Summarizing My Father’s Life

Donald W. Linscott Jr, (9/21/32 – 3/29/20)

Donald W. Linscott Jr, (9/21/32 – 3/29/20) of Auburn, Maine passed away peacefully on Sunday, March 29 at the Maine Veteran’s Home in Scarborough, Maine after a long battle with diabetes resulting in renal failure.

A memorial service will be held later in the year after travel restrictions and stay-in-place orders have been lifted and it is safe to gather again.  

Don was born in Portland, Maine to Donald and Lois Linscott on September 21, 1932.  He married his beautiful bride, Beulah B. Cochran on December 22, 1951. He attended South Portland High School.  Over his career, he worked in either administration or sales at General Foods, Lyn-flex Industries of Saco, Hillcrest Foods of Lewiston and JW Penny Industrial Supply, of Mechanic Falls and Diversified Pumps and Compressors of New Hampshire.

He was a veteran of the Korean War (1950-54) and served in the US Marine Corps where he achieved the rank of Sergeant. He was awarded the US Service Medal, the Korean Service Medal with 4 stars, a Navy Occupational Medal, a Good Conduct Medal, a National Defense Service Medal and a Presidential Unit Citation. He was a 2nd Degree Mason, a life member and officer of the VFW, the American Legion, and a member of the Lions Club for years. He also served dutifully in each church he attended over the course of his life. He was a very active volunteer, serving as the founder of the Blue Flames Drum and Bugle Corps and Color guard, and a youth sports coach in Little League and Lewiston’s Football League for Youth. He continued to serve even in his retirement volunteering numerous hours with the Auburn Police department and as a certified tax preparer,  helping the elderly and underserved complete their annual tax filings.

Those who knew Donald knew that he overcame a number of military service-related obstacles and emotional baggage to build a tight and loving family and social circle. Determination to affect change was one of his core beliefs shown through his constant willingness to serve in whatever capacity needed. His commitment to his veteran comrades showed in his dedicating thousands of hours to VFW causes and activities including serving as an officer at his local posts, serving as State Adjutant and even State Commander. He was also involved regionally and nationally in veterans’ issues.

Presence was his gift to his children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, nieces and nephews, as he would drive hours to support them in their activities whether a color guard competition in the Midwest or a middle school football game an hour away. He spent countless hours in auditoriums, on cold bleachers or standing on sidelines cheering them on.

Humor was his gift to all who knew him whether from his playful teasing, and quick wit or his willingness to wear silly hats and play the clown even in public settings. He brightened the room wherever he went, carried lollipops for kids and whistled and sang his Frank Sinatra favorites. He teased his grandchildren by acting gruff with a, “Hey kid! Did you bring me any money?” or “Hey kid, come back when you’re 18!” They ignored him and climbed onto his lap for tickling and wrestling. He loved his children and grandchildren, nieces and nephews dearly.

His wife heard his “I love you, Mummy” coming from the den to the kitchen throughout their marriage. When Alzheimer’s Disease started to rob his memory, she would hear, “I love you, Mummy” dozens of times a day. He called her his bride, mummy, dear and honey throughout their marriage and never was able to walk past her without some form of touch whether a kiss, a caress, a tap or even a little pinch. He loved her dearly.

His service to veterans brought about positive change in numerous areas right up until he was physically unable to continue. From transporting veterans to the Veterans Hospital in Augusta, to stopping for conversation with homeless veterans on the street offering to help them get connected to available support services. He could not turn his back on brothers and sisters who served.

Donald is preceded in death by his wife of 67 years, Billie Linscott, and his siblings John, Ruth and Ernest.

