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.
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.
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….