My 29th Birthday Adventure!

A Birthday Sunset

Everyone dies, but not everyone truly lives, or at least so said William Wallace.  Three different times, in the days leading up to my birthday, or on my birthday itself, I’ve almost died.  On the day I was born the doctors weren’t sure if I would make it.  I was premature and my lungs weren’t completely developed and so I spent the next 13 days in an incubator.

26 years later, on my 26th birthday I was walking home from the gym and got hit by a car.  I walked away without a scratch.

And then this year.  Three days before my birthday, on Valentine’s Day I hit a patch of ice and totaled my car.  Again, I walked away without a scratch.

Have I really lived?  My 29th birthday felt like a blessing and the best thing to do with a blessing is to give it away.  I invited all the people that have made my life special over for a Hobbit inspired party.  Hobbits celebrate their birthdays differently, instead of receiving gifts they give gifts on their birthdays.

Tacos Al Pastor

I decided to give the gift of fellowship and thanks on my birthday.  For my party I grilled up a delicious pork taco and a Cuban rice dish.  Tacos Al Pastor (the pork tacos) has become one of my favorite dishes, but the Cuban rice dish was a new addition.  Both were hits.  I really enjoyed spending the day in the kitchen so that I could prepare a meal for my friends and family.

The Dish

If really living means telling my friends that you’re thankful for the part they play in my life, then I want to do that more often.

Telling friends how much they mean to you is a true adventure.  It is so much easier to stay quiet.  What if you open your hear to them, and then they hurt you?  Risks always a part of an adventure.

It doesn’t matter if my friends liked the food I cooked (I think they did, because hardly any was left at the end of the night), what matters is that I got to share a part of me with them.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I’m thankful that I have friends to spend my life with.  The dinner was a blast, but my celebration didn’t stop there.  I spent the rest of my birthday with friends in the mountains.  I spent some time with an amazing couple and then played board games with some friends from high school.

Larry and Linda!

Then my parents took me up to Vail to go snowshoeing.  I hadn’t hiked East Lake Creek in five years and I think the three of us really had an amazing time traipsing through the fresh powder.

East Lake Creek

East Lake Snow Shoe

Turning 29 was an adventure, but it’s not over yet.  I’m excited to see what God has in store for me as I close out my 20’s this year.  I hope I truly live this year.

Thank you to everyone who  made this Birthday a great one!!

Snow On The Mountain

10 Things I Will Do In 2013

2012 was a banner year for me.  I did some things I said I wouldn’t do (Against my will I used American Airlines), but I also did a lot of things I wanted to do.  In August I kick started my masters program at Regis University. I’m now well on my way to holding a masters degree in teaching.  While restarting school made my year feel busy, I was able to have a lot of fun in 2012.  So much so, that I have a few adventures that I want to repeat.

The Ride To Pine

1. I will Bike to Pine, Colorado! On October 12, 2012, I rode my bike mountain bike up the Colorado trail from Waterton Canyon to Pine Colorado.  After months of training the ride was almost ruined by a violent flat tire, which exploded on me, bending my wheel and shooting me like a cannon ball into the air.  With a new wheel and better tires I pedaled my way through the rain to end of the trek, just in time to see a bull elk boss around his harem.  Interested in doing this ride?  Join me this summer and we can make the trek together.

Bull Elk

2.  I will visit Guatemala! Last March I spent a week in Guatemala helping lead the Spiritual Emphasis retreat for my old school.  Sharing Christ’s love with my former students was the highlight of my year.  I don’t know when I’ll fly back down to my second favorite country, but there are several people who want me to be there for their graduation.

3.  I will continue to live my life like a Hobbit!  Okay, I’ll wear shoes, but Hobbits tend to live with a unique sense of excitement and hope ; they never give up.   I don’t know what is in store for me this year, but I want to be like the Hobbit, Sam, who doesn’t lose hope when he is facing mount doom and sure death!  You’re right, if you guessed that I’m already excited for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug to come out later this year, but I want to live with excitement and hope in all things in my life.

