The Diary of a Young Girl

Midwest, USA – April 2, 1969 – 13 years old

My journals since 1969!

My journals since 1969.

Dear Angie,

As you can see by the cover, this is supposed to be an autograph album, but I am going to use it as a diary. Friday, President Eisenhower died at the age of 78, so on Monday we missed school in honor of mourning.

Yesterday was April Fool. Only one more day till Easter vacation! Just a little while ago I was outside in the yard practicing my tennis serve.


“And thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee.” Deuteronomy 8:2

This was my first entry after reading The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank who was a 13 year old Jewish girl in Holland during World War II. Because Hitler, the German dictator, hated all the Jewish people, he had his soldiers corral them in cattle cars and send them to horrible concentration camps where six million were exterminated in the gas chambers or died of disease. In 1942, Anne’s family went into hiding in an attic to try to escape the camps. Because she was so lonely, she wrote in her diary to her imaginary friend named “Kitty”.

June 12, 1942

Dearest Kitty,

             I hope I will be able to confide everything to you, as I have never been able to confide in anyone, and I hope you will be a great source of comfort and support.

Sadly, they were discovered and arrested August 4, 1944, and were sent to the concentration camp, Bergen-Belsen, near Hanover, Germany. The typhus epidemic swept through the camp as the result of horrendous hygienic conditions and claimed Anne’s life and that of her sister in early March, 1945 shortly before the camp was liberated by the British on April 12, 1945. Only Anne’s father, Otto, survived the camps. When he returned to the attic, he was given Anne’s diaries which two secretaries in the building had stored safely after finding them scattered all over the floor. After long deliberation, he decided to fulfill his daughter’s wish and publish her diary.

Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl

Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl

I was so moved after reading Anne’s diary, that I decided to keep a journal which I have continued to the present time. However, I no longer write to my imaginary friend who I named Angie:) I never wrote in my journal daily, but wrote summaries of life events periodically. Every New Year’s day I ask the Lord to give me a Bible verse for the year. Sometimes I record a Bible verse that has been a special blessing to me or helpful quotes from books I read. I love to reread my journals from time to time and go down memory lane. Many times I exhort myself to walk closer to the Lord and seek Him more! I encourage you to consider recording your own lessons from the Lord as you travel the path of life.

My verse the Lord gave me for this year is “Even to your old age I am He, and even to hair white with age will I carry you. I have made, and I will bear; yes, I will carry and will save you.” Isaiah 46:4 (Amp) It is so comforting to know that as God has carried me in the past, He will carry me through whatever days remain for me here on earth right into His arms in heaven! I would love to hear from you of a verse that God has used to encourage your heart.


Which Nursing School????

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.”  Proverbs 3:5-6

March, 1973, Midwest, USA – High School Senior

Ever since last year when the Lord gave me peace about becoming a nurse, I have struggled in deciding which nursing school to attend. I visited two small Christian colleges here in the Midwest that I really liked, but neither has a nursing program. So I would have to earn a bachelor’s degree in some other major and then continue on to get a two year associate degree in nursing. Six years total sounds way too long to be in school! I wanted to attend a  Christian college in the south where I could major in missionary nursing, but my parents do not want me to go there, so they refused to sign the admission form. It was heartbreaking, but I know God closed the door for a reason.

Where Should I Go?

Where Should I Go?

I left the Protestant Church where I was raised because the Bible was not taught verse-by-verse and I wasn’t growing in knowing the Lord better. My sister also left, which broke our parents’ hearts, especially Mom. We became members of a Bible church led by the Pastor who Marsha met at the University her freshman year. A group of students from another University drive an hour every Sunday to attend. The pastor teaches a weekly Bible class on this University campus which is really growing!

They have a good nursing school at this University, so I decided to apply there as well as a three year hospital diploma nursing school in the same city. I have my interview tomorrow at the diploma school and will tour the University while I am in the city. The diploma students work many more clinical hours in the hospital than the University students, but it is more difficult for them to obtain nursing leadership positions after graduation.

The next day I nervously entered the office of the Director of Admissions at the diploma hospital school of nursing. Mrs. L. greeted me warmly and gave me a tour of the nursing skills lab, classrooms, and dormitory. Afterward we sat down in her office and she asked, “So tell me why you would like to become a nurse?”  I replied, “I like science and I would like to help sick people get better. I enjoy learning new things, and I think it would be fascinating to learn all about the human body and how it works.”  She asked if I had applied to other schools, and I told her I was also considering the State University in the city here.

