Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

“Family friendly” Black Cap mountain hike. I was pretty sure I was going to need an airlift rescue.

What a year 2020 has been. While we have all had to cut back on our outings and travels, we Linscotts have enjoyed more of the outdoors. We even climbed a New Hampshire mountain! But, “Home for the Holidays” is a fitting theme for the few cards we will mail and this digital “card” on the Internet.

We’re not an outdoorsy family. We are not campers, or hunters and you won’t find us fishing in a backwoods pond. For the most part, our idea of roughing it is staying in a hotel without a smart TV. But I must admit, it has been nice picnicking near rivers and finding trail networks. We’ve spent more time enjoying the small circle of our awesome neighborhood and even hosted movies on our front lawn.

Apple picking

    Robin and I are very thankful that Shara, Jake, Emma and Ethan moved into our basement apartment after selling their house in January. A planned short stay while they built their new house has turned into a much longer stay because of the pandemic grinding everything to a halt. They might feel stuck here but we are so blessed to have them with us. While my transplant recipient status has severely limited my options, Emma and Ethan have kept me sane and smiling. The Grooms have land but are on hold for a bit while everything comes together and builders get caught up.
   Having the Little Ave Linscotts a half mile away has also been a lifeline during the times we’ve not been locked down. Our adventuring group is usually 9 unless Doctor Daddy has been able to join us. In his third year of residency, Josh’s schedule is difficult. We look forward to years 4 and 5 when he gets to have a better schedule. (Yes, Urologists have 5 years of residency instead of the normal 3 and then have a 2-year fellowship after that.) Kristen and Josh are expecting another baby boy in February. We’re so excited!

    Jake and Laura are doing well through all of the pandemic changes and their jobs are stable, thankfully. We see them from time-to-time, mostly when we can gather outside.

    We were so blessed that our church family was able to gather outside, in our city’s beautiful park setting, enjoying beautiful weather every Sunday July-October. It has been so encouraging to see how God has enabled us to shift gears quickly to meet the growing needs in our community. Our faith family inspires and blesses us so much. We’re about to enter year 8 at FBC Westbrook.

My health has been good with a new challenge here and there. Thankfully, my transplanted liver is healthy and strong. This additional 20 pounds of COVID weight is not good and needs to go. But, every day is a bonus day!

    We are all praying that 2021 will be a better year for all of us but, one thing we know for sure, God will give us the strength to face whatever is ahead! You know that, right?

    Much Love! Scott and Robin Linscott

Jake, Shara, Emma and Ethan
Jake and Laura
Josh, Calvin, Chloe and Kristen

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I remember when I didn’t have enough breath to speak …

By Scott Linscott

It was December 2011 when my diseased liver was threatening my life. Ascites fluid filled every cavity and made me look like I was 10 months pregnant. Doctors stuck needles into my lung cavity and my abdomen to drain off liters of fluid. My lungs did not have enough room to expand and speaking in full sentences was difficult.

I remember begging God to save my life and heal me so that I could keep preaching and teaching. I remember telling him that my condition made absolutely no sense to me. All I could do was write a blog that sometimes barely made sense because of the fluid in my brain causing hepatic encephalopathy.

Since 1888 in Westbrook, Maine

“Yes, Lord, I’m ready to come home, but why? There’s still so much I want to do here. There are people who have no idea who you are. There are hungry children. I’m not ready to pack it in and head home yet. Please let me stay. Please let me speak for you again.”

I never wanted a giant church with grand productions. I had no desire to have my name on the front sign or printed on letterhead, cards, or books. I didn’t want to be the speaker at the next big conference. I begged God for just the chance to do life with a group of people who wanted to follow him and dared to trust. A garage with folding chairs? A living room with people squished together on the couch? A restaurant space?

“What if we got five families to sell our houses and all buy houses in that new development so we could meet all those new families? What if we hung out on the lawn?”

Robin listened to plenty of my crazy dreams and would say, “okay, if that’s where you feel God is leading us, we’ll go.”

God answered our prayers. My son gave me 60% of his liver on May 7, 2012, and, after a difficult year of recovery, I found myself speaking to just a few dozen people in a traditional, old, New England style church building in July of 2013. It was a church facing some very large challenges and facing its own mortality. I shared my story of God’s faithfulness.

Robin went to the church we were attending that morning since she had responsibilities serving there. When we met back at home, I shook my head and told her, “I don’t think that church is going to make it.” I remember feeling sad.

Today, seven years later, you can find me most Sunday mornings, teaching from the front with no shortage of air in my lungs. God has brought families back into the rows and assembled people who are unafraid of impossible challenges. He has allowed us to be part of a Philippians 1 type of church family where I can say, as Paul said, “I thank God for your partnership in the gospel.”

It is a church family where Grace compels us to live out the mission Jesus left to his followers. It is a congregation of less than 100 on most Sunday mornings that the Lord has used to renovate and restore a Noah’s Ark school in third-world poverty in Guatemala. It is a small congregation that furnishes the homes of our new neighbors who are starting over in recovery, are recent arrivals to the United States, or are victims of domestic violence rebuilding their broken worlds. It is a church that hands out 3000+ free, home-cooked meals each year and gave tight hugs to all who needed them before COVID distanced us and turned us into drive-up meals only. It is a church that will have distributed 92,000+ pounds of USDA food boxes by mid-December to families facing food insecurity.

