A warm breeze kisses my skin as I am at last able to return to the old porch without the need for a blanket or a jacket. Brightly colored purple blossoms ignite the spring trees, and tiny buds indicate soon-to-return Texas bluebonnets that will carpet the ground in blue. Spring is here, finally.
I’m blessed that we have a short and usually mild winter here in the center of the Lone Star State, only a couple of freezes and one massive ice storm to deal with so far. And though winter is my least favorite, I love living in a place where seasonal change occurs. Being able to open the windows and sleep with fresh air, no heat or AC, is among my favorite things.
Of course, summertime is the ultimate. So many summer memories occupy space in my gray matter. Each summer my grandparents would hop in their new Chevrolet (my grandfather traded his in every year) and we would make the full-day drive to Tennessee. They always packed a picnic, and we often stopped to visit other family members along the way.
Get in the Car Now!
At first, I was resistant when they would ask me along, because summer was a time to hang out with my best friends, to ride to the shopping center on our bikes, and to see what kind of trouble we could get into. But I had no choice in the matter. And once we got to Tennessee, I had some of the best summers of my life.
My second cousin Larry was a year or two older, and we got to share a bed. We would stay up late talking and telling stories. I got up with him at 5 a.m. to help him work the farm. We would feed the chickens, milk the cows, clean out chicken coops (the worst job ever), and once the chores were done, we would come in for breakfast about 7. My Aunt Ruth would make fresh cornbread, fried potatoes, and fried chicken for breakfast. Her preparation included going to the yard, grabbing a chicken, and dressing it, which is a polite way of saying she cut its head off and plucked its feathers. We didn’t get to eat like that at home.
Larry knew all the great spots, and we would hike to a giant waterfall and skinny dip in the cold rushing water, standing up with the water gushing over our heads. We would walk to neighboring farms, visit friends, make forts in the woods, and whittle. The big competition every night was to grab an apple from the tree, pull out our pocket knives, and see who could peel an apple with one continuous peel. The men would sit around on the porch telling stories while the women were making a dinner of more fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and fresh green beans and tomatoes.
Glowing with Joy
I could not be happier. I was with my cousins, my grandparents, and my great-grandparents. Grandpa Garrett was a preacher who founded several churches, and he raised songbirds on the side to make a little extra money. My Great-Grandma was about the sweetest person I ever knew, and she was truly interested in me.
A Litter of Puppies
One summer I had the added bonus of a litter of little black puppies. I’d lay on the grass and all nine of them would lick my face. I couldn’t stop laughing. But the hardest part about going home was leaving those puppies behind. On the day we were leaving, I begged my grandparents to let me take my favorite one back with us, and somehow they must have secured permission from my parents. The dog was probably not properly weaned, and he whined and was sick most of the way home. I named him Whiny, but later we renamed him Pepper.
Boy’s Best Friend
All young kids should have a childhood companion like Pepper. He was at my side constantly except for school. He was an outside dog because my dad didn’t want a dog in the house. Yet Dad was the one to let him in on his first cold night. Pepper lived in the house from that point forward.
One day my brothers and I were out playing basketball in the driveway (required lifestyle in Indiana) when Pepper took off chasing a loud car. He had a bad habit of chasing cars that we were not able to break him of. As this car raced down the road, Pepper was on its tail and barking. Suddenly the brake lights went on, the driver swerved over, and he intentionally ran over our dog. Pepper hobbled back to the driveway and died in front of our eyes. I cried for weeks. I can remember being in 7th grade, holding back the tears. I had lost my best friend.
My oldest brother knew the driver, who was a bit of a “hood” (the negative term we used at that time), and he went to his house and confronted him. He just laughed and said it was time to teach that dog a lesson for chasing cars.
This may have been my first real dose of reality, a moment when I realized that not everybody was loving and friendly. It’s the first time I can remember being disappointed in humanity.
Time for Revenge
I had never been so angry. I just wanted to get revenge. But my grandmother sat me down and said, “You need to forgive that boy.” She said, “We don’t know why he is the way he is. We don’t know why he has so much darkness in his soul. Instead of getting revenge, you need to pray for him.” I refused. I did not want to. And I stayed angry for a long time.
