One of the reasons we’re adopting…

Tracie and I both had amazing childhoods. Tracie and I both have amazing parents.

We’re blessed in that department!christmas card photo

Our parents were both extremely intentional and we’re so thankful for that. Our parents spoiled us with their time and amazing creativity. To do this day, we are very close to both sets of parents. Shoot, my parents moved to Central MI to help us plant a church and be by their grand kids.

One of the reasons we’re adopting is because we love being parents! That was passed on to us from our parents!

We love being parents!

I’ll never forgot the day Tracie told me she was pregnant with Bekah! She showed up at my office and she was beaming!! I don’t think I ever saw her smile that much! And then God blessed us with Bobby, Zach and Madie.

To be honest, my family is the best part of my life. Yes, we are not perfect. Yes, we do get frustrated with our kids and they get frustrated with us. But, we laugh a lot as a family. We talk a lot as a family. And, we’ve had some amazing trips together.

So, one of the reasons we’re adopting and adding to our family is because we love being parents.

We would be honored if you would help us add to our family.

If you would like to help us, you can do that HERE.


The Raitz Family Needs Your Help to Adopt and Bring home Winona Mae!!

The Raitz Family has some some HUGE news! IMG_3316

We’re trying…praying…hoping… believing that we are going to Adopt Winona Mae from China! That’s our name for her. It’s after Tracie’s two grandmothers. She actually wanted to name both girls that, but Bekah and Madison won out then. Now it’s time for Winona Mae. Her name as of right now is An Fu Le and she is a beautiful 17 month old baby with PKU from China! She’s very tiny for her age.

The Story 

Ok, let me back up! We have four kids. Our life is pretty full. We planted and now lead a growing and exciting church. Our kids are in sports. Have homework and activities. Both Tracie and I work many hours every week for our Church. In the midst of all of that, we believe that God has called us to adopt a child with PKU.

The Calling

God put a calling on my heart almost ten years ago! I was flying home from a mission trip to Mexico. It was a year after Zach was born and his PKU still rocked me to my core. Actually, I could hardly deal with it. I was journaling and I was thinking about the children I saw on that mission trip and the thought that kept sticking with me was…what if Zach was born there? He just wouldn’t make it. That night, God put the call to adopt on my heart. Tracie has always wanted too add to our family and together through a ton of prayer, we have decided to take this step.IMG_3305

It’s taken ten years, but we have found a baby girl in China with PKU and we have been pre-approved by China to pursue her adoption. She’s been on a PKU diet but she is behind a bit developmentally. She is in an orphanage with 800 other children and just doesn’t get a lot of stimulation or individual attention. That’s why we need your help to bring her home!

There is a lot to be done before we can bring Winona Mae home! Paperwork, interviews and and honestly, the biggest part is raising $30,000. And then, we no longer have anything for babies! No cribs, strollers, toys, pack n plays, clothes, etc.

Yes, $30,000!

I know, I know, I know. That’s a lot of money! But, there are a ton of fees. There is airfare. Tracie and I will need to spend 2 weeks in China. There is paperwork costs. There are more fees. There is her paperwork fees. And so much more.

But, it will be worth it! We will add to our family, which the Raitz kids are totally EXCITED about it! And, we will give a loving home with a  great family to a child who desperately needs it. Plus, we already have two kids with PKU! So, she will have a ton of support with her own PKU!

And the cool part so far is… everyone we’ve told so far is totally excited! Our parents, our siblings, our kids, our friends, and circle! We’ve even had people already tell us they will help us raise the money! We’ve had friends who said they will contribute. We’ve had friends ready to help get her room ready! It’s pretty exciting!

We’ve already decided that we are going to try to sell everything we possibly can to help raise as much money as we can. We’re going to be hosting some fundraising events and we will even have a T-Shirt that people can buy.

So, will you consider helping us Bring Winona Mae home? 

Any amount and gift is a HUGE BLESSING!

Here’s what you can to do help us bring Winona Mae home:

  1. You can head HERE to give. This is a Go Fund Me account and will help keep our donations organized!
  2. Share this blog post on your Facebook page.
  3. Share our Go fund Me page on your Facebook page.
  4. Pray. Yes, that should have been number one, but please pray. Pray for the smoothness. Pray for favor with the Chinese government. Pray for God’s favor on raising these funds. Pray for our family.

