The Grown Up Tantrum {Or, Why I Hate Yard Sales}

by Laura on July 15, 2012

It was the dented light saber in the hands of the neighborhood boy that made me cry at 6:30 am this Saturday.

Though I loathe yard sales, we decided the best way to scale down before we left the country was to do one. And so last week it was a mess of junk drawers and backs-of-closets and clothes-we-never-wear. And Saturday morning dawned, and 5:30 am found Matt and I outside shoveling piles into a slightly-organized outdoor Goodwill with little white stickers everywhere. The gate was shut and we determined not to open it until the signs all over the neighborhood clearly stated– 8:30.

But then she bought her way in early with a plate of papaya — our precious Asian neighbor and her son, bringing “breakfast!” and eyeing the loot.

And we weren’t ready– the toys in particular hadn’t been sorted or priced. But I kept scurrying and they started browsing, while the kids stumbled out to the front yard in pajamas and sleepy eyes.

And when I looked up from across the yard, it was too late. The money had changed hands and the double-ended light saber– the one with the sound effects, the one we had crammed into suitcases two years ago, the one he had whacked against other light sabers from Colorado to Chiang Mai– was gone for about 2 dollars.

And I threw the first tantrum of the many our family threw that day. And, yes, there were tears and there was cussing.

“Why did you let her in? We can’t afford to replace that when we get home. Do you know how expensive those things are? He’s not going to have anything left, and isn’t that the one your mom and dad gave him two Christmases ago?”

But the day went on, despite my antics, like days tend to do. A 95-degree 7:30 rolled around and there were customers lining our gate. Then there was the frenzied first 15 minutes when you would have thought everyone was on one of those game shows where contestants have 5 minutes in a grocery store to fill a shopping cart to the brink. Then there was the sly lady who crammed toys in a bag and only wanted to pay for the bag, and the happy one who’s son nearly won the lottery because of finding an old GameBoy.

And then there was the reality of watching my nearly-mint homeschooling books go for quarters, while the picture books I have nearly memorized now after two years went for dimes.

And the mats got clearer, the yard emptier as the day wore on, which practically speaking is a necessary process– ten suitcases only holds so much, after all.

And I thought about what it means to leave well, to finish intentionally, to smoothly transition from one world to the next, and I was struck by the complexity of it all. The loss right there alongside the hope. The goodbyes spoken just before the hello’s, and the sadness and the joy all tangled up in the midst.

And sometimes the things you lose along the way are things you choose to let go of–  like the homeschooling books that wouldn’t fit into the ten suitcases. And other times, the things lost feel out of your control– like your son’s favorite Star Wars toy grabbed by a papaya-bearing though well-intentioned neighbor, but, either way,

life and loss feel synonymous most of the time. 

And in the transition from one season to the next, maybe the best you can hope for is a determination to be fully present in the process. Wrapping both arms somehow around the goodness and the mess of the past, as well as the goodness and mess that will be in the future.

And trusting, trusting that even amid lost light sabers and closing seasons, amid letting go and picking up, amid change after change after change,

God proves himself a Rock.

“Be still, my soul. The Lord is on thy side, to guide the future, as he has the past. . . . In every change, he faithful will remain.” 

* This post prayerfully dedicated to my friend, Anna, who is releasing her precious foster children this week after a year-and- a- half. Pray for her family, would you? 


Over the next few weeks as our family moves from Asia to Colorado, I’ll be reposting some of my favorite articles from our years overseas. If you missed them the first time, maybe you’ll enjoy their repeats. Also, in case you were wondering about the future of this blog, I will most definitely continue writing honestly about our family’s transition {meltdowns and all}, our new efforts regarding the fight against modern day slavery, and my continuing working-out of life and faith in the future. I promise, these pages won’t be quiet for long.


Allright, so, how about you? Experiencing transition right now yourself? Advice for me?

  • Jeremy McKemy

    Experiencing transition?  I sometimes wonder if my life will ever stop going through transition.  But then I also wonder if we Americans like to think of life as a destination rather than a journey.  A fish that stops swimming, that stops meeting new environments is usually considered dead.

