New Website

Hey everybody,
Well, as I reported in May, I have finally completed my degree and I’m now moving onto new things. I have just launched a new website: http://www.breakinout.ca and it has a blog on it, so this WordPress Blog will soon be falling by the wayside. Please check out the website, also my new Facebook page–Breakin’ Out Productions. Will look forward to seeing you over there real soon.
Blessings to you all.
Melvin

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A picture’s worth a thousand words (and about $10,000)

Well, I finally did it. I completed the requirements for my degree back in late March and yesterday, May 21, 2015, I received my Degree. I think the picture says it all.

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Obviously, blogging is not my forte.

Well, according to the date stamp, it’s been 14 months since my last update, but here’s the good news, if things go as planned, this weekend I will submit my final paper and project for my final course to complete my degree. My marks have been fantastic in my mind and the finish line is about to be crossed.

Just a short update, hopefully I’ll remember to update when I get my final marks back. Thanks for being a part of my journey, will see what the future holds.

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It’s been awhile! Longer than I thought actually!

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve sent out a blog post, this one probably won’t be too long, but I’ll bring you up to speed on my progress towards completing my degree.

Back in October of 2013, I signed up for another course and I am almost finished it. If I calculated correctly, i am currently running with an 88% overall in the course. I am very happy about that. I have two more assignments to do and then Wisdom Literature will be complete. Once completed, I am left with 2 more courses—then I will have completed my degree; Bachelor of Arts in Theology with Pastoral Studies Major. So, onward and upward my friends.

It’s been a busy time lately, really good though and I’m looking forward to what 2014 holds in store. 2013 was fantastic, and so far 2014 is looking even better.

Keep pressing on and together we’ll finish the race.

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Another One Bites The Dust

Well, I know I haven’t been posting for a while but it’s been quite busy since my last posting. Beginning March 18th, I began driving School Bus full-time until the end of May. It made for long days and what seemed like very short nights. During that time, I was quite busy with driving, pastor of two churches and being a husband and father. I was also a student in on-line course. This week I completed the last assignment for that course and have received the mark. The course was ‘Advanced Soteriology and Christology’. Soteriology is the study of salvation and Christology is the study of Christ. It was a very unique course, I enjoyed it very much and wished I had a bit more time to actually delve in more than I did.

Anyway, my marks were lower than previous courses but over all very good. I ended up with an 82.4% over all or B-. I’m quite happy with that outcome.

One other item I’ll mention before I go. At one of the churches I’m pastor of, we are planning a rally for September 27-29. We are bringing in Russ Taff, a Nashville Recording, Southern Gospel, Contemporary Christian Music singer, we are having some seminars, a couple of special services and possibly a Water Baptism service and also a Gospel Singspiration. It’ll be a full, fun-filled weekend. It’ll be called Breakin’ Out and we’re having it at Lockeport Regional High School. Feel free to contact me for more details.

With all that the Summer holds and September, I plan on resuming my courses in October or November. I have 3 courses left I believe until I complete my degree. Hope to have it done within a year from now.

Thanks for joining me, stay tuned and have a safe and happy summer.

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Bread & Wine A Book Review

One of my favourite authors put out a request on Facebook for people to read and blog a review of her latest book Bread & Wine, which is to be released April 9th. I was very happy to reply and say I would love to. So here is my review.

 

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Shauna’s Bio
Shauna Niequist is the author of Cold Tangerines and Bittersweet, and Bread & Wine. Shauna grew up in Barrington, Illinois, and then studied English and French Literature at Westmont College in Santa Barbara. She is married to Aaron, who is a pianist and songwriter. Aaron is a worship leader at Willow Creek and is recording a project called A New Liturgy. Aaron & Shauna live outside Chicago with their sons, Henry and Mac. Shauna writes about the beautiful and broken moments of everyday life–friendship, family, faith, food, marriage, love, babies, books, celebration, heartache, and all the other things that shape us, delight us, and reveal to us the heart of God.

