Kneepad parenting

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The Beacon

A publication of Rockford Reformed Church

May / June 2012 - Volume 21, Issue 5

Some thoughts on parenthood as we celebrate Mother’s Day and Father’s Day

by Polly Johnson
The Peace Corps has a slogan, “The toughest job you’ll ever love!” Parenting is definitely a close second, if not a tie for that bulls-eye of a statement. One of God’s greatest blessings in our lives can also be one of the greatest challenges, and we aren’t even talking year-to-year or week-to-week. We are in it moment-to-moment. It is amazing how high the highs are and how low the lows. No matter the moment though, it’s the feel of God’s guidance through it that makes it all come together.

“Why?” can tend to be a key word in parenting. We hear it from our toddlers, youngsters, tweens, and teens almost on a daily basis. The topic just changes from, “Why do the stars shine at night?” to “Why can’t I stay out all night?” As parents, we think it just as much, from “Why does he keep putting his finger up his nose?” to “Why the mess on her floor three feet deep?” We all want answers. We all want a concrete plan that explains everything to our liking at every step of the way. Yet, God doesn’t work that way.

When the kids were younger, I thought if I were diligent enough, I could read and prepare for almost every parenting issue. As time passed, the futility of this exercise became glaringly apparent. Knowledge is important and helpful, but God has a way of humbling us with circumstances that we couldn’t even begin to imagine or prepare for as parents. That’s where trust and faith begin to grow, and we all know growth isn’t easy or painless.

In Mark 8, the Disciples are questioning Jesus’ ability to bring them out of another sticky situation after he had already proven to them time and again his power as the Son of God. In Mark 8:21 “He said to them, ‘Do you still not understand?’” I’m somewhat comforted by the fact that I am in good company by my lack of trust at times, but I’m also amazed that, in thousands of years of God’s power and grace in history, any of us can doubt his ability to see us through. He has proven it over and over again in each of our lives. None of us are perfect and our faith will be challenged, but it is important to be reminded that God is in control and we just have to give it over to him.

That little word: faith! Of course, it shouldn’t be little, but to many of us it is far too little and far too late as parents. Proverbs 3:5-6 calls us to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight.” If anyone had said at my baby showers, “Wow….parenting is such an awesome way to stretch your faith!” I would have thought they were a little out there. Now I see just how insightful that statement would have been. Maybe I need to start giving knee pads as shower gifts!

Now, as a parent, I pray and read more devotions than I ever have. I know I need it. We need God’s hand parenting us as we parent our children. After all, He loves all of us more than any of us can imagine.

So the next time you are challenged, frustrated, or depressed in your parenting path, remember you are not alone. Many of us are dealing with exactly the same issues and would love to help commiserate, but most importantly, allow yourself the peace and power that comes from giving it over to God. He is not just a resource. He is THE resource, for he is the ultimate Father. So even though it may be the toughest job you’ll ever love, you have the strongest ally you could ever imagine. Here’s to all of you this Mother’s and Father’s Day….may your kneepads be thick enough!

By Phil Knapp
One of the local missions that Rockford Reformed Church supports is Alpha Family Center, a nonprofit crisis pregnancy center located at 6 North First Street in Cedar Springs.

Alpha Family Center offers:

* free, non-judgmental, confidential assistance to anyone involved in a crisis pregnancy situation

* free pregnancy testing

* compassionate peer counseling

* maternity and baby items

* abortion and adoption information

* sexual integrity & abstinence education

* earn while you learn parenting program

* post-abortion support

* miscarriage support

* sexual abuse support

Their mission is to affirm and promote the sanctity of human life, the value of the family, and biblical sexuality on our community.

On June 16 at 9am, Alpha will conduct their largest annual fundraiser called Lifewalk. Starting at Morley Park in downtown Cedar Springs, the group of walkers will walk to specific sites throughout the city, stopping to pray at each location. Walkers will obtain pledges for the 1½ mile walk to support the ministry of Alpha. To get more information contact Phil Knapp or check out our website.

This is a great opportunity to get involved in a local ministry that our church supports. See you there!

Learn more about Alpha Family Center at
The RRC Missions Council is now sponsoring a child through Haiti Foundation Against Poverty. Please remember to keep him in your prayers.

Prathy Duval is a 16-year-old student at Les Bours School of Hope. He has two sisters and two brothers. His favorite color is black and his favorite sport is soccer. He loves to eat rice and vegetables with bean sauce.

Because RRC Missions Council has agreed to sponsor this child, he has the privilege of going to school, wearing a uniform, eating lunch, and receiving medical treatment and check-ups four times a year. Please pray for him as he strives to do well in school and become an engineer.

