Through my internship serving those in need of medical assistance, I'm making an impact on the lost and hurting world through the power of the Gospel.
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About Theresa Mince

I have chosen to step out of my comfort zone into a new city, faithfully using the passions and skills God has given me to love and serve the city of Louisville, Kentucky.

I will be serving as an urban missionary with Love Thy Neighborhood, a ministry that works to make a difference in the lives of those who are hurting in Louisville, KY. I will be a part of the neighborhood church reaching out to others with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I will be using my knowledge of and passion for public health to impact some of the most vulnerable people in Louisville. I will have the opportunity to address disparities and the social determinants of health. Working with the Shawnee Christian Healthcare Center, I will have the chance to develop health education and community engagement programming to equip and empower the people of Shawnee and, all of Louisville, to lead healthier lives.

The neighborhoods in which I will live and work are weighed down by drugs, crime, violence, poverty, and extreme health disparities. I wish to use the Gospel of Christ to lift that burden. To show people that they are loved, they are worthy, and they have purpose.

I will also have the opportunity to deepen my relationship with Christ and learn what it means for me to live out His calling on my life. Through an intentional and challenging Christian community, I will learn what it truly means to love God and love His children.

As a Love Thy Neighborhood Team Member, my goal is to raise $9,900 for the year ($900/month) to cover the cost of living, food, transportation, training, newsletter supplies, etc. Anything you can commit will bring me closer to that goal and make my mission possible. If you can help financially feel free to donate on the right hand side of the page.

If you cannot help financially, but are willing to pray for me throughout the year, or would like to receive a physical newsletter, please let me know. It would mean the world to me. You have all played huge parts in my life, and I owe significant parts of this journey to many of you.

I hope you will join me in this exciting adventure I'm about to undertake with the Lord. When Christians come together in His name, lives are radically changed.

Please check back here every month to see how God is using me and my team to change the city of Louisville.

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February 2017

“It’s never boring!”

If Love Thy Neighborhood had an unofficial motto, I think that would be it. Hello there, my dear friends and family. We are three weeks into the year, and it already feels like we have been here for months. The other interns joke about “LTN years,” and they’re right. I feel like I have known these people for years, and Louisville already feels like home.

We hit the ground running from Day One. I share a one-bedroom apartment with two roommates, Vicky and Kristin. Yep, you read that right. One bedroom. Three girls. But we are making it work, and we are certainly not strangers any longer. The girls are wonderful roommates and we are becoming fast friends. We are in the neighborhood of Shelby Park, a place full of diversity in every sense of the word. We were welcomed by our neighbors and are working to get to know the character of the neighborhood. It is a loving community full of pride, and it’s an honor to become a part of it.

We had a unique opportunity to meet many neighbors all at once when a car accident occurred in front of our building. One woman was injured, so we had the chance to minister to her and keep her calm as we waited for the ambulance to arrive. My mom always said I would make a good nurse (minus my aversion to blood), so I was able to assess the situation, get her as comfortable as possible, and then pray over her and her injuries. It was a crash-course (pun intended) in neighborhood outreach. We met everyone who lives in our building, as well as many people from down the road. I look forward to cultivating those relationships further, and getting to know the people who make up our community.

As Love Thy Neighborhood interns, we also have the opportunity to get involved with Sojourn Community Church. It is much bigger than Forest Lake, the church I came from in Tuscaloosa, but it is an incredible place. They are investing in us and helping us to live out the calling God has placed on our lives. I am so encouraged to be a part of a welcoming church family that wants to help us succeed. The worship is phenomenal, and Pastor Jamaal is incredibly gifted.