He is survived by daughters Gail Silva and her husband Louis of Cumming, GA, Gloria Caldwell and husband Tom of Poland, Maine, and son Donald Linscott III and wife Robin of Westbrook, Maine. He is also survived by sisters Carol Dobson, Barbara Nelson, Mary Armstrong, Wanda Dubuque and Elizabeth Splettstoesser and brothers Guy and Dana Linscott. He also leaves behind seven grandchildren and eleven great-grandchildren.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial gifts be given to the activities fund at the Scarborough Maine Veterans Home where Don received excellent care, love, and tremendous support.  MVH Scarborough
290 US-1, Scarborough, ME 04074 online at https://mainevets.org/memorial-giving/

Don’s family wishes to extend our sincere thanks to all the staff at the Maine Veterans Home who clearly demonstrated, day-in-and-day-out that they are not just “going to work every day” but having the honor and privilege of caring for those who have sacrificed so much for us. Their love, care and detail to attention and connection were amazing.

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Will your Rotary club meet the 100% challenge?

Following a presentation that I made at our District 7780 Rotary gathering at Fort Williams in Cape Elizabeth, Maine during the summer of 2019, the District Governor, Andrew Glazier, asked, “why couldn’t we make this a challenge for all our clubs this year?”

Registering to be an organ and tissue donor is easy, costs nothing and can literally mean the difference between life and death for someone waiting. Organ and tissue donation align well with our values as Rotarians.

The Challenge Is Issued
The Westbrook-Gorham Rotary Club, my home club, is hereby challenging every club in our district to aim for 100% of the membership as registered organ donors by April 2020. Will your club hit 75%? 85%? 98%? Let’s have fun will doing good and promoting such an important cause.

April is National Donate Life month. We are planning some fun recognition for our winning clubs, even though the reality is that we all win with every donor registered.

ACTION STEPS FOR YOUR CLUB –

  1. Establish a way to record your club members as registered donors or new donors so that you can report your results by March 15.
  2. Add art and information to your social media pages, website and newsletter encouraging club members to register as organ donors at www.RegisterMe.org
  3. Schedule a Donate Life guest speaker for a club meeting. (contact scott@linscottphoto.com, 207-400-2481 or https://donatelifenewengland.org/ )

I received my gift of life, a liver transplant, on May 7, 2012. I am alive today because of organ donation. I would be glad to come speak to your club or do what I can to help you reach 100 percent. 123,000 people are waiting for transplants in the United States today. As many as 21 people die each day on the waiting list.  I hope your club will rise to the challenge. Our District Governor is correct. It makes perfect sense for Rotarians to get on board.

Scott Linscott
Westbrook-Gorham Rotary Club
207-400-2481, scott@linscottphoto.com

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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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I’ve been up to something new and fun…

I’m Just a Dog

On Tuesday mornings, I volunteer at one of our local schools reading with first graders. I love doing it. Kids always make me smile.

Back in January, one little girl who is always pretty outspoken, was clearly frustrated. She explained that her teacher was making them write manuscripts and she said, “I don’t know why. I can never be an author.”

I told her she could be anything she set her mind to but she wasn’t buying it. I told her I could write books like the books we were reading and she laughed. “You’re not an author!” she said.

I have self-published some photography books for family and friends so, technically, I am an author but not in the distributed author sense. I was so determined to show her that being an author is not impossible that I found myself saying, “the next time I come read with you I will read a book I wrote.” She just laughed at me. Challenge accepted!

That left me needing to write and produce a children’s book and have it in hand the next time I came to read to the class. Thankfully, I had about 4 weeks to get it done between their school break and my being away for a conference and planning time.

Since the class always teases me about my aversion to cats, I knew my book had to be about dogs. I also knew that I wanted to convince my little friends that they can decide what they want to be in the future. So, “I’m Just a Dog” was born. Fortunately, a dog event was scheduled nearby during my time in Florida giving me plenty of subjects to photograph.

The class was pretty thrilled when I returned and read “I’m Just a Dog” for them because each of the dogs was named after one of the children in the class. The concept was simple, “Eva wants to be an artist but she can’t because she’s just a dog. But you can!”



