Traverse City Christian School Magazine - Winter 2021

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Messenger The

Winter 2021

Tiny Team,

Big Hearts!

Moms In Prayer

Alumni Teachers

Melissa (Radtke) Wheat, Charlotte (Meeker) Dornbusch, Amanda (Ufer) Keene, Nathan Weemhoff, Steve Anderson.


Nathan Weemhoff


Want Your Child to Have Healthy Relationships?


TC Christian More Than A School


Welcome to Scrip

Amanda (Ufer) Keene


Tiny Team, Big Hearts!

Steve Anderson


Sports Highlights


Spirit Week


Moms In Prayer

Campus Close-Up


Coming Full Circle


Melissa (Radtke) Wheat

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Winter 2021

The Messenger




Charlotte (Meeker) Dornbusch Heather (Krull) Smith

A publication of Traverse City Christian School 753 Emerson Road, Traverse City, MI 49696 (231) 929-1747 |


Coming Full Circle A love of learning and teaching. An intimate campus with a deep sense of faith and community. An opportunity to serve. Relationships.


Want Your Child to Have Healthy Relationships? Examine Your Own As we approach Spring and a new season of growth, it’s a perfect time to examine not only your own relationship with your partner but how your child might view your relationship.


Tiny Team, Big Hearts! The head coach of the TC Christian Sabre Volleyball team is a TCCS alumna who is relishing the opportunity to coach her old team.


Moms In Prayer We caught up with TC Christian moms, Jenni Blodgett and Chelsea Leggett, to learn more about this vital ministry.

Campus Close-Up In his first few weeks at TC Christian, our son kept asking if this was all a dream. Everyone had welcomed him so kindly, he was treated with respect, he made friends, he was included in activities... he felt like he belonged, and he wasn’t sure if it was real. Our son is thriving at TC Christian. He doesn’t ask us if it’s a dream any more... because he’s living it! Thank you.” - A TC Christian Mom

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CONGRATULATIONS! Congratulations to First Graders, Emereigh Akerley and Jude Gilgallon, who have been selected as TC Christian’s Cherry Festival Prince and Princess for 2021.

CHRISTMAS CHAPEL What a joy it was to welcome our high school worship team back to school for the annual Christmas chapel. We missed having these students on campus due to Covid restrictions and from what they shared, the feeling was mutual. The Middle Schoolers joined in as the choir and the sound of Jesus being celebrated echoed throughout the school. It was truly a blessed afternoon! You can see more pictures here.



(L to R) 5th graders, Haden, Reagan, and Loren, hanging out during recess.

During recess, the Kindergarten class pretended they were flying to Florida.


CHRISTMAS COUNTDOWN Each year, the students at TC Christian hold a countdown to Christmas vacation. To say there is an extraordinary amount of excitement at the school around this time would be an understatement. Despite some of the photographic workarounds via Zoom, this year’s Countdown to Christmas Vacation was every bit as enjoyable as past years. To wrap things up, we prepared a short video review of the countdown. We hope you like it. #TCCSChristmasCountdown

Operation Christmas Child demonstrates God’s love to children in need worldwide by delivering gift-filled shoeboxes and the good news of Jesus Christ! As part of that effort, TC Christian serves as a collection point for the Northern Michigan chapter of OCC. The community response is always outstanding and in 2020, thousands of Christmas gifts made their way from Traverse City to all the corners of the world.

MIDDLE SCHOOL WORSHIP The Middle School worship band took to the stage to close out the 2020 calendar year and send everyone off on a high note. Thanks for a beautiful time of carols and worship. Truly a blessing!

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ON THE HILL Who doesn’t want to end the 2020 year with some outdoor fun?!? 8th graders celebrated with a little time of sledding on their final day of school for 2020. So much JOY!

THE KINETIC SLEIGH The 6th graders were learning about the effects of mass and speed on kinetic energy. In the last week of school before Christmas vacation, in the spirit of the season, they were challenged to design a Sleigh and a Slope to deliver two Christmas packages as FAR as possible. The creative ideas were flowing and lots of learning was taking place.

Preschoolers show off their DIY skills.

ENJOYING THE WARM NOVEMBER AIR The 5th graders at TC Christian were outside practicing their spelling words on the pathway during the ‘spell’ of warm weather in November (see what we did there )

GOING THE ‘EGGS’TRA MILE In late Fall, the Eighth grade students were learning about the skeletal system, which is both strong and flexible. On a particularly warm Fall day, they were challenged to create a strong, yet flexible, structure to protect an egg that would be dropped from the top of the play structure. It was fantastic! 6 | The Messenger



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Coming Full Circle

Alumni Return as Faculty and Staff L to R: Melissa (Radtke) Wheat, Amanda (Ufer) Keene, Charlotte (Meeker) Dornbusch, Nathan Weemhoff, Steve Anderson. Inset: Heather (Krull) Smith

A love of learning and teaching. An intimate campus with a deep sense of faith and community. An opportunity to serve. Relationships.

Ask the TC Christian faculty and staff who share the distinction of having been educated here what brought them full circle, and these themes come up time and again.

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Melissa (Radtke) Wheat Class of 2000 Role: English | Social Studies | Advisor Traverse City Christian School is, in a word, ‘family’, and in Melissa Wheat’s case that’s literally true. As a student, Melissa had many influencers, not the least of whom was her mother, Judy Radtke, who still teaches Algebra and Calculus at TC Christian. Judy was profiled in the Fall issue of The Messenger. “Mom always said this was the best job in town,” recalled Melissa. With such affirmation, along with the mentorship she received from her teachers at TC Christian, it’s little surprise Melissa chose to follow in her mother’s footsteps to teach at TCCS.