4.  I will run another half-marathon!  I plan on running the Pikes Peak  Half Marathon this year with a couple guys from my small group.  Running halves has taught me a lot about life.  To run a half you need to know how to be committed.  Training takes months and once you start the race, if you want to finish, you’ve got to know how to keep the feet moving.  I know that running up to the top of Pikes Peak will be hard, but it will make a great adventure.

The Cook Book

5.  I will continue to learn how to cook!  On New Years Eve I baked my first cake, an oatmeal brown sugar cake that turned out very sweet.  I also learned how to make the marinade for my family’s Christmas dinner.  We had Tacos al Pastor.  The pork meat turned out so tender my sister thought it was Chicken!  I want to try to cook a meal for my family at least once a month, so send me some recipes.

6.  I will finish my short story!  I have been working on this particular story for a little over a year and a half.  I want to submit it for publishing by next September.  Keep me accountable, so that I keep writing.

7.  I will finish my masters in teaching!  The masters in teaching program at Regis Jesuit University has really been a great challenge.  I’ve been learning a lot, and even though I’d rather be teaching the information, than writing papers on it, I’m excited to complete my education.  This time next year I’ll be looking for jobs!

The Colorado Trail

8.  I will continue to study Spanish!  Acquiring a second language has slowed down over the last two years, especially since I started back to school.  I’ve been listening to Spanish music and trying to start up conversations in Spanish (This is the hardest part).  This means I need to actively look for people to speak Spanish with, let me know if you know anyone.

9.  I will spend more than a month without sugar!  Last year I spent July and a little bit of August without sugar.  I was amazed by how much better I felt when I subtracted sugar from my life.  I was going to live 2013 without sugar, but I still have leftover cake and so I’ll have to eat that first.

10.  I will continue to live spiritually! In 2012 I challenged myself and all the people in my life to look for God in all aspects of our lives.  My goal, to engage with life and God every day, meant I continued to read my bible each day.  Daily, I started looking for things I was thankful for, things I found joy in, and blessings I felt God let me be a part of.  Last year was a true adventure and I am looking forward to engaging with all that God has for me this year.

A Storms Coming

Christmas Music: 12 Days of Horrible Christmas Music

Joy of Christmas

What’s the worst Christmas song? The one you dread hearing every Christmas season?

Well, On the first day of Christmas my true love . . .

I don’t think I need to say any more. Maybe it’s cause I’ve never had a true love or maybe it’s because most Christmas music is just so old and over done, I’ve always hated Christmas music. I’m the complete opposite of my sisters, who could start listening to the stuff on December 26th. I just find it repetitive and, well, a little cheesy.

I do love Christmas, so don’t judge me a Grinch!

Typically I spend Christmas season as far away from the radio as possible. When I shop (something I’m not big on either) I try to rush in and out, just to avoid the bad music and the crowds. I know I’m not alone.

But, please don’t call me Scrooge just yet!

Christmas music typically grinds on my ear drums because it seems so sappy. Christmas is about so much more than Santa and Rudolf. It’s not about finding love under the mistletoe. (Who wants to kiss under a parasitic plant?)

Christmas is about giving love, being patient, and spending time with the family. Christmas is a joyful time. It’s about Jesus. How he came to live with us. He is a reason for hope and joy. So, it bugs me when the real reason for the season is trivialized.

Which seems to happen every December. All of a sudden the radios start playing Bing Crosby, and asking me to buy the right gift so I will feel happy. And before I know it, a season meant for joy has gotten me down. Johnny Marks and Bing Crosby’s songs just don’t speak to me. One’s too somber and the just rubs me the wrong way.

However, as hypocritical as it may sound, I love Christmas movies. Maybe it’s because they aren’t all up in your ears all the time, being super obnoxious. Singing things like “Have a Holly, Jolly, Christmas,” or “I’ll Be Home For Christmas.”

