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!

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.

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



We Need More Nurses!

January, 1987

The nursing shortage is increasing, so the leadership of the 1000 bed hospital where I work had a  session last fall to brainstorm a solution. They decided Staff Development should design and teach a refresher course for nurses who have been out of hospital nursing for over 5 years. The goal is to give the interns review classes in a variety of specialty areas, and let them work with a preceptor for 4 months. The hospital will pay them a slightly reduced salary during the refresher course, and then offer them a job at the end of satisfactory course completion. In turn, the nurse must commit to working for the hospital for 2 years after the refresher course.

I was honored when my Director asked me to design and conduct the course. In turn, she relieved me of all my other duties. I barely knew where to start as I could not locate any other hospitals who taught a refresher course. So I held a meeting of all the staff development nurses and gathered their ideas for classes. I made a class schedule and arranged for various nurse specialists to teach in their area of expertise. Next, I took the proposed class schedule and gathered ideas from the nurse managers of the medical-surgical units. We tweaked it again and printed the final schedule.

In November, I met with human resources to design an advertisement for the newspaper to run over the next four weeks. They also helped me design interview questions to ask each candidate. As the applications arrived, I reviewed them to choose the top 30 candidates to interview for the 19 openings. I interviewed all 30 in 3 days. This was my first time to ask the interview questions rather than give the answers. My heart went out to the ones who were so nervous that they could barely talk.

After I completed the interviews, I narrowed them down to the 19 who I thought would be most likely to become enthusiastic long-term nurses for the hospital. Most of the women had taken time off to raise their children and were now eager to return to the work force to help put their children through college. We had several younger ones apply who graduated from 2 year associate degree programs and felt they needed a longer slower paced orientation to hospital nursing.

The First Week

Nurse interns of refresher course met in class daily

Nurse interns of refresher course met in class daily

I have felt so overwhelmed this week with the interns starting, but God has carried me through each long 10-11 hour day. It’s exhausting, but I keep looking to God for serving grace.

And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee; for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly, therefore, will I rather glory in my infirmities (limitations) that the power of Christ may rest upon me. II Corinthians 12:9

February 25, 1987

Three of my problem interns resigned after they decided they were overwhelmed by the changes in hospital nursing. One 50 year old intern came to work intoxicated from alcohol, so we had to terminate her that day. It was sad to see her alcohol addiction ruin her life. How I pray she would receive Christ as her Savior, be forgiven of her sins, and set free from her addiction.

Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging, and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise. Proverbs 20:1


When I graduated in 1977, there was a surplus of nurses, followed by a shortage the next year. My first hospital imported nurses from South Africa and Canada to solve their shortage problem. The 1987 graduating interns became excellent employees.

One of my readers, Deyanara Riddix, sent me an article about the upcoming nursing shortage that is occurring as the baby boomers, such as myself, retire. She gave me permission to post the link for you to read. It is called “Nursing in an Aging America”.