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When the Storms of Life Come Crashing through Your Front Door

At this stage in life, I consider myself blessed. From an early age, I’ve had opportunities to travel throughout the United States. From the scenic views of Arcadia National Park in Maine to the palm trees of Miami Beach, these trips have sketched wonderful memories in my mind. As I have grown older, I have gone from the Rocky Mountains in British Columbia all the way to southern California to watch the sunset over the Pacific Ocean. Whenever you travel a lot, you’re exposed to different types of climate and weather phenomena. Throughout my half century on earth, I’ve survived blizzards, earthquakes, hurricanes, northeasters and tornadoes. One of my first brushes with a natural disaster occurred while on vacation as a child.

For we know that if the tent which is our earthly home is destroyed (dissolved), we have from God a building, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens, 2 Corinthians 5:1.

One summer in Maine, my two sisters and I got stuck in a hail storm, running for cover with our hand over our heads. The cabin my parents rented shook, the lights went out and hail continue to crash upon the roof. An hour later, we went out to check for damage. Apparently, a water spout crossed the lake and took out a neighbor’s house. Until today, I was one of the lucky ones, unaffected by nature’s wrath. As I was running to my car to escape the rain, I noticed a few shingles laying in my front yard. Looking back, an entire section of my sliding above my front door was ripped off and missing, exposing 2 pieces of plywood. With another inch of rain expected tonight, only God knows what the total damage will be.

For while we are still in this tent, we groan under the burden and sigh deeply (weighed down, depressed, oppressed)—not that we want to put off the body (the clothing of the spirit), but rather that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal (our dying body) may be swallowed up by life [after the resurrection], 2 Corinthians 5:4.

If this would have happened at any other time in my life, I would have been angry, frustrated and stressed out about the cost of this damage. Yet, my first thought was, “I guess it was my time to tackle adversity.” A few years ago a micro burst picked up our trampoline, struck two fences and was thrown into a neighbor’s yard, but our house was spared. Perspective has a way of revealing what matters, my wife and children are fine. Thus, while I’ll have to dig into savings to quickly restore this damage, this nuisance will soon past. Therefore, if the next weather system comes crashing through your front door, remember to praise God as you go through this spiritual storm.

by Jay Mankus

Hoping to See Another Sun Set

The image at the top of Express Yourself for Him was taken during a family vacation back in 2012.  The sun was setting upon Seal Beach, just south of Los Angeles when I began taking pictures with my ipad.  This is one of the few times in my life I actually slowed down to enjoy God’s creation in its infinite beauty as the sun set over the Pacific Ocean.

The sun rises, and the sun goes down, and hastens to the place where it rises, Ecclesiastes 1:5.

Five years later, doctors are wondering if my right eye will overcome glaucoma to see another sun set.  Tomorrow’s surgery is science’s logical answers to my disease.  Yet, in the heavenly realm, there are angels agreeing with prayers lifted by the saints.  Perhaps a combination of the two may be what I need for a miracle to arrive.

God set the earth on its foundations, so that it should never be moved, Psalm 104:5.

Either way, the future is a mystery, waiting to be unpeeled one day at a time.  I wish I could say that I am confident of my eye condition, but I can only take things one day at a time.  Therefore, I will press on with the Lord’s help savoring each sunset I get to see.

by Jay Mankus

A Week In Paradise


In this economy, its hard to imagine anyone having enough time or money to afford a week long trip to the West Coast during the school year.  With a summer vacation road trip traveling across the country to the Grand Canyon and back already etched in my families distant memory, I didn’t think anything could compare.  However, thanks to my extended family, most of our expenses were covered, opening the door for a memorable week in paradise.

This journey began in Ontario, not Canada, at the John Wayne International Airport in California.  After a night in Corona, not the beer, rather staying with a cousin playing pool and embracing palm trees surrounded by mountains, it was off to the Pacific Ocean.  Following my first In and Out Burger, without knowing about the secret menu, my feet first touched the chilly waters at New Port Beach before my daughter found a sand dollar adjacent to the Huntington Beach pier.  An amazing meal at Ruby’s Diner even made the pelican poses for pictures before another scenic drive through the mountains toward Palm Springs.

Even getting lost and paying the same toll twice on 2 different scenic toll roads couldn’t damper my spirits, uplifted by the view of the Pacific in the background and the pictures engraved in my mind of the Coachella Valley from my honeymoon 17 years ago.  A trip to Indian Canyons, the largest oasis in the world, was like going back in time to the days of Adam and Eve walking in the Garden of Eden.  Hiking on these trails and similar vistas on the Lykkan Trail above Palm Springs was like re-enacting Moses’ voyage up Mount Nebo to see the Promised Land before his death.

My first trip to the Salton Sea, playing disc golf in Palm Desert and experiencing Monterey Country Club from the fairway, yes I did hit it straight, was like the icing on top of a birthday cake.  However, like the classic line from Jerry Maguire, my vacation wasn’t complete until family arrived.  As nearly 100 relatives came to La Quinta to honor Uncle Tom’s 80th birthday, the conversations I had, interactions with others and time spent with my own family completed me.  Simply put, this trip was like a tiny glimpse of heaven, a week of paradise in sunny California.

by Jay Mankus

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