But once I did forgive him, something changed inside of me. It was when I first realized that forgiveness is for our own good. And it made me want to reach out and help him.
Like you, I could fill up pages where people disappointed me, hurt me, hurt my family, and made me angry. But no matter how hard it is, I forgive them. Then I try to understand what they might be going through. What made them do what they did.
What about you? Did someone hurt you badly?
Have you forgiven them?
Anger eats away at us. I have friends who have carried grudges and anger for decades. I know families who don’t speak to one another because someone hurt someone’s feelings. Yet why would we distance ourselves from those we love most just because they said something wrong? We all have bad days. We all have a slip of the tongue.
For decades I hated this one kid who used to bully and beat up on me in school. He was flat-out mean, and he ended up in jail. When I first heard that, I celebrated. Yet years later, I was at an all-male event called Promise Keepers, and they asked us to think about people we held anger toward. I realized I was holding anger toward this kid for probably 30 years. I did not even realize it, but he was the first person to come to mind when they asked who we thought of.
I forgave him that day, and all that internal anger was erased. Who knows what the negative impact was on my own state of mind and health because I was holding anger?
If there was someone who wronged you, who would it be?
Make a list.
It’s one thing to just tell yourself you’ve forgiven them, it’s another thing to bow before God and ask Him to help you forgive that person. It’s so powerful, it’s life-changing.
Now, reverse it.
Ask yourself, “If there was someone I may have hurt, who would it be?” It’s even more powerful to realize you’ve wronged someone and need to ask for forgiveness. If you can ask them, write them, tell them, it’s healing. If you can’t, at least deal with it within yourself.
Life is a grand experiment. Maturity comes from a series of stupid mistakes that don’t get repeated.
I made some horrible and selfish decisions when I was young, when I was a young business owner who was a little too impressed with himself, and I still on occasion say or do things I regret. We have all done it. Move on. Forgive yourself. Forgive others. And ask for forgiveness.
Holding a grudge is like being chained to a prison wall. Forgiveness breaks the chain.
Now, get on with it. You may have some work to do.
PS: It completely blows me away knowing that someone who is broken, flawed, and who has hurt others and done bad things can be completely forgiven, and once forgiven, it’s gone forever and never brought up again. This is what faith in Christ has done for me. Whenever I say something about that, people complain, some will cut me out of their lives, others will unsubscribe or unfriend me. Yet if I offered a cure for a horrible disease, people would welcome it, not reject it. The cure is in a simple prayer, which I’m happy to share privately when you reach out.
When I was a kid, I’d stay at my grandparents’ house, in the front bedroom with the fan in the window. Between the windows hung a painting that my grandmother’s sister had painted. When I learned that Aunt Ruth was an artist, it made me want to be one too. Decades later, that painting became mine. I drove to Tennessee one last time, taking my mom for a visit to see her aunt and uncle. I took that painting with me to show Aunt Ruth and to tell her how much I loved it, and I got my picture taken with her holding it. That painting is one of the most cherished paintings in my collection. I only wish I knew where all her other paintings ended up.
Whether they knew it or not, the influence of my artist aunt, and my artist mother, opened a door for me that has made me the most grateful I’ve been in my life. No one knew all the art things God would place in my lap because of the small seeds planted at a young age.
In just two weeks I’ll be hosting our fourth PleinAir Live conference online for anyone wanting to learn or get better at painting. Today, I want to dedicate it to Aunt Ruth. I think if she knew what happened as a result of that one painting hanging in the front room, and all the lives that have been touched and people taught to paint, I think she would be a little embarrassed, but pleased. Who knows, maybe this is the seed you need to explore what you can become.
I look forward to your Sunday Morning Coffee. It did not come in my inbox this week. I hope you are ok!
Hello, Eric….I want to commend you for taking such a bold and unswerving stand for what Jesus Christ can and will do in a person’s live. Also, your previous blog about the help of the Bible in your daily walk with Him is refreshing. It was also a great encouragement for me as well when, in one of his workshops, I learned Frank Webb was a Christian. It is too bad that many of us who are believers in Christ take the easy route of silence about our relationship with Him when we have the opportunity to speak up. I am 84 years old and have been a follower of Jesus Christ since 1949. I join Webb in his final words in the epilogue of his book, WEBB ON WATERCOLOR…..”Soli Deo Gloria!”
