“This is what it’s all about, baby!”

Green Megs & HamI just did something impossibly crazy. Yesterday, shivering and soaked to the skin, I cried ugly tears while rolling across a finish line after pedaling 180 miles in the Trek Across Maine. People under umbrellas shook cow bells, blew horns and cheered. And I cried.

I actually started fighting tears 5 miles before the finish. It’s hard for me to hold back emotion.

It was an absolutely brutal day with temperatures only in the sixties and steady rain falling as a gift from Tropical Storm Bob’s last hurrah. Nearly two inches of rain pounded us while we pedaled.

The weather reports the night before told us it was coming. Our team, my friends, sat and talked about safety and alternatives to riding Sunday. I was quiet. The talk centered on the possibility of packing up and going home, skipping the final 56 miles and maybe making the miles up on a Monday ride.

Back in our dorm room, I laid out my rain gear for the next day and transferred my number to my jersey and told Robin, “If everyone goes home, I am still going to ride. I have to finish this. I’m riding.”

She gave me her “we’ll see” look and said we could decide in the morning when we saw the weather. I nodded but was determined that I was riding no matter what.

Part of my team was laughing and talking in a common room around the corner so I went in before turning in for the night to thank them for being part of this achievement with me and to tell them, no matter what, I would finish the next day.

My good friend Karen looked at me with the look of determination I’ve come to know well and said, “Oh, we are DEFINITELY riding tomorrow.” She took my attitude up a few notches with that. I did not want to ride alone. I knew I needed help.

We woke to what we expected. The rain was steady and the temperature was barely 50. My prayer was simple while I got dressed, “God, give me the strength. I know this is crazy.”

Wet TrekPeople told me I looked like I was dressed for surgery. I had clear, wrap-around safety glasses on to protect my contacts, a bright, blue shower cap pulled over my helmet, a translucent whitish rain coat that looked somewhat like a lab coat and bright yellow baggy rain pants with booties pulled over my cycling shoes. When I looked in the mirror I saw the people who stood around my bed at Lahey Hospital three years ago looking like this just before my transplant. I did look like I was prepared for conducting a surgery. I felt the irony.

It wasn’t long into our 56 mile final day that I became very aware that the money spent on the coat and pants was a total waste. I was soaked and shivering. The shoe covers that were supposed to keep my feet warm and dry instead acted like two little beach pails collecting all the rain they could. They became heavier and heavier with each mile until I ditched them at mile 30.

Still, I made it to the first rest stop mentally strong. We were accomplishing this feat together and most of the team had decided to brave the weather. We joked about the rain, filled our bottles and headed back out with 15 miles done.

By the next rest stop, things had changed for me. My chain had come off a few times, I couldn’t feel my toes and my phone mapping program stopped tracking my progress. Its little blue dot showed me that I was somewhere in the ocean off the coast of Africa! Really, that’s what I felt like. I did my best to put on a smile for my waiting teammates but I was hurting. My check-in text to Robin waiting at the finish line was brief, “30 mile stop. Dying.”

We had 26 miles left to go. 26 miles. Up, up, up, up. I was so tired of hearing, “Coming on your left” as cyclist after cyclist climbed past me.

“Maybe this was a dumb idea. Maybe 160 miles is enough,” my self-talk started shifting. “The next time I see a support vehicle, I’m taking it. At least I tried.”

But then people who passed me started talking to me on their way by…

“Keep going man, you got this!”

“Three years with a transplant? You rock, Scott. Keep it up. Not much further.”

One after another … PUSH … PUSH … PUSH.

I thought, “Man, I must look like I am about to die” and then I heard that voice. No, I didn’t hear the voice of God or anything. I heard the voice of Zabenko somewhere back behind me while I was crawling to the crest of another hill from Hell.

“Woohoo Scott! You got this, buddy! Keep going!” Karen was back there telling people about me, telling them my story and asking them to encourage me on their way by.

She came up behind me and stayed with me. And then Kim came for awhile and said, “follow my cadence … just keep your eye on me.” And then when I was about to kill Karen and tell her to shutup, Russ showed up on the scene making me laugh with, “Let’s go, Batman! We’re almost there!” (My friends know that I am Batman.)

So many people are alone in life. I thank my God every day that I have so many good people in mine.

