When Detours Lead to the Best Destinations

About a year ago, what I thought was my life came crashing to the ground. It wasn’t what I would have ever expected to be in the story of my life, but looking back, I am so incredibly thankful that God decided to wreck my plans!

If you know me you know I like being able to have a plan for everything (and back up plans). Sometimes no matter how much or how far in advance we make plans, they’ll never see the light of day. Sometimes the actions of others leave destruction that can never be fixed, no matter how hard we try.

I felt like the biggest failure. I had myself convinced that if I had been better/done better, maybe it would have changed things. There were times I felt pretty worthless, but then I’d remember the sweet little boy that calls me ‘mama’.

I’m not the same broken girl I was a year ago. I’ve had to grow in ways I never imagined possible. I’ve had to learn to drop the act and quit pretending that things are okay when they absolutely are not! I’ve had to let myself lean on my friends and family and let them love on me and Kaz. I’ve had to keep showing up on days when the weight of the world seemed so incredibly heavy.

I’d never wish what I went through on my worst enemy, but I am thankful for the breaking down that lead to me being rebuilt better than I ever would have been otherwise. I am so thankful for the people it’s brought me too. Sometimes the best things in life are the ones that we never had on our calendar but God always did!

So as I am almost to the finish line of being able to close this chapter of my life, I am so incredibly excited and hopeful for the future!

XOXO,
Leah

Crumbl Copycat Snickerdoodle Cookies

Happy Friday, y’all!

Like most people, I’ve been trying out tons of new recipes since the start of Covid. I love cooking and baking anyways, but the extra time home has given me the chance to try recipes I normally wouldn’t.

Enter this Crumbl copycat recipe from Cooking with Karli!

If you haven’t heard of them, Crumbl is a family founded cookie business based out of Utah that offers different flavors (with the exception of their famous milk chocolate chip and classic pink sugar cookies) each week!

Karli has made it her mission to recreate these gourmet cookies and share her recipes!

I’ve always loved snickerdoodle cookies. There’s just something about them and that cinnamon and sugary goodness. Paired together with the cream cheese icing, and it’s a match made in Heaven!

These Snickerdoodle cookies have quickly become my new favorites! They have the perfect amount of structure so they’re not falling apart in your hands with just the right amount of softness when you bite in. Topped with a generous amount of vanilla cream cheese icing and finished with a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar makes them a delicious treat to save for yourself or share with friends!

To try this recipe out for yourself or one of Karli’s other recipes, check out her blog: Cooking With Karli!

XOXO,
Leah

Share the Love: Beachbody on Demand

Happy Sunday, y’all!

Almost two years ago I finally took the plunge and decided to see what Beachbody was all about. I had tried a few workouts here and there over the years, but nothing consistently. With a baby and single parenting, there wasn’t really time to go to the gym nor was it that appealing anymore.

What I did know was that I wanted to start feeling better again; physically, mentally, emotionally, etc.

I’ve always been someone that feels my best when I’m able to get my body moving on a daily basis, and if we’re being honest, I hated how I felt during most of my pregnancy and post-partum. I had been around the same weight for years, so even healthy weight gain was hard to accept.

About 7 months along

The way I saw it, I could have a pity party and continue to not feel great about myself, or I could pick myself back up and do something about it!

If you’ve been following along with me on Instagram, you know I chose the later!

Don’t get me wrong, there are still days I don’t want to workout, but not being able to make it to the gym is no longer an excuse. Now I can make it work for me and my life. First thing in the morning? Great! Not having time until after Kaz is in bed for the night? That’s great too!

With the help of Beachbody and the nutrition programs they offer, I understand how to properly fuel my body and worry way less about the calories than I did before. I’ll be the first to tell you that I still eat cookies and pizza, and I still drink soda once in a while. Now my body is getting everything it needs, and I’ve found a healthy balance between the fun fuel (cookies, pizza, chocolate, etc.) and the nutritional fuel (veggies, fruits, protein, etc.)

