December 19, 2009
Posted by Tammy Howard at 6:18 PM
December 3, 2009
He fought a hard battle with kidney failure but in the end we saw that he could not win. He showed Sandy and I in his own way that he was ready to go home to be with Jesus. Out of our love for him we allowed him to go home with our blessing and many tears.
Nipper went home peacefully surrounded by his momma and his daddy and his beloved vet Dr. Moore. He just closed his eyes and woke up in heaven. He is no longer hurting, nor sick, nor is he hungry. He has been perfectly restored to wholeness and happiness. He will never hurt in any way ever again.
Nipper was buried by my family under his favorite tree in our back yard. His body is protected in a small little casket with it's own vault. He is forever safe and resting in a wonderful sun spot. His spirit, however, is with Jesus and he will be playing ball and chasing squirrels until we make it home to meet him.
We dearly miss our boy. He was the joy of our home for 12 years and the loss we are feeling cannot be put into words. We see and miss his presence in every room of our home. His loss for us is like the loss of a child....because he filled that roll for us for many years.
Please keep us in your prayers as we grieve and process this loss. We know that God was greatly merciful to us and saved Nipper's life many times over during the years. We believe that this was Nipper's time to go home and we are not hurt or angry at God in any way. God even worked out the timing of his home going and for that we are truly thankful. But the pain we are feeling is very great.
Please pray for us and all those who have suffered losses this holiday season. It is a sad time to lose anyone that you love.
Thank you for all your prayers for Nipper and for us as he was fighting his battle. We can never express to you how much it meant to our hearts.
Blessings to all,
p.s. Nipper.....momma and daddy miss you with all our hearts. You fought like the warrior that you always were. Jesus just needed you to come home and play in heaven for awhile. Keith said he got a vision of you sitting in the lap of Jesus getting a good petting. You deserve that because you were our good boy who loved us with everything in you. We miss your wagging tail and having you sleep and lay on us all the time. We miss our snuggle time, puppy kisses, and your big boy bark. I miss our swing time, mailbox walk, and watching you play ball and tug with daddy. We also miss those pretty sparkling brown eyes. We miss all of it my little man dog.... but most of all we just miss the feeling of completeness that you brought to our lives.
We will always think of you at 10:00 snack time.
We are glad you are well!!! Perfectly whole never to hurt or take another pill again : ) Have fun little boy.....play hard, run, bark.....and catch those squirrels. AND EAT ALL YOU WANT.....
We will see you again someday. Look for us at the gate.
Momma & Daddy
Posted by Tammy Howard at 8:43 AM
November 16, 2009
Right now Nipper is in the process of battling kidney failure. Please keep him and us in your prayers. It is a daily battle that with God's help and the prayers of our friends we hope to help him win.
Please keep him in your prayers that his kidney blood levels will go back down to normal. Please pray that he will have an appetite and not lose any more weight and that he will be able to take the medications that he needs to take.
Please pray for peace and perseverance for all three of us.
We love our fur child and want him to be perfectly healed. Please join us in prayer for his life.
Love & Thanks,
Tammy & Sandy
P.S. The other in process story will continue to be told once we are in a better place with Nipper.
Posted by Tammy Howard at 9:08 AM
October 27, 2009
I wish that I could say that God changed my heart about having a family as quickly as He did about having a husband. But alas, No, it took many years.
My Sandy loves children. He always has. He is so good with them and they love him. I have many times throughout the years wondered how one gets to feel that way about children. I mean ... I just didn't understand it...because there was nothing in me that ever felt that way. It's not that I had any bad feelings towards children...it's just that there was nothing in me that ever said.... I want one of those....at least not seriously or for very long.
Sometimes I felt like the Grinch....my heart about that was three sizes to small.