I am working in a different part of Louisville, known as Shawnee. It is in the West End, a part of town that often gets overlooked. The residents of Shawnee lack many of the resources most of us take for granted, such as access to fresh food and decent educational opportunities. Shawnee Christian Healthcare Center is a Federally-Qualified Health Center (FQHC), and moved into the Shawnee neighborhood specifically to provide quality health care to the underserved population. It is an honor to work with these people. I am working with the Patient and Community Engagement Director to expand our impact in the community. Because of my background in public health, I had the privilege of hitting it hard from Day One. I am working to revitalize the community garden directly across the street from the clinic, and working with the local Extension Center and USDA to improve access to locally-grown fruits and vegetables. In addition, I have the opportunity to assist our patients in gaining access to health insurance. Many individuals never imagined they would qualify for coverage, and we get to be a part of improving their quality of life and the quality of their care.

It is almost surreal to read back over this letter and realize I have only been here for three weeks. I have had more opportunities for growth in this brief period of time than I could have ever imagined. I am gaining experience in the field of work that I love, living with people who support me, all within a city of opportunity and adventure. This year is going to be challenging, exhausting, and absolutely one of the best decisions I have ever made.

My time in Louisville with Love Thy Neighborhood wouldn’t be possible without your help. I am humbled to know how many people love and support me, and are coming along with me on this journey. Whether financially or prayerfully, your support means the world to me. It means that I get to be the hands and feet of Jesus. I get to minister to those that the world seems to have forgotten. But God has never forgotten them. And He has sent me, and the rest of the Love Thy Neighborhood interns, to lift them up and show them His unending love. Thank you, thank you, thank you for being a part of that. I cannot wait to share the rest of this year with you.

Dear children, let us not love with words or speech, but with action and in truth. 1 John 3:18

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March 2017

Dearest friends and family,

It feels like I just wrote one of these, but a whole month has passed! What a month it has been. I had the opportunity to go to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to recruit for Love Thy Neighborhood. I spent three days at the Jubilee Conference telling people about my experiences and why coming to Louisville, Kentucky, was absolutely the best decision of my life.

It’s weird to say that. It’s even weirder that it’s true.

Today my mom sent me a picture of an old paper I wrote for an Entrepreneurship class in undergrad, and it’s amazing to see how God was measuring my steps and leading me here. The opening to my paper: “My goal in life is to help people. No matter where my career path might lead, I want it to make a difference in the lives of those around me.”

I have spent a large part of my life dealing in uncertainty. After my passion for fashion design fizzled out, I dealt with the uncertainty of the next steps. After falling in love with fitness, I found uncertainty in how to turn it into a career. After finishing my Master’s degree, there was the age-old uncertainty of finding a job. When God called me to Louisville, all of the uncertainty seemed worth it. I didn’t know who I would be living with. I didn’t know anything about the neighborhoods in which I would work and live. But I knew that God was certain. He is always certain. He certainly wants me in this place, at this time, living with, working with, and loving these people.

So when I say that LTN was the best decision of my life, I am certain. In just two months, I have found more joy and fulfillment in my career path than I thought possible. I recently had the opportunity to provide health education at a free medical and dental clinic put on by my church, Sojourn Community Church. I spoke with dozens of people who wanted to quit smoking, figure out how to manage their diabetes, get insurance, and generally live healthier lives. I got to provide them the tools to make changes. And that was just a four-hour stint on a Saturday. Day-to-day, I get to do this on a broader scale, loving and educating the people of the Shawnee neighborhood.

I’m learning to invest in my team members as well. Coming into this program as a very independent woman was a challenge. I am not used to depending so heavily on others, or letting people I’ve just met in on my deepest thoughts and feelings. But that vulnerability has created a connection and a safety I never thought I could feel with people I have only known for two months. We are bound to have our struggles (that apartment is SMALL, y’all), but I am confident that it will be worth it, and we will get through it.

Thank you all so much for your prayers and support. It has been humbling to feel the love all the way in Kentucky. I am still raising support for my time here, and am currently about 72% funded. If you are financially able, I would really appreciate your help in providing for the opportunities that I have here. Regardless of your financial ability, I need your prayers. While I’m certain I need to be here, this year will not be without its challenges. God is strong, and He provides my strength, but sometimes I forget that. Please pray that I will continue to lean totally on Him and know that He is working all things for my good.