Me? I just shake my head at how massively God answered my desperate 2011 prayers and allowed me to be part of what he is doing in Westbrook. I am thankful for what he has built here. It looks so much like Jesus: simple, consistent, quiet, humble. It’s nothing fancy like more modern buildings. Here since 1888, it is somewhat like a rough stable welcoming the Good News that was announced first to some of the lowliest members of society. Our little family of Jesus followers will probably never attract those looking for polished performance, comfort or perfection, nor will it hold much appeal to those who prefer to gather for a weekly pep-talk without calls for action or selfless living. But, that’s okay.

Nine years after my desperate prayers, I am thanking God for plopping us down in the middle of this former mill town. Yes, this COVID mess has us facing big challenges as a church, but we are doing our best to learn how to do things online while and even increasing the ways we try to meet the growing needs around us. The financial spreadsheets look discouraging but we’re sure God has a plan for that. We will remain faithful to our call for as long as He allows.

If you have the means and God prompts you to be part of his supply for his plans here in Westbrook, Maine, please consider partnering with us at www.easytithe.com/fbcwestbrook or text “GIVE” to 207-600-2777. (Mail: FBC Westbrook, 733 Main St., Westbrook, ME 04092.) If you are one who looks forward to Giving Tuesday to make annual gifts, we could definitely use your help.

If you have needs, like so many in this pandemic, let me know. We can at least pray with you and for you. If you are local, we’ll be distributing another thousand food boxes from our parking lot the next two Thursdays of that could help. We have some furniture and a few coats and hats left. We have some emergency kits for people you know who are without shelter and have collected some winter sleeping bags. Just let us know? You don’t have to go through this alone.

God is good. He has given me a life beyond the life I prayed for and has supplied all my needs. I know He will do the same for you if you, like those shepherds on the hill, go to look for him. In fact, if you’re local, I invite you to come seek him with us.

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Too much to ask?

I need me some Mickey Mouse.

By Scott Linscott

Here’s what I need, America. I need an empty, clean airport and an empty plane to take me to another empty airport where I can pick up my clean rental car with no human interaction. Then, I need Walt Disney World to open Magic Kingdom just for me. Is that too much to ask?

Robin, my wife? The reality is that she might soon be too much of a risk for me to bring if the virus numbers in Maine keep climbing. She’s a teacher. She doesn’t know it but I’m looking for a good deal on a cot for the garage and a winter sleeping bag for her.

What about all the Disney employees, you ask? Of course, they must all quarantine right there in their stations for 14 days before my arrival. Again, too much to ask?

How’s it going for you? I haven’t been in a Walmart, or any big store, since March 12. That’s 244 days. I went inside one little hardware store for a quick errand once. Do stores have anything new? What would I impulse buy? I’d probably buy one of those 10 gallon jugs of cheese balls.

We ate outside on the deck of a golf course restaurant once this summer, back when Maine was one of the safest places in the world. I ate a rubin sandwich. Oh man, was it good! Yesterday I read that Maine now has the highest transfer rate in the country at 1.43. That means every person who gets Corona gives it to and average of another one-and-a-half other people. It’s called “community spread.” I am not sure where they find .43 of a person, but I am not a scientist.

We had a big election. It was fascinating to watch. I flipped between 4 news stations to compare coverage styles because, having my undergrad degree in Journalism, I am a bit of a nerd in that area. I prefer the BBC because, in my opinion, the major American outlets have become mere arms of ideologies. Back when I got my BA it was very, very bad to be openly biased, but now, it’s just the norm.

I had an appointment with my liver transplant doc on Monday. We decided it was best to do it by telephone. It lasted about 7 minutes because all my blood numbers are perfect and, other than all my whiny complaints, I feel great. We set my next appointment for October 2021. Thank Corona that I didn’t put in 200+ miles of driving for that!

We transplant recipients have been through all these cautions before. Our houses have had hand sanitizer on the kitchen islands since back when Corona was just a type of beer.

Anyway, I’m going a little bit crazy. Other than being naughty on Thursdays, when our church hands out food boxes, I pretty much only mingle with the same 10 people who know all my jokes.

I figure that Mickey Mouse is someone wearing a huge mask so he’s safe. Heck, the same goes for Pluto and Goofy and Minnie and the Tweedle brothers too. I can go hang out with them, right?

Where do I start? Should I call Mickey directly? Should I call JetBlue? I have a lot of details to coordinate.

Is there anywhere I can go to escape this mess? I’d like to go to Guatemala November 28 when our oldest AMG girl is getting married. Nope. Flights to Dubai are cheap and luxury hotels are $40 a night but Robin vetoed that one too.

Disney is my most realistic option. I’m thinking I could be in for a long winter.

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Some things confuse me.

By Scott Linscott

No one calls me “Nana.”

I’ve been given a stuffy to take care of this morning. I am not supposed to put him down. Meanwhile, loud Lego construction work is happening on the floor nearby. I don’t know why I am responsible for Puppy. I wonder if this is a paying gig.

No one calls me, “Nana.” My coffee mug is a lie. It’s a big mug so I am okay with this lie. Generally, I dislike lies unless they are my own lies. We all are fond of and very protective of our own lies. It’s confusing.

Shouldn’t “menopause”be called “womenopause?” Men don’t go through it. I mean, we don’t go through it unless we are married to a little furnace that switches on and off without warning.

