Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Make that all Five

Well, what a weekend. SpringHill Camp, 700 Jr. high students, 4 talks, snow, El Pepe and Tracie finally got sick.

Make that all five! The kids are feeling great, I am just tired from speaking all weekend and that's because I am a big pansy. But, Tracie finally got the sick bug that we all had. I think it's because she could actually relax at camp and so Saturday night was pretty bad for her. Chills, fever, headache all that stuff. She could relax because we were kidless.

Because she's sick, that meant that I had to stay home from the Willow Student conference and take care of her and the kids. I am bummed, but taking care of them is my first priority, of course. I was looking forward to hanging out with some friends and checking out the conference and I always love spending time at Mecca.

Lot's to post about in the next couple of days, how springhill went, the 311 youth workers lunch coming up, starting at a new church, the future of 311, thoughts on communicating to students in 2006, and some other sweet topics, if you know what I mean.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Are they twins?

No, they are not. Bobby is 3.5 and Zach is 20 months, but only 2 pounds seperates them. Zach gets some girth from his dad, if you know what I mean!

My Sassy Girl

Rebekah is 6 and is feeling so much better after her double ear infection and fever. She is a complete delight!

Awesome Weekend Ahead

I may not be blogging a whole lot this weekend, considering my laptop is still not fixed. Ugh.

But, Tracie and I will be SpringHill Camp in Evart, MI as their Jr. high Speaker this weekend. It took me a long time to get my head wrapped around their topic, but with the help of my buddy Jason S., we got the talks completed! Yeah

Then after the retreat, I will be heading to the Willow Creek Community Church Student Ministries Conference. Thanks to Scott at Willow, I have a ticket and a place to stay, can't wait.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

A life changing moment

Today I attended the funeral of a former student's dad. It was so moving, so emotional, so sad, and so joyful. Jameson's dad died of A.L.S and it only took about 3 years for it to do it's work. No cure. That just amazes me. This man was a great dad, a great husband, and an incredibly joyful person. That's the kind of people I relate to the most. I hope this doesn't sound too harsh, but I can't stand negative people. People that view everything negatively. I just don't get it. Christ promised us a life of joy and even though life sucks at times and crappy stuff happens, we still have that joy. He promised us an abundant life, a life full of joy and yet I see so many believers living like they can't experience that joy till heaven. I just don't buy that, I believe at the moment of salvation, eternity begins, and thus, joy.

One of my hero's and mentors, Ken Davis, says he thinks Joy entered the world when the stone was rolled away. So, today was hard and it's going to be hard for Jameson and his mom (who is just about the most incredible person I have ever met) for a long time, but They Have HOPE! They have the promise of salvation and the assurance that their husband and dad is walking on the streets of gold. I was hanging out with Jameson last night in the funeral home and I didn't want to say the lame Christian thing we always say at this stuff, but I had to say, man, your dad is loving not being in that wheel chair anymore. Jameson thought his dad was already running again and playing some baseball, I agree.

It also made me think of how many moments I miss with my kids. Why do I do that? I am too busy, got too much too do, too tired. Enough already, I need to cherish every minute I have with them. Today was definitely was life changing moment.

My Princess is 6 years old!

My girl, Rebekah Sue turned 6 today. We picked her up from school and went to Chuckie Cheese, what a crazy place. Just about everybody else with kids 6 and under where there, crazy times.

I love her. I love her smile, I love her eyes, I love her hugs, I love her laugh, I love watching her do her ballet, I love hearing her learn, I love hearing her count, and in Spanish, I love hearing from her teacher that she is always super friendly to everybody in class, I love how every now and then she will still cuddle with me, I love watching her play with her dolls, I love how she is a little mommy to Zach, I love her! I am absolutely in love!

I can never forget that day at the hospital when she was delivered, I almost feel like my whole life changed in an instant. It was like I was going one way, and then all of sudden, oops wrong way, time to go this way. I can't believe 6 years have gone so quickly.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

What a Beautiful Day!

We have water! The kids no longer have fevers! What a great night. It's amazing the weight that feels lifted off when your water returns.

The best story, I called a few plumbers and they wouldn't come and then I found one that would, but he let me know it was going to be a lot. Then I call my friend Chad, Chad's like I will come over tonight and fix it. And He did! He and his partner, Miguel did it in no time and they fixed my garage door opener. Wow, we can breathe a little easier.

I do have to say that Tracie and I have a ton of people in our lives who care for us deeply and love us like we can't imagine. Like...My parents, Bob and Shelly. Tracie spent all day over their doing laundry and they always help us out. Tracie's parents, Ron and Sue. They are watching the kids this weekend so Tracie can come with me to SpringHill. Dave Kurt, that guy called me tonight and prayed for me on the phone, meant a ton! Chad and his wife Janis for allowing him to come over at 8pm to fix my pipes. My friend Josh called me today and offered their house if we needed it. My buddy Jason Shinn has been helping me write talks for this weekend and kept asking me if he could do anything else. Then there's Rod, who just keeps helping us. Todd and Bev, their giving hearts blow me away. Tim, who is always an encouragement. I can't even talk about my buddy Joe, there's not enough room. Then there is my long time buddy Tom, who is always there. Jimmy, that guy would give me the shirt off his back. Mike Krick, what a great friend, always have a blast talking with him. I know I am missing a ton of people, but these are the people that I have had contact with these last two days. The list would be forever long if I went back a week.

