This Texas ranch house is shaking with the thunder that seems almost continuous from the massive storms. Water is pouring down in buckets as I sit dry and well-protected on the long wooden porch. Finally I can take a deep breath without inhaling pollen spores, since they’ve been dampened down by the rain. My heart is filled with joy, not only because of this day, but because I try to find joy even on the most difficult days.
This morning my mind took me back to 5311 Indiana Avenue, in Fort Wayne, Indiana. A little brown house my parents bought for $50,000 (today its value is $233,000). It was a model home for a new neighborhood called Woodhurst.
We would color eggs in the little kitchen the night before with my mom and dad. My brothers and I would wake up on Easter morning and have to find our hidden Easter baskets, and then we would become energy bunnies after eating most of the chocolate in one sitting. Then I would put on my little bow tie and my red sport coat, and I’d strap on my hidden James Bond 007 gun holster under my jacket and head to church. The problem, of course, is that it’s hard when you’re young to sit still and listen any time. But after a basket of chocolate, it’s doubly hard.
After church, we would usually go to my grandparents’ little house at 317 West Wildwood, the house my mom lived in when she was in high school. (There should be a plaque, because my grandparents and my mom were saints!) At all holiday meals, there were always “orphans” invited, usually family friends who were alone, widowed, or visiting town. Raymond MacPeek was always there. He served in the Merchant Marines with my dad and was always single. And Dellia, an old lady who was our other grandma; we’d known her since we were born. She used to live across the street from my Grandmother Rhoads, but when her husband and kids were killed, she was left with nothing, so my grandparents gave her a room and supported her for the rest of her life. I wonder if I would be so generous.
I feel like I was raised well by good people. They were not wealthy, but they were rich. They had hearts of servants. Their radar was always searching for people in need, people they could help. They were not selfish people; they always seemed to put themselves last.
What does it mean to serve?
I’m trying to learn this, trying to lose my sense of self and put myself last instead of first. I want to serve my kids, I want to serve my wife, I want to serve my friends, my community, and the people who support me in so many different ways.
My recent realization is that most conflict in my life comes from my selfishness, needing to be right, making things about me or my needs. How would we change if we put others first, before ourselves?
Look for Opportunities
Someone told me something recently that I had never considered… “Be on the lookout for opportunities to give.” At first it did not resonate with me, but then they said, “When listening to others, ask yourself how you can help them. What do they need?”
Too much of my life was focused on “How can I get them to give me something?” It used to be that way for me in business … how can I get someone to buy, how can I get someone to do what I need done? But an amazing thing happens when you flip your script away from your needs and totally focus on their needs.
It does not have to be about giving money. It can be about giving time, advice, experience.
My therapist friend tells me, “The best thing for depressed people is to volunteer to help others. Suddenly they forget about their problems and come to life by serving.”
Two weeks ago, I put serving more on my radar. Every time I talk to people I am looking for clues to how I can help them. Just last week a friend told me he had a family member involved in starting a new church. I could not stop thinking about it, so I asked him to introduce me to his family member and I called, asking how I could help. It turned out she was having a specific problem that she did not know how to solve, and though I could not solve it, I knew who could, and made an introduction. I had no idea what the need would be, but I just assumed they might need something.
Try it for just one week.
Starting today, listen for where you can help. Then offer to help. Offer to serve. See what happens. I was amazed at how much joy I felt when I looked at everything with the intent of helping others.
PS: I hope you have an awesome Easter today!!
I mentioned that I had a 007 holster I would wear. When I grew up I wanted to be a spy like James Bond. I had a toy secret briefcase with spy tools, and I had toy listening devices. It all seemed very glamorous. It does not appeal to me today; I wouldn’t make a good spy because I’d blurt out everything the first time I got caught.
I can remember my first James Bond movie, but I never imagined I’d ever meet a “Bond Girl”! I just learned that Jane Seymour was one of the early Bond Girls, so I’ll meet my first Bond Girl ever when she comes to Denver to attend the Plein Air Convention & Expo next month and help us celebrate our 10th birthday. I hope to see you there to work on your painting skills and to celebrate with us.
