August 11, 2013 ~ How the Journey Began – A Letter of Goodbye

churchMy life was forever changed by the community and grace I found in a place that became my second home in my thirties. The sanctuary I found in The Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd in Billings, MT became the launching pad for my new life in and with Christ. I have always been a Christian. I was born and raised with the teachings of the church and my family was and is steadfast in their faith. But there is  difference in being born and raised a Christian  and actually knowing Christ and accepting His grace and mercy into one’s life. I came to know Christ and gave my life to Him in this place. It was here that He showed me I could not only walk in His light but shine it. It was in this place with the people that gathered together there that I became someone I didn’t think possible: a strong leader with a hopeful spirit. It was in this place I found life again and developed the courage to chase it.

“Beautiful Lord, wonderful Savior
I know for sure all of my days are held in Your hand
And crafted into Your perfect plan

You gently called me into Your presence
Guiding me by Your Holy Spirit
Teach me dear Lord, to live all of my life
Through Your eyes”

For those of you who have worshiped on Saturday nights and have had the opportunity to hear Shekinah sing, you have most likely heard our rendition of “The Potters Hand”. This song has
become known as “Erika’s Song” within our group and for good reason. No other song has captured the spirit of my life as it has— much like no other community of people has captured my heart as you have. This gathering of people has something very special to offer. No matter how different our lives may be we manage to come together as One Flock, brothers and sisters in Christ beneath the cross of Jesus. This flock knows when a wayward soul needs tending. When I was lost and stumbling like a lamb YOU came into my life BOLDLY and never let me go. I believe God placed me in your presence so that he could use me as he saw fit and in doing so, restored my soul. It was through your tender shepherding that I was reunited with my Good Shepherd. Today I live for Him. I rejoice in the new life and new purpose He has blessed me with and I found here at LCGS.

And I’m captured by Your Holy calling
Set me apart, I know You’re drawing me to Yourself
Lead me Lord, I pray

Take me and mold me, use me, fill me
I give my life to the Potter’s hand
Call me, You guide me, lead me, walk beside me
I give my life to the Potter’s hand

It is at LCGS that I came to truly know God’s grace, abiding love, and steadying guidance. Not just through the Word as preached but through the loving acts of and deep friendships formed with those who gather here as one flock with one Shepherd. It is at LCGS that I realized that God truly has a purpose for me and for every single one of you. Through your confidence in me, I realized I could lead. Through your acts of caring and concern for me and so many others in our flock – I found a place of welcome and peace. Inside these walls LOVE happens and that LOVE is carried forever into the community by the hearts you have touched.

“You gently call me into Your presence
Guiding me by Your Holy Spirit
Teach me dear Lord, to live all of my life
Through Your eyes

I’m captured by Your Holy calling
Set me apart, I know You’re drawing me to Yourself
Lead me Lord, I pray

Take me and mold me, use me, fill me
I give my life to my Potter’s hand
Call me, guide me, lead me, walk beside me
I give my life to the Potter’s hand”


the road As I write this letter of thanks to you today, I am filled with a mix of so many emotions – feelings of excitement and fear, joy and sorrow, hope and trepidation, strength and humility. I am about to embark on the next chapter of my life, one that could not be written were it not for your presence in my life. You have been God’s hands helping Him to shape and mold me into the person I am today— a much different person than I was what seems so long ago when I gave myself fully to the Lord in your midst. You have used my talents –helping me see what I am capable of and you have filled me with joy as I found peace and purpose in serving Him. The people of this church have become as much a part of me as the skin on my hands. I am honored and humbled to have served the Lord with you and I will be taking you with me. Following my heart and venturing to Whitefish, MT for a new career and new path in my life has been a very hard decision to make, but saying goodbye to the weekly – sometimes several times per week – gatherings with you that are such a blessed part of my life, is even harder. You may think LCGS needs to “get with the program, remodel the church building, bring in more people, change up the music, fix this, and fix that” but I have to tell you that something very special is already here in this place. Whatever comes of the above worthy goals, never lose sight of the presence of the Holy Spirit that dwells within and through all of you. That is what LCGS is about. The Holy Spirit is alive and thriving in all of you. Thank you for taking me in, calling me, leading me, using me, filling me, and walking beside me in my life’s journey thus far. I will dearly miss rejoicing in the grace of God, teaching the message of Jesus Christ, and ministering faithfully to all people with you. the road 2

“The Potter’s Hand” Darlene Zschech, Touching Heaven, Changing Earth Hillsong 1998

August 9, 2013 ~ Another Door Closes


My last day of work at Wyo-Ben, Inc was bittersweet. As anyone who has worked for a family owned business knows, even when there are bad days and grumpy co-workers you find yourself connecting to your work in ways that you wouldn’t working for a large corporation. Not only did I have a sense of ownership in the work I did but a sense of comradeship with my coworkers. You go through life together, personal lives intersecting with work lives, failures, triumphs, death, new life…. your coworkers are by your side through it all. I was blessed to work for a family who valued the whole person in their employees. I was delighted to work in a beautiful place surrounded by wildlife that we were encouraged to enjoy. As I ended this five year stint in my working life and headed to a completely different career in the financial field, I had a sense of fear… I was good at what  I did. There was a comfort in knowing everyday I came to work I could do the job and do it well. But greater things awaited me and if I wanted to grow, I would have to take some chances and step out of my comfort zone. These were my thoughts that day.


Springtime gosling… an annual rite.

When I first came to work at Wyo-Ben, Inc. 5 years ago I had no idea what to expect. Yes, I knew that I would be working in a beautiful office and I would be shipping rail cars of something called Bentonite that had over 1000 uses to places far and away! I never dreamed I would be conversing with people from all over the world or dealing with overloaded rail cars, or discussing how BIG of a deal the difference in color between a light grey or tan material was for kitty litter — cats really are finicky and apparently so are their owners!! I think I had spoken to a Canadian once or twice in my life before coming to work for Wyo-Ben! Now I do it on a regular basis! I came to realize I was one of the lucky ones who learned the Oil Well business from none other than Harry Funk – a legend whose gruffness masked a very kind and funny soul! Not only did I learn about oil fields and the history of ALL of our customers from Harry, but I was treated to golf stories, and war stories, wife stories and music business stories, and jokes I probably should never have heard! That he worked up until his dying day– 50 plus years at Wyo-Ben – made me feel pretty darn sure I was working for a good company.


More babies!

What I found at Wyo-Ben was a family– from the Wyoming Wyo-Ben’ers to the Billings Headquarters gang – there was something deeper shared between us than just coming to work each day and doing our jobs. The Brown’s truly cared about each of us. We all cared about each other and we were encouraged to share what is important to us. The longevity of the Wyo-Ben employee – –something I won’t have there – is a testament to the quality of life Wyo-Ben offers it’s employees. Yes there were changes over the years- but all in all, it was a wonderful place to be with wonderful people 8 hours of the day, 5 days a week MOST OF THE TIME!!


Taking big steps of their own.

I thank my coworkers for your patience when I was new and just learning the ropes and rails. Thank you for the laughter shared despite stressful circumstances with our friends at the rail road. It is hard to leave a place such as this for the unknown but this place and the people in it were purposely placed in my life journey for a reason! If I can handle the rail road – I can handle anything, right? Truth be told, I have grown so much in the time I have spent at Wyo-Ben. Thank you for supporting that growth and encouraging me along the way.
I am going to miss our Christmas Parties, Springtime Gosling Watch, and each and every one of you.