Cats’ purring confuses me. Did phone makers discover the secret to cat purring when they invented vibrate mode?

I find it ironic that gas stations sell cigarettes when they are so firmly against smoking and have signs everywhere.

I’m confused by cargo on ships and shipments on train cars and trucks. Shouldn’t shipments be on ships and truckgo be on trucks and cargo come by train cars?

I’m confused by some work stoppages. For example, if sign makers go on strike, who makes their picket signs?

7-up? What happened to the first six? Why seven? Did 3-up taste gross?

If police arrest a mine, do they tell them they have the right to remain silent? Is it necessary?

Bagpipes confuse me. How does one know when her bagpipes are out of tune? What led to their invention? Did someone unintentionally squeeze a bag of cats and think it sounded awesome?

Self-help groups confuse me.

I wonder how much deeper oceans would be if sponges went extinct?

“He has egg on his face,” is a confusing expression as is “he has to eat his words” and “getting a serving of humble pie.” I’m hearing those pretty frequently this weekend. I can’t see any trace of egg and there are no pictures of words being eaten. I want to know what humble pie looks like because I am usually a big fan of pie and have a difficult time believing any pie is bad. I’ve never met a pie I didn’t like.

Nonetheless, there are quite a few political people getting tough lessons in empathy this weekend and eggs, pie and word-eating are making their way into newsprint and social media.

I try my best to be sad when people are sad and glad when people are glad but I have to admit that I kind of like it when mean people hit tough times. I want bullies to take a beating. When someone passes me doing 95 mph, I kind of hope there’s a trooper ahead. I want them to get what I think they deserve.

Judgement and justice are confusing. I want both for others but want grace and mercy for myself. I’m hypocritical.

The current political climate in America, the outrage, and the conflict has me finding a lot of ugliness in my mirror. I want to reflect the personality and character of my Jesus and am doing my darndest to have self-control, but ugliness is bubbling just below the surface.

The emotions are confusing but my instructions, my code for how I choose to live are clear …

put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.  And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts

Colossians 3:14-15

I’m getting spiritually and mentally dressed this morning, struggling to get my giant, ego-swelled, selfish head through this head-hole in my Jesus sweater of love as I attempt to “put on love” and let peace rule in my heart.

Put on love. It looks good on both of us.

PUUUUUUSH!

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I wonder stuff …

By Scott Linscott

                           September 21 frost.

I wonder how many individual wood pellets come in a ton? If you haven’t seen wood pellets, they look like rabbit food pellets but they are made of sawdust and mill scraps. We burn them in a wood-stove thing to stay warm in the cold season. In Maine, the cold season is about 8 months per year.

I wonder why the word “cold” means “brr” and “cough cough achoo.” I have both types of cold this morning and pellets are burning.

I wonder what all the New England Patriots haters are thinking now that they’ve seen the new look without Brady. And, I wonder what this year’s division champion t-shirts will look like.

I wonder if cereal is actually breakfast soup.

If animals could talk, I wonder which ones would be the most rude? I definitely think that cats would be the rudest. I’d tell you what I think cats are saying but I try to avoid using profanity for the most part.

Sometimes I wonder what my daughter’s Golden Retriever is thinking. I suspect she has a five word vocabulary: “food, in, out, play, people.” The first four are obvious but the last one might be her favorite. Bailey wants to meet every human she sees and drags us to them. When she sees a people she responds with the strength of a Fryeburg Fair oxen team.

It’s okay 9 out of every 10 times but when we meet weird people who don’t like dogs it gets downright awkward.

I wonder what Pompom is saying when she runs at other dogs barking her 11-pound head off. I know she is either yelling, “hi, friend” or “hey, what’s your name? Can I sniff your ears? Want to chase me? I like chase games. Is this your human? These are my humans. Want to come see my house?”

Unfortunately, her tone is more like, “I am coming to kill you. I am a mighty warrior. You should fear 11-pound me!” She needs a gentle but firm punt.

If I had a big dog and a little dog came running at him, I would let nature take its course. She really needs a big dog to give her a lesson in respect. She has forgotten old man Manny. He was an old chocolate lab who put her whole head in his mouth and sat her down.

I wonder why it has been 10-20 degrees below normal here in Maine? I wonder where I file my complaint?

I wonder why voters respond to all the “she’s the devil” advertising that both sides play continually. I think all it does is convince us all that both candidates are the devil.

I  wonder why some people are all nervous about the government getting access to pictures of our faces when we use online facial recognition. Have none of these people heard of state IDs, drivers’ licenses and passports?

I wonder when our pellet delivery is going to happen today. All I know is that they are coming today. Morning? Afternoon? I have no idea. All I received was the message that they are coming today. If only we had some type of device where we could put in an address and get an estimated time of arrival. If only that device was then able to, say, send some sort of instant message to say, “your delivery will arrive at approximately…” Imagine what a world it would be if we had such technology.  If I jump into the shower they will arrive at that moment, for sure.

We had a great weekend and got lots of stuff done in preparation for winter. Robin made ice cream with neighborhood kids and sent it home with them so I wouldn’t eat it. Phew! Church in the Park was awesome yesterday. And, believe it or not, I actually gave one of the neighborhood kids a tennis lesson Saturday morning. I think it’s been 20 years since I last hit a tennis ball!

