Sam Hears God

As Cheryl and Rob were getting ready to leave the hospital with their brand new baby boy, the social worker’s words came as quite a shock, “I’m so glad you want to take him home.”

In their late 30’s, they had been extremely excited about the birth of their first child. Not even wanting to know the sex of their baby, they had kept it a surprise during their pregnancy. Cheryl and Rob had taken their Lamaze classes and the new parents had felt very prepared. But nothing could prepare them for this.

“There were no folds in his brain. The doctors diagnosed Sam as having Microcephaly.” There wasn’t anything in Sam’s genetic make-up to show why it had happened, nothing in the genetic testing that Cheryl and Rob also underwent. “We had never considered that something might be wrong.”

“For the first four months, we were in survival mode,” says Cheryl. “We anointed him with oil and prayed for his healing. We had great people surrounding us, helping us. God has given us an amazing family and friends.”

“I went to a women’s retreat and I really had some great time with the Lord. It was spring and the weather was warm. I went out onto the tennis courts to soak in the sun. There were all these beautiful flowers in planters everywhere. Then I noticed this tiny little pot off to the side, all by itself. There was just one stem with a little bud of a flower on top…” Cheryl had to pause, that emotional moment still very poignant. “It was as if God was saying to me, “I know this is how you thought it was going to be, you pictured your son to be like all of those other flowers in this garden all around you but I’ve given you Sam. He’s like that little pot. This is the flower that I have given you and I want you to just be his mom. Don’t be a neurologist, don’t be a geneticist. Just be Mom.”  That was huge for me. It let me go back and get to know Sam for who he is and just love him. That changed my whole perspective. You can research all this stuff which is good but you’ve got to let God be God.”

“Why harbor some kind of ‘why me’ attitude? We had to get to the point of letting go of it and live in the situation,” Rob said. “That was my journey. Everything the doctors told us was a temporary picture that they painted. They tried to warn us that we could go in after a nap or in the morning and he may be gone. One thing we learned was to take everything that the doctors said with a grain of salt because the doctors don’t know everything about the brain. You can talk to them and they can tell you a hundred different things and you have to learn to balance it out.”

“Joni Eareckson actually sent us a verse in Psalms 119 last year,” said Cheryl, “Sustain me according to your promise and I will live, do not let my hopes be dashed.” That’s one of Sam’s theme verses, he has a few! God is sustaining him according to God’s promise and Sam is going to live and our hopes won’t be dashed! There is nothing that I can do to sustain him, I wish I could!” Cheryl admitted. “That’s how I sometimes live life, I’ve asked God to show me when I do that. We should all have to live life that way, with God sustaining us.

“The world’s diagnosis for Sam is: severe microcephaly, which is a small brain that may have developed that way or actually shrunk, we’re really not sure, severe epilepsy, sever visual impairment, severe mental delay but God’s diagnosis is: fearfully and wonderfully made for Divine purposes, loved by God, his parents and a whole lot of other people! Those are the things that we focus on. The things the doctors give us are good for us to research and to find helpful information but we focus on God’s diagnosis.

“God has used this to cross our paths with people who we never would have known. Some people see God in a different light because of who Sam is. Understanding that this is who God has given us, we enjoy Sam simply for who he is. There is joy and happiness in the midst of it all. In the world today, in common everyday life, you just don’t see much of that.”

“Also,” adds Rob, “it’s the reliance upon God because you are out of control. Dads like to fix things but I have to let go and Sam has bad days but God is still in control whether this is his last day or if he has many more days. That helps me in every other area of my life too.”

“We know that God has a divine purpose in Sam’s life because that’s what He promises for every life,” says Cheryl, “we take Sam to school and pray for him, “God, I pray for Sam’s day, that he will have the day that you want for him, that he will be the fragrance of Christ in his class and glorify you and bring Jesus to his friends.”

“That also lets Sam know that he has a purpose and he can participate.” Rob said. “It’s daily trying to see how God wants Sam to participate in life, that’s what God wants for all of us. I used to say to Sam when he was younger, “Come on, Sam! Participate in life!” Rob says, stroking the arm of his son who sits in a specialized seat which keeps Sam upright while sitting on the floor. Sam smiles, his head turning towards his daddy, arms and legs kicking about. Sam cannot crawl or walk. There is a series of photographs in the hallway near the front door of Sam in the process of rolling over. Cheryl and Rob were told that Sam would never be able to do this, the scripture verse beneath the photos, “I can do all things through Christ Jesus who gives me strength” serves to remind Cheryl and Rob every time they go in and out of the house that with God, all things are possible.

“I say that Sam can work a grocery store because we get the smiles, we get the looks, we get all kinds of questions and he blesses the people around him. Sam is good at being Sam, he is good at being who God created him to be, I’m not so sure if the rest of us are doing that.