“God threw me into teaching...literally! I went to school to be an attorney and later worked for a Judge.” While finishing college and law school,. Melissa and her husband, Brent, started a family. After practicing law for seven years, a career change fell in Melissa’s lap. “One day, I was asked to fill in for the 8th grade English teacher at TC Christian who was on maternity leave, and then a week or two later, was asked to teach 7th and 8th grade social studies.” Before long, Melissa was a regular at her old school. “I learned how to teach and began to figure out lesson plans within a

month of school starting. The next year I taught 7th and 8th grade math and algebra along with the social studies classes.” In 2020, Melissa realized teaching was a career she really wanted to develop, so she took the leap and earned her Masters in Secondary Education. TC Christian today is different from Melissa’s first years at the school. The dress code has been modified, meaning no more compulsory dresses on Chapel days. Classes are fuller and the school is bigger. “Back then, TCCS only accommodated Junior and Senior High. The Elementary school came later.” For Melissa, coming to a Christian school as a student was a breath of fresh air from her experiences elsewhere. “Our Principal was an amazing man with a big heart who followed God in everything,” she said. “Our

Melissa (in yellow) on her Senior Mission Trip to Jamaica, with classmates (from left) Mike Bush, Christina Harvey, Kristin Waligorski, and Judy Radtke (Teacher) 10 | The Messenger

teachers challenged us, and though they were tough and expected effort and excellence, they also had grace and kindness. They knew who we were as people and could tell if we weren’t ‘getting it,’ so they made an extra effort to help us find a way through the problems. My teachers instilled in me a love for history and the classics, and they really helped me dive into the books we read.” Then and now, she sees TC Christian as a school that runs against the current and stands up for what is right. “I have seen students who came for the great education, and in the process, were positively changed by the Christian environment.” Today, Melissa teaches 7th and 8th grade English and social studies. She and her high school sweetheart, Brent Wheat, were married in 2004 and they have three children, all students at TC Christian: Zack in 7th grade, Reagan in 5th grade, and Evan in 1st grade. A highlight of the academic year for Melissa is the Freshman field trip to Washington, D.C. During the trip, the students get to experience first-hand how the government works. Local Congressman, Jack Bergman, hosts the students and leads them around the Capitol including the legislative chambers. “It just brings everything I try to teach them to life,” says Melissa.

my teaching.” The inscription on the wall is taken from the Old Testament and says the following: “Only guard yourself and guard your soul carefully, lest you forget the things your eyes saw, and lest these things depart your heart all the days of your life. And you shall make them known to your children, and to your children’s children.” Deuteronomy 4:9. The conversations and group discussions following that somber tour are poignant and thought provoking, and remain some of Melissa’s most memorable moments as a teacher. In addition to being a busy mom, wife, and school teacher, Melissa helps with the Student Council, plans and leads the annual Freshman trip to Washington, DC, and is the Junior class advisor. Husband, Brent, along with her parents, coach the TC Christian Bowling teams, so Melissa often finds herself helping out there as well. Despite her busy schedule, Melissa wouldn’t have it any other way. “I love teaching and guiding my students,” she says. “I enjoy having discussions about past and current events and watching the kids process the world and make their own decisions. It’s such a joy to

see my students, talk with them, counsel them, teach them, and learn from them. It’s the individual conversations and the class discussions that mean the most.”

(L to R) Melissa, Evan, Zack, Reagan, and Brent

Melissa’s teaching philosophy is straightforward: the needs of the student come first. She tries to meet students where they are and demands academic excellence within their capabilities. “I love the ‘a-ha!’ moments when something clicks with students, but more than that I love the interaction.” Melissa freely admits that education is a hard career. She explains for those entering the field that they need to understand teaching can be exhausting, both mentally and physically. “Don’t teach for the summers off. That will get you on the wrong track. Do it with the right heart,“ she says, “and your kids will get into your soul and they will change you. That is worth every minute!”

Seeing the students reactions as they experience the Holocaust Museum has been especially powerful. “There is a quote on the wall at the Remembrance Hall and I always try to take the students’ pictures in front of it as a poignant reminder of what I am trying to instill in them through The Messenger | 11

Amanda (Ufer) Keene Class of 2013 Role: Math | Bible | Algebra 1 | Coach

The newest member of the alumni teaching team is Amanda Keene and she credits her vocational calling in part to TC Christian’s Spanish teacher, Rhonda Argyle. “I was drawn to Rhonda’s funloving, joyful personality and to her faithfulness to God, her family and her students,’ said Amanda. “I was so touched by the Senior Blessing I received from Rhonda. She somehow put the desires of my heart into words in such a beautiful way. It’s hanging in my home so I can remind myself what

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she saw in me, and to try to live in a way that pleases God.” Amanda’s TC Christian story begins in 7th grade. After attending public school, she and her sisters settled at TCCS. It was a huge blessing. “TCCS was very welcoming and I could tell the staff really cared about me and my walk with God. I loved being able to develop deep relationships with my teachers.” Growing up in Traverse City and being one of four girls meant there was never a dull moment in the family home or at school. “Friends and family knew us as the ‘Uferettes’,” said Amanda. As they grew older, the Ufer girls - Amanda, Shannon, Heather, and Leah - became friends, schoolmates, and sometimes, even teammates. “That’s something special about a small school like TC Christian. My sisters and I would often be on the same team, despite our difference in ages.”

Amanda enjoyed most subjects but found she had a love for math, Spanish, and science. “I liked to see how things worked and functioned.” A lifelong athlete, Amanda was a gymnast in her younger years. When she reached high school, however, it was no longer possible to continue gymnastics so she moved over to volleyball, basketball, and tennis. “I was not very good at basketball and average at volleyball.” The varsity sport where she shone was tennis. “I think tennis was my favorite of the school sports. I was blessed with the opportunity to go to states twice, and my tennis partner and I won regionals in our sophomore year.” In academics, just as in sports, Amanda was no slouch. A natural love of science, and in particular anatomy and physiology, along with her interest in athletics, led Amanda to prepare for a career in medicine. Her passion for travel and Spanish helped fuel a

desire to see her chosen vocation become a vehicle for medical missions. Upon graduation, Amanda began preparing for pre-med by obtaining an Associates in Science, when God intervened. Amanda picks up the story. “I was taking classes at the college while working as a math tutor at TCCS. The school called and asked if I’d like to sub for one period of PE. I said yes, thinking I could probably survive that.” Before long, Amanda was regularly subbing and being asked if she had ever thought about teaching. “I distinctly remember in high school saying, ‘I never want to be a teacher!’ I think God must have laughed.” Towards the end of her second year of college, she subbed for the high school science teacher and suddenly was hooked. But not how you might think. “I was glad for the opportunity to sub for science because I couldn’t decide if I wanted to teach math or science. After grading 60 biology tests and all those ‘short answer’ questions, I was over it. Math won!” After completing a double major in math and Spanish, Amanda accepted a position at TC Christian teaching math. She quickly discovered an extra learning curve

