Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Merry Christmas!

Here’s our 2019 brag letter about how awesome everything is. I’ve been out of prison for 3 months now and am adjusting well. Robin took me back in but she does not like the cool prison tat I got of her face on my left pectoral. I think Tiny did an awesome job on it. It wasn’t like I had a choice. Tiny weighs 500 pounds and eats people like me for breakfast.

My kids are still three good-for-nothins but at least they’ve stayed outta jail so far.

Josh, Chloe, Calvin, Kristen

And I’m still struggling with telling fibs now and then. In fact, all that stuff above is fake news except for maybe my tattoo of Robin, but you’ll never know.

Honestly, life is great and my grandchildren are so cute and smart. Calvin will be 4 at the end of December, then Chloe turns 2 in January and then it’s Emma’s turn to be 4 in February. Poor Ethan has to wait until June 2 to turn 3. I remember that because it’s our anniversary. Shara was kind enough to have a baby on a date I had already committed to memory.

Doctor Josh is doctoring at Maine Medical Center. He won’t let me scrub in to assist on any surgeries though. I know, right? I watch reality TV all the time and that Emergency Department show and Doctor Pimple Popper have me ready and itching to go in and make someone’s bladder gladder. (He’s a urologist.) His wife, Kristen, is amazing at holding their family on course during Josh’s residency.

Shara is my boss at the church now. Well, she’s doing administrative stuff. It’s good. I used to finish my outlines Friday or Saturday. Now she prints them out a week before. It’s been good for me. And she’s an incredible mommy, party planner and creative wonder.

Donald Jacob and his lovely wife, Laura, are now homeowners in Windham and doing very well. I keep reading about Millennials never buying homes, not getting married and living in their parents’ basements. I guess that throwing them out when they turned 18 was apparently the right move. (We didn’t. That’s another fib.)

Emma, Shara, Ethan & Jake

Oh, wait, Shara and her Jake just sold their house and will be moving into our basement in January while they build their new house and Josh his family lived in our basement while he finished medical school so maybe they were true Millennials after all? I don’t think so. Anyway, you should sell Jake and Shara some land close to Westbrook to rescue them from being cellar dwellers.

Robin and I are loving life. She’s teaching and bookkeeping. I’m photographing and pastoring. My health is good and stable, and my transplant is still working just fine. I’m going on 8 bonus years so far in May. What a gift we’ve been given!

Merry Christmas friends. We are blessed with so many people we love from our church, neighborhood, community, transplant network, Facebook, Guatemala and more. We are thankful for all you add to our lives!

If you’re in Maine or passing through,  be sure to drop in and say hello!

Much Love,
Scott, for Robin too

5 Village Ln, Westbrook, ME 04092    207-400-2481  scott@linscottphoto.com  robin@linscottphoto.com

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Is church important anymore?

I remember sitting in the back row at church, as a kid, wearing my shoulder pads, my Giants jersey, my football pants and my cleats. And I wasn’t the only one. It was our Sunday morning attire before our youth football league games. Church came first.

I remember my Dad being on the board for Little League and not allowing Sunday morning games or practices in the league.

And Dad wasn’t some legalistic, bible-thumping, KJV-only-fundy either. His language was naughty and he battled alcoholism all his life. I never even heard a hint of a message that we were going to earn points with God or or get into heaven either. It wasn’t about that.

Dad was a Marine. His motto was “God, Country, Family” as I grew up. And yes, sometimes I think it was Country before God after his years of military service.

We went to church. Picnics were for “after church.” Activities were for “after church.”

We weren’t even well-behaved in church. My mom was always giving us “the look” and sitting between us so we wouldn’t poke and pinch each other. But, we were there.

I think I was bored most of the time but, I have to admit, a lot of the messages seeped in somehow. The old hymns seeped in too as Dad and I poked fun at the language or he rolled his eyes and winced during “special music” numbers that were more painful than special. He would make me laugh.

One of my favorite songs by Rich Mullins include the lyric:
“And did they tell you stories ’bout the saints of old? Stories about their faith? They say stories like that make a boy grow bold, stories like that make a man walk straight.”