She advised, “After reviewing your high grade point average and ACT/SAT scores, I think you should go to the University Bachelor of Science (BSN) program rather than our diploma program. Our program will probably be closing in the next few years, and I think you have real potential to go into management or research in nursing. You could then earn your master’s degree or even a doctorate degree in nursing!” I thought to myself, I am amazed that she thinks I have real potential to go so far in my nursing career! I would be satisfied to be a regular staff nurse, work a few years, marry a godly Christian man, quit work, have children, and be a stay-at-home Mom like my mother did. I thanked her for her time and drove across the city to tour the State University.

I joined the walking tour led by a student. This campus has 55,000 students, as many people as my entire city where I grew up! It has over ten libraries, 30 dormitories, and countless classroom buildings. The 1000 bed University Hospital is one block from the School of Nursing, so that would be convenient for clinical days. Despite all the buildings, it has green space and many beautiful trees, so it doesn’t appear to be a concrete jungle. I am so used to living in the country, I hope I can adjust to living in a huge city.

State University

State University

When I returned home, I asked the Lord to make it clear to me which school I should attend, and He gave me perfect peace that He wanted me to attend the University. I  was accepted, and am so excited to start in the fall! It will be so wonderful to have fellowship with the other Christian students in the Bible class, and give the gospel to American students as well as the the international students who attend from every country in the world. In addition to the prerequisites for nursing, I’m looking forward to taking electives in a wide variety of areas since they offer so many majors.  The class catalog is fascinating to read.  I should also become very fit from walking all over the huge campus to my classes!


The director of the diploma nursing program gave me excellent advice in steering me toward the BSN program at the University. As she predicted, the diploma school closed a few years later.When I was 39 years old, I returned to graduate school to become a nurse practitioner. I was thankful to receive my Master’s of Science in Nursing after four grueling years of working full time and going to school part time.

In God’s great sovereignty, He never gave me a husband or children. Little did I realize when I was in high school that I would have a 40 year full time nursing career, but God knew all along!

One of my favorite hymns is:
Tis’ so sweet to trust in Jesus, Just to take Him at His word,
Just to rest upon His promise, Just to know, “Thus saith the Lord.”
Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him! How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er!
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus! O for grace to trust Him more.
-by Louisa M.R. Stead

Tribute to Marsha Swinehart, RN – Part 2

April 10 – Marsha’s Birthday

On February 4, 2016 the Cedarville University nursing students who Marsha Swinehart, RN taught, presented a plaque to the School of Nursing in honor of Marsha’s life.

Marsha plaque

Dr Rachel Parrill, Marsha’s colleague, accepted the plaque on behalf of the School of Nursing with the following words:

I was honored to be asked by the leadership to say a few words today about Marsha on behalf of all of those in the School of Nursing who loved her and were influenced by her life. This presentation specifically illustrates the love and respect that our nursing students held for Marsha. It is very significant that this initiative to honor Marsha has been completely student led. It is clear that it is your desire to love and honor Christ that has compelled you to remember Marsha in this way. Anyone who was acquainted with Marsha knows that it would be her desire that Christ would be glorified in the presentation of this plaque. So, I will try in the next few moments to highlight how Marsha strived to live the words of John 3:30 so that Christ be would become greater and she would become less.

On this plaque, we have remembered Marsha as Beloved Professor, Compassionate Friend, and Humble Servant. It is difficult to sum up a life in just a few words, but we felt these words best represented what Marsha meant to students, faculty, and staff of the School of Nursing.

Marsha truly was a Beloved Professor to students within the classroom and clinical setting and to those she advised and mentored. One former student said of Marsha: “She challenged me to walk closer to Christ and dream bigger about my future. She helped me find my love of nursing and didn’t let me quit. She shared a vision to serve the hurting and broken in the world.” Another graduate wrote: “She encouraged me to strive to follow Jesus more and more each day. She didn’t just teach her students about nursing: we learned about life and Jesus and passion. Using nursing as a ministry for Christ wasn’t just a saying anymore, but a true mission statement that I use as a reason for why I am a nurse.” The words of these graduates demonstrate the kingdom investment Marsha made in the lives of students during her time at Cedarville.