I am so thankful for people that reguraly show me God's love and I pray that I would show God's love to others like they do to me.

Frozen Pipes Day 5

What a Glorious day, the sun is shining, it has warmed up and oh, my pipes have now burst! I can't even believe it, my crawl space is now filled with water, that is just great. Man, I know I sound a whiner, but this is the worst week for this to happen. I am in the middle of some major prep work for retreat this weekend at SpringHill and it's my first time speaking there. You the first time you speak somewhere, you put in a little extra, just to make sure you are over prepared, well, it's been hard this week with all the miss haps.

I am now praying we can find a plumber who will work under our house and one that we can afford.

Pipes Frozen Day 4

I hope I don't sound like I am complaining, but I can't stand not having water. Man it makes like tough! I am praying, praying so hard that with the warmer weather today and tomorrow, our pipes will start producing H20 again.

It's a big week around here. I am in the middle of major SpringHill Camp prep work, editing our next newsletter (really just reading it, Stefanie does all that work), we had a P311 board meeting last week, getting ready for the Willow Student Conference (they hooked me up with a Comp pass, can't wait), getting ready to start at our new church (more to come on that) and just trying to make it through the days without running water.

To top it off, one of my former students dad died a couple of days ago. Man, my heart aches for his family.

Double Ear Infections All Around

Well, the sickness continues in the Raitz house. The boys both have double ear infections, cough's and are not their smiling selves. Tracie and I are praying they get better quick.

Monday, February 20, 2006

I miss my healthy boys!

Last night was another rough night! It's like everything in our lives comes to slowing crawl when our kids our sick. Tracie's up all night, I was up with Zach and fell asleep on the couch in a horrible position and now my arm feels like it's not attached and oh yeah, we still don't have water. But, I would rather have power than water, I was watching the news this morning and so many people are without power.

We are praying our doctor can see them this morning!

Sunday, February 19, 2006

David Crowder Band

Tonight, James, Jason and I met Jason Shinn and his buddy Mark H. at Eastern Michigan University for the David Crowder Band and Third day concert. It was worth the trip and the cold weather.

I felt bad for leaving my wife though. Our youngest son Zach is still really sick and it's a little tricky with him. When he's sick, he doesn't eat and when he doesn't eat his levels get all messed up. He has a genetic condition called PKU and he is on a very strict low to no protein diet. All that to say, it's been 4-5 days that his eating hasn't been good and it's starting to show in his mood. When his levels are off, he gets moody or grumpy quicker, one of the fabulous side affects of PKU. On top of that, Bobby is still sick and when she was bringing the kids home from my moms, both boys threw up. What makes that even more fun, is that our pipes are still froze and she couldn't just throw their coats in the washer. Our laundry tub sink has a little water pressure, so she had to hand wash them in that sink.

So, probably bad move to leave her and I feel bad. She said it was alright and gave me her blessing, but I still feel bad.

Other than that, Crowder was his typical self. We were sitting by some Crowder newbies and they were cracking up with his antics. Oh yeah, Third Day was there too. A couple of years ago I loved them, they are still great, but I am more of a Crowder fan now.

The kid with the Bling

While I was the Lock-In the other night I noticed a kid come walking in who I knew was going to try to make trouble. I knew it, he knew it and the other leaders knew it, he was tagged. He was your typical "wanna be gangsta", he even had some bling on, and some cornrolls to go with it all. We get to the "Rally, program, session" (Whatever you want to call it) part of the night, and he sits in the back, the last row, typical. The youth pastor gets up, and this kid starts right away mocking him from the back. An adult leader comes over to him and says "hey, we don't want that stuff here, so stop or we will send you home".

I was sitting there and thinking, "really, you don't want his stuff here" and really what does that mean. Now, I think the adult was good intentioned, but I wonder if I need to re-think how I deal with kids like this, because this is exactly the kind of kid I want.

Here's what I did, I sat in the row (this church had pews, sweet) right in front of him and as I walked to my seat, I looked him right in the eye, enough to make him a little uncomfortable but enough for him to know I wasn't afraid or turned off by him.
Then the next time he made a smart comment, I joined him. I did, I laughed with him. Now, I made sure it wasn't really bad. Don't roll your eyes, I can see some of you. Here's the deal, I want to reach this kid, I want him to feel safe with me, so I let him know it through laughter. The next time, I said something too. Mine was a funny and loud and lot's of people heard it and laughed and the kid gave me this look like, "you are supposed to yell at me or tell me I am wrong, so what's the deal".
I didn't strike up a conversation, nothing. Just sat by him, and laughed with him. Craziest thing happened, when I got to talk, I looked back, and he got up from laying on the pew and he put his arms on the pew in front of him and leaned forward. He was listening. Wow, that was wild. Now, he didn't come forward for the altar call, actually, no one came forward, kind of awkward, but I will post about that another time. So, there you have it, good or bad, that's what I did.

