Thrive Church…Tomorrow is going to be Powerful. Plus (+) We have an Interim Director for One Youth! Woo Hoo!

Happy Saturday Thrive Church
 
I hope you’re doing well and enjoying this weather!!
 

You have to know 3 things…

 
1. We’re talking about how to Recalibrate Your Life tomorrow. Maybe you’ve been out of whack. Feeling like something is missing. Feeling like you’re ‘off’ with God? We’re diving into this passage…
2. Please check your mailbox or email inbox on Monday and Tuesday. I sent home a letter with some SUPER IMPORTANT UPDATES ON THE MOVE TO CMU!!!
 

Are you praying for that? Are you asking God to provide? Are you asking Him to open up the floodgates of heaven on our Church? Please do!

 
3. Jessica Herron is One Youth’s new Interim Director! WOOOOO HOOOOO!!!! Let me back up. One Youth has come a LONG way this way! We have record students involved, record adult volunteers, amazing worship and its been AMAZING on Sunday nights!
 
PAUSE: If your student isn’t involved, come on! Get them there!!
 
Ok, anyways, I have been leading the Church and leading One Youth. Which has worked. But, honestly, I need to raise up new leaders and Matt and I have been praying for One Youth’s next steps.
 
God laid Jess on my heart. She’s been at Thrive since the beginning. Her heart for our students in unreal. She helped start One Youth and honesty, it wouldn’t be here without her faithfulness!
 
Plus, I have personally seen her GROW a ton as a leader over the last 3 years. So, Matt and I took her to lunch and asked her to be the Interim Director and she said YES!!!
 
She is the Interim and she is volunteer staff. I have empowered her to LEAD. To make decisions. To be the point person.
 
So, PLEASE Congratulate her! Please THANK her!!!
 

2017 is already shaping up to be our BEST year yet as a Church!!!

 
The Best is yet to come!
Jason Raitz
 
PS…You coming tomorrow to Thrive? If not, why? If you’ve been away for a while and find it hard to come back, just take the step!

A Beautiful Post by my wife about Winona’s Death, Moving Forward and the miracle of Kai’s Adoption.

Today is a bittersweet day for me. A year ago we were plowing through the adoption paperwork and checklists to bring Winona Mae home. We had a crib, stroller and had just bought paint for her room and had planned to paint over the weekend! Things were moving forward and we couldn’t wait to hold her in our arms!IMG_3316

The afternoon of 2/1/16 I had emailed our case worker a question about some paperwork and she replied right away with ‘are you home? Can you call me?’ I wasn’t too worried since I had requested a PHE level update on Winona and thought she wanted to give those to me. What she would tell me instead was something I never expected and still today hurts to think about. Winona had passed away…all we know is a virus was going through her orphanage and her little body just couldn’t fight it off. I was in shock, I was pacing the street in front of our house talking to our caseworker and wondering how I was going to go inside and tell the kids? When I hung up with our caseworker I called Jay and told him. We didn’t talk too much cause we were both in tears. Going in the house to tell the kids after talking to Jay was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do.

That night we were surrounded by friends and family who grieved with us, sat with us and held us while we cried.

The next few weeks were a blur as we tried to process the news. We questioned moving forward with the adoption process…how could we without Winona? How would we even begin to choose another child? Did we even want to move forward? Should we wait a few months, a year or stop altogether?

After praying and talking about it we decided to move forward with the home study and see what happened.

Fast forward a couple weeks and the picture of a little boy who also had PKU was sent to me by a fellow adopt parent who was adopting from his orphanage. We felt a connection to him but he was with a different placing agency and at the place we were at we didn’t feel called to switch agencies. Again we questioned the journey we were on but still felt God telling us to move forward and trust him. 邹宏凯+(1)We looked at other files of kids with our agency but neither of us felt really called to any of them (they were all precious and needing a forever family, we just knew we weren’t theirs). I was just about ready to call it quits cause it was getting to hard emotionally when I received an email and FB message late on a Saturday night from our case worker saying she had a file of a little boy on a 72 hour hold for us if we wanted to review his file. I opened the email and there was the picture of the little boy we both felt a connection to earlier! Everyone else was asleep but all I could do was look over the pictures attached to his file and smile!

The little boy in the file and pictures was Kai! The next day after a long Sunday (we had Thrive, then family over for Bek’s birthday) I emailed our case worker our LOI (letter of intent) for Kai to be sent to China. A couple weeks later we received our PA (pre-approval), and as you all know almost 2 weeks ago we brought him home!

When I think back to the beginning of our journey and how we almost quit when Winona passed away I get sad thinking of the love, joy and happiness we would have missed out on with Kai had we not listened to God’s voice and moved forward even though it hurt! Even though we wanted to stop cause it was too hard and we couldn’t see the end!

I am so glad we were obedient and faithful through the hurt and pain and and so thankful for Kai and for the love and joy he has already brought to our family in just the short amount of time we have known him!

I am excited to see what God has in store for this little boy who has captured our hearts! We still grieve not getting to hold Winona by know she is free of sickness and pain in heaven and will one day meet her! She will always hold a part of our hearts and will forever be a part of our journey to Kai!

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I think we made a mistake…

Ok, I know this is going to sound crazy, but…

I think we made a mistake.

 Let me back up. I have no idea how we could have done it. Shoot, I have no idea how we did what we did. But, I think we could have attempted it. 

I think with God’s help, it was something that we could have done. 

Actually, Tracie brought it up to me months ago and my  first thought was…’she’s crazy!’. But, I will tell you I prayed about it. I really did. But honestly, I have been a level of stressed out that I have never been in my life. I really needed to remember Jesus’ words…

Then, turning to his disciples, Jesus said, ‘that is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life, whether you have enough food to eat or enough clothes to wear’

So, you maybe wondering what I’m talking about?

I think we made a mistake by not bringing home…

TWO CHILDREN FROM CHINA. 

Yes, I’m crazy! Tracie is crazy! Ican hear the chorus’s of ‘your crazy’ righ now. I can see all the eyebrows going up. I can see people waking away. 

Especially after re-reading my blog post from last night! Wow, we were tired yesterday! Kai gave us a run for our money. 

But, being here. Walking around his orphanage. Seeing the RIDICULOUS need. Having our hearts broken and then broken again. Meeting families who have adopted 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 times. Seeing what God has already done in our hearts. 

Yeah, I think we made a mistake by not at least attempting it. 

Now, I have no idea how we could have afforded it. I have no idea how we could have managed it. I have no idea. 

I really have no idea. 

To be honest, I have no idea how we were able to do what we did. I have no idea how we’re going to afford 3 kids with PKU. I don’t know how we afford 2 kids with PKU. I actually had someone tell us we were financially irresponsible for adopting a child with PKU when our need is already great for the two we have with PKU. 

That broke my heart. 

We’re kind of figuring stuff out as we go. 

But, I was pushing Kai through the lobby at our hotel yesterday and I was watching a new dad push his new baby girl in her wheelchair. Yes, her wheelchair. Then I talked to another dad who has a new baby girl, she’s 8 and blind. And I talked to another family who is rushing to get their new son back to the US because they don’t know how long his heart will keep working before surgery. 

And, my heart broke again in ways that I never thought it would. 

JUST BROKE!

Actually SHATTERED!

And I realized I think we made a mistake. 

I know God is working in us. I Know God is working in Kai. I know God is working in the people following our story. 

I know we did what God called us to do, I just wonder if we were suppose to do more?

I wonder if in the future God will call us to do more. 

I know for sure it wasn’t a mistake adopting Kai! This boy has already captured our hearts. This boy is our son and we will love him forever. 

Tired, Overwhelmed, Exhusted, Amazed

So, no sugar coating here. 

We’re Tired. 

Kai is a super happy kid and then he isn’t. 

Last night was rough. Not much sleep. I ended up walking him from 430-630am all over our hotel. Which worked out, because I was up anyways. 

Overwhelmed. 

This afternoon when he woke up, wow. He was not happy. It was next level. He was overwhelmed and we were overwhelmed. 

We know that he has 3 years of life that we know nothing about. We also know that his entire world has been turned upside down. 

Exhausted.

So, even in our exhaustion, we are so thankful! Every minute, every hour and every day is such an amazing adventure with this little boy. 

We would be honored if you would continue to pray for us. 

Amazed.

In the midst of all this, I am just continually amazed. I walk through the lobby of our hotel and I see family after family with their adopted kids. 

Families adopting little girls who can’t use their arms. 

Families adopting little girls who are blind. 

Families adopting little boys and girls with Down syndrome. 

Families adopting little boys with congenital heart disease. 

We spoke with one family who didn’t know what their new son’s life expectancy even was. But, they felt called to adopt and love him. 

I am just Amazed! 


The Next Leg of our Journey has Begun

What a day! Long, hard, exhausting, stretching, tiring, good, great, wonderful and everything in between!

We left our hotel at 1:30pm and drove to the Nanjing airport. Which was by far the largest airport I’ve ever been in…ever! They say everything’s bigger in Texas, well, everything really is bigger in China! Holy Cow!

We got through security and made our way to the gate. Our flight was delayed 2 hours. Ok, so, we started to walk the airport. I’m not exaggerating when I say it was probably 5 football fields long! As we were at the very end of the airport, I looked at the flight status and it said it was boarding! It had just said delayed and we had like 2 hours to go! So, we high tailed it to the gate. We got to the gate and after they scan your ticket, they load a million people into a bus and drive you to your plane. I took 15 minutes! No joke!

Well, the plane ride was not Kai’s favorite. It was pretty rough. But, we got to Guangzhou, found our guide and loaded up our luggage and headed to our hotel. 

We are staying at a great hotel for the next week because of some amazing generosity. Actually, our room is out of this world cool. Which is great, because Kai has some room to play!! 

For some reason, I am up! Tracie and Kai are out. We have to be up early for Kai’s medical exam in the morning! 

I’m hoping to head to Church on Sunday! That would be awesome! We’ll see. 

Alright, time for some sleep! 

OH…Kai was struggling pretty mightily with me today. Only wants his mama. Until! UNTIL I gave him some banana, his first ever! Yup, I won him over and I don’t care at all if it was bribery! He was happy, he was laughing and he was smiling! 

The CHURCH made Kai’s Adoption a Reality

How about that for a headline!?! 

That’s the reality though, without the local CHURCH, Kai’s adoption would not have happened. 

Tracie and I weren’t in a position to afford this adoption on our own. Maybe that should have stopped us from pursuing it. It has stopped many. A few people expressed that opinion to us. Well, not face to face but on Facebook and to others. But, as we prayed about it, we just felt God’s overwhelming push to move forward and to ask the CHURCH to help. So, we did. We did it on Facebook. We did it through emails. We did it on my blog. We did it Face to face. 

And…the CHURCH DID!!!! 

Here’s what I mean by that. Not one Church is responsible for Kai’s adoption or one person or one family, but MANY. 

We had 6 year olds give $5. We had teenagers give. We had families give $20. We had some who gave thousands. We had people give from Central Michigan, the Detroit Area, Grand Rapids and up north. From…PA, IND, VA, CA, CO, NV, TX, LA, NY, OH, IL, WI, WA, FL, TN, KY, DC and some I’m forgetting about. 

But, Kai’s adoption couldn’t have happened without every one of those gifts. 

And, how about this…

99% of the people that gave were followers of Jesus. 

You know why? Because generosity is close to the heart of God! I mean, HE Gave HIS Son for us! Jesus gave everything! The Acts 2 Church gave to support each other. We, as the Church, are called to give! I believe we’re called to give first to God through the Local Church and then to give as God leads us to give. 

I love what Todd Clark said about generosity…

‘Generosity will make you rich not poor’

I have found that to be 100% true in my life. Embarrassingly enough, I fought this for years. I didn’t give because I thought that because I made hardly anything working for the church and because I gave so much time to the Church, that that was the same as giving financially. I was wrong. Dead wrong. There is a very strong and compelling reason that Jesus said your treasure is where your heart is. He knew that we struggle like crazy to Trust Him and He wants our heart. If we can’t put our finances ahead of our heart, we won’t experience all He has for us. 

I can honestly say that is true. I have experienced that. When you make generosity so common in life, like breathing, and you do that over time, whether times are good or bad, one day…

You will wake up and experience a waterfall of the Holy Spirits presence in your life. I have. It’s amazing. 

THE CHURCH MADE KAI’S ADOPTION A REALITY! 

And, actual Churches made Kai’s adoption a reality. This just completely blows my mind! It’s still had to wrap my mind around!

3 Churches, who really don’t know my family or I all that well (I mean, I have a friendship with their Pastors) took offerings to help us! ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?? So, we will always be in awe and so grateful to 242 Community Church in MI, New Bethel Church in IN and Canvas Church in VA. 

Then, Thrive Church in CA, who knows more of me and my Church because we’re in the same network of Churches, received an offering as well. ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME?

Also, the night before we left, I asked some folks from my Church to gather and pray for us. And they did! And, they threw us a surprise shower to help with Kai’s clothes and toys and toddler stuff! 

THE CHURCH IS AWESOME!!!

The Church is responsible for this adoption. Of all the complaining and whining I read about the CHURCH, I’m sorry if I can’t join in! I love the LOCAL CHURCH! She is the bride of Christ. The local Church, when working right, is the Hope of the World. The Church preaches the Gospel. The Church gives people a home. The Church allows the generations to come together. The Church is a movement! The Church is the hands and feet of Jesus! The Church is the LIGHT to this dark world. 

That’s why it just shocks me that Christians have become so apatathic towards their Churches. But, that’s for another blog post. 

Here’s what I know…

A boy who didn’t have a family, now has one. A boy who didn’t have a Church home, now has one. A boy who wasn’t going recieve the level of medical care his PKU needed, will receive one. A boy who slep in a crip with 12 other kids, will now have 4 siblings. A boy on the other side of the world, one of the 17 million orphans in the world, now has a home. 

The Church did that! 

I love the Church. 

‘Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you’ ~ James 1:27