2023 – Back to Utah

There and back again

I did not anticipate 2023 passing with no posts until the year end wrap up. I guess we got busy and I didn’t have any rants or commentaries boiling up that had to be unburdened from my soul. When last year ended, we had begun the process of grieving Renee’s mom and dealing with all that her passing brought about in our lives. Let me recap what transpired over the year before we end another chapter in the Zeliff family saga.

We began the year by attending the Cotton Bowl in Dallas on January 2nd with close friends who are like family, Michelle and Rita. Despite the USC Trojans defense allowing Tulane to pull out a come from behind victory, we had a great time. Later in the month, Jesse and the Precious would move out of Scott’s house and into mom’s place so we could put it on the market. This set in motion our plans to return to Ogden, Utah so Karri could grow up near her sister Rachel in Logan, Utah.

In February, I resigned from my IT position at Central Texas College so I could be available to help the family with sale preparations and consolidation of three households (Scott’s, Mom’s and ours). For our anniversary, Renee and I visited the Yankus family and enjoyed catching up with Joni and Jarid for the first time since their wedding day years earlier. The following day, we made a return visit to the church where we had served as youth pastors thirty years prior.

In March, we shifted into sales mode with the first of several estate/garage sales. We also took several trips within Texas and one back to Utah. We took a trip to Dinosaur Valley State Park in Glen Rose and a couple days later rode the Austin Steam Train from Austin to Bertram, Texas. We closed out the month with a birthday celebration in Utah with little sister Rachel. We went from 80 degree weather to several inches of snow and then back to the heat for more packing and sales.

As we continued selling things, we made the decision to donate one retro robot/video based game to the National Videogame Museum in Frisco, Texas. We met up again with Michelle for BBQ after spending some time in the museum. We ended April by visiting, along with Renee’s sister Carla, the niche where mom and Scott’s ashes now reside.

In May, we packed up and cleared out of the house that Renee was raised in. Jesse celebrated his birthday and we snuck away to Sea World in San Antonio to catch our breath before the final days in Texas. We moved into a local hotel while Karri completed first grade and then we began our road trip back to Ogden. We enjoyed a lunch break with my friend and brother Jim in Colorado Springs midway through the journey. Upon arrival in Ogden, we settled into a long term stay hotel while we looked for permanent residence.

We FINALLY obtained keys to something other than a hotel to kick off June and I continued to await my start date with an IRS IT contractor. Karri was delighted to once again take swimming lessons at the pool where she had previously taken them. Because our domicile was a brand new build, we had to wait until the end of June before reestablishing our Utah residency due to the postal service and landlord delay in giving us a mailing address. Pizza and package deliveries were quite a challenge too as Google maps didn’t show our address as being real.

We surprised Karri with a trip to Disneyland/California Adventure in July prior to us attending San Diego Comic-Con again. She had no idea where we were going until she read the “Welcome to Disneyland” signs. She met several of the Disney Princesses to include Cinderella, Ariel, Jasmine and Anna. She also enjoyed almost all of the rides with the exception of Space Mountain which she was not happy her dad taken her on. Following two busy days at Disney, we stopped in Laguna Beach to dip our toes in the Pacific before checking into our hotel in San Diego. Four days of Comic-Con show floor visits and cosplay were followed by a return flight to Utah.

As August began, I was still waiting for the IRS IT job when the Director of Technology for Ogden School District reached out about an opening at one of their junior high schools. I interviewed and was hired which allows me to work directly across the street from the elementary school the Precious attends. We ride to school together and I walk her to school each morning.

We saw Michelle again in September when she was in Salt Lake City on a work trip. Prior to her work meetings, we enjoyed several days with her. At the end of the month, Renee flew to Texas to attend a women’s conference with Michelle. Upon Renee’s return, I was off to Colorado Springs mid-October to do some fly fishing with Jim. I had inherited a tin of hand tied flies from my father in 2009 that I had been yearning to get wet. While there, I also visited with his daughter Christina’s family included taking his grandsons with us on one day of fishing.

As November began, we secured tickets to return to San Diego Comic-Con once again. Our Thanksgiving was spent with just the four of us and missing Renee’s mom who had departed one year ago. With December arriving, we are preparing to celebrate the 8th birthday of our granddaughter and the Christmas holidays. We appreciate you taking time to read this post and pray your year has been full of blessings and triumphs. We hope that next year brings us all more of the same.

