years (this June) and we have moved 9 times. Some because of poor decisions and some from unexpected blessings. Here is what I have learned… stuff will NEVER make me happy and the more I cling to STUFF (couches, paint colors, a flat back yard) the more unhappy I am. I also have learned that as long as I am positive and count my blessings (verbally) my kids usually do to. Because, after all wherever all five of us lay our head at night – that IS home. Keep trusting- you (all five of you) are HIS personal concern. Love you, sister.

    • http://www.lauraleighparker.com Laura

      Shannon, I LOVED this comment, friend. And i totally agree with it. Moving and throwing things out and selling things and letting go of “stuff” can cultivate a greater clinging to what matters really– the PEOPLE in the home, wherever that may be. That was really encouraging for me to read this morning, friend– Thank you.

      Love to you-five in NC,

  • http://www.25kidsandcounting.blogspot.com Anne-Marie

    In the last 15 years we have moved 10 times. We have now been in our current home for 2 1/2 years. The longest we have been anywhere as a family, as a couple, or even single. It’s hard. The biggest lesson learned is this: “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength”. Philipians 4: 11-13. Really. It seems moving teaches this lesson well. It IS hard friend. But you CAN do ALL things through HIM who gives YOU strength. Love you. Can’t wait to see you.

    • http://www.lauraleighparker.com Laura

      Amazing friend and mother to many–

      Just, this–

      I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength”. Philipians 4: 11-13

      Thank you for the well-timed reminder. Dang that contentment that always seems so elusive! But, so necessary for my joy– no matter what continent or house we call home, right?

      Excited to be actually hugging your neck soon, too!

      • http://www.25kidsandcounting.blogspot.com Anne-Marie

        Wow, I hope that didn’t sound like I had actually learned that lesson. Hahahaha. But I do think moving helps us with that contentment issue and being able to de-crap and be content with less. Still learning,

        • http://www.lauraleighparker.com Laura

          ha ha, I LOVE the term “de-crap”. Classic.

  • http://Alifedowntown.typepad.com Cara

    I’ve moved 15 times in the last 15 years. I think the positive piece is that change always does a little bit of stripping and a little bit of grounding. With each move I knew a little more what I wanted or what I needed and vice versa, what I didn’t want or need, and also was a little bit more appreciative for the space I called home.

    • http://www.lauraleighparker.com Laura

      WOW! Cara– you might have the record, girl! A move a year is pretty impressive. I do agree that moving strips you a bit– helps you weed through things and decide on what’s really important to you.

      And yes, a greater appreciation for home, too. I agree.

  • http://www.angiewashington.com @ngie

    My sons have Bionacle guys too! Just threw away a few of those limbs today sorting through the contents of their room.

    Good things about moving… hm… well… oh, ok, I got one! We can be in tune with our ancestral holy people who seemed to do alot of of get-thee-upping. Yep. What? Not a ‘good’ enough thing. Um… ok, how ’bout new neighbors for the love-thine parts of the bible. Still a bit far removed? So, maybe you will have better plumbing? That’s always something to cross your fingers for.

    LOVED this: “Do whatever it takes to stay overseas, once you get there.” So true! And my favorite saying to first year missionaries, “The second year is always the hardest.” Trust me, there is a genuine compassion behind my cruelty. Get through 24 months and you will experience an inoculation that will propel you through the length of your term and beyond.

    I will be praying for you as you dig in and uproot once again. And to answer your question, in the last 15 years (consequently we will celebrate 15 years of marriage in November) I’ve moved 9 times. You got me beat. I’d give ya a sticker if I could (and if I knew it would make this move easier for you).

    Hang in there!

    • http://www.lauraleighparker.com Laura

      Love this, @ngie! Though, wow, tough to think about the upcoming year being even harder . . . get ready for some MORE depressing posts in the future! ha ha.

      And yes, I too, am literally, praying for better plumbing! This house was older and in the country and had some issues.

      And 9 times is nothing to shake a stick at either. :)

  • http://hopefulleigh.blogspot.com HopefulLeigh

    You’re right- it is what it is. For whatever mistakes you guys might have made, it sounds like you’re working through them and figuring out what to do next. In that regard, moving again seems like absolutely the right decision.