For $30 a month a sponsor can provide education, clothes, food, and medical attention to a child in need. If you would like to learn more or possibly sponsor a child yourself, please visit HFAP’s website:

by Trisha Van Stensel
Elizabeth Styffe, the director of Saddleback’s HIV/AIDS Initiative, was in Malawi. Standing in a cold, dark, and damp hut that was no bigger than four feet be six feet, she looked down at the three youngsters who lived there. The children’s faces were expressionless, evidencing no emotion whatsoever. She asked her interpreter where their mother was. “They have no parents,” was the reply. “Who will put them to bed tonight? Who will feed them in the morning?” she asked. “No one.”

A girl who’d grown up in the U.S. foster system was nearing the end of high school. Less than half of foster youth graduate, but she’d overcome the odds and earned her diploma. As graduation approached, however, she expressed no desire to walk the stage. Encouraged, cajoled, and finally begged by her social worker, she refused again and again. Finally, she confessed, “I don’t want to go because I’ll be the only one up there with no one in the audience to clap for me.”

From the other side of the world to the other side of the tracks, the needs of the fatherless are vast. Latest estimates put the number of orphans globally at 163 million. All of these children have lost a mother or father; about 10 percent have lost both. In the United States, roughly 425,000 children live in the foster system at any given time, with about 115,000 currently waiting to be adopted. -Daniel J. Bennett, “A Passion for the Fatherless”

I write these stories not to give you a guilt trip, but to open your eyes to the cry of the those who God has called us to defend (Psalm 82:3). Ever since our adoption of Sienna in April 2011, God has laid the idea of an orphan care ministry at RRC on my heart. Every child has a right to a family, and during the months of May and June, when we celebrate Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, what better time to begin this ministry?

Some of you have been called to adopt, whether through domestic, international, embryo, or foster care. Some have been called to support in other ways, whether it be financially, emotionally, or through prayer. But we have ALL been called to defend, love, and protect the orphan!

In the following months we will be working on building a section on the church website which will include information on adoption, foster care, and orphan care (the differences between domestic and international adoption, financing adoption, Orphan Sunday, etc). Along with that we would like to create a support group for those who either have adopted in the past, are in the process of adopting, or who may be just beginning to think about where God is leading them.

Remember the children from the first story? Imagine making a difference in the lives of just one of them. You can. You just have to say yes to God’s leading. I look forward to walking on this journey with many of you.

Please contact Trisha Van Stensel if you are interested in either joining the support group or joining our “Hearts for Orphans” team.
Armed Forces Day: On May 19, we honor Americans serving in the five U.S. military branches: Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, and Coast Guard.
Memorial Day: On May 28, we honor Americans who have died while serving in the

U.S. Armed Forces.
To those who have served, we thank and honor you:
Rick De Haan Air Force, 1976-1980

Dave Diephouse Army, 1961-1963

Bud Feikema Army, 1963-1969

Nathan Gonzalez Marines, currently serving

John A. Harding Army, 1951-1953

Elden C. Hunsberger Army, Air Force, 1942-1963

Alvin E. Kraker Army, 1943-1946

Raymond J. Kunst Army, 1942-1945

Melanie Matthews Army, 1969-1976

Ken Nelson Air Force, 1953-1957

Gordon Oosterhouse Army, 1955-1963

Kenneth J. Ploeg Naval Reserve, 1954-1967

Ron Porter Air Force, 1963-1966

Norm Rottman Air Force, 1951-1955

Phillip Scholten Army, currently serving

Dennis Vander Kuyl Air Force, 1960-1964

Stanley L. Weir Army, 1956-1958

Nicholas L. Welch Navy, currently serving
If we’ve missed a name this time around, there will be another opportunity to submit names for the Nov/Dec edition for Veteran’s Day. Names and stories can be submitted to or put in Pam Jacobs’ church mailbox.


As we celebrate Memorial Day, we would like to take a moment to remember our very own Raymond J. Kunst, a man who spent a life in service to both God and his country. Many of you know that Ray and his wife Thelma were one of the founding couples of RRC. In 1957, six families met in their home, began Rockford Reformed Church, and elected the first church board, with Ray Kunst as chairman. But this is just one part of a life richly lived.

Ray and Thelma were high school sweethearts. A fourth-generation flower grower (his family came from the Netherlands), Ray never had a shortage of flowers for Thelma. They even went on dates in the family flower truck. They graduated in 1940. Two years later they were married, and four short months after that, Ray was drafted into the US Army.

