The Closed Door

” For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:9

November, 1972- Midwest, USA – High School Senior

“Mom, did you and Dad sign my application to the Christian college with the missionary nursing program?”

“We looked it over, but we won’t sign it because we don’t want you to attend there. It’s too conservative and we think you are becoming brain washed and a religious fanatic,” Mom replied.

The Closed Door

The Closed Door

I silently left the room, realizing it was useless to argue, went to my bedroom, and closed the door. As my tears flowed, I poured out my heart to God.

Dear Lord, You know how much I wanted to attend that Christian college. My parents’ hearts seem so hardened to You. I pray that Mom and Dad would each receive You as personal Savior. You know how difficult it has been here for me at home lately because they seem to hate You and the Bible. Please comfort me and show me the way I should go next.  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Over the next days, I read the wonderful story of Joseph in Genesis. When he was about my age, he was rejected by his eleven brothers, sold into slavery in Egypt, falsely accused of adultery by Pharaoh’s wife, and wrongly imprisoned for two years. After he interpreted Pharaoh’s dream accurately, he was made second in command over all of Egypt! “…there is none so discreet and wise as thou art….And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, See, I have set thee over all the land of Egypt.” Genesis 41:39, 41 So if God changed Pharaoh’s heart, He could certainly change my parents’ hearts about attending the Christian college, but He hasn’t. So I accept this as a closed door from the Lord. God sees the whole world, but I can only see my little corner.

Reflection – 2013

This was a difficult but valuable lesson for me as a new believer in Jesus Christ. I learned much about obeying and honoring my parents who God placed over me. Honor thy father and mother (which is the first commandment with promise). Ephesians 6:2 Over 20 years later, my mother had a major stroke resulting in paralysis and brain damage which left her mind like a 10 year old child. As she lay in the intensive care unit, God graciously brought to her mind Bible verses she had memorized as a child, and she received Jesus Christ as her personal Savior! “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want (lack) (Psalm 23:1) was one of her favorite verses. We had sweet fellowship for the next five years of her life before the Lord took her home to heaven above.

As I reflected on this closed door, I recalled how many years I brought my nice little plans to God and asked Him to bless them. Then one day I realized the absurdity of telling the Creator of the universe what to do.  A wise brother in the Lord once said, “Remember that God is driving the bus. Don’t be a backseat driver!”

George Mueller, a British pastor who trusted God to support thousands of orphans in the 1800’s wrote, “How I ascertain the will of God: I seek at the beginning to get my heart into such a state that it has no will of its own in regard to a given matter. I seek the will of the Spirit of God through, or in connection with the Word of God. Next I take into account providential circumstances. I ask God in prayer to reveal His will to me aright. If my mind is thus at peace, and continues after two or three more petitions, I proceed accordingly. In trivial matters, and in transactions involving most important issues, I have found this method always effective.”

God opens and closes doors.

God opens and closes doors.

The apostle Paul faced both closed and open doors in his life. In Acts 16:6-10, the Spirit first forbid him to preach the word in Asia and then again in Bithynia. Then he received the call to preach the gospel in Macedonia. When we walk through the door God opens, we shouldn’t be shocked if we encounter difficulties. Paul discovered this in Ephesus when he said, “For a great door, and effectual, is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries.” I Corinthians 16:9  I later discovered in 1973 that God would open a much different door for me than the door to the Christian college which He closed.

It truly is wonderful to continue to trust the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ, to lead and guide me, His little sheep. He only wants His highest and best for me and each of His children! In the morning, I now say, “I look forward to see what You are going to do today, dear Lord!”

In Everything Give Thanks

“In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

I Thessalonians 5:18

Our American celebration of Thanksgiving is my favorite of all the holidays! Since I now live in New England, I have visited Plimoth Plantation several times and even enjoyed a reenactment dinner of the First Thanksgiving. If you are an American history buff, you will enjoy looking at their website: http://www.plimoth.org

Thanksgiving Pumpkin

Thanksgiving Pumpkin

Edward Winslow, one of the original pilgrims, wrote in his journal, “And God be praised we had a good increase. Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so after a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors.” –1621

Since I moved hundreds of miles away from my family, when I have to work the holiday or the Friday after Thanksgiving, I cannot return home. Various families from my church have “adopted” me  over the years which I so appreciate.

As a hospital and home care nurse, I have had to work my share of Thanksgiving holidays. The patients who remained in the hospital were understandably sad and seriously ill. It was a special opportunity to try and show them extra kindness and ask God for wisdom to speak an encouraging word to them. To those nurses who are working on Thanksgiving day, I pray you will be richly blessed and strengthened as you minister to your patients.

I will close with the first chorus I ever learned as a Christian which is a wonderful prayer of thanks to God.

Thank You, Lord, for saving my soul; Thank You, Lord, for making me whole;

Thank You, Lord, for giving to me, Thy great salvation so rich and free!

