Last year as a teenager

Earlier this month, we traveled to Los Angeles to pick up Jesse, his roommate James and friend Sean to celebrate his 19th birthday. They dressed up in Steampunk attire while Renee and I wore our usual jeans and t-shirts. We dropped off his birthday presents and cards at the Dream Center and then traveled to the Americana at Brand in Glendale. We stopped at the Jewel City Diner for some delicious burgers and seasoned fries. Afterward, we made our way to the Pacific Theaters to see The Avengers. It was starting its 2nd week of release, but there was still a line and a full theater. It was a great movie with the Hulk having the best scenes. Renee and I even went to see it a 2nd time this past Tuesday.

It is amazing to see the young man our son has become. We are happy that he has found a place where he can do something he loves. He has been at the Dream Center for 9 months now and enrolled at Angelus Bible Institute since January. We talk to him on Skype once a week or more. We went to a baby shower for my goddaughter/best friend’s daughter this past weekend in San Diego and saw many little ones running around. It doesn’t seem that long ago that we had a little one, but now he is a grown man chasing his dreams. We couldn’t be happier for him. We are grateful for the time the Lord gave us with him and look forward to the day we can spoil his kids though not anytime soon. 😛

Lakers, Angels and Jesse…Oh my!

It’s time for another not so frequent blog post/update on the Zeliffs. We have been able to attend a couple of sporting events this month thanks to the kindness of others.

On Friday the 13th of April (insert creepy B horror movie music), we went to see the Lakers defeat the Denver Nuggets. I entered a drawing at America’s/Discount Tire while getting a flat repaired. A week later, I was notified that I had won tickets to a Lakers game. I have been a fan for over 30 years and this was my first time seeing them play in person. We were far up in the top section of the Staples Center, but I yelled and cheered the same as if I was on the couch at home. Afterward, we stopped by the Dream Center to drop-off/pick-up some things for Jesse.

The following Monday the 16th of April, we were treated to an Angels game. It was pretty cool as we were in an All-You-Can-Eat section and were able to make repeat visits to get nachos, popcorn, peanuts, soda, ice cream and hot dogs through the 6th inning. Best of all, the Angels won which they seem to be having a hard time doing of late. Thanks to First Assembly, Apple Valley for a great time at the ballgame.

The biggest news of all is that Jesse has raised enough money to cover the $900 he owed on his internship which runs through January 2013. He is still doing well and enjoys the ministry he is part of. His bible school studies are going well. He turned in a paper fearing it would be docked because it was a page short only to find out that he received a 99.9 on it. In addition, his teacher wanted to take it to the school administration to demonstrate what quality work the students were doing. Thank you to all who offered financial and prayer support for him. He will be turning 19 in a few weeks and is doing very well.

As the summer temps arrive, it’s time to get the cooler running and make sure the ice cream is stocked up. We hope that all of you are well and that life is going great. Blessings on you and your family.

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.

January: Challenges may come, but we can overcome them.

Well the holidays came and went at our home pretty quietly. Renee and I spent the holiday as a couple minus our son for the first time in his life. He stayed at the LA Dream Center to allow many of the other interns a chance to visit their families. We missed him, but did call him later in the day. It is always good to talk to him on the phone as we are usually exchanging brief e-mails. He still loves what he is doing there. So much so that he applied for and was accepted into the one year internship program which will start at the end of his 4 month internship the last week of January. He was granted a $600 scholarship, but still needs to raise the remaining $900 to cover his room and board for the year. Several family members and friends have already donated to help him. If you want to help, just contact us and we can make sure he gets any donations.

On New Year’s Eve, my truck refused to start when we were headed to church. We had it taken to the shop the next day to have a fuse and relay replaced. The following Friday, it refused to start again and had it taken back to the shop. They determined that the PCM(Power Control Module) had a short and needed to be replaced. Due to it being a special order part, it is still in the shop as of this writing. Monday morning there was some seepage coming out of the trap in the back yard. I ran a snake up into the house and down into the septic tank to no avail. My next thought was to check to see if the line had disconnected from the tank as this occurred when we first moved in due to settling of the dirt around the tank. After digging down to the line and following it to the tank, I discovered no leakage or disconnection. So I set to digging up the tank. I found the first of two covers immediately as it was just past the junction. I unearthed it and called for a truck to come pump the tank. While waiting for the truck, Renee and I attempted to unearth the second cover. Three hours and a twelve foot trench later we gave up finding it. We decided to let the septic guys dig it up and pay the extra charge. They used a probe and found that the tank was installed at a 15 degree angle meaning we missed finding it by a mere 3 feet. The guys took care of the tank and we proceeded to fill in the hole/trench we had dug since they filled in the one they dug.

I hope your year hasn’t had as interesting a start as ours has. If so, don’t lose heart. The greater the opposition, the greater the victory. Challenges may come, but they don’t determine the final outcome. Hope each of you have a great 2012 and that you overcome any and every challenge that comes your way.

And another year nears its end

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.

Dream Center Month 1

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 Zeliff

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.

Chasing his dream

Several years ago, Jesse related to his mom that he dreamed of openning a rescue mission and soup kitchen in the big city. This morning, we dropped him and two pieces of luggage off at the LA Dream Center where he will begin chasing that dream. He will begin a four month internship with the option of extending his stay after the four months are completed. We were introduced to his supervisor and learned a little bit about his initial responsibilities. He will be working for the kitchen and will be making runs to local grocery stores to retrieve food that will be used on site or redistributed to families that have no food for their children. He will also be working with feeding the homeless on skid row.

We helped him take his luggage to the room he will be sharing with another intern arriving today. They will both go through orientation before beginning work as part of the Dream Center. We exchanged a few hugs and left him to do the work that the Lord has laid on his heart. It is odd to come home and know that he isn’t living under our roof for at least the next four months and possibly more. You pray your child finds something that will ignite their heart and inspire them to greatness. We have done our part for now and we will see where his destiny carries him going forward. My lovely wife dedicated 18 years of raising him, training him and even homeschooling him as he grew. We shed a few tears upon returning home, not because we don’t want him to chase his dream, but because a chapter in his life and ours has closed. He launches out to let down his nets for a catch and we find ourselves with an empty nest.

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 will be doing with the LA Dream Center. We will update you on his many exploits going forward and ask your prayers for him and us as we go through this transitional time in our lives.

My morning 10 years ago

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.

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.