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

Pushing Through the Pain Towards Victory in Jesus | alyssajhoward.com

Pushing Through the Pain Towards Victory in Jesus

When I find myself exhausted during a long run, it’s easy for me to concentrate on how tired and weak I feel. If I stayed in that mindset, however, I would probably find myself defeated. I have to change my thoughts in order to find the strength to keep going. I need to remind myself to breathe and to persevere. I tell myself that pushing through the pain will be worth it.

 

It is during these difficult moments that I develop the most strength as a runner, and the same is true in life. Learning to endure during a difficult run is very similar to enduring through life’s struggles. If life was never difficult, we wouldn’t have the opportunity for growth.

We usually learn more through our struggles than we do in the good times.

 

We all endure trials. It’s easy to feel like you’re the only one struggling or that your struggles are somehow more difficult than the struggles of others. The truth, however,  is that every person on this planet endures tough times. We all have a story to tell when it comes to the battles life has thrown our way. 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.

 

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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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5 Ways to Never Fear the Course God Has Placed You On | alyssajhoward.com

5 Ways to Never Fear the Course God Has Placed You On

A successful runner is ready for all of the challenges that may come. If they are preparing to race on a course with many hills, they focus on hill training. If they are training for a trail run, they will spend their time on trails. Their training will reflect the upcoming race they are about to run.

The same is true in our walk with God. He will often lead us through different terrains so that our faith and endurance grow. He knows the “race” we are preparing for, and He is faithful to “train” us appropriately. The road ahead can often be intimidating. It’s easy to allow fear to take over when you are “walking through the valley of the shadow of death” as David so eloquently put it. But David chose not to fear. He knew that he wasn’t alone on that road – and neither are we. Continue Reading

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

The True Purpose of Marriage (according to the Bible) | alyssajhoward.com

The True Purpose of Marriage (according to the Bible)

We all know the statistics. Marriage is hard. But the truth about marriage is that with the right perspective (and help from the Holy Spirit), it can be one of the greatest blessings of our lives. One of the first things we have to remember about marriage is that it was originally God’s idea. (Genesis 2:18, 21-22) Not only that, but He outlines the true purpose of marriage in His Word. 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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Training for the Hills: When Life Feels Like an Uphill Battle

As a runner, it is important to never give up on the hills. Stay steady, maintain your form, and you will reach the top. The same is true in life.

Hill training can be very intimidating for the novice runner. Because I spend most of my time running indoors on a treadmill, I sometimes forget about hill training altogether. Training is essential, however, when it comes to tackling hills. Whether going uphill or downhill, both present a new set of challenges. And these challenges help us to grow as athletes – both mentally and physically. Continue Reading

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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