Time Traveling Through Texas

Howdy Ya’ll. Last week, we returned from a week long visit to the Lone Star State or as my wife and every Texan I know calls it “God’s Country.” We flew in to Austin on the 21st of July and immediately were made aware of the extreme heat they were suffering under. Before landing, you could see how drought stricken and brown the countryside was. Renee’s parents picked us up at the airport and headed for Copperas Cove. Before leaving Austin, mom was nice enough to stop and pick up some food for us as we hadn’t eaten since United charges for all its meals now. Where did we stop, but none other than Texas own, Whataburger. Tasty burger for the win. We arrived in Cove and would later go to dinner with mom and dad at Logan’s Roadhouse. The next morning we met her brother and dad for breakfast at Lil’ Tex in Cove and then we headed north.

We arrived in Henderson, TX and met up with Renee’s best friend Michelle despite getting lost thanks to the GPS giving us faulty directions to her place. We drove past her work and then went to dinner at the Cotton Patch restaurant where I enjoyed “real” chicken fried steak. We spent the next few hours laughing and playing games at the home of Michelle’s friend Kizzi before calling it a night. We enjoyed breakfast with Michelle and headed to meet our former neighbors and fellow CFNI grads, Sam and Shari Bristow for lunch in Palestine, TX. We hadn’t seen them in 17 years and they brought their son whom Shari was carrying last we saw her. It was amazing how after a 17 year separation, we picked right up where we left off. We laughed and joked through out lunch and thoroughly enjoyed every second we had with them. We left them and headed west toward Dallas/Ft. Worth.

We arrived mid-afternoon in Burleson, TX and checked into the La Quinta. We relaxed in the room for a few hours and got ready for the main event of the night, the wedding of Joni Gingles to Jarid Yankus in nearby Cleburne, TX. When Renee and I were students at Christ For the Nations(CFNI), we started serving as youth pastors for a small church outside of Ft. Worth. One of the very first youth to join us at Aledo Christian Center was the pastor’s granddaughter, Joni. We left Aledo to attend Oral Roberts University in 1996 and Joni would join us there a few years later. We kept in touch over the years and were very excited for her and her announced wedding date. After following a winding country road, we found the location of the wedding. It was a scorching TX afternoon, but the wedding was set in the shade of several giant trees providing much needed relief for the wedding party and witnesses. It was great to see so many families and the men and women we had known as teenagers after 15 years. One of the ministers had been a young man in our youth group along with many of the bridal party. There were a few that were barely recognizable after so many years. It was a beautiful ceremony and reception that we were very grateful to witnesses and attend. It was a pleasure to see and talk with so many people that we knew while in Aledo.

The next morning, we drove south to Copperas Cove and after dropping our luggage off, we headed to our home church, Trinity Worship Center. We met and married there 21 years ago and I have been a minister through the church for 22 years. It was great to see many of our church family and especially Pastor Kirby. After service, we were treated to BBQ brisket at the home of our good friends, Tim and Patty. Tim was my roommate for a short period after I left the Army and before I married Renee. I also performed their wedding 21 years ago this week. We enjoyed catching up with them immensely and were summoned to dinner by Renee’s brother Scott that evening.

Renee’s mom took off the next day from work so they could go shopping. I was along for the first part of the trip as they visited Best Buy and I helped pick out a new monitor and printer for mom. I returned home to set everything up while the ladies continued their shopping. We met for lunch and went to Dairy Queen to enjoy one of my Texas favs, the Dude. It is a chicken fried hamburger only sold in TX. The next day, we did a little touristy stuff as we took dad with us to the Blue Bell Creameries in Brenham, TX. Blue Bell has and always will be Renee’s favorite ice cream and I can’t argue with her on how very good it tastes. The tour was a half-hour and then we were treated to a scoop of ice cream of our choosing from 14 different flavors. On our way back to Copperas Cove, I detoured through Elgin, TX to stop at Meyers Smokehouse. I enjoyed a two meat combo plate of brisket and hot gut(sausage). We got back to Cove in time to go see Captain America with Scott at the cinema. Later that same night, we went to catch up with Carol, Renee’s classmate and former youth group member at Trinity Worship Center. We hadn’t seen her in several years as well, but spent several hours laughing and catching up with each other.

The next day, we were up and packed to return to California. Before leaving, we had another important event to attend, Renee’s mother was having a retirement party. We traveled with the family to include her sister Carla that flew up from Houston to mom’s office in Temple. We laughed and joked until the ceremony began. After meeting all of mom’s coworkers and enjoying some refreshments, we headed back to Cove. We went to mom’s favorite, Red Lobster, for lunch. We spent a few more hours with Renee’s family before mom and Carla drove us to Austin to catch our flight home.

It was great to see so many of our very good friends and family while time traveling through Texas. It was amazing to see how much time had passed, but we were able to laugh and talk as if we were only gone a day. If any of you care to reciprocate, our home is always open. We may not have Blue Bell, BBQ, DQ, or many of the other TX delicacies, but we will share with you all that we have here to include a warm embrace. Thanks again to all of you for making the week we spent there so very special. Special hugs to Michelle, Sam & Shari, Joni & Jarid, Pastor Kirby, Tim & Patty, Carol, and Renee’s whole family. We love you so very much. A note in closing, Jesse actually took great care of the house and pets while we were gone. Thanks son.