Don’t get me wrong, I love Rudolph, and one of my favorite Christmas memories is singing “Run, run, Rudolph” into the long telephone cord (it was my makeshift microphone), but Christmas isn’t a time to be somber, no matter what’s hapend during the year. It’s a time for real joy and so most Christmas music has always got me irked.

So, I typically get into the Christmas spirit by watching classic Christmas movies or drinking gallons of eggnog.

Until this year.

Just as Scrooge changed. Just as the Grinch’s heart grew. I underwent a transformation.

On December 4th I started liking . . . no, loving . . . Christmas Music. I’m not sure what happened, but I’ve been listening to it non-stop for over a week.

Maybe, like Scrooge and the Grinch my heart just needed a little push to grow.

My push was bluegrass Christmas Music. I’ll be honest, I still can’t take the Bing Crosby stuff, but the Pandora bluegrass Christmas station has really set me in a joyful mood for Christmas.

No, that does not mean love and romance, but peace and giving. Spending time with my family. Not worrying about how much I spend on presents, but who I am spending my presence with.

The bluegrass music I’ve been listening to isn’t shy about Christ being the reason for our celebrations. Maybe that’s the difference. Each song seems to bring the sounds of true joy, and I’ve needed that.

Here are a few of the Christmas Albums I’ve fallen in love with over the last week, enjoy:

WindHam HIll: Holliday Guitar Collection

Windham Hill

Christmas Grass: A Celebration of Christmas, Bluegrass Style

Christmas Grass

Christmas Grass 2

Christmas Grass 2

Winter’s Solstice III

Winter's Solstice III

Christmas by Mannheim Steamroller

Christmas

Christmas In The Smoky Mountains

Smoky Mountain Christmas

David Grisman’s Acoustic Christmas

Acoustic Christmas

Putumayo Presents – A Jazz & Blues Christmas

A Jazz & Blues Christmas

And so as the standard bluegrass Christmas song says, “Christmas Time’s A Comin'” and I am loving every moment of it, including the joyous sounds!

The Hobbit: A Second Breakfast Adventure

I would never have made for a good Hobbit, other than the fact I can’t grow much facial hair and I don’t like wearing shoes and would love to live in a hole in the ground.  Anyway, I am not round in the belly, at least not any more, and I love to go on adventures.  Adventures are very un-hobbit-esque.

It’s funny though, I love adventures because of The Hobbit.

I read The Hobbit for the first time back in middle school.  The dark, but funny tale captured me.  I wanted to follow the path through Mirkwood, ride the barrels to the edge of the Lonely Mountain, and find myself in the battle against Smaug.

I wanted to go on an Adventure.

I’ve longed for Gandalf to show up at my house and throw me into a grand story.  Yeah, it would mess up my life, and when I would return I wouldn’t be the same.  But a life well lived is a life where you embrace change, even if it is a little scary.

Unfortunately, I’ve never seen Gandalf’s fireworks, and he’s never marked my door with an invitation for a party of dwarves.

But not all adventures start like that.  Some start by opening a book.  Today, that book, The Hobbit, turned 75.  I hope you go out and read it and let it challenge you to live adventurously.  Who knows you might end up in a third world country.

Today, to celebrate the book, I joined the worldwide Second Breakfast Celebration.  I really didn’t do too much, besides watch The Hobbit trailer a billion times and post a bunch about The Hobbit on my Facebook page and listen to the LOTR soundtrack today.  Other than that I just ate my first breakfast at 6:30 and then made myself an omelet (which was the true adventure for the day, I’m not really a chef, but I cut my own onions and diced some peppers, threw them into the frying pan with some eggs) at 11 for elevensies, or as it’s known better, second breakfast and started reading The Hobbit for the first time in four years.

You might have missed out on the celebration today, but I challenge you to pick up the book and join the adventure.  Heck, you can have second breakfast tomorrow when you celebrate Hobbit Day (tomorrow happens to be Bilbo and Frodo’s birthday, but you might not know them yet, so read up cause they’ed love to have you at their party).  But be careful you might end up in Middle Earth.

