My ‘Life’ Story, from Genesis to Joy

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First grandbaby! Blessed indeed. Ah, I’m the old guy in the middle by the way.


I tell people I grew up on Sanibel Island, Florida. That’s not true. But there is a truth in that statement that I want to share.

Literally, I was born in the Washington, D.C. area, and then, as a youth, I lived in Maryland, Hawaii, and Taiwan. After high school in Maryland, I fled the D.C. area for California to fulfill my passion for the “west” of Louis L’Amour and Zane Grey. After two years of surfing and skiing, and way too much merriment—let’s not define that, use your imagination—I fled Southern California for “wild” Oregon. There, river rafting, mountain hiking, and trout fishing became my “wild.”

I took school seriously and graduated with a degree in English. It’s hard to find work with an English degree. Yet, here I am today teaching English, decades later, after enjoying other careers. After completing university., I found work with a photography company, then served with the U.S. Forest Service, working in fire management for two years and spending a summer living on a fire lookout tower. I was still travelling in mind and spirit.

A desire to change the world—as a journalist

My mind told me to travel back to grad school and get a credible degree. I choose journalism during those wild days of what was then the new, literary journalism of Tom Wolfe, Hunter Thompson, Joan Didion, Truman Capote, Norman Mailer, and so many others. Watergate had been only a few years prior. Ethical journalists then, and now, make a difference—and there’s a lot of them out there, please believe me.

After I finished school, I travelled again. About 3,000 miles away from the little farm we’d bought in Oregon, I crossed a causeway and bridge to one of the most beautiful places I’d ever seen: Sanibel Island, Florida. I didn’t pray much in those days. But I’m sure I begged some kind of “greater being” that the editor with whom I had a job interview would immediately offer me a job in a job this tropical paradise. 

She did, eventually. And thus, at 27, I began a passionate career in journalism, edging a bit into a workaholic phase. I had moderate success, met amazing people, and had too much fun—if that is possible—during a 23 year career.

A life-changing event

During the later days of that period, I accidentally discovered God as I tried desperately to show my young daughter, Willow, that there must be a better way in life. You can read more about that in the introduction to my book, The Jesus Workout. [Willow and I were baptized together in the Gulf of Mexico in 1998.]

So, I was—figuratively—born and grew up on Sanibel. God knew me from the womb and patiently waited for me to gain some sense of maturity and a more open heart. 

Sent to Ethiopia

Then, when God felt I was ready, he sent me off to Ethiopia in January 2006 to serve in a missionary compound—similar to the one in The Hyena Man. The name of the missionary agency is Project Mercy, and they are still doing amazing work in the rural Gurage Mountains that hunker over Ethiopia’s Rift Valley.

I served in various capacities in Ethiopia through 2018 and then moved to serve children in Vietnam.

For more about our continuing service, please see our ministry website.

The Joy Quest

I’m passionate about finding joy and helping others do the same. I do this through coaching and by blogging at . I research and write about brain health and right thinking, the blog’s primary focus. But brain health often includes fun and interesting topics such as exercise, sleep, travel, nutrition, stress-free money management, community—and of course the importance of a spiritual life.

To read more about finding joy, please click to visit this website.

I hope and pray that you readers find something worthwhile on this site, and in my writings, that will lift you up with love and encouragement, and give you hope for a better life now, and for eternity.

May God bless you all.

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Please consider helping Ethiopia’s widows and orphans (James 1:27)

Our specific passion is our ministry at … We welcome you to explore this one way to help others.

Our primary focus today is a food program for an urban slum school in Addis Ababa. Here is the direct link to information about that school.

If you’d like to help us empower children in Ethiopia, you may do so through our mission sending agency via the link below:

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Scott Douglas Martell is a writer, teacher and coach. His most recent novel is The Hyena Man, an African romantic suspense. His blogs often focus on Ethiopia and Vietnam, world traveling, and counseling for a more joyful life, with topics such as brain health and spiritual awareness.

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