Mom and Dad would resume bickering as soon as we got into the car to head home. I had a time where I judged them as hipocrates before I understood that they were simply human trying to navigate life like everyone else.

Mom asked for the same thing for Christmas every year from the time I was twelve on, “I just want you to sit with us in church every Sunday, that’s all.” She meant not with my friends or my girlfriend. They were welcome to sit with us and they usually did.

Our church was little and pretty lame, at least, by most of today’s standards. We had no polished musicians and the sound system regularly produced weird feedback noises. The bulletin thing had plenty of typos. The pews were uncomfortable and sometimes it was way too hot and sometimes way too cold. But none of that seemed to matter much because people seemed to really love each other and care.

Mr. Sidelinger was awesome. Mom and Pop McCleary were old but they’d invite our handful of teenagers to their house for board games and Bible studies and we went: always hugged and welcomed. Dick would give me rides whenever I needed them. The Hawkins family was like my second family. Irv Lash was my hero… It was 40+ years ago but, as I write this, I still feel those connections. I still feel the warmth of their love.

None of it was about legalism, earning salvation or making God love us. The message I got was that we went because God was God and church was about Him much more than us. I got the message that we went to be a part and to serve. I am thankful Mom and Dad found a church like that and made me go. I’m glad they committed to it even during the “pastorless” times showing their commitment to the body.

Yes, they complained about the church sometimes but that was no different than complaining about things at family gatherings we went to. We all complain about family stuff but we love our families.

So, this morning when I saw this post that read, “church should be your excuse for missing things, not vice versa” I paused to consider it. And then, I was grateful that my mom and dad set the example for me without legalism, without any nonsense about earning God’s love, just because God was God so we went to worship, be part and serve – even during the boring times.

I am thankful today that my kids appear to have received that message from Robin and me and are now passing it on to their children, teaching them that gathering is to be a priority to worship, give and serve.

I apologize if you wince with guilt or painful memories of “church” misused in your childhood. I am so sorry if you were told God doesn’t love you when you are naughty, or misstep, or live wrong. I am sorry if God was used as a punishment to create fear in you and manipulate you into behaving a certain way.

See, the thing is, that God’s love for you is always beyond what you can comprehend. It’s what this whole Christmas thing is about. It is mankind that has reduced God’s love to being all about you and what you do and how you act. That is not the Good News proclaimed to lowly shepherds on a hillside. It’s just not.

I’m thankful that my mom and dad brought me to church where I learned that gathering to worship is more about who God is than who I am. I’m thankful that it shaped me into who I am today.

Maybe consider church as you set goals for the new year?

As life gets more difficult, more chaotic and more cluttered, going to church must become even more important according to Hebrews 10:25:
“Let’s not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (as things get tougher)

Find a good church where people are real and it’s about who God is, what Jesus accomplished and who we are in him. Make it a family priority.

It matters.

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Debate Policy but Love People

I am afraid to write what is hurting my heart this morning because it will likely bring comments and reactions that add more hurt.

My issue is my own lack of understanding of my brothers and sisters in Christ. I run the risk of judging hearts and coming out with me being superior and more godly … and that’s baloney. I am not those things. When I hate those I want to label “haters,” I become a hater.

My opinion is that many in my Christian ranks are reacting in fear and that is at the root. The old book I study speaks of fear quite often. As, I read it, I am not to live in fear of man when I am trusting in my God.

When immigrants to our area were Muslim, the fear was that they would bring personal harm. All were judged by the actions of the radical. I get that because, as a Christ follower, I am often tied to the parts of our Christian ranks that picket funerals and spew venom though I am nothing like them. They use the same book I love to somehow justify their actions.

Now, the asylum-seekers are here because they chose Portland, Maine as a welcoming place and they have heard positive things about our state. They are here from the Congo which is 90% Christian. But, rather than welcome our brothers and sisters in Christ, many Christians are again reacting in fear.

I see fear that they carry disease and even E-bola (with its 2-21 day incubation period) despite them having been travelling 5 months or more. I see fear that they are going to take our stuff and eat our food and take our housing and rob our resources. And then I read Acts 2:44-45 about the believers being together, sharing and even selling their stuff to help other believers.

