“One step forward, two steps back…”

Well, per usual, I spoke too soon about glimpses of better moments yesterday.  Today, thus far, I’ve been the proverbial mess.  Overwhelmed doesn’t even begin to describe how I feel today.  There is just so darn much to do, so much to take care of, business-wise, financially, spiritually, emotionally, and don’t even get me started about my laundry needs.

 I had another one of those panic-attack moments after coming back home from the boys’ school, thinking I cannot do this, I cannot do this.  I then remembered that I had forgotten to take my xanax, which seems to be helping in these issues.  The simple things that were ‘no-brainers’ for me to do seem to take the most time for me now.  And as the xanax begins to calm me, along with my devotional reading for the day, I try to slow down enough to be able to listen to what God needs me to do. 

I need to provide for my sons.  I need for them to feel love without end.  I need for them to feel safe, even though it’s just the three of us now.  I need to find male friends willing to come over and be wrestled around on the floor (by the boys, not me!), friends able to step in, albeit in a small way, to give Andrew & Ben a testosterone-based presence in their lives.  That’s a tall order, for sure.  But it’s what we need.

My second outdoor column was published today, it gives me something to aspire to.  http://www.timesrecordnews.com/news/2011/sep/15/with-fall-around-the-corner-life-really-is/ It keeps me honest by keeping my promise to Mark to teach our boys the importance of conservation, ecology, and just the pure joy of being outside.  It also gives me purpose, and hope that this outlet may serve a greater good & reach others who find themselves in similar crappy circumstances.  In the long run, I pray it helps all three of us heal. 

So, I think I’m done crying, at least for now.  There’s too much to be done for me to sit & feel sorry for myself.  There’s many in worse situations than I am in, and my boys & I have much to be thankful for.  And my dryer timer is telling me I have 20 shirts to hang up. 

Peace & blessings, friends…


Rain in the forecast?

Last night was really difficult.   Bedtime is one of our hardest times of the day.  The usual routine involved both parents spending time, separately with the boys in their room, praying, sharing funny stories, talking about boy stuff.  I’d always go first, then whenever I was done, they’d gleefully yell for Mark to come down to their room.  He’d usually be in his big recliner, pausing whatever sports event that he was watching (thank goodness for dvr!)…he’d crank down, making a big deal of coming to their room, most nights uttering some sort of “man-grunt” (think Tim the tool man from Home Improvement), and head in for some guy time.  The laughter I’d hear coming from that room will always be in my heart & memory.
But, I digress.  Last night, we snuggled into one big bed, me in the middle, said our prayers & read a book together, “What Happens When We Die?” by Carolyn Nystrom.  It really had some valid questions, and we talked at length about what we think Mark’s doing up in heaven.  Both boys are very sure there are wheat fields, pastures to hunt with his two dogs already there (Jack & Bud), cool temps in the 60s, and 24 hour sports on all of the time.  Since Mark’s favorite meal was fish, they’re pretty sure he’s cooked some up for Jesus by now. 
We laughed, we cried, we snuggled, we prayed.   And even though it was one of the hardest nights starting out, we all seemed to sleep just a little better.  We woke up to a bit of rain (thank you, God!), all better rested than usual, and in a little better humor than usual. 
Ben actually had a little smile on his face as I walked with him to class today.  He clung a little less to me as I tried to leave.  I specifically asked in my prayers last night for the Holy Spirit to walk on one side of each boy, and for their Daddy’s spirit to be on the other side.  I, of course, tell them I’m in their heart each and every day.  Ben smiled & said that Daddy was in there, too. 
I know that today will be hard, just like any other day.  But this morning, just for a few minutes, I caught a glimpse of two boys being well, just two boys.  And a mom that didn’t cry as she left the school for home.  I can only pray that I catch more glimpses of that in the future. 

Friends are Family…

At this incredibly hard time in our lives, Andrew, Ben, & I are living in a town of 104,000 people. None are related to us by blood. Mark has family in Kansas, Oregon, Massachusetts, and Washington state. My family resides in Kentucky and Tennessee.
I titled this “friends are family” because even though our relatives are in far away places geographically, our family here in Wichita Falls has comforted us, prayed for us, protected us, and stood in the gap to be the hands, feet, and heart of Christ himself during Mark’s hospital stay and since his death. We do not know how we would have survived if it weren’t for you. You have laughed with us, cried with us, held our hands, and been the most wonderful family in Christ possible. I now can say with certainty that I have had a little glimpse of heaven, right here in Wichita Falls, which is incredibly hard to believe, considering we’ve just recorded our 100th day of 100 degrees or more for the summer.

