Author: Ellen Benefield

Called To Fail

Becoming a missionary sounds so noble. We must be truly self-sacrificing, God-loving people in order to let go of our lives and follow God’s call. Moving to a poor colonia in Mexico was really hard. We lived on a dirt street. We had dirt everywhere. Every surface, every crack, every crevice. Dirt, dirt, and more dirt. We fought scorpions, blistering heat, and the oppressive fear brought on by the horrific drug war. Wow, we sure knew how to sacrifice for Jesus. We were called. We obeyed. I expected this to be a nice, simple formula: calling + obedience =...

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It Depends on Your Perspective

A friend recently purchased a home and enjoyed hosting a party in her new space. As she showed me around the house, I admired the details that made her dwelling unique. I felt glad that my friend settled well in a beautiful setting… until I saw the empty room. One room sat completely unoccupied of any furniture, boxes, or debris—just a room with neatly vacuumed carpet. “Oh, we’ll find something to put in here at some point. This might become my craft room or sewing corner,” my friend explained. An ugly feeling began to grow in the pit of...

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Beautiful Things

  Last week, the high school students I teach read two poems by Pablo Neruda. The Chilean poet won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1971. The students read “Ode to Salt” and “Ode to Olive Oil”. Neruda took two commonplace, everyday ingredients and turned them into something beautiful. The salt sings. The oil transforms from the “perfect capsule” (as an olive) into an essential part of the salad dressing. One of my students, before reading the poem commented, “Why would anyone write a poem about salt? We throw that on the road and drive over it.” This student...

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No Longer A Slave To Fear

  In the days since the election, one profound, debilitating emotion colors the reactions of the people I care about: fear. The origin of that fear is as diverse as my friends, relatives, and students. An undocumented friend on the road to legalization pondered what her life might become if she happened to be deported and ripped away from her American family: her legal husband and her American-born children. A black friend challenged the popular sentiment: everything will be okay. “We don’t know that. What are we basing that on? God was still in control during slavery. And lynchings....

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In Awe Of Fall

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers. It would be terrible if we just skipped from September to November, wouldn’t it? Look at these maple branches. Don’t they give you a thrill—several thrills?” –Anne of Green Gables   I missed nine Octobers while living in a sweltering tropical climate. The calendar might have disagreed with me, but the temperatures in the mid-nineties that dropped to mid-eighties at night paired with relative humidity rivaling those numbers certainly didn’t feel like fall. The air fell thick, heavy, and wet on my skin. Eventually the heat relinquished...

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