Sunday, January 29, 2006

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Students at Camp

It's sort of hard to see and the room we are in is really weird, there is about 230 kids packed into this bleacher stlye room and it is hot, no, I mean hot up in there.

The Becoming Famous White Gorilla

My buddy Bob over at Mustard Seed Media ( made this for me this summer. I have told this story a couple of times over the last couple of years about a White Gorilla, not enough space to post the story, but I was in Ft. Worth, TX at a buddy's church (Jeff Buell to be exact) and his students loved the story and it was hilarious that I had a picture of myself with the beast that has become the white gorilla.

Famous, I don't know about that. Funny, well fo sure!

An Amazing Mom and her Kids

Camp Michindoh

Wireless internet at a camp, what is the world coming to. Here's the problem though, I am not very smrt and it took me forever to figure out how to get on the internet, oh well, I am on now.

The whole Raitz family is here at lovely Camp Michindoh, it has taken me almost the entire weekend to be able to pronounce MICH-IND-OH, like it is right by MIchigan, Indiana, and Ohio. I thought that was pretty clever, I originally thought is was MIK-HIN-DOUH, land of "great water walking" but I was wrong.

I am the guest speaker for 6 Jr. high ministries and the camp is going Awesome. I love the youth pastors and I really love the youth volunteers that are here. The students have been great and I am talking about starting a Project311 in their lives to Love God Passionately and to Love Others Selflessly. We laughed a lot last night and this morning and tonight we took it a little more serious and challenged them to Love like Jesus loved and we presented the gospel.

And just for my friend Dave Kurt (Project311 board member and good friend) I told the now becoming famous White Gorilla story, with the added "Gorillaoligist" segment, nice. The kids loved it and they have been talking about that all day.

Another big highlight was the fact that my good friend Zack Barker and his friend Drew came up to see us. I always love seeing Zack and it was great to meet his friend. I first met Zack in 1999 when he was a high school sophmore in the youth group I was the pastor of. I will also post pictures of the Raitz family in action at camp.

Friday, January 27, 2006

A Refreshing Visit

So, the last couple of weekends our family has visited a new church in our area. They are a church plant and they opened their doors in Feb. 05. I got to tell you, we love it! As you know, or can tell by my posts, we have a lot of kids. Ok, well, I think 3 kids is a lot. And visiting a new church can be really detrimental to your health, well, maybe not that bad, but it's bad.

To top it off, we have a circus. I Love my kids, but they are full of energy, just like their mom (you know Tracie). Well, the church we used to attend, I will change to name to protect it's identity, but I will tell you it rhymes with ForthRidge, the children's ministry was amazing! Actually I think that was the best part of the church. It was way to boomer for me, now don't be a hater. Don't get me wrong, they do an amazing job with the production end, the 385 intelligent lights and the full choir, orchestra and band, at times it was Sweet Like Butter, but we loved the children's ministry the most.

Side note, on a couple occasions they would actually have members of the DSO play on stage and even once they had a live feed of a cello player playing somewhere and she played live with the band! From a tech person at heart, that was incredible.

Back to churches, so at ForthRidge, it was so easy, and safe, and great to leave our kids in the children's area. In the last 6 months though we have visited a lot of churches and 99 times out of 100 it is impossible to leave our kids. The people are unhelpful, the church is tough to figure out and we don't feel safe leaving them.

So, the last couple of weeks we have visited this church called 242 Community Church in Brighton, MI. Their website is great and they set up in a middle school and the atmosphere is awesome. Not only is the kid's ministry great, people are genuinely friendly and the service is great. Worship, Teaching, all great. REFRESHING is the word that comes to mind the most. I am someone who has grown up in church, always been there, my dad was my youth pastor and I became a youth pastor at 19, so I don't know not being in church.

