I’ve met some large homeschooling families, but I don’t know any who call the roll (unless it’s a mama gong through the names of her children one after another trying to say the right one!). Calling the roll was a common practice in my school when I was a child. It went something like this:
Teacher: Mike Allen
Teacher: Charlene Boyd
Teacher: Kathy Collier
Teacher: Les Henley
Teacher: Judy Krantz
Teacher: Lynn McDaniel
On and on she went, until she had called each name. Of course, no reply meant that a child was absent with a cold or measles or chicken pox or a tonsillectomy. The common reply was “Here,” but a few children — who always seemed a bit more sophisticated to me — said, “Present.”
Here. Present. It doesn’t matter which one we say. What does matter is whether we actually are here or present. Being distracted is easy. Being present requires decisions — a series of little decisions and big decisions all
day . . . week . . . year . . . life long.
Be devoted to one another in brotherly love;
give preference to one another in honor.
Presence is one way we obey Romans 12:10. It is one way we show devotion to and honor for another person.
When John’s first presentation of One Soldier’s Story was finished last Wednesday night, Ray looked at me and said, “My heart is full.”
His heart was full because of the memory of his father’s godly life. His heart was full because our son had just shared that story.
His heart was full because 75 years ago brave Americans made a powerful difference in a terrible world war that was terrorizing millions of people. I’d like to share the evening with you through a few pictures.
Inside we found Ray’s daddy’s name on a plaque with other veterans who had been members of Post 19 for fifty consecutive years. We found many names who became fifty-year members in 1995, which was, of course, fifty years after the end of World War II.
The B in Wesley B. Notgrass stands for Biddle, the last name of the doctor who delivered him. We found Dr. Biddle’s picture with the other American Legion post commanders. He was commander six years after he delivered Wes!
Ray’s heart was also full because of the people who honored us all with their presence. We appreciated the homeschooling families and the local people from Columbia.
We were honored that four members of the Randy Russell family came to see the presentation. They are long-time family friends who now live in the Columbia area. Homeschooling mama Dena Russell is our newest team member at Notgrass History. She is serving as a part-time editorial and research assistant. I was the first person outside of their family to hold their younger son Ethan. He is a very special friend. He is on the cover of our Uncle Sam and You Student Workbook. Today he is a godly and responsible young homeschool graduate with a hobby of photography. He took this picture of John, Ray, and me.
We appreciated the presence of a distant Fraser relative who lives in the Knob Creek area of Maury County. Mr. Fraser told me a wonderful story his daddy told him about some Notgrasses in the 1900s who built some kind of structure to move a house across Knob Creek. He surmised that they were trying to get the house away from the danger of flooding. The story was of special interest to me, since I grew up in a house that had been moved on logs from one street to another.
We appreciated the presence of Mr. Locke, Ray’s high school history teacher who inspired the history and literature and primary sources teaching method we use in our high school courses. Mr. Locke and Ray enjoy a deep friendship and now I am grateful to call Mr. Locke my friend, too.
We appreciated the presence of Bill Harbison and his first cousin. Bill is the son of W. J. Harbison, whose picture is on the screen in the photo below. The picture is clear in the presentation, but not clear in this photo. W. J. Harbison and Wesley Notgrass were close friends. They both served in Europe during World War II. When Ray’s parents married in Bristol, England, a few months before the war ended, Mr. Harbison served as best man. The two men remained lifelong friends. Mr. Harbison went on to become a justice on the Supreme Court of Tennessee. Mr. and Mrs. Harbison honored Ray and me by coming to our wedding. John found their son Bill online just a day or two before the presentation. He came and brought his first cousin. She also enjoyed remembrances of her uncle and Ray’s dad. They were a delight for me to meet.
So, you can see why Ray’s heart was full on Wednesday night in his hometown of Columbia, Tennessee. One of the sweetest blessings we can give to another person is the blessing of our presence. You are at the beautiful time of life when you can bless your children with your undistracted presence every day.
We all have opportunities to bless others with our presence — relatives, parents, friends, people we knew long ago, and relatives of people we knew long ago.
Do not forsake your own friend
or your father’s friend.
The God Who created the universe honors each of us with His presence.
You will make known to me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.