Saturday Share with Brad Milford

Welcome to Saturday Share!  

Saturday Share coffeeThe purpose of this weekly feature is to provide a space for regular people to share their real-life encounters with Jesus.  It’s about living in the middle – on the way to the finish line.  If we still have breath to tell our stories then our race isn’t finished.

I believe we sharpen one another and delight God’s heart when we testify of His great work in our lives.  Be encouraged to put one foot in front of the other, and spur someone on while you’re at it!

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity. 1 Timothy 4:12 niv

I am honored to introduce to you, my feature Saturday Share writer:

Brad Milford

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Living The Dream

by Brad Milford

Dear Elias,

It’s almost like I’m speaking to you from a completely different life. In a few days, it will be four months since our family has been reunited. It’s been the best four months of my life.

I have never felt so much devotion from mom. She has been giving this family her all, and it’s so important for you to know that. I guess I’m writing you today, to explain that.

SS Brad and fam casual

When you were 1, I already wanted to tell you so much. At just 1-year-old, I could sit down and talk to you till the crickets start chirping, but I still wouldn’t be able to get my message across. So I began writing. Pages after pages, filled with so much hope and fight.

I wanted to give you the best life I could, and I wanted to be with you and mom every single day. Pouring out my heart was in a way therapeutic, but was also in a way meant to be informative.

 

Dreams came true, prayers were answered, miracles happened, and before I knew it, everything was different. Our family is united, it’s whole, we are a team. There’s a little smirk I get on my face when I talk about it as if I’m giving myself a pat on the back.

But if you really want to know, this has been just as much your mother’s hard work and grace to get us here. She’s such an awesome woman, bug. What she does for us, can’t be faked. She pours out love, like any woman who truly loves their family. Despite the persecution for past mistakes, I see a glimpse of pride, like a twinkle in her eye, when she shows the world what God has given to her.

I pray that you will realize the victory in every battle she has conquered for us to the extent that I have. It’s not easy being mom, bug, but you wouldn’t say so by the way she makes it look.  I also pray that you can take her as an example for your own life.

SS Brad and fam

Someday you’re going to find your love, you’re going to dream about being with her for the rest of your life, and sooner than you can expect, life is going to try and rock your devotion for your loved ones. It’s going to shake you up and bring you down. The family God has given to you, the one you are being raised in now, is a prime example of what can become if you hold true to your loved ones. It’s a story of victory and devotion. If your willing to take a look around, you will notice God giving you the tools you will need to succeed every day.

If many stepped up to the plate, and gave their family their full heart, as much as your mother has, I’m sure the divorce rate would dwindle to none. Our family’s a forever family, I pray that it gives you the tools and morals to create a forever family of your own as you grow older. Always stay devoted.

I love you so much bug.

I’m so proud of you son.

Love,

Dad

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Brad and his cup 031518 SS

To read the backstory on dad, mom, and son, Elias, aka bug, click here

You can connect with Brad at www.deareliasblog.wordpress.com

on Instagram: @bradmilford119

or

on Facebook 

 

 

Day 12: Before I was formed, did you {write} my story?

Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book before
one of them came to be.
How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
    How vast is the sum of them!   Psalm 139:16-17

I was pondering the word for today {write} from Kate’s list of 31 Five-Minute Friday prompts, and reading again through Ruth I saw two paths for this word {write}.  I pondered and I read and I chewed on various Scriptures.

One train of thought – God writes His Word on our hearts.  Jeremiah 31:33.  Another train of thought led me toward Psalm 139 – all the days for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.  poppies and wheat 31 days

I prayed.  I added the Scripture above to my post last night.  I went to sleep believing Holy Spirit would speak to me about His direction this morning.  As my alarm went off at 5:30 AM and I silently awoke to the Lord’s thoughts for me today, the words of a song on the radio next to our bed pierced my consciousness.  She was singing the words to Psalm 139.  I’ll have to research later today to find this beautiful song.  What’s clear to me this morning is that God has a story to write today.  He had already written it.

