Victory at the Finish Line: Building Endurance in Our Faith

One of my favorite things about running is that the results are tangible. Growth can easily be measured by time and distance. Just five months ago, I competed in my first half marathon. This weekend, I will be racing in my second. I can’t begin to tell you how different it is training for this race versus my last one.

In my first half marathon, my goal was simply to finish. When beginning my training, 13.1 miles seemed like an incredible distance…one that seemed nearly impossible. I achieved my goal, but not without my fair share of physical and mental exhaustion. It was hard. Not to say that training for my second half marathon has been easy, but it has certainly proven to be less exhausting. 13.1 miles doesn’t seem quite as daunting this time around. Continue Reading

Love Defined: How to Experience True Love That Is Unshakable

I believe with all of my heart that the greatest love story ever told is the one between God and man. It amazes me that an all-knowing, perfect God would go through such great lengths to be with me. God chose to look beyond my mess to see who I could become in Him. He endured the cross, even as I was unfaithful and lost in sin. In my own human strength, I could never imagine loving someone as unconditionally as God loves me. But God’s Word tells me that I can love others because God (who is love) lives in me. Continue Reading

Love Defined: Loving Others the Way God Loves Us

Everything God does is for our own good, and the Bible says that He is quick to forgive. We live in a culture, however, that is self-absorbed, loves to argue, and is quick to burn bridges when it comes to hurt and offense. So when Jesus taught us to love others the way He loves us, He was calling us to something radical, something completely counter-cultural. Continue Reading

Love Defined: Four Things That Will Destroy Love

Paul begins his definition of true love in 1 Corinthians 13 by telling us what love is…patient and kind. He goes on to tell us, however, what love isn’t. There are four things can and will destroy love if given the chance. Allowing these “weeds” to take root in our hearts and minds may not seem like a big deal, but they can easily become major problems in our lives if we allow them to grow. Continue Reading

Love Defined: Choosing Patience When You Want to Complain | alyssajhoward.com

Love Defined: Choosing Patience When You Want to Complain

My 3-year-old broke her arm this week. I must say that she is one tough kid. Not only did she barely cry, but she went on playing as if nothing had happened. It wasn’t until the next morning that I even noticed she was favoring that arm. No swelling. No bruising. I took her in to get an x-ray and sure enough, it was broken. Continue Reading

Love Defined: It's More than a Feeling | alyssajhoward.com

Love Defined: It’s More than a Feeling

Love is such a cliché word these days. I can love God, love my family, love my life, and so on. But I can also love shopping, cooking, and being extremely organized. In all honesty, the word “love” is seriously overused in our American culture today. Continue Reading

The Truth About Marriage: It's a Covenant, Not a Contract | alyssajhoward.com

The Truth About Marriage: It’s a Covenant, Not a Contract

We live in a culture that is very contract-minded. We make promises to one another, often in writing, but if one person doesn’t hold up their end of the deal, the contract is canceled. In other words, the contract can be broken if one party decides not to keep their word. We do this to protect ourselves. We don’t want to have to hold up our end of the deal if the other party is unwilling to hold up theirs.

A covenant, however, is a much deeper agreement – one that is binding. Covenants aren’t common in our culture today. We like to know that we can back out of an agreement if we’re not getting what we need or want out of it. In a marriage situation, we like to know that if our needs aren’t being met, we can choose to walk away and find someone else to meet them. Continue Reading

Finish Strong: Crossing the Finish Line After a Failure

I remember it well. I was a gymnast at the time, and I had just fallen off the balance beam in a 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 ingrained 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. Continue Reading

The Truth About Marriage and Our Call to Submit | alyssajhoward.com

The Truth About Marriage and Our Call to Submit

In today’s modern culture, submission in marriage is fairly controversial. We’ve been taught for generations that man is the “head of the household” and women are called to “submit to him in all things.” Many churches today teach that men and women are equal in God’s eyes, but they each have different roles to play. And in the end, the husband has the final say.

But I can’t stop thinking about this term “submission.” Because in my mind (and I know I’m not alone in feeling this way), submission by the world’s standard means blind obedience. It requires me to put myself under the authority of my husband in a way that dismisses my thoughts and feelings. I can’t help but envision the way a dog submits to his master. He obeys, honors, and respects the wishes of his owner. It’s this mentality that makes it so difficult for many wives to accept that this is God’s perfect will for marriage. Is this really what Paul had in mind when he called wives to submit to their husbands?
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Pushing Through the Pain Towards Your 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.

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Pace Yourself: Learning to Endure in the Faith

One of the most important aspects of running is learning how to pace yourself. It is essential for you to pace your overall training. When working towards an upcoming race, you can’t 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. Nerves and adrenaline kick in at the starting line, and I find myself running too fast in the beginning. I end up burning 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. Continue Reading

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

Good and Bad Communication: 9 Ways to Resolve Conflict in Marriage | alyssajhoward.com

Good and Bad Communication: 9 Ways to Resolve Conflict in Marriage

My husband and I took a cruise for our honeymoon. During one of the shows, they brought a couple up on stage who had been married over 50 years. And when asked how they did it, the husband replied, “Two words… I’m sorry!” Then the wife replied, “I forgive you!” We all had a good laugh at the time, but their advice proved to be incredibly wise. Marital conflict is inevitable, but a lot of it could be avoided if we would simply learn to listen, communicate effectively, and admit when we are wrong. Continue Reading

3 Negative Attitudes That Will Destroy Your Marriage | alyssajhoward.com

3 Negative Attitudes That Will Destroy Your Marriage

The Bible tells us to fix our thoughts on “what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable.” (Philippians 4:8) This outlook on life affects every aspect of our lives – including our marriage. The enemy likes to use our negative attitudes and thoughts to suck the joy out of marriages. But the good news is that we don’t have to let him. Continue Reading

The Truth About Marriage: Love is a Choice | alyssajhoward.com

The Truth About Marriage: Love is a Choice

As crazy as it sounds, divorce is almost seen as a rite of passage in today’s culture. It’s certainly seen as a viable option when our marriages hit rough times. The problem with this thinking is that ALL marriages hit rough times. So based on our culture’s standard, all marriages have times where divorce could be on the table as an option. Continue Reading