I hope you have a great Monday and are able to resist being dragged into the culture of rage that is our current reality. Look for the good and focus on that.

#everydayisabonusday

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Dear USA, please, could we have just a moment of silence?

By Scott Linscott

Shhh … just breathe.

“Ladies and gentlemen, please stand and remove your hats as we ask you to join in a moment of silence…”

We’ve all done that before. We know how to do it. Entire audiences, auditoriums, school, standiums and even countries stand quietly.

For a moment, just a brief moment, all politics, ideologies, debates, arguments, economies, plans and worries are purposely set aside. We join together in a painfully human moment to empathize and remember. We call it respect.

Our nation lost a pioneer yesterday. Ruth Bader Ginsburg lost her battle with cancer at 87 years of age, still mentally sharper that I can ever hope to be, and still actively serving on our nation’s highest court.

Though small in stature, even those who differed ideologically and politically must admit, she was mighty in presence.

Denied a clerk position in 1960 only because she was a woman, she determinedly pressed forward knocking down numerous gender barriers.

Please, America, I ask for a moment of silence. Lowering my flag to half staff today, I thought of those she leaves behind; family, close friends, and co-workers who loved her as just “Ruth.” I asked God to quiet those circling their wagons, preparing the fight ahead.

Could we just take a moment to respectfully be silent and remember the humanity of loss and grief?

Breathe, America. Hold off on the social media posts until Monday. Put away the signs and the banners for just a brief moment in time.

No matter how we felt about her writings, her judgements, and her decisions, might we just see her as another human being just like your grandmother who passed recently, the sister you lost or the mother you mourn?

Ladies and gentlemen, please stand and remove your hats as I ask you to join in a moment of silence for Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Shhh … Just breathe.

#everydayisabonusday

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Cake is Good but Homemade Birthday Cake Ice Cream is Way Better!

My awesome wife makes me breakfast.

By Scott Linscott

I try to eat healthy most of the time but when I fall off the wagon, I fall hard. Back in 1901, that expression meant that the driver of the water cart, going around spraying down dusty roads, drank water instead of booze since he was “on the wagon.” Today, “falling off the wagon” applies to abandoning a healthy habit to dive into an unhealthy one.

My tumbles off the wagon usually come when I am stressed out, feeling out of control, or discouraged. That’s called “emotional eating.”

I also have what I call “celebration eating.” That happens when we party. We Linscotts celebrate A LOT! Cakes, desserts, cookies, ice cream, ice cream and more ice cream are part of every celebration. Every day is a bonus day and we are very good at remembering that.

My too-busy-for-good-eating periods have been crushed by COVID restrictions. I’m not too busy. I don’t rush from one meeting to another anymore and drive through businesses probably think I died or moved. Unfortunately, now I graze the cupboards and counters here at home and, since we celebrate a lot, there are usually left-overs.

I’ve made two significant discoveries this summer:

  1. I can do without donuts made from potatoes. A local, very popular donut shop makes their donuts from a potato recipe and a lot of people love them. Me? Nah. I prefer the light, fluffy donuts. Potatoes should never be used to make cakes and donuts.
  2. Homemade Birthday Cake Ice Cream has the power to turn me into a a dumpster-diving bear. Hunters could bait me with birthday cake ice cream and stand right there with their guns ready and I would still come stumbling toward their trap like I was stuck in a tractor beam. I am powerless around that stuff.

In January I weighed 207 pounds. This morning I weighed 225 pounds. That’s 18 pounds of celebrations, grazing, discouragement and birthday cake ice cream and a promotion to BMI Class 1, 32 BMI. It’s not a promotion any of us want, especially with COVID skulking around. (BMI CALCULATOR) The CDC shows that the bigger we are the harder we fall if we get the virus. It has used cases of people hospitalized to show our risk of “serious illness requiring hospitalization” based on our chunkiness alone.

Overweight (not obese), if BMI is 25.0 to 29.9.

Class 1 (COVID: low-risk) obesity, if BMI is 30.0 to 34.9.

Class 2 (COVID: moderate-risk) obesity, if BMI is 35.0 to 39.9.

Class 3 (COVID: high-risk) obesity, if BMI is equal to or greater than 40.0.

2009. “Oh Beast? Come here, Beast.”

My mother couldn’t say “obese.” She would say “obeast” instead. I weighed more than 300 and she would scold me about my weight, while handing me a whoopie pie, saying, “you are too obeast.” Robin would laugh later and say, “Oh beast, come in here beast!”

I’m considering buying combination locks for the freezers to keep me out of the ice cream. We already instituted the policy of sending all dessert leftovers home with the kids to reduce my grazing habits. And now, we are trying to add daily walks. Our problem is that I’m too slow for Robin so she has to schedule time to walk her beast and time to get in her 3-mile exercise walk.

Are there other tricks to keeping the bears out of your food? Let me know and maybe we will implement them here on Village Lane. I’d really, really love to get back to the plain, old, fat guy classification leave Class 1 behind.

Have a great day. Don’t invite me to your celebration but, if you must invite me, please chain me to a tree where I can’t reach the dessert table. If you have birthday cake ice cream you better make it one of those heavy chains they use to on ships.

#everydayisabonusday

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I’m doomed. I have a cold in this COVID chaos.

Cats! Cats! Everywhere!

