Category Archives: Christianity

Be Finished Grade Seven

Do you find your middles are always stuck in the middle? I thought that I would begin this sequence of blog posts by updating everyone on our middle guys journey over the last few years of this home learning life. Yeah for middles for adding spice to our lives.

CC moved out of French Immersion in grade four and came home starting in grade five. This was an influential time for him. His confidence was at an all time low as there were some boys that were very unkind and we realized that his learning changes were far beyond what we thought. He was receiving sporadic support at school, but nothing like he needed. He now receives weekly tutoring for one hour plus I work with him daily for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. In all areas of learning, his confidence has grown and he is seeing himself as a capable learner now. WHEW! We dodged a bullet on this one. We really didn’t leave the “campus school system” because we were unhappy. Our sole purpose was to create flexibility to travel with Sexy Neck and to take a “radical sabbatical” from the grind of everyday life. Here’s the full story! God really did have us in the palm of His hand, in more ways than one, when we started this in the fall of 2019, especially for our middle guy who’s life has been enriched by all the people who have loved on him, listened to him and shared in his learning over the last three years.

As CC finished off grade seven on June 10th, we realized that he had so much life and love POURED into him this year. He achieved his green belt in Taekwondo at Quest Martial Arts and now has his name on the wall as a member of the Black Belt Club with Mr. Rowe and family guiding CC in such a loving and disciplined way. CC was able to experience his first bus field trip when he went with Daddy and his international students to Vancouver. For fun, CC played soccer and basketball, did his first rail jam event up at Apex ski resort, and started refereeing in soccer. CC also did scuba diving, golf and swimming lessons this spring. CC LOVES his Goldendoodle 🐶, his new hat from Village Hat Shop in San Diego and every second with his brothers plus singing with his teacher Janel. He is very proud of the fact that he finished his first album “Sensation” containing 10 original songs. This guy really does love performing! He also staged a strike against a movie choice, strongly disliked our squid and eyeball dissection, as well as skied, skated, hiked and enjoyed every second learning in the world!

If you ever can’t find him, CC would be found working on his remote control cars or building one of his ideas in the garage using his hot glue gun or one of his daddy’s tools. It is a fun ride with this guy’s quick wit and super sense of humour. CC’s current goals are to be a truck driver, inventor or “puppy hugger”. As you will see over the next three blog posts, we definitely aren’t raising robots or mini-me’s. Helping the boys find their passions while exposing them to as many different situations and activities is our mission. This homelearning life has literally and metaphorically exploded since taking the boys out of a large box called “campus schooling”. We are grateful we were brave enough to give it a shot and grateful that our country allows choice for how students learn. Thank you Canada!

😘 Joanna

P.S. Sorry for the no photos. WordPress is really not allowing much storage on my ten year old ++ blog and I don’t want to stop this writing train now that I have gotten it started again. TOOT TOOT!

Be July of 2022

What happened after the “Radical Sabbatical in Europe” Joanna? I have been asked this question many, many times in the last 2.5 years. November, 2019 feels like a few months ago. So much has changed, hasn’t it? I wonder what has changed for you?

First, before we get into the newspaper headings from our lives, I want to send you a big hug with my eyes with the few more well-earned wrinkles around them. HUUUUUUG!

Second, here’s a few highlights since November of 2019 (and WordPress cut off my blog because I had used up all my storage!):