I had always heard that you move through life and glow differently when you have good things and people in your life, and I can’t say enough how true that’s been!

Beachbody hasn’t only been a way for me to workout and eat. Through it I’ve gained a whole community of strong, kind, hard working, dedicated, and REAL people that just want to lift up and cheer each other on! I mean, couldn’t we all use more of that kind of energy in our lives?

Life can get kind of lonely when you’re trying to go it alone, but it doesn’t have to be.

Are you like I was and just looking for a way to make the changes you so desperately crave? Do you struggle coming up with meals that are good for you but also taste delicious too? How could you benefit from and improve your life by having that extra boost of support everyday?

Let me be your hype woman as you start your journey to a healthier and happier you! Here’s to 2022 being the year you fill your cup first before trying to pour into the other people and things in your life. It’s time to make yourself a priority again!

Let’s connect! I can’t wait to hear from you!

XOXO,
Leah

Homemade Cinnamon Dolce Syrup

I love a hot cinnamon dolce latte from Starbucks, but with the recent shortage in the syrup I figured it was time to figure out how to make it at home! I love how easy this is to make, and having it at home is so much more convenient than driving to get it whenever the craving strikes.

What You’ll Need

  • 1 1/2 cups of Water
  • 1 Tbs Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1 cup Granulated Sugar
  • 4 Cinnamon Sticks
  • Container of choice with lid

You’ll start off by combining the water, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and cinnamon sticks in a medium saucepan. Bring to a low boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for about 15 minutes.

Remove saucepan from heat before adding in the vanilla extract and removing the cinnamon sticks.

Transfer the syrup to your container and allow to cool before refrigerating.

Syrup can be stored in the fridge for up to six months.

More Grace, Less Perfection

Happy first Monday of 2022, y’all!

I have an endless number of notes in my phone that I just jot things down as they come to mind. Some of them I share, but others I keep for myself. I love being able to go back and read my thoughts from different seasons of life!

Today, as I started a new lifestyle challenge, 75 Medium, with some friends to kick off the new year and get back into the swing of things after a busy holiday season it got me thinking about the whole “new year, new me” mentality. (Side Note: check out my Instagram ’75 Medium’ highlight or shoot me a message if you want to learn more!)

So here’s your friendly reminder:

It’s okay if you don’t have huge goals/resolutions for the year. It’s okay if your goals from last year got derailed, because life happens. Every goal and accomplishment, no matter how small they seem, is worthy of celebrating! It’s more than okay if you’re not out there shouting “new year, new me!”

You want to know a secret? Just because it’s a new year doesn’t mean you magically shed your old shelf and step into some perfect version you’ve created in your head.

So while you’re scrolling and looking at the highlight reels of others (because that’s what a lot of social media is), I hope you remember that everyone is just doing the best that they can.

Your meals don’t have to be Instagram worthy or even homemade every night for that matter. Your house doesn’t have to be perfectly clean. God knows that with a toddler, mine never is! Your workout clothes don’t have to be a cute matching set. You don’t have to have it all together all the time because that’s not real life!

My hope and prayer for you (and me) as we begin 2022 is that you give yourself more grace and expect less perfection, that you take time to see all of the good that there is in everyday, that you realize that taking care of yourself first is the least selfish thing you could ever do!

I hope you remember to be kind to yourself and that there are a million different ways to accomplish things in life. Just because your favorite influencer did it a certain way doesn’t mean it’s a one size fits all!

What are you hoping 2022 has in store for you?

XOXO,
Leah

That’s What Faith Can Do

John 13:7 says, “You do not understand what I am doing now, but someday you will.”

If we’ve talked at any point in the last several months, you probably know that this season of life had me crying out to God on a regular basis. I had never been broken down in this way before, and I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. This kind of soul crushing is relentless and comes and goes in waves, but it’s revealed just what I’m made of and who I truly belong to.

On the bad days, it’s had me questioning God in every single way. I just couldn’t understand why Kaz and I were being put through this. How could a good God allow this kind of thing to happen? That’s exactly what the devil wanted me to believe though, and it would have been so freaking easy to ya’ll.