–by Seth & Bessie Sykes

New England Fall Foliage

New England Fall Foliage

Oceanographer or Nurse???

“That ye might walk worthy of the Lord, unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God.” Colossians 1:10

March, 1971 – High School Junior – Midwest, USA

I thank the Lord that He has now given me peace and a purpose in life: to walk worthy of the Lord, serve Him, and increase in my knowledge of God.  My sister, Linda, withdrew from the university pre-veterinary program and is now studying to be a nurse at a hospital diploma program. She comes home every weekend and teaches a Bible class for my high school friends and me. It is so wonderful to study the Bible, God’s love letter to me, so I can grow closer to Him!

I also am reading books in the home Bible study program and biographies of Christians which have been so helpful.  I especially like Major Bible Themes by Lewis Sperry Chafer, the founder of Dallas Seminary. Notes on the Pentateuch by C.H. McIntosh has really helped me understand the first five books of the Old Testament. My favorite Christian biographies so far are By Searching and In the Arena by Isobel Kuhn, and God’s Man in China about Hudson Taylor. They both served God in China with the former China Inland Mission which Hudson Taylor founded.fav books sm

While she was a student in Bible school, Isobel Kuhn learned to put the Lord first every morning and spend time in Bible reading and prayer. So after reading “O God, thou art my God, early will I seek Thee; my soul thirsteth for Thee…” in Psalm 63:1, I asked the Lord to help me get up earlier so I could read my Bible and pray before I went to school. It is really wonderful to set my mind on the Lord in the morning and ask Him to teach me before I get so busy with school. When I oversleep, I really miss it! When I get home from school, I study my Bible for an hour before I start my homework. It amazes me how God multiplies the time and helps me do my homework faster! I also silently pray before I take a test at school, and God helps me figure out the right answer.

The past year, I have asked God to show me the way as to what career He would like me to pursue. Before I became a Christian, I wanted to be an oceanographer or landscape architect because I enjoy science, art, and the outdoors so much. But now, I want to work with people and hope to have opportunities to point them to the Lord Jesus Christ. I have considered becoming a teacher or a nurse. I think I would like to become a nurse like my sister because I like science, but I could still help people. Perhaps I could even teach nursing or the Lord will allow me to be a missionary nurse!

Reflection – 2013

Old and new electronic edition!

Old and new electronic edition!

And so the Lord led me to become a nurse. I think my concept of nursing was strongly influenced by the Cherry Ames RN series by Helen Wells which I avidly read in my early teens. The first book was published in 1944 during World War II and was a catalyst for many young women to join the Army Nurse Cadet Corps. Cherry went on to work in about 25 different fields of nursing! I was delighted to discover they are now available as electronic books. I smiled as I reread the first book, Cherry Ames, Student Nurse.

On her first day of nursing school, the Nursing Superintendent said to the new nursing probation students, “Let me remind you that you are going to need good health, intelligence, unselfishness, patience, tact, humor, sympathy, efficiency, neatness, plus plenty of energy for hard work.” A groan echoed around the room. “But let me remind you, too,” Miss Reamer said, “that nursing is the most rewarding of all professions for women. And frequently the most romantic and exciting,” she added with a twinkle in her eye.

Real nursing is not nearly as glamorous, but it is fulfilling. Although I never became a full-time missionary nurse, the Lord blessed me with several short term medical missionary trips to Belize, Honduras, and China, as well as a graduate nursing course in the Dominican Republic. Many opportunities have been given to me to point my patients, their families, and my co-workers to the Lord Jesus Christ, for which I thank Him. I never lacked for a job for long, never went hungry, and always paid my bills on time. God has proved Philippians 4:19 over and over again to me, “But my God shall supply ALL your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” 

So nursing has been good to me. There have been the challenges and frustrations that are part of any career, but it still gives me great satisfaction when one of my patients says, “Thank you so much for helping me today, Pam!”

By the way, I am so glad I never became an oceanographer since I later discovered that I am very prone to seasickness. I will share more about that in my blog about being a cruise ship nurse — for one week! Truly, God makes no mistakes……

Life Changing Letter

Saturday, January 16, 1971

I gazed out the window of our small stone home in the country and saw the mailman drive away. “I’ll get the mail, Mom!” I hurriedly put on my winter coat, hat, and mittens to brave the bitter cold. I ran down the gravel driveway, scooped the letters from the mailbox, and skimmed through them as I raced back to our warm home.

I was thrilled to see a letter addressed to me from my older sister!  Marsha was a freshman at the state university three hours away, so I didn’t see her often. When she came home for a visit in October, she seemed so happy, said her headaches were gone, and she broke up with her boyfriend because he wasn’t a Christian. She eagerly told me that her roommate told her how to become a Christian, and she started going to Bible classes on campus.

When she came home for Thanksgiving, she asked that we give her money for Christmas instead of presents so she could attend a missionary conference. As a sophomore in high school, I would never give up all my Christmas presents to attend some old dumb missionary conference!