Are You Broken?

God made me into a masterpiece.  And yet, like the broken volcanic rock I’m standing on in this picture, I’m a broken masterpiece.

I’m a broken masterpiece who’s enamored with a kids movie.  When Hugo came out before Christmas I was blown away by its beauty, but as I’ve watched it again and again, I’ve seen the true elements of God’s grace and redemption weave their way through the story.

In the movie, Hugo Cabret, the main character, loves fixing things.  As the story progresses he realizes that everyone around him is broken. Just as Hugo realized that the people around him were inventions who needed fixed, I realized that fact is true to life.  We are all creations who have been broken.

I’ve been writing a lot about my recent mission trip to Guatemala.  During the first part of March 2012 I led a small team down to Xela (Quetzaltenango), Guatemala to help out with a vacation Bible school program and a high school and middle school retreat.

Now, if you have been following my blog you know that the week was quite an adventure.  You also know that you are God’s masterpiece.  You know that God created you for a reason.

But what happens when you mess up.  When you feel broken. Does God just toss us away?  Can we mess up so bad that even God wont take us back?

During the retreat, once we’d made it down to hotter than hell Reu, Guatemala, I asked my students if they knew what the word redemption meant.  We were packed into a small dining hall for games, worship, and a message.  Going along with the theme of creation I asked three boys to create something with Hot Tamales.  First they had to chew them up and then build something artistic.

The game failed.  I’m pretty sure all of the students were bored during the game, which wasn’t how I pictured it.  I’m glad it was just a game.  But then, somehow the games failure fit into my talk.  How often do our lives not go as planned.  If we are inventions we sure tend to break down a lot, and sometimes it’s our own fault.

In my last blog I talked about how God chose a little shepherd to be king of Israel.  David was the smallest in his family, but he had something God desired.  An open heart.  But let me tell you the rest of David’s story.  If he was a man after God’s own heart, he was also horribly broken.  Once David becomes king he stops following God’s plan for him.

If I think I’ve messed up, well at least I haven’t skipped out on God’s job for me so that I could commit adultery.  David did that.  But wait, there’s more.  David finds out he knocked up the woman he slept with, and wait, she’s married.  So, after he tries to pin the baby on her husband, which fails miserably, (as is what happens most of the time when we try to hide our mistakes) David has the man killed.  So, David has gone from a man after God’s own heart, to an adulterer, to a murderer.  I am sure when he woke up the morning before all this happened, he didn’t write on his to do list, sleep with a married woman and then kill her husband.

No.  We never plan on making mistakes.  As I shared this story of David with my students, I wanted them to realize that even great biblical figures mess up. If someone in the Bible screws up royally, then what does that mean for us normal folk?

And so I opened my Bible and shared with them how David responded to  God.  Yes, at first David hid from God, tried to cover up all his wrong doing, but then he does something us normal folk should do.  He admits his wrongs and asks God to redeem him.  In Psalm 51 verse 1-12 David writes:

1 Have mercy on me, O God,

The Cost of Redemption

according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.

3 For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.
4 Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict
and justified when you judge.
5 Surely I was sinful at birth,
sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
6 Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;
you taught me wisdom in that secret place.

7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
8 Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
9 Hide your face from my sins
and blot out all my iniquity.

10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

David was a broken invention.  God set him on a path to be king of Israel and David messes things up.  We are God’s masterpieces, but if you are like me you have messed up.  The first step to redemption is admitting to God how you messed up.

I have found that when I am open with my faults God tends to redeem them. Redemption doesn’t mean erasing all that we did wrong, but fixing what is broken.  Like David said, create in me a pure heart and renew a steadfast spirit within me.  He didn’t say take this all away as if it never happened, he asked for God to fix him.

That is exactly what God did on Easter through Jesus.  He sent Jesus to fix us.  But that can only happen if we admit that we’re broken and need someone to repair us.  If we do, our story will be as meaningful as Hugo’s, probably even more so.  Because when we are living out God’s plan for us our stories turn into grand adventures.