These same sentiments hold true for those of us who knew her as a colleague and Compassionate Friend. I had the privilege of teaching with Marsha for six years in the specialty area of public health nursing. I could share with you what a godly influence she was among her colleagues, which she was, but I thought you might enjoy hearing a story that will give you a glimpse into another side of your nursing faculty.

One summer, Marsha and I were asked to speak at a missions conference in Pennsylvania. About 20 minutes into our drive to the conference, we had a flat tire. I was driving, and I managed to make it safely off the highway onto a nearby exit ramp. As I pulled over, I was rather dismayed to see that I had been followed off the exit ramp by what I assumed and hoped was someone wanting to assist us. I say I was dismayed because based simply on appearances, this person would not have been my first choice  for help for two women traveling alone and pulled over in a somewhat remote area. Our Good Samaritan was riding a motorcycle and covered in tattoos and leather from head to foot. He quickly went to work putting the spare tire on my car. I stepped several feet away to call my husband, but I made sure to stay close enough to pull Marsha off the back of a motorcycle if needed! After a short phone call, I returned to find Marsha and our Good Samaritan discussing the blessings of God. It was so like Marsha to find a way to engage someone in a conversation about spiritual matters anywhere, anytime. It was a pretty neat experience, and it has become a wonderful memory for me.

Finally, we remember Marsha as a Humble Servant of Christ. Marsha’s life is an example of how our extraordinary God can use an ordinary life when that life is submitted to Him. Philippians 2:7 tells us that Jesus provides our example of true servant hood in that He willingly gave His life on the cross. In this same chapter, we are urged to have the same mindset as Christ. We thank God for the many ways Marsha’s humility and servant’s heart touched our lives, but we know that she would not point us to her example but rather to the example of the Christ she followed. In closing, I’d like to draw our attention to Marsha’s life verse which has been included on the plaque.

Philippians 1:21 “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.”

I know that Marsha’s desire would be that the message of this Scripture would remain with you as you remember her life.



Tribute to Marsha Swinehart, RN – Part 1

Tribute to Marsha Swinehart, RN – April 10

This week, I would like to honor the life of my sister, Marsha Swinehart, RN, on her birthday, April 10. I also want to share some of the lessons God has been teaching me in the school of sorrow these past eight months.

I don’t think I ever would have become a nurse without her influence. She led me to the Lord Jesus Christ when I was 15 years old (See Life Changing Letter) and was my first Bible teacher. My birthday is April 9, so we always celebrated our birthdays together as we grew up. Mom often dressed us in matching outfits, so I thought that made us twins! Marsha was my best friend on earth and I still miss her so much, especially hearing her voice on the phone. But I wouldn’t wish her back to this old world, because I know she is gloriously happy in heaven worshiping and serving our dear Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Someday, in God’s perfect timing, we will be reunited in heaven above at the throne of our dear Savior.

Pam and Marsha celebrating their birthdays together.

Pam and Marsha celebrating their birthdays together.

Marsha went home to heaven to be with  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 ten 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 on 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.

On Easter Sunday (March 27) this year, I was really missing Marsha. But God encouraged me when I read the following thoughts on sorrow from a devotional book by Miles J. Stanford called None But the Hungry Heart.

Nevertheless God, that comforteth those that are cast down, comforted us. 2 Corinthians 7:6

All of us are going to have sorrow, and none of us should miss its spiritual benefits. God’s purpose is to conform us to the image of the Lord Jesus. God had one Son, without sin, but not without sorrow. Sorrow reveals unknown depths in the soul, and unknown capabilities of experience and service. God never uses anybody to a large degree, until after He breaks that one. It takes sorrow to widen the soul. We cannot do good to others save at a cost to ourselves, and our afflictions are the price we pay for our ability to sympathize. He who would be a helper must first be a sufferer. We cannot have the highest happiness of life in succoring others without tasting the cup which our Lord Jesus drank. The school of suffering graduates rare scholars.

It is but a little while and He will appear to answer all inquiries and to wipe away all tears. I would not wish, then, to be of those who had none to wipe away, would you?

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.

From Dialysis to Home Care

November, 1991

I have now worked in the new dialysis center in the suburbs for about three months. It is going fairly well, although the 13 hour shifts three times weekly are so long and exhausting. I’m having trouble recovering on my days off and am feeling about as badly as when I used to work night shift. I started looking for a job with daytime hours. I was able to find a good home for my dog, Sandy, with a single man at church who has his own business and takes Sandy with him in his van. My condo seems rather empty without Sandy, but I enjoy visiting him some weekends at his new home in the country. He just about wags his tail off when I visit, but he seems to enjoy his new owner.