“In Sunday School Sam is in a K-3 class. They have a large group that they do music with and then break up into small groups. Sam has three women who trade off being his “buddy.” Sam is in a small group of 1st grade boys. About a month ago some of the boys in his small group started asking his buddy Nancy questions about Sam, so she and the small group leader decided to stop the lesson and just see what developed. She explained some things about Sam to the boys. One of the boys suggested that they pray for Sam (by the way, the planned lesson for that week was on prayer) so for the rest of the time the boys in Sam’s group prayed out loud for him. When I walked in to pick Sam up, Nancy was teary eyed as she told me what happened and she was excitedly sharing with the parents of the boys what the boys had done that morning for their friend Sam.  Another Mom started crying because she was touched by her son’s compassion. Sam’s small group leader Ken, had said that he knew that he needed to drop the “lesson on prayer” and just let the boys live it out. Sam was so happy, he was smiling when I came in to the classroom and as we talked about it on the way home he was just the happiest guy. What a huge thing God did.”

Sam’s two year old little brother, Toby has been running around the living room, offering sips of water to his big brother, climbing on his mom and dad. “Toby is very touchy, he loves to touch Sam’s ears, hold his hand, he lies down with him in the morning. As parents to Toby, we’re always praying about this situation in our family, how we can use it to help Toby, to have him think about his feelings through this. He already knows what a seizure is, he knows about g-tubes and he loves helping his big brother,” Cheryl’s eyes follow Toby into the kitchen. “And Sam loves Toby, because of Sam’s visual impairment, he can’t really see Toby but he loves to listen to him, he’s always smiling when Toby talks and you can tell he’s really listening.

“With most 2 year olds, it’s all about me. ME! ME! ME! So, maybe God has used this to help Toby around that stage. We also try to find the balance to make sure Toby has Mommy and Daddy to himself and get that one on one time. When Tody was born, there’s always those developmental milestones that you look forward to as your child grows but I’m focused more on Toby’s character, not so much what he is doing. We are much more interested in Toby being like Christ than what he does and what he wears. That’s had to be our prayer for Sam as well.”

“I think we see more of God’s mercy and compassion now. Our heart is so different when we see someone else in a wheelchair, we have much more compassion and understanding. It’s helped us to see more of that part of God’s character.” Which is obvious as I watch the tenderness that this father has for his 8 year old son.

Cheryl adds, “I think I see God in a bigger way, I know he cares about every little thing. I used to be in control, a take charge kind of person, but now, I just can’t do that. If God wants us to do something, go somewhere, I have to rely on the Lord. Sometimes it’s easier than others. One day, I had both boys and we had to go to two doctor’s appointments and of course, you’d rather take the kids to the park but I prayed and told the Lord that I just wanted to have a great day and we did! We ate our lunch in the car together and we played our music! It wasn’t about what we think will make us have a great time, it’s about enjoying one another wherever we are. Now, we call the emergency room with Sam, Family Time! God changes your perspective.” Rob and Cheryl both let out a chuckle, letting me know this is a common place thing. “Sometimes Rob and I think we’re going to go away for our anniversary. We leave the kids at my sister’s and then Sam has an emergency. We have to turn back around and go get him and we have to say, “OK, we’re going to have a great time with the three of us and that’s what we do! And God blesses that! There’s always that human reaction of disappointment but then we have to just see what God is going to do with the situation.”

“Rob once said that he thinks our marriage is stronger because of our circumstances. There are so many temptations out in the world that may have been stronger without Sam but because of Sam, we look at things in a much different perspective. He’s shown us what really is important. Sam’s name means: hears from God.” Cheryl says, running her hand across Sam’s head. “There are times in his room when he is just cracking up or so peaceful and I really think God is talking to Sam.” Her eyes glisten with tears as she looks at this son, who in her eyes is perfect in every way.

Rob and Cheryl have been given an assignment, to get to know Sam for who he is and to love him. I have been watching Toby running here and there and Sam, strapped into his therapeutic chair, happy and smiling, the two so very different and yet with their greatest need so very much the same, to give and to receive love. Not only have Rob and Cheryl been excelling at their assignment, but I believe Sam has been as well.

See story about how Sam touched an entire church:


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  1. Loved it, and love that family!

  2. May God Bless you all, I was so touched, I cried as I read about God’s goodness and the strength He gives. We love you Meadors! Love, Mike and Eileen

  3. I am so honored to call you my friends, and I love that the world can come to know the family I love so deeply through this site.

  4. Wow, what a wonderful story. Thank you for uplifting me today.

    God is so good.

  5. words escape me right now but my heart is overflowing with love for my lil bro and his awesome family…

  6. Mike & Gail says

    You ALL are such a blessing to us! We are so glad Rinky shared this with us. This is a reminder that we often miss God’s blessings because we refuse to look at our cirumstances as what they are…blessings from a GOD who is always in control and always loves us.
    Love you guys!

  7. I’m speechless…what a lovely story.

  8. I am blessed and encouraged by you all…Rob, Cheryl, Sam, Toby and Kara.
    Thank you for being God’s vessel and sharing your story. I look forward to seeing more AMAZING ways that God is going to glorify Himself through you all!

  9. God Bless your family. Thank you so much for sharing your story.

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