“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Exodus 14:14

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April 2017

Darling friends and family,

The realities of where we are and what we are doing here in Louisville hit me like a freight train today. In tutoring, I worked with a young illiterate girl whose assignment was to write a book report. She could not decipher the difference between the letter N and the letter A. She is sweet and young and full of enthusiasm. But the education system and her support system are failing her. I spent 45 minutes after tutoring ended trying to help her complete her homework, but no matter what we did, 45 minutes simply wasn’t going to make a dent in the vast lack of knowledge that was stopping her. As I left the Shelby Park Community Center, exhausted and distraught, I was greeted by a group of young men hurling profane, derogatory remarks at me. I was so caught off guard by a group of kids no older than 13 throwing that language at me that I simply grabbed the girl by the hand and marched on across the park as if they didn’t exist.

Where I live, where I work, where I spend my time here, I am surrounded by the real-world effects of poverty, racism, sexism, and the afflictions of rampant drug abuse. The children in my neighborhood live in constant fear of Child Protective Services ripping their families apart. My patients live with the reality that the services in Louisville aren’t meant for those past the 9th Street Divide. The problems in Shawnee are seen as the fault of those who inhabit it, not the years upon years of racial, economic, and educational disparities.

By moving into the heart of Shelby Park and working in the most vulnerable, violent neighborhood (Shawnee), I have effectively removed the societal blinders that I have had the privileged option of wearing for most of my life. The fact is, if I wanted to, I have the option right now of closing my eyes to these problems, moving into a comfortable apartment in the safe part of town, and going about my life as if the things that don’t directly impact me don’t exist.

But I cannot do that. My eyes have been opened. The blinders have been thrown away and I cannot go back. God put me in the heart of the fire because He wants to see hope blossom here. It’s not going to be easy. Most days, I have to accept the fact that the grand change I yearn to see in this place isn’t going to happen in my lifetime. A lot of days, that’s too heavy. So I fix my eyes on what I can do at this moment, in this place, with what I have.

Today, I spent time with a teenage girl who needed to know someone cared about her. She opened up like I’ve never seen and shared parts of her life with me that I feel honored to know. We played games, finished her homework, and bonded over silly jokes. None of this was earth-shattering. None of it is going to change the fact that her abusive father refuses to leave the house. But today, for a moment, I got to give her a safe space to just be a kid. I got to remind her that she is smart, kind, funny, and so, so loved. So today, I’m going to hold tightly to that victory so I can weather the storms around me.

Friends, family, this life is not easy. Even as a young, educated White woman, the weight of the violence, poverty, and addiction around me is like an anchor around my neck. If I let it, it will drag me down until I’m so overwhelmed that I cannot function. But when I think about those around me, those who have no choice but to stay in this place, I can’t give up. The anchors they carry are far heavier than mine. So instead, I must strive to help carry theirs. We must all shoulder the burden together. God brought me here because He is strong enough to carry the load. I am not. I never will be. But God in me, God working through me, is strong enough to take on the weight of the world. I can never, ever forget that, or the reality of the darkness in this place will consume me.

I ask you to pray continually for this place. I am working to earn the trust of people in both Shelby Park and Shawnee so I can show them that I’m not here to fix them or save them, I’m here to walk alongside them and use my privilege and resources to better their lives. Pray for the youth, that strong role models would rise up and provide hope and direction. Finally, please pray for strength and endurance for myself and the rest of the Love Thy Neighborhood team. No one said this was going to be easy. In fact, they guaranteed it wouldn’t be. But we know it is worth it, and that keeps us hanging on.

I love you all so very much, and I am honored and blessed to have your support. Who I am today and where I am today wouldn’t be possible without you.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. II Corinthians 4:16-18

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May 2017

Two Mormons, four LTN interns, three SCHC staff, two activists, and five Shawnee community members walked into a garden...you wouldn’t believe what happened next!

