Monday, November 25, 2013

Jesus Loves Me... Do I Know This? - Thoughts about Sonship

Last night I was rocking my son to sleep, and as he does every night, he met the end of each song with "Daddy pick another song". Last night I was feeling especially spiritual and started in with "Jesus Loves Me, This I Know". It struck me... I learned this song as a child and while the truth is so profound, it so easily escapes my heart. I mean, I KNOW Jesus loves me, but I live more like an orphan than a Beloved Son...

In my head, I can recount how "The Bible Tells Me So": God has orchestrated a history full of examples of His love for His people. In the New Testament alone, we have a number of powerful images. Jesus tells parables of the Father's effort to find us using images such as a lost sheep, a lost coin, a prodigal son. He describes the joy and completeness experienced when what was lost had been found. In another passage He uses the image of a mother hen longing to protect her chicks. We see Jesus' ultimate sacrifice of taking our sins on Himself and dying in our place. Christians have heard and said that so many times, it almost lacks meaning. We are calloused to phrases like that. If my father took the blame for something I did and was brutally and publicly murdered for me, I would be undone, and I know it would impact the way I lived.

When I see my son, I see a boy that is full of life and joy. Especially joy... he exudes joy. Now certainly he is a typical 2 year old, and we have to train up his little heart, but if we are talking about how I feel about him, I tearfully admit that I am sleighed by this little boy. He's got me. I love watching him explore, grow and learn new things. I love hearing how he puts concepts together and says new words. I love holding him in my lap, love getting hugs at the door after work, and love rocking him to sleep.

Someone I respected once told me it was sinful/inappropriate to imagine what God looked like, that any image we concocted would be a flawed incomplete and possibly heretical likeness of God. This belief fostered the distance in my relationship with God that I have struggled against for years. If someone were to ask me today to describe what I think God thinks about me, Jim Meador, right now, sitting in my recliner, would I use a description similar to that I used to describe my son? Would it be full of eagerness, excitement, longing, delight, comfort, joy? No it wouldn't. That's where my heart has it wrong...

In Matthew 19 and Luke 18 we see Jesus encouraging His disciples to let the little children come to Him, and He says that the kingdom is such as these. I think of how my own son responds to me, and my feelings towards him. They are anything but distant, yet my relationship with Jesus feels distant. I know of His love for me, and believe He loves, but then why do I struggle to believe I am a 'Beloved Son'? A doubting and fearful heart may be the answer. I thank the Lord that He has given me this little boy to show me more and more about His love for me. I pray that this truth roots deep in my heart and my unbelieving heart is stripped away. More to come on this I am sure...

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Dealing with Disappointment

It's been a while since I wrote my last post... believe me it's been on my mind. I have wrestled with it for a long time, and was never sure what I would write. It's ironic that my blog is called This Manly Journey, when I have felt utterly lost/aimless these past few months. I think I have wrestled with confusion, disappointment, and maybe some frustration... with God. It's hard to even admit this... I mean who says that out loud?

My wife and I have been pursuing a relocation to Iowa we felt the Lord was calling us to. My wife's family lives there and we were hoping to have some land and a slower pace of life for a while, especially while my son is still young. We spent a lot of time in prayer about it, and took the necessary steps to get out house ready for the market. It was a big leap of faith to actually list the house; we had spent almost a year talking and praying about this move, and we were a bit fearful to move forward. I realize now that the subconscious expectations were that if we took that leap of faith, then things would work out like I had them planned and in my timing. I have struggled to understand why our house hasn't sold after we felt so sure that it would.

To further complicate things, we are down to one income now. My wife was a director at a local Supportive Employment Company and was critical to the operation of the company. When we decided we should move ahead and take the steps necessary to move, my wife went and explained the situation to her superiors. They graciously allowed her to stay on for several months and develop a plan to hire and train a replacement. After some time, they needed to set an end date for my wife's position, and that date has come and gone... September 12th my wife stopped working. Since we have been married, we have always had two incomes, and have lived a life that reflected two incomes. Honestly I didn't think it would come to this point; I just assumed that our house would sell beforehand and we would be relocating to Iowa like we planned.