The “my stuff” fear doesn’t fit my theology because I see myself more as a manager of resources God has provided. In my paradigm, all I am and all I have is God’s.

I’d like to propose that we separate people from policy. Punishing people because we disagree with policy is, in my opinion, in opposition to the scriptures we claim to hold dear. Continue to debate the government policy you dislike with all the passion and vigor you want, but love the people in front of you with the love of Jesus. I believe that’s our clear calling in Christ

The bible is a difficult book. Love our enemies (read Matthew 5 for fun). Take care of widows and orphans (James 1:27). Our book also has a lot of guidance about how we are to treat aliens and strangers. It is also clear on how we are to handle people who refuse to work when they are able. In my personal dealing with immigrants I have always found them willing and expecting to work.

What would you do if war and violence were killing all around you and threatening your family? Would you choose fight or flight? What if your fight was impossible to win? Would you fight knowing your children would certainly be killed as well or put into slavery? I’d choose the Sound of Music, Von Trapp family route. I would do all I could to try to find safety. If we stay, we die. If we flee, we maybe die.

My plea is simple … see the people. See the children. And though it is near impossible for us Americans to even imagine, try to imagine yourself in their shoes. Please don’t blame them or punish them for the policy that brought them here. The policy is not their fault.

They are people.

My Christian brothers and sisters, I beg you to spend some time in what we call the “Word of God” and test your attitudes and actions based on its teachings. Decide who the “neighbor” is that you are called to love. Search its pages for direction on how we are to respond to strangers and aliens who end up in our lands.

Debate policy, shape policy, vote policy changes and legislate policy but please, for the love of God, love people.

By Scott Linscott

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My amazing girl…

Allow me to gush about this woman … the mother of my children.

I met her in college. She was a science major on a pre-vet track. She was heading to classes and labs all day and studied like a madwoman. She was rocking biology and physiology classes and cruising through organic chemistry. Well, no one “cruises through” organic chem but it didn’t bury her like it does so many others. She was dissecting cats and sharks and her perfume was a lovely scent of formaldehyde.

Me? I was a journalism major that someone placed in a science dorm with all the pre-med students and future veterinarians. I wrote papers while they studied genetics and memorized muscles and bones. No one had much time to play with me and I was a pest.

She wanted to work with large animals, not be a doc for doggies and kitties. I couldn’t picture this 5’1″ peanut wrangling livestock.

Then, after a 2+ years of study, and meeting me, she decided to change majors to Early Childhood Development with a concentration in Developmental Disabilities. (I tease her that she knew she was meant to develop my children!) She rocked that too, of course. Our conversations shifted from carbon compounds and the nervous system to Piaget and Erikson. I went from having no idea in one field to being totally clueless in another. The constant was that this woman amazed me with her discipline.

Me? I was a crammer. Thankfully, I had the type of brain that could read and retain just about anything because my study habits were awful. My hyper-focus kicked in about 12 hours before my exams and pulled me through. Thankfully, that changed in grad school!

Anyway, I married this straight A, incredibly smart woman with her desire to shape young minds and make changes in the way kids with developmental challenges were educated.

I still remember the day she came home from teaching her class of 1st graders or kindergarten kids (I don’t remember which) and told me that we would be teaching our kids at home. It was one of those frustrating teacher days that all our teachers deal with but this one pushed her over the edge. I thought it would pass but it didn’t.

I agreed to the homeschooling thing a bit hesitantly with the agreement we would reenter our kids in the “real world” at 6th grade. That didn’t work out when the school tested Josh, our first, and wanted to put him with 8th and 9th grade at 11 years old. Nope! I worked with 14 year olds and there was no way that would fly with me! I think I saw a smirk on Robin’s face. We didn’t even try with Shara because she was the same or stronger.

Robin taught me the difference between rote memorization for tests and training true learners to be problem solvers. I went from being impressed by the kid who could recite the Declaration of Independence to being more concerned that my kids know the philosophy and purpose behind it. She educated me while educating our kids.

She gave in and let Josh take honors biology in the school system. We never saw him open a book. The next year she said he would be learning chemistry at home and I thought she was nuts. (I forgot her background included organic chemistry.) I guess she did okay because today he’s an MD, with a PhD in chemistry.

