My dream when I graduated from high school was to be a missionary and have six kids.  I was pretty sure that was what serious Christians did. And if you were really obedient to God’s call, you’d go to Africa.  Obviously.  Don’t be jealous but back in the day, I was what we liked to call a soul’d out Christian. I was a bonafide Jesus freak.  Despite the fact that I was a basketball player, cheerleader, volleyball player, softball player, and  straight A student, I was also president of the FCA, attender of every church camp known to man,  quoter of the Romans roads, and Bible thumper in the kindest sense of the word.  I carried my Bible to school and witnessed to people in the hallway.  I just knew I was destined for full time ministry.  Or at the very least Amway.  I upped my game by learning the smoky eye, in honor of Tammy Faye.  Because Africa needs more missionaries from the South with a tendency for big hair and heavily applied eye makeup.

Fast forward 25 years and none of those dreams came true.  I didn’t go to Africa.  I birthed a measly 4 kids (wimp) and I went to medical school instead of Bible college.  In my defense, I continued to perfect the smoky eye and am considered the resident hair and makeup artist in my circle of influence.  It’s really too sad that my talents with beauty products never reached Africa, but many a Southerner have enjoyed the fruits of my smoky eye labors. Pardon me, I digress, good people.

When I said yes to Shaun to come on this trip, that dream that I had the courage to write down in ink on the first page of my senior book all those years ago bubbled right to the surface.  To be honest, that dream has haunted me more times than I’d like to count, especially when the insecurities of quitting my job as a physician began to mount.  Okay, so let’s get this straight, my inner smarty pants would say, “So, you first dreamed of becoming a missionary and having 6 kids and you didn’t do that.  Then you spent 13 years in school to be a doctor and now you’re not doing that either.  Instead, you’ve taken to  making cornbread and apple butter, knitting dishcloths, and making your girls watch videos of  D.Ray White, clogging on a piece of plywood. It all makes perfect sense.  To no one in the history of ever.”

God silenced that voice in my head this week, and replaced it with the laughter and squeals of little girls putting on lip gloss a half a world away.

He made me a missionary and gave me two more daughters.

He redeemed the dream.  In His own good time and His own perfect way.

Today, I met Julissa for the first time.  I’ll let the photos tell the story but be forewarned:  her deliciousness may cause  fireworks to shoot out from your computer and if your computer crashes from the cuteness and volume of the photos, that’s on Keely.

Love at first sight, if ever there was such a thing.








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We were privileged to walk her home and meet her mom and siblings.

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And then all my training in beauty products made us bff’s.  She’s a pretty quick study with the lip gloss.  Maybe a little globby at first but she’s got potential, this one.


Girlfriend’s got this.


I told her to keep practicing and when I come back in a few years, we’ll start smoky eye training.  She’s on board and willing to do the work!

It was a life-giving visit, full of fun and joy and hope.


We prayed with her family before we left and her momma told me that she prayed God would bless my family, too. (Cue the waterworks.)


Then, she gave me the gift she had made for me —a hat that said “obedient” in Spanish.  Her teacher from Compassion said,

Her family thanks you for being obedient to the Lord.”

I loved my new pink hat and put in on and gave her a big smooch.  But, there was an awkward silence in my heart.

Obedience.  The word that might be best translated submission or yielding.  The thing I wish I was.  But the pink hat tells lies about me.

I have not been very obedient in my life.  The sting of it sucker punched me.  I have not surrendered.  I have not submitted or let go of my own way.  I have been stubborn and selfish and hard-hearted.

I have broken the two greatest commandments.  I have not loved the Lord with my whole heart and I certainly have not loved my neighbor as myself.

I began to grasp for ways to justify myself, for ways to make the pink hat true.

What I realized is that despite my own guilty soul, I have the fruits of obedience in my own life.  Other people’s obedience, that is.

—in the youth pastor that faithfully took me to church every Sunday when I was a kid.

—in my own mother, who worked two jobs, trying to put food on the table.

—in my pastor, who preaches the Gospel every. single. Sunday., when the Christian culture around him is busy with flashy programs and flimsy fads.

in Diana’s father, who picks through trash heaps, to piece together a living from everybody’s leftovers.

Perhaps leftover from my days tangled in legalism, I have a visceral reaction to the word obedient.  I immediately feel shame and guilt.  I know me. I know what I am.  I have done everything but yield.

It’s just like me, though, to want to write my own name on the little pink hat.  To think that I am the one the word is about. It’s the oldest sin in the book.

The truth is, He is so gracious.  He has been obedient in my place.  He submitted His will to the Father’s, even when it meant death.  He was God and free to do as He pleased, but Jesus yielded His power and freedom in love for mankind.  The pink hat describes Him, not me. I breathe relief in deep, like it’s air.

And yet, in His faithful love toward me, He has imputed His perfect obedience and righteousness on me, freely, by His death on the cross.

I am living on borrowed submission, on hand-me-down surrender. The song may be catchy, but I haven’t surrendered all.   I am just blessed enough to know the One who has.  And He clothes me in His obedience and gives me everything I need, to make me free.

The question is, what do we do in that freedom?

Since He has done everything for me, the only person left to worry about is my neighbor.

I am free to submit to my neighbor.  To ask what his needs are and if I can meet them.   We do this all day everyday, with our family and friends.

Today, I’m asking you to see the needs of little neighbors like Julissa; to release children from poverty, to give them a safe place, to give them the chance of salvation in Christ.

I’m not asking you to obey.

I’m asking you to trust in the perfect obedience of Christ, who gives his submission to you freely, in order that you might care for the least of these.

His obedience has freed you up to love and serve your neighbor.

And Compassion has made it so easy for you to do that, for less than you spend on one dinner out with your family.


I’m asking you to take a child by the hand and walk her safely Home.  When you get there, you’ll realize He was carrying you both.


Wanna change the course of someone’s life today?   Sponsor a child.  They are waiting patiently and they fully believe we’re coming for them.

(But be careful, that changed life might turn out to be your own. As it turns out, pink hats are kinda magical like that!)





Follow the other compassion bloggers here!

My friend Kelly wrote an important post about the centrality of letter writing in Compassion’s program. If you are thinking of sponsoring a child or already sponsor one, read her post and be reminded of the power of the written word.

You’ll be in tears after reading Shaun’s post about how Nicaragua was changed forever by a boy and his nanny.

The more you share these posts with your friends, the more children will be sponsored.  THANK YOU so much.  I’m already a mess just thinking about how you’ve loved on us all this week.



62 comments on “Obediente (Nicaragua, Day 4)”

  1. I love you. Just love you. The saying of a picture being worth a thousand words. These pictures are certainly THAT and MORE!! Thanks for bringing a smile to my face and my heart. . . oh, and thanks for going. . .”that changed life just might just turn out to be your own” – I get it. I totally get it. HUGS!!!

  2. I’m sitting here, too early on a Saturday morning, and crying. This post tore me up in all kinds of ways. Thank you for your compassion, for your honesty, and for allowing God to use you to stir up all kinds of junk in my own heart.

    You’re making more of a difference in this world than you’ll probably ever truly know.

  3. Fireworks did truly shoot out of my computer, friend! What a little doll is your Julissa!
    Thank you for your soul-wrenching honesty and stirring us to action. I continue to pray for all of you to finish with His strength getting you through.

  4. You truly are walking in the Lord’s footsteps. You have reached out to me in so many ways you will probably never know. As a teenager, my CCD teacher wanted to be a missionary and my dad’s cousin is a missionary. It has always been something I have held in my heart. And even more, I am a Spanish teacher in a Christian school so I speak Spanish. All of the teachers in my school sponsor a little boy named Gonzalo. Tu eres obediente mi amiga!

  5. Another beautiful, moving post……you say it all and so well……..I am so not obedient and God is good…….you have given me much to ponder on today.

  6. Oh, Edie….one of my FAVORITE Compassion posts EVAH. Which, as you know, is saying A LOT.

    Your words are beautiful, challenging, relatable and h a u n t i n g. Keely’s pictures are alive, storytellers, and yes, fireworky. Together you’ve painted a portrait of children who might live in poverty but who have hope, something even some American, privileged children don’t recognize.

    You’ve painted a portrait of so many of us who made God promises and had dreams for what our Christian lives would look like “then”…only to feel like we never “achieved” what we imagined.

    I guess that’s what happens when we grow up and God is gracious to give us wisdom and eyes to see :).

    I’m grateful you said yes to this trip and for what it’s done for you; but mostly for how you’re faithfully, amazingly telling these stories. Yours, theirs, and now ours.


  7. You break my heart with every word. You are making such a difference in so many ways to so many people … there, at home and out here where your readers live. Bless you for sharing your heart and your gift of words. They are moving mountains, one heart at a time.

  8. You have filled my heart and opened my eyes this week- I’ve been welling up through you! Thank you for serving and sharing your experience!
    I’m so glad I’ve found your blog, you’re helping me grow in so many ways!
    Safe travels!

  9. What beautiful words for my soul to read on this busy Saturday morning. My family and I leave in 3 days to move to Nicaragua to do missions work. I snuck away to my quiet bedroom to nurse the baby and stumbled across your site. Packing up our home as I juggle caring for 5 young children has not been easy in any sense. But hearing your story was a great reminder as to why we’re doing this. So thank you for sharing your heart and motivating me to keep going!

  10. My sister-in-law goes Central America twice a year with a missionary group of nurses to champion the importance of breastfeeding. Another family member goes to South American as part of a physician group to offer free medical services. My church regularly sends missionaries to all parts of the world to bring the word of Christ. All great endeavors, but there is always this nagging part of me that says, “Why send my donations out of the country? Do we not have poverty, lack of education, a need for free medical care here in the USA, our own states, our own communities? Do we not have poverty, sickness, uneducated citizens, and a lack of Christian guidance in our own country?” I don’t mean this as a criticism. I just truly wonder why we don’t spend our time, resources, and talents helping those who are truly our neighbors before traveling any further.

  11. Edie, I am so proud to call you friend. It is so wonderful to see someone who has been blessed with so many God given gifts and Talents to remain such a humble person who continues to better themselves so that they may better the world. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in trying to be what other people expect us to be we forget to try to be more like what God wants us to be, I know I am so guilty of that.I am so glad you have made this journey in body, in heart and in faith. I hope when you get home we can get together over a cup of coffee or a darling iced tea and chat. Be safe in your travels my friend.

  12. Thank you for this post. I’ve loved following you on your journey and getting a glimpse into the lives of these precious children. And these words on obedience… really got me. It is the core of what I struggle with this very day. I am encouraged now and blessed.

  13. Edie, I just love who you are so very much, You inspire my very soul. Tears have flowed more this week than in months. Tears of happiness for you and the blessed children you have shared your wonderful person with and tears of my own selfishness and hope of doing better in my life and those around me. I love you forever.

  14. Praying for you. Praying for the children. Thank you for a beautiful reminder that I am free. Free to love. Free to live because of our Perfect Savior. Thank you for sharing your heart, Edie.

  15. Your posts keep making me cry. I’m sure the pregnancy hormones don’t help, but still! Very sweet and inspiring work you’re doing Edie 🙂 Love this post and your message about obedience. Right on!

  16. What an excellent way of presenting the proper balance of law and gospel. Thank you for reminding me of my sin too and providing true gospel motivation to be free to live for Jesus knowing that he’s done it perfectly for me already. To God be the Glory!

  17. Wow. This is another incredible post! Your Julissa is so adorable!! And It’s such a great reminder that Jesus has completely covered us with His perfect obedience….good thing, right? Thanks again for your posts!!

  18. WHAT honesty and rawness! I have to agree with Robin. Maybe the most powerful “compassion blogger post” ever!

    I can’t wait to meet 2 of my “kids” next year!!!!!!

    • You are such a blessing, Karen! Thank you for the walking along side us and for your commitment and love for the least among us.
      I am humbled by you (and Robin) but so grateful to know that you are reading and praying.

  19. oh Edie…yes…
    “But the pink hat tells lies about me.

    I have not been very obedient in my life. The sting of it sucker punched me. I have not surrendered. I have not submitted or let go of my own way. I have been stubborn and selfish and hard-hearted.

    I have broken the two greatest commandments. I have not loved the Lord with my whole heart and I certainly have not loved my neighbor as myself.”

    ugh. tears….absolutely what I see about myself each day…legalism and my list-making and my need to quantify what I have done in my life rears its ugly head…

    “The truth is, He is so gracious. He has been obedient in my place. He submitted His will to the Father’s, even when it meant death. He was God and free to do as He pleased, but Jesus yielded His power and freedom in love for mankind. The pink hat describes Him, not me. I breathe relief in deep, like it’s air.

    And yet, in His faithful love toward me, He has imputed His perfect obedience and righteousness on me, freely, by His death on the cross.

    I am living on borrowed submission, on hand-me-down surrender. The song may be catchy, but I haven’t surrendered all. I am just blessed enough to know the One who has. And He clothes me in His obedience and gives me everything I need, to make me free.”

    Praise the Lord! You have put it into words PERFECTLY. More tears…

    Thinking and praying for you and your group as you continue this journey. We are praying, too, that someday, we will get to visit our children in Ecuador and Honduras. Trusting God and His timing and will.

    Thanks for reminding me the Truth of WHO has done the obeying…”And I realize the good in me is only there because of who You are…”

    • It seems like all I’ve done this trip is cry, so you’re in good company, Erin.
      Thank you from the bottom of my heart for walking this week with me, for praying and encouraging me.
      YOU are a gift and a blessing and I’m so thankful for sisters who share this hope that lies in us.

  20. Oh this so touched my heart…and I totally connect with you in more than one way: the over achiever stuff in high school, the Southern gal stuff to be exact & the desire for like ever to be a missionary. What I’ve come to realize over time is that following after Him, being His daughter in this world, and doing as you said, loving my neighbor I am fulfilling that call. 🙂

    I loved this post…and your heart…praise God for He is faithful through & through!

  21. Edie-your little Julissa is a sweetheart. She definitely has the lip gloss application down.
    There are so many things in my heart that challenge me daily. So many plans I thought of that have fallen by the wayside as i have just let life take over. I am praying for God to work in this heart of mine, and open my eyes to see His plans, not mine.
    Your posts throughout this trip have been both a blessing and tear jerkers. Praying for your safe travels.

  22. It was the picture of you walking down the dirt road or alley to her home that reached out to me. And the one with her mother in the doorway. Your post made reaching out through Compassion real to me. Beautiful.

  23. This is just beautiful, Edie.

    He made you a missionary and gave you two more daughters…

    I love that line. I always thought I would adopt a child or two and it still hasn’t happened – except it has – through Compassion. We have more than 20 adoptive kids all over the world and it’s beautiful.

  24. I know these photos don’t capture a tenth of your experience but thank you so much for sharing! I’m a weepy mess now.

    I don’t know who captured these moments for you on “film” but what treasures. Especially the lip gloss and squeals over the baby doll, her blanket, and that treasured pink ribbon.

    My mom has worked for Compassion for 17 years and retired last week. What a privilege to be at their HQ and take a tour…. though they’d do well to just run your blog posts to cast vision.

  25. So glad you are shedding light on the situation and need of these children and their families. I am anxiously awaiting my packet for 5 year old Shailey (I think is her name). Kimball is excited about it and expressed his desire to do a mission trip with me one day. This is big! I’ve always wanted to do some, but never dreamed it might be with him. 🙂 I have SO much to talk to you about and could really use your advice. Email me if you get a chance would you. Trouble here in River City. :/

    BTW, LOVE the pic of you two applying your gloss. So happy you had the opportunity to go!

    xo, Jess

  26. Great post! And it seems to me there is obedience all over your last few days. Isn’t obedience gained one step at a time? When the benefiter of your obedience thanks you for it, you don’t really get to argue with that. You just get to receive that, whether you feel like you deserve it or not. Because from Julissa’s point of view, it is unquestionable.

  27. Amazing! You are both beautiful! The first world me wants to argue that I am obedient but that is not true. However, He is good all the time even when I am not and I know the blood of Christ covers my ugly stiff-necked ways. Tears here for the way you always manage to convict and eloquently express what my heart feels!

  28. Oh my goodness! You are so right, so much cuteness in one little girl! And such a sweet time that you were able to share with her. I love how Compassion allows each one of us to ‘add’ to our family and form relationships with children that truly become part of our family. One family at a time making the difference for one child. That is how we are going to share the love of Jesus around the world.

  29. Obediente….neither am I. All kinds of wretchedness in desperate need of a Savior. I’ve been in puddles over each post but this one has seared my soul. Thank you. And for less than one night out with my family for sure. Open all of our eyes God. Praying for you sweet sister.l

  30. “And yet, in His faithful love toward me, He has imputed His perfect obedience and righteousness on me, freely, by His death on the cross.

    I am living on borrowed submission, on hand-me-down surrender. The song may be catchy, but I haven’t surrendered all. I am just blessed enough to know the One who has. And He clothes me in His obedience and gives me everything I need, to make me free.”

    I don’t think I have read any more powerful words than this in a very long time. I need to simmer in these words for a while. Thank you for writing this post.

  31. you are my very favorite blogger and i have read for a couple of years now and never commented. you offer me encouragement daily, and i love your theology, creativity, wit, way with words, and everything else about you. thank you for sharing your trip. i’ve heard of compassion for forever but never knew exactly what they did. your posts have brought me to tears every day and i’m off now to sponsor one of these precious little faces.

    • Oh, my heart is full!! Big tears of joy. THank you so much for this, Nicole. Your family is about to get one child and a whole lot of love bigger. You are a dear. The angels in heaven rejoice with us.

  32. This post touched my heart, and stirred my longing for the innocent children, not only in Nicaragua, but the world over. I so frequently fail(especially with obedience and submission, let’s just say, you stepped on my toes). And yet, my God never fails. “His grace is sufficient” is one of my favorite verses. Loved following you and your fellow bloggers on your journey. Beautiful, touching, frustrating because of so much need…. I sponsor a child in Uganda through Amazima. When I received my packet with his picture in it, I cried. So much need in our very fallen world.

  33. Thank you so much for sharing this. God has been continually bringing up missions in our families lives these past few months. I am not sure how he has planned to involve us in missions right now, but stories like yours just re-confirm the message loud and clear that he is doing a mighty work in our hearts about missionary work. I am so blessed to have stumbled across this on a friends facebook page. Your message about obedience… well.. lets just say it struck a cord. God laid for my life a vision many years ago and I am not walking in that vision right now. I think it is time to borrow His submission. Thamk you again for your hearts writing. Love in Christ, Alicia

  34. I signed up on Compassion’s website after reading your testimony that reached me on a personal level. God made it loud and clear exactly who I was to sponsor. Thank you, Edie for being a mentor in Christ!
    (FYI, I was disappointed when the ebook gift wasn’t compatible with my safari browser and the system booted me off. As a regular reader, I had read the hospitality series last year. Am I missing out on anything new?)

  35. Edie, one just never knows what a day holds, funny how that works, huh? I woke up this morning, preparing to go to church there was this thing in the back of my mind, or should I say these people. I could see their faces, I could hear their songs of praise and I could see them dancing. You see I returned from Africa less than a month ago and it was the people I met while there that I woke up thinking about. I was blessed to go there for my first ever mission trip. It was life changing!
    I pulled up some pics and videos I had taken of them to remember, to hear and to ask for blessings on them for this day. I went on to church, came home and started working on my latest project which is redoing my bedroom. I wrote to you awhile ago about the death of my husband, it has just been a year now. My husband was always my best encourager, he believed in me like no one ever has, brought tears to his eyes when he saw me at my best. I look around at our room and some changes had to be made, it’s a place I spend alot of my time now, but it’s different and I needed it to feel different, to feel full of life, to be my happy place. As I’ve made these changes it’s been difficult to say the least, each change has removed him more and more but I’m finding encouraging and powerful ways to keep him here. All that being said, I was stumped on how I wanted my bed to look so I began to look thru some of my fav blogs, something I don’t do much anymore. I came to yours and there I see your story of your dream and your trip to Nicaragua. Before you know it I’m sitting here reading post after post over the last few months. I come to this one and read what you say about surrender and my eyes begin to sting. You may imagine that I am struggling with God right now. I know in my heart he is walking this every step of the way with me, but sometimes I’m angry, and yet there’s always this whisper… surrender, surrender. I’m afraid what that means, what does that look like, and then I read your words and I know, I have the best example in Christ, just love! Thank you Edie!

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