As I finished giving my message I prayed that each of the students would keep their heart open to God and know that, no matter what they’d done or will do, they could never separate themselves from God.

I hope you know that too.  That this Easter is a time to celebrate redemption.  I urge you to join me, and my dad, Eugene Scott, in Living Spiritually.  We have set this year and hopefully our lives to keeping our eyes and our hearts open to God.  It has been an adventure so far and it would be amazing if you joined us.

You Are God’s Masterpiece

Have you ever thought of God as an inventor?  Just think, he created Xela, this beautiful city.  But have you ever thought that you are an invention, created for a purpose?

If you’ve been following my blog, you know that I took a team down to Guatemala to lead The Inter-American School’s Spiritual Emphasis Week.  Our theme for the week was The Inventors Workshop, an idea I got from the movie Hugo.  I asked them to look at their lives as if they were invented with a purpose.

During the all school chapel on Tuesday morning I asked the students help me make the greatest invention ever.  We decided we needed some volunteers, so I called up the smartest kid in school, Skyy.  Then I called up the tallest, Oscar.  Followed by the strongest, How.  And then for good measure I picked a random boy out from the crowd, little Quike (pronounced key kay) from second grade.

Surprisingly enough, Oscar was too tall, How was too strong, and Skyy was too smart.  Quike was just perfect for my experiment.  If you don’t understand why I went with the smallest boy, maybe you should read a story from the Old Testament where David, a young Shepard at the time, is chosen by God to be the future king of Israel.  He isn’t big and strong like his brothers, but he has something God desires.

And so Quike let me use him to create the perfect invention.  First, we decided, he had to be wearing a hat, cause hats are cool, so I grabbed a hat from the audience and placed it on his head.  Then, what boy would be complete without sunglasses?  But I wanted him to be even cooler so I broke out my ski goggles and plopped them on his head.  My perfect invention was almost complete.  What kid is complete without an iPod and headphones?  I shoved my headphones on his little head and turned up the music.  He was complete.

Only one problem.  He couldn’t hear his inventor.  I tried several times to make him walk across the stage, but alas, the music was too loud.

So what did David have that God desired?  An open heart.  We cannot respond to our inventor if our hearts are closed.  Like Quike, who couldn’t hear me because of the music, we often drown out God with noise.  How often do we have our iPods on and miss out on what God has for us?

So, I challenged my students to open their hearts to what God had for them that week.  I asked them to unplug from anything that could distract them from God.  ‘Cause if their hearts were to remain closed, they would never know their purpose.

And what kind of leader would I be if I challenged them and didn’t give them an example of what an open heart looks like.

When I first started teaching at IAS, almost four years ago now, I was nervous.  If you go back and read some of my first blog posts you’ll see I was lonely, and not a good writer.  I was not alone.  Because I kept my heart open to all God had for me in Guatemala, he provided me with friends and amazing experiences.  Over the three years the students at IAS invited me into their lives and by doing so we created memories and built relationships.  If I’d had my heart closed off to them God wouldn’t have been refine me, his invention.

I believe God has created us as his masterpiece.  We are his most complex invention.  I challenged them to look at a series of photographs with an open heart.  You might not know anyone from the following slide show, but I want you, my readers to keep your hearts open as well.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Here is what I see when I look at these pictures.  I see a kid I tutored, the same kid I convinced that the Rockies were the best team in Baseball.  I see a class that showed me how much fun teaching can be, they also showed me how frustrating it can be as well.  I see kids that love to play zombie tag.  I see friends who God has a special plan for.  When I look through this slide show I see God’s masterpieces.

If you were to add your own picture to that slide show, I hope you would see that you are God’s masterpiece, his greatest invention, and that he has a purpose for you.  You are not, as Hugo says, “spare parts.”

Join me and my dad, Eugene Scott, in living spiritually.  We are 88 days into the new year and I have already seen God do so much.  Join us on this adventure!