That lead to wondering if perhaps I could find a traditional publisher for my children’s book and researching the publishing process. Several sources recommended approaching publishers with three projects demonstrating versatility. So, now I have three children’s books ready to go.

The publishing process, if I find someone, will take at least a year but if you simply cannot wait that long, each is available in a one-off printing service online that prints and ships book by book. (That makes them more expensive than they will be if they ever make it to the shelves of Barnes and Noble.)

It has been fun and, even if they never get published for real, my grandchildren will have some keepsakes from Grampa.

If you want to see, just click on the titles. That will allow you to see and read them online.

I’m Just A Dog

Have You Ever Seen


Let’s Go to the Fair

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Why do you go to church? Or, why not?

I’ve been doing some studying … mostly because I’m coming to the end of my six months of messages and teachings for the church I serve and am asking God what’s next. In the process I am looking in the mirror and seeing a change in myself that I do not like.

I’ve been at our little church revitalization work for just over five years now. When I started, I was just on the other side of the liver transplant journey that shook me to the core. It was a process that stripped me back to nothing.

When I started at this historic building on Main Street, I was in a place where I was vulnerable and absolutely awed by a God who I came to know more intimately than I ever before. I had been through difficult seasons in life. but I had never been totally broken and desperate. I always had some core strength or belief that I could do something, make some changes and pull myself through. The transplant journey offered none of that. Everything was entirely out of my control. All I had left was my faith and my people. And even some of “my people” distanced themselves from me because, like Job of the bible, I was too much to look at and too uncomfortable to be around.

When I started with this small group of people, all I wanted to do was worship and show others what I discovered. All I wanted to do was tear down barriers so that people could find the life-giving, always faithful, sustaining Jesus I had come to know so intimately. I remember times of singing songs in our gathered worship service and having to take a few minutes to compose myself before being able to speak. I went to worship. Not much else mattered.

Skip ahead to 2018. I am relatively healthy, just having the normal immunosuppressed challenges of catching most every virus and every bug going around. I am reestablished and financially secure in middle class Americana. I have appointments on my calendar, planning meetings to attend and even long-range goals. I remember not being confident enough to even plan things two months in advance because I didn’t know if I would be in the hospital or even alive. I am not desperate for God and the intimacy of suffering has faded. I’m operating on my own strength.

I have been studying why Americans go to church. I’ve been reading blogs, watching videos and studying church growth resources with their formulas for building attendance. I see things listed like:

  • attractive children’s spaces
  • quality coffee, welcome area
  • comfortable and inviting lobby areas
  • quality music
  • engaging stage design
  • practical, upbeat messages
  • parking lot greeters

I am being offered resources for attractive, targeted, direct mailings promising 1-2% response rate.

I just watched a young man make a very good and passionate plea for Christians attending church for the “right reasons.” It was all basically good stuff:

  1. Because Jesus went to temple and the church is His Bride. He values it.
  2. To contribute and serve.
  3. To give your children a faith foundation.
  4. Community – caring for each other and receive care.
  5. Connections – personal and professional networking.

I’m reading a lot and watching a lot of presentations. There is no shortage of materials aimed at helping struggling churches attract people.  That makes sense because the American church is not even keeping up with population growth. The American church is searching for the formula to fill the seats.

Worship, beyond a well-produced musical package, is missing.
I am trying to discover when all-encompassing worship left the equation. When was it that gathering to simply worship God moved from the key reason for believers gathering to not even making the list?

I attended a large church service recently with a few hundred others and though the message was strong and the people welcoming, I was bothered. The band was tight and well-produced and the two large screens gave us the lyrics we needed.. We sang about how we can do anything in Christ, about how much God loves us, about our power in him and we sang about God’s “reckless” love pursuing us and chasing us down.
I sang “boundless” because I can’t assign “reckless” to anything my God does. It was all good in reminding us of our position and standing in Jesus. But, I left feeling like I had worshipped myself rather than my God. Does that make any sense? It was all about me somehow … or, at least, that was my perception. The energy was great and the enthusiasm palpable. It was so good but I still felt like something was missing.