So, why I am blogging all this, because I bummed we are not going to be able to attend this weekend. Now don't get me wrong, I get to teach on a retreat for 250 Jr. High kids, and that's just about one of the funniest and greatest moments of my year, but we will miss being at 242.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Pet Peeves: Personal

Here is a short list of some of my personal pet peeves:

1. Rude People. I really dislike them, people that treat others like they don't exist, hate it.
2. Rude Fast Food Cashiers. Oh, I hate this! LOOK AT ME, ASK ME WHAT I WANT. ASK ME!
3. Snow. Now, I live in Michigan, shouldn't I love it? NO. I hate snow, ice, black ice, frost, scraping windows, is Snow a pet peeve, well it's mine.
4. People that don't ever have to pay the dues. Have you noticed how some people get everything handed to them and never have to pay their dues. I hate this. I am all about working hard for what you want and not giving up. Paying the Dues.
5. People that don't return emails or phone calls. Now, as I type this I can think of SEVERAL messages I am late in returning, so that's a darn good reminder.
6. DVD's and all those darn previews and all the other crap they put before the movie. I have 3 little kids and when they want to watch a movie, they want to watch it. And I stand there forever waiting to get past all those dumb previews.
7. End of a flight, we pull up to the gate, and everybody gets up and Waits, Waits, Waits, Waits. People look so silly standing up sideways. I don't get it, stay seated, wait till we can move.
8. Expensive food. Don't get me wrong, I would love to take Tracie to Morton's some time, but I hate how expensive Pop, Hot Dogs and such is at the movies and at sports games. WHY?
9. Making a pet peeve list, that's stupid, stop complaining.


-- Failing isn’t fatal. Or in the words of Brad Powell (Pastor of NorthRidge Church) Failure isn't Final.

I have been struggling with Failure a lot lately, well, actually the last 8 months or so. What is failure? How do you handle failure? I found this piece of an article that Rick Warren wrote, helped a little.

"Because we value success so much, we tend to exaggerate the effects of failure. But failure isn’t the end of the world. You won’t die from it. With failure -– you fail, you pick yourself up and you go on.
One of the best ways to bounce back from failure is to redefine it.
Failure is not failing to reach your dreams. Failure is not having a dream.
Failure is not setting a goal and missing it. Failure is not having a goal.
Failure is not falling down. Failure is refusing to get back up.

If at first you don’t succeed, big deal! It’s usually the second, third or fourth time you actually get it right. You are never a failure until you give up. Remember, everybody fails.

-- Failure has benefit.

Did you know that one of God’s primary tools in making you the kind of person he wants you to be is failure?

Huh? Failure is a tool God uses

I am Speechless!!!

Clark Kent's dad is dead!!! I actually am crying, I have tears running down my cheeks as I type. Man, I can't believe it. I mean I knew it was coming, but I am shocked. I am at a lost for words. I am sad, downright majorly sad!


Jonathan Kent just passed out, after he beat the crap out of Lionel Luther, oh man and Clark just sat there.

Why can't he run him to the hosptial, or shock his heart or something!!!


PS...Sorr for all the vulgarity, I am feeling a little ticked by Smalleville and Lana, and Lex.

I am crushed!

Ok, now the pieces have come together. CRAP!!!!! Clark told her the truth and now....UGGGHHH


Oh my, I am sitting here in utter shock! Lex just caused Lana to get into a car accident and I think she's dead! No way, this can't be right! If I were Clark I would crush Lex.

Can't be right, can't be.

Biggest Regrets: Personal Version pt. 1

Some of biggest personal regrets. Note to self, I realize not to live in the past, but will learn from these regrets.

1. All the way back to 4th grade. I regret telling little Stevie from around the block to stuff all those sticks in that big bee hive. Watching all of my friends get stung, big regret.

2. I regret not trying out for football my freshmen year of high school. I thought I was too small.

3. I regret not trying our for basketball my freshmen year of high school. Again, thought I was too short.

4. I wish I would of practiced my trumpet a whole lot more, could of got a full scholarship to college.

5. Not hugging my Grandma the last time I saw her on Christmas day 1995, before she was killed in a car accident.

6. I wish I would of sat with my Grandfather more the last couple of years of his life.

7. I should of tried harder at Eastern Michigan, could of been 1st trumpet.

8. More college regrets, too many failed classes.

9. Early in my marriage I spent too much time loving youth ministry and not enough time loving my wife.

10. I continually watch way too much TV and don't spend enough time playing with my kids.

Pet Peeves: Church Version

A couple of my pet peeves: Church Version. Please remember these are just my personal pet peeves.

