“The best part of Armenia’s life is not just surviving, but thriving, with compassion, humor, style, generosity, and kindness.” These words were spoken to Armenia Hawkins, now age 62, at her retirement party in 2017, surrounded by those who had been personally inspired and blessed by Armenia.
Armenia Doirnae Lester Hawkins is married to Pastor James Hawkins, and together, they have three sons and three grandchildren. James, their eldest, is 40 years old and retired from the United States Air Force. He blessed the Hawkins family with their first grandchild, Bethany, age 9. Brian Hawkins is their middle child. An Eagle Scout, and the proud owner of his own business, Hawkins Home Lawn Service, is 36 years old. And their final blessing in children, Kyle Hawkins, age 33, is also an Eagle Scout, and Physical Therapy Assistant. Kyle, and wife Ryan, made the Hawkins grandparents once again with Sophia (3) and Carter (1). Armenia remains very proud of her grandchildren as they grow and learn. A former teacher herself, with over 40 combined years of experience, Armenia has made sure to track her grandchildren’s daily progress and learning online via the Skype app during this quarantine process. “Bethany received an award at Ditton Lodge in London for designing the best Viking ship. This was posted on the school’s Facebook page. Bethany also practiced her piano lessons with Newmarket Music School virtually, and she received the confidence award. I was able to follow her progress on Twitter,” Armenia says.
Although her remaining two grandchildren have not entered school yet, Armenia loves to keep up with them as well. “Sophia, age 3, with the help of her parents, Kyle and Ryan, was able to play hopscotch outside. This brought childhood memories to mind when my sisters and my friend used to draw with chalk outside. Little did I know, we were learning shapes! Sophia wanted me to read stories to her. In turn, she became the teacher and questioned me and praised me by saying, ‘Good job, Nana!’ I immediately thought, Sophia is going to be a fourth-generation teacher in our family!” Armenia is a third-generation teacher as her great-grandfather, Walsh Lester, began the education tradition in the Lester family in the 1880s. “He earned the first teaching certificate, and our family has a copy.” Another advantage of our modern-day technology the Hawkins family has enjoyed, surrounds their third grandchild, Carter, on his first birthday. “Carter turner one year old on April 16th, and birthday parties are a big deal in our family. We had been planning his party since last April 16th. Well, we had a virtual Baby Shark party where everyone sent birthday videos and messages via email and everyone watched it on Carter’s first birthday. Technology has really helped us to stay connected.”
Being an experienced mother, Armenia has collected many memories over the past years. Her favorite mom moment is the day she became her sons’ english teacher in middle school. She says, “They were able to write and express feelings that amazed me! When I read their feelings about some of the things they learned as children, I thought to myself, ‘Hey, they are talking about me!’” Armenia recalls Mother’s Day each year as her husband, James, always sends three pink roses to her; one to represent each son. Next to Armenia’s wedding day, the births of each son and each grandchild is her absolute happiest memories of all times.
Like other moms you will read about in this issue, Armenia is also a teacher, with a heart for her students, affectionately referred to as her children. She taught at Texarkana Independent School District for 28 years, and then retired from Pleasant Grove Independent School District after teaching for 12 years. Currently, she is a private Educational Consultant working for the Liberty-Eylau Independent School District. “The gift of everlasting friendship from a group of young ladies that I have had the delight to mentor has been one of the most meaningful gifts I have ever received,” she says. “At the end of my Retirement Party in 2017, Shelby DeMuth Akin, who had been my student teacher, told the staff I had been a blessing and inspiration to all who had been touched by my kindness and generosity. An educator, and friend, Laurie Gross, gave me a block of words spelling out ‘thankful’. She said the school district, the world, and everyone will be forever thankful because of Armenia Hawkins. These are by far, the best compliments anyone has ever paid me.” Armenia feels joyful in reflecting upon the children she taught, their parents, and how they are passing on her blessings and any nuggets of wisdom she shared. The ability of Armenia to make a successful impact during her 40 years of education is certainly a blessing indeed!
Far beyond her children, her school children, and her husband of 42 years, Armenia’s list of blessings flows freely from a cup that runneth over. “I am grateful for the favor of God in my life and how He has shown me mercy throughout my life. God gave me ‘new lenses’ for life to be able to recognize His favor. He has also shown me favor with my health, life, and the love and support of the St. John Baptist Church family where my husband pastors,” she says. Armenia appreciates the love and support of the extended Hawkins and Lester families, as well as her three close siblings and their spouses. “I am also so thankful for the love and support of all medical doctors, and staff, who help take care of our family’s overall health.” Rounding out her list of blessings is her sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha, a group of ladies that simply love Armenia.
So how does a mother spend her time when her children have left home? Armenia’s love of the arts plays a role in her retired life. “The movie Beaches inspires me to be the friend to love. The art that inspires me the most is from an innocent, sincere, young, artist, Kamryn Brown, who drew me a picture on my birthday when she nine. I have a love for children, and it showed through her art how she respects and loves me. Kamryn actually featured my love of nature at a young age with the colors of the leaves and autumn scenery. I have the picture displayed in my guest bedroom!” Armenia finds the time to watch trees and leaves explode with changes in colors while spending time in nature, especially during the autumn seasons.
Thinking forward to the future, Armenia is looking forward to seeing the completed building project of St. John Baptist Church in Texarkana, Texas. “I can clearly envision my husband, Pastor James Hawkins, preaching a sermon of faith, members praising the Lord, and myself spreading the good news to the children, as I always do during children’s hour,” she says.
Finally, her most proud contribution in life, reflects in her ability to truly be herself. “Teaching not only to children in a school setting but being able to extend my love and creativity for children in the house of the Lord at St. John Baptist Church, I have found that I love whatever I do by just being myself. Perhaps that is what being a mom means after all.”
Words from her amazing kids:
Brian, age 36 states:
My Mom is: loving, funny, and caring.
I really love it when my Mom does things that make me smile.
My favorite thing I love to do with my Mom is talking.
My mom always tells me to trust
I love my Mom because she is the BEST.
Kyle , age 33, states: My Mom is creative and outgoing.
I love it when my mom bakes her favorite recipes. They are so wonderful and tasty.
My favorite thing I love to do with my mom is celebrate holidays and hear her laugh.
My mom always tells me when I focus, anything is possible.
I love my Mom because she is always encouraging and provides the best advice.
James, age 40, states
My Mom is irreplaceable.
I love it when my mom makes family connections.
The favorite thing I love to do with my mom is reminisce about my childhood.
My mom always tells me that our family’s Motto is “Thy Deeds Yet Live.”
I love my Mom because she is a blessing to all of us.