As the date kept getting closer and closer, I started to panic. I felt myself clutching to control anything about the process I could. I suddenly got very tight with our budget out of sheer panic, and wouldn't let my wife spend money on anything. This of course affected my marriage, and my walk with the Lord. I didn't realize it at first, but bitterness and frustration were setting in. Why didn't God allow our house to sell if we were faithful in responding to His call?

I'm a very black and white thinker - I like to be committed one way or the other and have a lot of difficulty pursuing more than one thing at once. This especially shows at work. I am either in, or I am out... committed to my job or looking for something else. I struggle when I am in the grey middle ground of uncertainty. This is where I have been dropped the past few months though... uncertainty.

Have I had a breakthrough of clarity? No, not really. But I think I am starting to see God's hand in this situation now. As I allow myself to turn to Him, I am seeing His work in my life. It is hard to remember that God is still in control and that His plan is better than mine. It is hard to trust that He wants what's best for me and my family. It is hard to trust sometimes that He loves me and desires to know me intimately. Are these things true? Absolutely... So what does this boil down to? A lack of faith in God's character and of His promises to me. It's sin. It's an unbelieving heart.

I find myself constantly comparing myself to others, and then when I do so, I limit what I will attempt for God because I feel unworthy, ill-equipped, unprepared, and ultimately guilty that I'm not further along on this "journey" than I am.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Wet Shaving is Complicated - Is it Worth it?

For some of you, you may not know what Wet Shaving is at all... I know I didn't. Not that long ago, every man (and maybe a few women) shaved in this way, but electric shavers and quick disposable razors have all but eliminated this nostalgic art. (I snickered as I saw the latest Bond movie and saw what society may picture as the iconic male - wet shaving in his hotel room). I was very curious about wet shaving, and felt it would be a good 'manly' thing to try. After all, if my grandfather did it, I feel it would be a good thing to know how to do... My wife got me a shaving kit for Christmas, complete with a shaving brush, shaving soap and aftershave (see below). The problem was I had no idea what I was doing.

I went online and spent hours of research (literally) looking at razors and watching countless YouTube videos trying to figure out how to do it. I bought myself what some reviewers consider the Cadillac of double edge razors, the Edwin Jagger DE89. I love it! It is heavy, brilliantly shiny, and good quality.

After several months and even more hours on YouTube and other sites, I am still struggling to figure out what kinds of products to use. There are a lot of methods and seemingly millions of creams/soaps/discs to use in a variety of bowls/scuttles and other methods of lathering. Everyone has their own opinion of what works best, and it is certainly overwhelming.

So after all the hassle, why do I keep trying? Well first, I bought a $40 razor (which of course I will likely be able to pass down to my son). Another reason as I noted above, is there is something nostalgic in shaving in this manner... sure it takes longer than using a Gillette Mach Whatever in the shower or sink, but I don't think that's always a bad thing. Am I 'wet shaving' every day? goodness no... maybe some day I will. Overall, the products smell great, it's a few intentional minutes I have to myself (I've even put on my Cool Jazz station on my iPhone's Pandora app a couple times), and the shave is INCREDIBLY close - leaving my skin feeling awesome! I am certainly still learning, and question whether the products I am using are the right kind. I am going to try what I see as the consensus of articles and reviews deems the best overall brand - Proraso Shaving Cream (there's a whole line of products shown here). I'll let you know how it goes.

For those of interested in wet shaving, I have included a few blog posts that originally peaked my interest and gave me a good deal of beginner info. Also, anyone willing to offer some tips, please don't hesitate!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Wear the Pants!

I have spent a great deal of time lately looking at other 'manly' blogs, trying to find sites that call men into manhood, that train men how to take up spiritual arms, that encourage men to get off the side lines and into the game. There are a few that I have found that are truly encouraging, but not as many as I would have expected. In my searching, I came across a post someone did based on a Docker's print ad which was truly shocking. Docker's gets the truth that men are absent from our society, and they make pretty bold claims in this ad. Now, certainly they use humor alongside the truth or it would be a public service announcement and not a promotion to sell khakis. But don't miss the forest for the trees... there are some crazy statements in this thing. Here is the ad, and I have typed out the text below in case you can't read the image.

