Seasons May Change, But God Never Will | alyssajhoward.com

Seasons May Change, But God Never Will

Seasons May Change, But God Never Will | alyssajhoward.comSeasons come and go, and every season gives us something to enjoy and celebrate. In the summer we get late nights, fireworks, swimming, and play dates. The fall brings pumpkins, cooler weather, and homemade pie. Winter is when things get chilly. We celebrate Christmas, play in the snow, and drink hot cocoa. And finally there’s spring. We get to enjoy flowers, birds singing, and lots of rain. (I love the rain!)

My house is always decorated for the season. I literally change my décor every 3 months. Yes, that sounds a little crazy, but I love it. I especially enjoy putting out the fall decorations. The colors are so pretty and cozy! The only thing I don’t enjoy about the seasons is how fast they come and go. It’s really easy to just let them fly by.

 

The Bible tells us that there is a time for everything. Every aspect of this life has its season.

 

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Finish Strong: A Lesson In Finishing the Race

I remember it well. I was a gymnast at the time, and I had just fallen off the balance beam in competition. As I was getting back up onto the beam to finish my routine, I could hear my team mates shouting from the sidelines, “Finish strong!”

Those two words have been engrained in my head ever since my days as a competitive gymnast. It was so easy to let a big mistake or a fall get the best of you. Allowing a fall to ruin your concentration could easily lead to more devastating mistakes. Those two words were a great reminder to forget the mistake and to move forward.

I could never undo the fall, but I could choose to have a strong finish.

 

Now as a runner, I still find that I need to remind myself to finish strong. When I have a rough day training, it’s hard to not let it ruin my training for the week…or worse ruin my mindset for an upcoming race. Continue Reading

Something Worth Imitating

Something Worth Imitating | alyssajhoward.comHave you ever noticed how toddlers like to imitate everything we do as adults? My two-year-old literally “baked” cookies today for all of her animal friends. She even wore her oven mitt when taking her pretend cookies out of her pretend oven. She loves to imitate mommy. My one-year-old is the same way, only she copies her sister as well. She is always trying to do all of the cool things that her big sister is doing. It’s quite adorable if I do say so myself! Unfortunately, little ones also pick up on our bad habits. I’ve learned the hard way that I need to be careful to live a life worth imitating around my girls. They imitate everything I do…both good and bad.

Children are always watching and learning, even when we don’t think they are.

 

I think we sometimes forget that as Christians the world is watching us. They watch us succeed, and they watch us fail. They observe how we cope with life’s struggles and how we deal with anger and disappointment. They watch how we speak to others (or about others) and also how we raise our children. They see our marriages, both good and bad. It’s easy to go about life and forget that the world is watching, but they are. Continue Reading

Point of View: Where Do You Stand? | alyssajhoward.com

Point of View: Where Do You Stand?

Point of View: Where Do You Stand? | alyssajhoward.comSo much of life is what we choose to make of it. How we see ourselves and the world around us truly impacts the life we lead. While I was online the other day, I couldn’t help but notice all of the inspirational quotes that people shared through social media. It seems that everyone is looking for a little inspiration. We know that staying positive can change our outlook on life; but when push comes to shove, it can be difficult to not be brought down by the people around us or difficult circumstances we encounter.

 

Many of us need a paradigm shift. We need to view life from a different angle. Catchy and inspirational quotes may tug at your heart-strings; but until you make a permanent change to your point of view, you will always end up back where you started.

 

Picture this: If you were to stand on your back patio and look north, what would you see? Now close your eyes and imagine a beautiful ocean with white sandy beaches. If you opened your eyes, would anything have changed? Nope. You would still be looking at the same thing that was there before. Wishing to see something differently cannot change what you are looking at. The only way to change what you see is to move and look at something else. Continue Reading

Choose Joy! 3 Keys to True Happiness

Choose Joy: 3 Keys to True Happiness | alyssajhoward.comJoy is something we all hope for. I haven’t met a person yet who didn’t have the desire to find true happiness and contentment in life, and we all search for it in different ways. We focus on our careers, our families, helping others, our faith, etc. all in the hope of finding true joy.

An American author named Tom Bodett once said that in order to be truly happy in this life we all need “someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for.” If we look at his quote through biblical eyes, I do believe he’s correct. Continue Reading

The Fear That Sets You Free | alyssajhoward.com

The Fear That Sets You Free

The Fear That Sets You Free | alyssajhoward.comI think it’s safe to say that we are all afraid of something. In this world we are taught to be brave and face our fears head on, but that’s usually easier said than done. For many of us, fear truly is our greatest enemy. It keeps us from being at peace and enjoying life. It also keeps us from living the abundant life God has given us.

 

For the sake of my own curiosity, I decided to do an internet search for some of our most common fears. The following is a list of what I found:

  1. Circumstances (heights, enclosed spaces, the dark, etc.)
  2. Animals/Insects (spiders, snakes, wild animals, etc.)
  3. Nature (hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, etc.)
  4. Man (terrorists, thieves, murderers, etc.)
  5. Ourselves/Emotional Fears (public speaking, intimacy, failure, rejection, commitment, etc.)
  6. Death (what it will be like, life after death, not leaving a legacy, etc.)

 

I see one major thing in common with every fear listed above – they are all fears of things in this world. The Bible tells us that as children of God, we have nothing in this world to fear. (Psalm 27:1-3) Continue Reading

Have You Met My Dad? | 8 Attributes of our Heavenly Father | alyssajhoward.com

Have You Met My Dad? | 8 Attributes of our Heavenly Father

I am one of the lucky ones. I’m fairly certain that I have the best dad in the entire world. (Although, I may be a little bit biased…) One of my very first memories as a child was the time my dad took me to get ice cream after a traumatic fall landed me in urgent care in need of stitches. I must have been around three-years-old at the time, but I remember it well. I actually remember him carrying me while we picked out which flavor of ice cream I would get.