What a Great Weekend

This weekend couldn't be better! Hanging out with family, trying to keep warm in our -9 weather, watching Thomas the Train and Barbie the Nutcracker, it's a whooping good time. The boys and I have a blast fighting, we practice punching and kicking, that's fun. We also love playing hockey in the kitchen, that's real fun. Bekah loves dressing and redressing Morgan, and I love to watch. It's almost like we are camping out, with electricity and heat in our house.

We still don't have water and were making the best. Tracie's incredible, she heated a bunch of water last night to do the dishes and all that stuff, but our pipes our still frozen. The good news is we got Mr. Roto Rooter out here to snake our sewer and we no longer have the back up problem. YES.

I just don't understand why kids don't what to sleep when their sick. Zach is up on the hour, everyhour the last 3 nights. Basically last night from 4pm to 12am we sat the chair and cuddled. That's all he wanted, hey, I'm not complaining. I am not looking forward to the day when their too big to cuddle. We missed church today, they would throw us out if we rolled in with 3 sniffly, coughy, running eyes kids.

Finally, in this really awkward post, I think my dad I are going to try to crawl under my house today and re-ramp my pipes with a special kind of heat tape. Here's the hitch, the space we have to get in, not very big. So, we will see.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

What a Cold Day in Detroit

What a crazy night! Went to the lock-in, left about 2:30am, you read that right. Oh yeah, got pulled over for speeding. My bad, he let me go due to my Gloriously clean record. Got home around 2:45am, still very awake, could of been the pizza at 1:45am, who knows. Got on some blogging, lights out.

Thought for sure Tracie would let me sleep me in, I was wrong. Zach comes in around 7:45am, good morning Zach, I love your running nose kisses. Then comes Tracie, she had some more Glorious news. She says and I quote..."Jason, sexy husband, who is so smart and insightful, when I turn on the faucets nothing happens". Huh, that's weird, because I think water should come out, actually I know water should come out. Great, what's going on. Well, last night was the coldest it's been this winter and our pipes are FROZEN! THAT'S JUST GREAT! SON OF #$^&, YOU GOT TO BE $^&^*((*U&, SERIOUSLY I DON'T (*&*%&^.

Now just so you know, I really didn't swear. I am actually getting ready to post about some of my thoughts on the ever growing trend among evangelicals to use profane language, man, that sounded smrt!

So, there you have it. Our pipes are frozen and to make matters worse we have a little water running in our laundry tub and that's caused our clean out in the back yard to over flow, so we had to call a plumber, hope he gets here soon. I really hope he will work for back rubs, because that's about all we have.

My Kids are sick!

I hate it when my kids are sick. It's hard. Bekah missed an entire week of school, she actually went to bed on her own the last three nights at like 630, that's weird. Zach has pink eye, had a 102 fever. Bobby has a bad fever. Thank goodness my wife isn't sick.

Pre Game Ritual

I wonder if I am the only one who does this. So, before I speak, doesn't matter where or how many people. I have a pre game ritual. Does that sound weird? Well, let me tell you what it is.

First, about 6-7 hours before the event I start to get pretty impatient, don't know why, gotta work on this.

Second, I get ready. I love to shower before every time I speak, weird, I know.

Third, I show up, find who's in charge. Mingle, meet people.

Fourth, Drop into a crazy shell. This is weird for me, people think I am sick. I was speaking for a youth pastor a couple of weekends ago and I was sitting in the crowd about to fall asleep and an adult leader next to me was like..."Aren't you the speaker? You can't fall asleep". So, then the youth pastor introduced me and boom I am out of that shell or tiredness.

Fifth, I do some mad strecthing. Yeah, you read that right. I move like dog on a cold summer day, so I need to. I sometimes get some really weird looks, but I think that's funny.

Sixth, I pray like crazy. I seem to think too highly of myself at times so I always pray Phil. 2 before I speak. I don't know how I started but I remember when, the very beginning. I always pray that I would consider myself nothing, you know it's easy to get a big head when people start laughing with you.

Seventh, I communicate. I love to try to find the unhappy people in the crowd. Tonight, it was an older gentlemen who would just not laugh. So, I locked eyes with him the whole night, and yes, he did laugh.

So, there it is. I know it's weird. But it's not a wear my lucky shorts or my lucky cup like baseball players or do I?

Rush Hour Lock In

Tonight was a blast! I just got home and it's 3 am. You see normally my bedtime is like 931, but tonight was great. It was great on so many levels:

Level #1...Jim Stolt. Wow, I am so proud of him. Let me say this first, Jim's wife Karen is incredible. I love her because she loves my wife. Tracie my wife is not the most out going person and for some reason people forget about her, not Karen. She has been an incredible support to Tracie for 12 years. So, back to Jim. Jim was my first intern. Then he went off to Moody, graduated and has been the Youth/Worship Pastor at Union Lake Baptist Church for almost 5 years. He did great tonight and I admire him greatly as a pastor, a person, a husband and a dad.

Level #2...The Environment. I think too many people forsake the environment at events or regular programming because it's too much work. Don't tell that to Walt Disney, that man loved the details. This lock in was set up nicely. Including huge cut out letters on the front lawn of the church, special lighting hung everywhere, cool signs, it was just done well.

Level #3...The Youth Workers. There were a couple of youth workers there tonight who are in community together and boy you can tell. These guys share life with each other and you can tell how deep their relationships are. It was fun being around them.

