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

Happy Birthday, Baby Boy

Happy Thursday, ya’ll!

If you’re reading this, you can already guess from the title, what today is; It’s our sweet baby boy’s first birthday! One whole year ago on July 9th, this sweet boy made his debut and has stolen our hearts a little more each day!

This first year, we decided to not share a ton about our little babe just out of wanting to be overly cautious while we got the hang of this whole parenting thing along with navigating this Army life of ours.

While this is certainly not the way I had always imagined a first birthday would be (global pandemic, hundreds of miles away from family, deployment…) I wouldn’t change a thing.

As crazy as that sounds, this last year has stretched and challenged both me and my husband in ways we never thought possible. I didn’t even know growth in the ways we have was real. Don’t get me wrong though , we’re still just winging this whole parenting thing and doing the best we can. We are by no means experts nor will we ever be!

There is something so incredibly beautiful in all of this though.

Our sweet baby has had his daddy gone more than he’s been home. He’s lived (and still living) through a global pandemic. We stayed with Grandma and Pa for several months. 

He is silly and so expressive! He loves his Ailey girl and giving her pats. Reading stories and singing songs are his favorite things to do. He has ten teeth and knows how to sign and say different words. He crawls around the house like nobody’s business, and walking isn’t too far off! He has been so incredibly sweet and patient with his mama while she’s navigated this (temporary) single parenting gig. We really did luck out!

Happy 1st Birthday, sweet boy! If you remember nothing else I say to you, I hope you’ll always remember this; You are kind. You are smart. You are strong. Mama and daddy (and Ailey) love you!

Hi world, I’m Kaz!

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XOXO,
Leah

Military Life: Month of the Military Child

Happy Monday, y’all!

Did you know that April is the official Month of the Military Child? This is the month we recognize and celebrate the strength, bravery, flexibility, resiliency, and sacrifice that the littlest members of military families make everyday.

When my husband and I decided we wanted to try to expand our family, we knew that our little one would have a wildly different life than either of us did growing up.

In Baby K’s first year of life, his daddy will have been gone more than he’s been home. Heck, my husband was even gone for training over my due date!

While he doesn’t know life any other way, my husband and I do. We often wonder if this path we’ve picked is the right one or not.

We may not regret a second of this life we live and how far we’ve come, but that little bit of guilt is always there.

For our sweet baby it means a lot of confusion as to why we sometimes only talk to and see daddy through a screen. It means crying out for him in the middle of the night and him never coming. It means seeing a whole lot of mama and always looking for daddy.

As he gets older, it will mean having to say goodbye to friends more often than if we weren’t part of the military world. It will mean his daddy will have missed being there in person for major milestones like crawling, first words, and maybe even walking and first days of schools.

We are not the first family to face a deployment, and we certainly are not the last. There will be many more times where duty will take daddy away.

Our little boy is so kind and loving. He is made of tough stuff. He is resilient and flexible beyond belief. He is sacrificing more than he even knows while his daddy is away.

Today and every day, I am in awe of this military child of mine!

XOXO,
Leah

Finding Joy During Chaos

Happy Monday, y’all!

Gosh, have these last few weeks been a wild ride! i hope that this post finds you healthy and safe during these crazy times!

When 2020 started, I never would have guessed that this is where we would be at now. Then again, I don’t think anyone really would have!

I definitely believe that it’s important to stay informed and up to date on the happenings, but these days, I try not to focus too much on all of the nitty gritty details. I think if I did, I just very well might lose my mind in it all.

10 Things That Are Bringing Me Joy

1. My sweet baby boy and his endless giggles.

2. Being able to keep in touch with my husband via FaceTime while he’s deployed.

3. Being in a place that we’re able to get outside in the fresh air and sunshine during the day.

4. Such great friends that check in on us not only during these crazy times, but just in general.

5. Good health; both mine and those I care about.

6. Having the best parents ever that have let Baby K, Ailey, and I stay with them throughout this all.

7. Taking this time and #socialdistancing to give my skin a break from makeup and just breathe.

8. The best pup ever that snuggles in bed with me every night.

9. Being fortunate enough to get the things we need, both my husband and Baby K and I, without having to worry about money.

10. Having this space to connect with y’all.

What’s something that’s bringing you joy right now?

XOXO,
Leah

Military Life: Find Your Tribe

I’ve always been the kind of girl that had lots of friends, but it was more so because we were in classes or sports together. Most weren’t the kind that I felt I could reach out to whenever for anything at all.

It’s never been something that bothered me too much, but then marrying my husband happened. Now here we are living hundreds of miles from our home state and me realizing just how valuable a close group of friends truly is!

There have been quite a few times over the course of our marriage when it’s just been me and Ailey (now Baby K too) at the house while my husband is gone for a school or another training. Within the first two months of being married and living on base, he was gone a total of six weeks.

This lifestyle adjustment really forced me out of my comfort zone.

Suddenly I found myself reaching out to the other wives around me, even though the introvert in me was terrified. I found myself texting and messaging to make plans. I found myself working hard to consistently make the effort to check in to see how they’re doing.

When our washer died the night before my husband left for deployment, I found myself reaching out to a sweet friend to see if Baby K and I could come hang out and use their’s.

Side Note: Murphy’s Law is real, and if something bad can happen during a deployment, it probable will!

Looking back on the last three years of my husband’s service, everywhere I look I see another sweet friend that I was lucky enough to get to meet.

I was never the girl that had a tribe of friends, that is until I became a military wife.

XOXO,
Leah

 

Military Life: Real Talk About Deployment

Happy Monday, y’all!

I had another post written and all scheduled to go up today, but in wanting this to be where I share about real life and not just the pretty things, this post felt more real for right now.

If you’re part of a military family, chances are that you’ll face a deployment sooner or later. It’s just part of the job. Now that our sweet baby boy is in the world, I was hoping it would come later, but the Army had other plans for my husband.

Where before we would go about our days and wait for my husband to get home, now we wait for FaceTime calls or text messages. Somedays we’re blessed to get a nice long call in and other times we hear nothing at all. Sometimes, no news is good news!

With this being our first deployment, it’s taken me some time to get used to single parenting and finding a new normal for Baby K, Ailey, and myself. If I’m being honest, I’m still trying to figure it out.

Even what seems like the easiest of deployments for the soldier can be freaking hard for the ones left back home.

Don’t get me wrong, I am so thankful for this life we live and everything we are able to do and the amazing people we get to meet, but there are definitely days where I count down the minutes until I can start getting Baby K ready for bed so I can have a moment to breathe.

So while for the most part, this little family of mine is doing really well, even thriving, there is nothing I wouldn’t give to have our number one guy back home with us!

XOXO,
Leah