“Through the Years”

My Dearest Jim,

This year has been quite the year! We have had hurdles to jump and storms to ride out. This year has been one of those mile marker years for us. In a few days we will celebrate  our twenty-ninth wedding anniversary. 

As I began to think about our anniversary, I turned to 1 Peter 3:7.

Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat

them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious

gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.

Through the years, you have exemplified this scripture in your daily walk with me.  You have done this in the following ways:

You are sensitive to my needs.

You are there to dry my tears.

You  pick me up when I fall  down.

You honor and love the LORD your God.

You love me unconditionally and encourage me in my endeavors.

You have given me insight with such grace. 

You never give me a reason to ever doubt you.

Not only have you exemplified this scripture in your daily walk with me but you also had such an influence on the man our son is today. I know without a doubt Drew walks this scripture with his wife, Megan.  What a beautiful gift you have given me by being the Godly man you are and being that example to Drew. 

Through The Years

Through The Years

Looking back over our life together,  I see where the blessings have shined in the midst of the storms. I see the laughter we have shared with one another. There have been so many precious memories we have created together. 

 When I reflect back I see the oops’ and the uh-oh’s that took place.  I would not trade those moments for anything. It is in those times we learned about each other and we grew stronger as a couple. 

The lyrics to the song “Through the Years” say it all….through all the good and bad, I know how much we have. I have always been glad to be with you. It gets better everyday.

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In the years ahead, I know we will always be strong together and for each other. I know through the years ahead I will learn even more about life. We still have  a few more storms to ride and uh-oh’s and oops’ to experience but will be these experiences where we will experience the greatest blessings.

On our wedding day, we walked down the aisle to the  song, “I’ll Walk With God” with changing the lyric to “We’ll Walk With God”.  It has been a beautiful walk and I look forward to the journey ahead of us.

Jim, thank you for being there for me and with me through the years.  

I Love You, 

April

Your ‘brown-eyed girl”

Happy Anniversary, Jim

November 23, 2014

Simple Vow

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My Dearest Jim,

Last year we celebrated our twenty-five years together. Now, we are here again celebrating another year of wedded bliss. This past year has been a year of weathering  storms. Together we have celebrated new mile markers in our lives. It has been a year of really seeing love in action. A  year where we have had really had to work together.

In January, my dad announced his retirement. A mile marker in anyone’s life. Yet, with this bit of news, we knew that a celebration of Dad’s years in  ministry needed to take place. It was with the help of friends and members of Dad’s church that made this celebration possible. Yet, there were things to be done on this end which was a difficult tasks being four hundred miles from the venue. But, you held my hand and asked “what can I do?” You helped scan pictures, helped me with fielding phone calls and countless emails. You even stepped up and wrote the poem The Master’s Walking Stick to make Dad’s celebration and tribute of forty-seven years of ministry a little more special.

Dad’s retirement reception

Spring arrives along with the Spring storms.  We spent many nights in our master closet waiting to hear the all clear as tornado warnings would be issued for our area.  One evening, we realized that we had spent too much time in the closet when we would open our back door for our black lab, Tori to come in with us. Neither one of us had to tell her what to do because  she would  instantly go take her place in the closet! There were mornings when storm  warnings were posted. You were at work and I was at home. You would call and make sure I was okay and assured me that you were okay.

Tori

As summer approached, we receive news that Drew’s best friend who was more like a brother and son to our family had drowned. You came home and we held each other as we grieved for the loss of Josh, for his family and for Drew. We took a deep breath, said a prayer, and held each other as we called Drew to give him the news.  Then, as we stood at Josh’s graveside, we held tight again as we watched Drew place his carnation on his buddy’s casket and say one more good-bye.

(Left) Josh Yeckering (Right) Drew Hawkins taken after they won the State Cross Country Meet

The days of the year and summer clicked on as we received more bad news regarding family members and their  health situations. My Dad’s brother/ my uncle, Dan passed unexpectedly. Again, you asked what could you do and held me tight. You took time from work to drive me to Arlington to attend the services and to be with family.

Funeral Services for my Uncle, Daniel Henry Hill @ Arlington

Among all these happenings, there was a wedding being planned.  Not only were there details to work out for a rehearsal dinner, but a dress for me to be found as well as working out other details for a wedding that would take place out-of-town. Again,  you stepped up and asked, “how can I help?”  You took time off to go look at the venue for the rehearsal dinner, you helped with phone calls, setting up and countless other things to get ready for our son’s special day.