1. Churches that don't have a website! Believe it or not, there are still churches in 2006 that don't have websites. What the heck?
2. Churches that have a 24/7 automated answering service. I don't mind it after 5pm but during the day, no voice, no person to greet me, what the heck?
3. Churches that have RUDE people that answer their phone. True conversation (I have changed the name of the church to protect it's identity) : First Lutheran, Methodist, Baptist, Pentecostal, non denom, bible believing church, how may I help you? Hi, I was wondering if your church had a website? ...weird silence. Well, why are you asking? Umm, I was just wondering if you had a website I could check out. Well, I will have to have somebody call you back and let you know if you are allowed to view it. Well, isn't that strange. What the heck?
4. Church websites that don't have all the contact information on every page. Very important, I think.
5. Church's that don't have a high quality program to pass out. Don't get that at all. If you don't have money, you can still put something of quality in people's hands.
6. Rude children ministry workers. I hate that. Having 3 kids, I really need the someone to tell me where to go.
7. A non relational leadership. What the heck, this I don't get for sure. I think the Sr. Leadership should be the most relational, especially with the staff and other leaders.
8. Poor Sound & Video. Don't get me wrong, I know some churches can't afford good tech, but it doesn't take that much anymore. No more feedback!
9. Churches that don't support the children's and youth ministry. Or should I say, Sr. Pastors who don't support their children's and youth programs.

Those are some. More to come.


Oh my GOODNESS! I am watching Smallville and Clark just proposed to Lana and told her his secrets and she said YES!

I can't believe it! I Love this show, LOVE IT! And I have waited for this, something must be wrong, like it's a dream or something. I sure hope not.

Oh My!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Bobby and His Brownie

A few years ago I surprised my family with a chocolate lab puppy. I let my kids name her, and they came up with brownie. Actually their first choice was "door" and I was like creative, but let's keep trying. Then...Brownie emerged and it was a done deal. This dog has been a pain to me and she probably will never measure up to my dog growing up, but she's growing on me.

Her saving grace is how she is with our kids. She is TERRIFIC. She has never barked at them, growled at them, nothing. Bobby is especially loved by brownie. They cuddle all the time together and she will purposely lay down next to him and rest her head on him, it's really cute (I still can't believe I use that word...That's what 3 kids will do to you). Anyways, she is a great family dog and this is brownie and her boy.

Bally's Total Fitness

So, my little observations about Bally's Total Fitness. You watch the Bally's commercials and everybody is in their 20's super fit, excercising like crazy. Well, that's not the Bally's reality I live in. My Bally's is a wild and wacky place. The average age is triple my age and I continually worry about people passing out and today it happened twice. An ambulance was even called. I don't know what happened, but I think he was ok.

The other crazy observation is the shower room. Don't mean to get graphic but every time I am in there I try to pick the shower that's got the best chance to have nobody next to it. It's just one big room, just like P.E. class. So, it NEVER fails. When I am in there all alone an older gentlemen always picks the shower RIGHT NEXT to MINE. AAAHHHH. I don't get it.

Well, I will never figure it out.


Wow, just got back from the new 35-5 Pistons, what a game. We had great seats and my buddy blessed me by paying for parking and dinner. I also ran into one of our board members, Todd, we passed each other really quick.

I know this is going to sound lame as can be, but I love sports. I don't know what it is, but ever since my dad took me to my first Tigers game, I have loved sports. I actually cried tonight. I actually cry pretty easy, especially during Extreme Make Over Home edition. But tonight, the lights dimmed, the music came on, and the annoucer started and I just lost it. It's like everytime I watch the Natual or For the Love of the game or a Nike commercial, I just cry like a baby. That's probably weird, but I love them!

What a great gift

I love Sports! I always have and I know I always have. Doesn't matter what sport it is, bowling, baseball, hockey, football, whatever. Well, one of my board members gave me 2 tickets to the 34-5 Pistons game tonight. I am going with one of my best friends, Josh, should be a blast. Actually, he just pulled up to pick me up.