Psalm 139 – Was this true of Ruth?  I have to be honest this morning, it kind of blows me away with excitement the Psalm was written by Ruth’s great-grandson, David.

Is this true of me?  You?

I think this might be the essence of faith.  Do I believe I was God’s idea?  Do I believe, as God was writing His grand narrative of all creation, God decided to create me?

What does it mean – all my days were written in His book before I was formed?  And what about free will?  I wonder if I am the only one who feels a prick in my flesh when I ponder the idea of God writing my story.  The “hey, that’s not fair” prick that somehow feels cheated if I don’t get to write my own story.

In the book of Ruth (I’m still marinating in chapters 1 & 2), I see a foreigner, an outsider, who was purposely chosen by God to know Him, to be adopted into His family, and to become a mother, grandmother and eventually great-grandmother of a king.  She couldn’t possibly have known the story her creator was writing – had already written – for her life.

Yet, I see Ruth – called by name by God to be His own.  It is tempting to believe Ruth chose God as we read her famous words to Naomi.  “Your God will be my God.”  But here, Ruth is using the formal name of God.  To me, it is as if Ruth doesn’t know Him yet.  She’s been introduced by Naomi.  Maybe if Ruth goes to Bethlehem with Naomi, she will meet her God.  Maybe she’ll be accepted in…

But God has already written the story Ruth cannot fully see because she’s living in the middle of it.  Later, as we listen in on Ruth’s conversation with Boaz, we catch a glimpse of the budding relationship between Ruth and God.  God is becoming personal to Ruth through her interpersonal relationships with God’s people.  Through Boaz (someone other than Naomi) Ruth learned she truly had found favor with God’s people and God Himself.  Ephesians 1

Her story – Ruth’s – was being written moment by moment.  She had free will.  And yet her story – the days ordained for her had been written (by God) before any of them came to be.  I don’t come close to grasping this truth.  However, I receive this truth for myself.  In this truth, I am filled with hope, joy, and peace believing my life was chosen, my story was written by my creator and I was God’s idea to be included in His story.

Before I was formed, my Creator wrote my story.  It must be GOOD.

Ponders:

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.  For now, we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. 1 Corinthians 13:11-12  

After reviewing 1 Corinthians 13:11-12 and reading the whole of Psalm 139 I wonder what Holy Spirit wants you and me to know about the idea of God being the author of our story.  I think I am going to chew on these truths for a while.  How about you?

  • Will you enter into a conversation with Jesus?  Lord Jesus, what do You want me to know for my life?  I recognize in Hebrews 12 You are referred to as the author of my faith.  In Isaiah, You have chosen me and called me by name.  Speak to me, Lord, Your servant is listening.
  • Will you ponder and journal the Author’s response?  Will you allow Holy Spirit to write the Word of God on your heart?  This is the way of true transformation and with it comes peace in knowing you belong to the One who fashioned you and is continuing to fashion you after His own heart.    For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts.  And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.  Jeremiah 31:33
  • I wonder if you might share in a comment something the Lord, the Author of your life and faith, is revealing to you at this place on your journey.  I appreciate you adding value to our conversation.

Eyes on Jesus… you’re Shining!

Saturday Share: Brad Milford – the miracle of a captive set free

So, who is Brad?  Brad is my nephew – third son of my brother, Jeff.  Brad is coming into his middle twenties and writing with the wisdom of a forty year old.

By way of various detours along his short journey through life, Brad is father to precious son, Elias!

Brad's Bible

Brad and Elias do not currently live in the same household much to the sadness and frustration of his father.  However, it may be that God has most precisely used these circumstances for Brad’s ultimate good and God’s glory.

 

For this nephew, as well as his three brothers and my own two sons, I have prayed. Specifically for these young men a prayer found in Psalm 103:1-5 has been a prayer on my lips and settled in my heart.