I watched this incredible woman design and write custom curriculums for each of my children based on their interests and leanings. Each of them graduated at the top of their class of one and went on to thrive.

She never blows her own horn so I need to do it for her. She is an incredibly intelligent woman, a phenomenal mom and now, a spectacular Nana. She is always teaching.

When we are walking behind our kids with their kids and watching them interact, I like to pull her in close and say, “you did a great job, Mama. You built a wonderful family.”

She tells me I had a part in building it too. But, without her, this little pots and pans chaos parade would not be what it is today. She’s the core.

She’s quiet and unassuming and humble. I think people have no idea what’s wrapped up in that little package. She could easily be teaching chemistry or math. She could have been an RN with another handful of classes. She could have been a great veterinarian. But, instead, she chose to be Mom first and foremost and is still doing so today.

If you’re a child behaviorist, like my BCBA daughter, or an educator or even a biology or chemistry nerd, pull her aside and watch her eyes light up while you toss around the jargon that I don’t understand. This amazing woman goes far deeper than board books, puzzles and Duplo blocks.

I’m blessed to have my children call her Mom and blessed to be coming up on 35 years of marriage June 2.

Happy Mother’s Day weekend, Robin. I know you are embarrassed that I wrote this but, if there’s one thing you know after our 37+ years together, it’s that I am embarassing!

I love you.

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Happy Liver Day!

“What would the world be like without Captain Hook?”

“What if Clarence never jumped into the river to save George Bailey and Zuzu’s pedals?”

It’s the age-old, “what if I wasn’t here” question that mankind has wondered for years. It crosses my mind every Liver Day.

Liver Day is my liverversary – marking the occasion of Josh giving me 60 percent of his liver to save my life.

If the surgery hadn’t been successful, my smoking hot wife would never get a moment to herself. Male suitors would be after her like bill collectors after college grads! Instead she gets the joy of me going shopping with her and reminding her of my love with pool noodle love taps.

Emma wouldn’t be masterfully wrapping me around her finger and Ethan would not have a short-enough grandpa to headbutt in the groin. Calvin would eat less green muffins and lack his time of asking the Reverend deep, theological questions while negotiating five more minutes on the playground. And Chloe would not be growl-whispering “grumpaaaa” with her mischievous smile. And ice cream establishments might be out of business.

Pompom would be living with some other family and be named something lame like Snowflake or Miss Beardie. She wouldn’t be named for two great surgeons, Jim Pomposelli and Liz Pomfret.

My lawn definitely would not look so good and our $12 each fresh tomatoes grown in my garden would not be a summer treat. (I figure, with the amount of cash and labor I spend on my garden, it comes out to about $12 per tomato.)

There would be no daily Facebook drivel seen by 5% of the people that I have on this 21st century odd phenomenon called a “my friend list.”

And all my friends with cats would not be aware what a terrible pet choice cats are. They would have no one trying to set them free from feline mind control.

It’s Liver Day. It was 7 years ago today. Today I will eat a couple fried eggs, over easy, 3 strips of rubbery turkey bacon and some peppers and onions. I’ll drink 2 cups of froo-froo coffee, volunteer with my first-grade reading pals, go to my Rotary Club meeting and then spend my afternoon assembling a 5th annual report for the church that God plopped me into. Then, I’ll spend my evening pretending to help Nana babysit our four rugrats while their moms and dads have their LifeGroup.

It will be a great day. Pretty much all my days are great in one way or another. Even sick days, grumpy days, conflict days and hard days are great days when I consider that I nearly didn’t get the chance to have any more days.

Every day is a bonus day. It really is true. “Hey, I’m glad to be alive to have this crappy day,” is what I try to remember when crappy days come around. But, thankfully, most of my days are awesome and I try not to take any of them for granted.

Have a fantastic Tuesday. Write to your Congressman and try to get May 7 to be made a national holiday. Then, we could all get another day off and spend it enjoying each other. I’d like that a lot.

#everydayisabonusday

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Which are you?