 

Have You Met My Dad? | 8 Attributes of our Heavenly Father | alyssajhoward.com Continue Reading

Pace Yourself

One of the most important aspects of running is learning how to pace yourself. For starters, you have to pace your overall training. When working towards an upcoming race, it’s important to not push yourself too hard. Training properly involves a gradual progression of miles and speed. Pushing yourself too hard, too fast will ultimately result in injury and burnout.

Another way a runner paces themselves is during their individual runs. For me personally, I have a much easier time pacing myself during training than I do during races. It’s so easy to get excited about a race and to start running too fast in the beginning. Unfortunately, I burn myself out too quickly and have no energy left to finish the race. I literally have to remind myself to slow down when I start running.

 

We are often told that hard work will pay off in the end. At what point, however, do we cross the line between working hard and working too hard to accomplish our goals? Just as runners run the risk of burning out when training, we run the risk of burning out when we push ourselves too hard in our day-to-day lives. Continue Reading

Who Is Your Master? | alyssajhoward.com

Who Is Your Master?

Who Is Your Master? | alyssajhoward.comIn our freedom driven culture, the term “master” seems to be a thing of the past. The Bible tells us that as believers, we must have the heart of a servant. If that’s true, then there must be a master. We all serve something. We are fooling ourselves to believe that we don’t. We serve ourselves, our careers, our families, our own personal pleasures…the list goes on. The Bible is clear, however, that we can only serve one master at a time. Being loyal to one typically requires us to be disloyal to another.

 

No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth. – Matthew 6:24 (NASB)

 

I find it very interesting that when discussing the concept of two masters, Jesus uses money as the possible second master. During this particular section of the famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus decides to focus on wealth and possessions. He clearly demonstrates how easy it for us to serve money instead of God. Jesus tells us to store up treasures in heaven instead of focusing on earthly wealth. He also tells us not to worry about basic needs like food and clothing.

So how does money become a master in our lives? It becomes our master when we let it consume our thoughts. We look to money to meet our needs instead of God.

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A Realistic Look at the Virtuous Woman of Proverbs 31

When speaking of the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31, Bible teachers often focus on the attributes that make her a good mother, wife, and keeper of the home. But this passage goes far beyond that. It describes her as a woman who is well-rounded with a good head on her shoulders… smart and resourceful. The virtuous woman in Proverbs 31 provides both food and clothing for her family as well as her servants, manages the home and its finances, takes care for the needy, sells her own handiwork, and speaks wisdom and teaching to others. (She is one busy lady!) Continue Reading

Taming the Tongue: Why It May Be Time for a Heart Check | alyssajhoward.com

Taming the Tongue: Why It May Be Time for a Heart Check

The Bible is clear that we have a choice to make. We can choose to speak words of life or words of death. Our words can lift others up and encourage them, or they can cause irrevocable destruction. I know that I’m not alone in admitting that my words have landed me in trouble from time to time. I’ve certainly said some things that I’m not proud of.

 

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It's Okay to Rest: Finding Peace in the Midst of Hard Work | alyssajhoward.com

It’s Okay to Rest: Finding Peace in the Midst of Hard Work

I decided to start seriously running about 8 weeks after my second daughter was born. I was anxious to get back into shape, and running seemed like a perfect solution. Since then, I have spent most of my training days indoors on a treadmill.

Finding the time to run outdoors with two children under the age of two can be extremely difficult. (I commend anyone who tries!) With that being said, I finally made it outdoors and ran a 12K race on a challenging course with lots of hills… and hills aren’t exactly easy to train for on a treadmill. Needless to say, my legs were a bit sore!

I pushed myself pretty hard during this race, and my body needed some time to recover. After months of regular training, I found it extremely difficult to take a few days off. My head knew that my body needed to rest from the race, but my heart was dying to get back on that treadmill. Continue Reading

5 Reasons Why Prayer is More Than Bringing Requests to God | alyssajhoward.com

5 Reasons Why Prayer is More Than Bringing Requests to God

We talk a lot about prayer requests in church. We pray for our loved ones, our country, ourselves, and the list goes on. But here’s a part of us that knows we are called to make prayer more personal… to use this time to not just ask God for things, but to thank Him for His blessings and to spend time in His presence. Jesus is regularly seen in the Gospels praying and seeking after His Father’s heart. This is why prayer is essential to our faith. It’s our direct line of communication to God.

 

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A Question of Identity: Who Are You Really? | alyssasjhoward.com

A Question of Identity: Who Are You Really?

Are you a follower of Christ? It’s a simple yes or no question. In Matthew chapter 26, it was a question that Peter couldn’t answer. Of all people, one would think that a disciple of Jesus could have answered that question with ease. He had walked and talked with Jesus. He had witnessed all of his miracles and teachings. Yet when put to the test, he failed. Peter could not identify himself as one of Christ’s followers.

 

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True Love is Patient (even when we don't want to be) | alyssajhoward.com

True Love is Patient (even when we don’t want to be)

1 Corinthians 13 is known as the Bible’s “love” chapter. You may have heard it quoted at weddings… Christian and non-Christian alike. The chapter gives us a long list of character traits that true love exhibits. One thing I find particularly interesting about this passage is that the very first attribute listed is patience. (Everyone’s favorite – right?) Yes, true love is patient, which makes the opposite true as well. A lack of patience means we are not operating in love.

 

True Love is Patient (even when we don't want to be) | alyssajhoward.com Continue Reading