Sounds like a click-bait article, but it’s the beginning of a beautiful story of hope, teamwork, and baby steps towards alleviating food insecurity. This past Saturday, I coordinated a Work Day in the Shawnee Garden of Principles, the community garden across the street from the clinic. The weather did not seem like it was going to cooperate, but against the odds, people still came out. We spent the day laying newspaper and cardboard, spreading mulch, painting signs, and building raised beds. Ages ranged from 6 years old to over 70. We had at least three religions represented, and several ethnic groups. Though we were a small workforce, we accomplished a lot. When we ran out of cardboard, everyone called in favors to get us more. Tony and Ruth talked to the local councilwoman to make sure she came out to see all the work we were doing.

When I look at the pictures, I’m stunned. We got rained on, we ran out of supplies a few times, and the weather lessened our expected turnout. But by God’s grace, this place is beautiful. We already have at least half a dozen committed gardeners and plans to have another work day to build a shed for our tools. We received a $1,000 grant from Louisville Grows, and amazing amounts of support from other Louisville organizations, including the UK Extension Service and Soil & Water Conservation District.

See, I’ve never thought of myself as a gardener. Though my mom tried and tried to turn my thumb green over the years, I never took to it in the past. But I am passionate about food security, and God has gifted me with the ability to organize people and resources around a common goal. Not only that, but God has gifted me with the desire to build lasting, meaningful relationships. Through this garden, I have gotten to know not only my coworkers better, but members of the community as well.

Mr. and Mrs. Tony and Ruth French are staples in the Shawnee neighborhood. They own French Plaza, which is where our clinic is located, as well as the land on which the community garden sits. They are passionate about their city and are some of the kindest, most generous people I know. I felt like we were kindred spirits from the first moment we met, and my friendship with them has been growing quickly ever since. They gave my roommates and I the honor of joining them for Thunder Over Louisville, a huge tradition here, on the 16th floor of the Galt House, a hotel right on the river. In addition to getting to meet their family and friends, we got to see the air show and fireworks from the best seats in the house. I’ve known these beautiful people for just a few months, but it feels like years. It is truly an honor to call them friends.

I have learned so much in my short time here, and God has provided boundless community with whom I can journey through the highs and lows. There are going to be great days, good days, and no-good, very-bad days. But praise God, I will never have to see those days alone. Whether it’s my awesome coworkers, my faithful roommates, the inspiring people I’ve come to know in the neighborhood, or you wonderful humans reading this newsletter, I am surrounded by people who are cheering me on and breathing life into me.

The garden is on its way back to life. It is poised to return to being a source of pride for the neighborhood and a place where community members can gather, learn, and grow. I am humbled and honored to be just a tiny part of that beautiful picture. By God’s grace, the seeds that my mother planted all those years ago have bloomed into a love for gardening. Not just the results, but the process. The hard work, the dedication, the loving care, and the patience it takes to see the literal and figurative fruits of your efforts are so very worth it. I’m so grateful to have people and experiences in my life that have challenged me to use my gifts to support and shine a light on the gifts of others. My time here has been, and will continue to be, a roller coaster of emotions and experiences. I ask that you pray for myself and my teammates as we live this life together. Pray that we will persevere when times get tough and celebrate even the smallest victories. I hope these newsletters can be an honest depiction of the highs and lows of life loving and serving the urban poor. I know sometimes it may be uncomfortable to read, but I am so grateful to have you all journeying with me. May God’s grace and peace surround and keep you.

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June 2017

Happy Theresa’s birthday month, y’all! (It’s the 18th FYI)

Can you believe it’s already June?! We are almost halfway through this crazy adventure. We recently welcomed 35 new interns for the summer. They are from all over the country and are so excited to be here to love and serve Louisville. Most of them are college kids, who look like literal children to me. When did I become such an old lady?