Your words are such a blessing! What a precious heritage you have! Wishing you and your family the rich blessings of grace, peace and joy from God. Thank you Eric ❤️
“Very Interesting”. Thank you “Eric” for the info. Very much appreciated. Always looking forward to what is on your mind.
I fully understand what you share here Eric. Many years ago I was asked to do ONE national ad for a gal who wanted to start a group on Catalina Island, and asked if I would do ONE ad for her. I not only convinced Denise to set up an ad campaign, but I also prepared 22 full page ads for her group Plein Air Painters of America (PAPA). And I did 22 full page color ads for PAPA from 1988=7 thru 1996, and never charged even a penny for this. And also seldom got a “thank you”. But you know what…those were the most treasured 10 years of my entire art career! IO would trade them for nothing.
I’m so grateful for the broader access to church and art via internet that ewe are experiencing lately. And I’m especially happy I met you on YouTube as well as on my Facebook. You have been such a wonderful e-friend to me. Thank you, Eric, for your Sunday messages as well as Art School Live! I never had opportunity to attend real art lessons, so I’m in heaven watching so many wonderfully talented folks share. May the Lord continue to bless you! Thanks
A beautiful Easter sermon:
Love reading your Sunday Coffee emails…brings back memories of my Easters growing up in a small town in Canada.. thanks for sharing!!
Erick , your “coffee” is good like a Sunday sermon!! Thank you, and keep doing what you do!!
Right after my husband died a friend asked me if I could help her 1 Monday. I didn’t know what help she needed, but I said sure-I mean that’s what friends do. It turned out that she was helping feed homeless and food insecure folks. I helped that and now 4years later, I work there 8-2 every Wednesday. It’s been the most enjoyable task. The benefit; I was able to recover from my deep grief through the service of others.
Just to say, I really enjoy your little Sunday ‘memos’! Always interesting and often offer up ideas that one had not given a great deal of thought to.
Happy Easter and many thanks………
Thank you so much for these words. Really enjoyed them and helped me to understand a lot
…And may the coming 10 years bring you many blessings! For I understand the journey you are on!
Sincerely, Betty J Billups, PAPA Ad chairman 1987 ~’96
wonderful thoughts and actions by you. You have inspired me to do the same.
Have a wonderful Easter.
Happy Easter and Happy Resurrection! Look forward to having a Sunday Coffee in person someday Eric. Timely words today about serving, for all of us I’m sure. Thanks for your Sunday chat. Blessings to you and family and Streamline team.
I so look forward to these posts. Very insightful. Keep them coming!
Just a week ago I was showing you my Ukrainian Flag with Orchids !!! I donated it to Ukrainian Society of Edmonton Alberta Canada’!! They were thrilled!’ The manager said that on June 7th they have a charity run at a golf course in Sherwood Park!! Last year from all the donations that were auctioned off plus all the perogies that were made they made over $40 thousand!! We talked about ART and now I’ve decided to do 2more Orchid Paintings for their cause !! Wow I think I blew the roof off their office !!! So here I go again !! Since I haven’t worked on a steady job for over 5yrs I’ll have lots of time to do so !! 1 painting is already planned out just have to do some sketches to design it out !! When that looks right BOOM off I go !! I was also hoping that I might get a couple of commissions from all of this !! Thanks for sending me in the right direction!! AL Oleschuk // Precisionartworks @hotmail.com
Happy Easter! Having the heart of Jesus and the faith to put it into practice everyday is important and sage advice. It’s not about us and the our Savior is our Blueprint to follow. Thank you Eric for yet another wonderful Sunday Coffee😊
Happy Easter! Thanks from the Soul!
Thank you Eric for your thoughts and thoughtful words SS for consideration. You never cease to amaze me I plan to listen, as you said, and see where I can help. Thank you! I love your Sunday chat!