Running Full On An Empty Tank

~ By Darlene Franklin ~

“I’ll give you a full life in the emptiest of places.”

Isaiah’s words brought me to an abrupt halt. My life in a nursing home often felt like an empty place.

Literally speaking, my half of a shared room in a nursing home was far from empty. The essence of six decades of life was crammed into a few square feet. Family pictures and framed poetry by my daughter brightened my walls. The fifty books I’d written strained my six-foot bookshelf, and my clothes crowded my half of the closet.

When we added a hospital bed, bi-pap machine, oxygen generator, walker, and laptop, my roommate and I could barely wheel through the room. My bedtable doubled as work space and dining room.

The crowded room also reminded me of what wasn’t here. My beloved cat. Photograph albums. Family heirlooms. Conversational companionsÑmy roommate was unable to speak. My daily routine varied little.

How could I find a full life in this place? The answer was both simple and complex. I could have a full life because God was infinite. My circumstances didn’t limit Him.

Yesterday my daughter should have celebrated her thirty-second birthday. Instead, she died at her own hand eight years ago.

“No matter how many times I examine the past, there’s nothing I can do to change it.” Cecil Murphy’s words of wisdom reminded me to let the guilt go, and to rejoice that Jolene was waiting in heaven.

On the way to Bible study, an aide asked us to pray for her mother at our meeting. The short contact expanded my sense of belonging.

Cheers greeted my arrival. The pastor’s youngest daughter rushed to hug me before the song service started. But sight-reading new hymns came fairly easily, and the fellow musician’s testimony touched me. My arthritic fingers made more mistakes than they used to, but the congregation loved having the instrument.

The sermon, on God’s love. spoke to me powerfully. In a few recent failures, I chose anger over trusting God. Since God loved me, and I claimed to love God, my life should show it.

After the service, the little girl returned with her three sisters and all four hugged me. The love, freely given, met my need for human touch.

After lunch, I jumped into work, final edits on my next novella. Recently I sold another story to a “traditional” publisher, keeping my work schedule full. There were very jobs one could do from inside a nursing home. Author happened to be one of them.

I had restorative therapy for the first time in over a month. Arms and legs, back and forth, up and down, working on God’s promise of firm muscles and strong bones (Isaiah 58:9-12, MSG)

If one day could be that full, what about tomorrow? God’s love, flowing in, through, and out of me filled my life even in empty places.

Author Bio:
Best-selling hybrid author Darlene Franklin’s greatest claim to fame is that she writes full-time from a nursing home. This year she expects to reach fifty unique titles in print and she’s also contributed to more than twenty nonfiction titles. Her column, “The View Through my Door,” appears in four monthly magazines.
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