    I’ve moved 7 times in the last 15 years but that includes 4 moves during college- a different dorm or house each year. I moved to a new state last year and that was by far the hardest, trickiest move ever. I don’t want to repeat that any time soon!

    • http://www.lauraleighparker.com Laura

      Thanks Leigh–

      Isn’t it amazing how sometimes inter-state moves throw you into entirely new cultures, even within the U.S.? I think a move is a move is a move, and when it is to a new area and you have to start all over again, it’s hard.

  • Jessica Dodd

    Laura- I’m moving this weekend down to World Club. This will be move #7 in the last 4 1/2 years (in Thailand) so I know how it feels!

    • http://www.lauraleighparker.com Laura

      Girl, I guess you DO know. Good luck with the WORK coming up this weekend. We’re in the same boat . . . i think we will be closer to you when we move in July! YEAH!

  • http://www.danastrange.com Dana Strange

    Oh, the moving stories I could tell! 14 moves in the last 20 years or so. My husband’s last duty station nearly ruined us, so I feel your pain. Hang in there! Thailand is at the center of some of my best memories. I’m sure you will feel the same way one day.

    • http://www.lauraleighparker.com Laura

      Dana, I guess you military wives KNOW the pain (joys?) of moving lots. I assume military? Maybe not, but regardless, thanks for the encouragement to remember the beauty of Thailand! I do love so many parts of it. Thanks, Dana . ..

  • http://Www.orangecatphoto.com Dana andreasson

    Chin up, Laura! If I learned anything during mission work, it’s the need to be flexible. You went into something unknown. It took a lot of courage to do what you did. We moved 3 times in Sweden and one of us knew where we were! You’ll find your home there and this moving around would have been worth it. I’ll remember you in my prayers…I know it has to be tough!

    • http://www.lauraleighparker.com Laura

      Yes, Dana– Flexibility is key, isn’t it? We have so had some hard lessons on adjusting our expectations and learning to hold loosely to how we think things will go.

      Thanks for the kind words. :)

  • Joanna

    It IS so hard. The positives? Weeding out to what really matters (and what is necessary). Learning to ask for and accept help from others (out of necessity). Learning to let go of what we tend to hold on to too tightly. Figuring out that God is the only one we can expect to fulfill our deepest needs. Realizing that this world, no matter how familiar or comfortable or breathtakingly beautiful (or not), is not our home, we’re all just visitors here. That starting over can be a blessing, despite the choices we make for ourselves (and, if given the choice, would not be THIS), and remembering that we’re not in control (which is a good thing). Reminders that life is an adventure, and we’re called to bloom where we’re planted. But, it’s still hard. Hang in there, my friend. I feel your pain. Really. :)

    • http://www.lauraleighparker.com Laura

      I LOVE all the positives, as I know you have tasted the moving lots over the last few years. And I agree with what you said about–

      “Realizing that this world, no matter how familiar or comfortable or breathtakingly beautiful (or not), is not our home, we’re all just visitors here.”

      Yeah, that was my favorite part.

      You write real good.

  • http://hikingtowardhome.com/ Sharon @ Hiking Toward Home

    Praying for your move to go smoothly.
    On Sunday we will find out whether we are about to move again. Please pray for us. We are in God’s hands. The deacons have called for a vote to see if the church wants to keep my husband as the pastor of this church. If they vote for us to leave we will have 30 days to pack and move.
    We have been married for 18 years and have moved 12 times in that time frame. So we may be catching up to you.

    • http://www.lauraleighparker.com Laura

      oh, my, sharon . . .

      i will be praying for you guys this sunday. sounds like things have gotten ugly. dangit. i just can’t imagine what your heart and family and emotions and marriage and husband are all going through right now. hang in there, sweet sister. i will be praying that TRUTH and LOVE will win the day. let us know how it goes .. . .

      • http://hikingtowardhome.com/ Sharon @ Hiking Toward Home

        So… we have to move by the end of Oct. :-) Praying for a job and a home… and most people don’t want to rent to 4 kids and 2 Golden Retrievers, no matter how good they are (kids or dogs).

