Weekend Update

Friday night, Jesse drove us to dinner and then went to a movie night at his youth group while Renee and I went grocery shopping. Saturday was a wet and dreary day spent switching between coverage of the mudslides in LA and the blizzard in DC where my brother is working. When I went to check the mail during a break in the rain, the street was like driving on a freshly frosted cake. Our yard was a series of 1-2 inch puddles. That evening we watched a DVD before calling it a night.

Sunday began quietly with clear blue skies. After reading the paper and little of a Star Wars novel, I decided to check the fluids in Jesse’s truck and run it a little. I discovered that it was leaking antifreeze and we were off to Autozone to obtain a replacement for the leaking part. We were able to fix that without much trouble and then I resumed reading the novel until the Super Bowl began. I thought the ads this year were not so good, but was pleased that the Saints won. I didn’t like when Drew Brees left San Diego, but was glad to see him and the long-suffering Saints and city of New Orleans get their celebration. We finished the evening watching Undercover Boss which was ok, but won’t last long.

January update….We are still here

So a new year has come and with it some new things and some of the same. Jesse is now the personal chauffeur for the Zeliff family as he has to get more practice driving. Anytime we go somewhere, he drives and is getting more confident with each trip. He still manages to scare either Renee and I, but he is getting better. We did nothing special for New Year’s Eve and celebrated at the house when the clock struck midnight. This involved drinking some sparkling grape juice and then off to bed. The next day we watched the Rose parade and then took all the Christmas decorations down and packed them away for the rest of the year.

This past weekend, I watched the NFL playoffs and once again saw my beloved Chargers crash and burn. Same result as every other time they have entered the playoffs. I am angry and bitter now about how it ended, but come the fall I will have renewed hope that they might finally secure a championship. It is strange how one can get so wrapped up in the efforts of grown men that you don’t know simply because they wear the jersey of your favorite team.

Thankfully, my faith rests in one who eternally won. He defeated death and hell and will reign for all eternity. And the cool part of that is He did so once and for all. My sports teams may fail and let me down, but the Creator of Heaven and Earth is always faithful and victorious. I hope everyone reading this is doing well and that you know His love for you is so great that He stretched out His arms and died for you.

Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:7-8

Pomp and Circumstance – 25 years later

Twenty-five years ago, the Barstow High School Class of 1984 marched across the stage to receive their high school diplomas and launch out into life. We were full of dreams and hopes not knowing what lie ahead, but ready to leave BHS behind. I remember thinking how, like almost every student, I looked forward to leaving the campus behind and enjoying what I would do with my life. I wrote in my senior plans, “I plan to stick around Barstow for a year and then go down to San Diego State.” I was going to study Broadcast Journalism and become a television news reporter. Things didn’t exactly work out that way.

Two weeks after graduation, I was on a Greyhound bus bound for San Jose, CA. My best friend was living in a transient hotel and had a job lined up for me. I went to work for Bentz Tool in Campbell, CA as a Grinder’s apprentice. I was laid off after two weeks and eventually landed a job at a plating company in Santa Clara, CA doing shipping/receiving. I eventually moved back home to live rent free and worked mowing lawns/trimming trees around Barstow. I got tired of that, visited the recruiter and signed up for the Army to get out of Barstow.

I would eventually be stationed in Alaska where I came to know Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. Reassigned to a post in Texas, I left the Army and married my wife. Our journey took us to Bible school in Dallas, youth pastors outside Ft. Worth, back to school in Tulsa, on to more school in Kentucky, before returning back to California.

I never figured, 25 years after graduation, I would be working back in Barstow and living in the desert again. I am not complaining as I have a great job and actually enjoy being in the desert. The town I desperately wanted to leave at graduation is now the place I provide for my family. I go to restaurants I loved growing up and see people I have known since grade school. I enjoy the smell of rain and work helping people understand the desert. Who knows what the next 25 years will bring? I have enjoyed the last 25 and trust the Lord to direct my steps in the next 25.

Back from NAB Expo

Three years ago, I went to the NAB (National Association of Broadcasters) Expo with some co-workers at the school where I was teaching Flash and Web Design to Middle/High School students. They had an entire area of the Expo dedicated to Multimedia/Web and I was amazed by what I saw. I returned this year expecting to see something similar. I was a bit disappointed as the show had a much narrower focus. Last time I went, I felt a part because of the web/multimedia portion, but this time I felt more like an onlooker than a participant. The emphasis on the move to 3D was evident from the moment we walked in. Sony had an area dedicated to their 3D TV displays. It was pretty amazing to see a 3D image on a wall mounted TV. Panasonic also had an HD 3D theater for which you had to line up just to get tickets for a later showing. One of the highlights of the day was being able to sit in the Content Theater and see what Pixar was doing with 3D. Two of their leads in the 3D department discussed their approach to 3D and shared some of their early trials from Ratatouille and Cars. They also showed us extended scenes from the upcoming summer realease Up. It was cool stuff and certainly amazing to see. I enjoyed their approach to 3D as a story telling element instead of just a novelty to make things emerge from the screen. It was also evident that the economic downturn has had an effect on trade show shwag as well. There were more candy dishes and pens being dispensed than last time I attended. Even Microsoft was just handing out pens. I am glad we went, but I think I will stick to trade shows that are more to my area like Photoshop World and of course the geekfest that is Comic-Con.

