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Ray and I went to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, near the Great Smoky Mountains, on Wednesday so that we could participate in the Teach Them Diligently homeschool conference. On Thursday I shared my talk, “Homeschooling: A Priceless, Once-in-a-Lifetime Opportunity.” You who have read these posts very long can imagine how sweet that opportunity felt to me.

Afterwards we walked around the exhibit hall reconnecting with fellow homeschool curriculum suppliers, some of whom we had not seen in several years. We appreciate Rainbow Resources, HomeWorks, and the many other suppliers who carry Notgrass History. Click here to see where Rainbow, HomeWorks, Heppner’s Legacy, and Covenant Homeschool Resources Center plan to take our curriculum to other homeschool conventions this year.

Many of the friends we talked to were surprised by our answers to their “How have you been?” inquiries, as we told them what has been going on with Ray’s health over the last few months. His health was especially on our minds and hearts since we were still waiting to hear results of his scan earlier in the week. Even during my talk earlier on Thursday, I had wondered if Ray would get a call while I was speaking.

Special joys of homeschool conferences is getting to meet parents and students who have used our curriculum. This is Jenn. I have a fun story about her that I plan to share with you later this week.

We were grateful that Ray continued to feel good as he has for the last several weeks. With our travel team, Phil and Donna Ellenburg, taking care of the Notgrass History booth, Ray and I got to spend time enjoying being tourists.

On Friday we began to get messages on Ray’s health portal at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center. First, we got the joyous news that there is an intervention cardiologist there who believes Ray is a good candidate for a less invasive procedure to improve his heart health. We are praising God for this good news.

Later that day, Ray got a date and time for an initial appointment with this intervention cardiologist. This is more reason for praise.

In the late afternoon, Ray received a written message from his pulmonologist with the results of his scan last Monday. The results were good enough that no other tests are needed now.  He is to follow up with CT scans from time to time to monitor his condition, and the pulmonologist agrees with his heart surgeon and the new intervention cardiologist that we should proceed with the less invasive procedure for Ray’s heart. We are praising God for that third message of good news. The pulmonologist even included the words “good news” in his message.

Ray and I want to thank all of you who have been praying for us. It was very sweet to see some of you at the conference and to hear you say that you were praying for us.

On Saturday I spoke on the topic: “The Joy of Teaching History from a Christian Worldview.” I had the joy of introducing Ray as my 48-year dictionary, Bible concordance, and encyclopedia, and I was free not to wonder if he would get a possibly disturbing phone call in the middle of the session.

We serve a powerful and merciful Father. We are thankful for Him and we are thankful for each one of you.

During the conference, I texted some of our friends with the parts of our good news that I had at the time. One of them was a high school friend. To my surprise, she was taking arts and crafts classes with friends in nearby Gatlinburg. We met at the delicious Apple Barn after the conference. While we friends were greeting and hugging each other on the porch of the restaurant, we ran into a homeschooling mama I used to meet at homeschool conferences many years ago. It was a weekend of happy reunions.

We still had some daylight after dinner, so Ray and I took a drive into Great Smoky Mountain National Park where God showed us more of His wonders.

We have a magnificent, awe-inspiring Father Who is able to carry each of us and each of our children through anything.

By awesome deeds You answer us in righteousness, O God of our salvation,
You who are the trust of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest sea;

Who establishes the mountains by His strength,
Being girded with might;
Who stills the roaring of the seas,
The roaring of their waves,
And the tumult of the peoples.
They who dwell in the ends of the earth stand in awe of Your signs;

You make the dawn and the sunset shout for joy.
Psalm 65:5-8


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  1. Praise God from whom all blessings flow for this wonderful news about Ray’s heart!! That is so great to hear, I’m so happy for you both. I can just see the joy and relief beaming from both of your faces in these photos, I’m sure you must feel like you can breathe a little easier again with this news and these plans. I will keep praying for improved health and many more years of good health to come for Ray, and you as well. God bless you both!

  2. Charlene!!! This is the sweetest news of all. I love you both like family and could feel your story. Heaven will be so much fun when we finally get to meet all of our extended family – people who have added so much to our lives that we haven’t even met (in person) on this side of eternity.

    Upon hearing that I am in my 25th year of homeschooling, I tell all my new homeschool mom-friends that Jesus has kept me going with Charlene Notgrass for daily cheerleading and encouragement and Todd Wilson for laughter! Thank you for your faithfulness to us moms.

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