  • http://www.wimberlys.blogspot.com Cheryl

    We have thankfully been in the same house for almost 5 years and I have been so blessed by it. Praying for your 13th move – strength, patience and joy! I have really enjoyed following your blog and I look forward to reading more throughout the summer.

    • http://www.lauraleighparker.com Laura

      Thanks, so much Cheryl– for the kind words and for the prayers. :)

  • http://www.ps67.blogspot.com Sarah

    We seem to move a lot, too. I think we’re kind of gypsies? Our last move here in Costa Rica was for similar reasons as your move. We were out in the country before and I was pretty isolated at home with a toddler and baby. Our closest neighbors were cows and chickens. Seriously. (And, why did we think that would be good for ministry? I can totally relate with you about what we could have, should have done differently as new missionaries!) For over a year, we’d been looking for and praying for a new house. We finally found the perfect house (really!) and I felt at home as soon as we moved in. Hope your new place is like that!

    • http://www.lauraleighparker.com Laura

      Sarah in Costa RIca,

      Love that you can relate! Yeah, I look back on our year, and I just think we were accidental idiots in a lot of ways. Anyway, glad you are much happier in your new home. Here’s to hoping that’s our story, too!

      Thanks for stopping in! All the best on your work in Costa Rica . . .

  • Zane and Jan

    Proves that this world is not our home!!!
    Praying for you guys – THAT is NOT fun.

    6 times in 6 years for us overseas too.

    • http://www.lauraleighparker.com Laura

      Thanks, guys.. Glad you’ll be moving HERE, soon, though!!

  • Lisa L.

    “What it is, it is.” I cannot TELL you how many times this same phrase has gone through my mind and heart.

    I’ve been married 24 years, have moved 7 times.

    The best things? Downsizing. And a new start.

    • Lisa L.

      All moves except the last one, were overseas.

    • http://www.lauraleighparker.com Laura

      Lisa– Yes, there is a goodness in looking forward and just starting over again. Organizing things differently, setting up house in new ways, getting comfortable in new spaces– the adventure of it is hopeful, for sure.

  • http://www.stumblingaroundinthelight.com Teri @ StumblingAroundInTheLight

    Moving. Is. Hard.
    Only four times in the past 15 years.
    But going ‘cross country, starting over (overseas, no less???), just feels so disjointed and alone. And yet. Never felt so clinging-to-God as during that disjointed-alone time.
    Beautiful & hard.
    He is near.

    • http://www.lauraleighparker.com Laura

      Teri, isn’t that much of life– “beautiful and hard”? Yes, I think so.

  • amber

    Well, girl, we don’t know each other but our lives have A LOT of similarities. We’re living in East Asia (for the second time)– this time we’ve been here I think 9 months. We have three kids. Our oldest is almost 8 and I think the last time I counted we have moved seven times since she was born. But we lived other places before she was born…. been married ten years. Anyway, I seriously need to count up all the moves. Lots. I can relate in every way to what you’re saying about the packing process. Art, legos, suitcases, paper plates. And we also homeschool and it is seriously not easy!

    Just wanted to chime and say that I can really relate. Thanks for sharing. :)

    • http://www.lauraleighparker.com Laura

      Oh, Amber, I think we would be great friends in real-life and enjoy a play date or two. I hear you about homeschooling being soooo hard this year for me! I seriously have gone a bit crazy i think!

      Okay, so, yes, keep chiming in, okay? :)

      Hope your day goes beautifully . . .

      • amber

        yeah laura, i’m pretty much 100% positive we’d be buds in real-life! We may be in your city during the winter break– if we are I’d love to take you to Starbucks if you have the time! :) Hope you have a most excellent visit home!!

        • http://www.lauraleighparker.com Laura

          thanks, amber, and deal! already looking forward to starbucks with you in the kindanear future!

          yeah! :)

  • http://www.oneordinaryday.com Ashley

    This just reminded me of something I heard at church last night. Our pastor was teaching out of James about perseverance and he said “repeated failures can be footsteps on the road to achievement”. I was so encouraged to think that all our mistakes are not for nothing when we are seeking to live for the Lord :) Oh and I’ve only moved twice in the last 15 years, so no advice from me!

