North Carolina October

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When I began this blog in April, I was determined that it would not be like some glorified social media page where you heard what I fixed for breakfast. That’s not what you need. You are homeschooling mothers. You need encouragement. With that in mind, I have been struggling a bit about what to write for the next two weeks. Ray and I are on another of our adventures with homeschoolers. It feels weird not to take you along, but I want to be sure it is uplifting to you.

One reason I am struggling about this is because I remember what it was like to be a one-income family with mom homeschooling the children and not having lots of money lying around for grand adventures. I must confess a common sin back then: When I heard a speaker say something like, “The last time I was in Jerusalem . . .,” my heart response was often something like: “Must be nice!” And, what is worse, I still fight those feelings sometimes–but it’s getting better.

I don’t want to pretend I’m back home in Tennessee. I want to share these two weeks with you. So, if you don’t mind too much, come go with me on our Homeschool Without Fear tour across North Carolina. Sometimes my family has what we call “a wild hair.” That’s a wild idea about something we have never done before. Well, we had a wild hair that we would see if the homeschooling folks in North Carolina would like for Ray and me to come and visit with them in October. Several said yes, so we left yesterday morning for a two-week trek.

We left home early, heading east to visit our friends John and Linda in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Our friendship with John and Linda goes way back. John was in our wedding and Ray was in theirs. They have long been interested in what we do for a living, perhaps especially so now that one of their daughters is thinking about homeschooling two of their granddughters. At lunch John asked if what we are doing now is what we envisioned when we started the business. Hmmmm. Good question.

John’s question, the tour, and the east Tennessee towns we passed through yesterday all made me think about those times many years ago when we were starting Notgrass Company. Let me tell you a little bit about that.

In 1999 Ray, our son John, and I had a dream. We wanted to start a business that would help families be faithful to God generation after generation. When we went to our first convention that year, we had two products of our own plus a bunch of classic literature and Dover coloring books. At that very first convention a mom told me that she wished she had a Tennessee history to use with her children before their family went on the mission field to a foreign country. Later that day I told my family what she had said and added, “We could do that.” Well, we worked on that for the next many months and by the next spring we were ready to offer it at conventions in Tennessee.

Our friend John’s question was interesting, because we certainly had no great long-term business plan. We just had something we wanted to do and we trusted that God would take care of us. Our lack of a plan was evident that fall after we published Exploring Tennessee.We started wondering what we would do to earn money during the fall and winter now that the homeschool convention season was over.

I had the idea that we could travel around Tennessee doing a “Walk Through Tennessee History in Story and Song” for homeschool groups, taking along our materials. My family has never let me live it down that I had that idea. One of my daughters likes to say that she went downstairs and when she came back up we were the Trapp Family Singers.

Well, we certainly weren’t the Trapp Family Singers! We did, however, work up a script and we did travel around and do our show for any group who would give us a chance and it did help us have income through a couple of falls and winters.

And so, here Ray and I are a decade later, embarking on another tour — through North Carolina this time. It’s not the five singing Notgrasses on the road this time. The other “Tennessee Family Singers” are married now, taking care of the business and, more importantly, taking care of the next generations of our family.

Life has stages. There is the stage when moms are at home teaching their children and there’s not much money to do a whole lot of extras. There’s the stage when the second generation starts to train the third. Before we went out to lunch with John and Linda on Sunday, we went to church with them. While there, I was reminded of another stage.

At church we met several of their friends, including a woman who had accompanied their daughters on a mission trip to Costa Rica a few years back. She talked about her continuing contact with the active missionary there. He’s 94! He’s in the last stage before eternity stage–what a beautiful way to spend that one.

When we homeschool our children, we are training them in their current life stage and preparing them for their future ones. We are being examples to them about how to live our own. We are also preparing them and ourselves for that wonderful time when we are with the Lord forever. God bless each of you as you do the most important work there is to do in the whole world.

But you, beloved, building yourselves up
on your most holy faith,
praying in the Holy Spirit,
keep yourselves in the love of God,
waiting anxiously for the mercy
of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life.
Jude 20-21

P.S. Since you are traveling with us, I’d be remiss if I didn’t give you the opportunity to look out the window some.

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Scenes in the Tennessee Mountains Near the Border with North Carolina
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We have seen many Christmas tree farms
near the Tennessee/North Carolina state line.

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One comment

  1. Please, please don’t worry a moment longer about becoming just another glorified social media page!! I truly don’t think you could do that if you tried because that just isn’t who you are. Your Daily Encouragement blog has become something I look forward to reading every day with anticipation, and I am always encouraged by what you say. My dear friend told me the other day that reading your blog was like having a conversation with you every day. That is the perfect way to describe it! Lately I have been especially encouraged by your reminders that this really is a season of life, and when this season changes God will start a new one. I loved reading about your mother’s great career later in her life! Today I thoroughly enjoyed learning about your trip and will be anticipating more of that for the next couple of weeks. You are a blessing. Thank you for sharing yourself with us in this way. (((hugs)))

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