"Once upon a time, Men wore the pants, and wore them well. Women rarely had to open doors and little old ladies never crossed the street alone. Men took charge because that's what they did. But somewhere along the way, the world decided it no longer needed men. Disco by disco, latte by foamy non-fat latte, men were stripped of their khakis and left stranded on the road between boyhood and androgyny. But today, there are questions our genderless society has no answers for. The world sits idly by as cities crumble, children misbehave, and those little old ladies remain on one side of the street. For the first time since bad guys, we need heroes. We need grown-ups. We need men to put down the plastic fork, step away from the salad bar and untie the world from the tracks of complacency. It's time to get your hands dirty. It's time to answer the call of manhood. It's time to Wear The Pants."

The statements that really stood out to me were:
 - But somewhere along the way, the world decided it no longer needed men.
 - Today, there are questions our genderless society has no answers for.
 - For the first time since bad guys, we need heroes. We need grown-ups.
 - We need men to ... untie the world from the tracks of complacency. (the joke here about the salad bar really takes away the impact of the truth in this statement, so I took it out for this purpose)

Even now, after reading it over and over, I am stunned at the truths in this paragraph. Where are the men? Even Dockers recognizes the trouble in our society. They are right on... It's Time to Answer the Call of Manhood. We need to take initiative, to speak truth, to walk humbly and wisely, to be active and not passive. We need to wear the pants... even if they aren't khakis.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Seen, Known, Loved

There is much on my heart to write about, but one thing from this weekend really impacted me and I felt it was important to write a post about my experience. A few weeks ago, I attended a men's retreat called Top Gun, facilitated by Zoweh Ministries, and the experience was amazing. I couldn't have anticipated the impact it would/has had on my life and I am sure there will be much more to come about what I have learned. One thing we discussed at the retreat was the importance of the heart. The main speaker, Michael Thompson, drew out a line of thinking, saying we as humans all want to be seen, known, and loved. More specifically, We want to See and be Seen, Know and be Known, Love and be Loved. We explored how this truth is apparent not only in all human hearts, but specifically in the lives of females.

We went to my parents this weekend to celebrate Mother's Day and to meet my new little niece, who is only two weeks old. My sister also has a three year old daughter, who was the main actress in the little drama that unfolded this weekend. Periodically, she would come out of her room with a flowing Ariel princess dress, large pink plastic heels and a elastic tiara on her head. She would glide into the room, beaming, and would just wait for everyone to see her.
She wanted to be beautiful.
She wanted every one to see her.
She wanted people to give her attention.
This struck me in such a new way, as if for the first time, I had 'eyes to see and ears to hear' what was really happening. This was my niece's heart on display for our family. She wanted to be seen, known and loved.

Throughout the weekend I became increasingly aware of how prevalent this desire was and how it played out in her life. I think we have all been around those kids who yell out "watch me" over and over until someone responds... sometimes out of frustration (as I know I have) and sometimes out of love. This desire is something we were created with, not something we learn. Our society however 'un-trains' little ones to be less and less vocal about that desire - so we become manipulative in an effort to still get that desire met. In the garden of Eden, we were created to be seen, known and loved by God. When sin entered into the world and we were evicted from the presence of God as it were, that created desire remained, leaving a longing we try and fill with so many things.

When a little girl wants to put on the princess dress, the tutu, the tiara, how do we typically respond? Are we quick to tell them they need to change? Goodness knows we can't go in public like that! What would people think? The point isn't that you should let your daughter wear a tutu 24/7, but it is however, that if we don't pay attention, we lose the opportunity to speak into their hearts the truth that they are beautiful, that they are seen, known and loved for who they are.

