Love, Basketball, Broncos, Baseball, and Redemption

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Trauma and pain are a team sport.  Through all my bumps and bruises in life I’ve made the mistake of thinking I was alone and that my pain needed to be avoided.  But In order for pain to be healed it must be felt, but not in isolation away from community.  True healing takes teamwork and celebration.  

At 34, I am no stranger to trauma and pain.  My college entrance essay focused on a baseball game I played in the fourth grade.  My team was down to only seven players. For every player below nine, you have an automatic out. I scored on a drop third strike home run. Running the bases in such a crazy way brought on a severe migraine. But I couldn’t leave the game. I spent the next several innings puking my guts out spread out on my back in left field.  I didn’t want to quit because my team would have been forced to forfeit.  I have suffered from abdominal migraines most of my life.  Most of the time when I have been dealing with a migraine episode I tell myself that this won’t last forever and that if I have made it through a migraine once, I can make it through one again.

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I needed that same motivation a little over two-and-a-half years ago when in September of 2015, I nearly died.  I was rushed to the hospital after my left lung attacked me.  It turned out I had Necrotizing Pneumonia.  It took two surgeries, ten days in the hospital to rid my body of the infection, a month at home recovering from the physical damage, and much longer to recover from the emotional damage.

Night after night, cramped up on the hospital bed, time blurred together.  One night after watching Captain America: The Winter Soldier, so drugged out on pain meds, I had a dream that Hydra was after me.  I clearly remember being half awake and a nurse entering the room to check my IV.  I was positive that she was a Hydra agent and that if I moved she would kill me.  When I woke up in the morning, I was still not sure who the Hydra agents were and who were normal civilians.

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That same week as I sat in the hospital, feeling scared, tired of being woken up early, friends kept popping by to remind me that I was not alone.  After my first surgery Mike Davis came up to watch the Broncos play the Chiefs with me.  The game was extremely stressful and when we won on a last second fumble recovery returned for a touchdown all I could do was raise my hands to celebrate.  But celebrate we did.

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Now it has been a little over two-and-a-half years since I spent ten days in the hospital, and I still struggle with how to process all of what happened to me.  Sometimes it feels like I am still under attack as if Hydra were really after me.  Like I am all alone back in that hospital bed.  I think that is how pain and trauma works.  It wants you to make you think you are all alone and under attack.  So we numb it, hoping it goes away.  But the awesome thing is, my pain, as I have spoken about it and decided to feel it, has helped me heal and brought me closer to my community.  

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Back in September, on the second anniversary of the surgery that saved my life,  I decided to take a walk.  As I circled my neighborhood I felt pride at my recovered the strength, but I also felt broken.  I knew without God’s help I would be lost, in pain, and alone.  I started to weep when Lauren Daigle’s song Come Alive (Dry Bones) started playing through my headphones.  I knew I wasn’t the only one broken and in need of healing so I was inspired to started this blog months ago. I keep coming back to it, trying to figure out how to write it, but admitting how alone I have felt through all of this is difficult and takes vulnerability.  So here it goes. 

On one hand I want to focus on how hilarious it was that I thought Hydra was after me, but on the other I want to encapsulate how isolated I felt while in the hospital and afterword while I recovered at home.  But then I wasn’t alone and I know now that God never left me.  He used my nephew Linc, who sent me legos and butter fingers or as he called them, futterbingers.  He used Bailey, my little friend, who invited me to her fourth birthday party before I went to the hospital and prayed and prayed I would be able to go once I was released.  Her party was the day after I left the hospital, so of course I went.

Now, as I type this my scar still aches, my stomach still feels like its half taped down, and deep quick breaths still feel oddly sharp.  Yet, I am healing and I think that this is what this post is about.  We all have pain in our lives, but not everyone heals.  Maybe not everyone has friends who visit them while they are sick or maybe in pain people push their loved ones away.  

