Remembering Dixie on her Birthday - December 19, 1952
Dixie was my beloved wife for 31 years. Cancer stole her from me in late 2003. Today (December 19) is her birthday, and I want to share a few memories of Dixie.
A petite 5'2", blue-eyed, dark-blonde beauty who won my heart in 1971, Dixie was the love of my life. Anyone who knew us will tell you that we were soulmates.
I have written so much about Dixie in "Long Winding Road," which is included on my website. But for just a moment, I want to remember something different.
Dixie was a most unique girl. Along with her natural petite beauty, she was an extraordinarily gifted person.
She had always been a singer - singing in the Church choir and in a girls trio. When we met, we immediately began singing together
- from Mexico to Canada, from Denver and Albuquerque to Presque Isle, Maine, Dixie and I sang together in many hundreds of Churches throughout our days.
Very few people knew it, but Dixie could actually play the piano quite well. But because I had always been the performer, she refused to be put in the spotlight. While we were still dating, we both sat down at a grand piano one day, and she played along together as I did a modern arrangement of "What A Friend We Have In Jesus."
To my surprise, days later, she sat down and played that entire arrangement EXACTLY as I had played it. She had an ear for music, and was far more capable than anyone knew. All these years later, I am sorry that I did not impose on her to use her keyboard talents more.
Dixie was extremely right-brained. She was gifted in artistic abilities. She took a course in drawing, and could pencil-sketch some of the most amazing pictures. Shortly after our first grandbaby, Ashley Isabella, was born, Dixie sat beside her as she slept and sketched an amazing portrait of Ashley with her pencil.
Dixie's mother, Delma, had been an accomplished seamstress and decorator, and Dixie learned many of her mother's skills. Dixie could sew her own clothes with amazing finesse. The dresses, skirts and blouses that Dixie sewed were exquisitely tailored and compared to some of the most expensive fashions.
Dixie knew how to entertain. For many years, her mother produced some of the most beautiful Wedding Cakes in her catering business. Dixie learned to bake and decorate, and could produce some of the most beautiful cakes and pastries you have seen. Everything she ever did had a touch of elegance and perfection to it.
Dixie knew how to decorate for large events, and did so often. She managed scores of Church banquets, and showers, and receptions and dinners. She refused to settle for anything less than the highest standards. She never just "threw something together." Everything was well-organized, and thoroughly planned and executed. Her events were always elegant and beautiful.
She had a wonderful sense of humor. Time and again she organized banquets and parties where she presented some of the most hilarious skits and sketches. She did not mind being the butt of the joke if it would get a laugh, but she loved to play pranks on those she loved, too.
Dixie loved baskets and bows and decorating with her own handicrafts. She was as good at flower arrangements as any florist, and our home was always decorated with beautiful flowers, fresh or dried.
And Dixie had a green thumb. She could make a plant thrive indoors or out. Some of her plants lived for decades. When we moved to a three-acre farm,
she diligently studied organic gardening and "square-foot" gardening. For several years, she produced a 40'x40' garden that should have been featured in Southern Living magazine. And with every changing season, she replanted all her flower beds with begonias, chrysanthemums, pansies, violets or a large array of flowers that she loved.
Dixie was a deeply-devoted Mother. She raised two of the finest boys, Brian and Chad, while we travelled the country preaching and singing, and later while we pastored two Churches. She home-schooled both boys until they graduated and did so with passionate dedication and amazing excellence.
She raised both of them with the very highest values and standards.
When the boys married, Dixie took both her daughters-in-law (Aimee and Ashley) lovingly under her wing and nurtured them both as their mother-in-law and as their Pastor's wife. Dixie taught them Bible studies, and trained them for roles in ministry.
Dixie dearly loved her granddaughters Ashley and Morgan while she was here. Morgan was only 2, and Ashley was 4 when Grandma Dixie left them. She never knew her two grandsons who would be born later.
And I won't even take the time to tell how wonderful she was as a Pastor's wife and Church mother. Not one single time in nearly 30 years of pastoring did Dixie ever create a single conflict with people that she dealt with. She NEVER embarrassed me or created a problem for me as a minister. She was always a shining example in every way. The younger women who Dixie mentored stood in awe of her and often remarked how they wanted to be like "Sister Raggio."
There was never a wife who was more loyal to her husband or children. Her picture could well be placed in the dictionary beside the word "LOYALTY."
Oh... I miss her. She was a rare beauty. But I am certain that no one in Heaven is more delighted with its beauties than Dixie. She loved God with a deep passion. In her day, Dixie wore out at least three Thompson Chain Reference Bibles. They were thoroughly marked with notes and underlines. She lived in search of God.
Through a six-year ordeal with cancer, her faith never foundered.
Shortly before she died, as she lay sick in bed, I went searching through a dresser-drawer one day, looking for something. I came across her childhood Bible, one she had used in her schooldays.
I opened it and flipped through it. I saw many notes and underlines. But in the back pages, I found a hand-written note that she had made at least 35 years earlier.
"I love the Lord because of Psalms 116." I turned to Psalm 116, and saw that she had underlined this verse:
“Blessed in the eyes of the Lord is the death of his saints.” I asked her if she remembered writing that note in her little Bible. I read the note to her and then read that Verse in Psalm 116.
She said, "Yes, I remember it well. I was in a Sunday night service when I was a teenager, and the preacher was preaching, and for some reason, I thought I was going to die. Then I read that verse, and I underlined it. 'Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.'”
From her childhood, Dixie had always taken comfort in God and in His Word. She believed every jot and every tittle of the Bible and lived by it. And to the very end, she trusted in Him.
Dixie believed in the Lord. She spent her life for Jesus. She lived the way that she believed He wanted her to live, and she expected to see Him at the end of the journey.
I have no doubt that she did.
At about 1:30 am, on a Monday morning, September 29, 2003, the angels came and escorted her into the presence of the LORD.
She was 50.
And I still miss her. She left a void in our lives as big as the Grand Canyon.
But it won't be long before I will see her again. That will be a wonderful day.
Thanks for your time.
December 19, 2011
The Virtuous Woman
Proverbs 31 is "the words of king Lemuel, the prophecy that HIS MOTHER TAUGHT HIM. ...give not thy strength unto women, nor thy ways to that which destroyeth kings." She admonished him to avoid strong drink, and judge righteously. Then she described the model woman - the virtuous woman - to her son. She was morally perfect, invaluable, trustworthy, good, sews, shops, cooks, gardens, is strong, wise, talented, merciful, thoughtful, well-dressed, industrious, honorable, kind, hard-working and respected. The future of such a woman is certain.
Proverbs 31:25,30 - "She shall rejoice in time to come. ...she shall be praised."
Dixie rarely spoke in public, but when she did, she was awesome.
Here are three of the messages that she delivered at various Ladies Conferences.
Three Characteristics Of
A Christ-Like Person
What it means to be Christ-like
Presented at Ladies Retreat
by Dixie Raggio.
A Three-fold Cord
Is Not Easily Broken
Dixie Raggio wrote this unique
article. Your love for God,
combined with genuine love for
others forms a three-fold cord.
Watch and Pray
Dixie Raggio prepared and
presented this message to
hundreds of ladies at a
It was electrifying.
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