  • We are now on year three of our Radical Sabbatical and we are calling it “Best of Both Worlds”. After living at the ski hill for TWO, yes count them TWO University school years, we moved back to the city in May of 2021. We have been living here in the city and commuting on weekends to the ski hill, hence “Best of Both Worlds”.
  • The home learning life continues. We are going into year four of learning outside of a physical school setting and I truly wish that I had done it when the boys were younger. The boys are thriving and finding their true passions. The boys and I work together, as a team, each morning on specific learning mostly related to writing, numbers, French, Social Studies and Science. Afternoons are full of outside time, art, music, making things in the garage, hanging out with neighbours, classes and activities. It truly is a richer life than I could have ever expected. (Future blog post coming on the pitfalls and blessings of this type of learning!)
  • Sexy Neck has changed jobs! He moved back to the city where our house is to be one of the leaders in charge of a large 400+ student International Program. Coming from a program he led with 100+ students, this move has been a huge shift for him and our family. Yes, we are still happily married and we celebrated 25 years in May. WOOP WOOP!
  • In the spring of 2020, I was getting asked many questions about home learning and as a teacher, I felt called to head back into a school to help other families. Next year, will be my third year working with Heritage Christian Online School (HCOS), working with 15+ families per year (@40 students). I guide each student’s learning, meet with them, suggest resources and report on each child’s learning twice per year. I have done this job previously in 2015-2017 and I feel a real “calling” to be with this school, at this time, working with my exceptional, lovely, amazing, fellow home learning families.
  • Another questions I often get asked, are you still with Isagenix? Yes, yes, yes, yes. I am a lifer and we enjoy the #isalife every single day. My life sharing Isagenix looks a bit different now, as it fits in the corners of my days behind my faith, family, friends and teaching, BUT I will always be passionate about health, helping people with their goals and guiding people on how to use the Isagenix products. After doing 12 events in 5 years, I don’t see many events in my future, but one thing I have realized in these last years is that I truly love one-on-one contact with other human beings. At the events, I would have preferred to be stacking chairs or helping people register or wiping down sinks in the bathrooms that speaking or standing on a stage. I love these products and the people it has brought into my life. If you are one of those people that has asked me about Isagenix in the last 8 years, I am truly blessed that you asked, trusted me and shared your health journey with me. Yup, I am truly a lifer.
  • “The boys” are now going into grades 6, 8, and 10 in September. I cannot honestly even explain the growth that they have had the last 2.5 years. Our oldest is now taller than me! Our middle guy is going for his blackbelt in Taekwondo and our youngest is thoroughly enveloped in learning about Policing and being a Conversation Officer. They are such fun kids to hangout with too! More coming on “The boys” soon.
  • December of 2020, we introduced Winter, a goldendoodle, into our family of five. Winnie is truly each of the boys’ first love and they shower her with attention, walks, cuddles and lots of time together while they learn at home. (If anyone remembers our labrador, Summer, the name will make perfect sense!)

Lastly, tonight, I wanted to tell you that I will again be regularly blogging, sharing the journey that I have been on these last few years and also what’s coming. I realized the other night that often we talk about the pregnancy, baby and toddler stage way more than the teenager stage. Who remembers talking about breastfeeding, first foods, which diapers to buy, organic crib mattresses, milestones, toileting and so much more ad nauseam? As our second guy turns 13 this weekend and we are going to have two teenagers in the house, I want to use this energy they are creating by talking ad nauseam about this important stage in children’s lives. Strap yourself in folks, it is going to be a fun ride.

I love you all dearly, back soon! (well at least sooner than 2.5 year. HAH!)

xoxo Joanna

Be Taking a Radical Sabbatical to Europe

Do you have any teeny tiny dreams that are wriggling around in your heart right now? I have had one for years. I didn’t know how it would be possible, or even if it would be possible, but it was wiggling and jiggling around. I wanted to take our boys to Europe. To see, smell, taste how we lived for three years in Europe before they were born.

We spent our first year of marriage, at the age of 23, in a northern town in France called Harnes. Sexy Neck was playing professional volleyball and I coached and played a bit too! I used to go running around Vimy Ridge, carefully staying to the trails as I didn’t want to detonate a latent bomb from WWI.

We spent our 29th and 30th years on this earth in Germany and Switzerland.

At 32, I discovered I was pregnant with our first son while travelling in Europe for our friend’s Patrizia and Roman’s wedding in Switzerland.

And now, we are 45, our boys are 12, 10 and 8, and we are taking our radical sabbatical on the road…. to Europe!

29 days.

5 countries.

Hotels, hostels, a bible school, a mountain resort only accessible by tram, the Oberamerhof where we lived in Germany and dear friends’ homes will be our abodes for this adventure.

Over 3000 kilometres in a stick shift European automobile and on the autobahn to boot! Those little towns we lived in don’t even have a train station, so its car travel for this family.

Plus some gymnastics training thrown in for fun!

Where would you go if you could choose an adventure for your family?

Any advice on travelling Europe with kids?

Here we go folks.

The dream is unfolding in under a week!

We know we will get lost.

Meet the most interesting people.

See castles, villages, forests and cities.

Eat interesting food.

And get hug after hugs by our amazing friends.

I am MOST excited about this last one.

Friends we have known before we had children.

Friends who grew with us through living overseas, travelling and having children.

Friends who have walked the gift of grief with us from across the Pacific.

Friends who just “know”.

The words aren’t always known, but the feeling is unexplainable.

And now they get to meet our boys.

Dreams do come true!

Let this 3000 kilometre adventure unfold in His will.

With His ways.

Unfolding before us every day.

Amen.

And Amen.

Be Finding Forward

Forward.

Moving not backwards.

Forwards.

Moving in a direction.

Which one will we choose?

Moving from the west to the east.

Finding the dance that takes you forward.

Into your dreams.

Into your spirit.

Into your spidey sense.

Presence.

How does one stay present?

Moving forward?

This is what I have learned and this is what propels me forward.

Taking peeks into the tiny, narrow, rear view mirror to pour gratitude into where I came from.

Gratitude.

Love.