    I do have to admit that I laughed at your story….because it reminded me of myself.  Getting so upset and losing my patience over random things.  You should have seen me throwing my tantrums as I’ve been on the road for the past two weeks doing inspections from Chattanooga, TN to Washington DC, fighting with my GPS and calling it all sorts of very rude and unChristian names :)

  • John Lambert

    Very similar experiences for both of us Laura, so I feel your pain and was right there with you guys in the craziness of it all.  Praying that you have a smooth landing and transition.  Remember to love each other deeply in the craziness rather than let the frustration make you turn on each other.  Take time to laugh together and pause for prayer when you feel the shalom of God slipping away.  Blessings on the Parker family.  Deep breath! and again…. :-)

  • Joy Worley Speights

    26 years ago, while tears were bubbling over my checks as I tried to decide which of my children’s favorite toys could go and which ones had to stay, my husband reached out, put his arms around me and said, “Joy, this ‘stuff’ is why so many people don’t go to the mission field.”  I determined then to follow Jesus and HE has made all the difference!

  • Laurie Modlin

    I hadn’t yet heard of this imminent, again life-changing, all-encompassing transition.  And i TOTALLY relate to the pain of the lost light-saber in the middle of things so much “bigger”.  You reminded us well of the difficulty of living in the tension of all the moments of this life!  Thanks for your ever-honest challenge and encouragement to meet Him in all the moments.

    • lauraparkerblog

      Thanks, Laurie– esp. for your prayers. :)

      Isn’t that the truth of it– the “tension of this life”– seems constant, always.

      Lots of love to you and yours in NC!
      Love, Laura

  • Brittany2e

    You make me want to go out and buy your son a light saber. I know when I reach my breaking point the small loses are usually taken the hardest because I feel like I should at least have control over something so non-essential.

    I can’t remember a time I wasn’t experiencing transition in my life. Right now, I’ve had to transition from being on my own working a full time job and going to school to looking for a job with five weeks of school left while living in my parents basement. It is not my finest hour, nor my happiest, but I see God trying to teach me to trust and my reply being consistent with a stubborn child who just wants her way. I forget that I’m also transitioning out of schooling into working and from a life lived for myself to pre-engagement counseling; I forget that for all the things I hate that are happening God is providing for me for every need I have and even the things I simply want.I go back and forth between being angry about my situation and being ashamed of my behavior.
     If I could give an advice I would say learn from my mistake and trust that He has your best interest at heart and He will provide for your families every need. I know how hard it is to do because I suck at it, but I also know the benefit of peace that comes from letting Him take over and crying on His shoulder while you say goodbye and as you say hello.

    • lauraparkerblog

      :) “In every change, He faithful will remain . . .” right? Hang in there– we’ve had seasons in parent’s basements, too.

  • Anna

    I enjoyed that, but I did weep.  I can relate… mess and all.  
    Dear dear friend, may you find some kind of peace in this process.  May you be comforted by the beauty amidst the chaos and  His light that never goes out.  
    He is with us.  
    He is for us.  
    Please DO pray for us this week.  It will be an extremely long one, full of tears and lots of mixed feelings.  
    I will pray for your energy, strength, lightheartedness, and comfort.  Laugh when you can.  Smile, too.  
    I love how you wrote about being fully present within this process.  Even if it is sad.  Even if it is full of unknowing.  Being present is a good goal.  
    I love you, Laura.  I believe in you and your family.  You’ll get on the other side.  Thank you for being open within your journey.  Please continue to write.  Your words are life giving.  

    • lauraparkerblog

      “He is with us.
      He is for us.”

      Yes, yes, yes.

      Love you friend and am so praying for you guys this week as you walk forward . . .

  • Richelle

    I just wrote trying to try and encourage my dearest friend who is also transitioning back to the States… here’s some of what I said to her: “Give yourself some space and room and grace to feel (insert whatever feeling you might be experiencing). You are OK…. Take some time to recall… maybe go back through your [blog and/or] journals… review all that God has done, all the ways He has directed, the many things He has orchestrated to deliver you to this present place – this transition with all of its accompanying emotions. Why? Because no doubt about it,  He’s the One Who’s brought you here, now.”

    Tracing and retracing that path does help us to trust, to wait, to try and rest and then to keep our eyes peeled for all He’s doing and getting ready to do. I love how it is said in Jeremiah 6:16 – “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls…”

    Many prayers, Laura.

    • lauraparkerblog

      What a perfect verse of encouragement . . . thanks Richelle. I’ll be revisiting this one this week.

  • Diana Trautwein

    You know what, sweetie?? You EARNED that meldown! So sorry for all the confusing, conflicting pain of this – and every departure and transition. It is a necessary part of it all somehow. This is beautifully written and so very real. Thank you.

    • lauraparkerblog

      :) Love the grace you consistently give DIana . . .

  • Nicole

    “Life and loss feel synonymous…”

    Have been there before, am there again.  And sometimes it’s easier to see the big picture; a realization that God has everything under control, and has a perfect plan that includes this loss.

