Relationship Skills

It’s my wife’s Birthday!! Happy Birthday TRACIE RAITZ!!!

Today is a very special day!! Why? Because it is Tracie’s Birthday!!!

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Happy Birthday!!!!!

What I love about my wife…

  • She loves Jesus!
  • She loves her family!
  • She puts everyone first.
  • She’s ridiculously selfless!
  • She’s unbelievably faithful.
  • She’s wise beyond her years.
  • She’s got the biggest heart ever!
  • She’s beautiful!
  • She never tells anyone how awesome she is!
  • She’s so dependable!
  • She is amazing with kids!
  • She is a FANTASTIC mom!!
  • She is a PKU genius!!
  • She’s a ROCK!
  • She can make any camp or hotel room feel like home!
  • She’s my partner. She’s my best friend. She’s my life!

A few things you didn’t know about Tracie…

  • She’s ridiculously courageous! When Zach was born with PKU, I fell a part! She did not! She never has! She just cares for our PKU’ers and has set them up for success.
  • She’s so STRONG! I have put her through so much crap and sometimes hell over the years! As I was trying to figure out my contentment issues and moved our family all over the place, she stayed strong and supported me!
  • She’s so GREAT with kids. It’s actually amazing to see with her babies and toddlers! God has given her a gift!
  • She’s one of the main reasons Thrive Church exists! Planting and starting a Church is HARD!! I was about to decide not too start Thrive! It just seemed like we would be inviting a lot of pain into our lives. Tracie sat me down and explained that this was God’s will and His calling on OUR lives and we were going to do this together!
  • She’s quiet, but she has a punch to her! Don’t mess with her, seriously!

To my wife…

  • I love you.
  • I don’t deserve you.
  • I’m amazed by you.
  • You’re an amazing mom.
  • You’re beautiful inside and out.
  • You’re my favorite person on the planet. Even more than Tom Brady! But, if he wanted to hang with us, that would be cool!
  • Thank you for believing in me. Thank you for loving me. Thank you for making me a better man.
  • Happy Birthday!

 

 

The Best moments of 2015 for the Raitz Family

The Raitz family had an amazing year in 2015! christmas card photo

There’s just no way around it. Yes, we had some bumps and experienced a descent amount of pain, but the joy we experienced…far outweighed the pain!

Here’s what I loved about 2015…

We traveled together.

  • We went to Camp Timber Lee twice for speaking engagements.
  • Bobby and I went to CA together. We hung out on the beach, we hung out in downtown Hollywood and then I spoke at a great ministry event.
  • We went to a Milwaukee Brewers game.
  • We went to Chick-Fil-A every chance we got.
  • We went to a Tigers game.
  • Tracie and I went to Vegas.
  • We spent a week in Grand Rapids as I taught at a summer camp.
  • Bekah and I went to Ecuador on a Compassion and Stadia vision trip.
  • Tracie and I went to Tampa with the Thrive staff for a conference.

We laughed together.

  • Yes, it’s not all roses and laughter. But, we have some amazing times together as a family!
  • We love watching movies together. We love watching ‘The Office’ together.
  • And yes, we’re big Pitch Perfect fans!

We helped build a Church together. 

  • For many families, their life equation goes like this:IMG_2972

Work/Family Stuff/Kids Sports/Camping/Hunting and then God/Church

Now, that’s just what I’ve experienced from over 20 years of serving at Churches and, it’s been that way for some seasons in our families lives.

We made a huge decision to reverse the equation when we planted Thrive…

God/Church and then Work/Family Stuff/Kids Sports/etc

It’s amazing what happens in your life and your families lives when you put God and the Church first. So, we have had a blast building and helping grow Thrive Church.

  • I love that our kids look forward to what’s next at Thrive!
  • I love that our kids all serve at their Church.
  • I love that our family talks about our Church and talks about how we can improve it.
  • I love that our family is so invested into our Church.

We bought a home.

  • Yeah, this was stinking awesome! In 18 years of marriage, we have always rented and we were finally able to buy our dream home in 2016!
  • The story behind this is just absolutely nuts and is one of those ‘ONLY GOD’ moments that you read about in books!
  • But, the short story is…God provided a down payment and we were able to use that to buy our home!
  • Honestly, I’m still shocked!

What does 2016 have in store?

  • We’re adopting Winona Mae from China! We can’t wait! At some point, we’re praying sooner than later, Tracie and I will need to spend 2 weeks in China to bring home Winona!
  • Bekah turns 16 on Feb. 22!
  • We’re hoping to take a family vacation to Disney World.
  • We’re praying somehow we’ll be able to buy a bigger vehicle once Winona comes.
  • I’m speaking a Camp Timber Lee again and in Orlando this summer.
  • Depending on when Winona comes, we’re going to travel together to INDY for the National PKU conference.
  • Next school year, we will have an 11th, 9th, 7th and 3rd grader!!

My family is truly blessed. I love my family. They’re the best part of my life.

My hope is to increase the number of date nights I take with my wife and each kid separately. My hope is to coach the boys baseball team again. My hope is to start taking Bekah to visit some colleges. My hope is to take Tracie away on a short 19th anniversary trip in May.

2015 was amazing. I can’t wait for what 2016 has in store for our family! 

