Enough {The Grove: Suitcase}


I have 163 bandaids. I counted. 163.


I could wallpaper a small room with them. Well, at least completely cover a small person.

In my defense, 19 years ago, we came with three little ones to China, a place so foreign they didn’t even have bandaids! So, every time we went to the US, more bandaids made the cut to come back in my suitcase to join my merry band of bandaids.

I’m not sure what natural disaster I have been anticipating that would involve multitudes of little cuts, but I’ve been ready!

How many other things have I held on to for fear of meeting the unexpected disaster unprepared? Or resisted purging a thing because it was once suitcase worthy?

Ironically, I am writing this sitting in the midst of the moving chaos of 19 years worth of accumulation. Stuff we’ve moved, carried over, minimalized, regrown, dispersed, collected, packed, unpacked and repacked.

The Chinese have a great word for “stuff”: dongxi, literally east-west. What a fitting word for all the things we collect from east to west – and places between.

With our babies all grown up, it is time to downsize our pile. My minimalist husband thinks we should put it all out on the street and watch the frenzy from a safe distance. My inner hoarder desperately throws herself over the dongxi in fear. Fear of lack. A hundred what if… scenarios flood the part of my brain that produces all the justifications for keeping rather than purging.

But as I have sorted and packed this time around, I am challenged by the word “enough”. Do I trust I will have enough of whatever I need? And not only things, but enough energy, enough time, enough space, enough resources, enough rest…

I am both comforted and confronted by these words from Isaiah 48:21, “They did not thirst when He led them through the deserts; He made water flow for them from the rock: He split the rock and water gushed out.”

If you grew up in Sunday School, the familiarity of this story of water gushing out of a rock in the desert might have lost its wonder. But really? In the DESERT, WATER gushed out of a ROCK. They did not thirst. In the desert.

Will He do any less for me? For you? We follow a God who provides enough in ridiculous, outlandish, who-would-have-thought-of-that ways!

So… absolutely, yes, do pack your suitcase wisely with the wonderful advice of those who have been there, done that. But don’t forget to pack plenty of trust in the God of Enough.

And don’t forget to watch for splitting rocks and gushing water!

Now for some practical fun…

What if Velvet Ashes rallied together to put together a resource for all the women who are to follow us?  What if each of us made out a simple packing list of the items needed for living in each of our countries/regions?  Do you know how many countries that would be??  Do you know how amazing it would be for women moving overseas to find a master packing list where they simply click on the country that they are moving to and find out what to put in their suitcase?  Yes, I think you know exactly how amazing that would be.

So, here’s what you need to do:

  1.  Make a packing list of items that people should bring when moving to your area of the world.
  2.  Be sure to include your country’s name and the city, if you can.  Otherwise include the type of area that you live in (example: small town, rural Thailand)
  3. If you have a blog, post it on your blog and link it up at The Grove beginning Thursday at 6pm EST.
  4.  If you don’t have a blog, you can add your packing list as a comment at The Grove.  Or you can email it to us at submissions (at) velvetashes (dot) com.

Here are a couple samples:

PortugalChina, and Northern Thailand (Even if you live in these countries, feel free to add to or create your own list!)

Here’s what we’ll do at Velvet Ashes:

We’ll compile your lists and make a master list of links according to country, so that people moving to the field can learn what they need to put in their suitcase.

Take all that valuable know-how you’ve been gaining and let’s offer it to others!

And let’s not forget that even if a “must-have” item doesn’t make it into our suitcase, we will always have Enough.


P.S.  You can also link up your blog posts that don’t include packing lists at The Grove this week.  We know there’s lots to talk about when it comes to “Suitcase.”


  1. Beth Everett June 11, 2015

    We follow a God who provides enough in ridiculous, outlandish, who-would-have-thought-of-that ways!

    Oh we sure do! Love that picture of the desert and how He provides. As we have been purging to leave we have also watched Him lavish His blessings on us. As we empty our lives of physical things, He has been filling us up with beautiful things that cannot be seen.

    1. Patty Stallings June 12, 2015

      I love this, Beth – As we empty our lives of physical things, He has been filling us up with beautiful things that cannot be seen.
      So,so true!

    2. Michele Womble June 17, 2015

      I agree with Patty – what a beautiful expression!  (“As we empty our lives of physical things, He has been filling us up with beautiful things that cannot be seen.”)  I printed it out and am looking for a place to hang it.