Megan and Drew’s Rehearsal Dinner

As we watched Megan and Drew, say their vows, I reminisced our special day when we said our vows. I reflected on you watching me come down the aisle as Drew watched his bride walk down the aisle on her daddy’s arm. On November  23, 1985, Drew was only gleam in our eyes. Now, he was marrying the girl of his dreams and beginning a new life of his own.

Drew watching his bride, Megan come down the aisle

Andrew Mitchell Hawkins

Megan and Drew exchanging their vows

One of our favorite songs is Clint Black’s Something We Do. There is a lyric in the song that tells how love means working together and helping each other. “Love is something we do” is also the main lyric in this special song.

Jim, you have demonstrated love as an action verb ever since the day we met. While working at Lake Junaluska, I got sick and you got me to a doctor. Over the two years of long distance dating, you would drive down to see me at school after a long week of medical classes and/or clinicals. Once we were married and Drew was in school, you encouraged me to go back and finish my degree.  Along with encouraging me to finish my degree, you helped me with Drew . There were papers to write. I would write and you would type (no computers then).  You did all these things with love and without complaint.

Today, you continue to show love as an action verb. When life happens, you ask; “how can I help?” You take time off from work to sit with me at countless doctors appointments. When I am behind on things around the house, you gladly pitch in and help me get caught up. We may be watching television and you will offer to go pour me a coke or scoop a dish of ice cream.  Love is something that you do on a daily basis.

Jim helping out with dinner at the Lake

This year, we have had a lot of tears. Tears of joy and tears of sadness. But, I would not have how this year has gone any other way. It is through the celebrations of life and the letting go in life that makes us stronger as a couple and as individuals.

April and Jim August, 1986

Yes, ‘I remember the day we wed. It began with a simple vow.’  The simple vow we said has brought us through a lot and I know it will get us through more celebrations, tears of joy and tears of sadness in our journey ahead. ‘Love is strong’ and our love is strong and it keeps getting stronger.

The day we wed…November 23, 1985

‘We give ourselves; we give our all; it’s something that we do.”

Happy Anniversary! I am looking forward to sharing the next 26+ years with you.

I love you,

April

“And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” I Corinthians 13:13

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You’re Still My Only One

April & Jim November 23, 1985

Dear Jim,

Today we celebrate 25 years of wedded bliss!  If anyone ask me if I would do it again, my reply would be “yes”! The past 25 years are a beautiful woven tapestry.

Do you remember the date? June 1, 1983 we were in the Lambuth Inn at Lake Junaluska, NC participating in summer staff orientation.   When I saw you in the dinner line, I knew then that you would be my one and only for life.   Later in the evening, our eyes literally met during an orientation game where we had to look into each other’s eyes for two minutes without saying anything.  The purpose of this game was to teach us as staff that we would meet all kinds of people in the summer and that it was important to see what was in the heart of a person.  At that moment, I saw your heart.  In your heart, I saw love, compassion, grace, and kindness.

April & Jim @ Memorial Chapel Lake Junaluska, NC 2010

Over the years,  you have  demonstrated not only your love for me but our Father’s love.  Along with seeing inside your heart, I also learned from you about what it means to persevere, to trust God and be a team.    We knew that if we were to be together and we would have to trust God,  work as a team and persevere.   In 1983, there were no computers with internet, no cell phones with unlimited minutes and texting, no facebook or twitter.   It was through writing several times a week, calling at a set time on Saturday night, you  driving down to see me once a month, me flying up to see you on the holidays and great determination that kept us together and our love alive.

If I had it to do over again, I would do it all again.  The obstacles we faced as a dating couple and as a married couple are nothing compared to what life would be if you weren’t there.  Together, we have stood the test of time,  taken many test together and got through them with the help of God, we have learned a lot about grace and forgiveness!  Through the years, we have so many wonderful memories of special occasions and trips together.  We have had moments where we stopped and had a good belly laugh together.   Yes, we also have faced disappointment together. There  have also been times we have  grieved together, cried on each other’s shoulder and held each other up. Along the way, God has blessed us with family, friends and acquaintances that have left footprints on our hearts.

It only seems like yesterday that my Dad was walking me down the aisle giving me to you.    November 23, 1985, began our life together. Today, we look at our past and learn what it has taught us.  Then, hand in hand, we look to the future.  Neither one of us know what the future holds but we do know that God will make our tapestry all the more beautiful as we journey on together.

Today, I celebrate spending 25 years with my best friend.   The last 25 years are a woven tapestry of beauty and I would do it all again!  You are still and always will be  my one and only.

I love you!

April