It’s moving day.

I arrived in China many moons ago with two suitcases and I’m leaving with, shall we say, considerably more. I’m fine with that. Most of my belongings points to a life lived. How about this jewel from 1995 when McDonalds were in Beijing but not Chengdu (where I lived) — my teammate and I each had a pair and boy did we get mileage out of them!

Funny girl

This morning the amazing crew from Links Moving arrived and I cannot recommend them highly enough. As I filled out all of the customs paperwork and points of entry and all the details, I was so grateful that they know what they’re doing and won’t have to deal with ports or customs.

The truth is much will be left here for others to make their own lives with. But a few pieces of furniture (and boxes of books, old letters, and other a sundries) will travel on a slow boat from China.

I lived for five years in housing that was provided by the school I taught at. This was also the 90’s when things simply were not available to buy. So, when I moved from Chengdu to Beijing the only furniture I moved were two bamboo stools and a set of stacking plastic drawers. Arriving in Beijing I had to furnish my own apartment and I wrote about the ABSOLUTE joy of being given The. Most. Perfect. Amy. Couch. Ever. In what turned out to be a trilogy: What a couch can mean, What happens when answered prayer becomes old wineskins, and  In which it’s easy to miss the Answerer clinging to the answer.

For some reason, furniture has taken on a sacred role in my journey. It’s not a mere couch, it’s a beloved, prayed for, longed for, grieved over piece of holy ground. At first I thought I could walk away from everything in my apartment and had the attitude I came in with two suitcases and I’ll go out with two, hot damn!

But as you can tell, that response is riddled with pride and too much about me and not enough about the broader, better, story than size of my luggage is. Sometimes less is more. And sometimes it’s just pride.

This is the first piece of furniture I bought after moving to Beijing.

Piece of furniture (Small)

Yup, that’s an outlet that is about six feet off the ground in my dining room. Where else would you expect the refrigerator to be? The poor builders just could not fathom it would be in that big space in the kitchen. I love that random outlet.

It’s more than a lovely chest (though I still chuckle at the note my mom sent me about “enjoying my lovely chest.” Oh I do Mom, I do!). This is a stake in the ground. This is a border stone. This is a gambling  move that says, “I’m all in.” Up until then, sure I’d killed mice, made friends, taught students, learned about China, learned about myself, seen God through China, put many miles on my bike, nearly died and learned to LOVE numbing spicy food, but as long as I traveled light, it was easier to keep an eye on the exit. Sure, I’m here, but I can be out of here pretty easily.

This chest, this chest was a game changer. And by choosing to haul it back to I’m making another statement. Yeah, I came in with two suitcases, but I simply cannot go out through that exit. I’m changed. I’m marked in the best way by China (and in the most annoying way to Americans. Hehehe, sorry in advance if I ask you how much everything in your home costs. It’s not that I’m noisy; you own it, I know you paid for it, just tell me already, OK?!)

Until we meet again on distant shores! (and do you notice the lack of sweat!? These wonderful men got a fairly cool day to haul everything down several flights of stairs, around construction, through another building and out to the moving van. God Bless them!

Until we meet again on distant shores! Do you notice the lack of sweat!? These wonderful men got a fairly cool day to haul everything down several flights of stairs, around construction, through another building and out to the moving van. God Bless them!

And just like that, I was committed in ways I hadn’t been before. And I knew it. And I owned the commitment by turning into it, not away from it, and buying a few more pieces of furniture.

When did you know you were committed to something or someone?



Leave A Comment

  1. Susan June 21, 2013 at 2:49 am - Reply

    I love the way you think and express yourself. Sweet reads.

  2. Susan June 21, 2013 at 2:50 am - Reply

    Correction: Sweet & significant reads.