Love to Aunt Ruth!
Eric, thank you for reminding us of WHOSE we are, not just WHO we are, and how to understand our Lord’s Prayer very critical phrase ” forgive us our trespasses AS WE forgive others”.
AS WE were forgiven who have accepted our Lord and Savior’s sacrificice FOR US, imperfect humanity. Always humbling and honest!
Powerful witness this morning — BLESS YOU (and your family)
Hi Eric, I am a Christian artist up here in Grants Pass Oregon. Thank you for your beautiful testimony regarding forgiveness. That is the heart of the Gospel. I met Frances Pampeyan at Grace Community Church and she spoke of you and how generous you were (she is a wonderful artist.) You gave her several DVDs to watch while she was in the hospital. I’ve listened to you ever since. What a blessing to know we will enjoy heaven together, too.
You are so right about forgiveness. I harbored anger at my brother-in-law for how his behavior had negatively affected both my husband and me for many years, to the point of losing many, many hours of sleep tossing and turning, worrying about this issue. One day, due to my good fortune in coming across many wonderful online sources of guidance towards a more loving life, I just said to myself I’m done with that anger. It isn’t serving me. In fact, it’s destroying my happiness (and my sleep!). From that day on I have tried, struggling some times, to forgive my brother-in-law for his behavior. There is so much abundance in my own life and not much happiness in his. Now I try to open my heart and send love his way whenever I can, instead of sending him anger. This has not changed “the situation” but it has made a huge difference in my personal happiness. Life is a process and a journey. Best to enjoy it as much as we can, rather than spend it harboring anger and ill feelings. Thanks for all your Sunday musings. I enjoy them.
Thank you for these beautiful truths that truly do change lives for good, including mine and my family.
Love this sorry, Eric!
Indeed anger is a jail that keeps us in our miserable state. Thank you for sharing your story and testimony. Glad to know that there are successful business man who is a Christ follower.
How refreshing and encouraging it is to see you and other christian artist shining your light, encouraging artists, offering training and sharing other artist’s attempts. I wish that I could take more classes but I have to watch my pennies. These days I’m on a kick enjoying botanicals in watercolor. God bless you, Beverly
Awesome! thanks for sharing about forgiveness and your relationship with the Lord.
I always enjoy receiving your Sunday Coffee emails. All are meaningful, some particularly so. This is one of them. Thankyou for sharing so much of yourself with us. Faith in Christ and the power of prayer can truly make miracles. Sometimes we need to be reminded.
I enjoyed your message and also believe the truth of forgiveness. As you say we all have a ways to go and it’s a very good reminder. My step daughter just shared with me how my teaching her a number of artistic skills impacted her life in her sports involved family she was the only artistic one. (I worked with the same organization as her dad and mom and after her mom passed the kids voted me in:)
I attended the Sante Fe Plein Air last year and was able to make some important decisions regarding my art so it was helpful though it was not what I was expecting. Loved the time though I have given up my long time goal of building a business after I retired. I’m now 70 and still working with Native communities in ministry. I enjoyed visiting with the Native guy you painted in Sante Fe. Much of my work included art (I lived in Vancouver BC) with the Native community and I miss the community involvement with art. Thanks for all you do. Keep on keeping on! Bless you brother
Thank you, Eric!! This is such a beautiful, perfect, healing and uplifting story and wisdom you shared!! It’s the truth!!
It is amazing the different people the God puts infrount of us and how we can change there lives or they can change ours. It is so strange the curcomstances we go through to be in the place that God wants us to be at. There was a time in my life when my wife and I where going to the Chinese Church. I would go with her to the Chinese service then she would go with me to the English service. Not knowing a word of Chinese I would read the scriptures the Pastor was speeking about, this went on for about 4 years. Then one day this Chinese friend of my wife came up to us and told her it was because of me that her Husband is now Saved. Because I was willing to be used by God that moment in time without me even knowing what was going on around me. She had been praying for years to God, and God used me to answer her prayer. God knows our heart, be faithful and God will use you. “One Day In My Life”
Eric, thank you so much for speaking the truth in love. You are one amazing guy and I love how you share your faith. Well done, my friend, well done. I hope to meet you someday.