Worship is missing. Worshipping the living God for who he is, worshipping him for his character, his mercy, his love, his justice and his position is missing. It’s been missing in me.

I’ve been going to teach good Truths. I’ve been going to church worrying about who comes and if this person is happy or why that person doesn’t like me anymore. I’ve been going hoping that people will get something out of it and even hoping people find hope in Jesus. I’ve been hoping our children’s program grows and hoping we can see our music team add musicians in key spots. I’ve been putting presentations together and searching for memorable object lessons. But, I haven’t been going to worship.

When worship is my focus not many of the details matter. When worship is my focus I don’t tend to notice who came and who skipped and I don’t leave wondering if my message landed as a 9 or a 3. When worshipping God is my motivation, other things flow out of it naturally.

I want to stand up and say, “hey, if we’re here for something other than worshipping the living God, we’re here for the wrong reason” because that’s true of me. My God saved my life and preserved me not to revive a little church in Westbrook; that is not my primary purpose. He preserved me, saved my life so that I might worship him, give him all and then stand back and see what he brings out of that worship. This privilege I have to shepherd here in Westbrook is not about me at all, it’s an outflow of worshipping my God.

We’ve been fooled into thinking that our evaluations and our opinions are what matters more than anything else. We give our reviews and feedback immediately on Google or Yelp. Waitress too slow? 2Two stars. Meat overcooked a little? Two stars. Temperature in the theater just right and popcorn good? 4 stars. We really believe our personal opinions, preferences, likes and dislikes are the most important thing. We write our blogs, tweet our thoughts and compose our rants on social media fully believing that our “right to be heard” is tantamount.

And then, we bring that mindset into our churches where we evaluate everything, Children’s program? 1 star. Music, 3 stars. Coffee, 1 star. Decor, 1 star. Preaching, 3 stars. People, 4 stars. It goes on and on.  It’s about us. It’s our job and responsibility as reviewers. We are the consumers.

I’ve been doing the same thing. It’s not unimportant to have quality programs. Cleaning is important and comfort is not a bad thing. But worship is to be our primary motivation.

I am not talking about ‘worship music,” if there is such a thing. I am not looking for a 4 star, tight, energetic, get-them-on-their-feet, great lights and sound, “worship experience.” What I long for is a total focus on being in the presence of God to worship him.

I’ve been blessed to worship singing along with a terrible guitar player trying her best. I’ve been blessed to experience powerful, authentic worship inside a large, hot, very uncomfortable big-top, tent. I’ve been moved worshipping with believers with no PA system and no electricity and I have worshipped in a setting with 5,000 others lead by a song-leader who became almost invisible, directing everything to God. I’ve been immersed in worship where the speaker was not polished or funny or energetic. In each circumstance nothing mattered except for gathering to worship the living God.

I’ve gone to our worship gathering for the past two weeks refocused on the immense privilege and mystery of joining with other believers, as the church, to simply worship. It has been good to get back to what matters. I haven’t worried about anything. In fact, I forgot my watch Sunday morning. I don’t know if I finished on time or started on time. But, I do know that I sang my prayers to my God through lyrics that focused on worshipping him. I know that I sang songs reminding me of my position in him as his child. I didn’t really notice much else. And I didn’t worry at all about the teaching time and who would like it or not like it. It was part of worship.

“Worship” is the word we use. But the Greek and Hebrew languages use a bunch of words to describe all the elements of worship: aboda,  latreia, latreuo, latreia, leitourgia,  proskyneo, shachac, gonu, gonupeteo,  histahawa, shachac, proskyneo, homologia, thusia. Somehow we’ve reduced all of it into a 60-90 minute block of time that we attend when nothing better is pulling us away. For many people, it’s reduced even further into just the music portion of that 60-90 minutes. Somehow, worship is now about us and what it does for us. Did we sing songs I like? Was it the right length? Did it move me?