Since she returned to school in January, I can’t stop thinking about how happy she is now. So I wrote her last week and asked her to tell me more about God.  I eagerly took her letter to my desk in my bedroom, closed the door, and began to read.

Dear Pam,

I would love to share with you more about God and His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ! Even though we went to church every Sunday and heard about Jesus Christ, the pastor never told us that each of us needs to personally receive Him as Savior.  I am so glad my college roommate shared the good news about Christ with me our first night at college.  I went to a Bible study with her, and  I received Him as my Savior shortly afterwards. I am so thankful that I have a personal relationship now with Him for all eternity and my sins are all forgiven!

As it says in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world (Pam) that He gave His only begotten (unique) Son, that whosoever (Pam) believeth in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.”  This is the most important decision of your life because it decides whether you will spend eternity with God or perish forever without Him.  He loves you so much, Pam, that He died for you on the cross to bear the punishment for your sins.  After three days He rose again and lives in heaven today.

I asked the campus group at noon prayer meeting today to pray for you to receive Him as your personal Savior.

Love in Christ,  Marsha

I don’t think anyone has ever prayed for me before. I am so amazed that God loves me so much that He died for ME so I can be saved and be with Him for all eternity.  He knows all about how shy and insecure I am, and that I am so fearful of death ever since my cousin was killed in the Vietnam war.

As my tears flowed, I bowed my head and prayed,

Dear God, I come to You as I am– a sinner.  Thank You, Lord Jesus, for dying on the cross in my place for my sins and that You rose again from the grave.  I receive You now as my Savior.  Thank You that You love me so much! Amen.

When I opened my eyes, my heart was flooded with the peace and the joy of God, and my fear of death was gone!

path of life     Dear Reader, I would love to share with you in this blog how God led me to  become a nurse, and how He has taught me about Himself on the path of life.

If you have not received the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, I invite you and encourage you to do so now as I did over 40 years ago.  It has been so exciting to grow in the knowledge of my Savior and let Him lead me through the joys and the sorrows, the laughter and the tears.  I look forward to that day when He takes me to heaven above in His perfect timing! “Even so, Come, Lord Jesus!” Revelation 22:20

Reflection – August, 2015

Tribute to Marsha Swinehart, RN

My dear sister, Marsha Swinehart, RN went to be with our wonderful Savior, Jesus Christ, on August 12, 2015 after a year long battle with ovarian cancer. I thank God that I could be with her on the hospice unit during the last few days of her life here on earth. She not only only taught me how to live in Christ, but how to die in Christ. Her life verse was Philippians 1:21, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”

Pam graduated from high school and her sister, Marsha, RN graduated from nursing school the same day and time!

Pam graduated from high school and her sister, Marsha, RN graduated from nursing school the same day and time!

She left a rich legacy of numerous spiritual children from her 25 years as a Bible Club teacher, 30 years as a public health nurse, and the last 10 years of her career teaching public health nursing at two different universities. Early in her career, she was a missionary nurse in the jungles of Suriname, South America. As a college nursing professor, she led student nurses in short term mission trips to New York City, Swaziland, and Dominican Republic.

She had us sing the beautiful hymn “Face to Face” at her memorial service.

What rejoicing in His presence, when are banished grief and pain,

When the crooked ways are straightened and the dark things shall be plain.

Face to face- O blissful moment! Face to face to see and know;

Face to face with my Redeemer, Jesus Christ who loves me so.

Some of Marsha’s favorite verses were Revelation 21:3-4 – And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying neither shall there be any more pain; for the former things are passed away.

I thank God that Marsha is no longer suffering, and that she is so happy now praising and serving our dear Savior in heaven for all eternity. We shall be reunited in God’s perfect timing, perhaps very soon. Thank you for praying for her husband, Keith; my brother, David; and me during our time of sorrow. God is our great comforter. II Corinthians 1:3-4

 

Welcome to Pamela’s Nursing Reflections!

Dear Friends,

Welcome to my blog!  After receiving the Lord Jesus Christ as my personal Savior when I was in high school, God led My 1977 Nursing Cap!me to become a nurse.  I received my Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing degree in 1977 and began my nursing career.  I have worked in a variety of specialty areas including medical-surgical, diabetes, labor & delivery, staff development, dialysis, home care, geriatrics, and case management!

After a long break from school, I decided to return for my Master’s Degree in Nursing which I received in 1998 and began to work as a Family Nurse Practitioner.  I have also participated in several short-term medical mission trips in China, Honduras, and Belize.  I love to travel and have visited over 20 countries and 44 states in the USA.

Bible smThrough the years, God has been very gracious to me in encouraging me in my career.  I love to study the Bible that I might know my dear Savior better, walk closer to Him, and point others to Him!  As my nursing career draws to a close, I would like to share the wonderful life lessons God has taught me along the way that you may be encouraged to keep “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith!” Hebrews 12:2

Pamela, RN, APRN, Family Nurse Practitioner