About four years ago God decided it was time to start working on changing my heart about having children. It all began with a phone call asking if I would teach the 3-4 year old's class on a Wed. night because the teacher was going to be out. Now to most people that would have been an easy job to do....but for me it was the last thing I wanted to do on a Wed. night or any other time. But God knowing that there was no way that I could or would say no to my dear friend Jo...started the change in my heart right here.
It wasn't long until I was co-teaching this little class on Wed. nights. I am going to be honest and say that a lot of the time I didn't like doing it at all. However, there were always those times when those little kids would look at me and my heart would melt and I would think....hum...they are so darn cute : 0)
As time went on God really began to convict my heart on where I was with the family thing. I really felt like I was letting Sandy down. He never made me feel that way at all. I was just becoming more and more aware that my heart was in the wrong place.
I began to really look at the deeper issues of why I felt the way I did. I had always had an idea what it was all about. I just didn't know how to get to the core of it. I talked to my good friend Dewey, who was my Pastor at the time. Dewey suggested that I go see a counselor and try to get to the bottom of the issue. Being the stubborn woman that I am I told him I would not and could not go spill my guts to someone I did not know. Well, Dewey being Dewey and one of the few people in my life that I let tell me what to do said....then you will talk to me about this. Be in my office at 5:15 on Tuesday. That was the beginning of many meetings, emails, and hours of long and often heart wrenching talks to finally find the bottom of this heart issue.
It didn't take Dewey or I long to figure out where the lack of desire for children came from. Dewey is an awesome counselor and he knew the right questions to ask. He asked me all the hard questions and he kept asking until I answered every single one from the very depth of my heart. Because of the trust that he and I share I was able to completely share my heart and my life story with him. In the end...over about a two year period....God did two amazing things for me. He gave me one of the dearest friends of my life and He gave me the desire to have a family.
I am not going to go into the issues that we found out or why they effected me the way that they did. Those things are deeply personal and will be told only on a one on one basis.
I do want you to know that the reason I never wanted to have children has never had anything to do with Sandy. Sandy is the greatest gift from God I have ever been blessed with. He is an incredible man who loves God and he loves me. His heart belongs to me and mine belongs to him and the love we share is the definition of true love to me. He is my best friend, my lover, and the keeper of my heart. My love for Sandy is the only reason I ever wanted God to change my heart about having a family.
Next up.....A Walk By The River
Posted by Tammy Howard at 3:03 PM
October 16, 2009
This story....like most good or bad stories should start at the beginning..... but this story actually starts somewhere around the beginning . Sometimes there is a story within a story and that is what you are going hear in this post. My part of a story within a much bigger story that is not mine to tell.
I think I was around 16 the first time I realized I didn't want to have a family. I'm not talking about parents or siblings or the immediate type family. I'm talking about not wanting to have a future with a husband.....children.... white picket fence... not even a ....DOG family. I was at a point in my life where I really felt insecure about the whole idea of family. My family had recently went through the pains of a divorce. Being the youngest child I spent my time going back and forth between my parents. Even though I was greatly supported and loved and always taken care of I never really felt like I belonged anywhere. I had a lot of trust issues. I put up a lot of walls and and barriers between myself and most people. I pretty much felt like I could stand on my own. With the exception of some really close friends, relationships were not something that I put a lot of stock or effort into.
As I continued to grow up and move forward in my life these feelings really didn't change much for a really long time. I had become a very independent do things my way type person. I had a pretty tough exterior and it took a really long time for me to let people get close to me. I can say though that if you made it through that tough exterior you had the most loyal of friend in me.
I know looking back now as an adult that all of that was just a way of protecting myself from getting hurt.... or from self perceived hurt. I knew and realized many times that the feelings that I had were not what my Heavenly Father wanted for my future....but I just didn't know how to or want to lay them down after so many years.
So my Heavenly Father sent me the one I needed to tear the walls down.
The turning point in my life is meeting up again with my Sandy. Sandy has been my friend since I was in the 8th grade. He was my friend when all the stable consistent things in my life fell apart. He was always there with a tender hug and a loving heart when this lost little girl needed him.