Will it work

I wonder if this will work? First post from my phone

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Shh, their sleeping

Well, Tracie and I have been married almost 9 years (May 31) and we have 3 kids. Bekah Sue (5...almost 6), Bobby Jay (3) and Zachary James (18 months). So, having 3 kids teaches you a lot! I mean a lot! And one of the major lessons is to not wake up sleeping kids. Sometimes both boys fall asleep in the car and sometimes if they are still sleeping when we get home, we will just in the car while we can get the rest. You know you have done it too!

Monday, January 23, 2006

Board Meeting

Tonight we have a Project311 board meeting, and I think we will all be there. We have 8 guys who are awesome, I love each of them and I am so thankful for them. We have a lot to cover and go over.

If you are one of my 12 daily readers, please be praying for us.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Bobby and his words

Bobby is adding to his vocabulary in a sarcastic way.

Lately if he is asked to do something, he will walk away and under his breath say "Whatever".

Or if something goes wrong, or he can't figure something out, he will say, "What the Heck".

Then he's been adding an ie or a y to end of words, like he will say that's "Coldie".

So, I don't know where he learned the sarcastic stuff, probably his mother.


Spiritual Gifts

So, on Friday I took a spiritual gift test, as well as a DISC test. I have taken them before but this one shocked me! It was entirely different then any I have taken before. It came out saying that my top gifts are:

Administration/Ruling (What?)
Mercy (Who Me?)
Teaching (Ok, I understand)

This is really different than in times past, I have never had administration even close.

The next 3:




It could be so different because I am getting older, I am 30. Who knows

Thursday, January 19, 2006

My Passion in Ministry

I love communicating with students! There I said it. I always have. My mom actually has a cassette tape that I made when I was 9 years old and I was preaching to my neighborhood friends and my little brother. I was in our basement and we set it up like church and I was going to town, leading them to the Lord. Ever since then, I have loved being in front of people, I just do.

One of my other early teaching moments I can remember was my 8th grade year. I had to give my testimony in front of our church in order to graduate from confirmation. I was so nervous and to make matters worse I had to stand on 2 yellow pages to see over the pulpit. It was great and I loved it.

I can also remember in high school many moments where I spoke in chapel, I was on the spiritual life committee and nobody else wanted to be up front. I loved being in front of my school, how awesome.

I actually still have the notes from first youth group "talk" almost 10 years ago. I had just started at a church at the ripe old age of 20 and 6 days after I started at the Grandma, Aunt and cousin were killed in a car accident. It was a really tough time, but I remember going to my first youth group meeting feeling numb and everybody just staring at me because they saw the accident on the news. My talk was on the Power of Prayer.

I remember the first night I realized that I was a good story teller. I was teaching at Ward Presbyterian (I was there interim sr. high director for a short time) and I remember watching students move closer to listen. I love stories and I love to tell stories to middle school students.

So, all this to say, for years I have prayed about and dreamed about speaking/teaching at SpringHill Camp in Evart, MI. And next month I am for the first time. Should be about 900 middle school students and I get the awesome chance to encourage them to Love God passionately and to Love others selflessly.

The start of the end pt. 6

Well, the last couple of days I could hardly lift my arms, move my neck or my shoulders. The workout on Monday and Tuesday was crazy, nothing like Rocky 4, but I am starting to hate bear crawls. Today, I could finally put on my coat, but the weather changed and I am having a hard time bending. Thanks to a bad back and being overweight, I have something called Degenerative Disc Disease, don't know what that means, but I do know that my back hurts all the time. It's basically what I do for a living, I hurt.

I am going to go workout on my own today, and tomorrow it will be more bear crawls at 6am. Why do I live in MICHIGAN? I have had chances to move to warm weather, which by the way, would be great for my back, but like my wife says, I am a moma's boy and I don't think I could move my kids away from their grandparents. Unless, say a youth ministry company in warmer weather ever wanted to hire me, then it would be easy to move (wink).

Wednesday, January 18, 2006


So, I am majorly blessed (is majorly a word?) by my dad, Robert Raitz (we actually named bobby after him). He is, and has been one of my best friends for as long as I can remember. One of the things that I love about my dad is his incredible patience. I love watching him play with my kids, boy I wish I had his patience. He will sit forever and assemble stuff, throw a ball, and just sit with them. He did this with my brother and I growing up too. I can remember going to a park and he would throw curve ball after curve ball till I finally hit the ball.

