It’s an honor to share this month’s “Author of the Month,” and it couldn’t be a more fitting day today because it’s her 72nd birthday. Happy birthday Charlie! I am so thankful that this kind soul came into the world and my life. Charlene Manning, no relation, came to me when I needed a friend, mentor, and even a mother figure, and she filled all spaces. About six months before I met my husband, Jeff Manning, I met a woman named Charlie Manning, thanks to a good friend on Facebook, who said she felt led by the Lord to introduce us. Mary Merth, thank you for your obedience. Soon I was receiving emails from a lady who I’d never met, and she was slowly and charmingly, giving me a peek into her world and tearing down the walls I had built to protect me. Little did I know that this woman once led a congregation, wrote weekly Shabbat blogs, and published a book. All those things were exciting enough, but it was her strength, love, and prayers that carried me through some of the most challenging times in my life.
After two devastating church hurts, she shared her own story with me and how the people in her town would cross the other side of the street when they saw her coming. She told me of how she poured her heart into her ministry, only to be shattered. Not only had this woman been through church hurts, but she had lost her breast to cancer as well. She knew about pain and suffering. I soon found out that her wisdom and compassion were like a cool compress to my heart, and shortly after meeting her, my world collapsed. I missed my church family where I did ministry, I was battling an illness, and then my mother died of Colon Cancer. Again, Charlie was a sounding board and a true friend.
During this time, I had just gotten disability and moved into an apartment after being homeless, and times were tough. This woman sent me checks in the mail when I had no money for electricity or food. Not because I hinted that I was in need, but because she felt led by the Lord to bless me. Before I knew it, I looked forward to my mornings so I could read her notes and hear her voice. When it was time to publish Polishing Jade, I felt led to send her the manuscript to look over and add anything she felt might brighten the pages. She breathed new life into Ellen Cotton and soon informed me that “Cotton” was a family name. Once the books were printed, my husband told me one evening that I should deliver the book to her in person, and before I knew it, we were headed to Texas to meet the other “Manning’s.” When I hugged this woman’s neck for the first time, tears began to well up in my soul. Would she ever know what a blessing she has been to me?
Charlene Reams Manning is a native Texan. Most of her life was spent in her hometown of Del Rio on the Mexican Border. If you met her, she would give you a good handshake and might say, “Call me Charlie; most everybody does.”
Charlie has a great affection for the State of Texas. From a young age, she spent a lot of time outdoors. She says she is “outdoorsy” and not afraid of what she calls “man work.” She was always very comfortable with farm life. In her younger days, she learned to swing a hammer-like the boys. At age nine, she carried her half of 5-gallon bucket of sour milk and food scraps out to the pigs with her Mama. She rode her horse around the dusty roads and cotton fields every chance she got. In summer, she mostly wore shoes only on Sundays. She is a real country girl.
Charlie served as pastor to a small church in Del Rio for five years. Some of that time, she was on the speaker circuit, traveling a couple of times a month to speak to women’s groups, churches, and camp meetings. As time moved along, her life underwent some significant changes. After several years of living single in San Antonio, Charlie remarried and began to write. At last, she found her true calling. She enjoyed the preaching and counseling and fellowship that goes with being a pastor, but she LOVES to write.
At the moment, she writes a weekly ‘column’ publishing it in e-mail and on a website. Each week she sends a brief Bible teaching, testimony, or editorial opinion/life observation from her ready pen (or fingertips). She has written poetry and short stories, none of which have been published. She has published an inspirational devotional book. It is a testimony, history lessons, and Bible teachings. Other ministries have featured teaching articles written by Charlie on their websites. She lives in Georgetown, Texas now, with her retired mail carrier hubby Tony Manning. He owns a clock repair business. Charlie helps him with that. They have two Boston Terriers and a beautiful flock of chickens. Nearby are both her sons, her daughter-in-law, and all three grandchildren, ages 20, 14, and 9.
I hope this excerpt from her book, Memories of My Earth Home: 40 meditations on our natural world, blesses you. Here’s Charlie in her own words, “There were friends over the years who encouraged me to write. But I never felt like I had an idea for a book. One day, the Lord Himself showed me the format for a devotional book that would be a compilation of my experiences, my home state, my faith, Bible truth, and other things that I find important and of interest to me. Once I got the go-ahead, I began to write. The Lord was the inspiration. Some days I typed almost like taking dictation. The words flowed effortlessly chapter after chapter. It was (is) my hope that this book would encourage Believers and maybe lead others to experience God and Jesus for the first time.
I have a couple of ideas for other books, but old age and illnesses here and there have kept me from focusing enough to get them written. I also have an online ministry, which keeps me writing often. Anyone interested in receiving this can also contact me by e-mail.
Memories of My Earth Home: 40 meditations on our natural world are no longer available in print, but I have a few copies I would sell. Contact me at Redhen1944@aol.com. The cost is $15, which includes shipping.
At the age of nine or ten, I was already very aware of adult conversations and the BIG DEAL about rain. There wasn’t any. We went to the Baptist every Sunday and always prayed for rain.
In 1954, spawned by a hurricane that made landfall at Brownsville, there was a huge rain north of Del Rio, and the Rio Grande River was swollen to a raging torrent. Although we only got big clouds and a couple of days of misting at The Farm, we heard about the Rio Grande being at flood stage and drove over to Eagle Pass to see. The streets were muddy, and the flood marks on the buildings were halfway up, about six feet high. Store windows were broken out. Furniture and clothing were littering the downtown streets. Also, store mannequins lay around in grotesque poses. I thought they were dead people, but Mama assured us they were not. I stared at them for a long time to make sure she wasn’t just saying that to make us feel better. I determined that they really were mannequins but still felt very disturbed by the sight of them. They looked so much like real people. Daddy drove slow because the streets were barely passable.
We made our way down to the river. The bridge was still there, but it was knocked off its pilings on the Texas side and sitting kind of sideways in the river. The river was a muddy, boiling mess and still way up above its normal level: brush and various objects floated by. The bodies of dead cattle came along, turning over and over in the water as they swept by.
Then came the most distressing sight of all. A very large entire tree came floating along branches, leaves, roots, and all. Clinging there amongst the branches were three terrified goats, bleating and crying as they went by. I voiced my concern that someone should rescue them. Daddy said the goats were smart, and they would hang on until they rode it out, and the water got calm enough for them to swim out. I wasn’t sure of that and pictured them drowned like the cows.
I was very quiet on the ride home, remembering the things I had seen and heard: the pitiful looking mannequins with limbs all askew, the deafening roar of the water, and the crying of those little goats. It was all very upsetting.
But nothing has stopped me from enjoying the rain. Even now, when there has been a long dry spell, I sometimes go outside when those first drops fall and feel the sprinkle on my skin, smell that clean earthy aroma and enjoy the thunder and lightning.
There have been times in my life that had seemed that spiritually dry for me—times when the rain of God’s blessings, the water of His Spirit, the cool refreshing nearness of His presence all seemed almost a dim memory. So, we pray for rain, both the natural and the spiritual, remembering that God promised there would be former (Spring) rain and latter (Fall) rain, and even sends a few sprinkles in between to help our faith.”
If you would like to be added to Charlie’s list or order a copy of her book, send her a message at Redhen1944@aol.com. Or you can read her Weekly Sabbath devotion at https://weeklysabbathsurvey.wordpress.com/