Time keeps slipping away

It’s funny how your observation of the passage of time changes as you have more miles behind you than ahead of you. Growing up, you don’t spend any time reflecting on where you have been as you know you have so much more lying ahead on your journey. After reaching the half-century mark, dates on the calendar remind you of significant moments more frequently.

Today is the 27th of September and one month ago I had a heart attack although it went undiagnosed until the following day. I have changed my diet and have increased my physical activity. I have dropped a few pounds with a goal still to meet. Renee has been alongside every step of the way.

One year ago was the eve of my first day of work at Ogden School District. I worked as an Office Assistant at Bonneville Elementary School tracking attendance. I stayed in that position until Spring Break when I became Technology Site Specialist at Ogden High School. I now work for the Internal Revenue Service.

Six years ago today, I stood in front of my son and his bride leading them in their exchange of vows. Their relationship would end three years later and we now live with him and his daughter in Utah. We had no idea the heartache ahead of us that day, but we are so very grateful for the blessing their relationship brought into our lives in the form of the Precious. She brightens our lives each and every day we share with her.

I have no idea what this day may bring in the future, but I am glad to be with my loved ones to share this one. We have a roof over our heads and food in our bellies. We can’t change the past, but we can join arms as we go forward into whatever may come our way. Slip away if you must time, but we will keep our eyes upon the keeper of all time, the Lord God Almighty.

Anxiety of heart

On August 27th, I was preparing to start my day of telework when I began to feel pain in my chest that radiated up into my neck and down my left arm. Knowing that my father had a heart attack at 38 and died after one at 67 (on this date 11 years ago), I promptly made my way down the hall to awaken Renee. She drove me to the ER where the pain intensified. I spent several hours there while the doctor ran multiple tests concluding that there was no evidence of heart damage. I was prescribed aspirin and nitroglycerin for emergency use. While picking up the prescriptions, we decided to get a flu shot as well.

The pain was less intense, but continued until the following morning. At that point, the pain disappeared and I felt like a rung out towel with very little energy. My BP which was normally around 130 over 90 was registering at 90 over 60 all that day. Renee consulted with a virtual nurse who recommended a return trip to the emergency room.

Upon arrival, the staff ran the same tests as the day prior. However, this time the reaction was much different as I was told to strip and was connected to IVs and had defibrillator pads placed on my chest and back. The electrocardiogram and blood enzymes now showed that I had suffered a heart attack. I also had a fever which puzzled the doctors who hadn’t considered the flu shot I had while having a heart attack the day prior. I was admitted and moved to the cardiac care unit.

The following morning, I was given an echocardiogram and saw Renee for a moment before being taken for an angiogram. The angiogram revealed that I had an artery that had closed causing the heart attack. The artery had reopened and the cardiologist decided to place a stent to restore proper bloodflow. There were also two arteries in another part of my heart with 60% closure.

I spent 24 hrs more in the hospital before being discharged with new prescriptions and lifestyle changes to make. I was given two days off of work and told to avoid stress for two weeks. My manager allowed me to watch colleagues instead of diving back into my workload the 1st week after the heart attack. The following week, windstorm damage kept me from picking up a full workload. The building my phone was tied to was without power all week long.

A full two weeks after the heart attack, I resumed a normal workload. The 1st day seemed to go quite well. The 2nd morning I was to continue working brought about a very different outcome. Even before I could start my day, my nerves were on edge and I had a pit in my stomach. Anxiety began to consume my whole being to the point where my hands started to tremble. As someone who usually has very strong self confidence, this was out of character. Fortunately, I had a very understanding manager that gave me a day to relax and observe a colleague for the day. I had heard of heart attack victims suffering from depression, but this anxiety was highly unsuspected.

The next day I resumed a normal work schedule with the knowledge that anxiety like depression could be lying in wait for me. I got through the day ok again. I never considered that a physical distress might prompt a debilitating mental distress. There is a history of mental illness as well as heart ailment in the family tree.

I must now work on both my physical and mental well being as part of the recovery process I find myself living out. The Bible sheds light on my heart health and this new battle against anxiety. “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Proverbs 4:23 NIV

Who are you American Christian?

I am a walking oxymoron. I don’t fit into others’ preconceived idea of what it means to be a Christian in the United States of America. Allow me to provide some background before addressing the crux of this post.

I came to faith in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Saviour while serving in the US Army at Fort Greely, Alaska. After leaving the service and marrying my Army-brat bride, we attended a multi-denominational Charismatic Bible school in a predominantly African-American neighborhood of Dallas, Texas. We graduated with a Diploma of Practical Theology which later converted to an Associates degree. As a couple, we served as youth pastors in a non-Denominational church in a small white community outside of Ft. Worth, Texas. That church was highly involved in local and state politics.

