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This mom’s travels through faith

Monica Beyer is a mom of four and has been writing professionally since 2000, when her first book, Baby Talk, was published. Her main area of interest is attachment parenting and all that goes with it, including breastfeeding, co-sleepin...

Voyage through doors of churches

Erika and her 3-year-old son are undertaking a unique journey — uprooting their old lives and journeying across America, staying at a church at each stopping point along the way.

SK: How will you be sharing your story as you go along?

Erika: I've created a blog called Through the Red Doors. I've already been posting, building our story by sharing my history and the foundations of this trip. There are already some cool photos up, too. Followers can get to know us through the blog, learn about the things that put us on this path. As we are traveling, I'll be sharing photos and stories from the day each night. It will be like the reader is traveling with us, seeing the places we see and meeting the people we meet. It's going to be great fun for our followers, and it will give them a deeper connection to the book.

I also plan to share the essence of the Episcopal Church. A big part of my motivation for doing this project is to get the word out. Many people have no idea what the Episcopal Church is all about. There are some very common misconceptions about it, like that it's a church for rich people or that it's kind of conservative. That couldn't be further from the truth.

The Episcopal Church is a living, growing, vital body of people who have all kinds of different beliefs. The core thing that unites Episcopalians is our love for the basic message of Christ: Love, peace, justice, compassion, humility, kindness — the good stuff. All the other stuff that keeps people away from church just isn't there. As it said in our Sunday school workbook, the Episcopal Church tolerates a high degree of ambiguity with regard to holy mysteries. No one has anything to sell you. The Episcopal Church embraces intellectual exploration of the spiritual realm.

You don't have to be square to be an Episcopalian. In fact, the Episcopal Church has been a leader in equality for LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) people in ministry and has many openly gay people serving the church at all levels. The Episcopal Church also has a long history of working for social justice and equality of all kinds. Overall, Episcopalians are progressive thinkers who value personal spiritual development, harmony, justice, and the divine love of God-made manifest on earth, as well as beyond. The message of the church is a dream come true for me. I want other people to know about it.

This is really going to be fun. It will be beauty, history, architecture, humor, adventure, faith, inspiration, discovery and exploration. Anyone who follows this blog is in for a great time.

SK: What do you think that Juice will learn from your adventures?

Erika: This trip is going to really expand his view of the world. He has lived his whole little life in New Martinsville, West Virginia. His world is near a river surrounded by hills. He's going to watch it change in front of his eyes. Hills will fade away behind us in diminishing ripples. He will see plains that seem to never end, and the distant tips of rising mountains greater than any hill he has ever known. When we get to the end of this trip, he'll face the living swell of the ocean and power of the tide. For someone his age, this experience will be almost unearthly.

Juice is a natural people person. He's going to learn a lot about them as we go, too. He'll get to hear accents change as we travel through different regions, and he'll get an introduction to the rich culture of the Lakota people. After this experience, he will have a much broader view of people, and of his own world.

His ideas of what life is will be radically different. His concept of space and time will change. He has never gone so long in one direction. With every day, things will only become more different and the life we knew will only get farther away. His ideas of me and of our connection will change. I think our relationship will be stronger for this experience. You can really get to know a person on the road.

SK: What do you think you will learn?

Erika: I think I'm going to learn what I am made of. Frankly, this whole project is like an out-of-body experience. Part of me is still quivering on the floor, like a cast-off animal pressed against the back wall of a cage, waiting for rescue. I still feel hands on my throat. I can still feel the blows. I still feel the suffocating grip of grief. Yet, here we go.

It started with the tree. Once God had my attention, He began to reveal the plan. I still don't know all of the details, but I am beginning to see myself in a different light. Why did God give me this gift? How is our story going to change someone else's? What does God have planned for us next? I think I will learn the answers to some of these questions on the road. I think I might even uncover a never-before-known respect and affection for myself. Somewhere out there, I think I'm going to meet the real me.

Photo credits: Erika Quiroz

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