Another year has passed and the blog has been a desolate place since I last posted anything. If you tried coming here in the last year to find anything out, I apologize for the lack of activity. Facebook is the best way to keep up with us and our activities throughout the year. We have had highs and lows this year which are catalogued in our annual Christmas newsletter that you are free to download and peruse. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
I don’t think the blog world has missed my infrequent posts on this website. Facebook saps any desire to write posts on this blog so I recommend anyone reading this that is not already a friend there, add me now to keep track of the Zeliff family exploits. Time as expected has continued to march on in our lives. Another year has ended and another is set to begin. If you desire to read a recap of the events that transpired in our lives over the last 12 months, I encourage you to download our annual Christmas letter linked below. Hope you and your family have a blessed Christmas and a happy new year.
Ok I admit I have been slacking on the blog. With Twitter and Facebook being the dominant way I have been keeping in touch with people I just have been ignoring the blog. Let me see if I can cobble together a brief summary of what has transpired so far in 2013.
Jesse came home for a few days at the start of January. He is still at the LA Dream Center serving in the kitchen as an intern feeding over 300 people every meal. He applied for and received a full internship scholarship for the next year. He has started back at the Angelus Temple Bible Institute with a 3 year scholarship there also. He enjoys being in LA and keeps very busy working at the ministry there. We might see him sometime soon, but for now he is there and blessing others through his service.
Renee and I both celebrated birthdays this month. We didn’t do much other than go out to eat. Our anniversary was another story. We took a flight to Portland, Oregon and were hosted by my brother Chris and his wife Paloma. We had not been to visit them since they moved from Texas to Oregon. We had a great time catching up and enjoyed their beautiful home. We went bowling thanks to a Groupon gift card from one of Renee’s clients. Paloma schooled us in the first game and I hung on to win the second game. They took us to Stanford’s for our anniversary dinner. One of the main destinations while in Portland was the great used bookstore, Powells. It was great to see so many Star Wars novels in one place. I brought home many hard to find novels that are waiting to be read.
Well, that’s the latest from our neck of the woods. If you want more recent info and photos, send me a friend request on Facebook.
You read that title right, the end is coming. No, I am not referring to some Mayan prophecy hooey. The end of another year in the Zeliff household is coming. Jesse has lived for the last year at the Dream Center and still enjoys what he does there feeding the people that live and work there along with the homeless as part of their Adopt-A-Block program. As far as what has transpired since I last posted, we did go back to LA and take Jesse and his new roommate Justin to dinner on Veterans Day. We have plans to see them again to go see The Hobbit when it comes out.
On Sunday December 9th, I will be “The Great, Late Potentate” for our church’s Christmas play. I have been rehearsing with the children for the past two months and hopefully won’t flub my lines or hurt anyone’s ears with my singing. We don’t have any travel plans set for Christmas so we will most likely be spending it at home with just the two of us as we did with Thanksgiving. Jesse chose to stay in LA and all indications are that he will again for Christmas.
As thought’s turn to family and friends, we hope this year finds you all well, loved and enjoying your holiday. We acknowledge the Author and Finisher of our faith for humbling Himself in the form of a servant and being found as a babe in a manger. May you know His love and care for you and our love and care for you as well this Christmas.
We returned on Wednesday from a trip through the Sierra Nevada Mountains with our son Jesse, his roommate James and their friend Tim from our church. They are all interns at the LA Dream Center and wanted to enjoy some time off together before James returns to Texas at the end of the month. We picked them up on Friday and brought them home to do a little laundry before heading out on our trip.
Saturday morning, we picked up our rental van from Hertz for which we got an amazing deal. We left around 10 am and headed north on US 395. We stopped in Lone Pine at the Interagency Visitor Center and ate a few sandwiches. We stopped a few miles later at Mazanar National Historic Site. Manzanar was a Japanese internment camp where Japanese-Americans were forced to live after World War II began because of fear that they might sabotage their own country. It is a sad part of our history, but one that everyone should know about.
After leaving Manzanar, we traveled north to Big Pine and headed up into the White Mountains to see the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest. We stopped on the way up the mountain to see rain falling along the Eastern Sierras. At an elevation above 10,000 feet, the temps were quite cool when we arrived. We were able to see the newly reopened Schulman Grove Visitor Center. We left the visitor center and headed back down the mountains and north on 395 to Mammoth Lakes, CA where we had a condo reserved for two nights. Jesse and Renee cooked us dinner.