It’s been a couple of months…

I was waiting to post until things settled down a bit around our place. The end of May and beginning of June were quite busy as Jesse prepared for and then graduated from Apple Valley Christian School. It was a long time in the making as he began in K-4 attending Jenks Road Christian School while I was working on my degree at Oral Roberts University. After our move to Kentucky and a brief stint in public school, Renee began a long journey with him in the realm of homeschooling. He had a couple of years mingled in where he was attending classes at Excelsior Education Center (7th grade) and AVCS (9th grade), but most of his time was spent with Renee teaching him. They did well enough that he only needed 4 classes each semester of his senior year to graduate.

We had several family members fly in for his big day on June 3rd. His grandparents came in from Texas and his grandmother from Florida. We also had his youth pastor and fiancee along with one of my childhood friends and his wife at the graduation ceremony. It was a cool day as each of the graduating seniors had a slideshow of photos from their life play as they received their diploma. Jesse presented us with a letter and flower after leaving the stage to embrace all the family.

The Monday following graduation, Jesse mailed off his application for an internship he greatly desired. After waiting and waiting, we finally received word that he had been accepted to intern at the Los Angeles Dream Center, a ministry that focusing on meeting needs of those facing challenges from substance abuse, homelessness, poverty and other maladies society has. He wants to devote his life to helping others and we are very proud of him for that decision. He has to wait a few more months before he can begin as they currently don’t have any vacancies. He is hoping to begin the internship as soon as possible, so please pray patience for him and that he finds work while he awaits the call to begin the 4 month internship.

Man, he isn’t a boy anymore!

We celebrated Jesse’s 18th birthday on Wednesday. I was directed by Jesse to get donuts promptly in the morning before I left for work. He decided that since it was chapel day at school, he would dress in his suit and wear his fedora. I left work early to pick up his cake and get home before he did from school. Renee and I put on our best as well. He pulled in to the driveway to see Renee in a fancy dress and me wearing a nice tie and shirt. He was quite surprised as he thought he would be taking his mom to lunch and jokingly asked her to get dressed up so he wouldn’t stick out. After opening his card and birthday present (an iPod Touch), we left to enjoy a fancy lunch at the high-class eating establishment called “Subway”. We ran into someone from church coming out to the truck afterward catching them by surprise as we don’t dress up on Sundays. We then went to Best Buy so he could get a case for his birthday present.

On arriving home, it was the right time for cake time. He decided that the Over-The-Hill candle would do the trick on his gigantic cake. He didn’t care what kind of cake he got as long as it was big. This wasn’t because he expected a lot of people for his birthday, but because he wanted a lot of leftover cake to enjoy afterward. We laughed as he proceeded to cut a piece that was just under a quarter of the cake. He managed to eat almost all of it before he called it quits and put what was left in the fridge for the next day. That evening we went to Nick’s Pizza so he could enjoy another of his favorite foods: Pizza with Canadian bacon, mushrooms, and pineapple. So all in all, he had a good day full of his favorite foods and a cherished present that he will put to great use in the years to come.

Considering how I spent my 18th birthday(activities that are best left unspoken) and that Renee went with me to get a marriage license on hers, I think Jesse had a great birthday. He is less than a month from graduation and is finalizing his application for a 4 month internship that would begin in July. I will reveal the details of the internship after he has been accepted and his start date is confirmed. Hope everyone is well and that all the students finish their school year well.

Back from Europe and on to graduation

Jesse returned safely on March 27th and even managed to stay up until 9 that evening. He had a great time and thanks the many of you that offered support both financially and with your prayers. He returned with over 1300 photos and a few souvenirs. We pared down those photos to the top 100 or so which can be seen on our Facebook page if you are a friend. If not, send a request and you can check them out. You can also see some of his exploits on the trip through the eyes of his teacher at: http://www.everlater.com/rockylockwood/2011-avc-europe-trip/los-angeles-california–2. There are several photos of him and even a video of his presentation at the Omaha Beach Cemetery in Normandy. Watch for the red beret that appears halfway through the trip. It was his way of standing out and helping others in the group to see where they were going. Just look for the 6 ft 4 guy in the red beret. 😛

Now that he has returned, he has under two months before graduation the first week of June. Time to focus on the finish line and work hard. He has a goal for after graduation and I will share more on that at a later time. For now, we want him to do well on his remaining studies and complete his high school education. We are proud of the young man he has become and know that he will accomplish great things in life. We wish each of you a happy Easter in the next few weeks and pray that you know the power of His resurrection in your life. Behold He is not here, but is risen!

2011 – A year to be thankful for

On the first day of 2011, I felt impressed to express my thankfulness each day via Twitter. I am going to say what I am thankful for each and every day of this coming year. In this life, I have so much I take for granted and so much to be thankful for that goes unexpressed. I think I could stand to be more thankful so I intend to do just that. 2011 – a year to be thankful! If you want to read each of these tweets, follow me at www.twitter.com/Hairy_Baldman.