Worship is the response of grateful and humble people to the living God where submission, sacrificial service, praise, profession, testimony and gratitude are freely expressed in innumerable ways. ~ Lee Campbell, PhD

This relationship with God is so much bigger than a Sunday morning event. Worship is saturating, shaping and defining every day. Worship is not about me at all. Worship is my response to an omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient God who holds everything and is worth everything.

Worship is response, praise, sacrifice, obedience, fear, service, adoration. Worship is confession, testimony, study, conforming and bowing. Worship is always.

Sunday mornings are just part of worship. Gatherings of believers is when the supernatural mystery of God’s pleasure, power and presence meld when two or more show up to focus all on him together. He indwells corporate worship for his glory and his purpose.

Worship is not about me at all. And that, in itself, has freed me from so much of the pressure I was carrying.

Why do you go to church? To worship?

worship, why go to church, church problems
Music? Message? Children? Networking? COmmunity?
Posted in Liver disease | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Surviving Quicksand

It’s been said that, “a donkey will sink in quicksand, but a mule won’t.”

Rubbish.

First, why is quicksand not a big deal anymore? When I was a kid, quicksand was in lots of movies, shows and cartoons. I think it could have been one of the leading causes of death. Now, you never see quicksand.

And “the floor is lava” isn’t a thing anymore. Where did that go?

I did some research on quicksand this morning. I’m pretty sure I have Google confused by the variety of my searches. Ads for special quicksand shoes will probably start showing up now. I’m probably listed in a database of nutty people or future Jeopardy contestants. Maybe it’s just one list?

Apparently, things don’t get swallowed by quicksand. It’s something about the Archimedes Principle and FB = ρf Vf g. This Archimedes fella had known about this stuff 2400 years ago. Me? I know boats float but I am not sure why. I’m not sciency.

Anyway, quicksand is just suck mud that animals get stuck in and then die of dehydration and exhaustion trying to get out. You don’t sink unless you struggle.

Ok, I need to remember that. If I get stuck in quicksand it is best to just lay back and relax until I die of dehydration. Got it! No struggling for me.

Life is throwing a lot of suck mud at a bunch of my friends right now. There’s sickness suck mud, aging suck mud, financial suck mud, relationship suck mud, housing suck mud …

We’ve had our share of suck mud too but, right now, we’re just hiking through the forest in a mud-free time. I know there’s more suck mud ahead that we’ll hopefully avoid but it’s part of life in a broken, imperfect world.

The good thing is that we’re not making this hike alone. And, as much as we want to struggle and fight, we need to try our hardest to lay back, float, pray and wait for the rescue that is guaranteed.

“In this world, you will hit suck mud but, hang in there, I’m hiking with you.” It’s kinda what Jesus said in John 16:33. Our faith is the pole laid across the quicksand and we need to hold tight and wait for the puller to pull. I’m waiting for the puller, not dehydration.

We spent about a year hanging onto the pole of our faith across the pit until my transplant happened. But, our faith kept us hydrated and hopeful, for the most part. And then, after the operation, we spent months pulling in recovery from the surgery until we were free to continue our hike.

I don’t know if I’m more like a donkey or a mule. Sometimes I’m definitely more jackass than stubborn. Sometimes I lean toward the stubborn side more. The suck mud doesn’t differentiate. It has the same effect in both.

The key to survival is the pole across the pit. I’m thankful that our faith has been that pole in our lives.

“Ok Google, what is the best way to survive quicksand?”

“Relax. Quicksand usually isn’t more than a couple feet deep…”

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Jesus in John 16:33

Scott Linscott is husband, dad, grandfather, son, brother, uncle, cousin, friend and neighbor who received a living donor liver transplant in May of 2012.

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PTSD/Anxiety Makes No Sense

My anxiety/PTSD is racing. I have no worries, apart from this being Day 10 of the latest antibiotic course fighting the most recent respiratory infection. My life is beyond anything I ever imagined.