when she signed on as a new faculty member. “I had to learn to call my beloved teachers by their first names.” In 2019, Amanda married her sweetheart, Chris Keene, a TC native who works for Backcountry North. “Chris and I love staying active! We enjoy hiking, swimming, and playing various card and board games with friends and family. I also coach middle school volleyball at TCCS and am hopeful I will get to coach tennis this Spring.” Amanda and Chris attend Harbor Light Christian Center where they serve the ministry in everything from cleaning the building to sending out birthday cards to leading Sunday School. Just two years into her teaching career and Amanda is hitting her stride. “There are days that are challenging, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything! I love being able to encourage my students and help them see the amazing talents and abilities God has given them. Each student brings something important to our classroom and God has a plan and purpose for each of them and I learn a lot from my students.” Just before Christmas break in 2020, at the end of the day, Amanda’s 7th graders surprised her. They had her stand at the back of the classroom and close her eyes. Once they were organized, they asked her to turn round. Her students were all holding signs that said ‘Thank you!’ and ‘Merry Christmas!’

“It was such a sweet moment,” said Amanda. “My students never cease to amaze me with how thoughtful and caring they are. I love them so much and the best part of my job is watching them grow in their walk with God and learning new things.” When she remembers saying she never wanted to teach, Amanda is still surprised where she ended up. Deep down, she knows Who is ultimately responsible. “I believe God placed me back at TC Christian,” smiles Amanda. “And I couldn’t be happier.”

My students never cease to amaze me with how thoughtful and caring they are. I love them so much and the best part of my job is watching them grow in their walk with God and learning new things.” The Messenger | 13

Steve Anderson Class of 2002 Role: Director of Admissions | School Counselor | Social Studies | Bible | Coach

For Steve Anderson, it’s all about discipleship. “I absolutely love the relationships I get to have with our students,“ says Steve. “Forging amazing eternal relationships with students, faculty and staff is such a rich treasure of working at TC Christian.

Like our other alumni staff, Steve attributes his desire to return to TC Christian in large part to his own teachers. “Tom Broderick and Judy Radtke have been here since the early days and they exemplify what it means to be an excellent Christian teacher,” said Steve. “They lovingly and patiently encouraged, taught, and mentored me, and now I have the opportunity to do the same with the students who walk through our doors.” Steve grew up in Traverse City and came to TCCS as a Sophomore. His previous schools were not a good fit and having to transition to a new school as a teen has helped Steve in his current roles in Admissions and Counseling. “I sometimes meet students who arrive at TC Christian exhausted and frustrated,” says Steve. For some, bullying and the permissive culture of their old school has overwhelmed them. For others, the curriculum wasn’t working. And for some, they just felt lost in a huge school. TC Christian provides a sanctuary of sorts.

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“With the culture wars constantly raging for the affections of our minds, both a Christian education and environment are more important than ever,” says Steve. He sees teaching as a beautiful opportunity to impact the hearts, minds and lives of students for the Glory of God. “God uses teachers everyday to impart lessons that don’t reside in textbooks or classrooms. The eternal treasures of teaching are valuable beyond measure.” It isn’t always easy for students to make the transition to a new school later in their high school career. Steve can relate and he considers it his responsibility to take these new students under his wing, pray for them, and help them integrate into TC Christian’s school family. Being a small school helps. “TC Christian is kind, friendly, and welcoming. We’re a tight-knit community and we ensure new students don’t fall through the cracks,” says Steve. In 2008, Steve married Elizabeth (Kinney), another TC native who

bonds that our students and teachers have are unique,” says Steve. “If it were the year 2040, I’d love to see halls filled with students and teachers continuing to love Jesus and each other.” Steve is still excited about his chosen vocation. “I just love it!” he says. “I have absolutely the best job ever and I get to go to school with my own children, and no, not because we’re in the same grade,” Steve adds with a laugh.

The Boys in Steve’s Graduating Class (L to R - Back): Jared Gilyard, Jonathan Calderon (L to R - Middle): Ben Thompson, Ben Vanderwal, Colin Christie, John Steffes, Taylor Murray, Chad Miller, Joe Millward, Doug Radtke, William Krueger, Gabe Ealy, Steve Anderson, Noble Kline, Tim VanWingerden, Mike Vanvreede (L to R - Front): Jordan Fox, Matt Weaver, Caleb Palmer, Steve Twomey, Mike Wolf, Tec Petaja, Tony Vanvreede

The best part about teaching for Steve is seeing the ways God moves in the lives of students year after year. It is fun to see them grow and mature in their faith, skill, and knowledge during their time at TC Christian and beyond. “Forging amazing eternal relationships with students, faculty, and staff is such a rich treasure of being able to work here at TCCS.”

is a stay-at-home mom. Steve and Elizabeth have three children at TCCS - Zoey (5th grade), Gideon (1st grade), and Jonathan (PK). The Andersons make their home on TC’s east side and are members of Faith Reformed Church, where Steve’s father, Dave, had previously served as a pastor. When they’re not at school, home, or church, you can catch the Andersons exploring beautiful Northern Michigan or hanging out with family and friends. Steve will be the first to tell you he’s also an enthusiastic sports fan, especially when it comes to his beloved Chicago Bears. When asked why he wanted to become a teacher, Steve credits God. “I was so blessed to have been taught, mentored and discipled by my teachers and coaches here at TCCS that I felt God calling me to become a teacher myself.” Following graduation from Indiana Wesleyan University 15 years ago, Steve was invited to return to TC Christian as a teacher, an invitation he readily accepted. He has been teaching, coaching, and counseling ever since. When asked about the future, Steve has a clear vision for what he would consider success. “The relationship

Steve in his role as assistant coach for TC Christian’s Baseball team

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Charlotte (Meeker) Dornbusch Class of 2004 Role: Biology | Anatomy | Physiology | Physics Charlotte Dornbusch describes herself as a life-long learner. “I am constantly learning through teaching. Every year I find I gain more understanding of concepts or discover new information that I hadn’t known before.”