Level #4...The Kings Yomen. What is this you ask? Only the sweetest yo yo people on the planet. At first I was like, yo yo's, yeah right. But then they turned into some kind of Jedi yo yo ninja's and they were everywhere. It was sweet.

Level #5..Project311 Merchandise. We now have official merchandise. We have devised a plan to make t-shirts based on some of the favorite stories I tell. So, you get a: I like Cheese shirt, a Who Loves Baby shirt, a Tag your It shirt, or you know it, an El Pepe shirt. Not too spiritual, not like those awesome "you are going to hell". Chad at Rebornwear is awesome and I can see a sweet partnership forming in some kind of form.

Level #6...This should be up more towards the top, but I got to share the awesome message of God's love to students tonight. I have been busted up sick the last three days, all three kids are sick, actually we had 4 Raitz's with a fever over 100 yesterday, not a record we are proud of but my throat has been killing me. And I need my throat to speak and about 16 minutes before it was my time, my throat just felt a little refreshed. So, what a great honor to tell kids about Jesus. There was this one kid in the back, who was your typical rebel wanna be. He whined and complained and then halfway through my talk I could see start to listening and then I saw him laugh, and look out when they start laughing it's over, they will LISTEN.

SIDE NOTE: I don't understand why some youth workers see laughter as a negative. It's not deep enough, it's not theological to laugh, God is serious, Jesus didn't die for us to laugh, do you think Jesus laughed? YES, I DO. What these people don't understand is that students will LISTEN like mad when they laugh with you, notice I said WITH you, it's all about speaking WITH them, not AT them and putting them at ease and they will listen and then they will learn.

Level #7...It was cool running into students who knew me. It was weird, I almost felt like a rock star for a moment. I rounded a corner and a bunch girls said..."he came to our school, he's really funny". So, there you have it. I am a big deal. People know me. My house smells of rich mahogany. Keep it Classy.

So many great highlights, kids came, were loved, and were encouraged.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Wow, what a week

Man, what a week. Started off pretty good, only Bekah was sick. Now she has missed a whole week of school, Zach has Pink eye, and now Bobby is coughing like a mad whooping cow. So yesterday 4 out 5 Raitz's had a fever over 100. Pretty talented I know. I am feeling better, no more fever and I can swallow again. But, what a day I have

Lunch with Jack, the Jr. high pastor at Highland Park Baptist
Drive out to Aaron's work to pick up some lights
Study for the lock-in tonight
Help Tracie clean the house for Bekah's party tomorrow
Take the lights out to Jims church
Put the kids in bed
Put the last minute touches on my talk for tonight
Head out to Jim's Lock In
I speak at 12:00am, wow, that's late

Alright, I can do it.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

We are Blessed

So, we don't have prescription coverage, and that's not fun when you have 3 kids. But, Tracie's Aunt works at our pediatrician and the doctor she works for hooks us up with free samples. That's especially a huge blessing because the boys have some breathing problems and without prescription coverage a box of their medicine is $270, wow. So, we are blessed.

Can we get a break?

So, I have been sick a lot this Winter. And yesterday afternoon I started feeling pretty crappy, came home and had some monster chills. So, Tracie takes my temp this morning and it's 103. It's gets better, Zach has Pink Eye, and Bekah's getting over a Double Ear infection and a monster cough. We are praying that Tracie stays healthy. She was sick a couple of days last week and it's not fun when mom's sick.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Metro Detroit Youth Workers Lunch

What is this? Well, Project311 and SpringHill Camps is hosting a lunch for all of the Metro Detroit Youth Workers on March 10, 2006. We consider Metro Detroit to be...Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Livingston, and Washtenaw counties.

The lunch is at the St. Mary Cultural Center, the 18100 Merriman, Livonia, MI 48152.
The lunch is from 11:30am-1:00pm.

You can RSVP to lunch@project311.com. Or if you have questions you can email us at lunch@project311.com or call (877) 762 3046.

Right now we have enough food, and trust me it will be good food, for about 50. I don't know if we will hit that, but that is our rough estimate Now 50 you say, that's all? Yeah, I know. Right now in my database I have at least 132 youth workers who I have made personal contact with by either phone or email. On top of that I have a database going with over 500 churches so far in the Metro Detroit area. So, prayerfully more youth workers than 50 will find some it important to attend.

I have been a youth worker (youth pastor, youth director, student ministry director, guy who loves working with students, whatever you call it) for 11 years. It's still wild to think that an extremely conservative church hired me when I was only 19, what were they thinking? Well in that time, it amazes me how many youth workers do not place a high value on connecting with other youth workers. Some call it Networking, some call it building friendships, some call it a waste of time and some call it building a community for yourself.

I just can't figure out why youth workers don't connect with other. One person said to me once, "I don't do it because I don't have anything to offer". Who cares, learn. I started connecting with other youth workers so I could learn. I started to realize that I thought the way I did things were the only way and after meeting with other youth workers I started to realize that I could reach so many more students by learning as much I could from others. I am going to post a lot about this is in the coming days, more to come. So, back to the details.

WHY SHOULD A YOUTH WORKER ATTEND? Great question, my next post will have some answers.

