“This Is You and Me”
by Drew and Nita Meadows
Bigger Than All Our Plans ~ Stories of God's Provision at Johnson Ferry Baptist Church
Written by Dick Parker
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those that love him and are called according to His purpose.
God has sustained us. He has worked through hundreds of people not only to sustain us through our worst nightmare but to uplift us and bring us into an intimacy with Him that we never could have imagined. Our prayer in the hours after our son Brock’s death on January 31, 2008, was, “Lord, you promise in Romans 8:28 to do good through all things. We pray that you will do something mighty through our loss. Use it fully as you intend.”
God has answered our prayer, and continues to answer it. He has changed many lives already. God is big, and He is working, and that encourages to us. Looking back, we see now how God was working in us long before Brock died, strengthening us and our marriage so we could withstand the loss of Brock. He continues to provide for us directly and through others. You can see His provision throughout our story.
We offer the following in thanksgiving for all He has given us. We tell the story from our individual points of view to make it clearer. But in reality, we see it as if through one set of eyes.
More than a year ago I was challenged to ask if our marriage was all that it could be. Drew and I have always had a good marriage, but the question was whether our marriage was the best it could be, a reflection of God. When I came home and mentioned it to Drew, he said, “We have a good marriage.”
“I know,” I said. “But I believe God is calling it to be something more.”
We talked about it for a while and agreed that with God’s help our marriage could grow even stronger. About that time Johnson Ferry started a mentoring program, and in God’s perfect provision, we were given the gift of Lee and Beverly Webb as our mentors. They helped us to find ways to reflect the Lord in our marriage. It took a lot of work and a lot of talking, and through the process we realized how often we had seen issues as “mine versus his.” That pattern often led to hurt feelings. A friend mentioned the secret of a 50-year married couple was to look at things as one. As I shared this with Drew, this was a ‘light bulb’ moment for both of us. The new pattern became, “This is you and me looking at this together.”
It became literally, “This is you and me looking at our finances,” or our parenting or the way we saw the fleshy side of the world. We know now that by giving us a new way to see things together, God in His goodness was preparing us for what we were about to go through.
All four of our boys ran in Johnson Ferry’s Polar Bear Run (Polar Cub Run for Brock) on January 26, and for the weeks leading up to the race, Asa, Mason, and Barrett explained to Brock, who was two years old, that when the starter said, “Go!” he was supposed to run fast. It was so sweet watching them practice in the hall at home. Looking back we see how much of our time had been focused on Brock in the several months before he died. We had brought his “big-boy bed” from my parents’ house, and he helped Drew paint it. He was just starting to ride the little bike that his three brothers had learned to ride on. He learned to potty train. All special times.
Then the last week of January all of the boys got the flu on Monday. I took them to the doctor on Tuesday, and by Wednesday Brock seemed to have gotten over it. His fever was gone, and he was feeling much better. That afternoon I got them all settled down to watch a movie, then I finally took out the iPod I had just been given for Christmas and downloaded a variety of podcasts. While listening to Nancy Lee DeMoss, I pulled out an empty journal book that I decided to make it my “podcast journal.”
The message was based on the prayer of Hannah in 1 Samuel 2. For years Hannah had been unable to conceive, and when the Lord gave her a son, she dedicated him back to the Lord. Nancy Lee used Hannah’s circumstance and her prayer as a reminder of the sovereignty of God - that He even determines our lifespan and decides the number of breaths we’ll take. As she spoke I wrote in my journal, “What a safe place to be with such a sovereign God. So why do we worry?”
At bedtime Brock was still feeling fine. He asked me to read “my Bible”. The last picture shows Jesus Christ holding a small, blonde haired boy. “Dat’s Brockie”, he would always say. Jesus holding Brockie, Brock had told us so many times. But when he said, “I wanna see Jesus,” something that night was different. “I want to see Jesus,” I rocked him, sang “Jesus Loves Me”, and then I put him to bed. He woke up in the night, and the fever was back.
On Thursday morning I called the doctor’s office and told them Brock’s fever was back and asked them to check his strep culture. They said nothing was developing there - it was probably just the flu. After lunch Brock painted with Mason and got his sleeve wet. While I was in his room changing his shirt, his grandparents called. He had a sweet talk with both his Mema and his Daddy Curt, another last minute gift. He then played on the floor with his cars. We often took pictures, but this day Asa videoed Brock playing, another gift. I called Drew and said, “Brock still doesn’t act like he’s feeling good. Do you think I should go on and take him to the doctor?”
