The Little Things

2016 is already a couple weeks underway, but these weeks I’ve taken the time to finally reflect on 2015. From starting the new year in high school still, to graduation, to all the events that summer held, to a chaotic start to my college career…. what a year! When I think back on those 365 days, so much floods my mind. My heart is filled with a storm of different emotions. I learned important lessons during 2015, but one of those many lessons is my favorite:

 

appreciate the little things.

 

When I started reflecting on what this really meant to me, I was surprised and felt overwhelming grateful for all the little things I really have in my life to appreciate. How lucky to be able to think on the tiniest things and how much they really mean to you? I thought for just a little bit about these things, and during that time, it only took me a few minutes to reflect on at least 15 different “little things” that I love.

I noticed that a lot of these were little moments and aspects of my life that I didn’t even begin to notice until I was moved out of the house and trying to adjust to life in the dorm, and not waking up in the same house with my family each morning. But still, the little things seem to always build into something greater.

My 15 Little Things:

The way your mom still feels like love when you hug her and cry on her shoulder the same way you did when you were a little kid.

  1. A sister that makes you laugh uncontrollably late at night and suddenly you miss the way you two used to share a bedroom when you were younger. (Then remember the mass amount you used to fight and are so happy you no longer share a room.)
  2. The way your dog is always excited to see and lick you unforgivingly.
  3. Endless hours spent in coffee shops doing “homework” with your best friends. (Really, no homework getting accomplished, but laughing is good for the soul, so it evens out.)IMG_6088
  4. A brother that never stops protecting you.
  5. Long car rides with friends, screaming at the top of your lungs to songs about boys you’re mad at. (Then thinking of every way possible to plot revenge against those guys.)
  6. Piling four people into one bed just to eat cookie dough and binge-watch that addicting Netflix series—instead of studying for exams that are happening the next morning.
  7. Going home just to spend all break with your friend and feeling like nothing will ever change between the two of you.
  8. When you just need a break from life and can always count to sit on the garage step while your dad is working, blaring music and finding the same comfort in that setting as you did five, seven, even nine years ago.
  9. When your mom always saves that last bit of cookie dough batter for you to eat.
  10. Midnight food runs with friends.
  11. Best friends in cosmetology school that can give you hair cuts whenever you feel like making a change.
  12. Hugging your dad and feeling like a little kid again, like he’s the greatest human in the world.
  13. Vent sessions with friends about how stressed you are … and still not doing anything to fix that stress.
  14. Learning what you do and don’t want in life and pursuing what is best for you.
  15. Learning to love God’s beauty around you and appreciate everything in life.

Granola Fruit Tart

Granola Fruit Tart

Rachel Batdorff

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Guys, I love pretty food. And this Granola Fruit Tart is not only pretty….but it actually tastes good too! I made this for a bridal shower brunch last weekend. It was the perfect light, bright, fun dish on a cold, gloomy, snowy day. I need more occasions to make pretty food!

Ingredients

Crust

  • 4 cups crushed granola
  • 1 stick salted butter, softened
  • 4 Tbs. honey

Filling

  • 2 cups Greek vanilla yogurt
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 envelope of gelatin
  • assorted fresh fruit for topping

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Put granola in a freezer bag and hit with a mallet or rolling pin to crush.
  • Combine crushed granola, softened butter and honey in a bowl. Mix well.
  • Press mixture into 11-inch circular baking dish. (Size and shape can vary, depending on the thickness you would like your crust.)
  • Bake 10 minutes.

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In the Midst of Storms

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Cold air is finally hitting November. The leaves are falling off the trees and covering up the ground, the grass fading away from bright green. This sounds like something poetic—something beautiful—right?

But I had a different view of this beauty today. Mid-afternoon, I am hitting my daily dreary point. (Yes, this is mostly an everyday occurrence.) I am tired, have attended my morning classes, eaten lunch, and now consumed and overwhelmed by every big and little assignment, paper and exam that I have to do/prepare for. My first thought when I reached this point? Coffee.