This is a great picture of my dad with Zachary. As soon as Zach or Bobby sees their papa, their face lights up and they run to him.

Favorite TV shows

My favorite TV shows:

1. Lost...By a land slide, I love everything about it.
1. Smallville...I have loved it since the beginning, I will always love it.
1. Extreme Makeover...I cry every Sunday night, and not a little cry.
2. One Tree Hill... I liked it more in the beginning with all the bball, but still ok.
3. Desperate Housewives...Losing interest.
4. Grey's Anatomy...If hospitals are like that, crazy.
5. Gilmor Girls...Ok, I admit it, I like a chik show.
6. Reba...Come on, good fun.
7. Commander and Chief...Man, getting better.

Favorite News show:

2. ESPN 2
3. Fox Sports News
4. Cold Pizza

Favorite all time TV Shows:

1. Fresh Prince of Belle Aire
2. Quntom Leap (I can't spell)
3. Buck Rogers
4. Smallville

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Books I would love to write

I have always wanted to write a book, there I said it. I have started them, I lost them, I started again, threw it away, and stopped.

But I think I am finally at a point where I am ready to make it all the way through. I have been working out the ideas for some time, doing some research and have been talking and asking questions to people who have written books and who are writing books currently. So, my goal is to be completed with one of them by the end of 2006. So, here they are:

...Project311, A Guide of Practical Help. This is basically everything I have learned in 11 years of being a youth pastor. It's the nitty-gritty stuff, the day to day grind of youth ministry and some practical ideas to help. Issues I am writing about: Power of Events, Connecting (Networking), Turning Parents into a huge work force for your ministry, the Retreat, Forgiveness is easier than permission or is it?, Dreaming big, dealing with failure and defeat, Speaking With Students...Not At Them, the ministry of being thankful.. So, those are some of the topics.

...Speaking With Students, Not At Them. My dream for this book is to keep going in more detail of what I don't cover in Project311. Teaching/Speaking is my biggest passion in ministry and I love to learn as much as I can about how to be a better communicator, this book will deal with all that stuff.

...Project311, Living a Lifestyle of Love. So, I love to teach others how to LOVE. I actually was just called a "love expert" by my good friend Scott when he introduced me to his students. So, I love it.

So, probably a little to ambitious, I don't have any publishers that want to publish them, but the more I get going, the more people I will talk to about publishing them.

Monday, January 16, 2006

They have meant so much

Last Thursday night Tracie and I went to the funeral of Sandy Richert. Wow, it was hard, tough, sad, amazing, wonderful, a celebration. Rolly and Sandy have meant so much to us over the years. I first met them about 9 years ago at William Tyndale college, Rolly was guest teaching. Then in 1998 I was hired at Ward Presbyterian Church as their interim Sr. High director and Sandy was one of the small group leaders. They were amazing encouragers. They were one of the first people to encourage me to concentrate more on teaching and less on other stuff. After my talks, Sandy was the first person to stop me and encourage me and let me know to keep working on it. In 2001, Rolly actually had a tough talk with me about where I was putting my time and energy. Basically I was teaching, planning events and leading worship and Rolly was so bold to say, you need to pick 2 to focus on and it's not the worship leading. It was tough to hear, because I loved leading worship, but it was the best thing I have ever done.

Rolly has met with me countless of times for encouragement and motivation and every time I saw Sandy she was nothing but encouraging. My mom, Tracie and the kids actually saw Sandy and her family at the zoo this summer and took some pictures for them. All that to say, I love Rolly and I am praying for him and I am so thankful for him. And I am thankful for Sandy's encouragement and love.

I can't get over how Beautful!

Maybe it's just me, but I can't get over how cute and lovely and sweet she is.

Maybe it's just me, maybe not.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Words and phrases I think about

So, there are some words and phrases that are used in the church that make me think. I wonder why we use them and if they are still important or if they are becoming obsolete. They are, and in no particular order:

TEEN, I don't know why this word bothers me. But I hate how it's used...This is our "Teen Group", "Teen Night", etc. It sounds so late 80's, early 90's youth groupie to me.