Give me a break

What a week, our sewer at home keeps backing up, creates a fun mess every time we use the washer. Bekah has been sick since Sunday, she has a Double ear infection and a wicked cough. For some reason the boys aren't sleeping and Traice is up every hour. My laptop had to be shipped to Texas for 7-10 days, UGH! Now I wake up this morning and feel like crap. Headache, body aches, sinus junk. Can't we just get a break?

"Come to me when you are weary and burdened and I will give you rest"...Jesus, well that is our prayer today.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

You have to be kidding

So, I am in the Apple store. Back up, my ibook crashed again today. About 3 months it crashed and I didn't have anything backed up, so I lost everything. For someone like me, my address book is very important, gone it was.

Well, at least it's all backed up this time. Now, I love Mac and I can't ever go back. But my laptop is under a year old, and is going crazy. Now he's checking it in, no, give it to me back. I will tell you what, I will trade you my ibook for a Mac Book Pro, deal? I didn't think so.

I hate this store, well, really I love it. But it causes me to be selfish as all get out. I dream of owning an ipod someday, isight, and the new versions of iLife and iWork. Plus it would be awesome to bring home a new iMac for the family.

See I'm selfish.

Is my Blog Lame?

So, I just got off the phone with one the best bloggers I know. I won't reveal his name or blog identity, but I will tell you it rhymes with www.maveburt.com, those of you who don't know Dave Kurt won't be able to figure that out, or maybe you will. Only time will tell. So, here's the story. I really respect him and his blog and his blogging prowess. BUT...

He told me my blog template could be an old ladies! I was like....wwhhaatt? It's retro, it's vinatage, it's sweet like butter on a chilly, breezy day.

So, is my Blog lame. Come on, just spill it. Give it to me...go on, You Can Do It!

Monday, February 13, 2006

Crazy thought

So, tonight I had a crazy thought. On March 10th, Project311 and SpringHill Camp is hosting a Metro Detroit Youth Workers Lunch. I am very excited because this hasn't happened in our area for at least 8 years. So, that could be good and that could be bad. From what I have learned so far about youth workers in my area is that some of them are highly competitive and really do concern themselves with the fact that they have more kids than the church down the street. And I have found that many of them do not seek out any community building with other youth workers. THAT BLOWS MY MIND. I just don't get it, at freakin all!

So, we hope to rebuild a Metro Detroit area network, we hope to encourage some mad idea sharing, we hope to get Group, YS, Baker, Zondervan to give us free stuff to give them, and we hope to bless them. So I had a crazy idea. Wouldn't it be cool if we could get 15 local Sr. Pastors to serve at the lunch! Huh, you may not think so, but I sure do. Then reality set in for me and I started to think through all of the Sr. Pastors I know in Metro Detroit and I don't think I could get that many. I know for sure my old Sr. Pastor would never do something like this, no disrespect to him, but he rarely connects with his own staff, let alone asking him to serve youth pastors who serve the local church. So, crazy idea that will go in the files.

I love David Crowder Band!

I love, absolutley David Crowder Band. They are going to be in our area this weekend and I would love to go, but it's not going to happen. First hurdle, finding a babysitter. Second hurdle, finding money to take Tracie and I. Third hurdle, finding gas money.

Maybe next time, and that's ALL I CAN SAY (if you know what I mean).

More Bally Total Fitness observations

Why are the locker rooms always dirty, yet there are always people cleaning them?

Can there really be chubby aerobic instructors?

I never wear my glasses in the hot tub and the showers, I did today and I know why I never do, WHAT a freakin mess. Going to keep my glasses off for now on.

Should it be legal for men over 50 to wear speedos in public places? At Bally's it is and the bigger the belly the better.

The bally commercials have incredibly hot people working out in them, real life Bally's are not like the commercials.

Some people have horrible form as they work out and the funny thing is, they don't know it.

Typically the guys with the bigger muscles means they stare at themselves more.

There could be no one at the gym but I always pick a locker next the only other person there.


"The message is simple...Love One Another"...1 John 3:11

What a profound verse. This is one of those verses that is always on my mind, what does it mean? how do we it? love who? love how? So much to think about. I would like to think that we are to love like how Christ loves. I love reading how unselfish his love is, he loved those in the gutter in life, he loved the unlovable in others eyes, he loved the rejects. His love is amazing, beautiful, majestic and incredible. May I love others the way Christ loves me.

I love to Juggle

When I was in 10th grade, I didn't have much of a life and for my birthday my mom got me a book called..."Juggling for the Complete Klutz". It literally changed my life! I started to juggle and I juggled some more. I use to juggle in the cafeteria at school, at home, in the mall, where ever I could.

From time to time I juggle I will juggle during my talks, the only hitch is it's hard to get the students attention after your done.

I never was really that good, I could only 5 balls for a short time, but I could do knives. I attempted fire once, bad idea.

This was last summer at Camp Velocity. I spoke in the biology room and I am juggling on the lab table.

My '66 Mustang

Once upon a time I owned a 1966 Ford Mustang. It was always a dream to own a Mustang and when I was 19 I bought one. The ladies definately noticed me in that car, but it's not like I needed that car anyway. The ladies always noticed me, if you know what I mean.

I loved it, it was sweet and I owned it for 10 years. I sold it back in the fall to make sure my family had food.
I hope to own one again someday. My dream would be to own a 1966 Shelby Cobra and I would love to restore it with my dad and my boys. How much fun would that be!