“You know, I was planning to come home early,” Drew said. “He needs to rest. What about putting him down for a nap, and if he feels bad when he wakes up, we’ll take him.”
I agreed that sounded like a good idea. In a while, Brock found me and said, “Mommy, I go read a book.” That was his way of saying, “I’m tired.”
That phone call from Nita was more important than it sounds. We would usually talk about that time of day, but she wouldn’t call just to ask whether to put one of the boys down for a nap. Her call made it our decision to take Brock to the doctor after he got some rest. It wasn’t her decision to lay him down, and it wasn’t my decision. It was our decision. That call protected our marriage, because we were in agreement on what to do.
I still struggle with that; I was the one who laid him down. At 2:20 we went back to his room and read and rocked. He was growing up so fast. I sat in the rocker and he cuddled with his head on my left shoulder, like he always did, sucking his right thumb and holding his blanket in his left. When Asa, Mason, and Barrett got their big-boy beds, we moved the rocker out. But Brock loved to rock so much, we just couldn’t take it out. We rocked some more until he was ready to sleep, then I laid him on his bed and said, “I love you, Brockie.”
He said, “I love you, Mommy.”
That was something he had started just before Christmas, saying, “I love you,” back to us. Another gift.
I went back in at 4:00 to get Brock up. I rolled him over and knew something was terribly wrong. I scooped him up and realized he needed help right now, so I yelled for Asa to call 911 - something a twelve-year-old should never have to do - while I started CPR. Asa also had the wherewithal to call Drew at work. Mason didn’t know what he could do to help, so he dropped to his knees beside us and prayed - the first thing he could think of. He reached over and pulled Barrett close to him and kept praying. Our housecleaners began wailing and praying in Portuguese.
I didn’t know whether to drive home or to the hospital. I knew Nita needed help, so I called the homes of two neighbors and couldn’t find anybody. Then I called the Massey’s. The answering machine picked up, and I started talking. Then J.C. answered - thank God. He said he would get to the house and call me right back.
J.C came running across the yard just as the EMTs were taking Brock out the front door. The ambulance driver asked me, “Do you want to go?”
I looked at J.C. “I’ve got the boys,” he said. What a sweet provision of God, just when we needed it. I could not bear to watch the ambulance leave with Brock, but I couldn’t leave my other boys alone at home.
“Yes, thank you,” I said, and then I pulled Asa, Mason, and Barrett close to me on the porch, put my arms around them, and prayed that God would take care of Brockie, and if it was His will . . . “Thank you so much, Lord, for Brock.”
By that time they were about to close the back of the ambulance, and I ran across the yard. It was raining. I couldn’t remember the last time it had rained, and somehow the water on my forehead and cheeks reminded me of God’s provision.
“So let us know, let us press on to know the LORD.
His going forth is as certain as the dawn;
And He will come to us like the rain,
Like the spring rain watering the earth.”
In the ambulance they weren’t saying anything to me as they worked on Brock. Looking back weeks later, I knew in the depth of my soul that he was gone, and I realized that God had given me the peace I was experiencing even in my deepest sorrow and greatest turmoil—a comfort that only God can give, that I will never understand—the moment I had rolled him over in his bed. Brock was not with us, but He was.
I thought Drew might be heading home, so I called and told him to meet us at the hospital.
“What is it?!” he asked.
“They’re not telling me.”
“What do you think?”
“I don’t think it’s good.”
They let me go with Brock into the emergency room as they continued to work on him. They still weren’t saying anything to me. I kept praying and holding onto Brock’s blanket.
I was hurdling down Johnson Ferry Road toward the hospital not knowing if my son was dead or alive, just screaming at God. Banging the steering wheel, banging the dash, screaming, “Don’t take my Brockie! Don’t take my Brockie!” Then it came . . . that peace that passes all understanding . . . and I calmly said, “I give him back to you.” And then I said the hardest, most unnatural thing to my Lord, “I will praise You. With or without Brock, I will praise You!”
Drew came through the door of the emergency room. Huge raindrops dappled the shoulders of his jacket, and I knew they were the teardrops of the Lord.
