Friday, August 29, 2008

Men's Retreat (Week late post)

I know I only have female readers (or at least, no guys ever post comments - other than myself, of course). But, a blessing is a blessing, and perhaps the female readers would be interested in hearing how Men's Retreat was this weekend? I'll take your silence as a "yes." [EDIT: I wanted to post this the very next day (Monday), but for some reason it's taking me all week to type a little at a time for this post! - probably doesn't help that I'm going into a lot of detail....loooong post!]

The theme for the retreat was "Obtaining Integrity Amidst Our Sin".

Since I think in chronological terms, let me break it down that way....

Steve and I were driving up together, so Wendy dropped me off at work so she could have the car for the weekend. Steve picked me up around 5:30 and we got some BK for din-din on the way up the mountain. Check-in time was 5-7, and we arrived at 7:05; so we were probably the last people to check in. We barely had time to throw our stuff in our room and get down to the campfire circle as worship was starting at 7:15...and Steve and I were to start speaking at 7:45!!

Oh, background on that for those who don't know....Last year at retreat (obviously our first with Vanguard) Steve and I shared some personal struggles, etc. (I'm being intentionally vague) at a group session that radically changed us for this past year. A month or two before retreat, the men's ministry leader, Scott, asked us if we would speak at the opening session. Apparently, all of the church leadership were really impressed and moved by our sharing last year and felt we would be a good kick-off for this year's retreat! I had no idea.

So, back to our timeline....Steve and I hadn't really felt like we had time to decompress from work, but we stepped away briefly before as worship was starting and prayed together, asking God to speak to the men's hearts, since we didn't feel like our words were much. So, we shared, and then another surprise: Scott asked all the men to surround us, lay on hands, and pray over us. It was pretty incredible.

All of that wrapped up by 8:45, and then everyone headed over to a gym for Rec time! There were two options: Basketball or Dodgeball. On the first Monday night of each month, the men's ministry has a BYOM (Bring Your Own Meat) where we grill up dinner and then do something fun. Often that has included dodgeball...which has been tremendous fun....and exhausting! When you get 20-40 men (half on each side) with 15-20 balls going nuts trying to bean everybody, it's chaotic and a lot of fun. We did that for 2.5 hours!

Needless to say, we were all very tired and sore the next morning. I didin't get to sleep until a little after 1 am, but still got myself up at 6:00 so I could have a nice devotion time watching the sun rise before 7:00 am breakfast. The morning plan was to have the 60-70 men break up into 3 groups and rotate to the three different break-out sessions. All three were very impacting and meaningful. (I'd go so far as to say better than last year's sessions)

Lunch was some half-decent tacos. Then after lunch....more Rec time! The plan was to choose Volleyball or Ultimate Frisbee. I chose volleyball (like I did last year), and I don't think the Ultimate Frisbee happened, because I thought I noticed guys playing horseshoes and kickball instead....not sure, I was pretty focused. I think volleyball is a sport that I apparently really enjoy, and wouldn't mind doing more regularly. (And I'm pretty decent at it too!)

Rec time was supposed to be 1:30 - 5:00, but at 3:00ish we got sent indoors by high winds and rain! At the tail-end of our volleyball session, we noticed funnel clouds forming, and later found out that tornadoes had been spotted in the area! So a lot of guys opted for naps or other such relaxing. I did a little reading, some crosswords, and my pushups. I was 100% convinced I wasn't going to be able to complete my set for the day since I was reeeeeally sore from dodgeball and volleyball and lack of sleep. Somehow, I forced myself to do it. (I also took longer breaks in between each set) I was pretty fried at the end though; for some reason I seem to be really insistent on pushing my body past it's limits with this pushup program....Wendy can attest to the times I've groaned and screamed and collapsed at some of my sessions. I've even had to take advil the next morning on a couple occasions when my muscles/joints hurt so much. But I digress.......

Dinner was some mediorcre meat (pot roast and pork)....I don't think I ate much. Then more worship and sharing around the campfire. We wrapped up around 10pm, and many guys opted to hang out, talk, play games, etc. But I opted to read a little bit and hit the sack early (If you can call 11pm early).

Sunday I got up early again for Devos....after breakfast we had our "God Stroll" time. I took off, and headed for the hills. I had a nice little hike, and made sure I was not with in visual/audible range of anyone. Good time, but when I got back to the lodge for our communion was deserted! No one at the lodge, no one at the campfire circle, no one in the dining area.....fortunately a camp staff person pointed me in the right direction. I was a little late getting back I guess, and the group had gone to a little outdoor chapel area in a part of the camp I hadn't been to yet.

They had already started when I got there. The tradition for Sunday morning communion at men's retreat is to take a piece of bread and "shot" of wine to someone and share something with them about how they impacted you this weekend, or some other sort of encouragement. Apparently, a couple people had been looking for me (since I was late) and I got approached by four guys in a row! So that was neat. Then I had time to grab some bread and wine, and go share with a couple guys too.

After that, a little prayer, a couple announcements then: go home! It was kinda cool being done early. Steve and I loaded up and left around 11:00. Originally, Steve was just going to drop me off at home, but I realized that Kelly (our pastor) would just be starting his sermon around 11:45, so I had him drop me off at church. Wendy was surprised when I sat next to her about half way through his sermon. It was cool, because even though I felt a bit drained from the weekend, I still was able to plug into the worship time after the sermon and really enjoyed it.

