* I'm enjoying a remarkably quiet morning. Jesse and Laurel both spent the night at friends' houses, and Duncan had a friend spend the night after a very late swim party, so they are still sleeping. I don't know when the last time was that the house was still quiet at 9:20 a.m.!
* Except that when I first woke up, there was a wild ruckus outside. I'm usually quite accepting of the circle of life but this morning, phew! I opened the door and there was the young cat, proudly displaying his fresh morning catch. Somehow the cat at the door with a bird in its mouth still tweeting just really got to me. I had to eat breakfast with the cat and its still tweeting bird right outside the door. Made me think about how we live our lives with people crying for help right outside our doors, and then I felt even worse. I was relieved when the bird was finally silent. And struck again by how relieved we are when something is done. Someone gives money, someone collects food. We can forget about the suffering for awhile in the ensuing silence.
* Those are sobering thoughts for the morning, but nonetheless I feel a sense of progress this summer toward reaching out to our community. In American Heritage Girls we are very community-service oriented, but not so much in our church. On a small scale, though, we started a small group back in the winter focused on reaching outward. We're reading the book The Externally Focused Church, which is awesome. Our group isn't meeting during the summer, but we did decide on one big project to do. We wanted to fill backpacks with school supplies for local school kids so they'd have the required supplies on their first day of school. We contacted an elementary school that we knew was filled with struggling families. We found out that 70% of the 400+ kids in that school are in families where neither parent is employed, and 100% of the kids qualify for the free lunch program. We began collecting backpacks at church and then were thrilled when our youth minister jumped on board and made the VBS mission emphasis to be the "Backpack Bash." The kids were fantastic about bringing in school supplies and money, and today the principal of the school is picking up the filled backpacks. We are a small church and we didn't raise nearly enough to fill 400 packs, but it's a start.
* On a much, much larger scale, Donna's husband and Dad2Three just finished a most amazing outreach. They are partners in Feed Your Faith, a ministry Mike started four years ago to bring the best and brightest Christian speakers, authors, and musicians to East Tennessee while raising money for those in need locally. Last weekend's event was phenomenal. I remember the day last summer when Mike said, "Kirk Cameron's agreed to come!" and for nine months or so, Mike and Rick worked furiously to make this happen. The Fireproof Your Marriage Seminar was sold out back in March for last weekend's conference! Kirk Cameron was amazing, and musician Warren Barfield was absolutely fantastic. I wouldn't have missed it for the world, and I am so proud of Mike and Rick for undertaking this enormous project. Because what is so awesome about this, besides the thousands of marriages that Kirk Cameron hopefully touched, is that this event raised thousands and thousands of dollars for a local ministry, Family Promise of Blount County. Family Promise serves local homeless families through a network of local churches, where families can live together on a week-to-week basis rather than being separated at homeless shelters. Really awesome stuff.
* Wow! I said a lot for what started out to be a rambling post.
* On another note, I am hosting the Carnival of Homeschooling here next week. Got something to say? Submit your post here by Monday at 6 p.m.!
* The boys are up and asking for pancakes, and the dog needs to go out. The day begins in earnest now.