    Then other times, I get so focused on the details of the overwhelm, that it feels almost hopeless.  When we survive this loss, there will just be another.

    I think you hit on the answer with trust.  Trust and patience that this will pass, and there will be healing and sunshine ahead.  That today is not the end, but just one more chapter in the story.

    • lauraparkerblog

      Future chapters in the story DO offer hope, don’t they?

      Thanks, Nicole.

  • David Abbott

    Was blessed to have a similar experience with the exception of having sent my wife back to our home country before the meltdown.  With her chronic health issues condition, that was definitely the best thing.  Praise God that you are able to leave because God is leading you somewhere else and not because of health reasons or moral failure.

    • lauraparkerblog

      Dave, thanks for your perspective and the reminder that people leave under a host of {harder} circumstances. I hope your wife is doing well– that must have been such a journey for your family. Glad to hear that you fought for her health, first.

      Thanks for your comment and for stopping in.

      • David Abbott

        God used my wife’s health to redirect our ministry from mission aviation to promoting missions online through websites, blogs and social media. My wife is doing much better in a controlled environment, but the Lord has chosen not to heal her in order to keep us in the USA while our hearts are with unreached people groups.

        • lauraparkerblog

          Wow, David– good to hear your story. Love that you both are continuing to pursue unreached people, even from the States. Prayers for you and your wife and ministry tonite, from here.


  • Marla Taviano

    I’ve spent the last 2 years “voluntarily” loosening my grip on my stuff in the hopes that I’ll be better prepared for whatever’s next. Selling our house and moving into an apartment closer to the city? Moving to Cambodia? It’s been good to focus on what truly matters and recognize stuff that’s just getting in the way. It’s hard when you take a box of well-loved books to Half Price Books and make enough $ to buy groceries for one meal. Sigh. Praying for you, friend! Excited to keep reading!

    • lauraparkerblog

      I know, right?! All that work on Saturday and we blew half of it at the Western food place we needed to cope with the trauma of the yard sale itself! ha ha.

      Thanks for your words– I know they come from experience.

  • Erin Cook

    love you sweet friend. aching and hoping right along with you

    • lauraparkerblog

      oh, thanks.

  • Amy

    Hey Laura,

    I’m a few steps ahead of ya here…  and yeah, I know what you mean.  In the last few weeks we’ve gone through waves of sadness matched with waves of joy and gratitude.  Pangs of loss (arg, why did I give those things away!!)  And, “Were my kitchenaid mixer beaters really in the box that went to the Goodwill???!!!!

    All that said- today I picked up a solid wood entertainment cabinet from the thrift store for $20.  It’s just one of many “perfect finds” I’ve encountered over the last month.  It’s been amazing to watch how things have just appeared and our needs are being met.  Some we’ve had to wait for, others we’re still waiting for… the kids have a list of their own surprises.  It’s been fun scrounging, being thrifty, taking the very valuable nuggets of lessons learned while in Asia and setting them as points of reference for our new life “overseas”.  

    I thought it would be nearly unbearable not having access to affordable Thai massage.  I wasn’t wrong.  I want one right now.  But I’ll live. Maybe.

    Feelings of ‘normal’ are coming a lot faster and more frequently than I’d expected.  I guess that’s a good thing.  MUCH less freaking out… MUCH more peace!!

    Looking forward to hearing more of your process.  Praying for you!

    Amy L.

    • lauraparkerblog

      this was more encouraging than you could imagine for me to read today friend.

      i miss you.

      but neat that we will at least be in neighboring countries in the very near future.

      love you and yours,

  • Shannon

    I find it pretty ironic to have come across your blog today. You said you’re moving from Asia to Colorado and my family has begun praying about moving FROM Colorado to Asia! There’s a ministry opportunity in Mongolia that we just learned about and we’ve begun praying if that’s where the Lord wants us to go. We had been making preparations to live in a Wall tent here in CO this coming June or sooner until we had learned about this opportunity in Mongolia and the other ironic thing is that Mongolians live in yurts, exactly the way we’ve been planning to live, just in a different type of tent. Anyway, I don’t know whether to take this post as more confirmation or what but it makes me want to pray all the harder. Sorry for the ramble, It just struck me as so coincidental :) I hope your transition from Asia to the states went well! Where about in CO are you? This is the first post I’ve read on your blog so I look forward to reading more:)

    • Laura Parker

      Shannon– thanks for writing in! So fun that we might be crossing paths– literally! Praying for you and your family’s decisions in the coming months– thanks for stopping in and keep me posted about where God leads!

      ps– we are near colorado springs. :)

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