No turning back

Giving a commitment to follow Jesus involves turning away from one’s past and embracing the promise of redemption through Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross. You pursue holiness and conformity to the message and lifestyle he demonstrated for us. You understand that it is through His pardoning of our sins that we are able to stand blameless before a Holy God. We have no ability to cleanse ourselves from the ugliness and corrosion of this world on our own. He cleanses and then empowers us to overcome as we rely on Him and the power of the Holy Spirit to transform and renew us day by day.

Yesterday, we returned to visit the congregation that we met in when I was a GI and RenĂ©e was a high school student. It was a bit of a time warp and also a bit of a reckoning on how far we have traveled on this journey of faith. The message was one we had heard 30 years ago and the cultural influence was also dated. Although our faith sprang from that soil, it could not grow there now. There were political statements made that we didn’t agree with and mocking of Covid19 that was troubling as well. Add to that a pistol packing pastor and we all knew that we were making our only and possibly final visit amongst them.

An Indian missionary penned the hymn “I have decided to follow Jesus” which concludes with the line “no turning back.” I don’t think we can return to where we once were after committing to follow Jesus. We aren’t who we once were and cannot turn back the clock to do what we once did. Growth involves shedding of old ways and conforming to the image of the Savior.

“And do not be conformed to this world [any longer with its superficial values and customs], but be transformed and progressively changed [as you mature spiritually] by the renewing of your mind [focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His plan and purpose for you].”
Romans 12:2 AMP

A heritage of service

When it comes to military service to this country, there is a significant heritage in our family. I was told growing up that on my mother’s side, I descended from John Paul Jones, father of America’s navy. Closer to my generation was my father and siblings service to our country.

My Uncle Jim served in the US Coast Guard while my Uncle Bill, Harry, Ray and Ed all served in the US Navy. My father chose to join the US Marines straight out of high school. He met my mother while stationed in San Diego and spent a year of my early life in Vietnam at Khe San during the Tet Offensive. He was reassigned to Barstow, CA where he exited the service and raised my brothers and I.

I chose to enlist in the US Army at 19 years of age to escape Barstow only to return twice to train at nearby Ft Irwin National Training Center. I also participated in the Cold War exercise REFORGER(Return of Forces to Germany) in 1987 to keep East Germany and the Warsaw Pact at bay. My younger brother would follow Uncle Jim into the Coast Guard and served 10 years while I left the Army after only 4 years to pursue ministry. Later in life, he joined the Oregon Air Guard as well.

Additionally, I would meet and marry an Army brat whose father retired from the Army and was a member of rival unit where I was stationed at Ft Hood, TX. My best friend Jim enlisted in the Navy serving 30 years and retiring as a Command Master Chief.

Many of us have taken the oath pledging our lives to the defense and protection of our countrymen. Serving the United States of America is our heritage!

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

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.

Ending the year with a bang…er.. rather.. a baby!

Baby Isabella
Our granddaughter arrived to make our holiday all the more bright.

Our granddaughter arrived on December 5th to end our year on a high note. She is adorable and will be thoroughly spoiled whenever we have the chance. Our year end Christmas letter is available for your reading here. Once again, if you want more current information on us, friend us on Facebook as it is updated more frequently than this blog which has now been relegated to once a year posts.

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

Comic-Con 2013 – the recap

We returned to Comic-Con after missing the last few years since 2010. This time we brought a newbie with us to attend her first Con. Sabrina, Jesse’s girlfriend, had never attended Comic-Con so this was her first exposure to all there is to take in and do while in San Diego for the convention.

Thanks to my best friend Jim, we were able to come down a day early and get settled into his condo in Santee. We dropped off our stuff and hopped on the trolley to head to the Convention Center. Our goal was to see what we could do outside the convention center on Thursday as we only purchased passes for Friday. After about an hour ride on the trolley, we hopped off and headed to the Merchandise area in the Marriott to pick up the shirts we pre-ordered for Jesse and Sabrina. They decided to go with the Steampunk version of the 4 designs that were being sold.

