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.

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

There and back again

We traveled down this past Saturday to pick up Jesse and bring him home from the LA Dream Center for the first time in over 3 months. He has been working non-stop and has a lot going on there. Besides the work in the kitchen and food ministry, he completed his 1st semester of Bible School at Angelus Bible Institute. He works on Sunday mornings in the 4-5 year old class at Angelus Temple. Sunday afternoons, he works with a church in South Central ministering to 9-13 year olds. He was ready for some down time and brought his laundry along for the ride.

We stopped at Panera on our way back home to enjoy our favorite “Pick Two” combinations. Afterward, we hit Target and Michael’s looking for a few things he wanted. We arrived home and his Grandma Z was pretty happy to see him. He quickly unpacked and we watched some shows on the DVR that we had saved for him. After watching Tron: Uprising and Walking Dead episodes, he was off to game in his room.

We were up early Sunday and off to church where he spent time talking with his former youth pastor about the Dream Center. I taught the Adult Discipleship Class and then joined Renee in the Nursery as we had a lot of babies to take care of. We went home and grabbed a quick bite to eat before going to see The Amazing Spider-Man at the theater. Upon returning home, Jesse got on his computer and got his gaming fix met as well as his Nick’s Pizza fix.

Monday morning, Jesse and Renee did a little shopping and enjoyed a mother-son lunch for the first time since he graduated high school. That night, I picked up Chinese food to satisfy another of his hometown cravings. More gaming was done as he played DC Universe for many hours.

Tuesday morning, we headed to DMV in Victorville to replace his stolen Driver’s license. The only difficulty was finding where the office had moved to. After searching for it for a half hour, a hunch led us to the right location and he was able to quickly get a replacement license. We returned home for a few more hours of gaming and packing. Grandma Z returned from her overnight trip to San Diego and we were off to LA.

It was great having him home for 4 days and we do miss having him with us. However, we are grateful that he isn’t sitting in his room playing games and finding it difficult to get work in our hometown. He enjoys the work he is doing and has a heart to serve others. While our home is always open to him, he may never do more than just visit from this time forward. We are always grateful for time he has now and cherish the time we had together.

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. 😛

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.

Time for the bi-monthly blog post

Hmmmm, let me think. It’s been two weeks since the last post so something must have happened that I can write about. Well there are the obvious sports related things: Angels sweeping the Dodgers(included for my best friend Jim), Lakers advance to the NBA Finals and battle the hated Celtics, the US begins Group play at the World Cup, all of which I enjoyed watching from the comfort of my home except the losses to Boston. No enjoyment at all for those, but the Lakers will wrap things up in the next two games to secure another title.

I went with a former co-worker Rich, who passed through town, to lunch at Lola’s in Barstow a couple of weeks back. I also took a large group to Rosita’s for lunch and Jerry took great care of everyone. Friday night, Jerry threw his 45th birthday bash at Rosita’s and even got hair extensions put in to rock the mullet. It was great seeing lots of Barstow High classmates there (Jerry, Jessica, Laurie, Gary, Derelyn, Clark, Chris, Cruz, Theresa). The old saying still holds true, “84 parties more.” Saturday, after watching the US-England match, Renee and I worked in the yard taking care of weeds and raking the gravel on the driveway. I did read a couple of Star Wars novels too. I finished Fate of the Jedi:Allies yesterday. That’s about all from here. Hope everyone is going to have a great summer as the kids get out and the vacations begin.

The benefit of a friend

Over the past two weekends, we have been very fortunate to spend time with our two longest and best friends. We traveled to San Diego to celebrate the promotion and graduation of my best friend Jim Ritch on May 23rd. Jim has attained the rank of Master Chief Petty Officer(E-9) and finished his Masters degree. I have known him since Drivers Ed class back at Barstow High School in 1982. We struck up a friendship that saw me enter the Army while he married and had two beautiful daughters. Years later, I would be out of the Army as he began his Navy career. Through it all, our friendship has remained close. He lost his mother and this past year I lost my father. We have watched our children grow and now he is a grandfather. I am so very grateful that we have remained close.

This past weekend, we received a surprise call from Renee’s best friend, Michelle Daley. Like Jim and I, they have been friends since high school. We spent Saturday hanging out in Palm Springs together. After they graduated high school, we followed Michelle to Christ For The Nations Institute in Dallas, TX. While we were youth pastors, she came and spoke to our youth group. She later spent Thanksgiving with us in Tulsa, OK at a trying time in her life. We attended her graduation from Dallas Baptist while we were visiting from Kentucky. We also flew out to spend some time with her and break in her Chocolate Fountain. Mmmmmm!

The greatest benefit of each of these individuals in our lives is the constant knowing that they are there for you. Proverbs 18:24 states: “A man that has friends must show himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother.” Thanks for sticking by us over the years Jim and Michelle. Many have come and gone, but you have remained faithful. We are both so very glad to call you friend.