Linda Howard – Shades of Grace | Natalie Nichols- Shades of Grace | Natalie Nichols

Linda Howard

Kristin balance--colorShe was a  completely healthy, normal child…until age four, when one day without warning, Kristin Howard woke up with a flu.  Or, it mimicked a flu until that night when she entered a state of delirium.

The local hospital confirmed that meningitis was the cause and immediately sent her to Texas Children’s Hospital—a 3-hour drive.  By the time she and her mother, Linda, arrived, Kristin had drifted into a coma, the state in which she remained for over 6 weeks. Kristin could  speak when she came out of the coma but her behavior, which to some resembled that of an animal, displayed obvious signs of brain damage.

Kristin1Four to five days after returning home in that condition, Kristin began to have a grand mal seizure that wouldn’t end.  Once again, the local hospital tried everything in its power to help Kristin, giving her many medications to attempt to stop the seizure.  Then, when their efforts were unsuccessful, they sent her to Texas Children’s by ambulance.  After Kristin had continued to seize for over 48 hours straight, physicians informed Linda that her options were either to let Kristin die, which would be the eventual result if she were to continue seizing, or to give her experimental medication.  Linda chose the medication, which did stop the seizure, but Kristin emerged blind and deaf, lying and trembling in a palsy position.

kristinhospitalGod did improve Kristin’s condition, restoring her ability to walk, hear and see, but Kristin has remained handicapped with the mental capacity of a 6-month old for 22 years, leaving Linda to care for her as one would a baby—care such as feeding, changing and bathing her.  After the initial onset, Linda fasted and prayed for Kristin’s healing, as did many of her close friends from church.  They even took her to many healing services.  Linda now says, “My main focus was on her and on her healing.  That was my quest…I thought that if I fasted—if I prayed enough, and if I believed enough she would be healed.  I learned many things then.  I found that God is God and He does what He pleases.  He does what is His will for your life.  I realized that God was changing me in my spirit and deepening me…I came to the place where I continued to pray for her healing—and I still pray for her healing; I will until she goes to be with Jesus.  But I’m at a place now where, if He does family2heal her, that’s fine. If He doesn’t, that’s fine.   However He can get the most glory…God has used this to do a work in me.  He has rooted out selfishness and pride, and corrected character flaws.  And now I thank him because I see she was given to me as a personal little missionary whom God uses to keep me where I need to be in Him.”

Her marriage having dissolved, Linda found herself alone and unable to work, trusting God to provide for her financially while she stayed home to fulfill her calling as a caretaker for Kristin and mother of Kristin’s older brother, Justin.  But God did not intend for her to remain alone.  One day she received a letter from Sandy Howard, a prison inmate who had been given her name through a prison ministry so


that the inmate church might pray for Kristin.  The letter contained only the words of a prayer…a prayer for Kristin.  A similar prayer letter followed.

Through a series of months and Divine events, Linda eventually married Sandy Howard, a passionate soul-winner and evangelist in prison ministry, winning thousands for Christ in prisons across the world through Victory Life Ministries.  Sandy deeply loved and cared for Kristin, sandyjail_compresedJustin and the three children soon born in the early years of their marriage.  He and Linda grew more deeply in love with each passing day…but tragedy struck once more.

Sandy died in his sleep from sleep apnea.  Though he was revived through Linda’s CPR guided by 911, Sandy was left with extensive brain damage.  Linda feared the same had happened again — that Sandy would remain as Kristin had.  However, through a familygradual process God began to restore his mental abilities…when liver disease began to threaten his life.

The woman who had endured the seemingly unlivable was asked to do it again — lead her family alone through tragedy.  Out of the faith their parents had invested in them, Sky, 14, and Hannah, 13, sang I Can Only Imagine at the funeral — the song that was playing when their all--corrected_crop_compfather entered his real home. Liz, 11, shared loving memories of her father.  And Linda…well, as her children sang, she responded like Job — she stood up, raised her hands to the Lord and worshiped Him who gives and takes away.  Blessed be His name!

Right: left to right,
Liz, Sky,Linda
and Hannah Howard