So what’s the problem? Well, I did some catching up on some of my liver transplant friends from 2011-2013 this morning and it reminded me that I’m like a poster boy for successful transplant. But, why would that set me off?

Anxiety/PTSD makes no sense to me. I have come to know most of the possible hospital and medical triggers. I’ve been sent into panic attacks by beeping IVs, scrubs and even by a wall-mounted hand sanitizer station. I kind of understand those triggers now and start talking myself down walking up to the doors of any hospital/rehab facility.

But, I don’t understand why my heart is thumping this morning. All I did was check out Facebook pages of others who went through what we went through.

I’ve only had two mildly-significant scares in going on 7 years. Truthfully, “significant” is not even the right word. I’ve never even experienced true, confirmed rejection but only elevated numbers of “possible rejection” and just one biopsy to check. It was negative.

Going through transplant friends’ pages this morning I am seeing ongoing battles, regular infusions, ERCPs placing stents every few months, biopsies, CMV, and a host of complications. Seeing the pictures of people going in and out of hospitals has my heart racing even though it’s not my story at all.

I feel bad because I used to be very involved in support groups for people facing transplant. My hope was to be strong for them. I just couldn’t keep doing it because of all the triggers. Trying to be strong while sitting here counting backwards by threes and controlling my breathing was keeping me stuck.

Maybe I should have just sucked it up, faced my fears, and continued on. Did I just push it deeper in and make it worse? I really don’t know.

So, here I sit, Mr. Poster Boy, with too many amazing blessings to count, totally freaking out about things I’ve never had to face or experience. I am not even afraid I will experience them but still, my heart is racing.

PTSD/Anxiety makes no sense to me at all. So, I’ll just sit here deep breathing, going over God’s promises and giving thanks for my life and all the wonderful things that I have to be thankful for.

Life is good!

Posted in Liver disease | 1 Comment

Shhhh…

“The priority of Jesus’ solitude and silence is everywhere in the Gospels. It’s how he began his ministry. It’s how he made important decisions. It’s how he dealt with troubling emotions like grief. It’s how he dealt with the constant demands of his ministry and cared for his soul. It’s how he taught his disciples. It’s how he prepared for important ministry events. It’s how he prepared for his death on the cross.” – Bill Gaultiere

And yet I wonder why I’ve felt burned out, discouraged, out of balance and fatigued? It’s been almost a year since I’ve practiced the disciplines of silence and solitude.

There’s a pair of red-headed woodpeckers about 20 feet away from me, 5 mallard ducks floating by on a pond of glass, and a lone fisherman in a small boat casting into his mirror image. I can identify the calls of three early-morning birds and am straining to identify two unknown. A pair of loons is making its morning trip into the swampy cove to my right.

“Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10

That will be true with me or without me. How can it be that we get so busy doing God tasks that we lose touch with the Lover of our Souls Himself? How can we become so immersed that we actually lose all sense of presence?

Photographing an event is entirely different than experiencing an event. Doing God tasks is entirely different than sitting with God … alone … quiet … still.

Solitude and silence are the disciplines that deliver strength and drive. Similar to pulling into a gas station, similar to having the oil changed and similar to rotating the tires, it is solitude and silence that give me what I need to continue to answer the call of Christ. Solitude and silence are what He needed to complete the mission He was given.

Thomas Pond

Thomas Pond, Casco, Maine

A loon’s call is saying “amen” or “so be it” as my solitude is interrupted by neighboring cottages releasing their children, screen doors slamming behind them. They will want to greet my dog and ask a million questions.

But that’s okay. We were not called to unending solitude and silence. We were called to love our neighbors.

At least I am finally feeling recharged and motivated to answer that call. I’ve got an invite, or more of a challenge actually, to show off my rock skipping skills.

Ok, kid, prepare to be amazed …

By Scott Linscott

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Close the book? No, thank you.

