Teach Your Children Well

sam and erin_christmas_2009_caremeridian When Sam was at the VA hospital in Palo Alto during a previous Christmas season, there were always Christmas Cards in a basket in the day room.  The “get well” cards were from local school children “to a wounded soldier” and it was always a treat reading what they had said and looking at the pictures they drew for the wounded men and woman.  Erin would take a few cards into Sam’s room and read them to him to cheer him up.  It was such a good feeling knowing that there were teachers in the local area who where teaching the children about the sacrifice our service men and women make for their country. 

About three months ago I contacted the local elementary school that Erin attended and asked if any of the teachers might like to sponsor Sam and Erin and send get well cards to Sam (Sam is also from Citrus Heights).  I received a very courteous and apologetic reply from the school passing on my request.  The reason was basically that the “war” in the Middle East is controversial and it might upset some students or some parents may object to their children’s participation. [It is not my intention at all to point the finger and any individual or institution so I won’t be mentioning any names…I understand this situation could happen anywhere in our country…sadly].

When I was a young child in elementary school, we would always start out the day by standing next to our desk, put our right hand over our heart, face the flag and recite the pledge of allegiance.  I truly believe this was part of the foundation for the love I have for our country.

I Pledge Allegiance to the flag
of the United States of America
and to the Republic for which it stands,
one Nation under God, Indivisible,
with Liberty and Justice for All.

I wonder if the “Pledge” is still being recited in our elementary schools today? And if so, are the children being taught what it means? [see Red Skelton’s monologue for review] “with Liberty” — do they know what those two words represent?  Do they understand that men and women of our military fought and died for our right to say those words?  Sadly, I think not.

A few weeks ago, I told the above story to a lady who’s daughter goes to another elementary school our town.  In fact, I wrote a blog about her daughter and a club at their school called the Barrett Battalion.  We were all visiting Sam at CareMeridian and this family had come to support Sam and hear myself, my wife and a few friends play Christmas carols for the patients and their families.  A few days ago, we had a small get-together at my parents house and this family was invited.  Towards the end of the evening, the mother pulled out a gift bag and presented it to Erin and me.  It was a beautiful binder with about 120 Christmas letters to Sam written by students from Carriage Elementary and John Barrett Middle School.  Many of the children expressed their appreciation for the sacrifice Sam has made for our country and wished him a speedy recovery.  What an incredible Christmas gift for Sam and Erin…and what an incredible gift these children have been given by their teachers—the gift of respect and honor for their country and those who have sacrificed their lives and health to keep it strong.

Merry Christmas to all…

Good Morning to All,

It has been a tremendous holiday season with many miracles unfolding around us. Even in the face of diminishing resources, (the county in which I live and work is nearly broke, and from which we derive most of our funding to feed the homeless). My job has seemed to double in scope. Greater need + less resources = miracles of God’s provision. Our annual turkey drive netted us more than double what it did last year; FEMA has come thru with some awesome donations of highly useable foods, and a federally funded program has enabled us to pay young people to gain work experience in our kitchens. Although we should expect the miraculous from God, we often don’t and then act surprised when it happens. The Sam Nichols story is proof that prayer changes circumstances. Prayers offered for Sam from the Nichols and Neria families, our extended families across the country, and a host of friends from around the world that believe in his total restoration; continue to drive his progress in a positive direction.

Sam'sSmiles11-09 Erin loves the attached picture. She says that when he attempts to smile, is the only time you can tell the brain injury by merely his appearance. His smile is lopsided and just makes him all the cuter. Sam has had quite a month which includes getting to eat ice cream, the rediscovery of some emotions he hasn’t displayed since the injury, and the introduction of some new and experimental drugs by a new Doctor. His physical therapist is smart and often rewards his hard work with some tastes of ice cream. He thoroughly enjoys this time and it is often the social aspect of the moment that makes it special for him. Although everyone agrees that the new display of emotions is a positive step in the right direction; the behavior is hard to imagine from him as he has been so placid up until now. When Erin brings comfort to another patient, (a young man with a brain injury) by adjusting his pillows in his wheel chair; Sam doesn’t like it. He becomes agitated and surly. When Erin asks what is bothering him, he just replies that he doesn’t like the guy. Ha! Of course he denies that he may be jealous of Erin giving another some attention, and then the next day it is all forgotten and peace has returned. I understand that this type of behavior is to be expected from recovering brain injury patients, but Erin and I can’t help but see the humor in it. It just underlines the man in Superman Sam….Erin is very excited to get to try some treatments for Sam that may or may not be beneficial. He has had some positive reactions in the past to some brain stimulants, so it may be in God’s plan to have these be a part of his recovery. The one thing I always notice is that until he becomes accustomed to the new drug; it totally wipes him out and he gets sleepy. Rest is a good thing as his body does what God intended at creation to help heal itself.

Sam'sLizard-Sebastian Someone had caught a baby lizard just outside the home where Sam resides and given it to him to observe and hold. He named it Sebastian and when Erin asked him what he wanted to do with it, he replied to keep it in a box. Erin foresaw that pandemonium would ensue from a lizard loose in the rehab home and talked him to letting it go in the garden. He reluctantly agreed. It put me in mind that Sam was the one when small wanted creatures around the house. We had snakes in an aquarium, lizards and bugs in terrariums, crawdads, goldfish, and dogs…It was good training then and I believe has value now.

As Christmas approaches tomorrow, I ask simply that you all remember the reason for the season, and that’s Jesus. It is because he came into this world to reconcile man to God, and restore our blessings that we can boldly stand on God’s statement of fact that by his stripes, Sam is healed. Not will be, but IS! Not some future hope, but now. Faith is evidence of things not yet seen, so just because we haven’t seen it yet doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have it. Rejoice with us in the knowledge that Sam is healed this Christmas….

