A little over 13 years ago, God placed a burden on my parents to move our family from Georgia to West Texas. We never really knew why. My parents viewed it as a trusting and obeying the direction of God.
Today though I think it finally dawned on me why. There was no one reason, but several. I think we looked at it wrong or at least I did. I was always expecting one day to be able to point to an exact event or thing and say “This is why He moved us to Texas.” Yet, today I realized that there have been so many events and so many things that have happened that all compass why He led us here.
A major part of why I believe He moved us was that there were people that we needed to meet and friendships that we needed to form. One of those friendships was that of the Watson family.
I still remember that first Sunday I saw them all walk into church not long after we moved. That was the start of a long and sweet friendship between my family and theirs. It was a couple of years later that Lana and I got to be close friends. We were part of a group of about four girls who hung out together at meetings and singing schools calling ourselves “The Four Musketeers”. Lana and her sister Rachel became an important part of my life as we all grew up. Their brother John also became a special part of game nights with many of the young people in our area with his silly puns and witty teasing.
Years full of laughter and fun memories have followed since that first meeting. I have spent special times at their house and they have spent time at mine. There are so many wonderful times I can remember having with them and their family.
Their parents Leon and Connie have always been such a sweet example. They welcomed my brother and I into their home on several occasions. Brother Leon could tell so many stories and make us laugh. He was such a caring husband and loving father to his family. You could tell how much he loved his kids. He’d get a twinkle in his eye whenever he mentioned their accomplishments or funny things they did when they were little.
Brother Leon was a writer. I have read some of his articles although I’m also told that he wrote some historical fiction and loved to write down stories from his boyhood growing up on a farm. I hope to read more of what he wrote soon. I love to write too though I don’t figure what I write is nearly as witty or perhaps as important, but I wanted to dedicate something written to him.
After many years of suffering with leukemia, dear Brother Leon ceased his suffering here on earth and went to be with the Lord this week. It’s such a bittersweet feeling when a child of God dies. You’re so happy for them because you know they’re with the Lord, but at the same time those left behind still miss him. There’s an empty place there.
Brother Leon had such a special grin and laugh that we’ll all miss. Even when he wasn’t feeling well, he tried so hard to be as welcoming as he could when we were in his home visiting. It was the same when we went to visit him in the hospital as his condition worsened. He still made an effort to speak to us even though he was tired and struggling to talk. And, yes, he still teased us even then.
Today, as we laid him to rest, it was hard to see the grief on the faces of his dear family. Yet, even in their grief, there was still hope and assurance that they’ll see their husband and daddy again. The coming days will be difficult for them, but they know they’re not alone, that they’ll be okay.
I just want to say from the bottom of my heart how much I love them and how thankful to the Lord I am that I knew Brother Leon. God knew what He was doing when he moved us out here, and I count the Watsons as one of those dear reasons.
I can hardly imagine the joy and peace Brother Leon is feeling right now. It makes me feel rather homesick myself just thinking about it.Sweet Rivers of redeeming love lie just before mine eyes; Had I the pinions of a dove, I’d to those rivers rise. I’d rise superior to my pain with joy outstrip the wind, And cross bold Jordan’s stormy banks, and leave this world behind.