By Scott Linscott

I’m doomed. Yesterday, after my afternoon meeting, I didn’t feel super-duper so I laid down “for a few minutes.” That was at around 1:45 PM. The dogs were very excited because they love afternoon naps on the bed.

“A few minutes” ended up being 4:15 PM. Dang. That was a good few minutes! It was around 150 minutes. That’s a significant difference. If you ask me for a few bucks I’ll most-likely have it on me. If you ask me for 150 bucks, I’ll have to check with Robin to see if we have it, and then I’ll need to go to an ATM.

So, I woke up with nose running, some sneezing and the usual dry cough that I get with every cold. “Dang it, I’ve already got COVID,” was my first thought. I figure, with Robin teaching school, that it’s only a matter of time before I join the ranks of COVIDIANS, but she’s only had students for a few days. I have no fever so I’m sure it’s just a cold.

The danger is that if I cough or sneeze outside my house, I will immediately be stoned by a panicked mob. My grave stone will hold a cool Haiku:

Scotty? Gone too soon.

Sneeze! Cough! Rocks fly through the air.

COVID? Just a cold.

– The Haiku Master

I never really understood the fuss about Haiku poetry in high school. I mean, they don’t even rhyme. Most of them feel like a jumble of random words. My friend and I made a mockery of them and I wrote this one that I remember:

Green wall standing high,
Monkey has no food.
Sit on a ball. Death.

My English teacher went nuts about it. I had to try to keep a straight face and read it to the class. And then she asked me to explain my thought process and the “passion” behind my piece. I couldn’t very well say, “I wanted to prove how stupid this stuff is,” so I said, “institutional-ism.” I don’t think that’s even a word but it brought another gushing wave of accolades. She asked if she could submit it to some student poetry thing somewhere.

My poem had deep meaning, apparently. Since I’m so good at Haiku writing, I figure my headstone should have one. That makes sense, right?

I was all excited about today’s events too. I have a new minion mask and another ghastly cat mask from the Morton kids. (They want to convert me into a cat lover. Yuck.) I was ready to fog up my lenses for a meeting with transplant survivor friends on my lawn. We were even going to eat muffins. Stupid cold!

After that I was looking forward to zipping around a golf course in a golf cart to put out hole sponsor signs for our Rotary Club golf tournament. I had to back away from that too. No one likes a cougher-sneezer in this pandemic world. I don’t blame them. Dang it. Driving golf carts is kind of fun.

I’ll keep taking my temperature with Robin’s cool, little, teacher kit to make sure it’s just a cold. Trust me, I’m trying to be pretty careful because that list of people who are at greatest risk is pretty much my health profile. I’m not over 60 yet so I do have that going for me and I don’t have diabetes. But “underlying health issues” could be the slogan on my business card.

We transplant recipients have to be careful anyway, but little things like epidemics and pandemics can make us a downright jittery. I am hoping that we are not bat-poop crazy enough to drink cleaning products and bleach though! I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed but I am smart enough to know that sipping bleach is a very, very bad idea. Washing hands and surfaces, wearing masks and distancing are sufficient.

So now my plan for the day is to finish Sunday’s message and then straighten out the church website since it gives people that scary warning about it not being secure. That’s just a scam to make us all pay more money to make even our simple websites “secure” even though we don’t collect any data on them. The data we collect, like offerings and newsletter subscription stuff is through links to secure websites.

My mom used to say, ‘they’ve got you coming and going.” I want to know the origin of that saying. I searched Google for a few minutes and came up with plenty of uses but not anything very far back in history suggesting where it might have come from. You’ll win a prize if you figure it out and let me know.

Have an awesome Thursday. If you hear someone cough or sneeze, hold your breath. It might just be a cold or allergies. Stoning people should only be a last resort.

#everydayisabonusday

Posted in Liver disease | 3 Comments

NOON: Beyond the Biopsy: The Massachusetts Panel 9/16

Join us live at 12 PM Eastern for this Global Liver institute panel discussion about non-invasive alternatives to biopsy. Http://www.facebook.com/GlobalLiver

Beyond the Biopsy is a GLI program dedicated to accelerating the acceptance and adoption of non-invasive diagnostics as an alternative to biopsy. This is part of a series of discussions featuring patients, experts, and policymakers on the changing role of non-invasive diagnostics and how they can be promoted as an alternative to biopsies.

Dr. Raymond Chung – Director of Hepatology and the Liver Center and
also Vice Chief of Gastroenterology and the Kevin and Polly Maroni
Research Scholar at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Also joining us from Massachusetts General Hospital is radiologist Dr.
Mukesh Harisinghani, Professor of Radiology at Harvard Medical School
and Director of Abdominal MRI and the Clinical Discovery Program at
MGH.

And, finally, completing our panel is liver transplant recipient and Lead
Pastor at FBC Westbrook – Scott Linscott.

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I’ve been dishing it out for years.

By Scott Linscott

I’m ready. I’ve been dishing it out for years, riding the success of Tom Brady, sending my football fan friends teasing memes and razzing text messages.

So, yesterday, at the start of the bulk of another NFL season, I prepared myself for an avalanche of payback because Brady is but a memory here in New England.

All the Chicken Littles signaled the end of the Brady era, declaring that our day of reckoning had come. I prepared to eat crow or seagull or whatever bird dishes my friends served up. I deserved it.