Praise the LORD, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.  Praise the LORD, my soul, and forget not all his benefits—  who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.  Psalm 103:1-5

I am delighted to read these precious words written by Brad – a testament to God’s grace and great LOVE and Brad’s surrender.  My faith soars with these direct answers to my  prayers for Brad. (I know many other people have been praying too)

I want you to be encouraged to trust God in a new way, and emboldened in your prayers. This is why I have chosen Brad’s blog post in Dear Elias – Getting out of God’s way as this week’s Saturday Share.  I pray you will be set free as well as you read Brad’s unpolished words – just straight from his gut through fingers on a keyboard – raw honesty!

Welcome Brad… I love you and continue to cheer you on in Christ.  Keep picking up your cross and following right on Jesus’ heels…wait on the Lord and trust Him more.

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Brad and EliasDear Elias,

Your dads a control freak in recovery. I say this because the first step to recovery is recognizing that you have a problem right? All jokes aside, God has really opened my eyes to this problem.

For such a long time I thought the opposite, I thought that everyone else had this problem. That everyone else were the ones trying to control everything. I pointed fingers, I tried “helping” others by telling them to let God handle it, and to trust him. But I was telling them what they needed to do without removing the big ol plank out of my own eye.

Many recognized a cycle I was in. It goes like this, I want something from God, I pray for it, I tell God I trust him, I believe he’s going to give me what I’m asking for, then I get upset when it doesn’t happen. I shake my fist at him as if he doesn’t care because I haven’t seen instant change, and I try to make things happen on my own. I take ahold of the wheel after a period of time as if…  click here to continue with Dear Elias – Getting out of God’s way

Trust is the anchor holding me in the boat

 

I imagine a crusty white-bearded fisherman searching the horizon from high above the deck, and suddenly he yells comforting words:

Two years out and all’s well!

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With the new year, my husband and I embarked on our third year of his involuntary retirement.  I have no words to describe how grateful I am (still) for his discipline to store away savings in times of abundance.  Without his ‘Joseph-like’ dedication to prepare ahead for a coming famine, I don’t know where we would be right now.

God, by His grace, had prepared our hearts for a lean time.  Through prayerful listening I felt it would be at least two years before we would experience a breakthrough. We’ve several times before traveled this road of job change and loss through buy-outs and acquisitions.  This fork in the road, however, has some additional obstacles otherwise known as age and health.

Truly though, as we look full circle around our current circumstances, God’s faithfulness from the past shines brightly like a beacon of  hope before us.  And nothing, not aging or health challenges, are too hard for God!

When I focus my eyes on Jesus, I do feel calm.  I do feel secure in His presence.  As I spend time with Jesus, in His Word and in our conversations, He assures me that we (my husband and I) are right where we are supposed to be.

Truly though, as we look full circle around our current circumstances, God’s faithfulness from the past shines brightly like a beacon of hope before us.

Yet, one moment out in the world, with all the voices and choices and recommendations from all well meaning people who care about us, and I can easily find myself – well, honestly, bothered!  Then I find myself wanting to know, “How much longer, Lord?”.

Maybe people are right. Maybe I need to do something more.  Maybe I should look for more professional employment.  Maybe I should… What if…  And the wrestling begins all over again.

I wonder… have you ever been here?  Are you now?  Well, here’s what I did…

Jesus, where are You?

I grew weary of the wrestling and spinning and the voices and the questions and doubts. Honestly, I love that place of surrender!  As difficult as it is for me to get there sometimes, it is the best feeling to drop all the baggage I’ve agreed to carry and crumple at the feet of Jesus.

Finally, submitted deep in my soul, I asked Jesus to give me His perspective – as much as my finite mind can comprehend.  I asked Him to draw me a picture of how He sees our current circumstances.

Jesus answered this request almost immediately.  I began to see, in my mind’s eye, a boat bobbing on the water.  There was no storm, no daunting waves or howling wind, and in the back of the boat I sat.  My husband was seated at the front of the boat.  We were just bobbing on the calm water.

Droid2012 to 2015 2542

Yes, that’s it!  That is exactly what my life feels like right now!