Ok, I can’t thank you in advance! Thank you for praying! Thank you for giving! Thank you for sharing our Go Fund Me page on your own social media pages!

Let’s bring Winona Mae home!!!!!

Excited to Encourage 2nd Graders to Choose Kindness over Bullying today at Beal City School

It’s been awhile, about a year and a half, but today I’m encouraging 2nd graders to

Choose Kindness over Bullying.

Let me back up. Before I planted Thrive Church, I started a non profit called Live Now Leadership and I spoke in schools to encourage students to Choose Kindness over Bullying. But, with the rapid growth of the church, I just haven’t been able to head out and speak in schools. I’ve missed it.

So, we were at Madie’s parent teacher conference and as we were taking with her teacher it came up that I use to speak to students. She jumped on it quickly and asked if I would speak to all the 2nd graders at Madie’s school.

Helping kids, students and adults treat each other with kindness and respect is actually a HUGE passion of area of mine! My heart breaks when people mis-treat each other.

Just imagine if Parents would be passionate about teaching their kids to treat each other with unprecendeted amounts of kindness and respect. Imagine if parents treated their families and their peers with that kind of kindness. Imagine if 2nd graders understood the importance and began to treat others with kindness…the world would change!

This wasn’t a tough decision at all.

So, this morning I’m headed into Madie’s school and I get to help out. I can’t wait!

And bonus, my kids have heard me speak on this so many times that they’ve been helping get my talk together this morning! I love that!

Thanks for praying for me around 8ish this morning!

Church for the rest of us…An invite to check out Thrive this morning

What are you doing today at 9 or 1015am this morning? Why don’t you head to Thrive Church?IMG_4409

Seriously, we’re a church for people who don’t like church and we would love for you to experience Thrive. There are no perfect people allowed, so don’t worry about that. You don’t have to dress up. Just be you.

Ok, if you already have a Church home, then stop reading! No really! If you have a church family…a church home, then this post is not really for you.

BUT and it’s a big BUT

If you’ve been searching for a Church home, I really do think you would love Thrive. We started Thrive to be a church for the rest of us. There really isn’t any pomp and circumstance or holding onto traditions that were important 30 years ago. I’m the pastor and I wear jeans and a sweatshirt. We talk about real stuff and how we can take the truth of the Bible and apply it to our daily lives. The band rocks. Your kids will love our kids program. And it’s just really fun, it’s really simple and we’re real.

So, if you’re skeptical. If you’ve given up on Church and you are willing to give it one more chance. Then, you’re invited to check out Thrive today at either 9 or 1015 at Celebration Cinema.

See you soon!

A Brothel Closed Down Because of a Church!!! ONLY GOD!!!

Yesterday we visited a former brothel. It was a pretty simple building that was used for horrific acts against women. Satan used to dwell there. Darkness won there. The light was shut out.IMG_0632

Let me back up. We were on a tiny island with 1000 residents. Took about 25 minutes by boat to get there. No running water. Virtually no electricity. Houses bit on stilts because of constant flooding. Garbage all over the place. Half starved dogs running around. Little kids with no shoes, barely any clothes and running through the mud.

We went to visit a Compassion sponsored family and we went to a building that looked like it had a bar in the back. When we asked what used to be there, we were told a brothel. There were 6 tiny rooms on the right side where men would pay for woman and disgustingly enough girls. Like I said, the darkness was winning.


A Church brought the light and hope of Jesus to that island. Remember how important the church is? Because of Jesus…the Church is the Hope of the World! It’s the most transformative and important organization in the world!

And, because of this Church, the brothel closed down! It went away! It failed! Women were freed. The Church brought light to this very dark place. Now, the brothel is used for families. Jesus is winning.

How powerful is that? The light came into the darkness.

And, here’s the powerful story behind this Church. Greg Nettle (the President of Stadia) climbed a mountain to raise the funds to build this church. People sponsored him by the foot and he was able to raise the $87,000 needed to plant this Church and Child Development Center.


Talk about selflessness! Talk about Kingdom vision! Talk about a passion for Every Child to Have a Church!

His story and his daughter’s, which I’ll post about next have really got me thinking about how much I can do to help get more churches started in Ecuador!!

This trip has been life changing. My heart has been wrecked. My heart has been opened. I’m ready to do more.

 *I wanted to attach pictures, but the wifi is giving me some problems. 