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When I first left the hospital, I could hardly walk a block.  My healing took the form of long walks.  God used those walks to tell me he was with me he still loved me and then he gave me April, my wife who I have blogged quite a bit about, but can be summed up in one word; wonderful.  He shattered my false sense of isolation with love.  He brought my family around me and continued to use friends to tell me that I was not alone.  They sent cards, brought food, and laughed with me at the funny little things.  This is how pain is healed; through teamwork and love. 

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This year I saw love and trauma in action on the basketball court.  This might feel like a hard left turn, but it did wonders for my own trauma.  I decided to help coach basketball and it was extremely difficult.  First, I hadn’t played basketball since I was in middle school and worse yet I was a church league bench rider, so it isn’t like I was that good.  Second, I knew way more about Basketball than almost all of the girls on my team.  Third, I signed up to be the head coach and was quickly moved down to assistant because God loves me.

This is not going to be a story about how my team learned how to play together and because of that we started to win games.  No, we piled up losses and it hurt.  The girls were embarrassed and two girls quit the team.  This painful season wasn’t really how I thought coaching would go.  Yet, the girls formed a bond and continued to play their hearts out even when we were losing 92-5.  They did this for the love of the game and for the love of each other.

As the season drug on, and injuries mounted, the girls dug deep.  They did not resort to blaming each other for their losses, no they joked with each other and continued to work on improving their own game.  In their trauma they treated each other with love.  They kept running up and down the court and they never gave up. When the season ended only one word could describe how I felt toward my team.  Proud.  As exhausted as I was, ready to see my wife before 11 each night, I know this was a beautiful experience.  So we celebrated.  This is what is supposed to happen in times of trauma.  People need to be surrounded by love, celebration is a must.

The celebration and the love the team showed for each other helped heal any wounds that the losses may have inflicted.  As their coach, I could not have felt more proud.  So this last week when we were finally able to gather together for our banquet, it was a true victory celebration.  We celebrated a hard fought season that saw us go winless, but also brought us together as we received letter after letter from other schools telling us how hard and respectful we played.  We celebrated because we formed a bond of love in a time of trauma.

My own scars are being redeemed through love.  God is using April to help me heal.  She is my teammate who never gives up even when the loss is imminent.  Without the pain that pneumonia wrought on me, I do not think I would know how to keep fighting when life is difficult.  I might not even be married because I am pretty sure the sight of my scar on our first date is what brought us together.  Yes, I lifted my shirt and showed her my scar on our first date.  Judge me! Maybe she thought I had been attacked by Hydra or maybe she knew I had been through a great deal of pain and she felt for me.  She loved me in my pain and brokenness.  Without her and my friends and family who rallied around me, celebrated with me, I would not know how to love those around me when trauma happens to them and so, my scars are redeemed.

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Lucky Seven and One Month Till Our Not So Hodgepodge Marriage!

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On July seventh I will make an unbreakable vow.  When I proposed back in February the wedding date seemed to be forever away.  Now it is coming up on April and me like a bullet train.  This makes me more excited than anything, but still before we know it our special day will be here and that is a little nerve racking.  Kind of like the massive migraine that knocked into me while I was at work today our wedding is going to come up suddenly, but not unprepared for.

Our wedding is going to be hodgepodge free because July seventh is a special day!

It is not just a special day for April and myself.  Back in February when I proposed, I had July in mind because that would give me a month off from teaching to help plan the wedding and a month after the wedding to recover and I hoped for either the 17 or the seventh so that our anniversary could read: 7/7/17 or 7/17/17.

The numbers seven and 17 are special to me because seven is the number of completion and 7/7/17 just sounds good and then my birthday is on the 17 so obviously it is special to me.  I mean without that date and that number I wouldn’t be here.  Oh and 2/17/17 was when I proposed so I figured making July 17 would be a fun wedding date.  Well, as it turns out July 17 is a Monday so that was a no go.  But then April wasn’t sure she wanted our wedding to be on July seventh.

She was a fan of July sixth for a couple of reasons.  Thursdays are a more affordable options for marriage and neither of us had any desire to blow up our bank accounts for our wedding.  But I was persistent and wouldn’t let go of 7/7/17 and I am so glad that I did not.  Not just because I am a huge Broncos fan and now that we are tying the knot on July seventh I am able to have John Elway‘s number in my wedding, but for an even cooler reason.