After the war, Ray, a gifted florist and designer, went back into the family business. In 1952, he and Thelma started Rockford Flower Shop (on Main Street), which they expanded into a greenhouse and garden center, with additional locations by the Michigan State Police Post. They owned the business for 23 years before selling it to its current owners. In 1975, after selling the flower shop, Ray went to work part-time at Rockford Hardware (Ace), where the garden center is now named after him.

Appropriately, it was in his flower shop that the seed for Rockford Reformed Church was planted. Ray once related this story about a day in 1957: “Many of you have heard the story about the three families starting Rockford Reformed Church, but what you don’t know is that it all began with one [who acted] under the conviction of the Holy Spirit. The seed was planted and fell on fertile ears. One day a lady entered my flower shop in Rockford. She introduced herself as Lee Carter [now Harvey], and said she had a question. I naturally thought it would be about flowers, but it wasn’t.”

Instead, she asked him about church and a conversation ensued. Both attended Reformed churches in the Grand Rapids area, and agreed that the distance was difficult on winter roads, but there was no closer option within the church denomination. Lee suggested, “I think we need a Reformed witness in Rockford.” Ray agreed. Thus the seed was planted, one that would grow over the next 50 years to the Rockford Reformed Church that we have today. In the coming months, we will continue to tell the story of our church’s history.

Ray was called home to be with the Lord in 2010. Thelma talks fondly of their life together and the important role that faith played throughout their life. Through all the twists and turns, the injuries, in every seemingly chance meeting, they knew it was all part of God’s larger plan for their lives. Our church and our community are truly blessed because of them.
My name is Raymond J. Kunst, serial number 36407190. I was drafted into service October 29, 1942, at Kalamazoo, Michigan. Then I was sent to Camp Custer, Battle Creek, Michigan, for assignment. On November 20, 1942, I was sent by train to Fort Benning, Georgia to join the 10th Armored Division. My basic training was with the 90th Recon Medical Detachment. After our Tennessee maneuvers (June-September 1943), I was reassigned to Medical Detachment, 54th Armored Infantry Battalion. In March of 1944 I received the rating of T5 as Surgical Tech.

On September 14, 1944, we were sent overseas. We arrived at Cherbourg, France, on September 23. After our equipment came, we went into combat November 1, 1944. I was with units that first probed into Germany. Part of our battalion and medical detachment were assigned to Col. Roberts’ Combat Command B. I was part of this unit. On December 17, 1944, I was promoted to Staff Sergeant as Senior NCO of the Medical Detachment.

Of course that day we also received orders to go to Bastogne, Belgium. Our assignment was with Team O’Hara to take up position near Bras. On December 20th we were ordered to go back to Bastogne. While trying to talk with two Belgian civilians about setting up our aid station in a building, a shell exploded into the floor and I received shrapnel wounds to my left foot and right ankle. I was sent by ambulance back to an Evac Unit. As we left Bastogne, the Germans were shelling the road behind us. At the Evac Unit, we were loaded in the night into ambulances and moved further back because the Germans got too close.

From a field hospital unit, I was sent by train to a hospital in Paris, France. I spent Christmas 1944 in a nice hospital bed, clean sheets, good food, etc. Some luxury! On January 1, 1945 I was sent by plane to an Army hospital in Salisbury, England. After treatment for wounds and recovery time, on February 20, I was loaded on a hospital ship to be sent back to the States. In as much as my legs were in a cast, I could not walk, no fun! While traveling in the English Channel, the water pumps on the ship broke. We pulled into Plymouth for repairs. Wasn’t too happy with English workers taking tea breaks. A ten-day trip to the States turned into 22 days. Food on ship was much better than mutton and brussels sprouts in the hospital.

We landed in New York Harbor, March 13, 1945 (our daughter’s first birthday). Sent same day by train to Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indianapolis, Indiana. Received treatment there and had cast removed so I could walk with crutches. After more treatment and medical leaves, I was given a medical discharge on October 11, 1945.
Kristin Bielema

Kaitlyn Bowers

Seth Cosier

Kyle DeGood
Matt Duursma

Jason Gingrich

Chris Glaza

Kevin Kruizenga

Brittany Long

Aaron Plambeck

Anya Rozelle

Alex Welch

Brent Willett

In his book Just Walk Across the Room, Pastor Bill Hybels challenges readers to distill their testimony into a simple and sincere story of about 100 words. “You will be absolutely amazed by the power of your own story once you have been diligent to hone and shape and refine it,” he says. “When you communicate your personal faith story with sincerity, you will see supernatural sparks fly as God uses it for his glory and your listener’s good.” We put the challenge to two of this year’s graduating seniors. Here are their stories.

