A little girl with a curl and a braid or two Ms. Charlie did have. Refined as Thine singing sweet music into the souls of many she would become. Now, may her story be a sweet, sweet sound in your ear.

Just a squirt she was when she first heard the word spoken. Actually, that would not be true. Spoken would be soft. This came like hurricane force meant to hurt and hurt it did!

“Nigger!”

This “friend” whipped it at her like gale winds forcing Charlie in find shelter under the canopy of her father once again. It was to him she ran. Not only had she never heard the word before, but truly had no clue what it meant.

Ahhh, the wisdom of a father empowering with just the right words for such a time as this. Her daddy was straight forward, clear and never will Charlie forget what she was taught that day.

“1. She is no longer your friend.”

“2. Dump her now!”

And just like that, Charlie became obedient to the heart she trusted most and took him at his word. Not only would she heed them at the moment, but it was sheer permission given to have them become part of who she was created to be forever and ever. Ms. Charlie never forgot, and would live by fortitude which commands self respect for those who observe it well. From little pieces is a puzzle made up before the big picture is to be seen. And so it was, piece by piece truthful integrity was gifted her many a time by her daddy.

Youngest she was by birth but by any stretch of the imagination, she had wisdom far beyond her years. Helter-skelter was life lived round her as one by one the others left the house. Making their way in life was expected, and as she watched, she knew it would be no different for her.

Shortly after graduating from High School, there would be marriage and children. However, this time, the man she chose to be in her life was not faithful. Nor did he encourage her to walk in the strength she’d been taught. No, this particular man took. He took with him whatever it was that was good for him, and that was that.

However, not to be undone, Charlie stood strong even when she felt weak. She stood by her kiddos, she finished her degree and she purchased her own home offering stability to her children. Her daddy had taught her to be a giver, and thus she strove and drove deep into the virtue of faithfulness from the seeds planted years back. That mustard seed was growing, and it was bearing fruit. And, “in our weakness He is strong” (2 Corin. 12:9). You see, deep down, Charlie was faithful only because He was faithful and she knew it.

After time passed, she met Jerry, her second husband. He, like Charlie, was a giver. Together they raised her kiddos. Together they came to know and grow in the Lord, and although this white Italian man fell in love with his new family, his birth family wouldn’t be quite as accepting.

The journey in life is long, it is tenuous, and it is hard. The ups and downs within families uniting under the banner of marriage runs deep and the presuppositions of many go deeper. Was it the faith this newly married couple expressed that was different than the tradition in which he grew up? Was it the color of Charlie’s skin? Was it because she had children? What was needed to simply love another came at a price Jerry was willing to pay. Walking away from his family who sought strife over love was difficult, to say the least, but even in the midst of these trials, there was a silver lining.

It’s a beautiful lining which helps soften the fabric of life when living it with a contrite heart. Eventually amends were made and love would be gifted as Charlie encouraged reuniting every step of the way. With a kind gesture on her part to suggest he perhaps needed to call and merely say “hello.” Walls of separation were toppled that day and love unleashed.

The years went by and not so long ago, she buried her Jerry. Charlie has buried her father. And, the memories of her mama and step-mama are buried somewhere, too, because those are not so good.

Psalm 91 remains round her as He has ordered her footsteps throughout the years. “I will say of to the Lord my refuge, my God in whom I trust. Surely He will save you from the fowler’s snare. He will cover you, and under His wings you will find refuge. His faithfulness will be your shield. One need not fear the terror of the night nor the arrows that fly by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday.”

Why? Why is Psalm 91 such an incredible life line? Because it is in Him alone she puts her trust.

And, as He promises to each, “He will show us His salvation” (Psalm 91).

And so it went with Charlie. How goes it for you? Where are you placing your trust? May you find refuge in Him alone. Amen.

Kathleen Kjolhaug lives on the family homestead outside of Clearbrook with her husband Pete. She enjoys writing about family life and brings humor into the sacred moments of everyday living.

Theology in the Trenches appears in several local newspapers throughout Minnesota. Kathleen can be reached by e-mail at wemenews@gvtel.com

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