  2. Beth June 12, 2015


    I love your bandaid illustration ( I went through 10 in Thailand because of new shoes, so you never know….) .

    My packing list for Lhasa, Tibet is the following:

    -greeting/thank you cards

    -powdered sugar for icing

    -chocolate chips

    -your favorite tea bags / coffee

    -lime juice (can’t get limes or avocados)

    -spices as basil, oregano, lemon grass

    -jello packets

    -baking (tiny) M&Ms

    -water proof mascara

    -Apple electrical products – gadgets, phones

    -larger than needed boots (to accommodate 2 pairs of heavy socks!); women are larger here but their feet seem to be small, so I can’t buy shoes)

    -bike helmet (I’m just sayin’)

    -and it goes without saying….LOTS of moisturizer); baby oil

    1. Patty Stallings June 12, 2015

      Thank you for the list, Beth!  I love the photo.

      Funny thing – after months and months of not needing a bandaid, I cut my finger on the knuckle while moving this week and have had to change the bandaid constantly with all the bending, washing, etc.  🙂

    2. ErinMP June 14, 2015

      Love the photo. And I went through many band aids in Thailand for the same reason.

  3. Jennifer June 12, 2015

    When nothing else is enough – He is enough. When we are overwhelmed by what we have – He is enough. When we don’t know what we want – He is enough.  I know I’ve often ended up focusing on the wrong thing. On having too much or too little or something, of having too many or too few responsibilities, of having too many of too few friends, of having too much or too little support and encouragement. Yet I am very slowly coming to realize that this is not what matters most, is not where my focus should lie. God alone is what we need. Seeking him first, will make everything else just that much clearer. Everything should flow out of that, rather than it being a nice optional add on to life. Not easy, and often stretches us beyond what we can do, and yet the ultimate truth is that it is not us who needs to do what he has called us to do. We simply need to be available to allow him to work through us.

    1. Patty Stallings June 12, 2015

      Yes, yes, and yes. He is enough.  Always.

      Thanks, Jennifer!

  4. Lisa June 12, 2015

    My suggestions for packing for the northern mountains of the Philippines:


    Electronics such as laptop and additional external disk drive, camera, Kindle

    Have laptop loaded with photos, music, movies

    Quality kitchen knives

    Sheet sets






    Lice MD

    Games and if your children enjoy Legos bring those too.

    Homeschool materials

    Food items:  tea, vanilla extract, chocolate chips, cereal besides cornflakes that is readily available, whole grain crackers, taco seasoning and bouillon base without MSG

    Before we moved here, we found another American homeschooling family living in the Philippines and got advice from them on what to pack.  Although their list was helpful, they live in a different region of the Philippines so some things that were vital for them were unnecessary for us.

    Blessings to all making this transition to life and ministry overseas!

    1. Patty Stallings June 13, 2015

      Thank you, Lisa, for this wonderful list!  May you find joy in your service this week!

      1. Lisa June 13, 2015

        Thank you.  Our family is actually in the process of preparing for a move back to the US at the end of July.  We are facing the challenge of getting what we own down to 10 suitcases!

        1. Patty Stallings June 13, 2015

          That is a challenge, Lisa.  May the Lord give you wisdom and discernment as you choose what is most valuable to fit in those suitcases!  I hope you are reminded moment by moment of His generosity and goodness in His provision for you and your family!

  5. JulieB June 13, 2015

    Thanks Patty for this.  I currently have a suitcase on my floor in our room filled with gifts for friends and the grandkids back home. Fun stuff!

    However, we are heading home for 6 weeks for medical follow up, preparing our home for sale –  sorting, more garage sales (we sold all the big stuff 2 years ago before we came – now its the “little” stuff we have stored in the garage as we rented out the house), dealing with elderly parents “dongxi” and health issues, and finding appropriate storage.   So many decisions – It all feels so overwhelming.  Can we get it all done in such a short time?

    Loved what you said – Do I trust that I will have enough?  Enough energy, enough time to get it all done, enough resources, enough rest, enough emotional energy for challenging relationships?  Yes!  Thank you.