MINISTER, I know this is probably a big no-no, but I just hate how we use it so much. "I am so tired from ministering so much", "Look at me, I am super minister"

PASTOR, Now don't get me wrong, I am not saying I do not like this word. It is just a pet peeve of mine how some people hide behind or use this word. I hate when I meet fellow youth pastors and they introduce themselves as "Hi, I am Pastor John". Really, even with a peer your Pastor John. Funniest story, once my worship team (Yes, the world famous No Longer Orphans) was leading worship at a church and the youth pastor introduced himself to our drummer as Pastor John, and our drummer said, "Hi, I am Drummer Jared". That was SO FUNNY!

PREACH, Now don't be a player hater! I know preach is used in scripture, in God's word and I am passionate about his word. I just hate how some youth pastors and pastors take the word preach as a way to SPEAK at PEOPLE. Tell them how awful they are, what sinners they are, how much they are inadequate, etc. Now, I know all pastors don't do this, but I have witnessed enough to just want to throw up. Why can't we use the word encourage, teach, motivate or better yet, Love. Because communicating is something that is very close to my heart, I believe as communicators of God's word we SHOUD SPEAK WITH STUDENTS, NOT AT THEM. Little known fact, I am actually writing a book on that.

So, those are some of the words I think about.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

My princess.

Bekah came home from school with one of her projects, it read and I quote: Dear Jesus, I want to be a princess, Please help me be the best I can be. Wow, she is my princess.

Wow, it's on pt. 2

And then there is the summer. So far to date, we have had 11 requests! Wow, I never have had that many requests, too bad they are all for the same weeks that are already booked. I am teaching at Camp Timber-Lee in June, then July is really cool. It starts with Summer Celebration July 10-14, then I fly home for my sister-n-law's wedding and the guys (the Project311 worship team) drive to Mexico to the Adventures in Mission base in Matamoros, after the wedding I will fly to Mexico to be with them for a week there, then we will drive back up to Ohio for Camp Velocity (this is our third year with them) for a week of summer camp with hundreds of students.

So, lots of ministry and I believe we are really making a difference. But, it can't happen without giving from people to help fund us. I am dealing with stress a whole lot better than I used to. I used to get these headaches that would ground me for days, now I sleep awfully rough, grind my teeth and gain weight! Crap, I hate that one. I wish stress made me loose weight, I really do. This time last year I was 20 pounds lighter, but I have started the start of the end.

So, lot's of stress. One of my favorite verse's is Matthew 11:28 where Jesus says "Come to me when you are weary and burdened and I will give you rest". I love how the Message puts it...."Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me, watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace." We are trying to do this every day, just hand it all over to him. So, it’s a journey, we are relying on God and trusting Him to provide for us while we encourage students to Love God passionately and to Love others selflessly.

Wow, it's on pt. 1

Wow, what a couple of months it's been. I don't think I have ever dealt with stress like I have in the last couple of months. And really, all of the stress revolves around money. It's all money. Our giving has been way down the last couple of months for Project311 and it's created a huge pile of stress for us. Somehow our family has operated without a paycheck since August, it's been tough. We have had some incredible people bless us incredibly with extreme gifts. Like my parents! A day after my wife's birthday (another huge hug as a birthday present) her glasses of 5 years snapped in half. We couldn't believe it, it's not like we can just run out and buy new ones. Well, we made another call to mom and dad, and Tracie got new glasses. That's tough.

For a ministry standpoint, I love what we have been able to do with Project311. I love the guest teaching role I have, I love connecting with youth pastors and encouraging them, and I love planning events. Next week we roll out our first Project311 (e)newsletter, a practical help leadership newsletter for youth workers. I can't wait for that! I also teach for a couple of hundred jr. highers in a few weekends and then February is really filling up. Not only do I have the really cool opportunity to teach 900 or so jr. high students at SpringHill Camp (2.24-26.06, please be praying), I get to partner with one of my old churches, Ward Presbyterian (only worked there for 10 months as an interim youth director) I get to teach their Jr. high on a retreat, and then I get to speak at a lock-in of one my former volunteers and my first intern, Jim Stolt. He is now a youth pastor/worship pastor in Union lake, MI. I think I am also speaking at a South Lyon event, more to come. So, I love the ministry. I do believe that I have been uniquely gifted in the "guest teaching" role. Did I mention I am also working with some churches on how to plan events, I love that.