Sandy and I meet up again after losing touch for several years when I was in college and he was working in Atlanta. We happened (really it was a God ordained meeting) to both be home for the weekend and visiting our childhood church when we found each other again. That became a life changing moment for both of us. It was the beginning of a great love story and it was the beginning of teaching my heart what the love of a man and family are all about.
I said before I was tough and had a tough exterior.... but it only took a few phone calls and one incredible date to know that Sandy was my soul mate and that he would be my forever love. In fact, God told me at the end of our first date that I would marry Sandy. Seven months later we were engaged and 10 months after that we were married. Sandy is my very best friend and the true love of my life. He has consistently loved me, prayed for me, taken care of me, and taught me who God is and what the love of a man is all about. His love for me has taught me that trust is real and that walls come down when love overcomes fear.
It's been over 16 years since God changed my heart about having a husband....it took many many more years before He began to change my heart about having a family.
The story continues......
Posted by Tammy Howard at 4:35 PM
October 13, 2009
"What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"
"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."
"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.
"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. "When you are Real you don't mind being hurt."
"Does it happen all at once, like being wound up," he asked, "or bit by bit?"
"It doesn't happen all at once," said the Skin Horse. "You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand."
"I suppose you are real?" said the Rabbit. And then he wished he had not said it, for he thought the Skin Horse might be sensitive. But the Skin Horse only smiled.
(Taken from "The Velveteen Rabbit" )
Sometimes being Real hurts. Sometimes it really hurts a lot. But being real makes you beautiful inside and out. Becoming real for me is and has been a really hard road. Being real means becoming who and what God wants me to be even when I don't understand Him or the process to get there. Being real means seeing myself truly the way I am and hopefully by the time I become completely "real" I will see myself as He really sees me and I will see Him as He really is.
I am about to get really real with all of you on this blog. I am going to tell you the story of great growth and great pain. This will be an on going story and the moods will change as often as the pages of a good book. It won't always be easy to read. It may often be painful in fact. But it will be very very real and it will be the complete truth of how God is growing me and making me the woman he wants me to be.
Please understand as we go along and you read this in process story that I am not looking for your sympathies. I do not expect you to have the answers I am looking for. I know that those answers will only come from God in His perfect time. I am going to write this story to help bring healing to myself and hopefully to others as the story unfolds. In the end may we all look back and see what God has done and give Him great glory because we have all become a little more real and because as is His promise.....He worked it all out for our good.
Come back soon and hold on tight .... the story is about to begin......
Posted by Tammy Howard at 5:42 PM
September 12, 2009
There is just no doubt in my mind that I am blessed beyond measure.
I've been thinking over the last few days that I have some of the most amazing friends a person could ever ask for. I struggle to even put into words how totally overwhelmed I am by the blessing that I receive every single day of my life by my incredible friends.
The thing is they are such a wide range of people and they cover a wide range of age groups and social status....and yet....they all fill a perfect niche in my life. Each and ever single one of you teach me the meaning of love, grace, truth, laughter, joy, peace, commitment, faithfulness, and I could just go on and on.
My friends are my rocks. They stand beside me when my world is full of peace and joy...and they stand beside me when my heart is broken beyond words. They love me in the laughter and they love me in the silence. They know my heart and I know theirs.
Recently, Sandy and I have been going through a difficult time in our life. Not anything that is an issue between he and I but something that is difficult that we are going through together. Our friends have just been amazing. The time and the prayers and the love they have poured into us has held us up when we could not stand on our own. Their love has and is helping us persevere in a way we could have never done without their strength.
I have just been amazed at the people God has sent to us to share our lives. Whether it be long time friends who have been in our lives for years or new friends who already hold deep and special places in our hearts... I am just amazed at the blessings God has bestowed upon our lives.
