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

Racing to Win: 5 Principles That Will Prepare You for Ministry | alyssajhoward.com

Racing to Win: 5 Principles That Will Prepare You for Ministry

If you are a follower of Christ, you are in full-time ministry. Whether you are a pastor, a teacher, a nurse, an accountant, or a stay-at-home mom… you are called to represent Christ to everyone He has placed in your life. Pastors and teachers are wonderful (and we need them), but every believer is called to share Christ’s love, not just those in church leadership. Not all of us are called to be pastors or missionaries, but we are all called to serve, love others, and share the Gospel with those around us. 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

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

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

Why Embracing the Storms in Your Life is Essential for Growth | alyssajhoward.com

Why Embracing the Storms in Your Life is Essential for Growth

It was the first weekend in June, and my mother and I decided to run a 5k race. Neither of us was well prepared, but we knew we could probably pull off the short distance. We showed up to the race bright and early only to see a handful of people waiting there to run. What we had failed to notice that morning was the fact that the weather reports were calling for a torrential downpour right around the time the race would begin. Sure enough, they were right (which almost never happens – right?!) We barely got to the starting line when the heavens opened up unleashing a crazy amount of rain. Continue Reading

How to Be Prepared and Well-Trained as Believers | alyssajhoward.com

How to Be Prepared and Well-Trained as Believers

I can’t emphasize enough the importance of training when it comes to running. My very first race was a 12k, and unfortunately, I wasn’t too prepared for it. To be honest, I had just started running a few weeks prior to the race. I made it through, but it was incredibly painful. I was sore for days, and I’m pretty sure I pulled a muscle (or two). Needless to say, I will never try to do that again! Continue Reading