Road to Bethlehem: Gideon's Spring

I'm virtually 20 km down the road from Nazareth and just passed the Cave of Gideon in Ma'ayan Harod National Park at the foot of Mount Gilboa. This is the historic location where Gideon gathered his warriors and weeded them out by how they drank from the spring (see Judges 7). I love how the park has a campground too.

There is no way to tell but it's possible Mary and Joseph camped here after the first day. This would put them on pace to reach Bethlehem in a week. It's also a good reminder that Mary and Joseph were not grabbing a Slurpee at the corner station, but would have carried water jugs which needed refilled.

Week 1 on the Road to Bethlehem

Note: This is part of a Bible Walking Challenge to virtually cover a similar distance that Mary and Joseph would have traveled from the Basilica of the Annunciation to the Church of Nativity. I am using Google Maps and Street View to explore the region while walking similar distances at home.

It's been a slow start to the walking challenge. not for lack of time but my attention has been other places. Perhaps Mary felt the same way. With a baby due soon she probably would not have been totally focused on a trip south.

Though they probably made the trip in less than a week, I'm spreading it out through the Advent season and should be covering about 4-5 km every day. But with the

I'm now about 8 km into the trip, heading south through the Jezreel Valley. It appears to be mostly flat farmland so the walking would be relatively easy. In the distance you can see Givat HaMoreh, a small hill that is mentioned in Genesis 12:6, Deuteronomy 11:30 and Judges 7:1.

Sometimes the location is translated as terebinth or oak because of the trees found there. There are walking trails and a lookout tower at the top of the hill, but I would like to think that they skirted the hill to the east rather than climb to the top, just for the view.

Fostering Independence

A Parent's Perspective on Studying Abroad

This is the second article in a series on how as parents we got to the place where we could confidently send our youngest daughter to study at university 4,000 miles away in another country.

This weekend I had a father of several young children tell me that he's not sure he could send his little girl to study in another country. Then he added that he wasn't sure he would be able to handle sending her off to college.

This attachment between parents and children is natural. We too have had our share of tears and fears but that is not what defines the relationship with our children.

Explaining the Cost

A Parent's Perspective on Studying Abroad

I know friends are watching how we handle sending our daughter 4,000 miles away to study at the University of Hertfordshire. Their reactions are both curious and concerned.

Some wonder if they are prepared to send their own children off to colleges, both near and far. Others find the ideas of global education fascinating and eye opening, a possibility not previously considered.

But there is nothing magical or easier about studying in another country. If anything, the process and challenges magnify the same problems every college freshman encounters, where studying close to home may only mask the issues. Over the next few posts, I will try to explain some of the actions and decisions we made that prepared both our daughter and us for this decision.

Book Review: Masterminds

One of the best books I've read this year. Gordon Korman weaves a masterful tale about an isolated, almost too perfect town that manufactures orange safety cones.

Masterminds is the perfect preteen mystery story. With elements that reminded me of the movies Super 8, Goonies and The Truman Show, the story revolves around a group of 12-13 year old kids living in a town named Serenity. Everything is perfect - too perfect.

But as events unfold, they begin to question the purity of motives and the honesty of words spoken. Truth and lies are revealed behind concealed information and misdirection. Unsure who to trust, and pressured into action, the kids take bolder and more daring risks to discover the truth.

With sexual elements, vulgar language and minimal violence, this book is a safe read for early young adults and older. The concepts of honesty and deception are central to the plot and continually draw the reader back into the narrative. Well written, the story brings the reader along, revealing enough details to keep them hooked but never fully resolving all the answers.

I particularly liked how several plot points are intentionally left unanswered. Whether done to serve the writing of a sequel or as part of the intrigue waits to be seen. My only complaint is that Korman writes each chapter from a different character's perspective. The point of view is not as divergent as other books and he probably could have used a simple narrative style so I'm not sure why the writing technique was used.

Overall an excellent book, well worth your time.

Masterminds by Gordon Korman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
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