I'll share more of what God's been speaking to me at, and since, the retreat in a separate post since I'm reaching the limit for a novella here. I'd like to try and get more readers, but this post might be too daunting for first time readers? So, enjoy: Wendy, Jeri, Jenny, Kristen! (And maybe 1 or 2 lurkers?) =)

Friday, August 22, 2008

My Apologies

I must apologize ahead of time for this post. I'll give the warning disclaimer here, don't read on if you're squeamish. I'll try to take up some more space so you can avoid the punchline if you wish. Still reading? Ok, don't say I didn't warn you. I briefly scan my spam folder in email to double check that nothing's in there that I actually want. I couldn't help but giggle quite a bit when I saw this email subject title: Paris Hilton's vagina bites mailman.

What the...?

(Jeri, please share with Ric, as I'm sure he'd giggle with me.)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

An Athleticism Post

Remember that really good swimmer from the Olympics? Here's a funny Onion Headline.

Also in the world of athleticism, a 100 pushups update.
Last night was poker night, so after dinner, I did some more photo organizing on the computer for an hour or so until Wendy got back from her class at church so I could take off. I ended up chopping/winning at around 12:30, and went to bed pretty soon after getting home....and forgot to do my pushups for Week 3, Day 2!

I realized it this morning, and went ahead and did them right after getting up. Uuuuunnngggghhhhhh.....I don't know if it's just because the program doesn't "plateau" at a comfortable level, but keeps pushing you past your comfort zone, but I actually felt a little nauseous afterwards for a while. My five sets were: 27, 19, 19, 15, 27(max) for a total of 107.

Now I'll be playing it by ear to see if I go back to the "schedule" of doing my next day's worth of pushups on Friday night....or just do them on Saturday, and push my whole 6 weeks back a day? Either way, I'll be doing them while on the Men's Retreat with church, so I'm sure I'll have some explaining to do. =)

Monday, August 18, 2008

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Specific Goals + Consistency = Success

I found this Lifehacker bit pretty interesting. (Especially since 2 of the 3 bullet point examples apply to me right now.) I'll let the article do the talking:

Success Secret

Friday, August 15, 2008


So far, so good on the 100 Pushups program. Tonight was the end of week 2. Here's my nerdy spreadsheet that I'm tracking on:

(I know it's kind of small/hard to see, so basically for the 6 days of doing it so far, here have been my totals: 58, 56, 73, 62, 75, 82)

The 100 Pushups Website says at the end of Week 2, you do another exhaustion test, where you do as many as you can in one set. It doesn't say when, and since I'm spent from just having done my Day 3 set, I'm going to do the test tomorrow, and hope I'm ok to start Week 3 on Monday.

How are my workout buddies doing? (Maybe only 1 buddy)

Red Dawn

HAHAHAHA.......this had me laughing and having to explain to the person I share an office with: Russians invade Georgia

Monday, August 11, 2008

What a Difference a Year Makes

I've noticed something pretty exciting: I'm disappearing!
For my next trick, I will make my neck disappear. I'm providing two photos, one from our end-of-the-year band banquet in June, 2007. The second from tonight. I tried to mimic the first photo, including the angle to really capture how big a difference there is in my face and neck.


Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Reason

As I started writing (and researching) the story I'm writing, I've always told myself to try and enjoy, and study, the process of discovering what this kind of endeavor is like. Obviously, I'm what's called a "rookie" in the writing gig. So I'm allowing myself a little slack in my expectations for myself.

Part of what I've learned (so far) is The Reason why it takes so long. Research. One of the the things I've done a lot of research on is how much research to do, how much is too much, why is it necessary, how does one go about it, etc. I've even had the privilege of being able to have conversations with bona fide successful authors to answer some of my questions. (Notably, David Anthony Durham - who wrote Acacia, which I loved! and Jerry Jenkins - author of the Left Behind series, and poker buddy whom I see nearly every week.)

The feedback I've received from them (and the general consensus that I've found online) is that yes, research is essential, and it's absolutely OK to do lots of it early on when writing a novel.

[Incidentally, I think I'm going to begin transitioning from talking about the "story" I"m writing and actually referring to it as a "novel". For some reason, I've been very reticent to do so, and I can only assume it's because I'm cautious about setting up unrealistic expectations for myself. But the more I work on this project, and the more the vision unfolds for me, the more it "feels" like a novel.] to the point of this post: what I've discovered in my research today: God. I'm working on a deity and religion for the world I'm creating, and part of that research led me to a scholarly paper on the origin of the English word "God".

This gets into linguistics, and as I started to describe it to Wendy, I realized that it's possibly not that interesting to someone....not interested in linguistics. (So I'll assume that at least "McSwain" will continue.)

I'll give a nutshell, and then link to the rest. Essentially, in the Old Testament, we learn of the twelve tribes of Israel, one of them being that of Gad. I've only ever heard it pronounced with a flat "a" as in "sad". But apparently the correct Hebrew pronunciation is "Gawd" as in...."God". I found that very interesting. Especially in that the descendants of the tribe of Gad became the Brittons and Celts....where English was born. Here the rest of the essay.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Fun Times

A few nights ago, I decided I wanted a more recent photo of me with my kids, so I just decided to have them on my lap and use the isight cam in my macbook to take one. Here are a couple good results:

Once that was done, I started playing with the special effects you can do with PhotoBooth....and they thought it was hilarious! Several times a day now it seems like Connor is asking to do funny faces on the computer again.

I linked in FB, but here's the link again anyways to the Flickr set I made:
Photobooth Phun