Double Ear Infection it is.

Bekah has a double ear infection and a crazy cough. I have never heard her cough like this before. Man, what a couple of crazy weeks. I was sick, the boys were sick, Tracie was sick and now Bekah. Crazy.

My Princess is Sick

The Raitz family has been crazy sick the last couple of weeks and now the last one to get it is my Princess, Bekah Sue.

She missed school today and everything. I hate it when my kids are sick. When I was sick as a kid, my mom was incredible. She took incredible care of us, so hopefully, Bekah feels like I am doing a good job as well.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Bostwick Bakery

This weekend I had the largest donuts of my life. At the retreat, Blake and I went to this little po-dunk bakery to pick up breakfast, 6 dozen donuts and when we got back to camp and opened up the boxes we were shocked.

These donuts were freakin huge! Literally a donut was 4 times the normal size and they all had at least 2 cups of frosting on top of them. They were wild.

Wow, we were young!

This is a picture of Tracie and I when I first started at Covenant Community as their youth pastor. I had probably been there 8 months and Tracie was head over heels in love with me. I don't mean to brag, but she really had the hotts for me, I mean, Can you Blame Her?

You know it. We were so young, how fun.

Ward EPC Jr. high retreat

What a great weekend! Can I say this...well, it's my blog, so I think I will...I love being on retreats! I don't know what it is, but I love it. This weekend I had the great honor of spending the weekend with Blake Maurice, the Jr. High director at Ward EPC and his students and leaders. Man, it was a blast!

Ministry Highlights:

1. Traveling with my family. Tracie is brilliant, she makes a dingy retreat room feel like home in a matter of minutes. Not only does she consistently pack everything for all 5 of us, she does it so well and we always have everything we need. The kids do so well on retreats. Youth Pastors who never travel with their kids because they don't think their kids can adapt to a new schedule, we say fewey! Our kids are incredible.

2. Tubing with my kids. We got to go tubing as a part of the retreat and I tubed with Bobby on the small hill and Bekah went on the big hill with one the Ward leaders. Bobby did get hurt though. I am an idiot! It was before we were even on the hill, a couple of jr. high boys we screwing around and I didn't know Bobby was behind and they ran right into him. His forehead bruised up pretty good.

3. Getting to encourage jr. high students to Love God passionately and to Love others selflessly, PRICELESS! I love it, these kids were great and they laughed, they listened and I think they learned. I love getting a chance to encourage students, what an honor. I would do this every weekend if I could.

4. Spending the weekend with Blake the Jr. high director at Ward. Man, this guy is sharp. He is the kind of the guy that just does things right. He handled the weekend beautifully even with a little accident at the beginning. He brought a charter bus and a little bus from church and the little bus was making it up a very icey hill to get into camp and it started to slip and then started to slide back down the hill. Well, it turned sideways and crashed right into the charter bus, shattered a window and broke some mirrors. Thankfully, no one was hurt.

5. I know this will sound selfish, because I know the "guest speaker" has a little impact on the over all success of a retreat, but it's always really re-affirming when jr. high students come up to you and let you know that you did a good job. I love when a 12 year boy thanks you for the great speech, priceless.

6. I love hearing jr. high students sing. It is awesome.

7. I love talking with jr. high students who don't' fit in. I love looking for the chubby, over weight, not dressed to good, goofy jr. high students and I just love to hang out with them.

It was a great weekend and I am so thankful that God allows me to do this.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

My Tracie before I knew her

What a cutie! She is not going to be very happy with me about this, but man, what a cutie.


Note to Clark Kent: Tell Lana, Now! Just do it.

Don't loose her, it's not worth it. And...stop wearing blue and red. I didn't even realize it till last week when my brother told me, huh, how did I miss it after 5 seasons?

Smallville, what happened?

SMALLVILLE....What did you do? Why do you have to go crazy some nights? Why can't all episodes be like 2 episodes ago?

Why? Just tell me you won't go weird anymore.

And by the way, KEEP LANA AWAY FROM LEX!

And it's hard for me to say, but Dave Kurt may be right about Lost. It is moving so slow. Speed it up.

Funny Church Story

I have been employed by the local church for almost 11 years. For some reason, a church hired me when I was way too young to be there youth pastor. Anyways, the last 11 years have provided a lot of interesting and funny stories.

So, at one of the churches I worked at, our youth ministry was planning a huge event one year with the band Relient K. That was before they wanted $50K to play for an hour, anyways. We planned for months, reserved everything ahead of time, promoted and prayed a lot. So, the morning of the event, we arrived at the church to start setting up the stage and look what we found.

A FREAKIN HUGE STAGE built on the existing stage. See, when you bring in bands, you have to provide a certain amount of room for them to play. So, our event was a month before the big church outreach event and they didn't check any of the paperwork and just decided to build this huge stage on the stage. It was a major bummer because we actually went through all the proper channels and it still didn't work out.

Well, Relient K was cool about having a 8 foot stage to play on. It ended up working out, but I thought it was funny.

I love Mark

Today I had lunch with Mark Butler. Mark is a great friend, a great youth pastor, a great husband, and a great dad. Wow, that's a lot of greats. And he bought lunch, that was GREAT.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Big Month

Well it's going to be a crazy stretch the next month.