If you look for it, you will see it - in your wife's life, your girlfriend's life, you daughter's life. They are looking for it from you. You have the chance to speak into their heart and help them feel these things. I admit I often miss the opportunities to do this with my own wife. Not to make excuses, but I don't feel like I had 'eyes to see' this before now. By the grace of God, I am finally aware of it after half a decade of marriage. This applies to our hearts as men too, but maybe I will save that for another post?

I challenge you to do something this week that lets your spouse/girlfriend/daughter know that they are seen, known, and loved. Maybe you make an effort to tell her she looks beautiful in a certain outfit... maybe you leave a note in her car or in her room telling her that you are thankful for her... maybe you let your daughter wear the princess outfit to McDonalds for a dad/daughter date or dance with her in the living room... don't miss the opportunities to speak truth into the hearts of the women in our lives. It is one of our most important roles as men...

Monday, April 8, 2013


When we see epic movies (i.e. Lord of the Rings, Batman, Band of Brothers, etc.) one of the things that make them so powerful is the main characters in the films. On some level we compare and contrast the leading characters with ourselves - would I do that? would I go after that bad guy? would I fight for the woman I love? would I stand up for what is right and just? would I uphold my family's honor? These and other questions are played out in countless movies, plays and stories. The journey that the characters take is a journey which intrigues us, hooks us, and pulls us along with them.

I think one of the pervasive (although sometimes unnoticed) characteristics that is interwoven in the great stories is Courage. Life takes so much courage... Scene by scene, we see courage played out for us on the big screen: Bilbo takes the first step out the door, Bruce Wayne suits up once again fighting on two fronts - against the evil in Gotham City and the misguided beliefs of its citizens believing him to be a menace, then we see soldiers jump out of airplanes, raid enemy camps, lead patrols, we  see knights ride into battle with their swords drawn... Courage is Epic. Is your life epic? Do you feel you exemplify courage in your life? I admit that I don't often feel this way... and yet I long for it, don't you?

For me I am learning that courage is displayed in so many small things of my life. I may not charge the enemy mounted on a horse weighted down by 100 pounds of chain mail and armor, but that doesn't' mean I am not called to be courageous where I am. For me it takes courage to lead my wife in spiritual discussions, pray with and for her and my son, confront her when she is believing lies about herself, apologize and ask for forgiveness when I am an idiot, challenge someone in sin, share my faith, speak a word of truth in a difficult situation, trust God with my finances, own up to my mistakes, open up to someone new and share my story, take a look at myself and how selfish I really am... the list could go on and on... Courage is something I do need a lot of, and the important stuff in life often doesn't come easily.

I mentioned a few posts ago that I have been going to outpatient counseling to help work through some of my core beliefs. Each time I would go, or when I found myself facing the belief which was so powerful in my heart and mind... I felt the Holy Spirit speak this word to my soul - "courage". This became my mantra when I was faced with the ugly truth about my heart - "courage". I continued to feel the Spirit speak this word to me when I disputed lies, shared openly with my counselor or tried something new. One night in bed, my wife and I were talking about all the potential changes we faced this year and she said to me she had been thinking of a theme for our year... She said she thought it should be "courage" - my jaw dropped and I literally burst into tears. I told her how I had been using this word as a theme for my own journey and the Spirit had really impressed it upon my heart. We laughed and cried together about how the Lord does this stuff in our life.

I encourage you to take a look at your own life and see where you could try and show a bit more courage. Ask the Lord for strength. It is often the things in life of eternal significance that take the most courage.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013


I just wanted to comment on something I have spent a great deal of time thinking about. I realize that my journey is unique to me, and in my attempts to share where I have struggled, grown and changed, I do not wish to negate others' difficulties or challenges. I know that for some, a relationship with their father is unlikely, either due to their father passing away, or through a stubborn attitude unwilling to mend (or build) that relationship. My last post seemed fairly harsh towards my father, and it may have come across as 'Woe is Me" because my dad let me down as a child. I am thankful of the relationship we are building now and wanted you to know I am sensitive to the possiblility of it offending others. I commit to share candidly my journey, in hopes that there are some it does impact, encourage and challenge. Maybe someone can relate to me and will find encouragement to press on towards securing/recapturing their own masculinity.