Happy Birthday to My First Rate Husband and Author

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I remember a family of four whom Ray and I knew when we were newly-married. The family was composed of a mama, a daddy, a calm older sister, and a rambunctious younger brother. The mama told me that she had a goal of searching every day for one positive thing she could say to her rambunctious little boy.

Affirmation is good for everyone — children and grownups, grandchildren and grandparents, husbands and wives, newly-marrieds and couples celebrating their 60th anniversary.

Our family is affirming my precious husband today on his 65th birthday. The whole out-of-state gang has come to join the Tennessee gang to celebrate our wonderful husband, father, and Notty. He is humbly grateful for us all to be together for his party tonight.

Ray and Charlene
Happy Birthday, Ray!


Ray and the rest of our family received some other affirmation last winter. Ray went out on the porch on a Friday afternoon in January and pulled on his wellies. He braved the 19-degree weather as he tromped down the driveway through our beautiful half-inch of snow to get the mail.

When he got back inside, he walked over to my desk with a large white envelope from Practical Homeschooling magazine, just like the white envelope from Practical Homeschooling magazine we receive each winter. For the last few years, we have found blue and gold embossed folders inside these envelopes and inside the blue and gold embossed folders have been certificates of the current year’s reader awards in history and government. Always before, we have been honored with second place or runner-up awards. On that Friday, as Ray pulled out his pocket knife to open the envelope, we laughed and Ray joked, “I wonder what we are runner-up in this year?”

But, this year we’re not runner-ups! This year two blue and gold embossed folders were inside our white envelope. One had a certificate which read:

This is to certify that
America the Beautiful/Exploring America/Exploring World History
products of Notgrass Company
have been awarded
First Place
in the History category
of the 2017 Practical Homeschooling® Reader Awards™

The other certificate read:

This is to certify that
Exploring Government/Uncle Sam and You
products of Notgrass Company
have tied for
First Place
in the Government category
of the 2017 Practical Homeschooling® Reader Awards™

Both were signed by Mary Pride, publisher of Practical Homeschooling magazine.

I’d love to tell you we were speechless, but we weren’t. I grabbed my cellphone and started calling our kids one after another! You can imagine what this means to us, to have this vote of confidence from homeschooling mamas like you.

We are grateful.

A couple of weeks ago I took our certificates to a frame shop to have them framed. We are supposed to pick them up today on Ray’s birthday.

We don’t have to have this kind of confirmation to keep on writing history, but it certainly does help. I haven’t met anyone yet who didn’t need some affirmation.

God even showed us how to affirm those who are the very closest to us. When Jesus came up from the water when He was baptized, God affirmed His Son, calling Him “beloved.” He did so again when Jesus was transfigured on the mountain. Years later, Peter wrote about what he heard God say.

For when He received honor and glory
from God the Father,
such an utterance as this
was made to Him by the Majestic Glory,
“This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased”—
and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven
when we were with Him on the holy mountain.
2 Peter 1:17-18

Happy Birthday, Ray. You are my beloved husband. With you I am well-pleased.





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  1. Congratulations!!! I’m not surprised that Notgrass won first place as your books are of high quality at an extremely reasonable price. Happy Birthday Ray! Thank you both for all the hard work you have done to provide mamas with the tools to educate their children. Enjoy your success!!!!

  2. Happy Birthday Ray! You are a blessing to so many, I pray that you will be blessed by your loved ones today.

    I am SO happy for your awards! Much deserved! Our family has been so thankful for your history programs.

    Love to you all!
    Cindy for all the Cole’s

  3. I rejoice with you!!!!! You are so deserving of this honor. You labors of love have bleesed so many–including me!! Great photo of Ray and you.

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