He had the flu.

I know the flu kills people every year, but not 63-year-old healthy men who just got home from Disney World with his grandkids. Not active men who still have so much life left in them. But it did. It was shocking, sudden, and horrible. My dad died.

Death does not discriminate; you’re not spared because you still have so much love yet to give to your wife of 43 years. You’re not spared just because you’re the patriarch of your family, you don’t get extra credit simply because you helped raise your four younger siblings when your own father passed away before your 20th birthday. It doesn’t matter that you are a wonderful father or that your youngest grandchildren are too young to remember you once you’re gone.

Death is simply a consequence of this fallen world we are a part of. We will all face it at some point or another even though it hardly seems fair just two years shy of retirement. That night I was so sad, so broken I felt like I couldn’t breathe. Repeating the promises of the Bible didn’t help. I could make a list a mile long of all the things I’m thankful for and still these coping methods couldn’t bring my heart back from the edge of this daddy-sized void on which it was fixated.

“I. Want. Him. Back!” It was hardly the mature Christian thing to say in prayer to the Lord of the Universe but I didn’t feel all that mature either. At that moment, I felt like a small child incapable of understanding the reason for the pain I was experiencing. I knew God would not make an exception for me, but I couldn’t help expressing my deepest desire, “I just want one more hour to have coffee with him.” My favorite part of visiting my parents’ home was waking up early before my kids were up and drinking coffee with my dad. He would talk about whatever was on his mind; often times it was political topics I didn’t have too much interest in but just to have those moments with him all alone was worth any conversation.

I fell asleep mid-prayer and awoke to my alarm in the early hours of the next day. As is my custom, I try to be up before the rest of the house on Sundays to have a little quiet time to myself at least one day a week. I made coffee in his cup, the one he always used when we visited. I sat down and snuggled up with the most precious gift he ever gave me—his memories. I bought him a guided journal years before and just the day before we found it on his bookshelf. He’d filled out almost every single page. I could practically hear his voice reading the stories to me—some I knew, some completely unknown to me until that moment. Tears streamed down my face as I snuggled down in my La-Z-Boy savoring everything about this moment: the smell of the ink, the feel of his words indented on the pages, the wisdom of my hero.

Suddenly, I heard the voice of my 10-month-old over the monitor “talking” to himself in his bed and I knew my quiet time had come to an end. I looked at the clock; it had been exactly one hour since I sat down with my hot mug of coffee and my dad’s final stories to me. Suddenly I realized God had given me my requested hour. Sure, it wasn’t how I would truly have wanted it to be—I couldn’t hug my dad or put my head on his shoulder and hear his heartbeat again—but I had a quiet hour and a cup of coffee with my dad once again.

I wonder how many times I have thought God chose not to answer my prayers only because the answer had come wrapped in a slightly different package. God began to answer this prayer back in 2006 when I strolled through the Hallmark store searching for a thoughtful Father’s Day gift. He orchestrated the answer to this prayer on all of those early mornings in my parents’ home when I sat down with my dad to enjoy a cup of coffee. Every time my dad chose that grey and green coffee mug with the fish on it, God was working to give me this precious gift. God knew I would need it long before I did.

I still do not fully understand why God did not answer my most earnest prayers as I stood in the ICU with my father in those final hours, but I do know that there is an answer, wrapped in a package that doesn’t look like the medical miracle I was asking for. A perfect answer that will be revealed in His perfect timing. It’s not my place to question but I am blessed to know fully the truth in Psalm 34:18,  “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available now!

Order Now

Check out our new Keepsake Companion Journal that pairs with our So God Made a Mother book!

Order Now
So God Made a Mother's Story Keepsake Journal

Laura Watts

My name is Laura Watts. I'm just another Jesus-loving mom who hopes to encourage a few people with the things I write. I believe strongly that the most important things in life are meant to be shared, including the lessons the Lord is teaching you and the joy you have been given.

Dear Dad, I Pray for Our Healing

In: Faith, Grief, Grown Children
Back shot of woman on bench alone

You are on my mind today. But that’s not unusual. It’s crazy how after 13 years, it doesn’t feel that long since I last saw you. It’s also crazy that I spend far less time thinking about that final day and how awful it was and spend the majority of the time replaying the good memories from all the years before it. But even in the comfort of remembering, I know I made the right decision. Even now, 13 years later, the mix of happy times with the most confusing and painful moments leaves me grasping for answers I have...

Keep Reading

God Redeemed the Broken Parts of My Infertility Story

In: Faith, Grief, Loss, Motherhood
Two young children walking on a path near a pond, color photo

It was a Wednesday morning when I sat around a table with a group of mamas I had just recently met. My youngest daughter slept her morning nap in a carrier across my chest. Those of us in the group who held floppy babies swayed back and forth. The others had children in childcare or enrolled in preschool down the road. We were there to chat, learn, grow, and laugh. We were all mamas. But we were not all the same. I didn’t know one of the mom’s names, but I knew I wanted to get to know her because she...

