Kerry Howard’s childhood home life was what nightmares are made of. She describes her stepfather as a monster who was both verbally and physically abusive up until she was 15 years old. Kerry reflects on those darks time and shares,
“He was more abusive to my mother than to me and my sister but either way it was awful. We were slaves in our own home” When Kerry was only 8 years old she was expected to have a full course meal ready on the table when her parents got off work. When she was a teenager she was forced to pay rent to live at home. She started working as many hours as she could from the time she was sixteen. She finally escaped the nightmare by moving out just days after she turned 18 and knew that she could live on her own.
Soon after Kerry left home she married her high school sweetheart Brett and moved into their first home. They are about to celebrate their 20th anniversary! They have three children, ages 24, 16, and 13.
They also have a 5 year old granddaughter, a 7 month old grandson and one grandson named Brayden in heaven who passed at 19 weeks gestation.
Kerry keeps busy with two boys who are active in sports.
She also has a thriving career, volunteers and is very involved at her church.
Kerry’s favorite pastime is boating! She along with her husband and family love being in their boat out on the water in the summer months.
So how did she go from being in a toxic environment where she was told she would never be good enough to go to college or make anything of herself to living the abundant life that she has today? There is a lot that goes into it, but it all comes down to two words. She persevered.
It certainly wasn’t easy. When Kerry was 14 her mother finally left her abusive husband and they moved into a battered women’s shelter. Kerry was in middle school and was desperate for change. She felt a flicker of hope when her mother told the workers at the shelter that they were going to move into their own apartment! Finally, they could start fresh. Unfortunately, all of Kerry’s dreams for a new beginning were shattered when she saw her stepdad waiting for them at the apartment complex. Just like that, her mom went back to her abuser.
A year later Kerry’s sister became pregnant at only 15 years old. Kerry sister was 16 when she had the baby and Kerry was 11 months younger. Since Kerry’s sister was in and out of the house Kerry was pretty much raising her niece Kiley the first three years of her life.
Eventually, things got really complicated for her sister. She had three babies in a short amount of time and they were all taken by child protective services. Kerry who was only 18 herself (but was more mature than most 25 year olds) was ready to fight for her sister and her nieces and nephew. It was a long road that ended with her getting custody of her niece Kiley when Kerry was 19. Kerry says:
“I would’ve never dreamed of starting a family at 19 especially starting out with a 5-year-old ready to head straight to school. Not to mention one dealing with being separated from her parents and siblings. It was rough. We spent a lot of time commuting to visits with siblings and a lot of counseling visits but we did it.”
Even with being a young bride and mother Kerry still managed to beat the odds. Kerry was the first one in her family to go to college and graduate with a degree. She and her husband Brett bought their first home at 19, they are also doing an incredible job raising their two teenage boys. Kerry became a grandma when she was only 35.
She loves her grandbabies to pieces and is one cool Nana!
It’s all pretty miraculous how Kerry has overcome so much and changed her family legacy. What is even more miraculous is how later in life her stepdad had a true encounter with the Lord and became a completely new person. Unfortunately, he also became very ill and ended up in the hospital. At the time Kerry couldn’t care less about his well being and had no intention of forgiving him or rebuilding the bridge that she had burned long ago. Yet Kerry describes this voice inside of her that kept telling her to go to the hospital, at least to be with her mom.
While Kerry was there the Doctors ordered an emergency surgery for him. She struggled with being there but she stayed to support her mom. Her stepdad came through the surgery but came out on a ventilator. Kerry’s mom needed to head back home to take care of pets and make arrangements at home. While hesitant Kerry heard the gentle voice again prompting her to stay. She spent the next 35 days there at the hospital. She worked from the hospital. She ate and slept at the hospital, only going home to shower. During this time they didn’t see a miraculous healing on the outside, but the healing of reconciliation was one that only Christ alone could do. Her stepdad apologized to her every day for her childhood and said I love you and thank you every single day. It all happened around Christmas time. Kerry describes the scene:
“We decorated his hospital room with a little LED Christmas tree and when he felt up to it our boys would play connect 4 with him. Now, remember he wasn’t in our lives so they really didn’t know him and I wasn’t sure I wanted them to but they grew to love him. They got to know a great man, not the man I grew up with. God had changed his life. I never thought anyone or anything could change him. Those 35 days changed my life too. A huge weight of hatred was lifted off my shoulders. He signed a medical power of attorney over to me to make all decisions for him and we discussed at length what decisions to make if the medications stopped working.”
It wasn’t long before they had to make that decision and he went to be with Jesus on January 1st of 2017.
Even with all the battles that Kerry has had to fight in life she looks back and says she believes that everything happens for a reason. “My childhood made me who I am today. While I wish I never endured it and never wish we were poor, lived in a homeless shelter and later a battered women’s shelter, or that I didn’t suffer abuse, it made me the parent I am today. My children don’t know what it’s like to be beaten. They don’t know what it’s like to worry about the electric being turned off or where they might lay their heads at night. They don’t know what it’s like to have the soles of their shoes torn apart and taping them together and they never will because I have done everything in my power to make sure they don’t go through what I did.”
Kerry could have let her heart become hardened. She could have decided to become successful for personal gain. She could have decided that she’s put in her time for others and chosen to live for herself, but she didn’t. Kerry chose to love and because of that, she persevered.