The crazy thing though? I am so incredibly grateful for this breaking down of what I thought my life was and who I thought I was. You see, it’s easy when you’re in something to make the excuses and convince yourself that things aren’t that bad or maybe if I would have done or not done something it could have been prevented. That’s a whole other issue to breakdown another day though.

Without going through this, I know I wouldn’t have been able to be rebuilt so much better than I was before. I wouldn’t have been forced to strengthen certain relationships in my life. I wouldn’t have specific people in my life at all had I not gone through this, and something about that is so beautiful to watch unfolding in the midst of everything else.

People tell me how strong they think I am. They say that they don’t think they’d be doing as well as I am right now, but I can also tell that people are waiting and watching to see if I fall apart again.

The truth? Part of me knows it’s expected of me to be sad and upset at the way things are unfolding. I did the whole sitting on the kitchen floor at 3:00 AM crying my heart out. I did the struggle through the day while pouring absolutely every last bit of energy I had into taking care of Kaz only to crumble the second he was asleep thing. I did the crying out to God when all I could get out was, “Why?”. Looking back, I’m starting to be able to see why this had to happen though.

I may never fully understand. That thought alone was paralyzing at the beginning of this all but not anymore. It’s true; I may never full understand, but I no longer feel the need to in order to move forward and on.

This season of life will always be marked by some of the darkest of days I have experienced thus far, but also some of the brightest. I have had family step up and in in ways I didn’t even know to ask for. I’ve had friends, both old and new, love me (and Kaz) so fiercely and be there for us especially when family was so far away.

Life has a crazy way of doing that though, and God has an oh so perfect way of giving and taking exactly what is needed in or out of our lives.

These days I know I still have mountains to face, but instead of being scared by the size of it I’m reminded every single day that my God will always be bigger!

XOXO,
Leah

When It Wasn’t on your Calender

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again; 2021 has been a year for the books so far!

If you would have asked me at the beginning of it how I thought the year was going to go, I wouldn’t have even been close in my guesses. Just like you, I had hopes and plans for things I thought the year would bring and of course the non-negotiables that the Army throws in, but God had other things in mind.

I’m not the same person I was at the start of the year, but then again, is anyone?

I’ve had to change courses more than once. I’ve had to re-evaluate my priorities and start the process of letting go of things I thought I’d never have to let go of. I’ve started down paths that weren’t even on my radar. And honestly? If I would have been given the option of them, I would have run so fast in the opposite direction!

Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens”.

You see, I’m a planner. I like knowing what’s coming next. Most things in my life have had a list and sublists attached to them. I’m also so guilty of trying to control things that have never been mine to control. Maybe someday we’ll be able to sit down together, but for now I’ll spare you the details.

Most of this year has been defined by what’s felt like an uphill climb in which I’ve lost my footing more times than I’d like to admit.

Don’t get me wrong, there have been so many good and wonderful moments, honestly more than bad, that I am beyond grateful for! I have had so many people surround Kaz and I in the most amazing love and support. Just because there’s been so much good and growth though, doesn’t negate the bad, the tears cried, the damage done, or the questions left unanswered.

Genesis 50:20 says, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”

I know I wouldn’t be who I am today without the bad. I wouldn’t have had to look deep inside myself and to do and continue to do the hard work. I wouldn’t have cried out to God like I should have been doing all along. I wouldn’t have realized how misguided my faith has been in the wrong things and people for years. I would have never fully admitted that something I used to define myself by and find my identity in was never something God meant for me in the long run.

But you know what? I also wouldn’t know my true worth. I wouldn’t know that I could go through something so soul crushing and come out stronger and better than I’ve ever been. I wouldn’t know what it’s like to stare one of my biggest fears in the face and send it packing. I wouldn’t have experienced just how faithful God truly is!