Cherish the moments!

Yesterday, I attended a memorial service for classmate/teammate Larry O’Donnell. He was all of 17 days older than me and left this life far too early. His daughter spoke of him taking time to sit and talk with her through the night shortly before his passing. How many times are we too focused on goals and objectives that we lose sight of what is important? We each are given so many breaths and while providing for your family is important, don’t lose sight of the family that is there supporting you. Take time to love on them and listen to them. Make the most of the moments you are given. As I heard a preacher say once, “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” In other words, don’t let the affairs and challenges of life overtake time with family and friends. Life is meant to be enjoyed. Nobody ever wishes they had one more day to work at the end of their days. We all have to work, but we can’t let it blot out the loved ones along for the ride.

The journey continues….

Easter is always a time of reflection and re-commitment for me. While stationed at Fort Greely, Alaska in 1987, I bought a Bible for my 21st birthday(I also bought a case of Michelob for which I was not carded). My older brother Rod had gotten a bible on his 21st birthday and I thought I would get one too. I figured I would read it and be able to tell anyone who asked, “Yeah I read the Bible.” At the time, I had a very devout United Pentecostal roomate and I think he kept me in my prayers and I kept him on his knees. After reading in the Bible for a few months, I came to realize that God’s capacity to forgive was far greater than mine. I couldn’t forgive myself for certain things(dealing drugs in my parents home being at the top of the list). I was humbled by His love and knelt beside my bunk one night and prayed a simple prayer from the back of a Gideon’s New Testament and dedicated myself to following Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. That was during Easter season of 1987. I am so thankful to the new creation that was brought about in my life. Old things passed away and life became new. I have never regretted praying that prayer and have had quite a journey with the Lord since then. While I may not be as confontational about my faith as I once was in my zeal to share what had happened in my heart, I am no less devoted to Him. May you know His love and forgiveness forever and always. I cherish them.

Attitude of Grattitude

I have a co-worker that can be counted on to complain about almost anything and everything. Almost everyday, they arrive with curses and complaints about someone cutting them off or some “idiot” that did something to them. I kid them and welcome them with “Hello sunshine.” It really is our decision what we do with what happens to us. We can choose to accentuate the positive or dwell on the negative. I hear the doom and gloom spilling out of the tv and remember I have a loving wife and a job. I have good health. My son may play his music loud in his room, but he is home and not a runaway. I may have bills, but fortunately I don’t have bill collectors banging on my door. I may not live in a mansion, but I have a roof over my head and utilities that work. I am not homeless and have food to eat. I remember doing mission work in the mountains of Mexico and seeing how grateful the people of the village were. They had dirt floors and drafty dwellings. Their church was made up of rocks and the pews were nothing more than 2 x 4s, but they were happy. Philippians 4:11 says ” I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content.” For the majority of our 19 years togehter, we were vagabonds for Jesus. One year in Kempner, TX after we got married. Two years in Dallas, TX for bible school school. Four years in Aledo, TX as youth pastors. Three years in Tulsa, OK for college at ORU. Four years in Wilmore, KY for seminary and then work. We now have a place we aren’t renting and though it isn’t our dream home, it’s ours. We may have a teenager that can be moody or rude at times, but he is also principled and willing to go against the crowd when he thinks they are wrong. I am grateful to the Lord for the life he has given me and the wonderful things in my life.

What has happened since February?

A month with no blogging and now twice in a week. Go figure. On the 13th, we celebrated Renee’s birthday. I got her a Bluebell T-shirt and plush since we don’t have any Bluebell Ice Cream in CA. We took her to Mimi’s Cafe for dinner and then had some cake and ice cream when we got home.

Her parents arrived from TX the following Sunday and then the rain came down. We ended up taking them to the Route 66 museum in Victorville on President’s day. We drove Route 66 to Barstow and ate at Idle Spurs. The next night, Renee and I celebrated our 19th anniversary with her parents at Dinapoli’s Firehouse in Apple Valley. A few days at the house was enough for her folks so I took the rest of the week off to drive them around. On Thursday we went to the Hollywood Walk of Fame and Grauman’s Chinese Theater. We even got back through Cajon Pass before traffic got bad. On Friday, we went to Calico Ghost Town and stopped for an early dinner at Rosita’s. Saturday we drove them to the airport and I caught my pinky in the door as we unloaded. OUCH! I quickly wrapped it in some napkins and we saw them to the terminal.

On the 24th, I got older. Enough said. Renee insisted we go to dinner so we went to Mama Carpino’s in Apple Valley. Last weekend, Jesse and his youth group went to camp in the San Bernardino Mountains. With him gone, Renee and I enjoyed some Chinese food which he doesn’t like and finished her Columbo DVD. If you want to see any photos, join Facebook and friend us.

