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.

2016 Resolutions // Psalm 90:12

“Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” // Psalm 90:12
To be completely transparent, I have never made a New Year’s Resolution before. I’ve thought about it, sure, but I think the voice in my head was always counting me out before the year even began. Early in 2015, I discovered Lisamarie over at Paper & Glam and I have come to really appreciate how she lives her life both seasonally and always completely rooted in the Lord. Lisamarie approaches her resolutions in a holistic manner and I thought I would try it for myself this year. 
The six areas that I chose to focus on are Spiritual, Creative, Physical, Creative, Professional, and Financial.

I made this graphic in PicMonkey and printed it as a 5×7 image to place in my two planners (Erin Condren and Happy Planners), as well as my 2016 Project Life album. I absolutely love the Project Life system, and I plan on diving more into that this year as well. Blog posts are sure to come!
What are your 2016 resolutions? Share them in the comments below!

2015 Recap // A Year of Grace, Grief, and Hope

Happy last week of 2015! We all say it every year, but where did the time go?! It’s so hard to believe how quickly time can get away from us. 2015 was a year of many ups and downs, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Let’s look back, shall we?

January

My sister and I got to explore a bit of the Sarah P. Duke Gardens during my MLK Weekend visit! She’s so lucky to have this place so close to her! It was gorgeous, even in the winter!

March

This is one of my favorite pictures that I have with my Grandmother. In March 2015, we celebrated her 89th birthday and I’m so glad we snapped this picture of the three generations that day. Unfortunately, we lost my grandmother in September, making this memory extra sweet.

May

My birthday fell on Mother’s Day this year! It does that every few years or so. My mom’s family has done a “reunion” of sorts every year for Mother’s Day and Christmas for most of my life and I’m so thankful that I got to spend my birthday with my entire family! The night before, my sister and I celebrated with a Needtobreathe concert.

June

I visited Michigan for the first time (and technically Ohio, since I flew out of the tiny Toledo airport to save some money on airfare home)! I spent a long weekend in Detroit with my dear friend Sarah and her precious family.

I even attended my first major league baseball game at Comerica Park! So fun!

August

Note to self: never visit Texas in the summer again. On my first trip to Texas, I visited Austin and San Antonio! My trip also happened to fall during a slight heat wave and the temperatures were above 100 every day. It actually made me appreciate the North Carolina summers just a teensy bit more. Sure, it can get hot and crazy humid, but not prolonged 100 degree days like that.

My sister and I went to our first Panthers game! Which is kind of sad, considering we are from here and the stadium is only about 20 minutes away. We must have been good luck charms because the Panthers have had a fantastic season so far.

September

In September of this year, my family lost my grandmother and my aunt, just two days apart. Even though this later part of the year has been marked by grief, for me, it has also been a season of profound trust and rejoicing in the grace of God. He loves us so much that I only need to say a “see you later” to these two incredible women in my life.

October 

I love taking day trips back up to the mountains! For my Dad’s birthday weekend, we drove up to Boone, where I lived for four years for college, and took in some of the last of the Fall colors.

December 

The first Christmas without my Grandmother and Aunt Shelia was surreal, but if strength is in numbers, than my mom certainly has that. My grandmother’s wishes were for our family to never stop coming together on December 26 for our Christmas gathering, and I think we did her proud,

Oh hi, Graham Gano (#9)
Love this city!

My mom and I always seem to get into the silliest adventures, but this one was pretty fun! The hometown team, the Carolina Panthers, have had a spectacular season so far, despite their first loss this past Sunday. 14-1 is nothing to be ashamed of! I’ve never watched as much football as I have this season, but the excitement and pride in Charlotte is contagious and this season has been a blast! We joined hundreds of other fans at Bank of America stadium to welcome the team home after their loss to Atlanta, which I think surprised a few of the players. Go Panthers!

What are some of your highlights from 2015?

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