God has been doing incredible things in Louisville. I could go on and on about the Shawnee community garden forever, but I don’t think endless newsletters filled with garden updates are what you are looking for. We got the volunteer plot planted, all but one community plot is rented, and today we had 35 people in the garden spreading mulch, pulling weeds, and being beacons of light and hope to the Shawnee community. It was an incredible experience.

Though sometimes it seems as if the garden is the only thing I’m doing here, SCHC keeps me busy. One of the more unique opportunities I have is signing people up for insurance. I am a certified Assister, which means I can help people get access to health insurance. This includes Medicaid, Qualified Health Plans (QHPs), Medicare, and other services such as SNAP, Social Security, and VA benefits. I never imagined I would end up going down this avenue, but I am so grateful that the clinic asked me to pursue it. I get to work with all sorts of individuals who never dreamed they would be able to afford health care. I get to work with women in a residential recovery center who were recently incarcerated. It is incredible to be a tiny part of helping these women get back on their feet. Equal, affordable access to healthcare is a vital step in improving the health of our nation, and as a health professional it is awesome to add this skill to my arsenal.

I have had the opportunity to get to know a lot of the kids in the neighborhood lately, which has been a great experience, but has also opened my eyes to the real victims of poverty, addiction, and violence. Many of these kids live in single-parent homes, are regularly exposed to violence, and lack reliable access to nutritious meals. They are often raising themselves, as well as their younger siblings. They’ve seen family members murdered, friends taken by CPS, and felt the weight of the world on their shoulders.

It’s hard, y’all. I want to scoop them all up and give them a safe, consistent home. I want to feed them and love on them and help them get through school. I want to make them believe that they could be something great one day. I want to make them believe that they are great now. But that’s not how the real world works. In the real world, I can take the few hours I have with them and try to make it worthwhile. I can look them in the eyes and tell them they matter. I can help with homework, bring snacks, and make sure they know I’m here. LTN has a sort of official-unofficial slogan, “Just show up.” So that’s what we do. We show up. God does the rest.

Please pray that the violence in our city would end. There have been shootings almost daily, with multiple murders in the past few weeks. Pray that our leadership would step up and make tangible steps towards a safer city. Pray for the garden, that it would remain a safe, beautiful space. Pray for the new interns as they get acclimated to their new city. And please pray that God may give me the right words to be there for the people with whom I work and live.

This life is challenging, friends. I have never been more exhausted in my life, but I’ve also never been more fulfilled. I am emotionally drained, but spiritually filled. God is good, and He is renewing this city day by day. I praise Him that I may be a small part of that renewal.

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July 2017

Beautiful friends and family,

I have restarted this newsletter three times now because I have so much to share and I honestly can’t decide what I can stand to leave out. God is moving in huge ways here in Louisville, and I’m in awe watching Him.

The past month has been full of many highs and lows. On June 17th, we had the 6th annual Shawnee Community Fest, which I helped plan and execute. We have been working for months to create something the neighborhood could be proud of, and I think we succeeded. We had over 50 vendors, over 60 volunteers, hundreds of dollars worth of donated food, and beautiful weather, even though there was a very high chance of rain. We prayed and prayed that people would come out, and they certainly did. I didn’t get a good head count, but I would estimate around 300+ people showed up. It was one of the most exhausting and rewarding days I’ve had here. God blessed me with the ability to bring together people and resources and to lead them well. On that Saturday, I got the opportunity to showcase that, and it’s not something I will ever take for granted.

If you have followed any of my previous blogs, you know that I have a panic disorder. It mostly centers on my time at the gym, but also loves to pop its head out in other social situations. This month I have been struggling hard with panic attacks and anxiety, which has resulted in a tough relationship with the gym. The gym is MY place. To have that ripped away from me has been extremely difficult. I ask that you pray for me to overcome these panic attacks and for the gym to become my safe haven again.

