Nell Ragland lives in Desdemona, Texas and is one amazing lady. This is an open letter to her, printed with the permission of her eldest son.
Dear Mrs. Ragland,
I have missed having some pots and pans banged together on a Sunday morning to ensure I am up and ready for church on time. The smell of breakfast and the singing of a hymn are a great Sunday wake up call.
I have missed you over the past few years.
You have had a profound impact on my life and I know the lives of countless others.
When we moved here from Chicago in '85 I was a lonely kid, and I know you and my mother worked to get me involved and connected. I am grateful for that. I am grateful that you connected Gerald and I as well, as he has had a profound impact on my life too.
The first time that I saw hope after our move to Texas was a weekend in 1986. You and Elwood included me on a family weekend trip down to the farm. I think Gerald and I rode in the back of your pickup truck which would be unheard of these days.
We stopped at your mother’s house and gathered around the piano as Robert played. We sang the Old Rugged Cross. It was comforting to me, and I felt myself again, and I felt like I had found a second family. Whenever I sing that hymn I not only think of Christ, but of that moment in time.
Your kindness has far exceeded anything I could have ever dreamed of, and you bring a great deal of peace to me. I am grateful for the love you have shown my family over the years as well.
You and Elwood reintroduced me to the idea of sitting around as a family and actually talking to each other. I have tried to ensure we do the same as a family.
Thanks to you I had access again to the great outdoors and Gerald was able to help get a little of the city boy out of me. Hunting, Fishing, and doing the necessary work a farm requires. What a life lesson it all was. Deer hunting, duck hunting, moving irrigation pipes, mowing, pouring cement, and post-hole digging.
In the evenings there was always a great home cooked meal and dessert to enjoy around a table full of love and conversation.
You have taught me patience and to trust God. I have watched you live this out. You have taught me service. I have watched you live this out. You have taught me love. I have watched you live this out.
Because of your example, my relationship with God, my wife and my children are better.
What a testimony to love it was to watch you and Elwood at your 50th wedding anniversary.
At the moment I visualize a hot summer Texas morning with the steam being held under the trees as I walk down a dirt county road. At the end of the road is a home and you can faintly hear the sound of an AM Gospel station playing through the window and a soft voice singing along. The smell of fresh biscuits cooling on the stove top is in the air and then there is a call from the side door that breakfast is ready. As I sit down a gentleman of distinction asks everyone to remove their hats and offers up thanks to God for the food, rain, and all provisions in Christ’s name. After the passing around of the food and spreading of butter and jelly there is a conversation about the errands needed to be completed that day. Then the conversations turns to politics, and then to God. At the end of the table is a quiet spirit, a woman spoke of in Proverbs 31. She is a sweet testimony to patience, prayer and persistence. She says little compared to the rest, but offers up the greatest testimony and impact of any one in the room.
Thank you for living a life that honors Christ.
Love you & miss you,
Don & Family
Some videos of her and her family:
Open of the lessons she taught me, "Be still and know..."