    It’s not only about the physical dongxi but all those other fears that crowd my heart when I think of all that must be done.  He is enough and He promises that his grace is sufficient (enough)!  Thank you for encouraging my heart as I have had a couple of   sleep-challenged nights this week!

    1. Patty Stallings June 14, 2015

      Julie, you do have a lot to accomplish this summer.  I’m trusting with you that you will have enough of EVERYTHING you need.  May He fill your mind with wisdom, your body with energy, your heart with peace, and your soul with rest.

  6. T June 13, 2015

    Hey.  Just a comment on the tampons thing…I used to have to bring back packs to last me 2 yrs, and then changed to using a Diva Cup.  I would definitely suggest giving yourself 3-4 months at least to try it out and see if it works for you, then maybe, you will not have to bring all those boxes of tampons!  I’ve had the same Diva Cup for 5 or 6 years, and am very satisfied!  But, it is definitely something that takes getting used to!!!  There are a couple brands, so you can shop around if you want.  http://divacup.com/

    1. Beth Everett June 13, 2015

      Agreed, T!

    2. Jennifer Ott June 13, 2015

      Yes, and Amen!  Diva cups (and the like) are game-changers!

    3. MaDonna June 14, 2015

      I had to look that up. I’m so behind the times…

  7. MaDonna June 14, 2015

    But don’t forget to pack plenty of trust in the God of Enough

    Loved this, Patty! It is so true. I’ve been in Taipei for the past 9 years and feel extremely spoiled. We have multiple Costcos and a few places that carry the imported goodies. So, I honestly can’t say one needs to pack anything. I usually bring back seasonings/spices, dried onions, and specialty teas only because they are so expensive here compared to the US. But, it took me a few years to be comfortable not to bring everything that used to be on my list when we lived in China – maybe out of habit, maybe lack of trust – probably a combo of the two.

    1. Patty Stallings June 15, 2015

      I can relate, MaDonna.  The longer we are here, the more adaptations we make for cooking, etc.  And there’s definitely more available here as well.  But I confess I love the “hunt and gather” shopping in the US for things to bring back to China.  And it almost feels criminal to not use our full luggage allotment when in the early years every ounce made a difference.  Now that I’m not hauling homeschooling books across the ocean, I hardly know what to do with my luggage space!  🙂

      1. Annalisa June 16, 2015

        Patty, I find that there are lots of other people willing to take some of that “extra” luggage space off of you…and typically pay you a little as well.  On my last trip to the States, I brought back some English language books for a friend with young boys.  She only paid me 25 cents each, but they were small enough that they probably off-set the cost of that suitcase a little.

  8. Michele Womble June 17, 2015

    Sorry I’m late to the gathering here, Patty.   I was, of all things, on a trip – with my suitcase. 😉

    I have a love/hate relationship with my suitcases.  I like traveling, but I hate to pack, and also traveling so often represents long separations from people I don’t want to be separated from…so my suitcase evokes mixed emotions in me.  Unless I’m seeing them tumble onto the luggage belt, and then it’s pure joy and relief.

    I really couldn’t think of anything that I would recommend people bring when coming to live here.  In the early years in Novosibirsk (Russia) we did bring in some things you couldn’t get here (this was in the nineties).  But now I think I can pretty much find everything I want.  This is either because they have everything now (which they absolutely have more available than they did), or I’ve found substitutes for things they don’t have, or I found I didn’t really need some of the things I thought I needed.

    Maybe all of the above.

    Things have really changed here over the last twenty years. And what I put in my suitcase has changed significantly.  Schoolbooks instead of peanut butter, for example. (You can now get peanut butter here in a few of the larger stores.)

    But, I still have a love/hate relationship with my suitcase.  That hasn’t changed.

    So instead of writing a packing list (which I may still get to when I move past  my feelings for my suitcase) I wrote a <a href=”http://www.brokenbreadandsmallfish.com/2015/06/ode-to-my-suitcase.html”>song to my suitcase </a>.


    1. Michele Womble June 17, 2015

      (I didn’t do that right. ) I wrote a poem to my suitcase, called <a href=”www.brokenbreadandsmallfish.com/2015/06/ode-to-my-suitcase.html”>Ode to My Suitcase </a>

      I also put a link to it in the link-up.

      Sorry it’s not a packing list!

      1. Patty Stallings June 23, 2015

        I love your poem, Michele!  Thanks for sharing it!


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