The garden has been growing like crazy! We brought on two new gardeners this past week, and worked with Louisville Grows to build a shed! Staff, interns, and volunteers all came out from LG. We are so blessed by our partnership with their incredible organization. I have picked chard, radishes, and zucchini so far. I had the honor of gardening with my mom when she came to visit. She planted the seeds for a love of gardening a long, long time ago, but it took God’s intervention to make me truly appreciate it. The opportunity to put my hands in the dirt with my mom was a long-time dream come true.

Once a month, I attend a local food pantry at the Lutheran church around the corner from the clinic to provide health screenings and information about our services. This month, I found myself in tears as I watched an older White gentleman be exceedingly kind to a young African-American man. It was his first time at the pantry and you could tell he was anxious. It turned out that he did not live in their service zip code, but the older gentleman reassured him that they would assist him this month and put him in contact with a pantry closer to him. The political climate in the country right now is contentious at best. Race relations are falling apart, and I find myself dumbfounded by the words and actions of individuals towards one another. Seeing this interaction warmed my heart. Seeing God’s people serving and loving one another is such a gift, and it’s what we are called to do, not create division and hate.

Today I participated in our weekly soccer clinic at the park. A group of teenagers came over from the basketball courts to try to get some of our snacks. We told them they were more than welcome to join us for soccer, because the snacks were for the kids playing. They walked a few yards from us then set off a bottle rocket and chucked it at our table. Luckily, it got stuck in the grass and didn’t get near any of the kids. I tried to engage the young men but they refused. After chucking the fireworks, they ran off laughing. Encounters like this are so disheartening because they just don’t make any sense to me. Before they came over, I was having an incredible time getting to know a little boy who was too shy to speak to anyone else. I persisted and he absolutely lit up. By the end of our time together, he couldn’t stop talking. He and his brothers are planning to come back next week.

When I look at these two encounters, I see the heart of Shelby Park. I see kids who have grown up without positive role models, who have been left to raise themselves. The only people who have shown them love have been the drug dealers and troublemakers. Even if it’s misguided, toxic attention, it’s the only attention they get so they latch onto it. As I talked and played with the little boy, I saw the crossroads he will soon face. Will his parents stay in the picture? Will they give him the attention he deserves? He loves math and science. He wants to be Spiderman. I want so badly for him to stay a child as long as possible. I pray that he and his brothers can rise above the troubles of our neighborhood and not get weighed down by the violence and drugs.

Please, friends, pray for this place. The darkness gets oppressive, and it weighs on us all. We play the game “Gunshots or Fireworks” far too often, and the crime in the neighborhood has increased. But we know that God has placed us in this place for a reason. Little by little, the light pushes back the darkness. Pray that we may have the strength and energy to continue to be on the front lines.

The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:5

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August 2017

As you can see in the header, Love Thy Neighborhood is made up of two components: social justice internships and Christian community. When I started in January, I knew I was equipped for the internship aspect. What I’m doing at Shawnee is what I went to school for. I am confident in my abilities to work and lead in the health education realm. But when it comes to Christian community? That part I wasn’t so sure about.

I didn’t grow up going to church. As a matter of fact, I didn’t become a Christian until I was 23 years old. And you know what made the difference? People. Community. When I started attending Forest Lake Baptist Church in Tuscaloosa, AL, I had a lot of questions and not a lot of answers. I was depressed, confused, and needed people to walk through life with me. Aaron and Leesa Barnes, the college pastor and his wife, pursued me. They made sure I felt welcome, they drew me into the family, and they answered my questions. God opened my eyes to His love through His people. Through community.

The thing is, though, that was community on my terms. Yes, God brought me to FLBC, and He orchestrated those relationships, but I agreed to pursue them. I agreed to lean into that community and become a part of it. The community cultivated in LTN isn’t so much my choice as it is my duty. I was told to go to Sojourn. I was told to join a certain Community Group. I was told that Shelby Park was my community. So while I chose to join Love Thy Neighborhood, every other aspect of my community was not of my choosing.

Don’t worry, this isn’t a letter about how much I hate things. This is a letter about God’s grace and patience and the deep importance of strong community.