    • http://www.lauraleighparker.com Laura

      Oh, man, I can definitely relate to “repeated failures”. Definitely, for sure. It IS hopeful that even our screw-ups can be used by God for greater good, though, right? Thanks for the encouragement. It matters.

  • http://myhomesweethomeonline.net Dawn Camp

    Thanks for adding your camera phone pic to last week’s linky! There’s a new one up today. :)

  • http://www.ourwrightingpad.blogspot.com richelle

    hey laura – been a few weeks since i’ve been able to check out your blog – a nice chunk of w. africa was essentially without internet for a bit of time. 😉

    this isn’t exactly the answer to your question… but when i count it up, we’ve moved 22 times in 16.5 years of marriage – and are moving again in less than 2 weeks. our “first year + 1 month” back for this term (our third) and we’ll move three times. i think sometimes, you just do what you’ve got to do and make the most of it.

    positives of moving?
    *new ways to try and arrange the furniture,
    *getting rid of clutter,
    *great motivation to not accumulate,
    *finding things you thought were long lost, *rediscovering books you forgot you had, *noticing that some of your kids have inherited your penchant for organziation (rather that their dad’s tendency for the opposite)
    *actually using up all the stuff that has been shoved to the back of the pantry (i tend to stop buying groceries and just use what we have in the midst of a move – so i don’t have to cart it to the new place)
    *forces this introvert to reach out and make new friends, new contacts instead of remaining in my known and comfortable world

    but… nothing changes the fact that on some days, it is easier than on others to thank God for this “yet again” sort of opportunity… especially in 120’F heat and the crazy rush of the end of a school year.


    • http://www.lauraleighparker.com Laura

      So sorry about the internet! what a frustrating piece of living overseas for you guys. glad it is up and running now, and

      YOU WIN!!!! 22 times, lady, that is pretty impressive. I love your happy list, anyway, as i think it would be easy to start getting resentful and cynical. i love that you are NOT either of those things.

      and yes, moving in the heat is so. much. harder. than on a cool spring day!

  • http://www.thefarmerfiles.com thefarmerfiles

    This summer we will make our 13th move. We have owned and sold five houses in NV, HI, CA, and VA. This next move will be the hugest yet. We are renting a house now in MA, and we will rent again for our upcoming move. Crazy. And I have three kids in tow, and i would not change it all for the world.

    • http://www.lauraleighparker.com Laura

      Lucky 13, right? So, fun that you can say that you “wouldn’t change it for the world.” That’s a good sign you are doing a good job handling and managing the transitions. Get it, girl. :) Happy Moving!

  • Dawn

    Hi Laura I understand the moving factor greatly in the last 5 yrs because of monetary destitution for the last 20yrs there are things gained from being that dependent on God for every 5 hours worked for the next half penny as a single parent mom that my thankfulness is my children are with me. Recently have being doing some research intense research about work from home options to try to cut budget where I can. With you homeschooling don’t know if that is an option for you. Arise.com ; Asurion.com ; and the possibility of some military wives whom the families have had to move greatly there may be more resources to draw on both vitality of marriage life strength and monetary if you find some great areas of international employ do a vice versa will keep you posted as well. Hope it may help.

  • miracle

    I’ve never commented before. Just stumbled upon your blog, but it hit my heart like a ton of bricks. I could feel my mouth open up and the cement pour in as I thought of all the moves that we have made. Some divinely given, some because of poor decisions, some just because, well it’s life. We have been married for almost eight years and we have moved 9 times during that time. Four cities and two countries. I am in a period of seeking contentment in all circumstances above all other things. Jesus has laid it on my heart, that true healing comes only through the great Physician and the Great Physician comes only through filtering all my feelings at the cross. I have learned that moving in the greatest motivator for me to cling solely to him and to trust Him completely with my children. So that’s the good. And the ugly is the pain of no roots, no sense of “home” and sometimes living in places you never imagined yourself. Not because they are gross or not livable, but because you thought you’d have that yard and that field and those friends who knew you year after year. But I can also say that I have friends across continents because we have moved so much. Friends who are deep and true and who would drop anything and fly around the world to be with me in my darkest hour if I asked them. That kind of community is not of this world and neither are we.