Brent Willett: I didn’t grow up learning about God until I moved into a “Christian home” when I was 8 years old. I then began my journey to learn about Christ at Rockford Reformed Church. But as a young kid, I didn’t really “get it.” When I started youth group in 6th grade I began to see the bigger picture. During my high school career I started losing track of God, coming back, and then losing him again. Running my mouth and lying to teachers and parents was becoming a trend. Over the past year, youth group really hit “home” to me. I now “get it” and have accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior.

Kristin Bielema: I used to be “one of those kids.” Throughout high school, I started to look to alcohol and boys as my main activities throughout the week and my way to get through the pain. I grew up in a Christian home, yet I never really had a relationship with God. When I started attending youth group at Rockford Reformed Church, I saw life in a new light. It was different for me. The things that were discussed were applicable to even my own life. Shortly after my first attendance, I reaccepted Christ as my Savior and Lord. And now, I am happy. I am finally happy.

by Bev Porter
Spring is here, and soon many of us will be planting gardens in anticipation of a bountiful harvest of fresh produce. Isn’t it amazing what can come of a tiny, seemingly insignificant seed?

Do you realize that we plant seeds every day? Each time we do something for others, or speak to others about God, we are sowing seeds for him. We may not witness each “harvest”, but in his time, those seeds will grow.

This spring, as you thoughtfully plan your garden, consider the seeds you can sow for the Master’s Garden!

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. II Cor. 9:6

Our church is looking for kids to be guest authors in our new newsletter. I have been asked to go first to give you an example. I hope my article brings you closer to Jesus. Have your mom or dad email the church with questions or for some simple guidelines:

Touching Jesus: Jehovah Jireh Series Part I, by Kathryn Jacobs, age 9

Touching Jesus is a path of life. It’s not just praying, singing, and going to church. It’s trust, hugging Him, letting the Holy Spirit guide you through life.

Yesterday I was golfing with my brother. Sam’s turn was up and I tried to see Jesus behind him with arms half way to hug him. Sam hit. It was a pretty good hit.

Then it was my turn and I remembered what my Jesus looked like and pictured Him helping me. I shot. It was the best hit I’ve done all day.

So what I mean by all of this is to feel comforted, at peace, and picture Jesus in your mind.

Attending since January 2009

Rick and Kimberly Tuttle began attending RRC as a couple in January of 2009, but Rick had been attending for several years before they met. He initially came because he saw a sign advertising The Well. The funny thing is that he never actually made it to a service in The Well until 2011. The sanctuary service caught his attention, and that is where the family can be found most Sunday mornings.

Rick was brought up in the Reformed Church, as were his children Zach and Grace. Though she did attend church, Kimberly had never heard of the Reformed Church until she met Rick, and after much thought and prayer, decided it was the right place for her and her children, Aliett and Alden. Rick and Kimberly were married last September in the Audra Brownell Memorial Prayer Garden in a small ceremony with Pastor Rick officiating. They plan on having a more traditional ceremony this June on Mackinac Island.

Rick is originally from Spring Lake, Michigan, and graduated from Grand Valley State University with a degree in business. He is the owner of The Water Source and is a distributor for Amsoil. Kimberly is from Zwolle, Louisiana, and graduated from Louisiana Tech University with a degree in general studies-biological sciences and a degree in nursing. She is currently a stay-at-home mom, though she and Rick are both active LIFE Coaches with The Team.

Zach, 21, is currently studying diesel mechanics at Baker College Owasso, and loves hunting, fishing, snowmobiling, and attending car shows with his 1972 Chevy C10.

Grace, 18, attends Grand Valley State University and is majoring in hospitality and tourism management. This summer she will be serving an internship with New City Neighbors in Grand Rapids. She enjoys baking, volleyball, snowmobiling, and hanging out with friends.

Alliett, 15, attends Sparta High School, and hopes to attend either Ferris State or Louisiana State University to study pharmacy when she graduates. She also plays basketball for Sparta High School and for the Michigan Rage. She enjoys shopping, snowmobiling, hanging out with friends, and more shopping.

Alden, 13, attends North Rockford Middle School, and he swims for Special Olympics Aquatics of Rockford (SOAR). He plans to attend Kendal College to study art. His dream job is to work at Marvel Comics one day after an apprenticeship with legendary comics writer Stan Lee. He loves all things Marvel, some things DC Comics, and everything Star Wars. In addition to Stan Lee, his heroes include George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, and Pastor Rick.