Keep Reading

God Has You

In: Faith, Motherhood
Woman hugging herself while looking to the side

Holding tight to the cold, sterile rail of the narrow, rollaway ER bed, I hovered helplessly over my oldest daughter. My anxious eyes bounced from her now steadying breaths to the varying lines and tones of the monitor overhead. Audible reminders of her life that may have just been spared. For 14 years, we’d been told anaphylaxis was possible if she ingested peanuts. But it wasn’t until this recent late autumn evening we would experience the fear and frenzy of our apparent new reality. My frantic heart hadn’t stopped racing from the very moment she struggled to catch a breath....

Keep Reading

My Husband Having a Stroke at 30 Wasn’t in Our Plans

In: Faith, Living
Husband and wife, selfie, color photo

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV) This verse in the book of Jeremiah has long been a favorite of mine. In fact, it’s felt relevant across many life events. Its simple, yet powerful reminder has been a place of solace, perhaps even a way to maintain equilibrium when I’ve felt my world spinning a bit out of control. In this season of starting fresh and new year intentions, I find great comfort in knowing...

Keep Reading

She Left Him on Valentine’s Day

In: Faith, Marriage
Husband kissing wife on cheek, color photo

“Can you believe that?” Those were the dreaded knife-cutting whispers I heard from across the table. I sunk deeper into my chair. My hopes fell as everyone would forever remember that I had left my fiancée on Valentine’s Day. Maybe one day it would just dissipate like the dream wedding I had planned or the canceled plane tickets for the Hawaiian honeymoon. Some bridesmaids and guests had already booked plane tickets. It was my own nightmare that kept replaying in my head over and over again. I had messed up. Big time. To be honest, if it made any difference,...

Keep Reading

God was In the Room for Our Daughter’s Open Heart Surgery

In: Faith, Motherhood
Child's hand with IV

I’ve had a strong faith for as long as I can remember, but I always felt bad that I never had a “testimony.” I had never gone through something that made me sit back and say, “Wow, God is real, He is here.” I have always felt it to my core, but no moment had ever stopped me dead in my tracks to where there was no denying that it was God. And then, that moment happened to me on December 5. After five months of fervently praying for a miracle for our daughter, the day came for her heart...

Keep Reading

A Benediction for the Worn Out Mother

In: Faith, Motherhood
Woman leaning against kitchen counter, black-and-white photo

Blessed are you, Father, for bestowing upon me the honor of motherhood. For allowing me to experience the deep joy of bringing forth life—a joy I often take for granted and instead choose to begrudge. My children’s cries and demands have worn me down. I do not recognize myself. I selfishly long for the old me. My thoughts are an intangible mess of never-ending tasks, self-criticism, and comparison to those around me. RELATED: God Sees You, Weary Mama But Your word says you are near to the broken-hearted and downtrodden. You do not forget the cause of the tired and the...

Keep Reading

God Doesn’t Forget You When You’re Lost and Unsure

In: Faith, Living
Woman looking into camera, color photo

I’ve been wandering around feeling lost for over a year. Wondering where I’m going, what I’m supposed to be doing. Nothing seems to make sense. I felt purposeless. I felt stuck. I questioned everything: my faith, my marriage, my career—if it could be questioned, I doubted it. And I was completely clueless how to fix the funk. For over a year, I’ve been in the wilderness. I’ve wanted to find my way, but every path seemed like another dead end. The wilderness. I’ve been residing there. Not feeling fed. Not feeling heard. Not feeling seen. Struggling to find a purpose....

Keep Reading

And Then, the Darkness Lifts

In: Faith, Motherhood
Mother with baby smiling

Today when I woke, it had lifted, like sunshine peeking after rain. And as my toddler clicked on the lamp beside my bed to see her mama, I saw me too. I got out of bed and I walked down the hall. And the coffee pot sat there waiting for me, as always, like my husband at the kitchen table with his books. He smiled at me, and I think he could tell as I took my medicine, took down a mug, and poured my coffee. I opened the secretary desk and pulled out the chair and my Bible, like...

Keep Reading

Joy in This Stillness

In: Faith, Motherhood
Mother holding sleeping toddler, color photo

I woke up suddenly in a sweat while it was still dark. Except for the humming of the oxygen machine, the house was silent. For a moment, I thought I might have time to enjoy a cup of coffee before my son woke up. However, a glance at my daughter’s crib told me that feeding my caffeine addiction would have to wait. My daughter has a terminal brain disorder called Lissencephaly, a side effect of which is uncontrolled epilepsy. Many mornings, a subconscious recognition that she is having episodes of repeated seizures rouses me from my sleep. Throwing on a...

Keep Reading