The fellowship with the believers at church has been very precious and refreshing. I feel like I’m growing in the Lord and being encouraged to know God better through the Bible messages. I thank God for a good job in a poor economy and trust in Him for strength to keep going.

God is my strength and power; and He maketh my way perfect. II Samuel 22:33

July, 1992

But my God shall supply ALL your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:19

The Lord has been marvelous to me and continues to teach me so much about how wonderful He is! In December, I became a member of the Bible church I am attending,  and joined the choir in January. It has been such a blessing to sing with a group again, and lift up my heart to praise God. I was also able to play my violin with an ensemble at a children’s program.

I was thrilled to go cross country skiing three times in the mountains of Vermont and New Hampshire! I also spent a long weekend in Washington DC with a couple ladies from church. In June, the Career Group from church had fun touring the quirky Gillette Castle overlooking the Connecticut River. Quite different from the castles in Europe!

Skiing in Vermont 1992

Skiing in Vermont 1992

Skied at the Balsams grand resort in New Hampshire 1992

Skied at the Balsams Grand Resort in New Hampshire – 1992

Toured the White House in DC with some ladies from church 1992

Toured the White House in DC with some ladies from church – 1992

Quirky Gillette Castle overlooks the Connecticut River

Quirky Gillette Castle overlooks the Connecticut River

The 1880 colonial home God let me buy in 1992.

The 1880 colonial home God let me buy in 1992.

The long hours in dialysis continued to be a trial. Praise God that He gave me a new job in home care last month! I took quite a pay cut, so I have a second job doing home care with a different agency two evenings a week. I love driving around the pretty green countryside and being able to eat my sack lunch at a different place daily. I discovered the town library and town hall have clean restrooms, as well as most fast food restaurants.

A favorite library, lake, and orchards in my district

A favorite library, lake, and orchards in my district for lunch stops.

Lake Beseck 3 Lymans view 3

I feel like I am using my brain again to autonomously solve the problems of my patients. I can understand why the agency requires every home care nurse to have at least one year of hospital experience. When I am all alone with the patient, I must be confident in my assessment skills, know when the patient can remain at home, and when I need to call the ambulance to send the person to the hospital. Most of my patients are elderly and very kind, so it is nice to have time to chat with them instead of rushing off like I did in the hospital. Many of my patients have wounds that I assess and then change the dressing. I do extensive teaching with each patient on how to manage his condition, and when he needs to call the doctor or the nurse after hours.

The most difficult part of the job is finding the patient’s house the first time. The admission nurse writes directions in the chart, and then I study my maps every morning before I leave the office to try and remember the route visually. I usually can locate the home, but I have trouble finding my way back to the main road. I also have trouble backing out of long driveways, so sometimes I just park at the end and walk to the house. Perhaps I have poor depth perception?

I write the name, address, and phone of each patient on an index card and then place the cards in order of my visits on my desk at work. If my supervisor needs to contact me, she calls each patient until she locates me. Occasionally, I have to make an urgent visit or see a patient a day earlier than I had planned. After I finish my visits, I return to my home to finish charting so I only go into the office in the morning, which is conveniently located one mile from my new home.

My car trunk is full of chart file boxes, extra supplies, and my large nursing bag. I write down my mileage every day and turn in my total mileage every two weeks to pay roll. They reimburse me 28 cents for each mile I put on my personal car to cover the gas and maintenance.


With the invention of  GPS and cell phones, it is much easier for a home care nurse to find her patients and for her supervisor to find her in the field. Unfortunately, the volumes of charting in home care have increased over the years even though it is done electronically now on laptops. The pressure has increased to see more patients each day and bring more income to the agency since the reimbursement rates from Medicare and insurance companies have decreased. By the way, the 2016 Federal rate of reimbursement is 54 cents per mile!

It was great to be a home care nurse on days when the weather was gorgeous, but not so much during snow storms, freezing temperatures, or sweltering heat.  I enjoyed the daytime work schedule which allowed me to participate in evening activities at church. I only had to work one weekend a month and could sit in the balcony for a portion of the morning worship during my lunch break since the church was within my territory. There are pros and cons to every type of nursing!