Though my phone still had me off the coast of Africa, we came to the signs for the staging area where faster riders could wait for slower team members so they could cross the finish line as a group. Yeah, I was crying rolling in but I hid it pretty well.

We got organized and headed for the finish, cold, drenched and tired.

My teammates made me ride in at the head of our pack. I called back for Megan to ride next to me. She was my inspiration for this attempt. She was our team captain.

10306563_10207166718745947_711863714236735900_nAs we rolled under the finish line banner, I looked at her and tried my best at a thank you smile but it was more of an ugly, lip-quivering, crying face. We did it. We really did it.

Throughout the weekend I teased Karen because every time we came to a gorgeous view or met wonderful people or tasted fresh watermelon from strangers cheering us on at the side of the road, she would enthusiastically say, “This is what it’s all about!”

For me, it is all the people who have pushed me along, encouraged me to keep going and have been there for me when I’ve had nothing left. It’s why I hug tight. It’s why I’m not uptight about schedules anymore. It’s why I talk too much and laugh loud and why I sit on the driveway making chalk drawings with children.

Relationships. That’s what it’s all about.

Now, does anybody want to buy my bike???

Jesus replied, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. The second most important is similar: ‘Love your neighbor as much as you love yourself.’ Mt. 22:37-39

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There’s something about the rain.

Our peaceful corner of the world.

Our peaceful corner of the world.

It’s raining and it feels good.

My eyes opened to see 4:32 on my bedside table this morning. My ears heard the comforting rhythm of rain dripping off our roof outside our open bedroom window. I rolled over, pulled the blanket over my shoulder, tucked it in under my chin and just felt good. Really good.

It was just after 5 when my stomach decided it was time to start the day. My comfy, fleece pajama pants and t-shirt were waiting for me in their normal spot near the door. I made every effort to be as quiet as possible while I put them on, gathered my phone off the nightstand and stepped over that one, squeaky floor board into the hall so as not to wake Robin.

My miniature schnauzer barely opened one eye to give me her lazy “good morning” as I headed past her curled up in her spot in my recliner and headed for the coffee maker. My morning routine commenced: opened the kitchen blinds, checked the Keurig water level, popped in a strong, French Roast K-cup and watched the rain make circles in the puddles in front of our house. I felt thankful.

And now I sit in the silence of this morning, listening to raindrops echoing lightly on the stovepipe above our roof. It feels good. Really good.

We need this soaking rain. I need this rain. I don’t know what I mean by that but, somehow, it just feels like it is refreshing me even though I am sitting listening to it and watching it water our little corner.

It’s Monday. There are few tasks on my list and nothing that is flashing or beeping for my attention. My muscles, sore from training for our upcoming 180 mile cycling adventure, are relaxed and sure that we will not be riding today, despite the little voice in my head trying to be heard with, “rain riding would be good for us.” Shhh.

It’s raining. Soaking in. Renewing. Refreshing. Washing.

It feels good.

“Let us try to know the Lord. He will come to us as surely as the day dawns, as surely as the spring rains fall upon the earth.” Hosea 6:3

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What??? My doctor visit was not perfect???

doctor-suprised-high-blood-pressure    I’ve had three years of follow-up visits since my transplant. That means three years of blood lab visits and three years of the 108 mile drive from my door to Lahey Hospital in Burlington, Massachusetts.

And, except for one rejection scare that turned out to be just a virus, I’ve heard words like “remarkable” and “perfect.” I’ve gotten used to the docs and nurses telling me that my blood panels look better than their own. I smile, nod and say thank you like I have anything to do with the result.

Yesterday, I made the trek to Lahey again. I took my dog, Pompom, with me to keep me company. I talk to her and she sits upright with her eyes fixed on me. I swear she understands. I think she even nods sometimes. I can’t get her to sing along to U2 with me though. No interest.

The blood lab was mobbed. The Lahey blood lab is an efficient machine that reminds me of a deli. You get your deli number when you register and then you watch the board on the wall and wait for your number to be called. I hear a phlebotomist step out of one of the 10-12 rooms on the perimeter of the waiting room and call, “36?” I look down to see that I am holding number 66.

“36!” she calls out more loudly. I see a man moving toward her like Tim Conway playing the old man on the Carol Burnett show and think, “uh oh … I might be here awhile.”

