Late on a Saturday night in August of 1994, our son John and I returned from Mexico on our first mission trip out of the country. Ray preached on Sunday. On Monday we packed for another mission trip to Idaho. This time we five Notgrasses were the entire mission team.
On that Monday morning, I engaged the stopper in our bathroom sink and began running water to wash something out by hand. While the water was running, I left the bathroom — always a bad idea.
When I reached the family room, I found our children watching an episode of Little House on the Prairie. Forgetting all about the water running at the other end of the house, I sat down and began to watch it with them. Another bad idea.
Soon I was calling Ray to come home from his office at the church building to help us pull boxes out of the garage because water from the overflowed sink was raining down on the boxes we had not yet unpacked from our move to Cookeville, Tennessee, from Illinois the August before. I wish I could tell you that I never overflowed a sink again — but I can’t!
On Tuesday we headed west for a mission trip to Idaho. Ah, the cross stitch picture Ray had asked me to make when our children were little was describing us well — again: “Never a dull moment around the Notgrass House.”
Our destination was a mission church in St. Anthony, Idaho. Our purpose was to help with a Vacation Bible School. The minister of the church was the son-in-law of one of our most precious friends in Cookeville. The experience was wonderful.
In addition to working with this family and that small congregation, the minister helped us experience that beautiful part of the world. We saw Yellowstone National Park and Grand Tetons National Park in nearby Wyoming, and we climbed on sand dunes in Idaho.
When Vacation Bible School was completed, our family took off on a grand adventure. That grand adventure turned out to be the beginning of an even grander one.
Our first homeschool experience was a wonderful one — and a challenging one. It was so challenging and I was so ill-equipped to maintain it that we had quit after two years. After a two-year break from homeschooling (which I still regret), we had decided to start over again.
As we drove away from St. Anthony, I told our children that this was their first day of school. We still had a lot to learn but this time homeschooling was going to be different. We weren’t going to DO homeschool; we were going to BE homeschoolers.
This adventure was one of our cheese-and-crackers-in-the-car, cheap-cheap-motels trips. It was always adventurous and memorable — so adventurous and memorable that we forever marked one hotel chain off our list. Sometimes a few dollars more is worth it!
But, before the week was out, we had visited Craters of the Moon National Monument, toured an Oregon Trail museum, played in the Pacific Ocean, and driven through the Redwood Forest and across the Golden Gate Bridge. The next week we marked off even more for our goal of 48-and-you’re-on-your-own-for-Alaska-and-Hawaii, as we swung south through Yosemite, Death Valley, and on to the Grand Canyon.
A few years after this adventure, the Idaho minister and his family moved to Cookeville. We have been friends ever since. Last weekend one of their daughters got married at a ranch in Idaho, an area the family still loves. When Ray and I got the invitation in September, our first thought was, “Too bad we can’t go,” but then we thought, “Why not?” And so we did.
Our hearts were filled with memories from 25 years earlier, memories of their family and our family, of the beauties God created there, and of that precious second chance to homeschool.
Happy memory-making today!
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.