One day I’m going to look back on this season of life and be able to tell the story of how I overcame this battle. Maybe, just maybe, it’ll end up being part of someone’s survival guide and a living testament that even when the giant seems big, how much bigger and greater is He who is within me than he who is in the world!

Share the Love: Raleigh Cheesy

If you live in the Raleigh/ Durham area, chances are you’ve heard of Raleigh Cheesy before! 

Courtney Bowman is the brains behind the operations and it all started in October of 2019. Raleigh Cheesy strive to offer hand-crafted cheese and charcuterie boards. From personal sized snack boxes to grazing tables to feed a whole party, there’s a little something for everyone.

In February 2021, their first brick and mortar location was opened at 1460 Chapel Ridge Road, Suite 170 in Apex, NC. Inside the charming store, you’re able to get grab and go snack boxes, pick up orders you placed online, place orders, and buy other items you might need to make your own board at home!

Raleigh Cheesy is located in Apex, NC at 1460 Chapel Ridge Road, Suite 170

I’ve had several of the snack boxes and love how convenient they are to just grab and take with; road trip snack, picnic in the park, movie night, etc. They really up the snack game with how delicious they are! Recently, Courtney also started offering private cheeseboard making classes at the store! It’s a great chance for you and some friends to get together and learn how to make the perfect cheeseboard!

To keep up to date with all the happenings and to see her drool worthy boards, check Raleigh Cheesy out on Instagram or see what all they have to offer at their website!

Charcuterie jars make for perfect appetizers for a large crowd!

When God Knows What You Never Will

Jeremiah 29:11 says “For I know the plans I have for you” declares the Lord “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Deuteronomy 31:8 says “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

To say that God has been fighting so fiercely for me in this season of life I’ve found myself in is an understatement. There have been days when the choices and actions of others have seemed like a weight too heavy to bear and it took everything in me to get up and do the things I needed to do that were going to be best for me and Kaz in the long run.

You see, God never promises us an easy life free from suffering or the trials of this world. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. We are told in John 16:33 “I have said these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Somedays I still struggle to fully let go and trust in the plan God already has for my life. It is so easy to get caught up in the world and what others say when it comes to how we should feel, act, and/or behave. It’s easy to get caught up in the lies and to be tempted by the path that does everything but bring glory to God and only draws us farther away from Him.

Right now, very few people would blame me for going down that path. While it may seem like a much easier option and one that offers me a momentary feeling of justice or satisfaction, at the end of the day those actions or words said don’t reflect anyone else but me and who I am in Christ (as cheesy as that sounds).

Everyday is a struggle to remind myself that I am a daughter of the Lord most high. Who He tells me I am will always count for more than what anyone else could ever say about me. In Him I am loved, cherished, redeemed, created in His perfect image. The same God that created Heaven, earth, and the mountains created me.

While I don’t understand now why this trial is in God’s plan for my life, I take comfort in knowing that He sees the things I can’t. He hears the conversations I never will. He knows everything about what’s going on, and I don’t. I take comfort in know that God is using all the things (the good, the bad, the happy, and the sad) to work together for my good.

Things of this world fail me on a daily basis, but I rest assured that God never will!

XOXO,
Leah

New Year, Best You Giveaway

Happy Monday and Happy New Year, y’all!

2020 was the year of figuring out how to do it all from home; work, school, Zoom, home workouts, etc.

It was a year that really showed just how strong we are and revealed exactly what we’re made of. It wasn’t always rainbows and butterflies, but then again, no year ever is.

It was filled with new trials and obstacles to overcome that we never even thought would be in our path, but if you’re reading this, you made it to the other side of 2020!

That deserves to be celebrated for the accomplishment it truly is!

To kick of and celebrate the start of a new year, I put together this giveaway with some of my favorite things that I’m bringing into 2021 from 2020!

GIVEAWAY PRIZE: (1) three month subscription to Beachbody on Demand, (1) 32 oz water bottle, (1) daily gratitude/joy journal, and (1) $25 Target gift card!

Head in over to my Instagram (@alongftride) to see how you can enter!

XOXO,
Leah