Failure Is An Option

Reel mower fixed with training wheels
The roller bar bracket broke again on my mower,
so I replaced it with the old pink training wheels!
(original Instagram post)
When we only strive to be as good as those around us, then we will never rise above the crowd. Do not be afraid of failure. You will fail. In fact, you may never succeed. But succumbing to the fear of failure hinders us from ever doing something truly amazing.

When I taught high school, especially yearbook, students would cower from the tasks placed before them. Stepping out to take photos instead of blending into the crowd. Calling a business on the phone to ask for an advertisement. Taking time to ask compelling questions to get a better interview. All these things include risk. Failure could include being socially outcast, receiving a failing grade (on an elective!) or hearing rejection again.

Don't be afraid to fail!

Sometimes standing alone is needed more than social acceptance. Stepping into new experiences can open up opportunities we never thought possible. And every close friend was at one time a total stranger. Many times the greater risk offer the bigger the reward. 

So the next time you are faced with a challenging circumstance or difficult decision, will your first question be "what are they doing?" Or do you have the courage to chart a difficult or unknown course that may be doomed? Failure is an option, and sometimes the only one that helps us to become something better.

Distance Learning Isn't New

Students collaborate on a science experiment
around the kitchen table.
In an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, large numbers of schools have suspended onsite services. Many of these schools are implementing a system called e-learning: where students use digital networking tools and electronic devices to remain connected with educational content. While this appears to be a novel use of modern electronic communication tools, the ability to learn at varying distances from the classroom is not new.

At first glance, it may seem that several weeks of e-learning will create a significant gap in every students' academic performance. But if gaps develop, they will only highlight the determination of students, teachers and parents. Good teachers and diligent students will take this opportunity to dig deeper into their understanding as they are no longer constrained by a timetable or slower students. E-learning is more than digital worksheets, it's the chance to explore connections between content and to develop a rich understanding.

In 1858, the University of London was the first higher education institution to offer students the ability to study courses away from campus, extending across the globe. (History of the University of London, 2020) This gave service men, prisoners of war and those working abroad the opportunity to pursue a degree despite their inability to come to London. More than just a packet of reading materials, these students could also complete assignments and take exams privately.

Christian organizations have offered Bible correspondence courses for decades. These are typically study packets where the student reads and researches a particular text or passage and responds by answering complex questions or writing an essay. These services often target prisoners, or those in developing country who cannot afford to travel.

Today's e-learning opportunities are the same. While our electronic communication tools drastically reduce the exchange time between messages, the nature of the exchange is the same. Teachers must present students with resources and guidance on researching the information. Students must unpack the material and demonstrate their understanding beyond rote memory.

University of London. 2020. History Of The University Of London. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 16 March 2020].

Review: Trish Trash #1: Rollergirl of Mars

Trish Trash #1: Rollergirl of Mars I like the premise and the cover art is what drew me in. At times the story is hard to follow as it lacks transitional cues. And some of the page spreads seem hurried in their drawing. The secondary characters are never given a bigger role than supportive interaction with Trish. Hers is the only tale being told.

The story is about a young girl who dreams of escaping her life of poverty on Mars and join the ranks of the elite Roller Derby athletes. There are hints of additional story lines but those are saved for additional books.

The book was easy to read, especially in one sitting. Older elementary and middle school readers would enjoy the graphic novel experience and the book would appeal to both boys and girls, athletes and science geeks.

Trish Trash #1: Rollergirl of Mars by Jessica Abel
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

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Book Review: Dorothea Lange: The Photographer Who Found the Faces of the Depression

I've always enjoyed and admired Lange's photography. This book is a good introduction for children but the illustrations do not carry the same visual weight as her original prints.

I actually learned more from the biography section in the back than the text. Perhaps the writing was too simplistic or haphazard to adequately convey Lange's hardships and skillful abilities.

Overall a good book to check out from the library.

Dorothea Lange: The Photographer Who Found the Faces of the Depression by Carole Boston Weatherford
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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Road to Bethlehem: Romantic Getaway?

Country Lodging at Tel Teomim
Whenever you travel on vacation, there are a wide range of sleeping accommodations available. I like to tent camp and am looking forward to trying out hammock camping next summer. Maybe it's because there was "no room in the inn" that we assume Mary and Joseph were roughing it all the way down to Bethlehem.

I'm now about 41 km away from Nazareth, near the town of Tel Te' omim. There is little biblical significance to the town as it was established in 1982 after several moshavim were combined. This is a good reminder of the turbulent and conflicting claims to the land that have continued for centuries.

But nestled there along the way is a lovely oasis for a young couple: Zimmer Tov BeHava. These luxurious wooden cabins include a pool, spa Jacuzzi, shaded gardens and views of the nearby mountains. I encourage you to check out the photos, and read through the description.

But that only fuels my curiosity. What were the sleeping arrangements for Mary and Joseph? Would they have stayed at a cozy romantic getaway on the trip south? Was this considered a sort of honeymoon? Or did they simply wearily collapse beside the road after walking for hours?

Note: This is a virtual journey along a variation of the Nativity Trail. I'm matching my daily walking distances with Google Maps and exploring the areas nearby. You can learn more about the Nativity Trail at