Friday, January 13, 2006

The start of the end 5

Man, I slept in this morning and missed my workout with the guys. I feel horrible! I could not get up.

It's been an incredibly stressful couple of months and it's really taking it's toll. And last night Tracie and I went to Sandy Richert's funeral, wow. She was amazing and I Rolly, Sandy's wife means so much to me.

So, all that and I missed my workout. Now, I will drive Bekah to school and then go workout at Bally's.

I did see some friends last night that I haven't seen in awhile: Marko, Tic, Alex (from YS), Jenni Knowles, Kevin Parkyn, Tom & Kara, and many more.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Tracie's Birthday!

Today is my wonderful wife's birthday!!! Yeah, she is the young old age of 29.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The Start of the end pt. 4

Well today was day 3 in the start of the end. I didnt' work out with Dave and the guys, today and Thursday are the off days. Well, I went to Bally's and worked out on my own. I did all the excercises and then I ran a mile. My thighs are about to explode, but not like some of the old guys at Bally's.

How Cool

So, I will blog a lot about Blitzfest in the months to come, partly because it is still hard for me to talk about and partly because it is still hard to talk about, but...Today I had lunch with a really cool church staff team from the metro detroit area and one of they guys attended blitzfest back in June. When he found out that I was the guy who headed it up, he took some time to encourage me and thank me and he told he loved it and thought it was a great festival.

Anyways, it was great to hear, I was very thankful.

The next Bill Hybels

So, it's no secret...I love Bill Hybels. But, I loved John Ortberg more. Anyways, this is a picture of Zachary James on the Elevate stage at Willow Creek. Zack loves microphones and he loves to sing and talk. He wowed the Elevate staff with his free flowing hair and his love for the stage.

Zack is our youngest and he is also a ball of fun. The cool thing about Zack, he can't have protein. No, really. He has something called PKU. Basically what it means is that for his life he has to monitor his diet, gram for gram. It's crazy, we count everything, every ounce of food is tracked. Some days I get sad thinking about how he will never enjoy prime rib or ice cream, but we are blessed that all we have to do is track his food.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

It's so Big.

Not only is this building big, it is so nice. Not over the top nice, but just nice. I don't think that makes sense, oh well.

I am looking forward to going back in Feburary for the Student Ministry conference, Choose to Lead.

Check it out

Willow Creek Highlights

This last weekend I had an opportunity to partner with the Jr. High ministry at Willow Creek, Elevate. They invited me to teach at their 3 weekend services and I had the best time. Not only is the Elevate team one of the coolest collections of people I have ever been around, they are incredibly loving. I love the Jr. High Pastor at Willow, Scott Rubin. He is a great leader and an incredible encourager. It was a great blessing being able to teach their students for a weekend.

Highlight # 1...Not crashing on the way there! We had a huge ice storm that morning and it literally took us 8 hours to get there. We must of saw 50 cars off the road, upside down and all over the place.

Highlight # 2...Spending the weekend with Scott Rubin. Probably one of the coolest, most genuine people I know.

Highlight # 3...Getting to hang out with the Elevate team: Scott, Wes, Brandon, Greg, Troy, Courtney, and Aleathea.

Highlight # 4...Encouraging 1000 plus students to Love because God first loved them.

Highlight # 5...Meeting and talking with Daren Whitehead. He is in charge of Axis, an awesome guy.

Highlight # 6...Meeting and talking with Gene Apple, the Senior Pastor. What an awesome person.

Highlight # 7...Running into my former Pastor, Brad Powell and his family. It was a weird moment, they were there on vacation and it was nice talking to them.

So there you have it. Also, Willow blessed us by video taping it so I can finally have a good promotional video for my teaching ministry. Awesome.