Charlotte’s route to a teaching career was circuitous. “I never imagined I would be a teacher,’ she says. “I had my sights set on the medical profession.”

She credits her students with being a huge influence. “The students play an integral role in my learning,” says Charlotte “as they teach me things along the way or offer new perspectives I hadn’t considered before.”

Following graduation from Hope College, Charlotte took a gap year to travel and experience a different culture. She became certified to teach English as a second language and got a job in Surakarta, a small city in Indonesia. “Once I began teaching the kids there, I fell in love with it,” says Charlotte. “I loved getting to know the students and being able to help and encourage them during such a critical time in their life.” She also became comfortably fluent in Bahasa, the language of the area in which she taught. On her return to the U.S. a year and a half later, Charlotte returned to the University of Michigan to earn her Masters in Education.

Charlotte came to TC Christian in 7th grade. Like her siblings (and TCCS schoolmates) Mary, Laura, and Walter, Charlotte was active in the TC Christian community and threw herself into both academics and athletics. “As a student I really enjoyed English, Biology and Anatomy/Physiology,” recalls Charlotte. A teacher who stood out to Charlotte was Tom Broderick. “Dr. B was - and still is - one of the most entertaining, intelligent and fun people to be around,” she says. Outside the classroom was filled with many great opportunities, too. “Some of my favorite memories are playing basketball, soccer and tennis at the school. I especially enjoyed my basketball team as most of us played together for all six years at school.”

A young Tom Broderick appears unimpressed with the attempt to render correct military courtesies from Charlotte and her classmate, Koren Buttleman. 16 | The Messenger

In 2014, Charlotte married her best friend, Brandon Dornbusch, a Traverse City attorney, and they soon started a family. Their twin four year-olds, Mary and Maggie, are now preschoolers at TC Christian, a situation Charlotte says is especially comforting since she and Brandon know the life lessons they teach at home are being reinforced at school. “We really enjoy knowing our children are learning in a Christian environment with teachers who not only teach them about Christ’s love, but also demonstrate that love.”

The Dornbusch family attends New Hope Community Church and when they are relaxing together as a family, they like to go for trail runs and hikes, play tennis, and spend time with family and friends. And Charlotte enjoys one special activity that might surprise some. “I make birthday cakes for people,” she says with a smile. The love for teaching that developed in Charlotte during her time in Indonesia has only grown stronger. Reflecting on her career so far, it’s the relationships that come through again and again. “I have had the privilege of teaching students from 6th grade all the way through 12th grade, and it is such a blessing to see them grow into incredible young men and women. I have the opportunity - the blessing - to form relationships with kids during an important time in their life,” she says. “It allows me to encourage and support them when they may need it most.” Charlotte is clearly energized by those relationships. “Teaching is such a wonderful job! My students brighten my day with their personalities, questions and conversation,” she says. “I believe kids and young adults are some of the best company you can keep.” We think Charlotte’s students would respond to that compliment with a hearty “Likewise!”

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Heather (Krull) Smith Role: Admissions | Athletics | Advancement

Heather Smith and Steve Anderson don’t just share a common school experience from their teen years. Today, they share an office. Heather is Steve’s assistant in the Admissions department and that’s just one of three hats she wears at TC Christian. “I manage to stay pretty busy,” Heather says with a grin. “Between my work with new families and helping the Athletic Director

schedule and reschedule games and tournaments around Covid, you could say my day is pretty full.” Add to that various fundraising events through the Advancement department and it soon becomes apparent that Heather’s office is a real hive of activity. Heather, along with Melissa Wheat, is one of the earliest TC Christian students now working on staff. “My

brother and I arrived at TC Christian in 1995, the year the school opened.” Back then, TC Christian was housed in an old church building on Keystone Road, now the home of City Church. Heather recalls that it was very family focused and a fun place to be. “Everyone was figuring out how to do school together. It was great!” Though a small school, TC Christian packed an educational punch. “The school lived up to its reputation for academic excellence,” says Heather. This came into focus for Heather in a way she hadn’t anticipated. “I loved math,” recalls Heather. “In 7th grade I was learning high school math and in 8th grade my math teacher, Judy Radtke, was preparing me for calculus. Unfortunately, in my sophomore year, I had to transfer out of TCCS to a new school. Thanks to the excellent education I received at TC Christian, I was academically so far ahead of my new peers that I graduated a year early from high school.” In 2003, Heather married Derek Smith, creator and CEO of Naveego,

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Back In The Day (L to R) Melissa Basch, Susan Bonner (Teacher), Katy Bonner, and Heather Krull

a data management software company. The Smiths make their home on Traverse City’s west side and attend Bayview Wesleyan Church. Fun for them is simple anything to do with family. Heather’s confidence in the education available at TC Christian, along with the Christian focus and overall community culture, ensured that Heather and Derek’s three children - Caleb (Senior), Brooke (Sophomore), and Hunter (7th grade) - were enrolled in TCCS. Heather enjoys her working situation. “Obviously, I love going to school with my kids.” In addition to the small school vibe and the family-focus which they all value, Heather has another special reason for having her children at TCCS. “Some of my old teachers are now teaching my children and I know that because they - and all the faculty and staff - love Jesus, they truly care about the kids. It’s a wonderful, safe, happy, and kind environment. The children get the support they need and they are loved and cared for.”

Some of my old teachers are now teaching my children and I know that because they - and all the faculty and staff - love Jesus, they truly care about the kids. It’s a wonderful, safe, happy, and kind environment. The children get the support they need and they are loved and cared for. The characteristics that make TC Christian so special are what bless her when it comes to her role in Admissions. “When new students enrol in the school, they are naturally nervous about making

Dave Krull (right) taking a break with one of TC Christian’s first teachers, Jim Prince.

a new start.” As they get pulled into the life of TCCS and start making friends, they start having successes. “I see them blossom and grow,” says Heather. “To watch a confident young man or woman graduate from our school and remember back to how they were the first time they walked through the doors...well, that transformation is wonderful!” As she remembers those early days at TC Christian, Heather pauses. “I was just thinking about my Dad,” she says. Heather’s father, Dave Krull, was one of the original builders who helped convert the old church into a school. “My Dad died unexpectedly in 2006,” says Heather, “but I think he’d be blessed to know his grandchildren now attend the school he had a hand in developing.” The Messenger | 19

Nathan Weemhoff Class of 2001 Role: History | Economics/Government | Understanding The Times | Bible

Wearing Army green, providing security for a United States President-elect, and deploying to the battlefields of the Middle East are a long way from a classroom at TC Christian, but for Nathan Weemhoff, the journey from one to the other makes all the sense in the world. “I love all things military and history,” says Nathan. “Serving in the Army was a natural decision for me.” Nathan enrolled at TC Christian in 9th grade after attending Ebenezer Christian, “a little three-room schoolhouse” in Ellsworth, MI. Before that, he and his siblings, along with mom and dad, had lived in various locales in Michigan as well as a stint in Nova Scotia, Canada. “My Dad was a pastor, so we got to experience several different communities growing up.” TC Christian was a big change from the small school in Ellsworth. More

space, more people, more offerings. Because Nathan’s class was part of the first generation of students, there was a sense of energy in the classes, friendships, and especially the athletic teams they fielded. Nathan quickly found a spot on the Sabres’ Varsity soccer team, a game he has loved since a boy. “I couldn’t wait for the season to start,” he remembers. “We had a great team, too, and we really worked well together.” Nathan’s love of history meant that he found that subject naturally fascinating but another favorite surprised him. “I found I loved English literature,” he says. “Anyone who knows me knows I wasn’t big on grammar, but the depth and meaning in stories captivated my imagination.” It’s still something Nathan gets excited about to this day. “There is nothing like a good story,” he says. Several teachers stood out to Nathan while a student at TC Christian. He credits Judy Radtke with working with him regularly in algebra to get him through to graduation. Tom Broderick’s Bible class was always enjoyable and challenging. And Anthony Weber opened up the world of literature to him. “I’m so fortunate to have Judy and Tom as colleagues now, and to have Anthony serving on our Board. They

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inspire me every day and I turn to them often for advice and counsel. I’m blessed to call them friends,” says Nathan. Following graduation, Nathan attended Calvin College to study history and secondary education. “I liked it so much I spent the next 5 years trying to graduate,” he laughs. “Those years really did shape me for both good and bad, as college does. My faith was tested, but I learned that Christians are called to be agents of renewal in this world even as we share God’s Word.” Another event that shaped Nathan was the terrorist attack on 9/11, and the subsequent War on Terror. “I knew when I graduated where I was headed next,” he said. Following graduation from Calvin, Nathan enlisted in the Michigan Army National Guard as an Infantryman and within a year of graduation was in Ramadi, Iraq, working with the Iraqi police, providing security for President-elect Obama, and doing foot patrols. “I’m proud of the work we were able to do there with the Iraqi Police even though it cost friends.” It cost Nathan, too. “I still need meds to sleep at night,” he says. Following that deployment, Nathan did another tour in Kunduz, Afghanistan, where the work done

with the Border Police made the area a little safer for the local people. Nathan is philosophical about his service and what it meant to him. “All of these experiences helped me to teach and understand history and the world at large in a richer, tragic, and somehow wonderful way.“ Today, Nathan and his wife Stephanie, a native of Traverse City, have two sons: Benjamin, who is in Kindergarten at TCCS; and William, a toddler at home. “My son is thriving at TC Christian,” says Nathan. He credits the loving environment that exists because there are no restrictions on Christian faith. “Benjamin’s teachers love the Lord and they cannot help but pass that on to their children. He has been welcomed and encouraged by friends and teachers alike. Even older students make a point of highfiving him in the hallways. Steph and I appreciate that so much.” The Weemhoffs attend New Hope Community Church and volunteer as Youth Group leaders. Hikes and road trip adventures sum up what they like to do together, along with the odd Mario Kart tournament. Nathan’s passion for history is never far away. “Personally, I like reading military history,” he says, “watching anything Star Trek or Star Wars (I am an equal fan), and studying World War 2-era tanks.”

As a teacher at TC Christian, Nathan feels TCCS is still very much like the shiny new school he attended as a teen. “It’s very Christ-centered, the students are respectful, and it’s a fun place to be.” In his role as a teacher, Nathan gets great satisfaction from his interaction with students. The daily conversations he has with them about the world around them are both funny and insightful. They provide great opportunities to teach in the way Jesus did, with stories and examples, rather than a lecture. “I love when truth becomes real to them,” he says. “When they figure something out, when they grasp a new concept. My philosophy has always been that each day is a new day and a fresh start with the students. Encouragement, challenge, and accountability are my watch words.”

relationship. It is shared in front of the student, their peers, and their family and is at once both a moving and motivating experience. “Don’t get me wrong,” says Nathan. “I definitely get a lot of satisfaction when a student understands a new concept in the classroom. But that pales in comparison to the pure joy I experience passing on God’s blessings to the next generation as they enter into their next steps in life.” As TC Christian moves into the future, Nathan would like to see the student body continue to grow and flourish, both spiritually and academically. “I hope the school still retains the welcoming atmosphere that’s been a defining feature of its history. And, Lord willing, I hope I’m still welcoming students every day for a new experience in history.”

When asked what stands out as a poignant moment during his time teaching at TC Christian, Nathan responds with something that’s unique to the TC Christian experience. “Each year, I have the honor to write and share a Blessing with one or more graduating students.” The Blessing is an exhortation provided by a teacher as part of the graduation process to a student with whom they have a

Nathan and some new friends on his Senior Mission Trip to Jamaica.

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Want Your Child to Have Healthy Relationships? Examine Your Own By Meg Meeker, MD

Dr. Meg Meeker, MD Practicing pediatrician, parent, grandparent, coach, speaker, and author. Say hello @MegMeekerMD

As we approach Spring and a new season of growth, it’s a perfect time to examine not only your own relationship with your partner but how your child might view your relationship.

February is the month of love and Spring is the season of new beginnings. It’s a perfect time to examine not only your relationship with your spouse, but how your child might view that relationship. You might wonder why, or even if, your marriage matters to your child. You just need to focus on parenting your child, right? Children are incredibly perceptive. They are watching how you interact with each other, what you say to one another, how you’re feeling. They know when their home life is stable or rocky and will often act out if it’s the latter. Studies have shown that when the parents’ relationship is positive, it positively affects their child’s behavior and vice versa. Additionally, if you want your child to have a healthy relationship of their own one day, you will have to model a healthy relationship yourself. You’ve heard it said, “more is caught than taught,” and this is absolutely true. When I interviewed marriage expert Dr. Les Parrot for my podcast, he described the home as a child’s “university of relationships; not just for marriage, but for everything.” So that’s where it has to start - in your own home. Your role is to model the type of relationship you hope your child will have one day with his or her future partner. This doesn’t mean your job as a parent is to have a perfect relationship. We all know that’s impossible, but even in your moments of conflict, you can teach your child something positive or something negative.

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One of the best things you can do in front of your child in the midst of conflict with your spouse is to practice respectful, loving speech. When my kids were growing up in our home, I told them that they had the freedom to be mad, but they were never allowed to say mean things, swear or break someone else’s stuff when they were mad. If you want your children to handle conflict in this way, you will have to model that for them. When you and your spouse are fighting, what kind of words are you using? What is your body language like? Are you hostile? Are you quick to apologize, or prideful? Do you want your child to handle conflict in this way? It’s important for kids to know the emotion of anger is okay, but you still have to treat one another with respect

Another way to model a healthy relationship for your child is to focus on personal health and well-being. and pave a path toward forgiveness and reconciliation with one another. Dr. Parrott says a healthy marriage is only as healthy as the least healthy person in it. To have a strong marriage, you must become a strong and healthy individual. You can instill the importance of personal health and well-being in your child by making him aware of who he is and how God created him to be individually. When a child grows up knowing he doesn’t need someone

else to complete him or make him happy, he will be a healthy adult prepared for a healthy marriage. As you think about your own relationship in the weeks to come, remember, it doesn’t only involve you and your spouse. It involves all the little eyes that are watching you. Model the type of relationship you hope your child will have as an adult. Not only will this strengthen your own marriage, but it will also ensure your child has a strong one herself one day.


TC Christian

More Than A School by Clint Walker (Class of 2021)


hroughout my twelve years at TC Christian, I have learned a lot. Yes, I’ve been taught algebra, geography, and the sciences, but I’ve gained so much more than that. Most importantly is the knowledge of how to be a young Christian man. From teachers to superintendents, I’ve been shown the love of God in this school daily. These amazing people have given me opportunities to grow, lead, and mentor. I’ve been very fortunate to be a part of the Student Council, been involved in athletics, and have worked alongside the leadership team at school. Through these opportunities, I have met some incredible people who have made me the man I am today. None of this growth would have been possible without the people at TC Christian. First I would like to recognize Tom Broderick (aka Dr. B), the Director of Biblical Studies at TCCS. Dr. B has pushed me to investigate and challenge my Christian faith, and every time it stands true. This training in apologetics has given 24 | The Messenger

me a love for God’s Word and for the power it holds. The verse that best summarizes Dr. B’s impact is this:

“But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.” 1 Peter 3:15 Without Dr. B’s training in my life, going to college would be a lot scarier, but I can proudly say that I can give a defense for my faith. Another individual who has impacted my life is Steve Anderson, Director of Admissions and School Counselor. Before Mr. A was involved in counseling and administration, he was a great teacher of mine. Mr. A taught Social Studies and Bible in my middle

school years. Besides covering these subjects in great depth, Mr. A was a friend. He came alongside me in high school and helped me with a discipleship class that I led for some middle school boys. For a whole year, Mr. A gave up his lunchtime to support and guide me. This care and kindness modeled for me the type of man I aspire to be one day. There are so many other people I could name who have touched my life in significant ways through TCCS. I am truly grateful for my time here and feel prepared for what the Lord has in store for me. Traverse City Christian School is more than a school - it’s a collection of people who care for you the way Christ does. About the author: TC Christian Senior, Clint Walker, plays on the high school worship team, is the President of Student Council, a varsity athlete, and the Class of 2021 Salutatorian. Following graduation, Clint will attend Indiana Wesleyan University to study Youth Ministry and Business.

How is this possible?

Welcome to Scrip.

Picture this: You make your usual yearly sojourn for new school clothes. You fill the dressing room bench as usual—with polo shirts and cargo pants, belts and sweaters—and head to the register with whatever fits. Your selections are rung up and folded, and you pay a grand total of $400. Guess what? You just earned $28 for TC Christian. On the way home, you pick up a video and a pizza. That’s another $1 for TCCS.

The concept is simple: TC Christian purchases gift certificates, or scrip, from popular retailers at a discount, which the retailers are happy to give because they’re guaranteeing themselves customers and some goodwill advertising. Parents then buy the gift certificates from TCCS at face value. The difference in price is available to the parents to apply towards tuition, school expenses, or to donate to the Variable Tuition fund. Parents spend the scrip at the retailer, where it’s worth the full face value; they haven’t spent an extra dime nor have they had to change stores. But they have helped themselves and the school. If you’d like to learn more about TC Christian’s scrip program, click here for all the details

SABRE CAR DECALS Contact the Athletics office to get your $5 Sabre Car Decal while supplies last. Makes a great stocking stuffer, too.

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Tiny Team, Big Hearts!

The head coach of the TC Christian Sabre Volleyball team is a TCCS alumna who is relishing the opportunity to coach her old team.

Katelyn (Vanvreede) Shaffran has been serving as the Head Coach of the TC Christian Varsity Volleyball program since 2016, and she couldn’t be happier. “As a TC Christian alumna, I really looked forward to coming back and coaching the volleyball team.” It’s not the job that has her hooked. “The girls are the reason I love it. They are determined, respectful, and competitive young ladies who I’m honored to coach.” Katelyn’s ties to TC Christian extend beyond coaching. “My big sister and three brothers also attended TCCS. You could say we’re Sabres for life. I played volleyball 26 | The Messenger

with my sister, Jessica, along with basketball and tennis, and my big brothers - Mike, Tony, and Billy - were Sabre soccer players who also played basketball. We love competition and still like to catch a game at the school when we can.” Katelyn and her siblings grew up on Traverse City’s west side and made the daily commute across town to TC Chrstian “in our super-sized family van.” Growing up in a Christian family and attending Christian school ensured “we understood who we were in Christ and that service above self was paramount.”

It was a sacrifice for mom and dad to send five kids to TC Christian but they believed it was important. Our parents showed us that with God, all things are possible.”

Katelyn credits her parents, Bill and Tammy Vanvreede, for instilling in them the lessons of faith, love, and determination, lessons that she leans on today. “It was a sacrifice for mom and dad to send five kids to TC Christian but they believed it was important. Our parents showed us that with God, all things are possible.” After graduating from TCCS in 2011, Katelyn attended Michigan State University where she earned her Bachelors In Hospitality Management. “Entrepreneurship runs in my family, “ said Katelyn, “so it was only natural I use my major to develop a business” After coordinating over 500 weddings and events with another company, Katelyn struck out on her own and started Katelyn Rose Events. “It has been an exciting journey but”, she adds with a wry grin, “Covid has certainly made its presence felt.” In addition to running her own business, Katelyn manages the office of V Dermatology, a medical practice run by her brother, Dr. Tony Vanvreede.

Katelyn on the TCCS Senior Mission Trip, 2011

Coaching a team and running a business share several principles for success. “You learn - and have to use - so many important life skills: organization, leadership, time management, effort and commitment, teamwork, and so much more. These are all critical to success.” In 2019, Katelyn married Nick Shaffran, a native of Leland who works with Boone Construction. “Nick is the perfect mate for me. He’s an athlete who understands my role as coach, and totally supports my work with the team.” Katelyn and Nick make their home in Traverse City and are making the move to City Church which, interestingly, is housed in the building where TC Christian first started operations in the mid-

Katelyn Vanvreede, TC Christian Sabres, 2011

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win over perennial powerhouse, Leland, in regular conference play. “That was quite a night,” said Katelyn. “I was so proud of our girls. They never gave up.”

1990s. “We love City Church and see several other TC Christian alum who serve and worship there each week.” In their free time, Katelyn and Nick enjoy adventures and hikes around Northern Michigan, and relaxing with family and friends. When it comes to volleyball, however, there has been little time to relax. Prior to taking on the Varsity role, Katelyn coached JV and Middle School volleyball at TCCS. “I am so incredibly proud of each team I coached. When I became the Varsity coach five years ago, I was coaching girls I had back in Middle School.” Katelyn is clear when it comes to how she leads her team. “My coaching philosophy is simple. Through respect, teamwork, and determination we can accomplish big things. We always say, ‘Tiny Team, Big Hearts.’ Our team has always been small, but that doesn’t stop us. Each practice and each year, we do our best to grow as both individuals

Ultimately, though, coaching is always about the relationship. “I love volleyball, for sure, but I care deeply about the girls. I think that’s important. I try to create a relationship with them, have fun, and do whatever I can to contribute to their success, both on and off the court.” and players. When we work together and treat each other with respect, it’s truly incredible to see what we can overcome.” Despite being the smallest team in the District, the Sabres under Katelyn’s direction have been fierce competitors. They finished the 202021 season with a 26-7 record and were ranked #2 in the state for their division. A highlight was a convincing

With all the ups and downs running a business and coaching a sports team during a pandemic, one might forgive Katelyn for wanting to put her feet up and chill. Nothing could be further from the truth. “Nick and I welcome our first child - a baby girl - into this world in May. We have a full calendar of weddings and events over the summer and then I start preparing for volleyball in the Fall. Excited? You bet!”

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A lot of time has passed since the MHSAA State Bowling Championship back in March, 2020. Five days after Hunter Haldaman was crowned the Division 4 State Bowling Champion, the world shut down. With TC Christian closed for the remainder of the school year, and the inevitable hiccups with face-to-face instruction in the current school year, it has taken time but we have finally been able to honor our champion. Congratulations to Hunter Haldaman. The banner has been raised. Not only is Hunter an amazing bowler, he is an amazing young man and we are so proud to celebrate this incredible accomplishment! Looking forward to seeing what this bowling season brings!


DREAM TEAM Congrats to Sabre Junior, Emma Mirabelli, for being named to 1st Team All State In D4 Volleyball. You can catch the full story here.

Despite losing their season to COVID, TC Christian’s two Middle School basketball teams were determined to get one more game in before the Christmas break. Led by coaches Greg Johns and Adam & Kristin Miller, and refereed under the watchful eye of TCCS Superintendent, Tyler Van Schepen, a lunchtime scrimmage was organized and played in early December.

Competitive action and sportsmanship were the order of the day as the boys battled for the win, all the while ensuring the newer players got a shot at playing and scoring points. When it was over, the margin was just one point with both teams being heartily cheered on for their fine effort by their MS classmates who enjoyed lunch on the bleachers while they watched (socially distanced by grade). It really was a great game. Well done to everyone!

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VARSITY BASKETBALL DOMINATES TC Christian’s Brock Broderick drives to the hoop in the first game of regular season play against Grand Traverse Academy. Christian won the encounter 72-20. At the end of February, Brock led all players in the area in both scoring and rebounding. Congratulations to both Brock and Sabre team mate, Elijah Mleko, who made the list of area leaders.

ALL-STATE HONORS Congrats to our three Sabre soccer players who received All State Honors in Division 3:

● (Top) Senior Midfielder, Marcus Rysztak – 1st Team All State

● (Right) Senior Midfielder, Luke Montney – Honorable Mention All State ● (Left) Sophomore Forward, Henry Reineck – Honorable Mention All State

SABRE BOWLERS IN AMAZING FORM It’s early in the season but the Sabre bowlers are on a tear. Both boys and girls varsity teams are putting up huge scores against their opponents. It will be exciting to see how the season unfolds.

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JV BASKETBALL OFF TO A GREAT START Austin Miller scores for the Sabres JV Basketball team in a 67-16 win over Grand Traverse Academy in the season opener.