Do you need some resurrecting? On Saturday, all was quiet while Jesus was in the grave. Friends and supporters sat weeping with loss and dashed dreams.

Detractors were gloating and feeling some relief at finally being proved right and getting what they wanted.

Middlemen were glad to be out of the middle. Bystanders who never were quite sure what all the commotion was about anyway went back to their regular routine.

Who are you in the story? Bystander? Middleman? Detractor? Supporter? Crucified?

The crucified one lay in the grave. Just days before today they had a huge parade to welcome him into the city. The celebration was huge … hosannas lifted … coats and palms laid on the street. It was big. But, he knew.

The detractors were not happy. Detractors are rarely happy. They celebrate brief victories before moving on to their next target.

Supporters were at their peak thinking all they had dreamed about and planned for was finally coming into place after 3 and a half, long, often-difficult years.

Bystanders came out to watch the parade before going back to their regular tasks.

And the middlemen? They were just hoping not to have this spill into anything else bringing more work for the weekend.

Which are you?

Many of us have experienced some of what the crucified one experienced.

We remember the big celebration when we got the new job and everyone was thrilled to have us on board. And then we remember the conversation gradually changing around the water cooler over the next two years. We remember the feeling of friends changing sides to join the detractors and feeling betrayed. And then, we remember the end and giving our notice feeling numb.

Or, we remember the huge wedding celebration and being so much in love. We remember the talk of the future and building a life together. We remember the spouse who never had a harsh word, gradually moving to the other side of the spectrum and speaking only criticism. And then, for some of us, the agonizing pain of betrayal and the death of our dream came with “crucify” translated to “divorce.”

It has happened to the athlete who was the star. Gradually he stopped wowing his adoring fans and saw his Twitter feed change from “best ever” to “trade him” and “overrated.” “Crucify” in different language.

Or, you had the college graduation party, summa cum laude, with big dreams and bright future. And then, that changed as your biggest fans and biggest supporters, transitioned to telling you that dreams are fine but reality demands that you settle and “just get a job, any job.” And now you hear the beep of barcodes scanning 8-10 hours a day.

The pain of crushed dreams. The pain of betrayal when friends move to detractors. The pain of seeing that all your efforts apparently were not enough. The shouts of “crucify” translated to “you’re fired” and “you’re done.”

Jesus knew and he still walked forward. We had no idea and were taken by surprise but we can still walk forward. How? The same power that rose Jesus from the grave is alive in us.

It’s Saturday and many of us need resurrection. The good news is that Sunday is coming. The good news is that the detractors and middlemen have some major disappointments ahead. The good news is that Jesus did not quit but did exactly what he said he would do. He rose.

You and I are not finished.
“By Your spirit I will rise
From the ashes of defeat
The resurrected King, is resurrecting me
In Your name I come alive
To declare Your victory”

Tomorrow, Sunday, we will gather at 10 AM at 733 Main St in Westbrook to celebrate the resurrection. Join us. And yes, detractors, middlemen and bystanders are always welcome. And, if you miss it? We’ll be there next Sunday doing the same thing, and the next, and the next …

https://youtu.be/Rf8Zzn4nOzc

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Locked up or freed?

Some of you know that I see more in my photographs than the obvious. Things I photograph often speak to me.

Today, while I walked around a historic train yard, these old padlocks and weathered chain drew my eye. In the shape of a cross, the message of Easter on my mind, I pictured the locks busting open and the chains falling off. I must have looked strange spending so much time photographing the scene.

I thought of the power of the cross and the freedom I’ve found in Christ. “My chains are gone, I’ve been set free. My God, my savior, has ransomed me.”

But then, I thought of how easy it is for us to reach down to pick up those heavy chains. We choose to carry them wondering why we feel so weighed down, so depressed and such strangers to peace.

Drop them. Their only power over you is now the power you give them. Drop the hatred, the fights, the drama. Chill instead of raging. Stop partying in the pity pool and swim away. That faction-focused friendship is dulling you. It will always find a new fight.

Galatians 5:1 “Christ has set us free to live a free life. So take your stand! Never again let anyone put a harness of slavery on you.”

Those are my thoughts today while photographing old trains. I like it when my photography sparks something within.

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