The Tuttles believe in teaching their children to be givers, not takers. Some of their volunteering activities include serving Thanksgiving dinners, volunteering with the Elves of West Michigan each Christmas, helping at a prom for special needs children each spring, and helping out at church when they can. Alliett assists Mr. and Mrs. Cool with their Sunday School class and always has great stories to share afterward. The family has also hosted a Birthday Blessings party in the Family Life Center, which they describe as a truly special and rewarding event for their whole family. “We enjoyed seeing the faces of the twins when they walked into a very special party just for them,” Kimberly says. “Thanks to the Birthday Blessings committee, each child had his own birthday cake! They did not have to share, even though their birthday was on the same day. It was truly amazing.”

Kimberly adds, “There are things about RRC that you can’t see from the street nor from the website. You cannot see the warm smiles, the handshakes, nor the overwhelming friendliness of the congregation. You can’t get that personal touch of people calling you by name and welcoming you. You can’t hear that blessed singsong voice that is attached to the smile as Marcia answers the phone. Nor can you get that special call from Pastor Rick when he is going on vacation so that he can sit down with your little one and explain things. You see, Alden has Asperger’s Syndrome (some call it “high functioning autism”) and worries about things. He struggles with any change in his routine. When Pastor Rick is not going to preach we have to prepare Alden, as he worries about him, because he knows that Pastor Rick would never just miss church! I truly value the relationship that Pastor Rick has forged with Alden.

“To sum up RRC for us in one article is difficult. There are so many great things about our church. We love the worship, the library, shooting hoops in the FLC, breaking bread at special events, walking in the Prayer Garden, and serving the community. However it is the people that make RRC so special. It is the people that make RRC home for us. I think the best way to convey the message of what it means to us is that it is the closest thing to southern hospitality that we have ever found this far north, and we like it.”

May 12: Biker Blessing (1:30-6:30pm, Paw Paw)

May 13: Blood Pressure Screening (after both morning services, Room 4)

May 18-19: Relay for Life of Rockford (3pm-3pm, North Rockford Middle School)

May 20: Graduation Sunday (all services meet in the sanctuary)

May 27: “One Sunday” Special Pentecost Offering

May 29: Kids Hope USA Year-End Party (11:30am-12:30pm, Valley View)


June 3: Buy a Brick Deadline ($40, order forms in back of sanctuary)

June 3: Soups, Salads, & Sweets (Family Life Center, following 11am services)

June 6: Adult Fellowship Group Potluck (12pm, Fellowship Hall)

June 16: Alpha Family Center Lifewalk (9am, Cedar Springs)

June 17-23: ROCK Mission Trip

June 24-28: Vacation Bible School (6-8pm, sanctuary)


July 8-14: WAVE Mission Trip


August 4: Farmers’ Market Booth
Summer Worship Schedule (June 24-September 16):

8:45am service in the Sanctuary throughout the summer

11am services combined in the Well (June 24-July 29)

11am services combined in the Sanctuary (August 5-September 16)
Check our website for more summer events:

Mid-service socials, summer volunteer opportunities, basketball, golf, and more!

RSS and podcast subscriptions now available!


Rockford Reformed Church

4890 Eleven Mile Road NE, Rockford, MI 49341


Office Hours: 8 am–4:30 pm (Mon.–Fri.)
RRC Online
RRC Staff

Rev. Richard C. Tigchon -- Lead Pastor

Rev. Bryan Boersma -- Associate Pastor

Ethan Ezikian -- Director of Worship

Joel VanHouten -- Worship Leader

Ben Gandy -- Director of Youth Ministries

Beth Jennings -- Director of Children’s Ministries

Marcia Shanken -- Admin. Assistant

Trisha Van Stensel -- Youth Admin. Assistant

Brenda Vander Heide -- Pioneer Club Coordinator

Audrey Shantz -- Director of Kids Hope USA
RRC Administrative Board

Rev. Richard C. Tigchon -- Lead Pastor

Rev. Bryan Boersma -- Associate Pastor

Nick Malone -- Elder, VP of Consistory

Dianne Bennett -- Chairperson of Deacons

Scott Jacobs -- Deacon, Treasurer

Wilma Nelson -- Elder, Clerk
RRC Vision Statement

To be a living reflection of Christ’s hands, feet, and voice in the community.

RRC Mission Statement

To connect people to Jesus Christ and encourage them to grow in their relationship with Him through worship and fellowship, so they will reach out to serve and disciple others for the glory of God.
Sunday Worship Schedule

8:45 am - Sanctuary

11:00 am - Sanctuary

11:00 am - The Well (Family Life Center)
Sunday School

9:50-10:50 am (September-May)

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