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!!!!!

The night before a GIANT day for Thrive Church…

Well, it’s 4:30pm on Saturday, August 15th. I’m sitting in a familiar place, my office. I got up at 5am. Took a long prayer walk from 545-730am. I met with a group of Thrivers at 9am for another group Prayer Walk. We then set up tents at the park and now I’ve been in my office going over my message and the final details.

This time tomorrow, Thrive’s baptism and bbq will be over and we’ll start looking ahead to August 21st, 2016! Our next outdoor baptism.

It’s just amazing. I’ve been praying for this Sunday since last August. I’ve taken hundreds of prayer walks around the park where it’s being hosted. I’ve begged, asked and pleaded with God to move so powerfully tomorrow that people would only be able to attribute what’s happening to an ONLY GOD moment!


Honestly, I’ve gone through the whole range of emotions this week. 

I’ve been so excited! I love these HUGE days for our young Church. I love the momentum. I love the extra involvement. I love the entire Church community coming together.

I’ve been anxious. I can’t wait! I’ve been praying at this park for months! I’ve been praying for these people getting baptized for months!

I’ve been humbled. I’ve asked God a million times. Why does a guy like me get the privilege of leading this amazing Church? And, every time someone signs up

I’ve been discouraged. Yeah, I have. To be honest, it’s hard when I hear people are going to miss this HUGE day for our Church. I know, I know, I know. I shouldn’t. People have lives. I get it. But, 6-7 times a year we ask people to save the date because we know something AWESOME is going to happen because of all the momentum, extra planing and extra prayer! And, how often do you get to see over 50 people get baptized! So, I’ve fought some discouragement.

I’ve been expectant. I have been seeking God, praying and begging Him to move in peoples hearts. I’m making a huge challenge tomorrow morning and I’m believing that the Holy Spirit is going to move! Going to draw people closer to Christ!

I’ve been wrecked. Many nights at my office I have just wept. I know God is moving. I know God is changing lives and that’s just amazing. That’s the whole reason we do everything we do!

I’ve gone through my message 3 times and I’d like to get another 2 times in as well. But, I need to rest. I need to step back and totally TRUST God.

Tomorrow is a HUGE day for our little church. Tomorrow is a GIANT day for so many lives! Tomorrow is an important day because people are publicly declaring that they are not ashamed of Jesus Christ. Tomorrow is a day that I’ve been praying for, for months and I can’t wait!

I can’t wait to see how God moves! Please God move. May you get all the credit. All the honor. All the Glory.


Join Thrive’s 31 Day Prayer Walk

You are invited to join Thrive Church as we pray for the next 31 days. Now, of course we will continue to pray after these 31 days are finished. But, we’re attempting to come together as a Church and pray together for this fall for our Church.

And, you don’t have to walk when you pray. But, if you would like too, that would be great.

So, if you would like to pray with us, head here and join. Each day there will be a prayer guide posted to give you ideas on what to pray. You don’t have to use those, but they are suggestions.

Here is today’s…

Thank God for your Salvation~
2 Timothy 2:10–Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.

Pray for our Church~
Ask God to bless our new 5 week series…’I love my church’. May our Church learn and grow how to be a Jesus centered Church.

If you are walking and praying and you take a picture of your prayer walk. Hashtag it. That way other Thrivers can be a part.


Thanks for praying! Thanks for seeking God!

A spiritual practice that will erase the lies

I don’t know about you, but sometimes the lies that fill my head become INTENSE!

I know they’re not true. But, when they’re dropped inside my head, one after the other, gosh! INTENSE!

And, it doesn’t stop with the lies. All of a sudden, the comparison game starts. And then that is INTENSE!

Then, out of the blue, I wonder if someone is unhappy with a decision I made and then that becomes INTENSE!

And then, the lies get lonely, so they start to attack and then it’s a version of INTENSE that made the first round look like a pony show.


Honestly, this happens to me in waves and seasons. It doesn’t always happen. It’s not always super INTENSE.

But, there are seasons where it is crazy bad and just when I think it’s done, another wave of lies come over my mind!

I’m reminded about things like:

  • I’m not smart enough to lead a church.
  • My church would grow faster if I were a better leader.
  • My kids are getting the short end of the stick and they deserve a better dad.
  • My wife deserves a better husband.
  • I start comparing what God is doing at my church to other churches.
  • I start to believe the lie that says I’ll not never get healthy and I should just give up.

I don’t know what lies fill your head, but I would bet they’re just as debilitating.

So, instead of letting my mind dwell in the depth of those lies, here is a spiritual practice that brings a tremendous amount of peace to my mind and thoughts.

Filling my my mind and heart with scripture

Here is a great passage of scripture that reminds me to stop focusing on the lies and to focus on the truth of scripture.

Romans 12:1-2 (message)

 So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.


Fix your eyes on Jesus

Can imagine, as a Jesus Follower, if we actually did that and if we really took those words seriously!?! Just imagine the life change in us that would happen. Just imagine the change in our families lives and friends.

New glasses

Today I get to go to an optometrist. Actually, my wife, Bekah and I get to go!

And, I am excited!!!! 

Get this and I’m not proud of it! My wife hasn’t had new glasses since 2007 and I’m not much behind her. And, our Church, Thrive Church, came together and blessed us with a terrific Christmas gift of new glasses for the three of us!! Just so humbling!!

Everything will probably change for me as I get new glasses. Ok, not everything, but a lot will. My eyes and what I will be able to focus on is about to change dramatically. I squint a lot right now. I struggle to read things far away. Shoot, I struggle to read things close up! But, that’s all going to change.

And, that will make life better. Unknown

As a Jesus follower, the author of Hebrews 12:2 encouraged us to fix our eyes on Jesus to focus on Him. Focus on how He lived and to live our lives in the same way.

Here’s how the message version says it…

Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he’s there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. 

In 2015 I’m doing everything I can to keep my eyes on Jesus.

To focus on Him. To Live like Him. To be Him to as many I can. To be as focused on my life mission as He was.


My biggest hurdle in 2015

2015 is looking pretty darn good.

Which, to be honest, 2014 will be tough to top! I had a great year in 2014. It wasn’t easy by any means and actually it was one of my toughest yet, but it was a great year.

The only negative I can muster up about 2014 is…my health. I mean, leading a church…especially a super young church is not easy. We dealt with a ton of not so fun moments, financial stress, growing pains and leadership challenges. But, even with all that, 2014 was great.

It was just my health.

My back surgery was so much harder than I ever thought and it took me a long time to bounce back. In fact, bending is still a constant struggle and the pain from that is still not fun. The simple act of getting out of bed or putting on socks, yeah, these are extremely painful tasks for me!

I miss running. Playing basketball. Swinging a baseball bat or a golf club. Wrestling with my boys.

So, for me, that pain and struggle has given me excuse after excuse to let my weight go. The discipline of eating well, while dealing with the pain is just something I flat out failed at in 2014.

That’s my biggest hurdle for 2015.

I just can’t continue to live the same way. But, changing, like everyone knows…well, that’s hard! Actually, hard doesn’t even cut it. Its a ridiculously hard battle and I am way down deep in the hole. I’ve tried to change for months and each time, well, I fell back into old habits.

Every time in the past, I have been able to work out. I have been able to run. This time, I just can’t.

So, here I go. This is my biggest hurdle to 2015 and one that I’m ready to take on.

I would love your prayers for strength and courage.