IMG_3876Can an old dog learn new tricks? Absolutely.

My grandma paid for all of her grandchildren to start piano lessons. I enjoyed playing the piano, although my lack of practice left me far behind other music students my age. I quit taking lessons my sophomore year of high school.

This year, our family took a summer sabbatical in Illinois this year. Although I hadn’t played in years, we decided to buy a gently used digital piano. If nothing else, we could teach the boys.

I happened to hear a pastor play piano at a retreat. She didn’t play perfectly, but she played much better than I ever could. On a whim, I asked if she would give me lessons this summer. We spent an hour together every other week for a few months.

Now I’m back in Mazatlán with the digital piano. We wedged it between boxes in the back of our overloaded minivan. I play every day, not because I’m practicing for something, but because I love it! I can’t believe how much I learned and improved attempting piano lessons again.

How often do we assume the window of opportunity has closed? How often do we give up before we even start? I’m too old to take piano lessons. I’m too old to learn another language. I couldn’t go back to school. I don’t know the Bible well enough to lead a small group. I can’t pray for that person; look at my life!

Modern dog-training demonstrates that old dogs can in fact learn new tricks. So can people. What dream have you given up on? What have you always wanted to try? Reply in the comments, and I’ll pray for you this week.

Ellen Benefield writes about missionary life and parenting at She and her husband, Kyle, planted a church in a low-income community called Doña Chonita seven years ago. They have three children, all born in Mazatlán.

In Her Own Words: Ellen Benefield




My husband Kyle grew up planning to be a doctor. He met Jesus late in high school. Our first year in college, we went to a church planting conference. He very clearly heard the Holy Spirit tell him that he would be a church planter in Latin America. He argued for a while, and eventually gave in. In the 12 years that have followed, he hasn't looked back. When we told me his new plan, I was thrilled. I never saw myself as a doctor's wife. We got married, finished out degrees, and spent 9 months in training at our local church. In the summer of 2007, we loaded up my grandpa's pickup and moved to Mazatlan, Mexico.

Seven years later, we have three small children and a bustling church in the middle of a low-income neighborhood. We consistently meet women who think they need to be perfect before they can connect with God. Poverty puts people in difficult situations, and many have made choices they aren't proud of as a result. Our church motto is "Imperfect people full of Jesus' love." Over and over again we find ourselves explaining God's wonderful, amazing grace. My favorite part of ministry is watching people hear from the Holy Spirit.

Connect With Ellen Online:
twitter: @Ellenbenefield