Last week, Stephanie and I held a yard sale to raise money to bring Soccerboy back for Christmas. It was a lot of work, with each of us only getting about 10 hours of sleep in three days. But it was worth every second.
We ultimately raised $1700 toward his return.
We are so grateful to all of you who donated items or your time toward making this yard sale a success.
But I think the best part of the process was the way I saw relationships develop and hearts be moved. I walked away from the weekend exhausted but exhilarated. What we are doing is bigger than just us. It’s even bigger than Soccerboy.
It’s about reaching the world. It’s about opening my eyes to the world in my own front yard, and seeing how that equips me to love past it. It’s changing me every day. Today, I want to share a few of the moments that changed me.
The work for this weekend started several weeks ago. I wish I had taken a picture of my basement. The donations were so generous that it was piled to the ceiling with things. So was my garage. It was days and days of work. And one person really stepped into that gap for us—my neighbor Krista. She took Stephanie’s daughter for hours upon hours every day so that we could work. Then Thursday night, she worked through into the wee hours helping us price heaps of items. Nothing says community like a woman holding a lantern over a pile of clothes trying to get one last bag sorted before we moved inside. And with each price sticker and each discovery (is this really a basket of wigs labeled “only worn twice”?), my gratefulness for her friendship grew. I never expected community fellowship to happen over a bag full of used underwear and socks, but there it was, the joy.
And when the sale started, we saw the same thing continue. We met the sweetest couple, Erma and Phil. They live down the street, and they are siblings in their nineties. They came up to see what all the to-do was about, and started asking us questions about who the little boy was and what we were doing. I tried to keep my explanation simple, as people a quarter of their age often have difficulty understanding the concept of “hosting.” But they kept asking more and more questions, and they really wanted to KNOW…and they got it. They came by again the day we were cleaning up, and we talked about people we had in common; their childhood on a farm and their father, who was a coal miner; the three siblings they lost before they were even born; Erma’s husband’s death; how they found God. They offered little in terms of financial support—in fact, we gave Erma a cookbook for free—but seeing them again on that second day filled my heart with joy. And I look forward to walking down the street soon and having a little chat with them while they are rocking on their porch. I found kindred spirits in those two little spitfire packages.
Other people blessed us financially. We met a man who was a flea market guy, but was different from the rest of them. If you’ve never had a yard sale, then you’ve never experienced the cheating and lying that can happen. In our area, there are a lot of people who own shops and booths and try to get deals at yard sales to resell for a profit. We met some really mean, angry people who obviously thought we were stupid and actively tried to rip us off. Sometimes the arguing was too much and we just gave in. Sometimes we didn’t, and they made rude comments. As we were going on little sleep, it was one of the most exhausting parts of the sale. So when, on the second day, this man came along proclaiming over the set of Austin Nichols Wild Turkey decanters we had (look them up…crazy!), we knew he was in the flea market business. We had them priced fairly, but he asked a lower price in a polite way. He was so nice about it we readily agreed. He also asked about some antique furniture, and although he didn’t buy it, encouraged us to stay firm on our price. When he was finished, I thanked him for his kind treatment of us. We had a nice chat about how our values are shown forth by how we treat others, and he told us a bit about himself, including that he was a retired art teacher. We connected over our love of teaching, and as he left, I saw him surreptitiously slip some money in the donation bucket—a $20 bill, far more than the “price break” we had given him.
And then there was my yard sale “boyfriend.” A man, also in the resell business, came to the sale four or five times to get more things (we had so much we were putting more things out hourly). I don’t even know his name, but we came to know a lot about each other. He lives with an elderly relative and cooks a lot. He had just gotten a book on making crème brulee and couldn’t wait to try it. He was looking for books on military history, and I had a long conversation with him about our favorite authors and eras and all things nerdy. He bought boxes of books and when I told him there were more in the basement I hadn’t even gotten out yet, he offered to shlep them out for us in exchange for the pleasure of being the first to look through the titles—he probably carried 20 boxes out for us. He came back to the sale so many times and we talked so much when he was here that Stephanie started saying, “Hey, your boyfriend just pulled up.” And when I see him again someday I will say hello to an old friend. A yard sale friend. A man I don’t even know who made my day a little happier, right in my front yard. And I will say hello with the biggest smile, because he was neighborly and kind and unselfish and generous with his time and himself.
And there were real friends who made their way here, too. My friend Mary Beth drove with four of her girls almost an hour to come to see me. Mary Beth was one of my first NHFC connections. A friend of a friend, she connected with me way back at the beginning of this process, calming all my fears, answering all of my stupid beyond stupid questions. She was one of two previous hosters I spoke with personally, who told me, “Do this. You won’t regret it. And I’ll be here any time you need me.” And she has been. She and her husband are currently in the process of adopting a little girl from the same country as Soccerboy. They just finalized a domestic adoption of two other daughters this summer. They have several other children in all stages of life. And in the midst of all of that, she found time to meet with me during hosting so our kids could all play together. And now, while in the middle of funding her own adoption, she takes the time to drive to me, to donate far more money than was necessary for the trinkets her children chose, to whisper truths into Stephanie’s ear, to hug me because she knows. She knows my heart. She knows my pain. She knows the depths of this thing that has a hold of me, because it has a hold on her too. And she came. And she hugged. And it was the hug of so many who know us both, and know this thing too, and they were here with us in spirit. And it was like a fresh spring on the parched earth of my hurting soul.
And there were others, too. Acquaintances who came to shop, but stayed to straighten clothing or pull another box from the basement. Friends who brought doughnuts and coffee treats without being asked. Blessed ones who dropped everything to help with clean-up when I called close to tears on Sunday.
The blessing of funds was beyond what we ever expected—making that much at a yard sale is pretty crazy. But the biggest joy for me was sharing my love for this little boy with the community, and doing it together with my dear friend. A whole two days of telling people over and over how much we love the little face that hung next to our cash box on the porch, and how he has changed the trajectory of our lives. And watching them be affected too, even in small ways. Making connections. Seeing love and kindness created in front of us. Borne fresh among strangers. Strengthened between friends.
We are blessed.