I’ll cry today. I know it. Some of my tears will be triggered by tears I see on the faces of people I love and others will come at my own sadness of a relationship suspended.

Relationship suspended. I’ve cried at goodbyes before – most of us have. When our best friend takes a job thousands of miles away, we hug and cry, even though our friend is moving to something better. Why? Because we know our relationship is put on pause.

The pain used to be much worse before video calling and group meeting apps came around. When a friend moved thousands of miles away, it used to mean contacts were reduced to toll-calls (calls used to cost more money the further apart the parties were), cards and letters. We knew it meant the closeness of our friendship would fade. We knew our relationship was largely paused until we could eventually reunite and pick up right where we left off regardless of how many years passed.

Today is our official good-bye for my mother. Today is the strange, ceremonial goodbye that we humans have been doing for thousands of years. We’ll all gather as family and friends, sing her favorite hymns and read the Scriptures she held dear, and share some memories. I said my goodbye more than two weeks ago and kissed her on her forehead, but today it will be official.

My baby shower.

We humans need closure. We hold funerals and say words to come to an ending and close the book. We eat little sandwiches and desserts made with love, we look at pictures, we tell stories and then we go home with the book supposedly closed.

Closed. In the past two weeks I have started to dial my mom’s number at least twice. I’ve thought, “I wonder how mom is doing today,” several times. I’ve stopped to snap a picture that I knew Mom would like to see more than once.

I doubt my book will close today. In fact, I know it won’t close. I’m kind of glad for that, even though it means tears of grief. I’m blessed to have these memories … so many memories.

I laugh at the memory of my mother smacking 11-year-old me over the head with a devil dog, cream-filled pastry at York Wild Animal Kingdom. I can see myself standing there with the cream filling melting down the side of my face. I had asked for a devil dog probably a thousand times since leaving our house in Auburn.

I smile at cold winter memories of painting projects on easels and hook-a-rug crafts in our little den. I turn the pages in my Bible and often think, “hey, Mom and I memorized this together.”

Memories of breakfast talks and life lessons from a woman who always had plenty to say no matter what the topic, will not fade.

I have so many memories of broken things that Mom figured out how to fix with tape, glue, bobby pins and duct tape. She had no YOUtube videos to show her what to do. She had Yankee ingenuity that refused to give up. She taught me to PUSH and look for solutions rather than just toss things aside.

Memories of her shushing Dad and I playing in church and memories of teasing her about her very bad singing voice. (She’d tell you the same!) Still, she’d make a joyful noise!

I have memories of me hiding her freshly-made coffee in the cupboard when she turned her back and memories of her swatting me playfully with a, “you’re no good, kid” when she finally found it. She said it to all three of us “no good, rotten kids” but we knew she didn’t believe that for a second. We knew family was her world.

And then, as years passed and time marched forward, I’ll hold onto memories of her first question whenever I’d call, “how are the kids” which then became “how are my babies” when great grandchildren arrived. Our talks always centered on family.

Today, we will officially close the book knowing that our relationship is suspended for awhile. We’ll say our formal goodbyes. But, my book won’t close. I know that at around 7:30 tonight, if my phone rings, I’ll expect it to be my mom calling, “I know you’re busy … fair to middling … how are my babies … this is a toll call so I’ll let you go…” and I’ll smile.

I’m going to keep my Mom book open. I’m going to let the tears come when they want and the laughs too. I had 55 years with an amazing, talented, creative, ingenius, loyal, outspoken, determined, loving, dedicated Mother encouraging me, shaping me, scolding me, coddling me and always supporting me. Why would I even consider closing that book?

Doe, Ray, Me, So, Fa … See, La, See, Doe!

Thank you, Mom. I see you everywhere I turn. You did a good job building a family, Mom. A very, very good job.

“My

son, keep your father’s command and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.

Bind them always on your heart; fasten them around your neck.” Proverbs 6:20-21

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