So Incredibly EXCITED for December at Thrive Church!

DECEMBER is a HUGE Month for THRIVE CHURCH!!

I couldn’t be more excited and I hope you will be as well! We have a tremendous opportunity as a Church to help people find and follow Jesus and December is a GREAT month to do that. So, we are really ramping things up and I wanted to make sure you knew what was going on.

December is a Can’t Miss Month @ Thrive

December 6, 13 and 20. We start a new series called ‘A Force Awakens’! Yes, a total copy of the new Star Wars movie. But, its amazing to think about what happened on this planet when Jesus was born. Hope, Peace and Love were awakened! And, of course, we will have a lot of fun with Star Wars over this series.

force awakens

 

 

December 11th.  Thrive’s Annual Volunteer Christmas Party @ the Hub! We can’t wait to party together and celebrate our Thrive teams! Please bring a dish to pass or dessert and get ready for some fun! And yes, this night does include our Mid-Year Volunteer Award Ceremony!! vol. party

December 13-18. Thrive is serving at the Homeless Shelter this week and we need you. Serve as a small group, or serve with some friends and get ready to be used by God.

December 13th. Thrive’s annual Hot Chocolate and Cookie Bar on Sunday morning at Thrive. A can’t miss Sunday at Thrive!

December 20th. Thrive’s  annual Ugly Christmas Sweater Contest and Pictures with Santa on December 20th!!

December 23rd & 24th. STARRY NIGHT!! A tremendous outreach event for you and your family. Both nights are the same program. Both are at the Broadway Theater at 6pm. Please start inviting friends and family and come Celebrate Christmas together!

starry

December 27th. No Thrive on Sunday morning. Yup, no Thrive. I may tear up just thinking about it. But, it’s a Sunday that we take off as a way to thank you to our faithful volunteers for all the early mornings they serve at Thrive! Hang out with your family. Check out another Church. Or watch Church online.

December is a tremendous month and I can’t wait to see what God does in our church!

Sunday Night Reflections…About…Life, Family and Thrive Church

Wow! It’s honestly been an incredible Sunday!

I N C R E D I B L E ! 

I’m sitting in my bedroom and its the calm before the storm in the Raitz house. Our Small Group will be here soon and it will get real in the Raitz house! My kids have been asking for hours if it’s time for small group and I’m excited that the answer is YES!!

Before small group and then before I crash for the night, I thought I would write down a few reflections at the end of the previous week and the beginning of a new one.

Reflections about Life, Family and Thrive Church

1. I’ve been so humbled by everyone who has helped share our journey to adopt! Gosh, every share on Facebook just means the world! And, it’s been so humbling that people have already started giving to our adoption fund! A Pastor friend actually shared a link to an adoption grant on my Facebook page and I already filled it out!!

2. I love who my kids are becoming. Being a parent is one of the greatest joys and privileges of my life and I love my kids. I love the young men and women they are becoming. I love that their teachers all gushed about having them in class and how respectful they were. I love that! Are they perfect, no? But, wow, I am blessed.

3. My parents are my hero’s. They have been for a long time and the older I get, their hero status is more and more cemented.

4. I’m excited to see what God continues to do in Bekah’s heart after Ecuador. She was rocked. Her heart was broken and I’m praying that God put a Holy Discontent on her heart for ministry.

5. Speaking of Bekah, I’ve been praying since the day she was born that her and I would partner together and today we did that. We spoke together in church and it was so much fun. It was awesome! And, I couldn’t be more proud of her! She’s on her way to becoming a gifted communicator. IMG_0827

6. Today was the one year anniversary of an amazing Thriver. Get this, she didn’t miss one Sunday, all year! How amazing is that? In our world where people skip church because of an inch of snow, it was awesome and inspiring to hear her story! I wish we had 100 more like her! Her heart and dedication are off the charts!

7. ‘This Church saved my life’. I heard those amazing words this morning at Thrive! I could cry thinking about the story I was told and how this family had been searching for a church for a long time and they felt at home their first Sunday! So humbling!

8. One of my best friends in the world taught at Thrive this morning and he just killed it! Dr. Tom Rundel is just amazing. His heart for Jesus and his gift to make complex truths come alive, is incredible. I love that God brought his gifts and talents to Thrive. Now, I’m just dreaming about the day when Thrive can hire Tom and he can help develop our church spiritually. IMG_0811

9. We have about $30,000 to raise to bring home Winona Mae from China. There are moments when that seems so astronomical and then there are moments when it seems like nothing because of how big God is! Regardless, I’m dreaming of the day we get to bring her home from China.

10. God’s presented Thrive with an amazing fall and I can’t wait to see what He has in store for the Winter!

Ok, I’m late to my own Small Group! I can’t wait. Plus, we eat well at our small group!