Closing the book on 2022

A very eventful 2022 has ended and it’s time to recount and reflect on what transpired as 2023 begins.

January began like every new year with hopes of brighter days ahead and better living. At the end of January, we were heartbroken over the sudden death of Renee’s younger brother Scott. Before we could leave for Texas to be with her mom and help clear out his house, Renee had outpatient surgery. Following that surgery and a few days of recovery, we were off to TX to be with her mom and pack Scott’s house into a storage unit for safekeeping.

While in TX, Renee was informed that her surgery revealed cancer and the need for another surgery. In March, she underwent another more invasive surgery to include the removal of lymph nodes. The doctor assured us that all of the cancer had been removed as we awaited the results from biopsy of her lymph nodes. We were relieved to find out they were cancer free and Renee need only take it easy for six weeks while she recovered.

As a result of her brother’s passing, we began making plans to relocate to Texas to assist her mother who was battling cancer. In April, we made a day trip to the Golden Spike National Monument in Promontory, Utah where Karri earned another Junior Ranger badge. In May, we began packing and as the month ended, we celebrated Karri’s kindergarten graduation.

June brought the delivery of the POD, my last day of work, and final packing. On the 8th, Jesse and Karri flew ahead of us to Texas. We took a couple days to drive down making an overnight stop in Colorado Springs to see Jim and his pups. On the 10th, we arrived in Copperas Cove, TX and Renee took over as primary caregiver for her mom.

June through September was filled with countless doctor appointments, hospital stays, and treatments. As September ended, we took mom to MD Anderson in Houston to get their input and direction on mom’s cancer. They confirmed that treatment was no longer an option and hospice was what lay ahead on this difficult journey we had undertaken with her.

At the end of October, we invited Scott and mom’s friends to celebrate their lives and see mom before her condition deteriorated. We hadn’t had a chance to mourn him and mom was still alert enough to speak with all who came. As November arrived, mom grew weaker and she did her best to make it to Thanksgiving, passing on to the next life on the Wednesday before it.

Our hearts were heavy at her departure, but relieved her pain had come to an end. In December, Karri turned 7 and we held a celebration of life for Scott and Mom Rezny a few days later. They were both placed in a companion urn which would be placed in a glass front niche at month’s end just a few minutes from Renee’s sister Carla.

Christmas brought much joy as our 7 year old girl lit up the houses with excitement. She was delighted with her many gifts and we enjoyed her enthusiasm. Christmas is truly best seen through the eyes of a child.

2022 was filled with ups and downs, joys and heartaches. We hope the coming year is filled with more of former and less of the latter for everyone.

Keep fighting

The Big C, cancer attacks our lives in our own bodies or the ones we love. I lost my mother to lung cancer several years ago. My mother-in-law is in the midst of her battle with cancer. Renee recently underwent surgery to remove cancer and the surrounding organs it was impacting. My best friend is dealing with his father’s terminal cancer diagnosis.

Whether we like it or not, cancer will impact our lives in one way or another. Let’s not stop fighting it in every way possible.

Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
I Timothy 6:12 NKJV

Year end reflections, the 2021 version

In past years, we would alternate each year who would write the Christmas newsletter that would be included with our Christmas card. In 2017, that traditon ended as a result of two painful losses we suffered that year. They were always a great way to wrap up the year and look forward to the coming year. It is in that spirit that I write this blog post.

2021 began with us in Texas assisting Renee’s mom following major back surgery. I was able to telework from there for the IRS as a Contact Representative. That is just a fancy way of saying tax collector. At the end of the month, we returned to Utah for a few days before the family went back to help mom while I remained. February passed with us spending our anniversary and birthdays apart for the first time.

As Easter approached, the family would return and this time only Renee would leave to help mom. The rest of us stayed in Utah until Mother’s day when we would all remain under the same roof for the first time since January. Renee spent 6 months helping her mom and was happy to be back together in Ogden as was I.

Summer was filled with swimming lessons which Karri enjoyed greatly. In June, we met up with Jim as he traveled from San Diego to his new home in Colorado with his pups. We would pay them all a visit in July to see the new place and spend some time together. Summer ended and Karri began kindergarten.

As Fall arrived, changes began to occur professionally. Jesse and I would both start new jobs. I reapplied to the school district after the part-time job I had previously held was made full time. The position with the IRS which allowed me to telework was moving to the next phase where I would begin placing levies and liens against taxpayers. I was not looking forward to that and was grateful to be offered a position as Site Tech at a nearby high school.