We enjoyed a great breakfast prepared by Renee and Jesse before heading to Devil’s Postpile National Monument just a few miles away. It was great to see it again after last seeing it when I was only 12. Tim and James wanted to see Rainbow Falls, so I joined them for the 2.5 mile trek. It was a little warm hiking back through a deforested area recovering from the Rainbow Fire. We returned to the condo for lunch and the guys changed into their Steampunk attire for our trip to Bodie State Historic Park.
Bodie is a ghost town from the gold mining era of California history that is now a state park. It has been preserved in a state called “arrested decay.” Which means, they don’t allow it to fall down, but don’t make improvements to it either. The guys enjoyed this place a lot as they posed around various antiquities and explored the abandoned town in their Steampunk garb. We managed to capture plenty of photos before they closed the park at 6pm. We stopped along 395 on the way back to the condo to take photos overlooking Mono Lake.
Monday morning, we cleared out of the condo and headed back north on 395, turning left crossing up and over the Tioga Pass into Yosemite National Park. We stopped at the Tuolumne Meadows Visitor Center before heading to Yosemite Valley for lunch. We ate sandwiches at the base of El Capitan with Bridalveil Falls across on the opposite side. We headed south and stopped to take photos of Half Dome and also of the whole Yosemite Valley before taking CA 41 south out of the park toward Fresno. We made our way through Fresno and stopped briefly in Clovis for gas and groceries. We arrived at the beautiful Victorian-style home in Squaw Valley a few miles from Kings Canyon National Park. It was a magnificent place to stay and quite a peaceful respite from our travels.
Tuseday we were off to see the Giant Sequoias of Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks. We stopped at General Grant Grove to see the General Grant Tree, the 3rd largest tree in the world. Tim remarked that the size of the trees was “stupid”. We traversed the winding road over to see the General Sherman Tree, the largest tree in the world. Jesse decided he would wear a paper bag over his head for the remainder of our time at Sequoia National Park drawing plenty of strange looks from other visitors. We climbed the 350 steps to the top of Moro Rock before stopping at Giant Forest Visitor Center. We relaxed that evening in the hot tub at the rental house.
We traveled home on Wednesday and took the guys back to the Dream Center on Thursday afternoon. Jesse had a great time as did James and Tim. Renee was outnumbered by all the testosterone in the van, but coped with it well. It was a great trip and something we will all remember fondly.
I haven’t posted to my blog since January when Jesse came home from LA to visit. Let’s see….what has transpired in that time? Well, both Renee and I got another year older, so that’s a plus I guess. Sure beats the alternative. We also celebrated 22 years of matrimony which is also a plus considering the alternative. Mom Zeliff came out for a visit as did my goddaughter Christina and her family. It was fun having her little guy Derek running around the house and playing with my old toys with him. Jesse requested that we retrieve him for the weekend and then return him to LA.
On my health, I had a resolution to my ongoing heart drama. The doctor detected a bigeminy(double heart beat) at my regular checkup. He referred me to a cardiologist for further tests and evaluation. These tests included an echocardiagram, 24 hour EKG monitor, bubble echocardiagram, and a treadmill stress test. After all of that, the cardiologist declared it benign and told me to come back in 6 months. So my heart is just a little off beat, but then again so am I.
Renee is still enjoying working from home in her business and in the nursery at church. I am enjoying teaching the adult discipleship class at church as well. Jesse is still at the LA Dream Center and enjoying the ministry he does there. Thank you to those that donated toward the $900 he needs for his internship. Every little bit helps him continue the great work he is doing. Additionally, he has enrolled in the 3 year program at Angelus Bible Institute and received a full sponsorship for his classes and books.
We hope each of you are well and that you are enjoying life. Feel free to drop us an e-mail or contact me via Twitter or Facebook.
We were grateful to have Jesse home from the Dream Center over the Thanksgiving weekend. He wasn’t sure until a few days prior whether or not he would be coming home. We drove down Wednesday night to get him and stopped for some Panera on the way home. He brought all of his laundry with him and enjoyed sleeping in his own bed. Thanksgiving day we gathered around the table to enjoy the feast that Renee had prepared. I spent the day watching NFL and Jesse got reacquainted with his computer and online friends.
On Friday, the Christmas decorations were brought from the shed. Mom Zeliff arrived as we began setting up the tree. Jesse took care of the Nativity, placing it under the Christmas tree. He also raided the decorations, taking some back with him to LA along with several strings of lights. He and I were both up early on Saturday to begin our marathon day of Beta testing the online game Star Wars: The Old Republic. On Sunday, we took him back to the Dream Center so he could return to the work he is enjoying so very much.