I packed up my book bag with everything I needed and made the venture down the long sidewalk to the campus coffee shop. Since morning, the sky has been a gloomy shade of gray. Rain has trickled on and off from the clouds above. The wind has been present all day, picking up more and more each time I seem to step outside. Goosebumps line my skin from the chilliness. On my way to get my dose afternoon energy, I could barely walk in a straight line. I was being pulled and pushed by the wind from my left, then to my right. Repeat. (Over and over again.) Leaves on the tree in front of me were being pulled from the limbs and soaring to the ground by force of the wind. The rain was spitting from the sky, hitting my face. Out of nowhere, a strange comparison entered my mind. Just an hour prior, we were having a discussion at lunch and someone brought up a point that if God calls you to something, He will help you with it somehow.

As my feet are struggling to take on step in front of the other by force of the wind, I am reminded of God’s Constance. There was a beauty in this realization. Often, I am wrapped into worry and doubt. Many times I am swept away in a storm with my faith, emotions and other aspects of life. But each time, is my first reaction to turn to God? Is my first thought when I start crying the knowing that God will sustain me and prove faithfulness in the end? Most of the time, no. I fail to see God through the disasters of the storm. Looking back, I can confidently say that I see His presence and evidence of His works in those situations. Even in the storms of life—or physical storms I walk through on campus—God is holding me. God is faithful to me. God will sustain me.

 

When thinking about this, I thought back on some of the verses that I find most evident and comforting:

 

“So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” Hebrews 3:16

 

“Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.” Psalms 37:3

 

“He will not let your foot slip— He who watches over you will not slumber.” –Psalms 121:3

 

“When I am afraid, I put my trust in You.” –Psalms 56:3

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November: Thankful for Friends

Summer passed in the blink of an eye. October faded away and fall is drifting away in stride. The first week of November has come and passed. November. This is the special month of the year. It is the start of beloved basketball season. It is the ideal of turkey and pumpkin pie eaters. It is the month that holds Thanksgiving. November is the month where most people seem to reflect upon what they are thankful for in life. For me, I fall under this category.

It is a guilty time, however. As I make a point to reflect on why I am truly thankful, I realize that I don’t do this as much as I need to. This week especially, I have been thinking about the closest friends I have in my life. They each play such an important role. Each day, I know that I am loved by these people. This week made me realize that I need to appreciate them more than I do and more than I show.

-My Wise Friend: You, I haven’t known for the longest time. Not that I don’t fully love having you in my life, but I didn’t expect you to come into my life. We are so opposite. However, you have blessed my life. You are very wise. You think before you speak. Not only do you do that, but you take quality time to listen to me and what I have to say. You value my opinion…and that, is very much appreciated. I feel that what I have to say is worth something. You don’t judge my stories or raw emotions. You put effort–and your whole heart–into everything you do. You take the time to reflect on life experiences and help apply them usefully. This is what makes you wise and I appreciate the positive aspect you have brought into my life.

-My Confidant Friend: Sometimes, you mother me. Sometimes, it really, really annoys me. But at the end of the day, I wouldn’t be making it through college without you. I know you will be there for my emotional breakdowns and my exciting moments. There is no better way to spend a Saturday than drinking coffee, doing homework, preparing for exams and not talking. Just being in the same room, we can share a comfortable silence. This is something that I really appreciate. Who else runs to me as I’m getting ready to turn the shower water on just to tell me she missed me while I was away that weekend? Who else can give me a hug that helps calm my tears? I confide in you with my emotions and this, this is one reason I am thankful for our friendship.

-My Writing Friend: Writing… is it an art or is it a horrible passion? Either way, I have never had a friend that I’ve connected with in sharing the same deep love for the same deep focus of writing. In an easier way than others, you can understand me. Without words. Without finishing my sentences. Without needing to explain, you seem to understand what I am going to say. Not only that, but you understand the emotion behind it. You understand how sometimes words carry more weight than I do strength. For the level of understanding that you connect with me on, this makes me appreciate you as a friend–and a writer–so very much.

