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June-July 2018

My Places

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“Beans for Your Garden”

The colorful sign and catchy caption caught my eye when I walked into my afternoon coffee stop. Curious, I stepped over to read the fine print, which explained the burlap bags leaning against the
reclaimed-wood counter held used coffee grounds. Bleached out beans would make beautiful and aromatic mulch for flowerbeds and backyard gardens, the placard boasted, and would give plants a real “boost” in growth and beauty. But it was the last line that really grabbed me: “Free to our customers as long as they last.”

Free mulch that didn't smell like...well...mulch. “Sign me up,” I exclaimed.

I left the shop with three 30-pound bags. By the time I pulled into my driveway an hour later, my Camry smelled like Heaven (though I can’t prove that biblically). I spent the rest of the afternoon spreading grounds along the walkway flowerbeds. The dark beans contrasted sharply with the vivid flowers and bright green perennials. I proudly gave my wife a tour, bragging about the money I saved and stopping occasionally for a deep breath of coffee-scented breeze. Mission accomplished.

I heard the barking when I turned the corner onto our street the next afternoon. A comical sight greeted me as I approached our house. Ginger the Bassett Hound—whose idea of exercise is ambling slowly from sunny spot to food dish and back—was dashing at top speed around the perimeter of the yard. Ears flailing, tongue lolling, eyes wild, she ran around and around, as fast as her stubby, little legs would carry her, barking wildly at the top of her lungs.

"Uh-oh," I thought. "Ginger likes caffeine."

Sure enough, for the next 48 hours, without pausing to sleep (or even to eat), Ginger ran and barked, barked and ran, and barked some more, much to the chagrin of our neighbors. I spent the rest of the evening removing the coffee mulch and hauling it deep into the woods, far from Ginger's new addiction. When our crazy canine finally outran the caffeine, she crashed, sleeping for 24 hours and awaking thoroughly disoriented. But that didn’t stop her from heading straight for the flowerbeds.

As I chuckled over the incident, I couldn’t help but ponder that Ginger’s caffeine craziness paints a vivid picture of what happens when we allow busyness to overtake our lives and ministries. Too often, we get “caffeinated” by the next big thing, the latest trends and methods, or some new program guaranteed to solve everything. Before we know it, we find ourselves running at top speed, exhausted, working hard and giving it our all, but ultimately going in circles.

It’s time to break the cycle, to return to Jesus’ simple offer: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28-29).

One last note: although Ginger rebounded quickly from her experience, the squirrels in the woods behind our house acted strange for months!

About the Columnist: Eric K. Thomsen is managing editor of ONE Magazine and president of the Evangelical Press Association. Email:




©2018 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists