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Jason Raitz

Jesus Follower. Husband. Dad. Son. Brother. Pastor.

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Parenting

Parents…4 Ways to have an incredible school year with your family

Another school year is starting! It’s just crazy how fast the summer flies by! But, here we are and instead of just letting the school year start, I thought about putting together a plan for my family.

You see, I want this to be our best school year yet for our 11th, 9th, 7th and 3rd grader.

Before I go into the list, I guess I should lay the foundation to how our family approaches school and education. Because it’s a bit different than most.

  • It is NOT the school’s responsibility to teach our kids character. It is ours as parents.
  • School is not life. We’re a bit different here than most. We’re more concerned about our kids being actively engaged and involved with their Church than school activities. That doesn’t mean we pull our kids from sports or band or yearbook or all that stuff. School activities are just not our priority.

Here’s why: The Local Church is the most important organization on planet earth. Jesus loved the church enough to die for it. That means its pretty darn important. So, we try to model that importance to our kids and as a family. 

  • We understand that school becomes a mission field for our kids. I grew up in private Christian schools from K-12. I loved my experience. I loved the bible teaching and the chapels. If there were a great evangelical christian school in our area, we would pray about sending our kids to it. But, there isn’t. And, we think as our kids have gotten older and their faith has become more of their own, it’s been awesome to see them represent Jesus and their Church at their school.
  • Straight A’s and perfect attendance is not our goal for our kids. Our goal is for them to love Jesus, love their family, love their Church and live out the fruit of the spirit. Now, we push our kids to do great in school. So, I’m not saying we settle for less than A’s and B’s. But, if our kids got straight A’s and had no character and bullied kids at their school, we failed!

5 Ways to make this the best year yet!

ONE….Pray with your family EVERY Day! Yup, I know–I know, it kind of sounds impossible. Maybe its not for some of you, but my family falls way short on this and I wish it wasn’t so!

But, we’re going to make very attempt to pray together as a family…EVERYDAY! We did ok with this last year, this year we will do much better!

TWO…Eat dinner together at least 3 times a week. Again, for our family with 4 kids and lots of stuff going on, this has become harder and harder. But, like Andy Stanley says…we have to choose to cheat. We will cheat on other stuff and choose our family time this year. Something so cool happens when you all sit down and eat and talk and laugh and enjoy each other.

THREE…Sit down and write out a DREAM wall. Super easy, super important. Set goals for the year. Write down families and kids you’re going to pray for. Write down goals of who you want to invite to church. Write down goals you want to experience as a family.

FOUR…Figure out ways you can bless your kids teachers. I love teachers. After speaking at assemblies in schools, I gained a new perspective and love for teachers. So often, it’s a thankless job. Pray for your kids teachers.

We have spent a ton of time over the years reminding our kids that they can ask their teachers if they can help them. To thank them. To encourage them.

What am I missing? I bet, with this short list, we can have a great school!

3 More days till Bobby comes home!!

My 14 year old, Bobby, has been traveling in Africa since August 1st! IMG_1511

I feel incredibly blessed that he’s gotten this amazing opportunity but

I MISS HIM SO MUCH! 

Wow, I miss him. Tracie misses him. His sibling misses him. His grand parents miss him. His friends miss him! Every one misses him!!

You know Why? Yes, he’s our family.

But, its because he’s an amazing young man!

He really is! He’s a difference maker! He loves Jesus. He loves people and it shows! He’s got an amazing head on his shoulders. He’s polite. He’s caring. He’s a thinker. He’s always looking out for the person who is left out. He’s passionate. His laugh is amazing! His heart is gigantic!

Yes, I’m his dad, so I am little bias! But, I can’t even begin to tell you how proud I am when I go to his room and see cards that other adults from church have sent him sitting on his desk. Cards thanking him for spending time with their kids and loving them!

Oh my goodness!

Our house hasn’t been the same without him. I can’t wait to hug him. I can’t wait to shoot hoops with him. I can’t wait to go for walks. I can’t wait to hear about video games. I can’t wait to hear his laugh and watch him dance!

I can’t wait for Bobby to be home!

Monday Morning Thoughts about Life, Family and Ministry @Thrive

Yesterday was a great day! broken

It was my first Sunday teaching at Thrive since July 3rd and I loved every second of it. I only missed a Sunday and a half in July, but it was great to be back teaching.

I took a bit of a break in July. I took off 2 weeks to speak at camps and churches and then I was able to take off a few days for a vacation.

I planned it out months ago and my hope is that each July I’ll take a break like this.

It’s funny, a few years ago you couldn’t have convinced me that I would need a break. Well, wow, I needed the break. I understand now that every Pastor needs to take REST and Sabbath very seriously!

I’m learning an absolute ton about the role of a pastor. I’ve served churches for 20 years, but the pressure on the lead pastor is so much different than anything I’ve experienced in all those years of serving and working for Churches.

Thoughts on Life

It’s amazing how fast life flies by! And then, there are moments that seem to move at a snail’s pace. Like our adoption. Things are progressing, but its a slow go. Our home study was approved, but we’re just waiting for the official signed copy. At that point, we can start applying for grants.

Which will help, because our next round of payments are due and we’ll need to come up with another $3000. But, I know in the end, it will all be worth it! I just can’t wait to have Kai home with us!

Thoughts on Family

At the moment, our 14 year old is in Africa, our 16 year old is in South Carolina and our 8 year old stayed the night at a friends house. That left just Zach home with us! Wow, one kid is a breathe!

But, I miss Bobby and I can’t wait for him to be home! But, I LOVE that he has this amazing opportunity to experience another country!

And, I LOVE that Bekah has an amazing opportunity to travel to South Carolina with two amazing young leaders of Thrive Church and together they are getting a behind the scenes look at one of our favorite Churches…Newspring Church!

Thoughts on Minstry @ Thrive

Yesterday was a spectacular day for our Church! And, in just under 2 weeks, we will baptize between 25-30 people! Wow! Wow! Wow! IMG_4491

Tracie and I went down to the park where our outdoor worship experience is and prayed for that day and the people getting baptized! I can’t wait!

Thrive turns 3 on October 2 and I can’t even believe it! In three short years, I believe, we have made an incredible impact for the Kingdom.

I love my Church and I know the best is yet to come!

 

 

Meet my friend Jess and the famous Slurpee Sunday tradition

I have an amazing friend named Jessica or Jess or as I try to pronounce it with an ‘h’…

Hessica. I don’t know why I do. It’s silly and I try to be funny with it. Its not, but she lets me do it.IMG_0231

Jess has been at Thrive since our very first Sunday, I believe. Or the second. But, either way, she has been at Thrive ever since. She hasn’t missed many Sunday’s in that time. She plays in the band. She has served in Thrive Kidz. She has helped set up at 7am on Sunday’s. And, she serves in One Youth! Actually, she’s one of the reasons One Youth got going and stayed going. She was the first adult leader and has loved and served students ever since.

If I had to describe Jess using one word, I couldn’t. It would just be too hard. Because I would want to use too many words, words like…

Faithful. Servant. Friend. Hero. Leader. Example. Loving. Caring. Believer. Amazing. Humble. Freaking Awesome. Lover of Jesus. Jesus Follower.

My wife and I have 4 kids and they all adore and love Jess.

Our 12 year old Zach is addicted to slurpees. There is a story behind that, but because of a special diet he’s on, we gave him his first slurpee pretty early on (like barely crawling, hahha) and he’s been hooked ever since.

Well, Jess and Zach have this cool tradition.

It’s called Slurpee Sunday.

After Church, before we’ll head to lunch, she takes Zach to his favorite slurpee place and they get a slurpee. As a dad who believes in having other adults be a part of our kids lives, this means the world. Some Sunday’s it’s probably a pain for her because Zach always remembers and is pretty persistent.

But, Jess is just faithful. Jess just loves. Jess just keeps investing into his life.

She cheered him on at his football games. She’s also taken our 16 year old to her favorite coffee place as well. And she has sat in the stands at many games from students from Thrive.

I was thinking about this today because last Sunday was slurpee Sunday and I was asking God to make me more like Jess.

I hope your kids have a Jess in their lives.

We’re praying for 25 people to Help us Bring home Kai. Would you pray with us?

If you haven’t heard yet, the Raitz family is adopting a little boy from China named Kai. You can read more about it here. 邹宏凯+(1)

We’re beyond EXCITED and HUMBLED! We pray everyday for the moment we’ll be able to bring him home!

That’s why we’re praying for 25 people to each give $100 towards Kai’s adoption fund!

To date, we’ve been able to raise about $17,000 towards his adoption!! Its just been unreal and we’re so humbled and honored God would move in peoples lives to help us bring Kai home!

But, we have about $13,000 to go! And, in the next 25 days…

We have to raise $2500.

Here’s why. What’s been raised so far has been applied to our Home Study process, adoption fees and the numerous extra things that have to be done for the adoption process.

We have to raise $2500 immediately for our next payment to the adoption agency that oversees Kai. That will help us make sure that Kai stays with the Raitz family.

If you can’t help financially, we would so appreciate your prayers!!

We’re getting closer and closer!! We’re waiting on our home study report and then we will submit our final paperwork to the US and China. Then we will also apply for a few adoption grants. And then we will wait for the final approvals and then wait for our travel window from China.

Then, we will fly to China, spend 14 days there and then…

BRING HOME KAI!!!!

We pray about the day we get to hold home everyday! We pray about the day we get to walk around the streets of China with him everyday! We pray about the moment we will load up on the plane ride home everyday. We pray about the moment we will land in Detroit and then head home and introduce him to our friends and family!

I pray everyday for the day we will get to bring him to our Church! I pray everyday for the family walks we will take! I pray everyday for the times I’ll play catch with him and watch him playing with his siblings.

We can’t wait! Thanks for being a a part of our journey!

What an INCREDIBLE morning AHEAD!! Can’t wait to send my kids to camp and lead worship at Thrive!!

OH MY STINKING GOODNESS!!!!

I am beyond EXCITED for what’s ahead today!!

First of all…It’s Sunday!!! I can’t wait to gather with my Thrive Church family!!!

Second of all…My kids and a great group of students are headed to Big Stuf Camp in Panama City Beach, FL!! 

Third of all…I have the privilege of leading worship at Thrive this morning with an amazing group of musicians! 

I am on freaking overload! I can’t wait! Here we go!

If you don’t have a Church home, you’re invited to Thrive this morning at either 9 or 1015 at Celebration Cinema.

If Thrive is your Church home, COME ONE!!!!! HERE WE GO!!!!

Oh facebook, I think I’m done loving you

Well, here’s the deal…

I think (think being the key word)…

I’m done loving you facebook. 

Now, you know me. We go way back. I was so excited to sign up way back when. You know this is a big deal for me to say because I absolutely LOVE you! It’s true, I think you’re awesome. I think you’re one of the greatest things ever and I think you’re one of the best tools ever created to help GROW the Kingdom of God!!

But, there is quite a bit I don’t love about you. Let’s start with that. And, some of this is not your fault.

So, here’s what I DON’T love about you...

  • I don’t love the endless mounds of garbage that people post on you. Again, not your fault, but you collect a lot of garbage! A lot of trash!
  • I don’t love the ridiculous drama that people create on you. Again, not your fault, but for some reason you seem to attract drama.
  • I don’t love that your presence in some peoples lives, seemingly increases there lack of emotional intelligence.  Again, not your fault, but self awareness and relational awareness is at an all time low.
  • I don’t love how awful Jesus followers treat each other sometimes on your site. Again, not your fault, but my heart has broken hundreds of times reading peoples thoughts that they post in the name of being a Christ follower.
  • I don’t love how sometimes, you give people a false sense of identity. Ok, maybe this is your fault. That little like button causes havoc in peoples lives. They worry about getting more likes and more comments. I’ve been there.
  • I don’t love how people can sometimes feel excluded when they see all their friends partying and hanging out. Again, not your fault, but I’ve learned to be careful from posting because sometimes my posts attract some passive aggressive comments.

Again, I’m sorry! Most of this isn’t your fault! After working with middle school students for 15 years, most of the conversations I’ve had with adults about their struggles with you, remind me of middle school problems. That’s not your fault.

You just seem to amplify problems sometimes. 

I’ve only been off of you for a week, but here’s what I’ve already noticed:

  • I’m not as anxious. I’m not a conflict guy. I can deal with it, but I don’t go searching for it. For some people, they love the conflict that they can create on Facebook. I don’t need that in my life.
  • I’m hopefully more present with my family. Countless times over the last few years I have been buried in my phone as we’ve hung out as a family. Shameful!
  • I’ve spent more time reading and reading things that matter. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE reading peoples thoughts and posts! I love it! But, 75% of those posts are not helpful at all and I don’t miss those. I’m reading through the Old Testament and I’m working through my read pile!
  • I’ve noticed how much people are buried in their phones. Outside of my Youversion app, email, text and calls, I don’t really have much reason to pick up my phone. I’m not a big video game guy, so I don’t even have that. And, I’ve noticed how much people scroll through you as their hanging out with others. I think that’s why I’m going to keep you off my phone for good.
  • I’m praying a lot more. Instead of scrolling through your news feeds, I try to talk to Jesus more. That’s been really good for my heart, by the way.

I’ll be back. Don’t worry. I know you miss me. I know your algorythms are wondering why there are no posts on http://www.facebook.com/jraitz.

Side note: I am still blogging on this social media fast and when I post those, they automatically update to Facebook).

So, you’re still getting a few rhythms, but not many.

We’ll see how I am in 21 day more days. I think I’ll be back. I think.

But, for sure Facebook…

I’m done loving you. 

 

 

 

Sunday Night Thoughts on Life, Family and Thrive Church

Thoughts on Life

Part One…

It’s been a long couple of days.

For the most part, I’ve had a pretty good run lately with my back (had surgery 2 years ago and its been feeling so much better). I’m even putting on my own socks! I know, I’m such a big boy! Now, I have the normal tightness and stiffness in the mornings, especially when we go from 70 degrees to 90 degrees.

I woke up Saturday morning and went out for a walk and I thought something climbed inside my lower back and left leg and turned everything off. I headed home defeated.

I fell asleep early last night and then couldn’t sleep much all night and then the worst thing ever happened…

I missed Church at Thrive this morning! 

Now, it’s not the worst for our Church. Thrive is not about Jason. Thrive doesn’t need me to run.

But, I love being there! I love gathering with people that are in the trenches of church planting together. I love gathering the staff team from Thrive. I love seeing the families and the students. I love meeting new people! I love it!

But, I missed. And, I haven’t really been out of my bed much all day.

Part Two…

Tomorrow morning I will be 7 days into my ’30 Day Social Media Fast’! Wow, 7 whole days! To be honest, outside of being a little ‘ancy’ on day one, it’s been really good. Part of the reason I’m doing this is to declutter my soul and I feel like that’s happening. IMG_1335

For me, just trying to keep up with comments and Facebook messages has become a pretty decent daily task. Now, I’m nobody special. But, I do receive quite a few messages everyday and I’m constantly behind on them.

Also, I’m trying to fill the same time I would have put into facebook/instagram into reading scripture and my book pile! That’s going great!

Thoughts on Family

School is out. Summer is here. We’re blessed to live by a lake. The kids have already had a few super fun afternoons on the water on a dear friends boat.

We’re moving forward with our adoption and we’re hoping our completed home study will be delivered to us the first or second week of July! That will mean we can finally send our final paperwork to China and the US for final approval and then we can start applying for grants.

That will take a lot of stress off our shoulders. The stress is pretty high lately.

But, my family continues to be a tremendous source of love and rest!

Thoughts on Thrive Church

God is working at Thrive! Just this past week, I had two men tell me they have never read their Bible more than they have since being at Thrive! Um, that’s a HUGE win!

But, in the midst of coming through an amazing season of ministry (Incredible Easter and the Shoe Project), we’ve hit some extremely hard times with our finances. I know its nothing new to Churches or Church Plants, but its tough.

To be honest, it’s extremely stressful. I know God will provide, but tough decisions have to be made and I’ve been seeking wisdom from other Pastors and our Elders and I have been on my knees more than any season I can ever remember.

Even in the midst of all that, I am so excited about the future at Thrive!

August 21st is coming and its an incredibly important day for our church! Its our annual Baptism and BBQ and its my favorite day of the year!! Last year, we had 63 people take the step to go public with their faith and it was incredible! I can’t wait for this year!

I know that I know that the…

BEST IS YET TO COME! 

 

What I love about my Dad

I’m blessed. I have an incredible Dad. In fact, I have an incredible Mom as well.

Yes, I’m blessed. IMG_0445

Here’s the deal, I try very hard to not take this giant blessing for granted. I have quite a few friends who are not close to their parents as all.

But, my dad has always been there for me.

I love that. Through good times and bad, he’s been there.

When I was in high school and struck out, he was there. When I got a job in high school and it was miles away from our house, he was there and drove me to work. Some nights, he would have to leave the house late at night to come pick me up and he did.

I also love that my dad has always been there for my mom. They are a great team. He’s been there for my brother as well. He’s been there for my kids as well.

Yeah, I think the world of my dad.

He’s a man of God. He has a quiet strength. He has a ton of wisdom. He is incredibly patient. Again, he’s just incredible.

Yup, I love my dad.

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