Thank you for another terrific reflection. Also, thank you for sharing your faith. Peace and God bless 🙏
What a good story , we’ll all of it but especially the one about dedicating the plein conference to your Aunty , it is unbeknownst to us that life is like throwing the stone in the lake and watching the ripple , the ripple she started , that your making, and I’m sure your children will carry on long after you are gone on this earth , well said and a good read .
….also love to hear of your happy childhood memories. Can almost smell that fried chicken, feel the family togetherness, andimagine your Aunt Ruth’s painting….
Thank you for sharing your hurts and pains that have led to this wisdom, Eric! Your message today is such an important one! And if someone is hurting you, in an ongoing situation…… there is one thing that Christ said while on the Cross that sticks with me – “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” What an incredible thing He did and what an incredible gift He left with us for handling the most hurtful things in life. If we can just try to be like Him…….
Eric, I started reading your Sunday Coffee column two months ago and look forward to it every week! I should already have thanked you for taking the time to author such a lovely, quiet, warm little space for your readers to step into each week. I’m taking the time today because I want to encourage you with thanks for sharing the Reason for your hope! Faith in Christ is a beautiful, undeserved, totally amazing gift and I appreciate your honesty and giving credit where credit is due!
Looking forward to your next Sunday Coffee!
Oh my goodness, Eric! How can I not comment?! I rise up and call you “blessed among men” for so tenderly yet clearly sharing your faith right here in your news letter. From my first encounter with you at the PleinAirLive 2, just when your father was ill and soon to pass, I suspected you were a Christ follower… I remember one of your Sunday Coffee’s where you shared how your father would pray at mealtimes. But today, this particular one has moved me to tears as you remind even me, also a Christ follower, to remember to forgive especially knowing how much Christ has forgiven me. Thank you for your honesty with your faith, that you’re “not ashamed or afraid” of explaining the Gospel even if people DO “unfriend” you or chastise you for “proselytizing”. I have never sensed that you have ever “abused” your platform as an artist or publisher to push Jesus on anyone – rather you are another person, like any other person, who simply shares what has been meaningful to you in hopes that others might find what you have found: in this case it is Christ. I was in an evangelistic band with Cru for 11 years before going to Spain with my husband and 3 girls as missionaries for 20 years, so ministering to people and helping them understand the God’s love and forgiveness is very dear to my heart. Now that I have been back in the USA for 13 years doing Medical Interpreting and continuing with painting that I started doing in Spain, my prayer is that this “new” way of expressing the talents God has given me will not only glorify God, but that somehow it will serve as a testimony to help draw people to Christ. Thank you for your wonderful example right here of how that can be done! May your tribe increase! Twinky Satterthwaite
I am one of your students from the Schoodic Peninsula trip last fall. My husband and I had a wonderful time. I’m writing to say how much i enjoyed this Morning Coffee email! You see, I haven’t been on my computer for the last 4 weeks! 4 weeks ago today, i had a stroke that has put on hold writing/painting with my right hand. I’m going to try here in a minute to begin rehab on a part of my life that has brought so much joy. I will continue to view your offerings with the intention of getting that back. Thank you for being part of my rehab!
This is a GREAT testimony Eric. It’s always nice to hear. Thanks for
sharing. Forgiveness is powerful’
That was beautiful. Thank you for sharing your faith and reminding me to forgive and to ask for forgiveness. It is so rare it seems, these days, that people are willing to share their faith. It can truly change a life. Hold on to your wonderful childhood memories.
Whew, lump in my throat today. Great lesson .
Good coffee today Eric! (Burkey)
Kinda reminds me of the “Grapes of Wrath”
Will you ever show us Aunt Ruth’s painting?
I too have found forgiveness, transformation and joy in Jesus Christ! I am so thankful for my gift in art as well!
Dear Eric. I receive your Sunday chats but don’t always take the time to read them. This forgiveness hits me.