Parents…Here’s One way to get your kids more interested in Church

Calling all Moms and Dads. Calling all Step Moms and Dads. Calling all Grandparents. Calling all Aunts and Uncles. Calling all Mentors.

Let me cut right to the point of this post…

I’m often asked how parents can get their kids more interested in church.

So, here’s One extremely simple way to get your kids more interested in Church.

You (as the adult) find a church you’re interested in and then

really be a part!

Simple, right? I have seen this work time and time again. But, here’s the secret, you have to be A PART! Not nominally, not sort of, not kind of, not sometime, not barely, not in a kind of sorta way, not when it fits in your schedule…but really be a part!

And, the best way for this to work is if you do this from the time your kids are born all the way up. Yup, you as the parent just model believing that because of Jesus, the Local Church is the Hope of the World. And because of that, its worth believing in, giving your time and finances and being a raving fan of THE CHURCH and your church.

Here are 10 Ways our Family is Really A Part of our Church…

1. We serve together as a family. Yes, I’m the Pastor and part of my job is to be there on Sunday’s. But, we all head to Church together on Sunday’s. And, our kids each have a serving role.

2. We talk about tithing and giving with our kids. From early on, we’ve talked about it with our kids. Demonstrated it and helped them when they earn.

3. We don’t junk about people in our church. If you want your kids to not like church, then talk about how horrible the people are. Just choose not too.

4. We dream together. We talk all the time how we can make our church better. What we can do to help others.

5. We are all a part of our small group. The Raitz kids look forward to Sunday night and we all refer to it as our small group. Now, the adults stay upstairs and the kids head downstairs. But, it’s our group and we make it a priority to keep Sunday evenings free and clear.

6. We are a part of one church. I know a few families who just visit a couple of churches. I don’t get it. Find a church and plug in.

7. We make sure our kids are a part of the kids and student ministry. Now, I was a youth pastor for 15 years, so student ministry is still very important to me. But, at every phase of kids and student ministry, they have been very important to our family.

Sometimes school stuff (sports, grades, band, etc) comes first in some families. That’s just not the way we do it. Yes, school stuff is very important. But, if the local church is hope of the world, why would I not do everything I can to get my kids as plugged in as possible?

8. We make sure our kids are on every retreat and summer camp. I can’t even begin to describe how important this is to our family! My life was drastically changed when God spoke to me on my 8th grade retreat and I’ve lead and spoke at a few hundred retreats over the last 20 years. So, I know first hand how important they are!

9. We pray for our Church. The staff, the leaders, the people and our outreach.

10. We ask for their opinion. As we drive, as we eat, as we walk, as we talk…we’re always asking our kids for their opinion about our church. What they like, don’t like.

Last week I asked my kids what they love about their church and here’s what they said:

Zach…It’s Simple, Fun and Real. I love the music. IMG_2972

Bobby…My friends are there. There’s not many like ours.

Bekah…We’ve been a part of its growth and that’s fun to see. It’s an energetic environment. I get to lead.

Made…We get to have PJ day. We love the people there. I get to help set up.

Ok, we’re not the perfect family. BY FAR! There are Sunday’s that its an all our brawl to get everyone out the door. But, for the most part, we really do love our church…together.

Now, just a little add on. This has been our pattern since our kids were infants. If you’re new to Church, your journey may be a bit different. I would still encourage you to start with this list. Model it for your kids. Ask them to be a part. And just keep asking them to be a part with you.

I’ve been waiting for today, for a long time!

When my alarm went off this morning at 5am, I pretty much jumped right up. Ok, that’s a bit of an exaggeration…I didn’t jump. But, I slowly and surely got up right away!

I’ve been waiting for this Sunday, November 15th, for a LONG TIME!

Why? Because today at Thrive we are talking about the Cross! And yes, pretty much every Sunday we talk about the Cross, but today will be different.

We’re exploring the power of the Cross. We are going to experience the power of the Cross. We’re going to use many creative forms and elements to dive into the majesty and the beauty of the Cross.

So, I can’t wait!

If you’ve been hurting. If you’re struggling through a depression. If you have questions. If you’re doing great. If you’re hungry for more of God.

Then don’t miss today. 

So, like aways, you’re invited to Thrive at either 9 or 1015 at Celebration Cinema.

Don’t worry about dressing up. Don’t even worry about wearing Church clothes. Just wear your regular clothes. Bring your family. Call a friend and bring them.

Come and check out Thrive this morning and experience how the Cross changes us.