I have never been happier with the friends that share my life than I am at this time in my life. I am secure in knowing that whatever I face I will never walk alone. That is a blessing beyond description and a peace that can't be explained.
I just wanted to say I'm thankful for all of you. Each and every one of you make my heart happy and my life complete.
Thank you for your love and support and for all that you teach me each and every day.
I love you beyond words,
Posted by Tammy Howard at 7:07 PM
July 16, 2009
This is the latest writing to the Sunday Prayer team at EMC.
Good Morning friends,
Have you ever had your own words come back and bite you really good?
I don't mean just a little nip....but a bite so bad you probably need stitches? Well, that just happened to me. I just finished reading over the last thing I wrote to you which was about waiting.... and I think I need stitches.
Let me refresh your memory for a moment. I've been waiting for the answer to something for a long time now. It has been a tough time of waiting, seeking, whining, waiting, listening, and waiting. I told you some of the things that I have been learning in my waiting time...such as.... I'm not ready for the answer, waiting for the best takes time, He is renewing my strength - preparing me for the answer, and that all the pieces are not yet in place and I'm not seeing the whole picture.
All of that being said...I have made this statement. I will take whatever answer you give God....I just want an answer. Famous last words......
Several days ago I got my answer. If you look closely you can probably see the blood flow from there. What I mean is this...the answer was not at all what I expected and it cut me to my core. I'm talking complete and utter surprise, shock, hurt, disappointment, confusion, and pain. Do you hear what I'm saying? It was an answer I was not in the least bit prepared for. I've always heard God answers....yes, no, and not right now...... This is one of those answers that is not completely a no...but definitely a no to it working out according to MY plans.
So...now what? What do I do now that I have the answer and it's not the answer that I wanted? The truth is that I just do not have a clue. I'm at an utter loss at what to do at this point. I am doing all the usual things that you should do when you find yourself in a place like this. I've placed myself under the direction of my spiritual authorities and those who know and understand my heart the very best. There is a time of prayer, reflection, and direction seeking going on. But when it comes to me doing something I'm at a complete loss at the moment. In all truth, my heart is so hurt and confused that this prayer warrior can hardly even pray. However, one thing seems abundantly clear to me already...I am now in another period of waiting.
So here I am again...waiting. Waiting for direction, waiting for answers, waiting on Him. You see, the thing is this. Just because I now have an answer to what I was waiting on....that does not mean that His answer for me is complete. I had a plan for the way I thought things were going to work out and now I know that was not His plan. That means one of two things...that door is now closed...or He will answer in another way that will be better for me. So.... I wait.
Friends, I say all of that to say this. I take His answer. I have not and will not back up from that. I have not lost my faith and I am not angry at God. I am wounded and my heart hurts deeply. I'm disappointed and yet.....I CHOOSE HIM!! I CHOOSE HIM OVER MY WILL. My Father, my daddy, my God, always knows what is the best thing for me. Even beyond that He wants what is best for me. In this time of confusion... when I don't know what to do or what He is going to do .... I TRUST HIM!!! I TRUST HIM WITH ME.
It all comes down to this. I'm His. Sold out. Even when I don't understand His hand or see the plan He has for me...I'm His. I trust Him to bring me His best even if the road to get there is sometimes painful.
It's like Keith said last Sunday, we have to give it all up to Him. Let go of the 10% (or more ) that we hold onto. Lay it down. We cannot hold onto the things that hurt us or disappoint us without becoming slaves to them. If we are slaves to them we are not free to live Him.
I don't know if any of you are where I am right now or if you have been here before. If not, I can unfortunately assure you that at some point you will be in a place just like this. A place where you don't understand His answer or know what the next step is. I want to tell you even now that our God is real. He draws near when we hurt and He whispers peace beyond our understanding. He places the flicker of hope in our heart that grows into a mighty flame of expectation as we begin to look to Him for the next step, the next vision, the next dream. Because there always is one and His is always the best.