In November, we traveled to California to attend San Diego Comic-Con after missing it for several years. It was the largest crowd we had been around since the onset of the pandemic. With all attendees required to be fully vaccinated and wearing masks, it was good to be back amongst the fans.

As 2021 comes to close, we hope the challenges we faced in the past year will not be repeated and that many new blessings await us in the new year. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours.

Dream Center – Jesse’s First 2 Weeks

(Taken from an e-mail update he sent with some small edits for grammar/punctuation.)

Wow, where to start? Time is so different here that the past 2 weeks feel like months. It’s truly amazing.

Things the first day were the only slow part of my DC (Dream Center) experience, all just hurrying up and waiting. The second day, I hit the ground running, started work in the DC Diner aka the Dream Center cafeteria doing food prep work and service. Afterwards, I just hung out with some other interns sharing testimonies. The next day was more of the same: working, hanging out, and growing closer to God. Eventually, Thursday crept in and I had a blast at The Angelus Temple service, which was a concert with a very moving message. The days went on along this general guideline.

Then Saturday rolled by, which was an amazing experience of worship and prayer followed by a rally and meeting of the various Saturday Adopt-A-Block ministries. I ended up with the Food Trucks that give away fresh produce and groceries to the needy on the streets. I found out, later, that I went to the wrong job, but was still very pleased that I was able to help in any way that I could.

Sunday was another interesting day, the main service by Pastor Matthew Barnett was very good. After attending the first service, I worked with the 40+ 4-5 year old class. Let me tell you, I was more whipped after that then a week in the kitchen. Those kids are just energy sappers, especially when I’m always on an empty stomach.

Monday was a rough start for me, I ended up being awakened with a call from my boss asking if I was going to work since I was late to breakfast. I rushed to get up to my meeting site and was 5 minutes late. So far that is the only thing that’s hindered my work.

I absolutely love this place! The people here are amazing and God is always the focus of everything that happens here regardless of what you are doing.

On average, the kitchen I work in feeds 300-500 people every meal. I work and serve 2 meals a day for 3 days. My side job on the weekends is called Under The Bridge. We serve about 50-60 homeless each day. In my job on Mondays and Tuesdays, I help pick up about 2000 pounds of donated food from 7 Albertsons stores in Los Angeles.

Needless to say, I’m always on the move since there is always something going on and a need to be filled. I’m just so glad that I am able to be apart of just some of what God is doing here and am able to fill a need each and every day.

Jesse Z

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 at the LA Dream Center. We will continue to update you on his many exploits going forward and ask your prayers for him.

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.

100 win season..now for 111!

Angels Staduim: Click to view large size
View Large (1761 px x 768 px) version of image.

We went to the last regular season Angels game of 2008 and were fortunate to be at their franchise record 100th win. They beat the Rangers 7-0 in a mid-day game. We had great seats on the third base side just in front of the foul pole. We saw one foul ball come our way, but it went into the section behind ours. We were seated in the second row and the people in the front row didn’t show up so we had a clear unobstructed view out into the field. The only drawback was that the game started at 12:30pm so we sat in the sun until the bottom of the 9th inning when the shade finally arrived in time for the end of the game. Needless to say, we all have a little more red to our skin tone this morning. So we will take turns passing the Aloe around and look forward to the Angels winning 11 more games to be World Series champs again.

Back from Photoshop World in Vegas

I had a great time at Photoshop World in Las Vegas and I especially enjoyed having Jesse attend as well. We heard about the newest version of Photoshop coming out soon and attended lots of classes on how to do more with the version we have n0w. We also met up with several members of the NAPP forum and had a lot of fun. Back to work now after being away almost all of last week.

Reformatting Labor Day Weekend

I spent the weekend reformatting computers. Whoohoo! Friday night I was up until midnight reformatting and setting up the old 98 machine so I could reformat the XP machine. So Saturday morning, I was up early finishing up the 98 machine and getting it connected to the web. I then began making sure the XP files were backed up so I could reformat. The reformatting doesn’t take long, it is reinstalling all the software afterward that takes a while. So after another late night Saturday, the XP was back in operation and the 98 machine was back in mothballs. Sunday continued with reinstalling software on the XP machine until I had my fill. I actually did do a little relaxing over the weekend watching a movie Sunday night and BBQing burgers on Monday.