Summer is winding down

In a week, the young man residing in our home begins his senior year of high school. He will drive himself to school also. Wow! How time flies by when you are busy living life. I remember holding him as we left the hospital and thinking of the day he would ask me for the keys to the car. Now he drives his own truck.

August has been a little busy for us. We attended a Rangers/Angels game on the 1st hosted by my company. They fed us very well and provided seats at the very top of the stadium. So very glad that we were in the shade and avoided baking all day while the Angels went on to win 4-1. The following weekend, we drove to San Diego to attend the 1st birthday party of my best friend’s grandson. He was at sea, but returned the next day to play with the happy boy. In the middle of last week, we drove to Las Vegas to see Renee’s parents. They were in town for the week so we took them around to see some of the sights. They were staying at the Stratosphere and had a room for us overnight. We took them to Circus Circus and then down the strip. We showed them Hoover Dam and that night we took her mom to Fremont Street. The next day we went to breakfast and then on to the MGM to see the Lion Habitat. We went back to Fremont Street so Renee’s father could see it and then dropped them back at the Stratosphere before heading home to Apple Valley. We had a friend over to watch Summerslam on Sunday.

That wraps up the month so far, we will see what the remaining few weeks brings. Hope that you and yours are well and enjoying your summer.

The last year of childhood.

On May 11th, our son Jesse turned 17. The week prior, we celebrated Cinco de Mayo by having Jesse take and pass his driving test. I remember leaving the hospital with Renee and Jesse while looking into his tiny face and knowing that one day he would be asking for the keys to the car. That day has arrived. Changing diapers and eating his first solid food are distant memories. Reading bedtime stories and wrestling on the bed are now faded photographs in my mind. He has now entered his final year as a child.

I am very proud of the young man he has become. He thinks critically and biblically. More than once, he has refused to compromise or give in to peer pressure. He knows what he believes and isn’t afraid to ask questions when he disagrees. He is ok with being different and resists any pressure to conform to what others think. He is amazingly creative and enjoys his artwork. He has big dreams and plans. I credit Renee for the many years she home-schooled him. She has spent far more time than I have with him and deserves all the credit. Hopefully, I have set a good example as a husband and father for him so that in the years to come, he will be a good husband and father.

Son, I doubt you will read this as you are usually busy playing games online or listening to music, but I wanted to write it anyway. I love you son and am very proud of the upright man you’ve become. You have had challenges, but you have overcome them. You have a great sense of humor and laugh with ease. I know that you will be blessed in whatever you choose to do in life. I am so grateful that the Lord entrusted you to our care all those years ago. We will continue to pray for you as you launch out to fulfill your dreams in the years to come. Never lose sight of the Lord and know that He will never leave you or forsake you.

When people leave your life…

Maybe you have had someone that passed away or someone walked out with no explanation. Someone you consider a friend stops returning your calls. In some cases, you are prepared due to an ongoing illness or maybe friction in your relationship. No matter what the reason be it known or unknown, you are left wondering what to do from that point on. You have an obvious choice to be bitter, angry or depressed, but that is not the best choice. Does getting angry at someone solve anything? In fact, it only hurts you as they go about their life without a second thought. Bitterness as well only hurts you. Along with depression, each of these things affect you and those who have chosen to remain in your life.

I choose to think of good things, of happy memories and experiences shared that cannot be taken away. I refuse to let them be tainted by current circumstances. Do I wish things were better? Of course, but I am not in control of them. When my father passed away without saying that final “I love you,” I remember all the times he said it over my lifetime. When my childhood friend refused to return calls, I remember the fun we had growing up and appreciate the memories. When my sibling decided he no longer wants to talk to me, I remember the fun and adventures that helped make me who I am. When I open my heart to someone and they close the door on their side, I refuse to slam mine in anger, bitterness or depression. I would rather show too much love than not enough. Lord, help me to love as you loved, expecting nothing in return.

Another month done and a busy one ahead

Well, we have put another month in the history books. January has ended and we now enter one of the busier months on the Zeliff calendar to include two birthdays and three anniversaries. In February, Renee and I both celebrate our birthdays and our parents wedding anniversaries are celebrated along with our 20th. This will be my mom’s first wedding anniversary since dad passed away so we are hoping she will come out and be with us on that day. They were married for 45 years and her sorrow needs comforting when that day arrives.

This past weekend was not too busy. Friday night, Jesse drove us around as we got the oil changed in my truck and then went to Best Buy to exchange a defective DVD. Afterward, he went through the drive-thru at Golden Chopstix. It’s a good thing he has long arms, because he stopped a good ways away from the window. When we arrived home, I forced myself to use only chopsticks which was pretty comical to watch I am sure. I did get the hang of it, but my hand was a little sore by the end of the meal. Saturday we did a little housecleaning and Sunday I enjoyed seeing the Lakers beat the hated Celtics. That evening, we had a our friend Martial over to watch WWE Royal Rumble. It was great to spend some time with him and watch the PPV.

We pray that you and your family are well and please know that we are available should you need someone to pray with or just talk to.