  3. Suzan June 21, 2013 at 3:01 am - Reply

    I love God’s timing. We are currently packing up to move to Haiti. Most items have been sold or given away because we don’t plan on coming back to the US any time soon. A few family pieces will go in storage. And whatever we can fit in three checked bags is what is coming with us. Right this minute my DH is upstairs seeing if our SleepNumber will collapse enough to fit in one of those bags. My goal has been to keep it at a minimum, more a pride thing than anything else. Kinda like “Look, I moved to Haiti and all I have is one carry-on. Aren’t I suffering??” But reading your blog reminded me that our belongings are extensions of us and although as Americans we often have too much, some items tell an important story. Thank you for continuing to share your journey. We look forward to sharing ours in the coming years!

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      Amy June 21, 2013 at 5:39 am - Reply

      I’ll second that! (on loving God’s timing) — There are two other families near me going through the packing up phase and all I can say is bless ya, bless ya, bless ya! It’s a different ball game with kids. Worth it, oh yes! But different. I can also yes on the “having too many items” — my home didn’t look cluttery, but good glory, as I’ve cleaned, sorted, given, and packed … where did all of it come from? How did I not notice there was so much? Will be following your adventures Suzan!

  4. Heather June 21, 2013 at 2:25 pm - Reply

    Oh how I know the attachment to furniture! I left a houseful in CA! Thankfully, I was able to rent my house furnished to a wonderful young family. Which meant that I didn’t have to make the hard decisions of what to keep and store and what to pass along to others who would make good use of it. And it never ceases to amaze me how much stuff can fit into one small cupboard! It’s like a puzzle or something.

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      Amy June 21, 2013 at 9:57 pm - Reply

      And it never ceases to amaze me how much stuff can fit into one small cupboard! It’s like a puzzle or something. True words, my friend. True words!

  5. Rhonda June 21, 2013 at 8:33 pm - Reply

    All the best in the move back ‘home’ Amy! Looking forward to see all that transpires in this next chapter/leg of your journey.

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      Amy June 21, 2013 at 9:58 pm - Reply

      Thanks Rhonda … I know it’s irrational, but I fear that people won’t give a hoot about the next leg of the journey. But that’s just fear!!

  6. Daryle Parker June 21, 2013 at 8:38 pm - Reply

    Your wonderful sense of humor and enthusiastic wisdom and experience will be DEARLY missed. Thank you for all you’ve done.

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      Amy June 21, 2013 at 9:59 pm - Reply

      Oh Daryle … I’ll miss seeing you and Kim! But thankfully we can touch base here on the internet!

  7. Kristi June 22, 2013 at 3:21 am - Reply

    Amy, you have been blessed with a BIG life. I’m certain the next leg will be just as BIG! Thanks for sharing you words, witticisms, wisdom, and your couch! May many blessings flow to you and from you!

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      Amy June 22, 2013 at 7:34 am - Reply

      Indeed! I have been richly blessed! I think many of us have, but sometimes we lose sight of that :)

  8. Anne June 22, 2013 at 3:26 am - Reply

    We miss you dearest!!!
    So glad the move went well! We landed in Iowa with a thud–jet lag hitting everyone hard–and I have some sort of bronchial issue which has laid me out–but know I will feel better at some point. We love you! See you on this side of the ocean! A

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      Amy June 22, 2013 at 6:43 am - Reply

      Me too! Miss you and am sick. I don’t look forward to traveling feeling this way, but such is life, eh?!

  9. Karen Miedrich-Luo June 22, 2013 at 10:57 pm - Reply

    I thought I was committed when I unpacked my suitcases. I knew I was committed when I sold my beloved home and gave away my pets two years later.

  10. Martha Lester July 30, 2013 at 3:51 pm - Reply

    Hey Amy,
    How much did you pay for that chest? HeeHee.

    Remembering a lot about those old Chengdu days. And guess who is back there this very week? None other than Miss Asha, one of your nieces.

    Thank you for this lovely packing/moving article. It was good for me to read 2 weeks before going back for we don’t know how long.
    Love you,

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      Amy July 31, 2013 at 6:26 am - Reply

      Asha!!! I love that! Where will you and Pete land for the time being?

      Love, Amy

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