“Honey! Are you going to wake him?”
“Nope. Let him sleep. He had a full day in the pool. That’s what happens when you spend so much time in water. The best way to get a child to sleep early, during Summer, is to just carry them to the beach or pool.”
“It worked with me. Sleep always came quickly after swimming all day.”
“That’s nice but the snoring is a bit much”, came my wife’s response.
“Well all of us snore dear, even you.”
“I do not sound like that!”
That was one bullet I intended to dodge.
My eyes glanced over at the lanky suntanned preteen slumped over the throw cushions on the sofa. For a few minutes I stared at him. It felt surreal that I was a stepdad. A father of a son that God had given to me. My grandmother always said that ‘you cannot purchase a cow and not take the calf’. As usual she never explained her parables. Now I was living this reality. Finally, my thick scull understood her simple farmers aphorism. It meant, ‘if you fall in love with a someone and there are kids involved, you had better love and care for them too’. You cannot love one and neglect the other. It’s a packaged deal. Be thankful for what God has given and embrace it.
“I am a father”, I thought, “A father of one.”
More is on the way. In time God will add to our numbers. Right now we are just trying to survive this experience (DWL!).
I could not help but reflect on the faithfulness of God. The Lord has fulfilled His word. I left empty but He’s made me full. I felt like Mara (Naomi) who had left Moab in bitterness having lost everything but when she returned to the place of promise God gave her back what was lost and her good name. God wiped out her death and restored her family heritage. For a long time, I too was bitter in my spirit. As I walked with God He stripped everything from me. Job, career, family, possessions and moved me from my homeland. I fought the Lord for a while but I eventually learnt obedience in the wilderness. When He said, “Go!” I went.
As I walked with Him I kept looking back. My heart longed for what I had left behind. As God proved that He was faithful, I begun letting go of the past and embracing the glorious future that laid ahead.
In June 2012 I was in a long period of fasting when I had the strangest dream. It puzzled me for a very long time. Was it a revelation of the future? I could not understand what it meant. When I questioned the Lord He was silent. As time went on I forgot about the vision. Last night the Holy Spirit brought it back to my memory.
In the dream I walked into a kindergarten classroom. The teacher stood at the head of the room. I greeted her and asked for my son. She turned and called to a little boy. He was kneeling and playing with toys. His back was turned to us.
“Your father is here.”
He turned and ran to me. I smiled at him and took his hand. Then we walked out of the classroom.
Although God has showed me that vision, embracing the role of father did not come easy. I had to learn how to be a father. My background did not prepare me for this role. I grew up without my father around. He was physically and verbally abusive. When he left in 1980 I was happy. We had peace. Mom struggle with us. Times were very hard at time but we made it through. I always told myself that I would not have a child until I was capable of providing for him. Opportunities came up for me to be married and have a child on several occasions but I always backed out once I saw what was coming. It wasn’t only the fact that I was struggling with my sexuality at that time. Financial struggles also made me decide to postpone fatherhood.
God in His wisdom changed that. The boy that laid before me on the sofa was turning into a man. I realised that I was the man in his life. He needed to have a good male model and mentor. God had chosen me to be that person. Every stain of the past had to be removed. For his sake I had to let go of my preconceived notions and strive to a good father. There are some important things that I could teach him like his identity and standing up to bullies. He would also teach me how to be patient, nurture and truly love unconditionally.
When I arrived in New York in September 2012 I had no idea that our worlds would collide. One Sunday I and my cousin, Minister Moses O’Brien, were ministering prophetically to the people. The Lord had us call out the boy. Just six years old at the time. We prophesied over him, laid hands on him and poured olive oil in his mouth. From that day his tongue was loosened. Teachers were amazed at how his speech was changing. What years of working with speech therapists had not solved was being miraculously changed by the Living God.
I left and went on my journeys. God knew how broken I was from the lack of a father in my life, so He sent me to Fort Lauderdale, Florida to be with my cousin, Apostle Clive O’Brien and his family. Although, I did not know it. I was being give the opportunity to observe and learn how to love my wife and family as Christ loves the church.
Then in September 2015 God sent me back to New York. I was told to put aside three months just for working with him. I had worked with children before but never one that had a challenge learning. I was out of my depths but I resorted to allow the Lord to lead me. Each day I went to the Lord and asked Him for guidance with what to do. The Holy Spirit told me what environment to set. Each study time was to begin with worship, reading of the Bible and prayer then a fun environment was to be set for learning. Making it fun was definitely a struggle. My heart was heavy with the bitterness of past losses. Numerous promises from God were within sight but I could not see. My eyes were blinded by regrets and undiscarded memories.
As I prayed, the Lord made one promise to me. Within two weeks He would perform a miracle with the child. I didn’t know what it would be but I believed. The day the Lord spoke to me he received information for the Annual Spelling Bee Competition. I decided to try him out for the competition. So far he showed an uncanny ability to spell. Once he saw a word, it was locked in his memory. On the way from school we would practise as we waited on the bus or at home. I decided not to pressure him but to make it fun. Mom was game and helped every step of the way. On the day of the competition, I was blown away with the result.
The child who was in the special needs class was the Spelling Bee champion for his entire grade.
Now he’s in Georgia. God uprooted the family. The change has been good. The shy boy is becoming very assertive and improving daily in school. Many times he’s had perfect scores on his exams.
God has been answering our prayers. He is a walking miracle. Sparks of genius is unfolding in him. He has an uncanny aptitude with computers and drawing. He can do easily reprogram an electronic device. Drawing also comes easy. Without being taught he could draw anything he wanted. It is hard to imagine that he was a different child while growing up.
His mom had many challenges with him. He had a severe speech impediment and inability to focus for a short period. Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and special needs labels were attached to him. Education experts tried to convince his mom to place him on medication but she refused.
“Nothing is wrong with my child”, she always asserted.
Privately, she cried out to God for a change in her child. Regardless of what the facts showed she held on to the promises of God. What others did not know was that she had a revelation of who he would become. Before he was born God told her his destiny. She was cautioned about how to speak with him. During times of despair she held unto the promise. Without wavering she kept believing God would be faithful to his promise. Years later God sent help.
I have been immensely blessed to be in the life of two amazing people. Our relationship as had highs and lows but I am undaunted. The Lord has entrusted me with a gift. I have had the benefit of numerous people pouring into my life over the years. Mothers always encouraged me. The fathers always seemed too busy to invest time. I will change that. Yesterday, I embraced fatherhood. I am stepdad. I will not attempt to replace the relationship with his father but I will do right by him. I know what it is like to grow up without a father. I will not allow my son to experience the same. As long as there is breath in my body I show him what it means to be a man, husband and father.
Food will satisfy the body. Clothes will adorn it. Activities will inspire. Education will illuminate the mind. Wisdom will bring wealth. A legacy is established by the counsel of a father. – Michael Reginald