Heaven is a place where God’s people come together and help a friend in need. Heaven is a place where your children are hugged & loved & tended to while you have to be at the hospital with your beloved spouse. Heaven is my feeling so lifted up by prayer that I can actually get out of bed each morning & accomplish some of the many tasks that I have to complete. And heaven, my friends, is being a part of a family, one that crosses any political, religious, ethnic, or gender restrictions…..and that is the little glimpse of heaven that the boys and I are seeing right here in Wichita Falls, Texas.

We love you all, and there is no way we can ever say thank you enough.
Nancy, Andrew, and Ben

p.s.  We know that folks are lifting us up in prayer all over the country, and we are so grateful for that, as well.  Just wanted to give a special message to those right here in our neighborhood, because Wichita Falls is home, has been home for almost 20 years, and will continue to be home for us three Howells 🙂

July 4, 2011

In Vermont, July 4, 2011…we had a blast with Mark’s brother & sister-in-law. Think this was near Brattleboro, before we enjoyed the fireworks under a beautiful clear, cool night sky. It’s a bit blurry, but you can still see the happy faces.

First post…

Trying to put all of my thoughts down in one place has been a problem since I lost Mark on July 30, 2011. Seems like an eternity, but it was “only” seven weeks ago today that he had his seemingly-routine surgery.

Since his death, I’ve written extensively on Facebook, in emails, in 2 different journals, and on scraps of paper. I know that I need to consolidate these thoughts & feelings, if not for me, for our sons, Andrew and Benjamin, who will maybe someday want to read this history of their dad’s untimely, unfortunate death, and the tale of the unimagined, unexpected journey that Mark’s death has forged as our path.

My main source of healing thus far has been expressing my feelings on Facebook. I also took over Mark’s weekly outdoor column at the Wichita Falls Time Record News as of September 8th. This is a way I can honor him, keep my promise to him to continue to instill a love of nature & the outdoors
in both boys, and maybe experience some peace and healing for myself & for us as a family.
Here are the links to the first week’s columns:



We’ll see how this goes….


Brother’s Day

Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation.

Psalm 68:5

It’s Father’s Day.  Around our home that means Brother’s Day.   We started this tradition after we lost Tom a few years ago.  Our first Father’s Day without him was difficult, but we made the best of it by making cards and letters expressing our feelings for him and getting out in the beautiful sunshine to enjoy the type of things that Dad used to do with us.

When the second Father’s Day rolled around, I figured it was time for a fresh approach. We came up with Brother’s Day. Here’s how it works.  I let the boys sleep in while I prepare their Brother’s Day breakfast in bed.  This morning it was french toast with sausages and OJ.

The breakfast trays are prepared with colorful messages from me with one particular character trait each one has shown in the past year that reminds me of their father.

2010-06-20 07.18.38

And finally, I write a letter to each one of the children explaining that character trait, how I saw it shown in the past year, and how their father had that same trait in him.

My boys are beginning to look forward to Father’s / Brother’s Day, and I pray that it inspires them to earn their rights to have Father’s Day breakfasts in bed when they are old enough to rear a family God’s way!

We’re not done after breakfast.  They boys consider our chocolate lab puppy a brother too, so after church we’re off to a hike with the dog.

Church on Father’s Day is always tough on a widow.  I’ll most likely choose to sit near the back and step outside when I feel myself missing the presence of a husband in the home.

017_HinkleKit Hinkle is the Founder and Ministry Lead for A New Season Ministries, Inc., and an author and speaker. She has lived through corporate careers as a chemical engineer and a management consultant, but now finds her finest career as a home school mother to four teen boys–one of them launched in college. She loves Pilates and her best friend’s Bosanova Christian yoga-style stretching, and craves more walks through the woods with her chocolate lab.  Her dream is to live on the beach–and Charleston is just calling her!  She knows what it means to be in a new season. She lost her first marriage to divorce when she was very young and lost her loving husband to a heart attack in 2007.  To sit with another who is walking through her tough road and show that woman Christ, brings joy and fulfillment to Kit. It’s such an honor to participate in His kingdom.
If you are interested in having her speak, please contact her via email at admin@anewseason.net. 
Other articles by this author: www.anewseason.net/author/khinkle

Would you like to read more about Father’s Day?  Here are some articles you might try:

A Happy Father’s Day? by Liz Anne Wright

Father’s Day by Danita Hiles