My Review of Bread & Wine

I forget how I came across Shauna Niequist, but I do remember that I read Bittersweet first. I think I found it in the Kindle Store on Amazon.com and the summary made me buy it and dive right in.
I do believe that I can honestly say that I am not the demographic that Shauna writes for. A 35 year-old man is not her target audience but do enjoy her writing and I get a lot out of it. Shauna writes in such a way that it seems like a conversation over coffee, or an evening meal shared intimately around the table with friends. She is relatable, open, honest, and well, real.
When I came across Bittersweet, I was in a transition phase of my life and it was about a transition phase that Shauna and her husband Aaron had gone through. Needless to say, it was where my wife and I were at and I could relate. Even though it was on a completely different topic than our struggles, we could relate. So I read Bittersweet, then I read Cold Tangerines and I began to follow Shauna on Facebook and was excited when she announced a third book and I am very happy to be able to read it and review it and write about it.
As I said, reading Shauna’s books are like sitting down with her and talking about life. She is relatable, open and honest and she keeps it real. In Bread and Wine it is no different, she wears her heart and her emotions on her sleeve and she’s not afraid to show it. All of her books incorporate food and dinner parties and family and well, life. She is not afraid to put it out there—it may take her some rewrites and second thoughts but she eventually puts it out there and makes herself vulnerable and in return is accepted with open arms.
Bread & Wine is not unlike her first two books, in that it gives a snapshot into her life, but this one includes recipes that although I have not tried yet, I do plan on trying some of them. It is not a cookbook, but it contains recipes for every part of a meal: appetizers to desserts.
As I read Shauna’s books, I keep wishing I could be a part of some of these dinner parties, the food, the atmosphere, the company, all seems like people I could hang out with and fit in with and have a good time with.
Anyway, back to the task at hand, reviewing Bread & Wine. I love how Shauna begins with a quote from Winnie-the-Pooh. Pooh is usually thinking about food and Piglet thinks about adventure, and in many ways, as Pooh so readily points out, they are in so many ways, the same thing. What does one eat can certainly turn out to be a grand adventure, planning, cooking, serving, even entertaining, can be an adventure worthy of Indiana Jones much of the time.
Another quote I really appreciate is a quote by Lynne Rossetto Kasper and it is this: “There are two kinds of people in the world, those who wake up thinking about what to have for supper and those who don’t.” I do believe I am one of those who do, however many days have supper lurking around the corner before I have an answer to the proverbial question of what’s for supper.
As I read Bread & Wine, I keep reading great zingers that grab and refuse to let go. Almost every chapter has at least one and to quote them all would take up too much space and time, but I will mention some. In chapter 10 Hummingbird, Shauna is writing about some issues she developed during her pregnancy and how it wasn’t looking very good, but at the end of the chapter she writes this short paragraph:

“Our little hummingbird was still beating its tiny wings, and even though my fear was detonating over and over like bombs dropping, the fragile fractured wings of my heart dared to beat as well, and alongside, all that fear and all that gratitude, I felt the first rush of hope.”

Even in the midst of fear and the unknown, hope shines through, we just need to stop and find it.

Another thing I appreciate about Shauna’s writing is her openness and honesty. She writes from her heart; it’s like sitting with her over coffee and hearing her tell her story, her fears, her worries, but more than that, Shauna writes about her dreams, her loves, her passions, and her life. God, Family/friends and Food would be her top three passions and loves and what she is motivated and stirred to action by. She’s not afraid to write about what has impacted her. She mentions some things that level the playing field—she is not out for recognition of what she’s done but rather for who she is.

I feel that after reading Shauna’s books that I have known her my whole life, but in reality we have never met and may never meet—but that is what makes a great communicator—she writes about where she’s at and what she’s done and those reading/listening can relate.

Another zinger is found in feasting and fasting Chapter 18. She writes:

“I’m working to find a middle ground—some fasting, some feasting. At some points, gobbling up life with every bite; in other seasons, mastering the appetites and tempering the desires…Some days I get it right, and some days I don’t, but I do know that along the way, the process is healing me.”

The honesty is raw and pure and yet, because of it’s subject, we can all relate and we can all understand her longings and frustrations and sympathize, knowing we have been there, are there or heading there; sometimes a bit of all three.

City Love was a chapter that brought back memories from my own wedding day. After our wedding, we had a reception, but there was no head table, my wife and I greeted each table, there was a short program and then we made our escape. On the way to our honeymoon suite, we stopped at Harvey’s and got 2 Cheddar Bacon Cheeseburger meals ran off the whirlpool tub and ate our burgers. Reading about the foil wrapped meals on the window seat—brought back some great memories. What better way to begin life together than leaving your wedding and having comfort food?

This whole book has brought back some good memories of when we lived in Edmonton, Alberta. We would host movie nights where each couple would bring a dish to share and we would watch series of movies, Indiana Jones Trilogy, Back to the Future Trilogy, Brat Pack movies and such. Reading about the cooking club parties and dinner parties it was great memories coming back of great days.

That is one of the reasons I like reading Shauna’s books; she writes about real life stuff. The good, the bad, the real; I’m sure she edited or rethought about what she wrote before sending it to the publishers, but that’s what is real. Thoughts about swimwear, body image, post baby body, and how some diets are better than others—real life that is relatable, no matter who or where you are.

I would like to thank Shauna for allowing me to pre-read and review Bread & Wine. A fascinating book about life; I encourage you to get a copy of it when it is released in mid-April. Amazon.com has it, you just order it and a few days later it’s in your mailbox.

Thanks for taking the time to read my review, and if Shana Niequist is not an author of your choice, read her books and I bet she will be.

http://www.shaunaniequist.com/
http://www.amazon.com/Bread-Wine-Finding-Community-Around/dp/0310328179/

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Another Course Down and Another about to begin

Today I received the final mark for the Senior Practicum course I took. Out of the 4 Practicum’s I participated in to get my degree–3 at the college when I completed my diploma and now the fourth to complete my degree–this was one of the more practical and useful practicums I have done.

Anyway, this won’t be a very long post, I was just wanting to let you know that I received a 93% over all on this course–Senior Practicum.

I have also registered and have received the materials for my next course Advanced Soteriology and Christology and it begins March 1st. It seems like it will be a very good course. If you’re wondering what it is about, Soteriology is the study of the work of salvation and Christology is, well, the study of Christ–Jesus’ life and works and reason for being.

Since I received 63% on Soteriology and Christology I figured I can only get better–hopefully. We’ll keep you all posted with progress as we journey along completing my degree.

Thanks for joining me on this journey.

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