Shortly after our engagement April invited me over to her parents house for Dinner.  She had been talking to her mom about potential wedding dates.  I was sure her mom would have an opinion and throw a completely different date into the mix or say something like I think you two should hold off on marriage for another year so that you can save for the wedding.

But she didn’t do that! She said in Spanish that July seventh is a special date in her family as it is her anniversary and the anniversary of her parents.  So with her blessing she asked us to be the third generation in her family to be married on July seventh!

Now that date is a month away and I feel like I have so much to do, so much to learn.  Yet, I have already learned so much.

Planning our wedding I never thought I would learn something so simple yet so important like that my dad doesn’t know how to hodgepodge or mod podge and what the difference is between the two.

I know you’re wondering how this all came up, but I promise you that it came quite simply and rather hilariously.  April and I have been struggling to figure out what to do for our guest book and about a month-and-a-half ago we were eating lunch at her library and I mentioned having our guest book be a photograph of the two of us from our engagement session with Becky Rice.

Somehow April thought I said that we should do a mod podge guest book because my dad knows how to do mod podge.  So when she asked me again what we wanted to do I was confused as to why this item was resurfacing as I had thought the matter was settled.

She asked if we wanted to do a guest book where our guest left a cute note and then said she didn’t like mod podge. I said, “don’t you mean hodgepodge,” and she said, “no, mod podge because you said your dad knows how to do  it.”  Not quite sure what she was talking about I replied, “Um I don’t ever remember bring up hodgepodge.”  This went on for about thirty minutes and broke down into laughter.  It is my believe that she had a dream where I said my dad would do mod podge hodgepodge.  She still claims it was a real conversation but instead of arguing about it we chose to laugh about it and decided to go in a completely different direction for our guest book.  It helped that I guaranteed April that my dad, like me, doesn’t have a clue what mod podge or hodgepodge are at all.  It turns out mod podge is where you glue cut out magazine pictures to a page or something like that and hodge podge is where things are thrown together haphazardly.  So let’s just say hodgepodge has nothing to do with our wedding and neither does mod podge because April is classier than that.

So what I really learned through that is wedding planning is stressful and somethings can be misheard.  It is best to give grace to your loved ones and give each other the ability to laugh when a weird disagreement occurs.

Just as importantly I learned about having a plan that way nothing in the wedding becomes hodgepodge.  We have worked our tails off to have a plan for what we want in our wedding and how we want to pay for our wedding.  Having a plan for your wedding budget is a must.  We are paying for our wedding mostly on our own and because of that I figured we would have to go into debt.  Debt is not okay.  And yet I figured it was something that had to happen.  But, as it stands right now, God is helping us pay for our wedding without going into debt!

I have learned the power of being blessed.  Several friends and family members blessed us with the ability to pay for our catering right by the due date.  I had no idea back in February how I was going to write the check for all the food, but yesterday I was able to place that check in the mail and for that I am grateful.

So I still don’t have a clue what God will do in my life and in my relationship with April over the next month, but I know that I am going to strive to be grateful for all of his blessings and act gracefully at all times.  My hope is that my wedding is not a hodgepodge but a blessing of love to all who come to help celebrate the special day.

I know that when I give God all of my anxieties he will help my wedding come up sevens!

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Peyton versus Eli!

Camping at Stewart LakeFootball season has tarted, school is back in high gear, and I am blogging again!

First, I would like to apologize for abandoning my readers.  I’ve been quite busy for the last couple of months.  I finished all of my masters classes and I’ve now started student teaching at Columbine High School here in Denver.  It is great to be back in the classroom.  I really feel like I am learning lots.

During my time teaching in Guatemala I tried to keep a blog every other week.  Now that I am teaching again, I am going to try to keep that same commitment.  I loved sharing all of my new experiences with my readers while I was in Guatemala and so I hope you all will enjoy reading about my time in the classroom here in Denver.