Steampunk Comic-Con shirt
The Steampunk version of this years Comic-Con t-shirts
We stood in line, a common theme while at Comic-Con, for about a half hour before reaching the area and obtaining the shirts. Afterward, we headed to the Omni for the annual SDCC Blood Drive sponsored by the tv show, True Blood. We ended up spending 4 hours waiting for our turn to donate. In the end, Renee was denied the opportunity because her veins were so deep, but we both received the blood drive swag anyway. Jesse and Sabrina were glad when we finally exited, but we had to rush to make the trolley as we were late for dinner with Jim and his daughter’s family back in Santee. We enjoyed a great time with them at Oggi’s Pizza before calling it a night.

Coveted Comic-Con bags with capes
This year Comic-Con added capes to their bags with several being hot items to attain while others not so much.
We were up early Friday morning and rushing to the trolley so we could get our passes and get on to the show floor as quickly as possible to try and get autograph tickets for the WWE signing at the Mattel booth later that day. Despite nearly sprinting through the pass lines (careful to get exactly the bags with capes we wanted) and circling the convention hall at a rapid walk, the tickets for the signing were already gone by the time I arrived at the booth. I was encouraged to come back early to get in the stand by line for a chance to get an autograph. We stood in an extremely long line for posters/poster tubes from the Fox booth only to be told they ran out before we had even journeyed 1/3 of the way. We wandered the booths on the expo floor stopping at several Steampunk booths which Jesse wanted to see.

I eventually left everyone to get in the standby line for the WWE signing. I struck up a great wrestling fan conversation with a British kindergarten teacher who was teaching in Hong Kong. As the WWE wrestlers appeared, the crowds chanted their names and I held out hope we might be able to get an autograph. A few weeks prior, I had found a Daniel Bryan t-shirt in the bargain bin at Hot Topic for $5. The week prior to Comic-Con, he had been named the title contender for the WWE championship at Summerslam. I brought my shirt and was pleased when I was able to get it autographed and a photo with Daniel Bryan.

Posing with soon to be WWE Champion Daniel Bryan
I was able to get a shirt signed and then take a photo with WWE title contender Daniel Bryan.
I chatted briefly with WWE Hall of Famer Mick Foley though his autograph was hardly distinguishable after singing so many things that day. I left that booth pleased and reunited with the family at The Tick booth where I snagged one of the few remaining 25th Anniversary Tick shirts in my size along with a “SPOOON” bumper sticker.

We wandered the Expo hall some more stopping at many booths before returning to wait for the Del Rey/Random House Star Wars novel signing by John Jackson Miller. I wanted to get a signed edition of his Lost Tribe of the Sith: Collection they were giving away. I was able to get one for myself and one for my brother Chris thanks to Renee standing in line with me. We went back by The Tick booth and I was able to get a signed collection of Tick comics by the creator Ben Edlund who was very nice and took time with each person in line. By now, Sabrina was excited about the chance to go to the XBox Lounge at the nearby Hyatt. We walked over to the Hyatt and she was able to try the new Halo game and enjoyed playing their new XBox One system. She also got a badge that encouraged her to visit many booths on the expo floor to collect Halo badges and Helmet pins. She managed to get all but one as the vendor ran out before we arrived.

Renee and I managed to walk a little of the Gaslamp Quarter while Jesse and Sabrina hunted Halo pins on the show floor. We saw several areas that were outside the convention center that looked cool. One big disappointment was the limited availability of the Godzilla Encounter. I had hoped to see it, but they only gave away 300 tickets each day. All in all, we had a great time and hope to be back again next year. We ended our day after a trolley ride back to Santee with a trip to In-N-Out Burger. It was enjoyable and thoroughly exhausting. It’s funny how we forget the energy you burn when mingling with over 100,000 other excited people at Comic-Con. Though the lines were longer than ever and we didn’t go to panels as we had in the past, we enjoyed ourselves and talking with fellow Con attendees. If you have never been, it really is a great experience that I recommend everyone try. If you want to see more photos from Comic-Con, check out my profile on Facebook.