When it’s my turn I step through the curtain and take my spot in the blue, vinyl chair with the long arms and give my Lahey number from memory. The phlebotomist looks at me like I’m crazy when the record comes across her screen. Apparently I look nothing like an 82 year old Asian man! That, in itself, is pretty cool because it means I have forgotten my Lahey number. That means I’ve been doing so well that I haven’t had to use that number in a long time. I prefer not being a number. Most people who go through chronic illness feel like they are losing their identity and becoming just a number or the disease they are fighting. That’s how I felt too.

I make it through and head to the cafeteria before my appointment. The routine always includes an hour between having your blood drawn and meeting with your doctor to give time for the results to come in. Lahey is that fast!

We make small talk at my appointment. Dr. Akoad shakes his head and comments on how remarkable the change is from what I was to what I am now. That has to be pretty cool for surgeons who watch you go from nearly dead to living and thriving because of their efforts. He goes through my lab numbers and everything looks great, perfect, spectacular, until he hits the blood pressure reading and pauses to pull his glasses to the end of his nose to lean closer to the screen.

“Woah, what’s going on with this here? You still exercising and riding your bike all over the place?” he asks. I nod and then we talk about life.

To him, my high blood pressure makes no sense physically. My liver numbers are fine so it’s not due to anything going on there. But, I’m not overly surprised at the result. It has been a pretty stressful Spring. I don’t think it’s been worse than anyone else. Life is stress. We all have stress. Stuff happens.

But, I guess it’s a bigger deal with me and something we need to figure out fast,. The strain of high blood pressure on all my little man-made connections to my new liver is not a good thing. Yeah, I guess I knew that.

So, I have to take my BP reading three times a day and record it in a journal for a week. If it goes higher I have to call. The only prescription he gave for right now is to “deal with the stress” in my life, identify the sources and make changes. I need to figure out how to switch off my racing mind. Then, if I fail at that, more drugs are ahead to try to manage it. Neither of us want to add more drugs and more side effects to my routine.

On the good side of things, my anti-rejection prescription was reduced again and I am lighter than I was last November! Yay me! I have to go back to getting monthly blood labs for awhile to make sure the change does not impact my liver numbers negatively but that’s fine with me. I want to be on as little Prograf as possible.

It’s a gorgeous day, the sun is out and the birds are singing. I have a stressful morning ahead but am planning to negate that with 20-30 miles of pedaling this afternoon.

If you are a praying person, pray that I’ll figure this out soon and have the discipline to do what I know I need to do to stay healthy.

I’ll pray that for you too.




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Three bonus years, today

Every day bonus day Three years ago, today, my family was getting ready to head to Lahey Hospital in Burlington from the nearby hotel where we checked in the night before. It was the day we had been praying for for a 368 days since I first learned my survival depended on a liver transplant.

It has been three years of bonus days, some harder than others, but bonus days nonetheless. Even bad days are kinda good when you know that you wouldn’t be alive under normal circumstances without a few, well-timed miracles.

In three years of bonus days I have performed the wedding ceremonies of my two boys. I’ve proudly witnessed my children accumulating degrees and certificates while they wore funny hats, coats and robes. I’ve made new friends, fallen in love with a new faith community and become part of a neighborhood that reminds me of times past where people care enough to watch out for each other and get involved.

Three years of bonus days.

I’ve pedaled a bicycle more than 2500 miles, walked and swam. I’ve been tossed around on a boogie board by waves on a Hawaiian beach. I’ve stood on mountain tops admiring the majesty of creation and have sat sipping coffee on beautiful summer days here on my front lawn,

Three years of bonus days.

I’ve watched sunsets with Robin and snuggled up by the wood stove while blizzards have roared outside our front door. I’ve tormented her with selfies while she has tried to shop and have made her laugh by being silly.

Three years of bonus days.

I’ve let my little fluff ball in and out thousands of times and spent hours waiting for her to find the perfect spot to pee. I’ve thrown the ball thousands of times and handed out treats each time she has brought it back. My little therapy dog does her job every day.

Three years of bonus days.

I’ve worried some, gotten anxious about too many things, been frustrated at times and scared now and then just like everyone else. Just … like … everyone … else. It feels so good to write those words.

Three years of bonus days.