On my first day of teaching in Guatemala, one of my students, who was part Guatemalan (her dad is from Guatemala and her mom is from Indiana) told me that I looked like Peyton Manning.  At the time I didn’t know that she’d grown up in Indiana, so this comment really caught me off guard.

People have been telling me I look like Peyton Manning since I was in the 7th grade, around the time Peyton was a senior at Tennessee.  Once Eli became a star in the NFL, people started to claim I looked like him instead.

People started to argue.  Families were split, I know how the manning family feels when the two play each other (Which is happening on September 15th, Go Broncos!!), all over this single question: no, not which Manning is the better QB, but who do I look more like, Peyton or Eli?.

And so I thought that my students here in Denver would jump right into this argument.  Who do I look like more, Eli or Peyton?

I didn’t bring it up, not wanting to distract my class, but I was sure that one of the football crazy students would say something.  I mean Peyton is the quarter back of our home town team.  But it took two weeks for any kids to bring anything up.

Midway through last week a girl in my freshmen class raised her hand and said, “Mr. Scott, has anyone every told you that you look like Peyton Manning?”  I think she was hoping she would’ve been the first to have this thought.  Like any good teacher, I shattered her dreams.  “Yes,” I replied seriously, “we’re related.”

Sadly, I am not related to the Manning, and no I didn’t actually tell her that I was related to him, but I wish I could’ve.  I wish I actually was, because then I might not be only five feet eight inches tall.  Oh well!  I’ll just live to accept being a stunt double for either Peyton or Eli.  I’m just sad that they didn’t ask me to be in their F.O.Y.P. commercial.

So who do you all think I look like?  Peyton or Eli?

Peyton, Eli, and Brendan

The First 101 Days Of The Year

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I can’t believe that it’s already April.  Last year for the first 100 days of the year my mom and I did burppies every day.  It was a great challenge, one I decided not to repeat.  I decided to take on a different challenge this year.  Go to the gym every day for at least the first 100 days.

Well, I made it through the first 103 days of the year without missing, and technically I’ve gone 104 days in a row as I went to the gym on New Years Eve.

Going to the gym came easy, its what happened when I wasn’t at the gym that has been a different type of challenge.

The first 30 days flew by.  Other than making it to the gym on January first, when I felt too tired to do anything, it wasn’t  difficult to make it to the gym every.

Even though I thought making it a week straight would be the real challenge, as 6 days in a row was my previous top, but I set my mind to it  and January turned into February.   But as you may have read, my year came crashing to a halt on day 45.  If you do the math. you’ll know this was Valentine’s Day, the day my Pathfinder died.

But this didn’t stop me from going to the gym.  Still in shock from the accident, I made my way to the gym late on the night of the 14th.

Two days later, when I was preparing my house for my birthday party, I nearly ran out of time to go to the gym, but while the pork was marinading and the rice was cooking, I dashed off to the gym and did a quick 100 sit ups (my goal was to go to the gym every day, not have an extreme workout every day, and every little bit counts).

After those hiccups, it didn’t seem like anything could stop me.

Well, not a huge blizzard that canceled worship at The Neighborhood Church on March 3rd, day number 62 of the year.

Then the gym closed.  But did that stop me?  No, I didn’t let 24 hour fitness’s decision to remodel their Kipling location hinder my workouts.  From the 8th of March to the 13th I drove to the other 24’s in my area.  I thought about taking that time off, but since I’d made it when my car was wrecked and when I had hardly any time, I couldn’t let the inconvenience of having to drive 15 minutes stop me.

Heck when I lived in Guatemala I used to walk 45 minutes to get to the gym.  I guess that’s how I managed to make it all the way to 100 days in a row without missing a workout.

On the way to 100 Days I bought a car to replace my wrecked Pathfinder.  My car insurance really helped me recover from that wreck.  And then just as I passed 100 straight days at the gym, on day 101, my new car died on me.  It’s not fixable either.  That Thursday night, frustrated about my car problems, I found myself at the gym.  I didn’t want to be anywhere else.