I was not aware you were born again as I am. Thank you for sharing. I’m from a Baptist farm family of 12. I’m number 7. Our family is very dysfunctional, judgmental and unsafe. Two of us have done recovery work. You have given me something to think hard on and pray about. Not that I haven’t heard the “solution “ before. It is also the growing path. (Don’t mean to be personal. I was touched by what you shared.)
I attended WC Live 2023. This is the first I ever invested in myself. You actually put me on tape on beginner reruns on first day! I’m almost done with painting beginner day. I’m glad I am doing this but it is overwhelming especially when I’m not great with computers. Trying to find 3 hours and 22 minutes is hard.
Anyway, I did sign up for beginners day of plein air. I’m not ready this year and would like to cancel and receive a refund. Please direct me.
I primarily what you to know how impressed I am with you and all you do. I love that you have triplets and your vulnerability in sharing your life. Now knowing God is a huge part of your outreach I am even a bigger fan. Again, thank you for being you. God’s continued blessings to you and your family.
Never be embarrassed or ashamed to spread the Gospel. People who reject it are rejecting Jesus, not you. I commend you for standing up for your faith.
Wonderful column with a lot of wise lessons. God bless you with more success and happiness.
Thank you for sharing these personal experiences and new outlook. We all can use some reminding of our better selves.
Wow! What another great Sunday Coffee, Eric! Forgiveness surely will produce the fruit of peace – I hope e y would practice it in their lives. I love hearing about your family and young life and i am thankful for the seeds planted by them in your life as it certainly is producing some beautiful fruit!
Always Words of Wisdom. I always look forward to read your article every Sunday Eric. Forgive and forget.
I love reading your Sunday coffee posts! Thank you for sharing and I especially thank you for standing up for your belief in God! Really don’t know how people who don’t know him make it through this life with joy. You are a blessing to many, Eric, and thank you for all you do!
I so look forward to your posts Eric. They fill my heart with warmth and my mind with many things to think about and smile about. I hope you know what a blessing you are. Thank you
Thank you for this story from your heart today. It was such a perfect message, especially during this Lenten Season
what an excellent expose filled with emotions that touch us all. Thank you for sharing in such a raw and honest commitment to truth as you felt it. I have experienced most of what you spoke on…except the cousins came to our house to stay!
I enjoy reading your “Coffee with Eric” letters, and especially enjoyed this one. Thank you for sharing your faith in Jesus Christ and for opening up the conversation about salvation which gets so pushed into the background it seems these days. I pray you get responses to your invitation for that “simple prayer”.
Thank you. I needed this. I see it in other people when they need to let go of grudges. It is tougher when I need to be taking my own medicine.
Your words are salve and sunshine…warmth..sometimes with a splash of cold water to make me see things that have been dormant for so long. I look forward to reading your messages every Sunday. Thank you for sharing.
A fellow Texan
Beautiful and wise.
Amen and great Sunday Morning!!!!
Eric don’t ever stop sharing your faith with others. It can be an encouragement that you may never know about.
This past year has been an extremely difficult one. In March, our son-in-law passed away from a very long illness. In April, my very close cousin had a sudden heart attack and died. Then in September our Grandson, a mining engineer near San Antonio was killed at work. In November our 2 great Grandchildren and their mother were hit and killed by a drunk driver near Odessa.
When friends ask how I am dealing with all this tragedy, all I can say is I know they are with our Lord Jesus. I don’t know how anyone can deal with life without knowing him. I anything positive has come from this past year, it has brought our children, grandchildren & great grandchildren closer to Him.
In January, I decided to get back out with friends to paint and know how blessed I am to have my Lord, my family and my art to keep me strong. It has also been a witness to others to want to have the peace I have.
Please keep writing your encouraging articles.
I could relate to your experience visiting relatives in Texas. I was a city girl growing up in Dallas who loved visiting my mom’s family on their farm in East Texas. My experiences were so similar to yours, I could see myself eating breakfast with my cousins and passing the pan of homemade biscuits and cane syrup. You are a great storyteller, Eric. Thank you for the reminders of forgiveness. One can’t hear that message too often. I will say, it doesn’t get any easier in these trying times where our country is so divided. Thank you for promoting the artistic and spiritual sides of your followers.