Much love,


16 Responses to Teach Your Children Well

  1. Steve Marquez says:

    Merry Christmas Sam and Erin!
    The Marquez’s
    We love and miss you!

  2. Stephanie Kerr-Chase says:

    The best Christmas ever to you Sam and Erin. I am keeping you both in my prayers and heart and wishing you the best year ever! As are my kids and hubby.
    Love you, the Kerr and Chase families (Bobby, Josh, Michelle, Sophia (our new granddaughter) Dan and Steph

  3. Danalee Lavelle says:

    Merry Christmas to Sam, Erin and their families!

    I was shocked to read about the elementary school declining to send cards. This country is in sad shape. We need Jesus in our lives more than ever. He is there for us, we just have to BELIEVE.

    Hugs to all.


  4. Barbara Sosman says:

    Merry Christmas to all Sam and Erin’s family members, and God’s blessings fall on you all this day and throughout the new year. Whenever I read the accounts of Sam’s improvement, and realize how he and Erin are bolstered every day by the love of their families and friends (among them the medical personell)I know that God is at work, and miracles, thought often small, are real. Thank you for these regular posts, Tony and Eric.

  5. Anne says:

    Merry Christmas to the Nichols and Neria families.

  6. Jennifer Plowman says:

    Merry Christmas Sam and Erin. We are all keeping you guys in our prayers.
    Jenny Plowman, and Andrew Murry

  7. Kalista Kersten says:

    Merry Christmas Sam and Erin!!! And to the friends and family… I am glad to see that Sam is smiling and that he is progressing so well. Erin and Sam are kept in my prayers and mind everyday, and I will continue to do so. I hope your christmas was beautiful and full of joy 🙂
    Its too bad about the Elementary school… its too bad for those students… Maybe someday they will get the chance to know someone like Sam or anyone who is serving, God Bless Them.

  8. Aunt Tammy says:

    Merry Christmas Sam and Erin! And to the rest of the family a Happy New Year!
    Here in AZ, I work in a high school (I work with English Language Learners) and we ask the students to stand and say the “Pledge” once a week. It is interesting to note that the students who were born in the USA seem to be the most reluctant to stand and go through “the motions”. But the students from the Middle East and Asia seem to take the “Pledge” very seriously. Tony, I guess you are right, a lot of students born here just do not understand what “with liberty” truely means.

  9. Carol Calloway says:

    Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year to Erin, Sam, and the Nichols and Neria families. May God continue to bless and heal Sam in the coming year. You all remain in my prayers daily and will until Sam is healed completely.

  10. Susanna says:

    Thank you for your blog! I was appalled that the elementary school declined your request.
    You are so strong! All my hugs, wishes, thoughts and prayers to Sam and Erin and all their friends and family.

  11. Lori Peoria says:

    Merry Christmas to you all!
    When ever you want cards, please let me know. I will be sure he is showered with them!!!

  12. HAPPY NEW YEAR Sam & Erin!

    Just wanted to let you know, we think of you so often & continue to PRAY for Sam’s healing! What a blessing it is to see God’s faithfullness each step along the way, Sam will be healed, I BELIEVE it, KEEP THE FAITH!

  13. Jenni says:

    Hi I’ve reading Sam’s blog but have not commented. My husband was injured in a car wreck and has a TBI. I admire Erin, as I know how difficult this is.

    I am a teacher and I am hurt by the first school’s response to your request…horrible! But I glad that Sam and Erin received some letters anyway.

    My husband went through the emotions that you are describing. And they do mean progress. But they are VERY difficult to deal with. My husband still has problems in this area and has said some horrible things to me and have done things way out of character for him. It can be caused by seizure-type activity. But knowing that doesn’t help sometimes.

    Anyway, I just thought I would introduce myself. We have website too. The link is above. Hugs.

  14. Kris Abbruzzi says:

    Hey there Sam, Erin and Families!

    I hope you all had a wonderful and blessed Christmas! Know that many prayers were said for you all (as always!) and prayers of Thanks for Sam’s Healing!! I am a believer!! And I always will be.

    I pray that 2010 brings peace, comfort and even more healing for Sam, and the same plus extra strength for you, Erin, and your families. We will all be out here praying for you and cheering you on every step of the way. I’m so excited to be able to watch Sam’s Total Restoration continue!!

    I’m so bummed out about the school not wanting to get “involved” … man that just makes me crazy. I pray for those who think that way, for it really is a crying shame given what our brave military heroes have done, and do, for all of us, every single day. I am, though, happy to report that my daughter’s school recites the Pledge of Allegiance daily (complete with the “one nation under God” part) and boy does she get excited when she has Flag Duty!!

    Happy New Year Sam, Erin, the Nichols and Neria families. God bless each and every one of you.

    – Kris, a Soldiers’ Angel from RI

  15. Caroline Bruce says:

    Happy News Years to you all from New Zealand!!!
    I hope 2010 – is going to be the year for GREAT things!!!
    Hope you all had a great family christmas as well.

    Say a big hi to Sam – and let him no that me & my husband are expecting a new addition in March… So my count down is on 9 weeks today!!!

    Much love,

  16. Kris Abbruzzi says:

    Hi guys!

    Just stopping by to let you all know that as always you are in my thoughts and my prayers. I hope and pray that Sam has been feeling well and has continued to heal more and more each day.

    God bless you all.

    – Kris, a Soldiers’ Angel from RI

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