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We are grateful to God for preparing us and giving us opportunities. We are thankful to homeschooling families for giving us their trust.

Trust-building takes time. Starting a homeschool business and putting up a Notgrass sign didn’t mean people automatically came flocking to see what we had to offer. Choosing the name Notgrass Company brought us some quizzical looks and comments at homeschool conventions. One of my favorite comments was from the person who wondered if we were an anti-drug group! You know, NOT grass!

We have learned to listen closely to what moms and dads say in our booth. When a mom told us she would like for someone to write a history of Tennessee she could use before her family went on the mission field, we worked hard so that Exploring Tennessee could be ready the next spring. We were thankful to God for sending the idea.

What we learn writing one course always helps us to write the next one. Draw to Learn the Book of Psalms has one lesson for each of the 150 psalms. One hundred fifty lessons for a 180-day school year sounded good to me: one lesson almost every day–just right for homeschoolers, I thought.

Based on that idea, we wrote 150 lessons for Exploring Tennessee, too, dividing them into thirty units of five lessons each. We have done 150 lessons for every full-year course we have written since then–and it all started because Psalms has 150 chapters.

Of course, Exploring Tennessee wasn’t going to teach anyone if they didn’t know it existed, so we made day trip after day trip across the state talking (and often singing) to almost any group who would invite us to come.

Von Trapp 3a
At an Umbrella School in Nashville, Tennessee
Von Trapp 4 and Media
At Fort Nashborough
Von Trapp 2
At a Community Center in Tiny Orlinda, Tennessee
Von Trapp 1a
Even at an Insurance Meeting–In Costume!

As we were finishing Exploring Tennessee, Ray was asked to teach American history part-time at our local university. When he did that, he started dreaming of writing an American history curriculum for high schoolers. He told me, “I know there is a lot of history for homeschoolers and I don’t know if anyone will buy it. I just want to do it.”

Ray combined American history and literature in a way similar to how he was taught in high school. He added a Bible study each Friday and also added primary sources. We published it in 2002.

History 1a
Exploring America, 1st Edition, June 2002

Exploring Georgia followed in 2003, Exploring World History in 2004, Exploring Government in 2006, and Exploring Economics in 2009. We also had a family celebration of our 10th anniversary as a company. For our part of the entertainment, Ray and I did a jet-speed version of our old “A Walk Through Tennessee History in Story and Song.”

In 2010 we welcomed Mary Evelyn’s husband Nate as part of our team.

For years parents had asked us if we had American history for younger students. As John and I drove home from a convention we had done together in Virginia one year, we brainstormed about how to write one. The ideas from that trip grew into America the Beautiful in 2011, our first full-color hardback curriculum.

In 2012 we added Uncle Sam and You. We also added our first full-time staff member who wasn’t a member of the family. We didn’t have to look very far though. We have known Ethan for many years; he grew up using what he now ships to others.

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Nate and Ethan, 2012

Last year we decided it was time for fresh, new, hardback editions of our high school American and world histories, so Exploring World History is at the printer and a new edition of Exploring America is in the works. As Paul Harvey used to say, “and now you know the rest of the story.”

We love to see how God uses our curriculum. We are especially thrilled when we hear from one of the students themselves.

This past year I studied your curriculum, Exploring World History. I want to thank you for writing this curriculum because it taught me why it is important to study history, which is to learn about God’s plan for the world. The Bible Study lessons and questions helped me grow in my relationship with Christ as I pondered over what it means to be a Christian and how I can spread the gospel. Your curriculum has had a vast impact on my faith and view of history, so once again, thank you.

We are thankful that God grants us everything we need exactly when we needed it and that He allows us to do what we love when we get up in the morning.

. . . His divine power has granted to us
everything pertaining to life and godliness,
through the true knowledge of Him who called us
by His own glory and excellence.
2 Peter 1:3

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  1. I am so very grateful The Lord led you guys to start the Notgrass Company. I had tried several history programs and they just weren’t quite what I was looking for until we came across America the Beautiful. Now I share with my friends about your company and passed out your catalog. I look forward to more products from you guys. Would love more ancient history or Middle Ages for elementary – middle school age. God Bless you all!!!

  2. Our family is thankful you followed the Lord and began writing curriculum for the homeschool community! As I was searching for history curriculum at the CHAP convention, I came upon your booth after a long, exhausting look. And, voila, I knew it was for us! We have done America the Beautiful and are currently completing Exploring World History. And, we can’t wait to continue using many of the others. The history lessons are set up so nicely and are all encompassing and very manageable. It has the right mix of supportive material from the literature to the extra supplemental readings but most importantly is based on the Word of God. Thank you so much for your loving hearts, too, behind the writings!