Letting go.

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Looking straight-forward into my large, expansive windshield watching the exciting places I am going.

Joy.

Peace.

Light.

Eyes, wide open, looking for the gold thread of hope woven throughout my day.

Holding my empty hands of faith.

God’s goodness poured out over all our lives.

Into my hands.

Will we choose to look for it?

Will we choose to have open hands to receive it?

Moving forwards.

Dancing the dance of my life.

Trusting.

Fun.

Faith.

Forward.

Smooch, Joanna

Be Hope 

Hopelessness is a paralyzingly dis-ease.  I have felt it in the core of my being, the deep down dusty place that seems hard to reach.  Hopeless that circumstances will change.  Hopeless knowing death brings physical disconnection.  Hopeless knowing that I may no longer be the same.  

But, I stand and lie down today knowing that this did-ease called hopelessness can be overcome.  Our circumstance we absolutely cannot control, even though I thought I could, BUT we can control our conclusions about these circumstances.  

One wintery day, only two months after my mom died, I make a conclusion that only great goodness would come from the gift of grief I received from her death. I decided that I would live in a negativity fast and a positivity feast, as Steve and Wendy Backlund describe it.    Guess what happened?  The last three years have been a walk in greatness.  I have found my passion that melds my teaching brain, coaching mindset and mother’s heart.  I have found my meaning and my passion for how I can be a permission for hope no matter your circumstances.   Through great nutrition, an ever growing mindset and being able to learn new truths about myself every day through the circumstances around me, I have found hope and freedom!  

Hope replacing dis-ease.  

Hope in any circumstances.  

Hope overflowing.  

Hope pouring. 

Over me. 

Through me.  

Hope.  

Be Trying a Tri 

In the post-Christmas darkness of grief, I took time to sit with myself, alone to ponder and grieve.  As I let go through this grieving process, I had one huge realization that has affected ever day for the last four months.

I realized for certain I could die at any moment.

Strange huh?

I knew this fact about life, but watching my mom die helped me ‘know’.

Now, I am unafraid.

Death is a certainty.

I am free!

Through this new lense of “knowing” the inevitable,  I am experiencing rich days.

Days where God’s coincidences are profound and His love is pouring out.

Moments where I can easily let go of relationships that are unhealthy or where people don’t accept me as being an imperfect person.

Choices where I choose health in what I consume and what I do.

Times where I make decisions and then work hard to see them come to fruition.

Today is one of these days!

Four months ago, I decided to do a triathlon.  A 750 metre swim, followed by a 30 kilometre bike ride then rounded out by a 5 kilometre run.  The funny thing is that I am not very good at any of them, but I figure throw them all together and this sounded like fun.

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With my cheering section at the side of the race course, and the incredible racers surrounding me.  I did it!

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I tried a tri!

One stroke.

One push.

One step at a time.

Ann Voskamp once wrote, “Daily discipline brings freedom.”

Yes, it does.

Discipline to be who you are with the gifts God has given you.

Knowing the truth about life’s fragility.

Savouring every day.

What will you try?

Be Knowing God is with YOU 

Two friends are sitting by their mama right now as she recovers from surgery to remove cancer from her breast.  

Living in the unknown. 

Another friend is at home trying to grasp the sudden death of a thirty something neighbour.  She was one of the first on the scene.  

Living with the unknown.  

Yet another friend contemplates leaving a job that has almost destroyed her yet she felt called to do.  

Just not knowing which way to go.  

And today I went to the store to buy a dish dryer.   I didn’t find one.  

A few hours later, I was riding my bike down the road and look what was lying on the side of the road:  

  

A very small daily reminder that God knows my needs and He is with Me. 

Living in the unknown?

Living with the unknown? 

Not knowing which way to go?

Just take one step.  

And another.  

Listen.  

Look around you.  

You will be amazed at what you see. 

And what if you don’t see? 

Ask God to help you?  

He loves you.  

Be Wondering About Air

As I watched my littlest one fly through the air on the chairlift, I thought of air, the importance of breathe and God’s Holy Spirit.

This is how my mind works these days, simple moments become incredible moments.

I can be sitting watching my boys play with Lego and I feel love and warmth pour over me like a dousing of water over my head.

I may be listening to a woman speak about her health struggles and I want to bawl my eyes out with sadness.

Often, I see women with their moms and I want to lie flat on the ground, humbled by what I have lost and amazed at how present my mom was in our lives.

Today, I come back to air.

To my breathe.

To God’s Holy Spirit.

I will seek with my whole heart the significance of breathe.

2015/01/img_8099.pngAnd I will breathe.

Deeply.

Full of gratitude.

I love this journey.

Life.

Alive.

Air.

Breathe.

Breath.

Life-giving Holy Spirit.

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