One of my Boys

Bobby Raitz is his name and he is 3 years old. One of the coolest moments for me was when he was born, of course, well, partly because I was convinced he was a girl, but I guess I was wrong and then because we named him after my dad, Bob Raitz. So, when I first introduced my dad to his first grandson, it was so awesome to say, Robert Raitz meet Robert Raitz. My dad didn't know, so it was so cool to see his reaction.

Bobby has a heck of an arm and he loves power rangers, batman and darth vadar. He is actually convinced that Darth Vadar is a good guy, and every time I explain it to him, he just says, "daddy, I like you".

The start of the end pt. 3

Can't feel my thighs today. Worked out at 6am again, then went for a run, bad idea. I literally can't stand up, I feel so lame.

I was in Panera Bread today, one of my many office locations, and I went to stand up to go to the bathroom and barely could.

I almost fell down, good thing a sweet elderly lady was standing right there to catch me, it was nice.

The start of the end pt. 2

It was AWESOME. Pants fit, nothing was tight, except my batman uniform! Fast forward to 2004. Right after Christmas my back went out, I have always have a bad back, hit by a car when I was younger and it just has always hurt. Well, this time, I couldn't move. Literally laid on my back for weeks, and I pudged up pretty good. I think hit 245. Wow, that's heavy for someone whose 5'4. Well, I did something about it and I joined the Fad diet club that is Atkins. Over night I gave up my beloved Coke. I love Coke and I would normally drink maybe a 2 liter a day, wow, unheathly. I had a friggin headache for a month, but I did it. NO sugar, no Carbs, no nothing. Lots of meat and veggies. Well, on June 1, I weighed in at 199!

I went from 245 to 199. It was hard, but I felt great! Pants fit, I had a new confidence and my back felt great. Well, the bad news is I have gained back 22 pounds. I did that through that stress eating and not taking care of myself in 2005, which by the way, I have nominated as the hardest year of my life. Will blog a lot about 2005 in the next couple of weeks.

So, this morning I joined a group of men at 6am to work out. We work out with this amazing trainer, he's a former trainer of the Detroit Red Wings, maybe you have heard of that club? Well, I can barely move my legs. We didn't even lift weights, run, nothing and I still hurt. So, this is the START of the END of my Belly. 2006 is the year that I am going to loose my belly through healthy living. Drinking lots of water, eating in proportions, and working out.

So, all that to say. Keep tuned in, I will keep a belly meter on my blog.

I am also going to start posting daily, so I am very excited about that. I have been reading blogs for a few months now and have learned a lot and I am ready to go.

The start of the end pt.1

One of my best years, maybe in the top ten of my life, was 2004. Lots of reasons, but of the reasons that sticks out is my shrinking belly. One of my toughest ongoing struggles, throughout pretty much my whole life, is my weight. It always has been that way, I really can't think of a time when it wasn't a source of stress, frustration and worry. For years I hated myself, ah, the jr high years and then 2 years into high school, I hit a growth spurt and shot up past 5 feet tall to a whopping 5'4 and in the process lost about 45 pounds.

It was AWESOME. It was the summer before my jr. year and I tried out for soccer and made it and I was working construction with my dad and felt great about myself. I started school and it was so wild. People who never talked to me before were suddenly interested and so was the girl of my dreams...Sue Ripke. Man did I have a crazy thing for her. But, I was always to afraid to tell her I liked her, {insert normal low confidence story of most people}. Anyways, I loved being skinny.

Flip forward a few years, well, the weight came back after high school. Then a few of my relatives were killed in a car accident and the weight came back off. It was 1995 and I weighed somewhere in the 225-235 range, OBESE for my height of 5'4 and how I dealt with the grief of losing 3 relatives, including my grandma, was running. I became friggin Forest Gump. I just started running and not eating, I guess that helped. I think I failed 3 classes that semester, just forgot about them. I was literally running from life. And in the matter of months, Jan-April, I dropped 55 pounds, and I weighed around 180. Wow, I felt great physically, but I knew I was super un-healthy, not eating and when I did eat, I immediately worked out. By the time the summer came around I down to 155, which by the way, is where I should be for my height. But I felt great being skinny again.