A transition has begun in our family.

You may have heard already the news; Heidi and I have decided it’s time for a significant transition in our own life. I have taken a new job as Head of School at Contra Costa Christian Schools in Walnut Creek, California (down the coast a few hours). This is Heidi’s hometown, where I began my teaching career, where Heidi and I started our lives together, and where our children were born.

But we’ve been here for 17 years; this is our home!

Transitions Are Hard

After the decision was made and the dust settled on the sharing with friends and family and others, figuring out the details of this transition has started to become reality! We are so appreciative (almost overwhelmed) of the outpouring of support and encouragement from everyone and yet, we’ve come to realize very quickly, that transitions are hard.

Looking back over these 17 years, we will face some new realities along with the things we will miss:

  • Our kids, now young adults, will have to sort out what “home” looks like with their parents moving away.
  • We are crossing a border in our move…and yes, we are moving to the US right before a big election. The comments have been fun to respond to. 😊
  • Our house has become our home, and although we have usual house stuff that we’ve accumulated over time, it’s the emotional memories tied to it that are so hard to leave:
    • We still see our son, Toby, jumping up and down on the trampoline when he was 10 years old which he would do for hours at a time. Now I will be tearing the tramp down this summer.
    • Our basketball hoop in the front court has been recently resurrected by a neighbour for their own children. We can still hear the ball bouncing late into the summer night (and a few kids fighting over who’s ball it is)
    • Our daughter, Sofia’s, horse saddle is hanging in our basement (almost like a shrine) from her time as an equestrian at Sonlight Stables.
    • The hydrangeas in the front yard started with us 17 years ago…they are now 8-10 feet tall.
    • The autumn blaze maple tree that my mom and dad bought us as a housewarming present now towers in the backyard (with a major scar from a windstorm from a few years back) providing a ton of shade and leaves to clean up for the fall.
    • An empty wine bottle on our dresser indicating a significant event in our lives from years ago.
    • Claw marks on our exterior fence gate from a bear who was climbing into our backyard while we were gone on vacation.
    • Irises on our back “rock wall” that have stood the test of time.
    • Our neighbours still host court parties regularly. I’m not sure we’ll find that again.
  • Our church has been a wonderful church home. The thought of finding a new church at this time in our lives seems daunting. Most of what we love about church is, of course, the people, and we are blessed to be a part of a home group/life group/small group. These people have done life with us and it’s not easy to leave them.
  • The smell of the prairie. We won’t be able to drive out to a prairie where we are moving. We will miss taking a deep breath of the unique smell…often purified by the strong stench of manure!
  • Living in the city in the country. We will be moving to a full-on suburb—very different than Abbotsford. We will miss the farm-to-table experiences, the blue collared mentality, being far away from Vancouver, yet still close enough, the lack of traffic issues (compared to the cement jungle of California), and the small(er) town perspective.
  • This list could on and on….

Transitions Can Be Exciting

I recently finished Bruce Feiler’s book, Life Is in the Transitions. It’s a fabulous book that helped me re-shape some of my thinking around the impact and importance of paying attention to our lives when we are going through a significant transition. Feiler goes so far as to proclaim that our lives can actually be defined with who we are in these transitions. I’m not sure I agree fully, but its an interesting concept to ponder and discuss…for a different blog.

He points out that as hard as transitions are, they also provide a great opportunity not only to sort out a whole lot of things about our lives, but also to take stock in what is important in our lives, not just the material stuff, but everything.

  • What do we want to hold on to as we transition?
  • What do we want to let go?
  • Who do we have to make amends with before we go?
  • Who do we need to spend more time with?

ACS Is Our Life

Let’s face it…our life is completely enmeshed with Abbotsford Christian School.

You may have recently noticed that besides Heidi and I working at the school, two of our three kids are now employed at the school, and the third one works for a company that painted it. Did you know that my niece also works at the school? Our family dinners usually end up with some version of a school story or a school challenge that needs to be tackled.

We’ve been asking ourselves, “How do we transition well out of the ACS school community?”

This may be the hardest part of our move. How do we leave Abbotsford Christian School and this amazing community behind after all these years?

If I allow myself to go down memory lane, I think of:

  • A steak dinner from Daryl (my predecessor) and Deb Verbeek that we received in January, 2007 prior to making the decision to move here.
  • A grade 1 student with down syndrome who danced up to Heidi during our visitation tour to welcome Heidi to her “home.” Talk about a sales job!
  • Sending an email to send a group of leverage staff down to San Diego to learn from an exemplary school; a pivotal decision that was a game changer in how we envision education.
  • Praying at the “Sandra Elgersma and Friends” event held for our long-time music teacher whose earthly body was failing to cancer. It was a powerful and moving event that no one can forget.
  • A decision by our board to hire a marketing firm to rebrand ourselves. It helped change our position in Abbotsford and re-tell our story in powerful ways that remains even today.
  • The first toonie that was donated to TSI (This Square Inch) campaign by a student of our very first TSI home visit leading to the raising of more than $12.5 million over multiple years for our new middle/secondary building.
  • Shaking Sir Ken Robinson’s hand to welcome him to our Learning Revolution event in 2017.
  • Witnessing John Atsma from Fricia Construction power up the backhoe during our groundbreaking ceremony for the new building.
  • I would be remiss if I didn’t add the pandemic and the ensuing community SOGI discussion to this list. They were challenging times in so many ways, but we can’t ignore the impact these times had and the changes in all of us as a result! None of us will really be the same.
  • Being fortunate enough to hug my own children as they walked across the graduation stage.
  • I could really go on and on…there’s so much more I could write.

Not Done Yet

I will be around part-time in the fall to help the school transition to new leadership. Heidi is staying in her role till the end of next year. So, our transition won’t be complete until the end of the 2025 school year.

And what I love more than anything is that ACS is full of amazing people who will continue creating memories for a new executive director to reminisce about in future years. God is good!

I invite everyone out to the many events that we are hosting to signify the transitions our students will be going through this year. And this time, I can relate just a little bit more! Let’s celebrate these events well and then notice that life is in the transitions.