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.

3 Ways to Get Your Kids Excited About Church

Let me begin by saying…I am not a parenting expert. I am not even close to figuring out this parenting thing. And, I haven’t been a dad all that long. 14 years to be exact. I have a 14 year old and then an 11, 9 and 6 year old. There are some days when I feel like I know nothing about being a parent. Some days are so crazy hard, I don’t even know where to start. And then, well, then there are some days when everything fits together like a giant puzzle piece.

Ok, that being said…

I love being a parent. I love being a dad.

Maybe I love it so much because I had amazing parents. Actually, hah, I still have amazing parents. My parents poured into my brother and I and invested everything they had in us.

But, I believe with every ounce of my being that being a dad is one of the greatest privileges God gives and I don’t want to waste this time.

One of the areas of parenting that I’m asked a lot about is church.

Specifically, how do I get my kids excited for Church?

How do I help my kids understand the importance of church. How do I help them feel involved and included in our church.

So, because I very much love the local church and I love parenting, I thought I would throw out a few suggestions on how to get our kids excited about church.

3 Ways to Get your Kids Excited About Church

Just about every Saturday night, Zach (my 9 year old), lays out his clothes and has all his stuff ready for church the next morning. He loves our church and he loves being a part. Now, of course, there are mornings when all of my kids don’t want to go to church, but here are some ways I try to help my kids be excited about their church.

Disclaimer: Before I go any further, I also want to say that I really believe these apply to best if your local church has an outstanding kids and student ministry. If your church is not investing in kids and the kids environments are less to be desired, these could be a much harder sell.

Also, if your church is on the uber traditional side and your teenagers fall asleep, again, I don’t think these are the answers.

To be honest, I think the best answer is to find a new church. A church that’s alive, has ton of energy, is growing and invests in their kids and students! That may sound harsh or like I’m suggesting that leaving a church is an easy decision. It’s not. But, I really think you need to think it through.

Ok, disclaimer over.

1. Model being a part of the Church. 

Mom and dads…If you’re not actively involved in your church, then there is absolutely no way that you can ask your kids to be excited and involved in church. Now, if your kids are teenagers and you just started being involved, honestly, it may be too late. But, that’s no reason to not get involved. And, its never too late to start.

Notice I didn’t say, just attend church. I really believe we need to be a part of the church. To be the church. That means we…

  • Pour into the church
  • Serve our church community
  • Tithe and model giving to the church
  • Worship
  • Pray for our church
  • Model serving at church
  • Be in a small group

2. Involve your kids in Church Leadership

I personally think one of the absolute best ways to get your kids excited about church is to involve them in serving. If you serve, bring them along. Serve side by side. If they’re too young, tell them what you’re doing. Ask them what they think about it. Tell them all about it. What’s great about it and what’s not so great. Tell them over and over and then over and over again why you believe in the local church.

If your kids are older, encourage them to serve and if that’s not enough, give them a push to serve.

In their youth group, with kids ministry, with worship, or whatever interests them.

For some reason, we push our kids incredibly hard with sports and drama and all the other after school activities. But, sometimes (again, just my personal opinion, we really lay off when it comes time to church. Why is that?

It’s not enough to just attend every now and then. It’s not enough to just attend.

We have to model being actively involved.

3. Ask them their opinions and dream together.

One of the things that my wife and I do a lot with our kids is ask their opinions. We ask them about everything.

We have made it a habit over the years to constantly ask them questions and then to listen.

We spend a lot of time talking about church.

  • What they like?
  • What they think?
  • What could be better?
  • What they would do differently?

And, we spend a lot of time dreaming and praying together.

I know there is so much more, but I think these three will give you a huge help to get your kids excited about church.

 

 

 

A New Kind of #Selfie

This whole month at Thrive Church, we’ve been in a series called…1545123_10152205686798783_345579863_n

#Selfie: Picture a New You

No, we have not taught people how to take better selfies.

No, we have not taught people to be more narcasistic.

But, we have looked into God’s word and have been challenged how we can transform our inner lives more into the people God’s designed us to be.

If you missed any of the series, all of the messages are on our vimeo page.

I so hope you can watch the messages online!

A day with my hero…my dad

Today was an incredible day.

A friend in TN blessed our church with a bunch of really great equipment and my dad and I drove down to IN to pick it up.

That means I got to spend 7 hours in the car with my dad today.

I love my dad. 

He’s my hero.

He’s humble, he’s a servant, he’s wise, he’s a hard worker, and he loves God.

Today we talked. Today we dreamed about our new church. Today we spent time together.

Today was an incredible day.

Have you ever just slowed down and looked around?

We rush, rush, rush.Unknown

We go, go, go.

We check our phones.

We live by our calendars.

We text during our conversations.

We are busy.

I am no different.

Today, I went grocery shopping at Meijer. It was packed, I loved it.

I walked around and just took my time.

It was a rare time. I wasn’t rushed.

I just slowed down and looked around.

I prayed for people as they walked by.

I didn’t know their names.

But, I still prayed.

I asked God to give me courage to share Jesus.

I begged God to heal marriages. To restore relationships. To reconcile relationships.

I asked God to give me favor with people who are far from Him.

And mainly, I just slowed down and paid attention to people.