But, here I am, waking up to NFL scores that are pretty much the same as usual. Let’s see … Cowboys lost. Check. Tampa Bay, with TB 12 got crushed and Gronk was invisible showing that Tamba Bay may likely continue as the Tampa Bay we all know, except they have a GOAT on the field now. Oops.

And the Patriots? They won. Same old, same old. Yeah, they had lowly Miami and TB12 had the mighty Saints. But still … if the Steelers lose tonight, all will be golden.

In non-football world …

I missed getting a first day of school picture of my girl today because I was still asleep! What??? I know, it’s weird but I seem to sleeping like normal people sleep.

Are these “smart” watches accurate in measuring deep sleep? If they are, that could explain why I feel like a post-marathon-running sloth every afternoon. 1.11 hour of “deep sleep?” That’s not good, right?

Now I have a dilemma. Do I take a picture of her tomorrow morning and fake it? Or, will she let me take a picture of her if she survives today’s masked and distanced chaos? Stay tuned…

It was an awesome weekend. Our church has been meeting outside, in the beauty of the park, since the start of July. It really has me charged up and feeling like we are connecting more, meeting needs and having more of an impact. Today I will deliver another tent from one in our congregation’s attic to another recently unhoused person who has found himself now sleeping on the ground. outside.

We’ve also transformed our food closet, which COVID prevented from opening, into a mobile food pantry. It’s cool. Sunday mornings we have bags of groceries for the unhomed living near the park who have been joining us for service. Then people take bags to deliver to people who they know are in need. I love that!

Have a great week. If you had memes and texts ready to fire my way to razz me about the Patriots without Brady, just hang on to them until Monday. I doubt you’ll get to use them but you can still hope.

#everydayisabonusday

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It’s 46 degrees and there’s “a beaver on da roof.”

“Grampa, there’s a beaver on da roof.”

By Scott Linscott

It’s 46 degrees, 6:50 AM and, apparently, there’s a beaver on my roof.

While I am putting our pellet stove through its first test of the season, Ethan is telling me an elaborate story.

A beaver, not just any old beaver but, a rock-climbing beaver, made his way to the top of our roof. This beaver must be of the “petram scandere-fiber” species and be a bit confused because my roof is not made of rock.

Anyway, according to the story teller, this buck-toothed fella became trapped. A neighborhood cat went to investigate but also got stuck.

So, now we have a confused beaver and a confused cat stuck on our roof.

Ethan says that a rock climber with a special “trouble phone” will come to rescue the beaver.

“He rescues the fierce animals first because they are da best,” according to Ethan. A beaver is not fierce so he has to wait a bit.

The guy with the special phone is rescuing a bear stuck in his cave that is blocked by a boulder with a big T-Rex on it and they are, “um, um, um… very strong!”

Apparently this animal rescuer has something that has “two grapple hooks.” One will move the T-Rex and the other will move the boulder and the bear will go free.

I asked if the T-Rex was going to be chill with some dude using a grappling hook on him. The storyteller had no interest in this sidebar and refused to give more detail of the bear rescue.

“Then he will come to our house for da beaver,” he went on, ignoring my questions.

According to Ethan, the rock-climbing, animal rescuer also has a “special gun that shoots ladders” that he will use to rescue the beaver. He will use yet another gun that shoots treats to get the cat to come down.

It’s going to be a much more eventful day around here than I thought with this rock-climbing, beaver-saving adventure in the works.

Our tenants are under contract on some land in Gorham. Their builder is telling them to expect occupancy in January. Most with experience in having houses built advise adding 30-60 days to that estimate but hopefully their builder is one of those on-time types. I’m in no big hurry to be left in an empty house but I won’t root against them.

The animal rescue guy is like the cable guy … Ethan has no idea when he’ll be here. We just have to hang around and wait.

I hope you have a great Saturday planned. Our ton of wood pellets arrives in 9 days so we will need to start organizing our garage for the delivery. Maybe that will begin today.

#everydayisabonusday

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My pumpkin spice is lacking something

Something is off.

By Scott Linscott

Some people have big stuff happening that worries them. My biggest concern today is that my pumpkin spice coffee is lacking something. I can’t decide if it’s not “pumpkinny” enough or not spicy enough.

I bought 5 pounds of these grounds so I am pretty committed. I figure that since I am wild about this coffee roasting company’s chocolate-raspberry that I would be equally as wild about the pumpkin spice. Nope. Not wild.

Did I really buy 10 pounds, two giant 5-pound bags, of coffee grounds like I am some sort of trendy coffee shop or breakfast restaurant? Yes. Yes, I did. I bought 5 pounds of chocolate raspberry and 5 pounds of pumpkin spice to get free shipping.

But, I’m not a café. If I were a restaurant, would I have a goofy Golden Retriever chewing on my foot as I write this? Probably not.

Anyway, I’m not sure what I will do. I might just forge ahead with this “okay” coffee. But, part of me thinks that life is too short for “just okay” coffee.

I asked Pompom and Bailey their opinions. They are totally apathetic.

I asked my granddaughter, Emma. She was too busy informing me that I don’t have hair except on my face which, according to her, is the color of white, milkweed goo. (Ew) She just shrugged about the coffee question.

