Pajamas For Christmas

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Like a lot of kids growing up in the years after World War II, our family of seven struggled to make ends meet. We lived with my Palmer grandparents, two uncles and an aunt—all twelve of us living in a four-bedroom house on my grandparents farm in rural Minnesota. Needless to say, it was crowded and chaotic at times.

Once a year before school started, Mom and Dad would try to buy us a new outfit and shoes, but most of our clothes were hand-me-downs or they came from the annual church rummage sale. Our pants were patched, our socks darned, and everything looked rather used, but our clothes were always clean and neatly pressed. Our Neumann grandparents would also try to help out, by giving us socks, underwear, and pajamas on our birthdays and at Christmas. We were always very excited when we got anything new—rather than getting faded, well-worn clothing. I have memories of my younger brother at about four years old, trying to pull on a pair of pink pajamas—the kind with the feet in them and the trap door in the back. Yes, they were pink—and he was a boy, but that didn’t matter if you needed pajamas. He couldn’t pull them up over his shoulders as he had grown enough that they were too short. Instead of handing them down to our little sister, Mom cut the feet out of them, and he was able to wear them for the rest of the winter.

One of my favorite times was Christmas when each of us would get a new pair of pajamas. It was exciting to open the presents—carefully unwrapping the paper so it could be saved for next year. I would rub my hands over the precious designs and rub the soft flannel on my face and knew it would be nice and warm to snuggle in. That night we would all change into our PJs and line up for a picture—our freshly scrubbed shining faces showing our happiness at having something new of our very own.

Trust in the Lord

As a volunteer at the local hospital, I meet many people who are coming in for surgery. A few months ago, I met a woman coming in for tests prior to knee-replacement surgery. As I escorted down the long hall to the lab, she introduced herself as Sue, (not her real name) and mentioned how scared she was about the surgery which would be her second knee- replacement. When I left her at the lab, I wished her well and told her I would pray for her.

A little later, I saw her exit the hospital, but a few minutes later, she came back to use the restroom. She looked even more stressed when she reappeared. I asked if she wanted to talk. She nodded and we stepped into a quiet hallway.

“The problem isn’t the surgery,” she said, “this doctor did my other knee and he’s very good. I’m scared of the anesthesia—of being put under. I’m afraid of being out of control.”

This seemed like a very curious statement to me. I let her keep talking.

“I’m just scared because…” she looked away as tears flooded her eyes. “It’s because I was in prison. I was mixed up with some people who were into some bad stuff and I ended up charged and convicted. I was in for five years and I lost all control of my life. When I got out I swore I never wanted to be confined ever again, but to me going under anesthesia is like being locked up.”

“That must have been very hard,” I replied.

“It was awful, but one good thing is that I connected with some wonderful Christian women there, and I learned about God’s love, his forgiveness of my sins, and his mercy. I became a believer and read the Bible.”

I smiled at her. “Something very good came out of something bad.”

“You’re right about that. I saw a lot of women who were bitter and angry there. I didn’t want to be like that, but I saw something special in the Christian women—something I wanted too.”

“You were saved?”

“Yes.”

“Wonderful.” I patted her arm. “So you believe in prayer then?”

“Yes and when you said you would pray for me, I was overwhelmed.”

“When you feel overwhelmed, you just need to pray and ask God to help you. Do you May I pray for you now?”

She nodded, blinking back tears.

I grabbed a couple of tissues for her and I prayed for God to give her His peace—to fill her with trust—and remove any fear and doubt from her mind. Then I gave her a hug and promised to continue to pray for her.

Over the next two days, I couldn’t get her off my mind and I prayed for her many times. On the third day, I felt like I had to go see her—to encourage her, but as it turned out she encouraged me. I found her sitting up on the side of the bed. “Sue, how are you doing?” She broke into a big smile as I entered and I gave her a hug. “You look great.”

“I feel great. I’ve been up walking around the halls and I’m going home today.”

“Really? You said the doctor expected you’d be in the hospital for a week.”

“Yes, that what he said, but I’m doing so well, I get to go home today.”

“That’s fantastic.”

“Yes, but the best part was that after you prayed for me, I wasn’t scared at all. Your words kept coming back to me—‘Don’t be anxious about anything. Pray and trust God’.” Smiling, she grabbed my hand and squeezed it.

“I’m so glad to hear you weren’t afraid. I prayed for you throughout each day.”

“I knew it. I felt it. I’ve been praying too and when I went for surgery, I was totally at peace. It felt like I was wrapped in someone arms—warm and safe.”

“Someone?”

“It was God. I know it was—you were like His angel—sent to help me.”

“Oh, I’m no angel,” I said and we both laughed.

“Me either, but you were sure here when I really needed someone.”

“I’m so glad. You were so afraid, but remember what God said, ‘I will never leave you or forsake you’.”

“I remember reading that in the Bible.”

We smiled at each other and shared another hug. “You’re going to be okay, Sue. God will be with you wherever you go.”

She grinned from ear to ear. “I think I will be.”

I was so glad that I was in a position to be used by God at a time when this woman so very much needed assurance of God’s love and presence to overcome her fear of surgery.

In Philippians 4:6-7, it says, Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.