Well, maybe in Guatemala where I didn’t need a car.  But I couldn’t go to the gym everyday there, as my gym in Xela was always closed on Saturdays.   But something I could do in Guatemala, and I’ve continued to do every day here in Colorado is read my Bible and trust in God.  This is something I’ve tried to do every day for the last 8 years.

And that part of my day, the time in prayer and the Bible, is what really helped me make it through the first 101 days of the year.

Spending time with God every day made going to the gym easy.  If my eyes are focused on him, my true prize, running, biking, and lifting will come easy.  The hard part is trusting God when everything seems out of control.  Like when my car died.

But here is what I read out of the Jesus Calling that night after going to the gym to burn off my frustration over the loss of another car, “This is the day that I have made.  Rejoice and be glad in it.  Begin the day with open hands of faith, ready to receive all that I am pouring into this brief portion of your life.  Be careful not to complain about anything, even the weather (or cars in my circumstance), since I am the Author of your circumstances.  The best way to handle unwanted situations is to thank Me for them.  This act of faith frees you from resentment and frees Me to work My ways into the situation, so that good emerges from it.  

To find Joy in this day, you must live within its boundaries.  I knew what I was doing when I divided time into twenty-four hour segments.  I understand human frailty, and I know that you can bear the weight of only one day at a time.  Do not worry about tomorrow or get stuck in the past.  There is abundant Life in My Presence today.

Going to the gym helps me feel good.  I like how I feel right now after setting aside time to be active each day, but spending time with God, reading his word, and praying to him, gives me true hope for a future filled with Joy, because he is in control.

He will redeem this day and he just might do it while I’m at the gym.

March Madness: How To Be A Winner

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I know all of my faithful readers have been wondering why I haven’t been posting?  Don’t you know that March Madness has taken over my life?

The games have started.  My bracket has been filled out.  And by the end of today my predictions will have amounted to a pile of slop.  I have Indiana winning it all in one of my brackets and my very own University of Colorado winning it in another. Both will probably be wrong.

But the tournament isn’t what has really been keeping me busy.

My March has been a little maddening, no not because of all the Harlem Shake videos out there, but because of school.  On March first I thought I had my positioning set for student teaching, only to have it fall through.

I have been in and out of so manny classes this month for school, I’ve gone a little mad.  From watching kids read Dr Seuss to teaching vocabulary and writing lessons, I’ve been busy!

By the second week in March I was scrambling to find a new car.  I bought a Nissan Sentra.  It has a squeak in it that is driving me mad, but I think it will turn out better than my basketball brackets.

And through all of this madness, (are you going mad because of my over use of the word mad?) I’ve started each morning doing the same thing.

For Lent I decided to spend each morning reading a devotional.  I’ve quoted the Jesus Calling devotional a couple of times, and I really think it’s helped me stay sane.  Yesterday I read this,” Thank Me for the glorious gift of My Spirit.  This is like priming the pump of a well.  As you bring Me the sacrifice of thanksgiving, regardless of your feelings, My Spirit is able to work more freely within you.  This produces more thankfulness and more freedom, until you are overflowing with gratitude.  I shower blessings on you daily, but sometimes you don’t perceive them.  When your mind is stuck on a negative focus, you see neither Me nor My gifts.  In faith, thank Me for whatever is preoccupying your mind.  This will clear the blockage so that you can find Me.

Through all of these maddening events in my life this March, God has assured me that he loves me and is in control.  I know I have a lot going on in my life right now, but I wouldn’t stop reading my bible and doing this daily devotional just to have some more time to relax.  I need to have this in my life so I can rest in God’s hands.  He is reminding me daily that he is in control.

Yeah, March is a maddening month, but we can be thankful for that, because when all seems mad, we can remember that God is in control.  So take time each day to look for God’s blessings, and know that God has his hand on us.  He is in control and will set our adventures down a path leading to him.  So take the time to thank God for all He has given you, because if you do so, your life will be a grand adventure and you will become a winner.  Maybe not with your bracket, but in life, and that’s what counts.