-My Ginger Friend: There are so many other ways to describe you. So many adjectives and verbs are suitable to describe our dumb stories and eventful past couple of months. However, after I stupidly made the comment that you should be lucky you don’t have red hair–even though you clearly do– it is the best way that I can describe you. You are so much joy in my life. Real, pure joy. You’re in a bad mood? You don’t take it out on me. You’re stressed? You don’t take it out on me. You are always laughing, smiling or on some sort of story-worthy adventure. I enjoy the time I spend with you. Who else goes to the library to study and pulls out bag after bag of study food? (Which, of course, gets eaten while no homework or studying is accomplished?) I am so thankful for the smiles, laughters and forever memories you add to my life.

-My Wild Friend: As I’ve mentioned before, you know how you have impacted and continue to impact my life. Forever, I am thankful for you.

-My Long-term Friend: I say long-term because I’ve known you the longest out of any close friend that I have to this day. We met back in the first grade–and starting out in the big adult world– we are still friends. You are the other side of my mirror, you balance me out. You are slow to speak and more reserved. I run my mouth without and thought and seem to out-speak others. Our few arguments are rooted one some of the important points of our friendship. Whether it be complaining over boys, trying to set each other up with guys or hanging out talking for hours, I enjoy the time I get to spend with you. We have more miles between us now, but our friendship has no distance. I am so thankful for you and the rock that you are in my life.

My Forever Friend- Every friendship goes through little fights or some distanced time, right? However, our friendship has been split apart and brought back together by works that couldn’t be anything other than God. You are my forever friend because we have grown so close. There is something about our friendship that can never be broken now. I appreciate adventurous person that you are. You are always telling me, “Ohhhh, go get ’em!” It doesn’t matter whether the situation is boys, chasing dreams or doing something stupid, you are there cheer me on. You have faith in my dreams. You don’t allow me to think I am worth or deserve anything less than the best. You believe that my dreams are all within my reach and for that, I am so thankful to have you as a friend forever.


Happy November!

Hang in There, Kiddo

Your mom has lived life without you, she had a life before you. You have never known life without her.


When I thought of this, it was such a weird concept to digest. My mom had done just fine without me. She had known life without me and well, … she had survived. Contrary, from the moment she brought me into this world, I have always needed her. I couldn’t make it through life without her. Not only did she change my diapers as a baby, teach me how to walk, refused to give up on me during my tantrum phases or pushed me in academics and life, she shared some very important words in life that have stuck with me even after I left for college. These are things that I catch myself remembering randomly or during different situations as I venture through life.