2.9...Teaching at Chapel
2.10-12...Teaching at Retreat
2.17...Speaking at Lock-In
2.24-26...Teaching at Retreat
2.27-1...Choose to Lead Conference

Plus we are getting ready for the Youth Workers lunch Project311 and SpringHill Camps is hosting on March 10th.

Does it get better?

I am watching the Grammy's (before Lost of course) and U2 is playing Vertigo, I don't think it gets better than that!

I also learned that most of Fall Out Boy still lives at home with their parents, huh, the reason...
their moms clean up after them. Yeah, that makes sense. I also saw someone from E interview Jars of Clay, that was cool. Now, Kelly Clarkston is on, she is great, and I love her a lot. I am actually in her fan club, no I'm not, (you know I am).

I am in new territory with music, I am the first to admit it. I grew up on a pretty strict diet of only "Christian" music, bands like...Mylon Lefevre (that's spelled wrong), Petra, Whiteheart, WhiteCross, Rez Band, Servant (you go Randy Brown) and really for the most part of jr. and high school, my parents wouldn't let me listen to "secular music". So for years, I was a "christian" music only guy. I still listen to a lot of "christian" artists but "secular" artists have started to make it into my listening ears. From a music standpoint, there is no such thing as "christian" or "secular" music, just the worldview they present I guess. As a youth pastor I spent years telling kids that if they listened to music that wasn't godly, they were lovers of satan. I don't think I would say that now, I know I would not.

I will tell you this, it was hard all those years not listening to Hootie and the Blowfish, man I love them! Love you Hootie!

So, I am on a journey with music and enjoying it.

Teaching at Chapel

Tomorrow I get to teach and lead worship for a chapel at Plymouth Christian in Plymouth, MI. Should be a blast. I spoke for their 'back to school' retreat in September 05 and that was awesome. I haven't led worship in awhile, so I am probably going to pull out some sweet MWS or Michael Card or maybe even some sweet FFH. Ha, I am so funny. You know what, I don't even think I have played my guitar since October, oh well, at least I can pull out my freakin KAZOO. That is a great instrument to lead worship with, YOU KNOW IT.

My topic: Love

My title: Love Who?

My theme verse: 1 John 3:11

My Big idea: We are called to love everyone from family to friends to foes.

My funny story: "I like Cheese"

I love teaching at christian school chapels, I love it. What is really weird is I might be teaching at my daughter's chapel very soon, weird or cool. I am going to go with both: WEICOORDLD


I was going through some old pictures last week and came across a bunch of ministry trips I have been on. So, I figure since this is my blog, I am going to start posting my youth ministry history. Doesn't that sound exciting, not really.

But, this was a great mission trip to Jamaica. I know this sounds not so spiritual, but the best part was our trip to Dunns River Falls, oh man, that was AWESOME. We did stay at this great place near somewhere, I can't remember and we did spend time just singing in this open mall area, kind of weird as I think about now. Anyways, the trip went great, except for some sickness and that bull getting hit by the bus, that was weird.

My first office

This is a classic picture of the ceiling from my first "official church office". Wow, it was nice. Paneling walls, missing ceiling tiles, leaky window and no computer. I moved in to this office in 1995 and the church did not provide computers for their staff, that's a weird thought now.

Well, to make up the time from not having a computer, I got real good at throwing pencils into the ceiling.

NICE! It was.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006


I just feel tired all the time. I don't know if I have ever felt like this before, it's a new feeling.

I went out tonight, scraped together some money and went and saw the movie Glory Road, wow, what a great movie. I loved it.

I love stories of people or teams that are written off by everybody else and overcome it. That gives me some energy.

It has been a long, rough, tiring year and we are looking forward to this next year.

Pet Peeves: Personal Version

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.

My Dream ( I am #6 by the way)

So, a long time ago, well, 9 years ago, I was a Baseball coach. For one season I was the assistant varsity baseball coach and for two seasons I was the Varsity Baseball Coach for the Fairlane Christian Lions.

I LOVED IT! There is nothing like coaching baseball, it is my dream job. I loved hitting fly balls, teaching fundamentals, calling plays, working on swings, and seeing guys play to their potential.

This picture is from my best season 15-7 and we finished with a loss to blasted Roeper. We should of won, we had it in the bank, and a fluke error sealed our fate.

Some day I dream of coaching again, maybe at a college, where I can live out my other dream, to teach youth ministry.

My cousin Paul

I had lunch with my cousin Paul yesterday, it was fun catching up with him. He is a youth pastor in Waterford, MI and loving it.

The Haircut of all Haircuts!

Zach finally got his hair cut! His hair was long and now he could be in the army, you know it!

Triple XXX Church

I was just listening to Rob Bell from Mars Hill Church and he said that Craig Gross (one of the founders of Triple XXX Church) is moving from SoCal to Grand Rapids. He is going to be a part of Mars Hill, not on staff, but an attender. I guess he will operate Triple XXX Church out of Grand Rapids, huh, that's cool.

Monday, February 06, 2006


-- 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?