I’ve cried happy tears off to the side every time my family has spent time together. Emotion still takes me by surprise. From standing on a balcony in Maui while watching my sisters laugh and play on the walkways below, to Thursday visits with my mom and dad, to catching my kids kissing their spouses … life tears are still just below the surface.

Josh Scott three yearsThree years of bonus days.

Work deadlines, messages to put together for Sunday mornings, task lists with too many tasks, big goals and dreams. I am working too much and always trying to find balance. Just … like … everyone … else.

Three years of bonus days.

Every day is a bonus day.

I am a blessed man. My Josh is a hero. But, what you need to know is that he is only one of three of my children who would do anything necessary to save my life. I had a list of 9 people on my potential donor list. Nine people. Wow. No words.

Every day is a bonus day.

Ps. 118:24 This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

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My Christmas gift made me cry 5 months later.

According to my family, I am a tough buy. I don’t understand it at all but I have heard it for almost thirty years. I think I’m an easy person to get gifts for.

I mean, I like a lot of things. I even get excited walking through the aisles of Staples. I like pens. I like coffees. 50% of my wardrobe is t-shirts with team logos on them. It seems to me that I am an easy buy.

But, I think what my kids have been saying is that it’s tough to find me cool, out of the ordinary, gifts that will wow me. We Linscotts like to wow people so much that they cry when they get their gifts. We love happy tears and big surprises.

With those goals, yeah, I’m tough but who isn’t? I mean, I like everything, but usually I leave my Christmas gifts til last so I can take pictures of everyone else opening their gifts.

I absolutely love giving gifts! I’ve spent my whole married life trying to get a giant reaction out of my wife. The problem is that she is not a “giant reaction” type of person. My sweetie is calm and reserved. I can’t even get her to yell “woohoo!” at a baseball game. I’ve tried. My daughter is almost a carbon copy of her when it comes to public reactions. We men? No way! We are the jump-up-yelling-woohoo-and-tackle-ya types. We yell at ballgames and celebrate loud. Our kids’ marriages brought two more woohoo types and one additional reserved celebrator into our tribe.

I was soooo excited this past Christmas because I caught my Jake’s wife Laura wiping away happy tears when she opened my surprise gift. She hadn’t chosen the photos for their wedding album still so I took matters into my own hands asking my girls to go through the hundreds of photos to pick the top 100. Then, I designed their album. Boom! Tears! Success! I love that.

But, I didn’t cry at my gift … until 5 months later. I didn’t cry until this past Sunday morning.

On Christmas morning my family gave me the gift I asked for. I told them I didn’t want Sox hats, cool gadgets or photography bobbles this year. All I wanted was focused time with us all together at some point during the year. On Christmas morning they revealed the plan of a Spring weekend in a large Vermont mountain cabin. Together.

“Together.” I love that word maybe most of all words. My transplant bumped it way up my word list. Other words used to show themselves competing for top spot and pushing “together” aside until “later” way too often. “Together” fought with deadlines, work responsibilities, appointments and schedules. As the kids got older they had their stuff with their friends and we had our stuff and “together” got bumped a lot.

My transplant brought it back to the forefront for all of us. Even with college classes, weddings, buying houses and living life, the glue of “family” was reapplied or somehow strengthened. It was always very, very strong but now it’s stronger than Gorilla Glue.

So, early last Sunday morning while the sun was rising, sitting in a Vermont mountain cabin with my family sleeping in rooms on the second floor, I cried.

The tears came while I was going through the results of our family photo shoot from Saturday afternoon. Rather than find an area pro, I opted to just use my tripod and a remote trigger and a bunch of props. I brought all my photo gear and was ready to roll.

My daughter-in-law, Kristen, spent some of her day making the chalk drawing signs I wanted. One side of the sandwich board sign simply identified us and on the other I asked for my life motto since transplant, “Every day is a bonus day.”

Scrolling through the photos I was struck by a couple things.

First, my kids are so in love. Growing up complaining about Robin and I kissing in the kitchen, holding hands on walks or wrestling and playing have left their mark. My kids used to complain about being “scarred” by us being awkward and a little embarrassing in our expressions of love for each other. Flipping through photos I saw those scars. Each of my kids plays with their spouse, laughs a lot and vocalizes their love with words. They have learned well. I love their scars.