  • When I was little, I wrote through journals and loved the writing time during classes. Yes, I actually read books purely for enjoyment and interest. I discovered that I love writing and I wanted to do it for a career. I wanted to be an author and doing that was something that most people didn’t view as a realistic goal. I remember being pouty and losing my motivation to follow my dreams. I complained to my mom. I told her it was so unrealistic and I shouldn’t try. My mom wouldn’t have it. There was no pity-party. She simply told me that I could do it if I set my mind to it. What makes my goal possible for someone who has already accomplished it compared to myself? Since then, I have never thought any goal to be out of reach or too big to accomplish.
  • Sometimes, life just sucks. Things are hard. Really, things just get down-right difficult. During one of those particular times, I remember sitting on my mom’s bed just crying. It was a low point when you are in your mom’s room in the middle of the night sobbing, looking for the slightest point of direction or advice. “I can’t say that I know what you’re going through,” she said, “but I can promise you that you won’t have to go through it alone.” When she said this, it was an eye-opening moment. Everyone has someone. I was reminded that no matter the situation–happy or sad– someone would be with me along the way. They didn’t have to be in the same shoes as me, but they would at least help me through it.
  • My parents came up with the most random nickname for each of us three children. Based on the T.V. show he adored well into adulthood, my brother was called Scooby. My sister, known for writing her initials on each and every possession of hers (trying to enforce that idea that nobody would even think about touching what belonged to her), became O.M.S. To properly mock her, you would have to spit these three letters out very fast, to the point where they all blended together in a short, jumbled mess. Each of us–at one point or another–were called “kid” or “kiddo.” I didn’t mind this nickname, I kind of liked it actually. It was a quick revert back to childhood, to actually being care-free. There was one particular time that I loved this word. During an especially hard time, my mom wrote me a note. She knew that I was struggling and so, she ended the note with the best advice I’ve ever gotten from her: “Hang in there, kiddo!” Reading that encouragement immediately made me feel like I was being hugged by her–it gave me a comforting sense of feeling like home. So, for all it is worth, hang in there, kiddo.
  • My mom was the biggest “I love you” person during my entire childhood. She would tell me she loved me relentlessly. It wasn’t out of habit. It wasn’t out of requirement. She chose to love me. Sometimes, I ignored her. I brushed those three words off like they were nothing. Not until I was older, I didn’t realize that she meant what she said and the impact that phrase really had on me. It was an encouragement at times, it was a rock to lean on at times, and it was the foundation in which we had built our mother-daughter relationship. Rooting it in love, we were able to become closer and at least try to understand each other. So for all the times I didn’t say it back, I love you too, Mom.

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18 Things My Dad Taught Me by 18

Being a “daddy’s girl” was something I never wanted to be labeled growing up. To me, those girls were not independent and relied on their dad for everything. Truly, I despised the label. However, as I packed up and left for my freshman year of college, I found myself crying more than ever when hugging my dad good-bye. After all these years of trying to avoid being a daddy’s girl, I realized that I was more of one than I thought ever possible. I missed my dad and I learned–as I was trying to adjust to being on my own–that he had taught me many things. These were some of the most important life lessons that I will ever  learn, and he taught me them practically by accident… just by being my dad and being there for me. Some of these things were just in how he raised me to be tough, independent and maintaining my character.

However these apply to me, I do know that they are universal lessons, and maybe, one of these 18 important things that my dad taught me by the age of 18 will continue to come in handy as I continue to grow up and live life.


  1. Treat each and every person you meet with respect.
  2. Someone will always be better than you, but never let that stop you.
  3. Break the rules.
  4. Expand the different types of people you hang out with. Make connections everywhere through everyone.
  5. Learn football (and hopefully, love the sport).
  6. If you don’t believe in yourself, nobody else will either.
  7. Never underestimate the power of prayer in any situation.
  8. Look out for your family, always.
  9. Don’t ever hesitate to call your dad– no matter how major or minor the situation.
  10. If you are determined, don’t let anyone stop you.
  11. Find humor in every situation. (Especially when you’re mad enough to cuss. Replace the profanity with a word such as “poop” and watch as the anger turns to laughter.)
  12. Dumb choices can make the best stories.
  13. When life hits you, hit back twice as hard.
  14. Find that person you can trust with your life and don’t let them go. They are the type of friend to keep around an entire lifetime.
  15. Life happens. Don;t be afraid to ask for help.
  16. When your dad is there to defend you, let him. Be thankful.
  17. Pursue what you love. Unless it is a guy, and that guy is a jerk. Then move on.
  18. Rock on.

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So, for whatever it is worth, Thanks Dad.

-Caroline

An Open Letter to My Wild Friend

We learned how to go our separate ways last year, and for a while, I had the thought–more of a slight fear– that living more than just ten minutes apart would be when we would start to have a lot of distance in our friendship. I would still be in high school and you would be starting a new chapter of your life in college. But what I feared, I quickly learned was actually silly. I mean, we had survived not one, but two, vacations together. (Not every friendship can survive that). We had gone on adventures, hung out with each other’s family often, and even gotten to know each other’s pets like our own. That is a long-lasting friendship. Now, as I prepare for my first year away from home at college, I know that because of our friendship over the years, that I am ready for this next adventure in life. As I was thinking back on people that got me to this place I am today, you are one of them that helped me get to this point. This is thank you, an open letter, to you; my wild friend.