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. And use Spell Check.
6. Rude children ministry workers. I hate that. Having 3 kids, I really need the someone to tell me where to go and show 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.
10. More than 2 singers in the worship team, I just don't get 9 hundred microphones.
11. Pastors that don't return phone calls or emails!
12. Churches that have Excellance as a value. Now, I am not about Perfectionism, but why don't we do the best job that we can?
13. Pastors and Youth Pastors who think the world revolves around them and their ministry.

Those are some. More to come.

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.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Raitz Kids are Great!

I have a lot of friends

I hate to brag, but man, I have a lot of friends, just kidding. Now maybe, I consider them friends and they just pretend to be my friend, but even when it comes to people with the name of Jason, I know a lot of them. Like:

Jason Shinn. Very cool guy, a movie expert, a youth pastor and occasionally buys me lunch, very nice.

Jason Buntine. Known him since he was 5, that's right 20 years. I have coached him, been his youth pastor and all sort of other things.

Jason Riker. My brother-n-law, very funny, great dad of 3 boys, did I mention funny.

There are so many more Jason's, but I will start with these 3.

Zach is addicted to Pop

So, Zach has something called PKU (Phenylketonuria). Basically it means that Zach has to have a very low/no protein diet for life.

So no: Meat, eggs, milk, cheese, stuff like that. It's pretty crazy, but we've settled in and are use to it. Tracie is has become an expert and I am trying to learn as much as I can. But, one of the "free" items he can have is pop, not diet pop, but good old regular pop. Now, he's only 18 months old so we don't give it to him very much, but every once and awhile he gets his hands on it and will not let it go.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Clark Just Do it

Cloe just asked Clark if he could be the mild mannered reporter by day and crime fighter at night....


Clark is no Side-Kick

That new chick just said Clark makes a good side kick, NO.

He's the MAN!

Huh, a time out

Chuck Norris is sweet.

My brother Jimmy and his buddy Jason told me about this hilarious website called ChuckNorrisfacts.com, anyways it's funny.

Top Ten Chuck Norris Facts

Chuck Norris' tears cure cancer. Too bad he has never cried. Ever.

Chuck Norris does not sleep. He waits.

Chuck Norris is currently suing NBC, claiming Law and Order are trademarked names for his left and right legs.

The chief export of Chuck Norris is pain.

If you can see Chuck Norris, he can see you. If you can't see Chuck Norris, you may be only seconds away from death.

Chuck Norris has counted to infinity. Twice.

Bring it on...More Good guys

What the ham & eggs, a Chick good guy, NO, NO, NO, NO, NO.

No woman can't take away from Clark's fame and role as the Good guy.

But, we will see.

Is Jonathon really dead? Does Lana have a mustache? Where's Louis?

Smallville it is!

I still can't get over the fact that Clark's dad is dead!

What is happening with Smallville, we will see.

Wow, Life is Hard at time

My baby girl is in ballet and tap at a little dance studio by our house, believe me she is so cute.

Well, at her dance studio their is a girl is 13 and has been dancing she was 3, she lives to dance. A couple of months ago she was having was having pain in her stomach and her mom took her to the doctors. Long story short, she has ovarian cancer. Man, they found a mass in her stomach and did surgery and now she is doing chemo. Sometimes it's just hard to understand why a 13 year girl old has to hurt like this, I just don't get it.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Camp Michindoh Highlights

We spent this last weekend at Camp Michindoh in Hillsdale, MI. We spent it with 6 churches from all over Michigan, from Novi to Saginaw or Sag-n-awesome as some told me, so here our annual trip highlights:

1. Teaching Jr. high students. It was awesome being with 200 jr. high school students (don't hate me for throwing around numbers). They were great and the worship team did a great job.

2. Spending the weekend with my family. They put us up in this hotel like room, it was cool.

3. Food. Man, the food was great. Some of the best camp food I have ever had. Breakfast on Sunday morning was incredible!

4. Hearing 200 jr. high students worship, wow, the best!

5. Meeting and getting know about 30 jr. high volunteers or shepherds.

6. Hanging out with the 6 youth pastors.

7. Spending some time with Joe Synder the Youth Pastor at Oakpointe church in Novi.

8. Watching jr. high students being loved by loving adults, the best!

9. Talking with about 20 kids who attended Blitzfest. It was awesome to hear how much they loved it and can't wait for the next one.

One of those months

Have you ever had one of those months when you thought it couldn't get any worse? Well, we are there. From little things like the kids spilling just about everything they put their hands on to, to our crazy sewer system in our house, to our family being sick, to the constant worry about our finances or lack there of, wow, it's just a lot.

These times, I really love Matthew 11:28..."Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest". Christ's words here are precious to us.

Raitz family in action

Zachary is so much fun and he is such a mama's boy. And Bekah, well she is Bekah.

A dad and his boys

So, it's no secret, but I love my boys. Don't get me wrong, I love the Raitz girls too, but I love my boys too. I don't know if that makes sense, still a little sick and my eyes are not in focus.

They are at a really fun age. I love it.

Sick, Sick, Sick

I have missed two days of blogging, two days of working out, and two days of eating! My whole family is sick! We got back from the retreat on Sunday and all of us have some form or another of the same sickness. What really stinks is when mom is sick!

I have so much to blog, including some more Bally's Total Fitness observations and our highlights from camp michindoh, but they will have to wait until I loosed this fever.