Today’s your day to stop running away from God and Church

You’ve been running.

You’ve been avoiding.

You’ve been dodging.

You’ve been quiet.

You’ve been wandering.

You can’t help it. Life has been really hard this season of life. Every time Sunday rolls around there is a little voice that urges you to go check out a Church, but each week it gets quieter and quieter.

You’ve been running from God. You’ve been running away from Church.

There might even be people who have been inviting you week after week, but you always have an excuse. And actually, they’ve stopped inviting you because you always say no, you always have an excuse.

Maybe you were once a part of a Church and you were there every single week.  But, slowly and surely you drifted away.  People reached out for awhile, but they stopped. They didn’t want to bug you.

Today is your day to stop running away and start running towards. 

God has something amazing for you and you’re closer than you think. So, here is your invite to Thrive. Thrive is a church for people who have been running away from God and Church. Thrive is a Church where no perfect people are allowed. A Church where it doesn’t matter how you dress, what you wear, where you work or if you have doubts.

Just come as you are. Just be you. Just be ready to be welcomed and accepted and loved.

Just stop running.

Thrive Church meets at Celebration Cinema at either 9 or 1015.

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.

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In the midst of all the spending…Would you consider Giving?

Today’s Black Friday. People are going crazy looking for great deals. And, there are a ton, nothing wrong with that at all! But, check out some of these crazy statistics about Black Friday and Christmas spending:

  • $50.1 billion will be spent today.
  • Just over $630 billion is expected to be spent on retail merchandise in the 30 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year.

Here’s another crazy stat…

  • Just over $83 billion will be given to American churches for the ENTIRE YEAR of 2015 in charitable donations.
  • $260 billion total to all charities combined by individuals. 

How backwards is that? Again, there is nothing wrong with buying stuff or gifts or getting a great deal. Nothing. But, if you spend more on Christmas gifts this year than you gave to your local church or to other Kingdom minded para church organizations, please do a gut check.

Jesus said in Matthew 6:21…’For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.’ There’s a reason Jesus talked about money more than almost anything else. Because our money can control our hearts and Jesus taught us time and time again to be generous and to put Jesus first.

So, here’s my question you to you today:

Would you consider giving today? give

Here a few ideas:

1. Give to your local Church. There really isn’t a better investment you can make!

2. Sponsor a Child through Compassion. For just $38 a month, you can literally releasecompassion a child from poverty.

3. Help someone adopt a child. Yes, this one is a little near and dear to my heart, but there are a ton of families who are trying to adopt and all they need is money.

There are so many other ways to give, just pick one and give.

 

 

What I’m Thankful For…My Family, My Friends, My Church and Adoption

I am one EXTREMELY thankful person!

God has been really good to me. He has been really good to my family! As I think about how much He has blessed me…it’s literally OVERWHELMING!

So, today I am Thankful! I choose to be Thankful! I will be Thankful!

Here’s what I’m Thankful for…

One…My Family! They’re precious. They’re wonderful. They’re amazing. They’re christmas card photoincredible. They’re life-giving. They’re fun. They make me smile. They bring me joy. They light up my life. They are the greatest part of my life! I love them!

Two…My Friends. I have some great friends. Don’t why I’m blessed with such great friends. I have 20 year old friends. I have friends around the country. I have friends in my own back yard. I have friends in IL, MI, WI, OH, NY, PA, MA, FL, GA, TN, CA, CO, TX…Ok, this is silly! I have friends in almost every state! We’re all not BFF’s and talk every moment, but I am blessed!

Three…My Church! I love my Church! I have dreamed of this Church since 1995 whenIMG_4652 I first started working at Churches. I have given my Church my time, prayer, heart, tears, sweat, blood and every penny of our savings. I love that we run after people who are far from God. I love that our hearts break over people who are messy and desperately need Jesus. I love that we are passionate about Jesus. I love that we are high challenge Church and challenge the comfortable! I love that we are a Fun Church. I love that we keep it simple. And, I love that we are REAL!

Four…Adoption. I am thankful for Adoption! I am thankful that Jesus adopted me into IMG_3316His family and I am thankful for the millions who adopt every year! And, I am thankful that the Raitz family is joining the Adoption family! I can’t wait to bring Winona Mae home to our family! I love that our entire family is so excited to welcome her in!

I am Thankful! I am Grateful! I choose to be Thankful even when everyday I face excruciatingly tough situations. I choose to be thankful even when I face discouragement. I choose it because the reality is, God has blessed me! God has blessed my family! God has blessed my Church!

And…I am Thankful!

Happy Thanksgiving! 

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!!!!!