Second, these pictures showed me the glue of family. I see a lot of families struggling, arguing and dreading having to get together at holidays. That is not us. I pray it never is. We played together, walked together, laughed together, drove together and ate together. Together.


When families are made up of individuals lacking the glue of “together,” chaos ensues.


The chaos of transplant glued our family together stronger than ever.

The chaos of transplant glued our family together stronger than ever.

Before we headed home on Sunday morning I gathered my gang together near our packed cars to thank them for such an amazing Christmas gift.

And, of course, I cried.

“You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.” Genesis 50:20

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I take a lot of drugs. Most are not what you expect.

Seven perscriptions

Seven perscriptions

I take drugs. I take seven prescriptions a day. You’re betting that’s due to my liver transplant, right? Wrong.

It’s true that I will have to take medicine for the rest of my life to keep from rejecting my new liver but only two of the seven prescriptions I take are for that: Ursodiol and Prograf.

Here’s the surprise – the other 5 help me breathe. I’ve had asthma all my life. I inhale a steroid powder twice a day, I squirt something up my nose twice a day, I take and allergy pill each morning and then a bronchodilater at night. And then, I usually have a little, blue rescue inhaler close by. I also have a nebulizer to deliver medicine quickly if I need it. (Thankfully I haven’t need it since my transplant!)

Most of the meds I take have nothing to do with my liver disease. They are all about my asthma. Why am I telling you?

Someone recently asked me about the Trek Across Maine event that I am riding in over Fathers Day Weekend. They assumed that I am pedaling my bike those 180 miles over three days to benefit liver research, liver patients, organ donation and all of that. Nope. The Trek is all about breathing.

Yeah, it’s a big deal that this transplant survivor is attempting it but it’s also pretty significant that I will be one of many chronic lung disease folks traveling up and down those hills. It is lung disease research that makes that possible. Because my asthma is so well managed medically, I am able to ride.

The Trek is in support of the American Lung Association. Yes, I am riding to increase organ donor awareness but I am also riding to raise funds to help in the battle to breathe.

I’m riding for my son and donor, Joshua, who inherited my asthma and still was an NCAA athlete and has run half marathons because of the medicines that help him breathe. I’m running for my 82 year old dad who takes three medicines a day in his battle with COPD. I’m riding in memory of Carmen Sholl, a former youth group kid who enjoyed enough bonus years to be married and enjoy a career because of a lung transplant she got as a teenager.

Breathing is a big deal. It’s important. I’m thankful for the medical advances that have made it possible for me and others to live life so well despite chronic illness.

I bet you didn’t even know I have asthma, did you? No? That’s because I benefit from years of research and development.

Help me help others?

Help me help others?

You know someone who struggles to breathe right? Will you help me help them? Will you help me help the American Lung Association fight lung disease?

I set a big goal of raising $1200. That’s more than double the minimum riders need to raise to participate. I’m sure I will break that goal if I can get those who have been effected by lung disease to help me ride in honor of them. I already have $850! Great!

Yeah, it will be a big deal to cross the finish on Fathers’ Day as a liver transplant recipient. But, if I weren’t also directly benefiting from lung disease research, that would be impossible.

I know everyone is asking you to sponsor them for this walk or that run. Me too. There’s a lot to do.

Please consider letting me ride in honor of you, your granchild with asthma, your dad fighting COPD or your friend with cancer. Progress is being made!

Even $5 or $10 will make a difference. To help me break that $1200 goal, click the link below and then click “SUPPORT SCOTT” in the column underneath the video box.


Thanks for getting involved.



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Do you pray? How do you pray? When? Why?

Echo Lake & Cathedral Ledge

Echo Lake & Cathedral Ledge

When I was at my lowest, my prayers seemed intimate and somehow powerful. They seemed like a two-way interaction, I often sensed God’s presence and comfort like a sudden, warm, summer downpour – the type that makes you throw out your arms and spin in circles.

Things are back to “normal” now. That makes me sad.

The little church that I strangely find myself leading now days is a great group of people. We’re trying hard to be transparent with each other and figure things out. We’ve worked on stripping away layers of religion to get to Jesus with a desire to follow Him close, in relationship and become like Him. Most of us are not satisfied with the social club approach to church as just something good to do. We want more. I certainly want more.

