The Way My Shy Girl Became a Leader

Yesterday, I put three-year-old Selah in a little ballet class where they pretended to jump on lily pads and swim through the water (or something like that 😂). I had no idea what Clement Arts was, just that they promised to keep performance costs to a minimum, and my friend Holly told me to sign her up.

She was so tiny, so adorable. The night of her first recital, I snapped this picture as she stood in the wings of that vast stage and then watched enraptured as my shy little girl in bunny ears walked out and danced every single move. After, she couldn’t handle one more thing—she didn’t want a hug or flowers or one conversation. She left it all on the stage.


This weekend, I watched that same dancer lead a new batch of tiny three-year-old dancers. For months, she has helped their teachers show them the magic of twinkling like stars, swaying like swans, and twirling like flowers. I watched those overwhelmed babies look at my graceful, confident dancer as they mimicked her moves, half a beat behind-eyes on their safe space.

That night, it was crystal clear…Clement is so much more than dancing. It’s discipleship. Women worth admiring have encouraged and pushed her and consistently poured into her identity: she is valuable and beautiful. She is made in God’s image. It’s the teachers who saw her passion and invited her to help. It’s skills and discipline. It’s a dream that was so ridiculous only God could plant it and make it bear fruit. It’s dancing and art; it’s foster care in the weeds and adoption in the complicated redemption process.


It’s so easy to see glimpses of beauty: a perfect performance, a smiling family, blended paint, blended faces, and never understand how long and hard the process was that led to that seamless moment. Clement is in the trenches of it all: equipping, encouraging, and empowering. Few things are as sacred as walking with scared, tender hearts as they realize they can do the impossible and then giving them the space to twirl and leap, raise and readjust, remain steadfast, and then collapse victorious. In our Clement Arts culture, it’s okay to be authentic: beautifully capable of more than big hearts and nervous yeses even knew to dream.


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  • Pam Cowart on

    A tear. Chills. Trickling tears. What a great place to grow and serve!

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