    • http://www.lauraleighparker.com Laura

      Miracle, thanks for your sweet, honest comment, fellow-mover-bunches. I know you know the challenges that come with suitcases and not time to paint the walls, etc. Sounds like ya’ll have made the tour of the world, too. I love how you were able to claim the goodness of an international community of friends. That’s a unique gift in and of itself that is born of your unique Story and journey.

      Thanks for visiting and commenting– hope to hear more from you. :)

  • Rachel

    Well, in the sixteen years that have been my life, I’ve moved at least eight times. Those eight moves have included three different countries (Bangladesh, India and England), and a ship. What I’ve discovered though, is that even if you’re not the one moving, in an international community saying goodbye and meeting new people is the only really consistent thing. That and not understanding anyone because of different cultures, traditions and langauges. But for me, that has always been the beauty of it. Moving is tough, especially when you’re not the one making the decisions. However, I wouldn’t change my life for the world.

    • http://www.lauraleighparker.com Laura

      Rachel, you have racked up the moves, too! Love what you said about the international community being accostomed to the helloes and the goodbyes. Something I am finding is very true about doing life overseas. Love that you “wouldn’t change your life for the world.” Awesome.

      So glad you stopped by. :)

  • http://www.girlwithanotebook.com Val

    WOW. I’m encouraged. Thirteen moves in thirteen years for my gypsy tribe.


    1. A concrete, chronic reminder that this world is not my home.

    2. Opportunity to re-evaluate priorities, relationships.

    3. Heart renovation. Living into the words “I have set my heart on pilgrimage,” and knowing there is Grace to see me all the way home.

    4. New starts.

    5. Adventures.

    6. Meeting people I never would have met in the suburbs of big-city Texas. (although there are dear people there, for sure!)

    7. Learning to hold onto possessions lightly.

    8. The excitement of seeing the Story unfold bit by bit.

    Laura, I love it here.

    • http://www.lauraleighparker.com Laura

      Val, I can’t tell you how encouraging this list was for me to read tonight. You wrote it, and I read it, in a hotel in Bangkok, after a 30 hour flight, getting ready to move, yet again. Thanks for the timely encouragement. SO grateful for your words and real-life experience that you shared! LOVE that you are POSITIVE about it!

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  • http://jasoncecely@yahoo.com Cecely Clark

    Twelve times in fifteen years, so you beat! By one!

    Don’t like it either, but it does help you:
    Minimize your possessions, only keeping what you love or need.
    Find a sense of home more in family than place.
    Know yourself and your tendencies deeply, independent of places and stuff.
    See firsthand how folks are pretty much the same everywhere.

    And that is certainly just for starters.

    • http://www.lauraparkerblog.com Laura

      Oh, what a great list! I agree with alllll of the above, for sure!

      Thanks for stopping by Cecely! Hope to see you around here again soon!

      Love from here,

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  • http://twitter.com/standingingrace Jen

    13… I just always go back to Hebrews…. this is not our home but we long for a heavenly place. But I really wouldn’t mind staying put for a minute either 😉

    • lauraparkerblog

      Haha! Yes exactly!

  • Lorri

    It is what it is! That has recently become my new motto, and seeing it here made me laugh out loud. Laugh, as I pack another box so we can head back to the Philippines to live in yet another house. I have stopped counting how many moves, it depresses my now teenage kids. And me. But it is what it is, so I guess I’ll go finish packing that box.

  • lilias

    In the last 15 years:
    I have moved 14 time, 7 times from country to country.
    Then, if you are single, there’s flatmates: 27! Some I was glad to see go but other times I bawled my eyes out. In both cases it’s draining.
    Seeing that black on white really helps me to accept that I am a total emotional nutcase these months.

  • Tanisha Grisel

    I am working on my 14th in 5 years. No, I am not irresponsible, just a gypsy of sorts is what I call myself. State to state, within the state, back home, overseas. Hey I am 24, just trying to follow God wherever he leads, granted there have been inter-city moves when I should have planned better.. but such is life. Living and learning…. Although I can definitely see the temptation to settle down, for now, it is me and all the stuff I can fit in my ford focus, good to know I am not the only one!….. Props to moving all those times with a family though! Much love!!

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