He has said that he plans on staying in LA through January so we will most likely be spending our first Christmas at home without him. As is our tradition, I have typed up our year end newsletter. If you care to read it, you may download it here: http://zeliff.net/Christmas2011.pdf. We wish each of you a blessed Christmas season and happy new year.
We received another update from Jesse today on how things are going for him at the Dream Center. Here is his report:
Here at the Dream Center, everyday is a miracle. Whether it is feeding 100 people with one pan of food designed for 50 people, seeing a sprained ankle healed in a day, or merely being able to work another day for God.
I simply love being here. The people I’ve met have shown me things I had never noticed before. I am able to be an example of God and able to see examples of God in each and every day.
On Mondays, I go out and pick up food from a local grocery store chain Albertsons. Every Month, I pick up about 4,000 pounds of food products. I love waking up earlier and watching the sunrise as I load crates into a refrigerated truck.
Tuesdays are spent sleeping in and spending a little extra time with God and friends. Sometimes I go out and enjoy walking in LA. Other times, I just stay in my room and sleep, since sleep is sometimes a rare thing here.
Wednesdays through Fridays, I work in one of the most anointed places of the Dream Center, the kitchen. Often called the DC Dinner or Cafeteria, the kitchen is one of the most vital areas of the Dream Center. Whether it be men, women, or teens in the discipleship recovery program, or those that attend the free food chapel who do not have a means of providing for themselves: we serve them every day in the kitchen.
When I work in the kitchen, God always moves in wonderful ways. Most of the men that work there are in the recovery program and leave the kitchen with their entire lives changed.
Every Saturday I get to enjoy feeding the homeless and often oppressed in Skid Row and neighboring locations. We serve food to about 100-150 people each meal. That’s 300-450 lives changed that day with the nourishment we provide and gladly give.
On Sundays, I am a helper in the 4-5 year old class in the Kid’s Dream Zone at Angelus Temple. The kids affectionately call me the monster, as I provide a fun game for them inside the bounce house we have for them. I love being a positive influence in their lives and being blessed by their often smiling faces.
It is an honor that I get to see a glimpse of all that God is doing in the lives here at the Dream Center. God has certainly changed me as He has for so many that come to the Dream Center. I certainly pray that I may be of more use for all the miracles that are happening here to the glory of God.
With love and thankfulness,
Jesse plans to stay and work through the holidays as they are always some of the most needy times for families touched by the Dream Center. If you would like to support him in his ministry, he has put together a sponsorship letter explaining how you may contribute to the great work he is doing. We will continue to update you on his many exploits going forward and ask your prayers for him.
Unlike most the world, I wasn’t impacted by the events of 9/11/2001 immediately upon hearing and seeing the events taking place in New York, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania. A few days prior, I received a call from my mom that my father was in dire health after suffering a stroke. I withdrew from seminary in Kentucky and on the night of 9/10/2001, I loaded my family into the car and we headed for Florida not knowing when or if I would return to school. We drove through the night arriving around 4 am in Lakeland, FL.
We awoke a few hours later to see the horrible scenes of the Twin Towers unfolding on TV. My mind, however, was on racing to hospital to see my father. We arrived to find him completely paralyzed on the left side and unable to do much as he was left handed. His mind was sharp, but his body wasn’t cooperating. I watched with him on the hospital TV as the towers fell and I had to explain to him it wasn’t a movie. My brother was across the country unable to come because of flights everywhere being grounded. I spent the next couple days at the hospital helping dad to eat and trying to get him transferred to an agressive stroke rehabilitation facility. The doctor was concerned about blood on his brain and recommended surgery to relieve the pressure, but offered no hope the paralysis would end. Dad agreed and underwent surgery as we and our church family in Kentucky prayed. Miraculously, dad began moving his left arm in the recovery room and would walk out of the hospital on his own power a few days later.
That horrible day will always remind me of my father as my emotions were so wrapped up in caring for him at the hospital. I didn’t feel the impact of the tragedy that befell our nation until months later when watching a TV special about what took place. Today, as I listen to names being read, I remember my father who left us on 9/17/2009 and the loss of so many that fateful day when horrible men with horrible thoughts took so many from their families. Time does heal wounds, but scars remind us of pain once incurred. Tears fill my eyes and the memory of that morning will always endure in my mind. Condolences to all who lost loved ones that day or in the military service as a result of their commitment to protect our land from men of evil intent.