Quiet Solitude // A Grateful Heart

There is something beautiful about being able to just be somewhere. Admittedly, I am actually very terrible at this. I am always thinking of what comes next, what’s next on my to-do list, or where I’m going that afternoon. But as I shared yesterday, I’m embracing the idea of 2016 being a year of grace-filled progress. And that means being gracious with myself a bit more than I usually am.

The past few mornings, I have made a point to set my alarm a few minutes earlier so that I can spend some time with the Lord. My devotional for this year is Savor by Shauna Niequist and although I am not the best with keeping up with devotionals, I hope I succeed with this one. Even though it goes against my night owl-ish tendencies, I do actually enjoy waking up a little earlier, especially if it means a productive day.

It’s no secret that regular quiet time with God is absolutely key to our relationship with Him, but candidly, I have not been devoting the time to God that I should have. I wake up at an awful hour of the morning since I get to work at 6am every day (I have a long-ish commute and I wait to have my coffee/breakfast until I get to work before my students arrive at 7am), and I go to bed super early because of that.

I heard the pastor at my church say once that our quiet time should be at the time of day in which we are at our best and being an early riser, the morning time was his time for prayer. I tried utilizing the evenings for prayer and reflection, but it just hasn’t felt right. I’m not sure how my morning quiet time is going to look now that I am back at work, but I am so grateful for the quiet moments that my soul so desperate needs. 2016 is off to a quiet, but powerful start.

What are you grateful for this week?

This post is part of Ember Grey’s weekly Grateful Heart linkup. Want to share your gratitude this week? Link up your blog post by clicking through the image below!

A Grateful Heart with Ember Grey

Embracing Grace-Filled Goals // A Blogging Mission

This past week, I received an email from Lara Casey. The email went out to all those on her email list to share her blog post about her 2016 Goal Setting series. In the past, I would probably have just skimmed over something like this, maybe even deleting it all together. Goal setting and I have never been the best pair, you see. However, it is my hope and prayer that 2016 is a year of intentional and purposeful living, so I clicked through to the blog post. In it, it felt as though Lara was speaking directly to the heart and soul of this blog and why I am here writing for you all.

Back in 2013 when I first carved out this little corner of the internet for Messy Milestones, I didn’t have any grand plans for it. For about a year, this blog was a “.blogspot.com” blog, rather than a “.com”. Trust me, if you are a blogger than you know that those two things can immediately identify the “serious” bloggers from the casual ones.

Messy Milestones was almost deleted a handful of times and it was created originally just to be a personal blog; an online journal of sorts. I guess it still is in that respect, although I still have a hard time categorizing this space as one specific thing. Even the meaning behind the name “Messy Milestones” has evolved over the past two years. At one point, I thought that I might want to have this be a “teacher blog” and so “Messy Milestones” fit the bill since I am a Pre-K teacher and newsflash, four year olds are messy.

Lara Casey, on her blog, declared 2016 to be “The Year of Getting Messy- embracing imperfect grace-filled progress” and my heart just sighed and said, yes. So often, we find ourselves chasing down the idea of perfection and always having “it” together. But friends, excuse me for stating the obvious, but life is not perfect. It’s messy and I do a terrible job of be gracious with myself when things don’t always turn out the way I plan. Our day to day lives are probably the furthest thing from perfect, but that’s okay with me. Our weaknesses and imperfections are made perfect in Jesus Christ.

My ultimate hope for Messy Milestones is that this place becomes a place for fellowship, encouragement, some serious talk, and inspiration. This place is about celebrating our messiness and all of the small, delightfully imperfect moments. We all have a unique testimony and walk with Jesus Christ. The journey isn’t always pretty. God never promises us that the road will be smooth, but He does promise to be with us every step of the way.

Abide // Being Rooted in God’s Love in 2016

One of the things I love about this time of year is the opportunity that the New Year provides for new beginnings, growth, and renewal. While we can receive renewal any time of year through Christ, it’s just something that makes this season so special. About a month ago, John 15:4 came to mind as I began to think about the Christmas season and the upcoming New Year. The verse, of course, reads;

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.”

We can make all of the resolutions and goals that we want, but if we are not living a life that is rooted in the Lord, how can we really expect for those things to stick? For me, 2016 is setting up to be a year of reflection and a crossroads. I know that I cannot embark on this year without first establishing myself completely and totally in Christ. Ultimately, I know that I want to live a life that fully comes from God’s plan and purpose for me but I also know that this requires faith, trust, and a whole lot of prayer.

It is my hope that 2016 is a year of rest, rejoicing, and abiding in God’s word and truth. Rest, as I look forward to a new season that will hopefully allow me to focus more fully on my job as a teacher. I’m in the midst of my 3rd year teaching and I’ve never fully allowed myself to just be a teacher only, between a part-time job followed by a year of grad school. Rejoicing, as I continue through day-to-day life with a new understanding of God’s promise of eternal life and the comfort that He provides to us through our sufferings. I never imagined that 2015 would be a year of such grief, but the profound and undeniable hope that is found in Christ continues to carry me through every passing day.

While my hope is that I begin to be more centered, keeping Christ at the heart of everything I do, I also know that this is more than just me being more diligent in my quiet time. That is a big part of abiding in the Lord, but I need to not just be completely rooted in Him but also rooted in life. For too long I have allowed work and grad school completely run my life. I shouldn’t be as burnt out as I feel, only three years into the workforce, but that’s where I’ve found myself. Although I live at home, far too little time has actually been devoted to spending actual quality time with my parents. If there’s anything I learned in 2015, it was that we should never take our family for granted and to always make the moments with them count.

What are your hopes and dreams for 2016?

Introducing the Dreams by Design Planner!

I am so excited to share an awesome new planner with you guys! My friend Karen from A House Full of Sunshine has created and unveiled her 2016 Dreams By Design Planner and it is absolutely beautiful and the perfect tool to get the New Year started!

I first stumbled on the planner community around this time last year, just as I invested in my first Erin Condren Life Planner. Who knew that there was a whole community of bloggers, YouTube vloggers, and Facebook groups devoted to decorating their planners?! My lifelong obsession with stationary and planners had finally found a home with fellow devotees. I am currently utilizing an Erin Condren Life Planner as well as a Happy Planner and I am thrilled to add this planner to my collection.

The Dreams by Design Planner is the perfect planner for anyone who wants to start the New Year with some very strategic and intentional goal-setting. Karen has thought of everything here, right down to the nine gorgeous covers to choose from! Check out the video below for an in-depth look at the planner.

I love that the weekly master schedule has loads of room for writing. One of my pet peeves with planners with hourly scheduling is that the spaces are so little! And the best part? This planner is an INSTANT DOWNLOAD! The file comes with printing and assembly instructions so you should have no problem with printing the planner at home, or getting it bound at an office supply store.

Want to purchase the Dreams by Design planner? Purchase it HERE for just $19!

I can’t wait to get started with mine and share my full review with you all!

*Post contains affiliate links. All opinions are my own.

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