My blog feels like a blahg.

Since the start of the year, I have been slacking off on my blog. Last year I was pretty consistent with posts at least once a week and sometimes several in a week. My lasts two posts have reflected the melancholy feeling I have found myself in with regards to my blog. Maybe it’s because of the season of life I find myself in or maybe I just blame it on the time of year. Either way, I haven’t felt like blogging much. We really haven’t been doing anything of note since the holidays. I enjoyed hanging out with some friends for the Chargers playoff game and then for the Royal Rumble PPV. I have been doing a lot of reading and have finished the first few books of the The New Jedi Order series of Star Wars novels. We bought Renee the first season of Columbo on DVD and have spent several nights watching it.

One of the main things bugging me is the silence of our close friend from France. She last spoke to us in December just before Christmas. Since that time, we haven’t heard a peep despite many e-mails and voice mails. We continue to pray for her and her family, but we just don’t know what has happened to bring about this silence after 8 years of non-stop communication. This alone may be one of the reasons for my mood of late. We miss her and her family. I hope we hear from her or her family soon and will continue to pray in the meantime.

Where has the time gone?

Twenty years ago, Pastor Kirby Lack laid hands on me and commissioned me into the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. At the time, I was a single, young man serving in the US Army at Fort Hood, Texas entering the last year of my enlistment. I had asked Renee to marry me and we had set a date for the following year. I was helping Pastor Kirby in whatever capacity he needed. This included, but was not limited to, running the church bookstore, creating Sunday bulletins, coordinating Sunday school, cleaning the church and straightening chairs. Along with myself, there were a small corps of young ministers(David Hogan, Jerry Hamill, Ramon Uriegas, Mark Kinnamen, Doug Christensen, & John Pelizarri) serving Trinity Worship Center with Pastor Lack.

Two years later, Renee and I left for Christ For The Nations Institute in Dallas joining Michelle Daley for two years of Bible School. While there, we did door-to-door evangelism in Oak Cliff (at night I might add) and then became youth pastors at Aledo Christian Center some 50 miles away from the school. Many a meal was from the Burger King drive thru in Duncanville while we made the trip back and forth to Aledo. Thank the Lord for $1 Whoppers! After graduation in 1992, we moved to Aledo to continue our ministry there and await the birth of our son Jesse. We saw the youth group grow from 4 kids (Joni, Kara, Kristen, Kandi) to over twenty before shrinking back down to nothing before we left for Tulsa and Oral Robert University in June of 1996. At that point I was burned out and had no desire to minister again.

We attended Church on the Move, pastored by Willie George, and enjoyed just being a worshiper instead of a worker. In 1998, as part of my senior paper, I began working with the bus ministry at COTM thanks to Eric Moon and Randy Debell. I discovered that I still had something to offer in service after all. I served as Rear Door Guard on a bus of 40-50 kids and teenagers for the Saturday inner city bus ministry. Many kids just wanted somone to care.

After graduating from ORU in 1999, we moved to Kentucky so I could attend Asbury Theological Seminary. We found a home church at Bethel Harvest Church with Pastors Marion and Stephanie Dalton in Lexington, KY. We offered ourselves as volunteers in the Children’s Ministry with Tina Leslie and soon were overseeing the 1-6th grade children. By the time we left in 2003, we were holding two chapels services on Sunday and had over 70 kids attending. Also during that time, we befriended Julie from France who we met online. She was fighting cancer and was predicted to die by her birthday in 2001. With encouragement to believe and a lot of prayers, she passed that date and was still doing well last we heard from her this past Christmas.

The Lord prompted us to return to California in 2003, so we bid farwell to our church family there and loaded the household belongings for the journey home to Barstow. We spent 3 months living in Barstow before work as a Computer Tech/Teacher at Excelsior Education Center became available in Victorville. We moved and I began teaching web design/computers to high school and later middle school students. In 2006, turmoil occured as jobs were lost at the school, but the Lord proved faithful as a better paying job was obtained back in Barstow of all places. Ministry since returning to California has been mostly through friends rather than through a church. We look for a home church, but still haven’t found the right fit. For now, I feel like Paul back in Tarsus making tents. I do my job and minister His grace, goodness and love as the opportunity arises.

It has been 20 years since I first surrendered to the call of Christ to ministry. I have been fortunate to minister in Barcelona, Monterrey, the village of San Martin De Las Vacas, Copperas Cove, Tulsa, Tullahoma, and Lexington. I have performed marriages in Pismo Beach, Oak Hills, Killeen, Copperas Cove, alongside the Lampasas River and spoken at my grandmother’s funeral in Charleston, WV. I baptized my son in the creek at the family farm in Sissonville, WV while my Paw Paw stood by. Thank you Lord for the journey you have allowed me to take and the people that you placed in our path along the way. I look forward to what the next 20 years hold and pray that I can still be of service to your kingdom by touching others with your love and mercy during that time.