Is the pumpkin spice coffee I love flavored by sugary syrup? If it is, that is not okay. My fat, COVID bum, and the rest of me too, tipped 230 on the scale Sunday morning. 230 is my alarm number. It used to be 220 but, well, you know… So, sugary syrup is OUT!

I ate myself to 330 in one stretch of my life and then went through a liver transplant largely because of it. I will not do that again! Nope, nosiree-Bob!

I’m at 225 this morning so I’ve dropped from DEFCON 5 back to DEFCON 4 on the fat-bum scale. Nana’s Best Treat Shop has slowed production since she is now back to school for the first time since March. That was brutal with warm cookies, brownies, dipped waffle cones and new flavors of homemade ice cream coming every week.

In other news, it’s Friday. Some people love Friday and hate Mondays. I love Friday but I can’t really say I love it more than any other day. All my days look a lot alike except for Sunday when I am allowed out of the house for church in the park. That is definitely my weekly highlight.

The rumor is that this week’s Church in the Park will include coffee. Will it be good coffee or “church coffee?” We use K-cups when we meet at the building and that offers good coffee varieties. We have coffee-shop carafes for Sundays in the park. I could offer some of these pumpkin spice grounds and see if it’s just me or if others say “meh” too.

Have a great weekend. Come on over to Riverbank Park on Sunday morning for some music, message and people viewing at 9:45 ish for coffee and then the rest.

#everydayisabonusday

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When method drowns out message.

Yes, “Jesus loves you,” but how does he feel about vandalism?

By Scott Linscott

Method can overpower message. The cliché of “actions speak louder than words” is more than cliché. It is truth.

I noticed the message in this photo painted on a fence post as I walked along admiring the gorgeous scenic views on Portland, Maine’s Eastern Promenade Trail. “Jesus loves you” graffiti was scribbled four or five inches above a paper product sticker, both littering the landscape.

I thought, “Yes, Jesus loves me but I’m fairly certain he wouldn’t advise vandalism to spread his message.”

I wonder how many other people have walked by thinking the same thing and shaking their heads?

Method matters. It matters a lot. It matters in Jesus circles, in political circles, in marketing circles and in every area where getting a message out is an important part of the plan.

When we claim to be all “Jesus is love” one minute and then switch to spitting venom the next, the message is obliterated. When we say, “Jesus is truth” and then spread conspiracy theories and misinformation, our credibility is shot. When we rightly say that our Bible teaches that we need not fear, but then, live continually panicked and fearful, we demonstrate that we don’t believe it ourselves.

Is it any wonder the world is confused when they look at us?

I know that I am confused when I compare our book, the Bible, to what the press calls the beliefs of “evangelical Christians.”

Method often overpowers message. When people march peacefully in the streets to call for an end to violence and injustice their message is damaged when the much-smaller, angry, after-crowd shows up intent on violence and destruction. It is the after-crowd’s fires, angry shouting and destruction that gets the headlines and the video playing on loop all day, every day.

We “evangelical Christians” know what that’s like, right? How many times did we have to see that hateful church picketing soldiers’ funerals while a reporter described them as a “conservative Christian group?” The Christian reputation meter traveled steadily downward as people who looked nothing like Jesus pretended to be his spokespeople.

Faith without action is dead, according to James. Justice without Jesus, the Jesus of scripture, is just us. If your gospel is good news for you but not the people you disagree with, it is not the true gospel of Jesus.

I’d like to suggest something radical, if I may. I’d like to suggest that we who consider ourselves “Christian” submit ourselves to two processes, before we act, in an attempt to make sure that our methods do not obscure or nullify the message of new life and Hope in Christ:

  1. Might we first pick up the book we say that we treasure and use it to study the person of Jesus Christ? What I mean is, rather than search for trite answers and bumper sticker “moral to the story” slogans, we study the character, personality and passions of our Christ to know his heart and character. Might we read Matthew, Mark, Luke and John to discover what author Gayle D. Erwin called, “The Jesus Style.”
  2. Might we then, confident that we have a better-educated sense of the personality and motives of the one we call “Lord,” take the WWJD bracelet cliché of the 1990’s and make it more than cliché? Might we allow it to shape our methods and flavor our interpersonal interactions?

“Our motto will be, ‘What would Jesus do?’ Our aim will be to act just as He would if He was in our places, regardless of immediate results. In other words, we propose to follow Jesus’ steps as closely and as literally as we believe He taught His disciples to do.”

Charles M. Sheldon, “In His Steps,” 1897

How would that impact our methods online? How would it impact our tone? How would it affect our interactions? Our attitudes? Our opinions?

The Jesus of the Bible that we say we adhere to reacted most strongly to those who misrepresented his Father and his Kingdom. It is that same Bible that says we are to be “ambassadors” of Christ, reflecting him.

I think we must ask ourselves, “are my actions, my methods, reflecting my Christ?” If they are not, we need to make changes.

...let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. 
1 John 3:18
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“Hey, Scott, are you okay? You’ve disappeared.”

By Scott Linscott
The question came from a friend who noticed that my former Facebook fascination faded recently. (Nice alliteration, huh?) “You okay? You’ve disappeared.”

This is a game-changer!

My lack of selfies has left her concerned. My posts have decreased to one a day or less and those are these blog things so they kinda don’t count.

It’s true. Facebook and I have decided to see other people and I have retreated to my top-secret lab where I am working on a game-changing invention.

What invention? In my patent application I have called it “Woof! Pants.”