However, the longer I pondered this picture in my mind, the frustration welled up inside me again.  That bothered feeling came welling up from deep within even as I sat with Jesus and His picture.  Soon I heard myself asking, “How long, O Lord, are we going to bob on this water not really going anywhere?”

This was it.  This was my life in a picture – feelings and all.  After a few days of thinking on this picture I began to see water splashing about my feet inside the boat.

Again, I picked up my conversation with Jesus.  Anxiety, fear, and frustration began to increase as I talked with Him…

Jesus there’s water coming in the bottom of the boat.  Doesn’t my husband know there’s water coming in the boat?  Are we going to sink?  Is he just going to sit in the front of the boat and let us go under?

I felt anger rising from that deep place in my soul.  I recognized the symptoms; that old ouchy place that’s been torn open once again by current circumstances.  So, I went to visit my flesh and blood Dad for advice.

“Those who listen to instruction will prosper; those who trust the Lord will be joyful.” Proverbs 16:20

St Augustine fort

Godly sorrow…

As I sat with my Dad over lunch recounting this vision of my husband and I in the boat, my dad responded with truth; “You don’t trust him to take care of you.”  The words to match the emotion had been eluding me, but when my Dad spoke it, I knew it was true.

I was ashamed to admit it.  I was afraid our boat was sinking and I didn’t trust my husband to save me.  There it was – the response I learned as a young child – fight for myself.

I confessed to my Dad (as if he didn’t know), “I’m not very good at sitting on my hands. I’m a fighter!”  My Dad grinned ear to ear and proudly confirmed, “And you’re a good one too.”  Beyond that my Dad hugged me and assured me, “God’s got this.  You’re going to be OK – eventually!”

Sunset Key LargoAs I drove home from my parents’ house I once again took the picture back to Jesus.  I told Him it was true what my Dad said, and I was sorry.  I didn’t want to feel that way about my husband.  In my spirit I felt a nudge, “Look again at the boat, Lisa.”

Oh yes!  There You are Jesus; You’re in the boat!  You’re standing right up there next to my man.  We’re not alone!

It was an amazing revelation.  And then again, in my spirit, this quiet voice – His voice coaxing me to listen and obey.  “Sit in the boat, Lisa.  Be still and watch.  Watch Me teach My man how to sail this boat.”

 An anchor can look like a cross with two arrows on the end pointing up.  It is my trust in Jesus…which anchors me in the boat.

I wish I had the words to describe the incredible peace of that moment.  The presence of Jesus in the midst of our trial is priceless.  He knows us.  He is with us.  He is good and He knows what He is doing.  Jesus has a good plan for us, and He is not worried.  In fact, every once in awhile I remind Jesus,

You know water is coming in the boat still?

Jesus reminds me to look at the picture; He’s in the boat.  Jesus reminds me my trust is rightly placed in Him, and not on my husband to be my savior.  He also reminds me He’s given me a cup (my little job with my little pay), with which I am able to scoop water and throw it over the side.  Otherwise I am to be still, stay in the boat and watch.

I’m watching You; eyes on You, Jesus, as You teach my man how to sail.

anchor

Today I saw something, looking at pictures of anchors, that I’ve never recognized before.  An anchor can look like a cross with two arrows on the end pointing up.  Catching this visual I hold fast to this truth:

It is my trust in Jesus (because of all the times in my life when I have experienced His faithfulness) which anchors me in the boat.

…(Jesus said)“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.  Mark 8:34

Ponders:

  1. How about you, friend?  Are you facing an uncertain situation?
  2. Are you able to identify any controlling emotions?
  3. Would you be willing to enter an ongoing conversation with Jesus about the inward wrestling match?
  4. Would you ask Jesus to paint a picture?  Sing you a song? Write you a poem?  What other form of communication might Jesus use to make His truth more clear to you?
  5. Proverbs 16:20 reminds us: “Those who listen to instruction will prosper; those who trust the Lord will be joyful.”  Do you have a safe person who will offer Godly instruction?  Perhaps you will seek them out today. 
  6. Will you allow trust to be your anchor to help you obey the Lord?