We know now that Brock was already with the Lord when Nita lifted him out of his bed. When I got to the hospital, Nita, the paramedics, and now the doctors had been working on him for almost an hour, and still there was no response. Yet a team of professionals continued to work to save his life. I am certain now that was God’s provision. I would have been angry if I had walked in and found that they had given up. Instead of anger, I felt peace that Brock was in good hands.
I asked, “Has anybody heard a heartbeat from my son?”
The doctor in charge looked up and said, “No sir.”
Even as I heard those words in the midst of chaos, I continued to experience a surreal peace that only God could have given me. Brock was no longer with us.
“Then why are you doing this?” I asked.
“Children’s bodies can be very resilient. We’re going to try a little longer.”
None of them would tell us what we knew had to be true. We moved toward Brock, and one of the doctors looked up at us…and gasped. “I know you people!” he said. He was David Christie, a member at Johnson Ferry, and in his recognition of us, the sorrow on his face told us what nobody else had said. He invited us closer, and we stood beside Brock as they continued to work.
We talked to Brock and prayed for him until the lead physician finally stepped back and said, “We’re sorry.”
I held Nita. She cried, “I’m so sorry,” and I felt the burden of the guilt she was carrying—that she could not bear alone—a weight that was not hers to carry alone.
I had an overwhelming feeling of guilt. I had laid Brock down, and now we were here. Then Drew took my face in his hands and said—and I don’t know how God reminded him of this—“This was our decision, you and me. You called and you asked me about laying him down for a nap. We decided. This is you and me together looking at this. You and me.”
That moment was God’s protection of our marriage.
Then they allowed us to go into another quieter room with just Brock. After we had a sweet time of holding Brock and trying to comprehend the thought of a goodbye, God sent an angel for the moment in Vanessa Turner, a Johnson Ferry friend, to comfort us.
In God’s provision, David lived in the neighborhood behind us. He left the hospital and drove my car home so she and I could ride together in Vanessa’s. I could only imagine how difficult it was going to be to live in our home again, and I told Nita we could sell the house tomorrow. But God had something else in mind.
We went to the Massey’s to get the boys and to tell them that Brockie had gone to be with Jesus. David in with us to check their breathing since they all still had the flu, to make sure they were okay and to calm our fears.
We did not think about all the people from church who would be at our home that night. All those people, the body of Christ, were divinely there to comfort us. Later we realized that they, by filling the quietness with hope, allowed us to get used to living in our home without Brock.
Family and dear friends, most of who are Johnson Ferry members flooded in. A chef began preparing all of the meals. A nurse tended to the boys. Deacons prayed and stayed most of the night. Friends cleaned our home and did our laundry. Through the night and the next day we began to see the body of Christ working as it should. The Lord would lay one thing on one person’s heart, and another on another’s.
We went into our bedroom and found three pallets around the bed—places for our boys to sleep in our room with us. Again, this was the body of Christ working. They took care of everything, like the Lord going before us. I had not been able to articulate anything I needed, but He went before us and provided it. Friends picked out funeral clothes for all of us. God used his people to be our provision.
For four months people brought food almost every day. In late March I folded clothes for the first time in weeks; I know now that I could not have done that emotionally at first because Brock’s clothes were not there. The normal, mundane life is hard to go back to, and that is what God has helped us through by laying these needs on the hearts of others.
Each day through a friend or through His word, God has provided what we needed for that time. He has told us, “Don’t look any further than today. It’s just you and Me for today.”
We could fill an entire book with the provisions God has offered in the months following Brock’s death. In fact, the “podcast journal” I started on January 30 was full by the first week in April with more instances of His reaching out to us through His word and his people.
We both knew Jesus early; we’ve walked in that lifestyle for a long time. We always knew He was there. Now we know that not only is He there, He cares. Not only does He care, He is intimate. We felt that intimacy like it was something thick—something you could literally feel. The truth of His word has come to life before us. What we read about, we have now seen with our eyes.
Often people would come by not knowing what to say. But this house has been holy ground for months, and people have been drawn here. The Holy Spirit is here, and we feel it. We have laughed and cried, felt joy and pain. But it is the intimacy with Christ that we have never experienced so closely until now.
It is Christ saying to us, “This is you and Me looking at this together.”