Things don't always turn out like we plan. That does not mean that they won't turn out even more perfectly ... in a different way. God is the master planner and His plan is always for our good. He has promised us a future and a hope. I'm trusting Him to bring it altogether for my life.
Will you trust Him with the best for your life too?
Posted by Tammy Howard at 6:44 PM
February 20, 2009
I don't know about you, but I think growing up is hard. Growing in Christ is even harder.
Lately, I've been really struggling with knowing what to do with the things that God gives me or teaches me. You see, over the last three or four years God has been majorly at work in my life. He has grown me up more in these last few years than in all my 34 years as a Christian. That's saying a lot isn't it? It makes me wonder what I was doing before.
In the last few years, God has taught me so much about who He is and who I am. I have learned that you grow a great deal when you are struggling. It seems to be where I learn the most from Him. It seems there have been so many struggles that have come into my life that involve family, friends, church, work, and people that I don't even know. God has taken me from being a bench warmer to being a prayer warrior and it seems in no time flat. He has changed me from the inside out and I am and never will be .... who I was.
I like the fact that God is growing me so very much, but I have to be completely honest and say... Growing is HARD!!!! I want so much to be a mighty warrior for God. I really do try to do my best... at least most of the time. However, I have to say that changing is hard and being changed by the great hand of the universe is even harder.
Lately God has really been dealing with me about my life and who I am for Him. You see, I've always been this really independent person who stands on her own two feet. I feel like most of the time I know exactly what I need to do to take care of me. That usually involves doing just what I want when I want. To say that I'm stubborn is a great understatement.
God has really been showing me that I need a change of mind set. That in essence means, I need to set my mind to the things that are of Him and Him alone. I need to live a life of holiness, honor, and respect for who He is and for who He has called me to be. I need to be intentional with how I live my life....every single day.
Simple huh? Not at all. Necessary? Absolutely! I guess I'm becoming more and more aware that people watch my life and how I live. A few years ago if someone judged my life I would have quickly told them my thoughts on their opinions. It would have been ugly. Sandy has said more than once that I have no tact at all. Unfortunately, that is so true. But now my thoughts just might be that their opinions could be right (could be.....) and probably are. My thoughts about representing Him are daily, almost moment by moment, changing the way that I live and think.
I think that our time left on this earth is short friends. I think that I can no longer have the mentality that my life is all about me. God is constantly calling me to be a representative of Him in all that I do. He is constantly showing me, usually very quickly, where I make the wrong call or make the wrong decision. It's hard and it often hurts. It hurts when you fail the one you love doesn't it? People are watching me (all of us) every single day. Every single day, someone is looking to see Him in me or looking for me to fail Him. Every single day, I seem to do both.
My life seems to be a constant battle between living a life that is representative of Him and living the life that is representative of me and my world. Every single day, I struggle to do the right thing or things. Every single day, He sends me challenges to stretch me, to grow me, and to show me that He expects more of me than I even knew I could give. Every single day, He opens my eyes a little more to who He is. Every single day, He grows me in Him. EVERY SINGLE DAY, IT IS HARD TO LET GO OF ME AND LIVE HIM.
I think growth is a constant state of change. Growing is never finished. We grow by the encounters that we face every single day. Life grows us in good ways and hard ways and sometimes in painfully unbearable ways. Whatever these encounters are we grow. If we allow ourselves to look deeper at our circumstances, our lives, our world, we will see Jesus. If we grow enough.... others will see Jesus in us.
The challenges that cause growth show us Jesus in a deeper way. They make us keep our eyes on Him and they form a intimate relationship between Him and us. All of the struggles are worth it in the end because we become more like Him. In becoming more like Him we show the world who He is by the lives that we live. When the world sees Jesus in us... lives are forever changed...theirs and ours...and He is forever honored.
Growing is still really hard though.....................
Posted by Tammy Howard at 9:00 AM