In prayer, I’ve had more but it that was during the darkest season of my life. My days, except for medical appointments, were empty. Though I felt closer to my God than ever before, I simultaneously felt useless to Him.

Useless to Him.

Typing that just now just triggered a flood of questions. Am I ever truly useful to God? Is that what this is about? Is that what I am trying to be? Does God need me to be useful? Is that His goal?

God does not need. God is God. I’m the one who needs. God has not changed. I’m the one who has changed.

Now my days are usually packed full. I often run from one appointment to the next and hand out apologies for running “a little late.” My list is full of people I want to connect with, have over and get to know. My goal list is long and my dreams are big. My task list is divided into structured priorities of A, B and C with target completion dates beside each task.

My … my … my. I sure do say “my” a lot.

When I experienced those times of deep, intimate connection with my God through prayer I had no lists, no new friendships and no tasks. My biggest goals, other than surviving to transplant, were to solve Portal 2 on my son’s XBOX video game system. My relationships were few because even some of my friends didn’t want to tire me with a visit or could not handle seeing me in such weakness. My time with God was my top priority because it was all I had. It was a highlight, not a discipline or task to check off.

God healed me. He gave me life. He restructured my heart and gave me eyes that see things differently now. I’m thankful for that. Really, I am. I prefer the new me over the old me … I just want more in my prayer life again. I think that’s okay.

Yesterday somewhere near 100 of us gathered for worship and I did what I find myself doing every week here in my new life. My responsibility is to stand at the front of the room and talk. I tell people where I feel God stretching me and challenging me and I wonder if He’s challenging them in similar ways. We turn the pages of Scripture and look to find answers in the life and words of Jesus. I feel uncomfortable being the one to talk. I often feel like there has to be someone who is doing life better than me who should fill this role. But, for this season of life, God has me here. Yesterday, I told them I feel like I stink at prayer.

Stink at prayer? Yeah. In common core terminology, I don’t feel like I am “meeting the standard” right now. But what is the standard? Who sets it? Is it based on a certain amount of minutes in prayer every day? Is someone checking of my vocabulary words or timing my prayer words per minute?

Of course not. I know that’s ridiculous.

I think it’s more like every other relationship. When my wife and I start feeling distance between us we’ve learned that we just need to make time together our top priority again in order to remember how much we love each other. It works every time.

Top priority.

“While it was still night, way before dawn, he got up and went out to a secluded spot and prayed.” I came across those words last week when I spent a couple days cycling in the mountains. It was Mark 1:35 in the ancient book that has shaped my life.

I stuck on them and replayed them over and over. The passage is talking about Jesus and a time He prayed. It doesn’t say He did it every day and it doesn’t present it as a formula. It just says Jesus got up early, got away from the distractions and prayed. He did it on His own because He wanted to. It made such an impression that Matthew, John and Luke wrote about it too.

Clearly, He also prayed other times and in other ways just like I do. He offered running, through-the-day prayers, prayers for immediate needs and prayers for people. I do that too. You? They are not as deep or intimate but, nonetheless, they are real and important.

The passage pulled me to other passages where Jesus withdrew, left His iPhone behind, to head for solitude and stillness to connect with God.

When I was so very sick, solitude was not a choice. I was forced into it for hours every day. Now, thankfully, I have a choice. When I don’t choose it, when I live in the quick and busy world of prayer through the day, I’m missing out on a vital part of prayer. Solitude.

Yesterday, I challenged my church family to seven days of doing what Jesus did on that day. I challenged us to get up early, even 5-10 minutes early, find a place with no distractions to pray for God’s presence and direction in the day ahead.

This morning, on the first day of my vacation, my daughter’s golden retriever started whining at 4:23. (We are dog sitting.) No, I was not happy. But then those words came to mind that while it was still dark, Jesus got up, found a quiet place to pray and spent time alone.

So, I did.

It’s 6 am. I’ve fed two dogs, prayed, sipped coffee and connected with God. It feels good.

This is what I need to do to live like Jesus. I need to make time not because I have to in order to gain points with God or feel like I am “meeting the standard” but because I am hungry for that closeness, that intimacy, that two-way street. Early morning, mid-afternoon, moonlight … Jesus made time to hang out with the Father despite all the demands and pressures of life.

I need to do that too, even after my needy granddog goes back home.


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