Departing there with some GI bill money expiring soon, I returned to school at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma. It was a private Charismatic school with a great degree of cultural and racial diversity compared to the small town we had just left. I graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelors of Arts. My major was Church Ministries: Pastoral and minors in Church History & Systematic Theology.

I decided to pursue a Masters of Divinity degree at Ashbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky. It was a Methodist school that aligned itself with the conservative wing of that denomination. While attending, we joined a church plant out of World Harvest Church. We began helping in Children’s church at Bethel Harvest Church in Lexington, Kentucky. I dropped out of seminary after a family illness and the financial stress seminary placed on my family. Eventually, we would lead two kid’s church services as well as my being the TV/Radio editor for the church.

We relocated back to my home state of California eventually attending the local Assembly of God congregation. While my wife worked in the nursery, I began teaching the Adult Sunday School class and taught an occasional Sunday or Wednesday night service. My wife would eventually become the Children’s church director and supervisor of the food pantry outreach on Fridays.

All of this is shared, not to inflate myself over others, but rather to demonstrate our participation in the body of Christ. We have been in the trenches and have taught believers from the cradle to the grave. I have gone to school for theology and have done practical ministry as well.

The Apostle Paul wrote to the Roman church, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” I see many believers in America ascribing allegiance to things of this world over the precepts of Christ. Some of the things which have contaminated the Christian faith in America and are cultural residue are guns, Republican devotion, personal rights over community concerns, and neglect of those suffering injustices.

The arming of Christians and their vapid defense of having firearms is in direct contradiction to the gospel. Jesus came to give hope and admonished Peter for taking up a sword at his arrest. A painting of our savior brandishing a firearm or assault weapon has no place in our places of worship yet many do bring firearms to worship regularly. We are to reflect His image to a hurting world, but what do we show them when we carry weapons of execution instead of extending arms open for embrace.

Devotion to the Republican party has weakened Christian impact on those around them. I am Pro-Life, but I am also Pro-Love, and Pro-Character. The current leadership of the Republican party lacks the compassion/character of our Savior and denigrates people regularly. They mock and instill fear as a way of securing votes. The current resident of the White House smiled while awkwardly holding a Bible after gassing protesters calling for an end to racial inequality.

The pandemic of Covid 19 has brought out a level of selfishness among Christians in America that is also astonishing. The Golden rule given by our Savior states “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” Wearing a mask has become too much to ask for many believers. We want it our way instead of being selfless and sacrificing for the well being of others.

Finally, the continued disregard for the ongoing, neverending suffering of injustices by those whose skin color is not white is not a cause of concern for far too many American Christians. They get upset when someone says “Black Lives Matter” and respond with “All Lives Matter.” Jesus told of the shepherd who left the 99, to go and save the one. Nobody says all don’t matter, but people of color are hurting and affirming they matter should not offend. He gave all for all. Their pain is His pain and thereby, my pain too.

Lord, break the church in America free from the cultural bondage it has so willingly embraced. Help it to be a place of love, acceptance and caring for a hurting and needy world. May we once again be a beacon in the darkness. Amen.

Back in the saddle again …

This blog has been untouched since the end of 2016 for a number of reasons. It had only seen an end of the year post for a couple of years which included our annual Christmas newsletter primarily due to making frequent posts to Facebook. However, 2017 was a year of sorrow on many fronts for our family ending even the yearly post. In April, my mother Betty succumbed to lung cancer and in September our son became a single parent. Renee joined him in Utah to help raise our granddaughter and navigate the legal process of filing for divorce. The following year, 2018, we lived in separate states while the legal process continued. In 2019, custody was set at 50/50 meaning there would be no returning from Utah.

I attempted to wait out a bank note on our home and reach vesting in my retirement plan until the passing of a colleague prompted reconsideration of those goals. We listed and sold our home within months and I joined the family in Utah on the last day of May. The timing of this reuniting of our family was providential as 2020 confirmed.

Renee had back surgery this past January and then Covid turned everything upside down. Facebook which had begun as a great place to share family happenings and my many ponderings descended into a highly toxic environment resulting in the deactivation of my account last week. So this will once again be the venue for me to share those things again.

A year between posts….

Jesse & Sabrina wed on September 27, 2014 with Doug officiating.
Jesse & Sabrina wed on September 27, 2014 with Doug officiating.

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.

What’s that? A post appears on the horizon…

2013 Christmas Card Photo
2013 Christmas Card Photo courtesy of Paula Vaughn

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.

2013 Annual Zeliff Family Newsletter

Two months in and still no post

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.

The end is coming, the end is coming…..

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.

Download our annual holiday letter.

September Sierra Soujourn

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.

Two months away and what to say?

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.