I have struggled since I got here with feeling connected. I am older than all the other interns, I’m at a different place in life, and I came here mostly for the experience I would gain at Shawnee. I didn’t expect to meet lifelong friends here, or find people I could share my struggles with. The jury is still out on the lifelong part, but God surrounded me with people who can help me stay afloat when I can’t do it myself.

In a few short weeks, 45 of the 48 interns will end their time here. That’s right, only my household will remain. In September, we will get a fresh crop of year-longs, but for now, the community we have spent seven months building is about to end. And I never expected it to hurt as much as it does.

Despite myself, despite the struggles, the arguments, the differences, the stress, despite all of it, these people have become family. No, not all 45 of them. That’s insane. But God has been patient and faithful in giving me people who can help carry things when they get too heavy. It’s been in the little things, like late night ice cream runs, and hours-long porch chats. It’s in the silent nights spent reading on the couch. It’s in the hugs that don’t end until the tears do. This crazy misfit family that God has cultivated is exactly who I need right now.

I don’t know what everyone’s plans are at the end of their LTN commitment. I know some are staying in Louisville, while some will return to college, or home, or go looking for jobs. And while I’m so sad to see them all go, I am so humbled to know that in spite of myself, God showed up and pulled us all together. We came in as strangers, but they leave as family.

And as for the three of us, well, keep praying. We get a new group of strangers in September after a (much needed) two-week break in August. Pray that in the four months we have with them, they will become part of the family as well.

“And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Colossians 3:14

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September 2017

“In this moment, how can I best love God and love people?”

That’s what Love Thy Neighborhood refers to as “the mission question,” and it’s something we are supposed to ruminate on as we make decisions about how to spend our time. Sometimes, the answer is, “go next door and talk to your neighbor about her tomato plants.” Sometimes, the answer is, “take a nap.” Lately, God has been answering that question with, “REST.”

If you’ve known me for any length of time, you know that I don’t rest well. If I’m not active, or not actively serving, I feel as though what I’m doing is not meaningful. If you’re not serving others, how could you possibly be honoring God? That’s a facetious question, but one that has swirled in my head on more than one occasion. This season with LTN has been one of the busiest, most exhausting times in my life, but it has also been an opportunity for me to learn that sometimes, the best way to serve God is to allow others to serve me. It’s in little things, like asking my roommates to pray over me when I’m feeling overwhelmed. It’s deferring to someone else’s authority and trusting that God will be glorified whether I’m the one leading or not.

Love Thy Neighborhood has been a time of intense spiritual, personal, and professional growth. I have struggled to let go of worldly things that give my life meaning and instead find my hope and my identity in Christ. I have struggled through the uncertainty of where my career goes from here. And I’ve struggled with feeling like enough when my brain is shouting that I’m useless. But praise God, He never leaves us where He finds us. He has blessed me with two roommates who don’t judge me when I’m crying over something seemingly inconsequential, but instead cover me in prayer and pick me back up. He has blessed me with a supervisor at Shawnee who is helping me to understand and respect my limits, while also pushing me to have confidence in my abilities. And He has blessed me with a Savior who came to this earth, experienced this pain and confusion and struggle, and died a death I no longer have to die.

There are only three months of LTN service left, and it feels surreal. I never thought I could be so broken and so fulfilled at the same time. I have been brought to my knees by humility and lifted to my feet by unconditional love and sacrifice. The future for me remains a mystery, folks, but I have such peace that only comes from the One who created me. Praise my sweet, sweet Lord for His grace.

Thanks to your loving, sacrificial gifts, I am proud to say that I am fully funded! I never imagined how much of a blessing support raising could be, but you have all shown me what it means to be loved and supported so deeply. If you feel led to give, please consider donating to Love Thy Neighborhood as a whole. Nine new interns recently joined us to begin a year of service, and your support means they can continue the work that the Lord has started through my household. 

“Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me, and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. Whoever welcomes a prophet as a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever welcomes a righteous person as a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward.” Matthew 10:40-42