Leaving Fingerprints

Ce Ce Caldwell Benningfield left her fingerprints everywhere.

Ce Ce’s headscarf set her apart in more ways than one, all of them beautiful.

I met Ce Ce at a five-day residency for twelve aspiring authors, part of the Christian Writers Guild‘s year-long Craftsman course. Our instructors were Jerry B. Jenkins, DiAnn Mills, Dr. Dennis Hensley, and McNair Wilson.

What a privilege. 

What a week.

Three and one-half years later, I can recall certain sights and sounds, some from the presentations, some from the Cliff House at Pike’s Peak, and others from quaint and beautiful Manitou Springs. I remember my most important take-away as a writer, words spoken by Jerry B. Jenkins: Get the story down.

But the most vivid image isn’t of a speaker or a PowerPoint slide or a critique. It’s fingerprints left by Ce Ce, her bald head covered in a headscarf and her look-you-in-the-eye, speak-the-plain truth, never-give-up attitude. Ce Ce Benningfield’s headscarf set her apart in more ways than one, all of them beautiful. (Tweet That!) 

We were not in the same small group, so I didn’t spend as much time with Ce Ce as I would have liked. But I observed her, all the time wondering, If I were in Ce Ce’s shoes would I face cancer as bravely? (Tweet That!) Would I speak of my five children–the youngest’s adoption only recently finalized–with such strength of purpose and  fierceness, completely devoid of self-pity?

Observing her then and following and interacting with her on Facebook since brought the beauty of Ce Ce’s fingerprints into focus. In some of her Facebook posts her tell-it-like-it-is attitude has brought out my full-throated laughter–and, frankly, my awe at her boldness.

Ce Ce’s fingerprints of devotion to children–some, her former students; some, victims of abuse and neglect; and others, her own flesh and blood and heart–was beautiful to behold. 

Ce Ce’s fingerprints of fearlessness in living and speaking her rock-solid faith convicted me in more ways than one. (And reminded me of the heroine of The Calling of Ella McFarland.)

Ce Ce left beautiful fingerprints

How is it a 47-year-old young woman can leave her fingerprints on a much older woman who knew her so briefly and at such a distance? I think the answer lies in a closer examination of the fingerprints. 

Ce Ce’s fingerprints are shaped like Jesus’. 

Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!
Psalm 27:14

Obituary found at bit.ly/1sQ3gB4. 
Memorial service: 10:00 a.m. Saturday, May 28, 2016 at Tomball Bible Church, 400 N. Walnut, Tomball, TX 77375. 

In lieu of flowers, please make a monetary donation in the name of CeCe Benningfield to Hospice Brazos Valley, 302 E. Blue Bell Rd, Brenham, TX 77833 www.hospicebrazosvalley.org

4 thoughts on “Leaving Fingerprints

  1. Margie

    Beautifully said. You nailed it. She was indeed a leaver of fingerprints all over the place. An energizer bunny spreading her love for the Lord, speaking the truth always, and sending you into fits of laughter with her precious wit. Love her! Going to miss her a lot.

    1. So glad you left a comment. Isn’t it amazing how CeCe, even now, is bringing people like you and me together? We’ve never met and yet we understand one another. God bless you as you miss her and find her fingerprints everywhere. Love, Linda

  2. Letitia Mabry

    I was fortunate enough to get to call CeCe my daughter-in-law. Such beautiful words written about such a beautiful soul. Thank you for your poetic words. We that were in her life were the lucky ones.

    1. Oh, Letitia, how blessed you are to have been CeCe’s mother-in-love. I’m blessed to have known her in a small way. I pray God’s sweet presence on CeCe’s family and friends as you learn to live without her, although she’ll live in your hearts and memories. And, of course, through her fingerprints. Love, Linda


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Author Chat: Peter Leavell

Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord.
Psalm 27:14

Reader and Author Friends,

Waiting is hard for everyone, isn’t it?

Psalm 27:14 is a favorite verse of authors. Mainly because we wait. A lot. It’s downright grueling as an author keeps plugging along, keeps writing, keeps creating. And keeps praying and trusting God. (Check out Peter’s words at the bottom of this interview for a peek into who he is as a writer before God.)

In the process of Googling “Peter Leavell, Author” I decided he’s someone I’d like to know personally. I sense the spirit of Jesus in Peter. I suspect there’s wisdom tucked into his stories of adventure. So I intend to read everything he’s written. You might too.

Gather ’round as we chat with award-winning author, Peter Leavell.


Leavell-PeterThank you for joining our circle today, Peter. It’s an honor to have you as a guest.

~How were you inspired to be an author—in particular, a historical novelist?

History was always the passion, but historical fiction is the game. I feel that history is made on the backs of the common people, and I love coaxing out what it was like living in the past, without all the luxuries we have today.

Peter Leavell, winner of Operation First Novel 2011

~Your debut novel, Gideon’s Call, won the 2011 Operation First Novel contest and was published in 2012. Where did the idea for the story come from? 

Sitting in my Civil War history class at Boise State, my professor mentioned in two sentences how the Union took islands off the coast of South Carolina, and 10,000 slaves were freed in a single day. The North sent missionaries down to teach the freed slaves. The rest of the class period, my mind was in another world. I almost walked out of the lecture and started working on the book!

Gideon’s Call by Peter Leavell

~What was your greatest challenge as an author while writing Gideon’s Call

I had no idea if I was a good writer. I didn’t have a critique group. Instead, I hired an editor and boy-howdy, you should have seen all the red. But with some extra work, we wrestled it into shape! I learned so much from the editor.

~In your view, what is the book’s most important take-away?

Education is vital, hard work pays off, and the color of your skin means nothing. We are all people who love and need love. (Tweet That!) 

~Tell us a bit about your writing for publication journey since 
 Gideon’s Call.

Peter Leavell’s beautiful family

Slow. I’ve two teens in the house, and a gorgeous wife, so I spend a lot of quality time with them. Winning awards makes publishers interested in you, but when your family is as awesome as mine, you want to be near them. So I write when they go to bed. I’ve a western published as well that’s won awards [West for the Black Hills], and I’m working on book two of the series, plus another two projects.

~What’s your most important take-away from this journey as an author?

I could work hard and have my picture on the cover of Newsweek. But I know that someday, I would trade it all in to spend one more day with my kids. So I’ll work my tail-end off when they leave home.

West for the Black Hills by Peter Leavell

~Describe your typical weekday.

Roll out of bed at 6:46, day job by 8:05AM. I can’t really write on the job, but I get about 5 hours reading time. Then I take my daughter to ballet until 7:00PM or 8:00PM, hang out with the kids for an hour, then write until 11:00PM! Then I reach under the nightstand and pull out whatever book I want to read, and finally drift off to sleep!

~What do week-ends involve at your house?

Ballet all day Saturday, and church on Sunday. We follow the daily routine pretty closely.

~What’s on your “drawing board” presently?

I’m working on a kid’s book with an illustrator that takes place in the 1920’s—dinosaur archeologist adventurers. And I’ve always an epic historical fiction in the works.

Sounds intriguing, Peter. Can’t wait to take a peek!

~What’s one piece of advice for aspiring authors? 

Delayed gratification. You’re not going to feel good today about your work. Or tomorrow. Or in a month. But perhaps, with enough effort, in ten years you’ll see results. Depressing? No! The writing path is a spectacular path of self discovery. But even more, if God calls you on this journey, writing will lead you closer to Him. (Tweet That!) And there the rewards are indescribable.

Contact Links:
Website: peterleavell.com
Goodreads: bit.ly/1UoBGFt

Purchase Links:
Amazon: amzn.to/1TcpJxg
Mountainview Books: bit.ly/1TCFdgZ


Lord, You are the Great Creator. You’ve set within each human heart a longing for You–for Your purpose and passion. You’ve given each of us unique gifts, fit for Your purposes.  Will You come alongside us as Your children and give us clarity of purpose? Bless us with Your passion. And keep us patient as we wait, all the while trusting You.
For Jesus’s sake …


3 thoughts on “Author Chat: Peter Leavell

  1. I met Peter (via email) when we were co-finalists in the Operation First Novel Contest that Peter won. The year later I met him in person at the ACFW Conference in Texas. The five finalists plus one editor have been friends ever since. Peter is who he says he is: a man of God first and a devoted husband and father next. He also happens to be an excellent writer. Can’t wait to read the second in his West for the Black Hills series.

    1. Thank you for your comments, Clarice. It was an honor to interview Peter Leavell.

    2. Clarice, so glad you stopped by! I remember when we first started sending emails back and forth, the six of us. So much fun. Now we have an amazing prayer group! And we’re all published! Cool to see God working.


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