What’s up Girlfriends?!

I have finally mustered up the courage to begin working on the spare room. Trust me, it’s scary in there. The spare room will do double time and also work as my craft/sewing room. Which translates as “too many boxes.” Trust me when I say this is the abyss of boxes and all who enter should be very afraid!


Once I began to unpack each box, however, I discovered it was not as overwhelming as I first thought. As I continued to unpack and set things in order, I began to feel accomplished. With every empty box I became more settled and was able to begin to imagine the room as a more functional space and quite possibly even pretty.

WHAAAAAT?! I can see pretty in the midst of the abyss of boxes? Now that’s true vision!

Then I began to think of my “unpacked heart” with its many boxes of my life. I have an abyss of boxes in there. Some of my boxes are dusty because they have been in storage for a spell. Others are unlabeled and I have long forgotten what is actually in them. I even have some newer boxes that hold some true treasures.

But, I can’t enjoy the treasures, discard what is no longer needed, or give away some useful items to those who would benefit from them, because they are still in boxes.

We all know this season of boxes well. We can sit on our front porches, view the pics on Instagram or Facebook and see the homes/quarters of our friends filled to the brim with moving boxes. Later we will see those same boxes off-loaded into the new homes/quarters and the unboxing will begin. As we see the pics posted we might even be a little irritated with that friend who unpacks every box, hangs curtains, organizes her kitchen, and has every picture hung in a matter of days!

more boxes

Most of us fall between the median of “everything unboxed and in its place, and still digging clothes and shoes out of boxes so you can go the commissary . . . 3 weeks later.”

The same with our hearts.

I have become acutely aware of the “stored boxes” in my heart. There is a sadness boxed alongside some unspeakable joy and I need them both. There is some wisdom and experience boxed alongside some hard times. Defeat has its place next to victory on the shelf of my heart. Faith is nestled between fear and doubt. Girlfriends, it’s time to start busting out the boxes of our hearts!

The one verse of scripture that has been ringing in my soul is, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” John 16:33 (ESV).

We live in a fallen world surrounded by fallen people, including ourselves, and there are many opportunities to fail, to become overwhelmed, and lose our way–but, God.

We have a promise: There will be trouble. No ifs, ands, or doubts about it, there’s gonna be some hard times. But, we must not stop right here, there is more! Our Savior says, “I have overcome the world.” WHAAAT?! There’s gonna be trouble in River City but we will have peace, seriously? How does that work exactly? Because we have a God who is just flat out bigger than any and everything.

Remember, He is the Creator of all things. God’s got this, and even more, He’s got you/us right where He wants us, right smack in the middle of His will!

Right now the Holy Spirit has placed one box of my heart front and center, demanding that I open it. The box labeled forgiveness.

I am not really into this box. It looks a bit battered, it’s even ripped in places. I would much rather open the box labeled faith. Unfortunately, it’s trapped under that box labeled forgiveness. Now that’s a problem. But, girlfriends, I am going in! I got my box cutter, a mug of coffee, and a book on tape in the cd player!

Forgiveness is freedom, plain and simple. As I begin to unpack this box I am finding places for the things within. So far I have found brokenness and surrender. I am trusting God with my brokenness through surrender. My heart still feels faint, but as I press in and surrender the hurt, loneliness, despair, and heartbreak, I will overcome.

I know this to be true because God Himself has promised it, and I serve a faithful God. As a believer I really want my life to look like a Hallmark commercial and read like a beautiful fairytale. Well, that ain’t gonna happen.

People I love will offend me, the circumstances of my life will appear to overtake me, and real life will bring me to my knees.

A few days before our youngest Duffling graduated from college, my husband was informed his contract for full-time employment would not be renewed. Just like that we had no job and no home (we lived on the campus). We had big plans for graduation, people were flying in from every direction to watch our baby girl graduate. Then we were all leaving for a fun vacation to Disney World for 8 days. What were unemployment and homelessness doing in the middle of our life?

I am quite sure you have a similar testimony. Unpack the boxes of your heart and gain what you will need to stand and discard what may be holding you captive. I have 2 words for you today: Press. In. Sounds simple, but we all know it’s hard business.

I am praying for us. I know there are boxes we are afraid to open because we are pretty sure we don’t have a place for what’s inside. But do it anyway. My “one word” for this year is courage. Trust me, I tried to give it back, but God insisted that I keep it! I need copious amounts of courage to “do it anyway.” So, I don’t speak this lightly. I know the depth of the effort it will take. Yet, I still say, “Do it anyway.”

I have begun a new way of opening the boxes of my heart; I am using a “War Binder.” It’s a journal that I use to document my faith through prayers, scripture writing, daily journaling, and Bible study/sermon notes. Sometimes I even record certain worship songs that really speak to me.

claudia journal

Prayerfully discover, build, develop a tool that will help you unpack. Our God is up to something great. Why? Because He is a great God!

Looking forward to seeing some sharing in the comments of what boxes you are unpacking right now. Feel free to post some pics of the “real” life boxes too! My prayer is that as we journey along we will help one another with our boxes. If I was closer to you I would absolutely come on over and unpack your kitchen and set that in order because that’s usually where you keep the COFFEE!


<>< Claudia Duff

“rise up, take COURAGE and do it!” Ezra 10:4

P.S. My husband decided to go back to school and complete his Master of Divinity. So, here we are back in college surrounded by students who are the ages of our own children. Trust me when I say we would never have chosen this path without the burden of no job and no home. God has a way of taking us far from the path we ourselves have beaten down onto the “God path” He has already marked out for us. I sense there will be many new adventures here, as well as challenges. But, we serve a big, big God who has overcome the world for us!