"she's a wild child, gotta rebel soul with a whole lotta gypsy, wild child."  -Kenny Chesny
“she’s a wild child, gotta rebel soul with a whole lotta gypsy, wild child.”
-Kenny Chesny

How we are friends, I honestly have no idea sometimes. The two of us are alike in many ways, but we are totally different people in so many ways. We come from similar backgrounds and families alike, but the two of us could not be more unique from each other. Our friendship sparked out of absolutely nowhere and in the same week that we became friends we instantly opened up to each other, shared those secrets that only close, trusted friends are allowed to know, and decided to go on vacation together the upcoming week. We gave our friendship a shot and it worked out better than expected, because to this day, you are still one of my absolute best friends.

You, my wild friend, have taught me a lot over the years. A lot about myself.

I think it is true that people enter your life at certain times, and sometimes, those people actually save you in a way. And you, my wild friend, saved me from dumb choices, dumb boys and a dull high school journey. I owe you a big thanks.

My wild friend, you have always been wild. It radiates off of you in more way than one. Even with just your fashion, you are wild. You go against trends, what is acceptable by society’s fashion standard and you honestly do not care. You encourage to be daring by what you wear and it is inspiring. It shows that you do not care what people think of you.

You are bold with your words. (Also loud at times, but that is ignored by how awesome you are). You speak your mind, but you speak it clearly and with boldness that makes people want to listen to what you have to say. You speak with positivity. You speak with confidence. But what is most admiring about how you speak, is how you speak for others. You speak for those that may not have a voice, you speak for those who are scared to raise their voice and you speak for the people that need it most. You spoke up for me when I was treated like crap, when I let a guy talk to me in a way I shouldn’t be treated, when I was scared to speak. You spoke for me when I couldn’t speak for myself, and for that, I am forever grateful.

You take risks. Honestly, sometimes those risks scare me and you know I’ll be scolding you about it when you tell me the story. But still, I really admire you for that. You like to live your life on edge. You are an adventure yourself. I owe you a big “thank you” for the adventures you’ve taken with me in life. By that, I mean that you have encouraged me to take chances, go on dates I would probably not go on, and learn about myself along the way. I learned I can’t live my life on the edge, but at times dangling over the side of danger, I have really enjoyed. I have you to thank for that. I know what my limits are on adventure, I know what I do and don’t like and I know things that I don’t ever care to be around again, but I have learned a lot along the way. I have expanded my social circle, grown my personality and learned to love and appreciate my family and friends more.

You, my wild friend, understand me. We can go from being stupid and crazy to stopping and having serious conversations in a matter of seconds. You listen when I need to vent. You give advice and you know when to just shut up and listen to my rants. You have literally wiped away my tears, taken place as an honorary daughter in my family, and understood me like no other. You have held my hand when I needed a moment of comfort for hurt feelings, you have helped me shoot for my dreams and career (even if it may not be totally realistic), and you never give up on me. You yell at me, you listen to me and you always make time for me. For all that you have done to help me out these past years, I have so much to thank you for. You, my wild friend, are everything I have ever needed in a close friend to help mend a broken heart, calm down from fights with other friends, and learn how to talk things out with my parents.

You have spoken up for me. You have taught me to speak up for myself. You have looked out for me when I didn’t even know what was headed my way. You have became a loved friend by my parents and siblings. You fill my life with awesomeness by the stories that you share with me. You have helped me to grow as a person. You have helped me get to where I am now in life, and where I am now is such a happy place.

I hope someday, somehow, I can at least return to you half of the favor for the role you have taken in my life as such a close, wild friend.


I love you, I appreciate you & I am so glad we are friends; my wild friend.

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