Spirit Week

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Prayer does not prepare us for the greater work; prayer is the greater work. Oswald Chambers

Each week all around the world, dedicated mothers meet to take part in what is arguably one of the simplest yet most profound acts of service available to Christians. Whether in Alaska or Alabama, California or Connecticut, these parents have two things in common: they love Jesus and they love their children’s schools. Here at Traverse City Christian School, a small group of parents are part of that international ministry called Moms In Prayer. We caught up with TC Christian moms, Jenni Blodgett and Chelsea Leggett, to learn more about this vital ministry.

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Moms In Prayer Tell us a little about yourselves. Jenni Blodgett (JB): My husband, Andy, and I have been at TC Christian since 2015. We love Christian education! We have five children at the school and we worship at New Hope Community Church. I like helping out in the classrooms and with PTO activities, but Moms In Prayer is my favorite way to volunteer and serve our school. Chelsea Leggett (CL): Ben and I have three children at

TCCS and we’ve been a part of the school family for six years now. Lucy is in 11th, Hattie in 8th and Milo is in 2nd grade and we attend New Hope Community Church. I’ve enjoyed being involved with the school in a number of ways: through substitute teaching and helping in the classroom; lunch and recess duty; milk delivery (that’s all Ben); and helping run the Christmas store that the PTO funds for the kids to shop for their families each year.

What’s the ‘Moms In Prayer’ story? JB: Moms In Prayer was started in the 1980s by one concerned mom who wanted to lift up her children to the Lord with other moms. It has gradually grown to now be in 140 countries all over the world! Moms in Prayer has been part of TC Christian for many years, much longer than we’ve been here! We meet every Tuesday between 8-9am, primarily after drop off, to pray for one hour. The nice thing is there’s no commitment. You don’t have to sign up or come to a certain number of sessions. It’s purely voluntary, whenever you can make it. If someone can only attend occasionally, that is still wonderful! We recently had a mom attend for just the first half-hour then leave for work. Right now due to Covid, we are meeting via Zoom but historically we’ve met at a variety of locations like private homes, the Table 12 coffee shop, the school library, and at the picnic tables in the courtyard outside the school cafeteria. CL: We usually have a handful of moms joining us in any given week. They represent a variety of churches so it’s a very ecumenical thing. Their children are spread out over almost all the grades in the school so it’s not just one section of the school whose moms are praying. JB: I love that we don’t just pray for our own children! We also pray for the school as a whole, for some of the staff by name each week, and some of the school families by name each week. We also pray for individually submitted teacher requests. It’s our goal that all the school staff and all the school families will have been prayed for throughout the year. Take us through a typical meeting. JB: One hour may sound like a long time of praying, however I think usually we are surprised at

how quickly that hour goes! Moms in Prayer follows the format of the 4 steps (A.C.T.S.): Adoration, Silent Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication. We take turns praying aloud (except during our group silent time of silent confession), but no one has to pray at any time. Some people pray much more than others. There

Prayer is such a powerful weapon and we are privileged to have that direct access to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. have been weeks I have been quite silent, especially five years ago when I was new to TCCS. In this corporate prayer group, we do not take time at the beginning to share prayer requests or talk about them; instead we introduce them in prayer. We also “pray in one accord”, where after anyone introduces a request in their prayer, someone else will agree with them by praying for it next also. CL: I’ve been part of MIP for just over a year now. It was always something that I longed to be a part of, but due to a scheduling conflict, I wasn’t able to join until this past year when they switched the prayer time to Tuesdays. You could call me a rookie, but prayer is something that has been a part of every day of my life. All it took was attending one meeting for me to realize what a vital ministry this is! And it warmed my heart to no end, when I experienced firsthand, the sincere

intention behind every prayer offered on behalf of me and my family for all of these years! Truly humbling to know that not one gets missed. Every staff member, every family is covered, whether they are involved in MIP or not. JB: Prayer with faith is the first “effort” we are to make as Christfollowers in our spiritual battle. Our “weapon” is the Sword of the Spirit - God’s WORD. Moms in Prayer combines these two so wellGod’s Word and Prayer. We read Scripture aloud and pray it aloud too. Every week our Scriptures focus on a name of God or a character of God. Focusing on God definitely changes our perspective! Prayer changes things! Every week we have reminders of how God has answered and what He has done! And just as importantly, prayer changes our hearts. I cannot tell you how uplifting and encouraging this group is for me every Tuesday The Messenger | 33

Moms In Prayer meets each Tuesday from 8-9am. If you would like to learn more, including details on how to join the weekly Zoom call, please contact Jenni Blodgett directly. 34 | The Messenger

morning! CL: This has been impressed upon me during our prayer time together. Our requests are not some “pie in the sky” long shots or part of some “wish list” that we hope the “Big Man Upstairs” has time to look over. When we get our hearts right before God and come humbly, contritely, and reverently asking for what we know pleases Him; He not only hears, He leans down close to listen. And He answers. What amazing hope and assurance! Prayer is such a powerful weapon and we are privileged to have that direct access to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Can you describe a memorable moment? JB: There are many weeks where one of us is brought to tears, and so many times I have been thankful

for the unity, the support, and the confidentiality. This summer we had the unique experience of having one of our teachers (who is a mom of TCCS students) joining us regularly. Over the years, we have had nursing babies, toddlers, and preschoolers with us - sometimes with childcare, sometimes without - and it is always memorable the sounds and voices and antics that they add! CL: What has stood out to me the most through this experience is the connection to the gospel story in Mark 2:1-12. A paralyzed man desperately needed a healing touch from Jesus. Unable to walk on his own, he had to rely on some friends to help carry him (lower him through the roof of a crowded building no less!) to get to Jesus. These friends were “stretcher bearers.” They each took a corner of the mat to bring the one in need to the feet of Jesus. This is the role that we, as moms, play in each other’s lives as we lift each other up in earnest, fervent, persistent prayer. We weren’t meant to do this life alone. We need one another to help carry our burdens. As moms, we share so much. We all desire similar things for our families. And that commonality, paired with a like-minded boldness in faith is dynamite. What words of encouragement would you offer to parents considering joining MIP? JB: You will be glad that you did! It is one of the best hours of my week! Even if you cannot join us weekly, we would love for you to be able to pray with us occasionally. CL: I walked away from my first time meeting with MIP and thought, “There is no better way to spend an hour of my week than that.” I am sincerely blessed to be a part and I think you will be, too.