Sounds like something to do with dogs, right? But, trust me, it has nothing to do with dogs.

I am working on an invention that will make pants combust at the very instant anyone posts a lie or forwards lies.

“Liar, liar, pants on fire,” is the song that gave me the idea. I think there would be less lying if people’s pants burst into flames with every lie.

Oh, wait, I probably offended someone. Lies are not lies now but are something called “misinformation.” That’s so much less offensive.

I don’t think my mother would have bought into that. “Mom, I didn’t lie. I gave you misinformation.” She’d reach for her paddle immediately if I tried that.

Anyway, my invention would ultimately either wipe out humanity in an apocalyptic fire, or, it would end the social media love for libel and lying.

“Scott, are you suggesting torching me if I repost or share something that is misinformation?”

“You mean a lie? Yeah, that’s exactly the idea. It’s spontaneous combustion – WOOF! PANTS ON FIRE!'”

“But what if I didn’t know it was a lie … er … I mean, misinformation.”

“WOOF! Not “woof” like a dog, but “woof” like a charcoal grill doused with a whole bottle of lighter fluid.”

“I probably wouldn’t share anything until I checked it. That’s crazy talk.”

“No, actually, that’s exactly the idea. People would be a lot more careful.”

So, say, you share:

  • Migraine cure found: cream of tartar. “WOOF!”
  • Mail-in ballots are different than absentee ballots. “WOOF!”
  • CS Lewis wrote this big thing about politics in Screwtape Letters. “WOOF!”

I could go on and on. Woof, woof, woof.

I’m stalled at the moment trying to make one addition. I’m trying to think of a modification that will maybe shock or stun someone who switches the burden of proof onto disproving things. I mean, basically, they say anything that cannot or has not been disproved is therefore true and factual.

The rationale goes like this:

“Well, you can’t disprove that there is a hidden society of weather gnomes hiding in the Himalayan Mountains controlling the world’s weather and making it worse!”

Proof requires demonstration to establish fact. Consider the following claims. Which can easily be proven? Which could I say, “well, you can’t prove it didn’t happen. I know what I saw?”

  1. A pterodactyl landed on my lawn this morning. I know it was a pterodactyl because it urinated and the p was silent.
  2. My dog, PomPom, urinated on my lawn this morning. I could not hear it, so the p is silent again meaning I should call her “om-om.”

What do you think? Well, both questions deserve more exploration before just forwarding this breaking news to all our social media pals.

I’m really stuck on this part of my invention. The “liar, liar, pants on fire” concept is fairly straightforward but I know no catchy rhyme for the prover stunner/shocker part. That might have to wait for phase two of my invention.

I may be back to Facebook if I get this up and running. I can’t promise it will be ready for mass distribution by November 1.

Honestly, right now it’s just in concept form all up here in my head. I was planning to go on Shark Tank to get funding but I have no answers to these questions:

1) Will government fund this? (No, it would mean WOOF for Washington.)

2) Will “evangelical Christians” buy it? (Oh, geez, that would bring “fresh fire” for sure.)

3) How about Wall Street? (Um, no, definitely not.)

4) The media, then? (Bahaha! That’s hilarious!)

5) Facebook? (And lose all the income from click-bait and viral misinformation??? That’s a big no!)

I guess my invention is doomed. Dang it! I really thought I was onto something.

Anyway, I’m not on Facebook much anymore beyond these blog babblings and pics for family and friends who love us and want to see the kids.

Don’t worry, I’m fine. I’m feeling better actually. I’m trying to focus more on those old manuscripts I like to read.

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

Psalm 19:14 New Living Translation
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I probably ruined my grandkids today.

Thomas the Train to the rescue!

By Scott Linscott

It was Cousin Sleepover weekend and I was rockin’ it. I was the hero for setting up the movie on the lawn. And, even though I confess having fled from the 190 decibels of noise on at least two occasions, I was doing well.

Granted, my risk was small because Nana was here. She is used to lawless, toddler mobs. She has secret skills that she uses on them. As long as Nana is around, I’m safe with the whole crew.

“I need to run to the store to get some bread. Ethan is in his room upset because his bandaid came off and the other three are playing. I’ll be right back,” Robin said.

“Um, wait, what?” I said with fear in my eyes. I need more information like what does “upset” mean? And what are they “playing?”

When I went in I could hear “upset” very clearly. It was probably an 8 on the 1-10 upset scale. I tried to settle him but he was having none of it. That’s when I ruined my grandchildren.

It was easy. It’s my “go to.” I turned on Thomas the Train on Netflix. Within 3 minutes I had 4 entranced, little, zombies sitting in the corner of our sectional.

I live with educators. “Screen time” is a precarious equation. If a child crosses that undefined threshold of too much screen time they are forever destroyed.

  1. Perform worse on tests
  2. Obesity
  3. Sleep problems
  4. More violent

I don’t get it. Thomas the Train is good at solving problems. He’s as big as a train but I don’t consider him obese. He seems chipper all the time so it appears he sleeps well. And as far as violence goes? Thomas is less violent than a Golden Retriever puppy!

Nana came home just as the episode ended. She is letting me stay and I don’t even have to sleep on the couch. So, I guess the damage is either reversible or not permanent.

What’s a Grampa to do? It was either ice cream just before lunch or Thomas. I was desperate.

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