Thank you so much for these encouraging blogs. Its so important to forgive others because if we don’t we are the ones that suffer for it. I always kick myself for past mistakes – it’s such a hindrance to moving forward. We need to forgive ourselves as well. You are a light in a dark world. Keep on speaking the truth.
Eric,,Forgiveness must be EARNED,,, as does TRUST,,! Would you forgive PUTIN,,,??? For what he is doing,,,???
“Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”
I so enjoy your “Coffee with Eric” blog! I will be attending Plein Air Live next week and will be attending PACE in May! I’m very excited about it all and know these opportunities are blessings! I love how you share your faith and how you encourage us all- another blessing!
I hope to have the opportunity to say hello in person as you have made a profound impression on me! Thank you for your encouragement and kindness!
Years ago I heard a quote that expresses so well the effect of holding onto anger and grudges: “Holding onto unforgiveness and resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.” I’m sorry to not remember who said it, but it ‘hits the nail on the head’ in my opinion.
I try to remember that every time the prick of resentment affects my attitude toward or treatment of someone. It does take the grace of God to consider why someone is the way they are, extend understanding and forgiveness to them, and remember that I, too, am a sinner.
Thank you for your Post and for sharing your faith. Your words are encouraging and especially appropriate during this Lenten Season.
Thanks for the Sunday reminder to forgive and love. I was a country cousin with an artist mother. I am wading into the deep water of age with the peace of forgiveness, daily joy, and eager curiosity as my daily support I will be seeing you virtually for the Plein Air training and convention! This year the timing is perfect. I recently made a huge move not only changing house but also environment (Hawaii to New Mexico). I need the boost to get out there and paint a desert! See you soon.
Eric…. What a beautiful story of forgiveness you have shared with us. Just telling that story would be cathartic for you. I would be interested to know your thoughts on repairing a 50 year old friendship that lapsed due to one person’s mistreatment of the other. Is it ok to let go/
Always look forward to your Sunday morning thoughts.
I throughly enjoy reading your Sunday Coffee essays every week. It sounds like you moved around a lot as a kid and even perhaps as an adult! I am also a firm believer in the Holy Spirit, Jesus and God and would love to know the prayer you mentioned.
I so enjoy your Sunday blogs! And, so comforted and grateful to know you are a man of God! I applaud your courage to share your Faith in Christ!
You are absolutely right about forgiving someone who has hurt you deeply. It clears the mind, and leaves you feeling “right” again!
I would love to see your Aunt Ruth’s painting, would you be will to share it?
Top of a Montana Mornin to you Eric!
Thank You for your encouraging and uplifting note regarding the gifts we receive: anger (sometimes it can be a gift, rarely, however, if used constructively, a gift), love, friendships, second cousins, wonderful grandparents, furry friends and most of all, GRACE. Well done and very uplifting. Much obliged and keep up the good work. Heb 10:24-25. Ter
PS I’m not a believer in Budda by any means, but I hear his approach might have been:”Your people skills are just fine. It’s your tolerance for idiots that needs work”. Catch up with you down the trail…..
Thank you Eric. Inspirational!
I look forward to your stories! They always brighten my morning!
Eric, would love to have a copy of your simple prayer, there’s never enough prayer. I always look forward to and enjoy your Sunday Coffee with my Sunday morning coffee!
Many thanks for this special Sunday morning coffee ☕️. Over the years of following and reading, seeing your videos,this is the most powerful. Yes forgiveness is everything in life. Would really appreciate your prayer that you talked about.
Grateful you wrote this and as the day unfolds know you have touched me in a way that made a change possible . To be able to paint again and forgive.
With gratitude and love
Excellent advice for all of us. Thank you for reminding us. I’m happy to know you experienced Promise keepers – I knew you were a Godly man by your caring for people and because you have a sensitive artistic soul! 🙂
This REALLY Touched me. I had the Same growing up Experience, as You. I understand about being hurt, hurting someone, and forgiveness. Thank You for emparting this message and shairing Your Faith in Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Savior. YOU Blessed Me, This Morning with This. Thank YOU, Thank YOU….