A struggling single parent finds a home, community, and renewed faith.
Two and a half years ago, Erika was pregnant and living in what she calls some “unsavory” temporary housing. She didn’t know what the future would bring or if she would be able to raise her child on her own.
Now, she has a beautiful two-year-old son, Navy; she works two jobs; and she’s on track to complete her associate’s degree with honors. She’s already making plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree and is dreaming of owning her own home. “I have never been this happy,” she says. “It’s so cool all the doors that have been opened just because of one decision I made, because I chose to keep my son.”
Finding a new home
Erika made that decision when she was going through a very difficult time in her life. In addition to her unstable housing situation, Erika was experiencing many health issues related to her high-risk pregnancy. She was carrying twins and sadly lost one of her sons halfway through her pregnancy. “His name was Sailor. Sailor and Navy, they were identical twins,” she says. “At 21 weeks, I lost Sailor. I went through a lot of pain and suffering. It was really bad.”
A few months later, someone told Erika about New Beginnings—A Home for Mothers, a program created by Christian Life Resources to help young mothers start a new life. New Beginnings provides housing, parenting resources, and a caring environment for mothers as they raise their children.
“I called them, and they told me about the program,” Erika remembers. “I went to the info meeting, but I really didn’t think I’d get in because I don’t have the best background, if I’m being honest. So I didn’t put all my eggs in that basket.”
But to Erika’s surprise, she was accepted. She moved in, and a few weeks later, Navy was born. She remembers those first weeks being pretty hard as she adjusted to her new home and all of the responsibilities of being a mother. Eventually, though, things got better. Erika began taking college courses online, and now she has two jobs. She says she can balance all of that, along with being a mom, thanks to routine and structure—two things that the New Beginnings program helps provide.
Erika says it’s also becoming easier to care for Navy now that he’s getting older. “He’s so amazing,” she says. “I love looking into his little eyes and hearing his little voice. It’s just the cutest, highest-pitched voice ever. He’s the sweetest, most loving child. It’s so cool to see him grow and develop his own personality and independence.”
Growing in faith
Another thing that’s been growing and changing is Erika’s faith life. “That’s the best thing that came out of New Beginnings—I found God,” she says.
In addition to providing for the residents’ physical needs, New Beginnings offers spiritual support through daily devotions and weekly Bible studies based on Luther’s catechism. While going through the Bible studies, Erika learned about the Sacrament of Baptism. “We talked about it one day, and someone said, ‘So if you die tomorrow, do you know where you’re going?’ And I said, ‘To hell—with a capital H!’ It’s not that I wanted to go to hell, but after all of the choices and decisions I made in my life, I thought that’s where I was going.”
“It’s so cool all the doors that have been opened just because of one decision I made, because I chose to keep my son.”
Erika learned about God’s plan for salvation and soon began to believe in his full and free forgiveness. “Then baptism was actually something I wanted to do,” she says. Erika and Navy were baptized in October 2019, and about six months later, Erika began confirmation classes with Aaron Robinson, who was pastor at the time at Fairview, Milwaukee, Wis. She was confirmed in April 2021.
Erika and Navy are now familiar faces at Fairview. “I want to raise my child to be Christ-centered,” she says. “Navy has grown up in church. When we go, he always wants to run down to look at the altar and the stained-glass windows and see the pastor. He loves it, and we really look forward to going to church.”
Seeing God’s plan
“It’s crazy how everything fell into place,” says Erika, when looking back over the past two years. “I truly believe that things happen for a reason. Navy was my wake-up call, letting me know that maybe I needed to do things in my life differently.” And she says that New Beginnings helped her take that first step. “At one point I thought, I’m not ready for this, I won’t be able to do this,” says Erika. “But I came here, and these people who were once strangers are now the people that Navy looks forward to seeing when he wakes up. They are like family.”
Erika hopes her story will encourage other women who might be doubting their parenting abilities. “It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, but every day I wake up and see Navy and I realize what I’m doing is worth it,” she says. “I guess I’d say never let your circumstances hinder you and never sell yourself short. Don’t let anyone tell you you’re not worthy enough to do this; even as a single parent, you can do this.”
She continues, “I truly don’t know why God picked me to be Navy’s mom. There are still days I feel like I don’t deserve him. But I have this little person who depends on me, and I see him thriving. That is the best feeling in the world.”
Author: Alicia A. Neumann
Volume 109, Number 01
Issue: January 2022
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- Confessions of faith: John Jia - 2022/10/29
- My Christian life: From prospect to pastor - 2022/06/30