The other day, my eldest daughter asked if I could print off a picture of Malala Youzafzai for her to take to school. She wanted to do her grade two class presentation about the sixteen-year-old Pakistani educational activist who was shot by the Taliban. We had had a few conversations about Malala last week. I was watching an interview online and she kept asking me questions so finally I pulled up a chair, started the video over again and said, “see for yourself.”

I had no idea she was paying much attention: sometimes, you just talk, you know? We did spelling homework, she rolled her eyes when I told her to clean up her room before bed, same old night. But she was listening and a few days later, she marched into her little classroom and told them all about Malala for her presentation, instead of Justin Bieber, and my heart nearly burst with pride. She got it.

Last night after supper, I was madly running out the door to go to Sweating for Sisterhood when I made the spur of the moment decision to invite her along. It was a school night, she’d have to stay up an hour later than usual, but what the hell? Get your runners, kid, we’re going out.

My friends, Megan and Chervelle, planned the fundraiser circuit workout at a local church, complete with prizes to benefit the amazing program Keep a Girl in School in Gulu, Uganda. Basically, girls in Gulu drop out of school because they don’t have sanitary napkins (seriously. Pads. They need pads to stay in school. Unreal. It kind of makes me angry). So then they fall prey to teenage pregnancy, early marriage, poverty, and worse. Megan and Chervelle joined up with the women in our community to support one school of girls in Uganda.

On our way there, my daughter and I began to talk about the night ahead.

That was the moment when I realised I should have thought this through a bit better: we had to discuss what having your period actually means before I could explain why Keep a Girl in School matters.

So THAT was fun. And not at all awkward or unplanned. (We both survived.)

sweatingforsisterhoodPost work-out. Clearly.


We had so much fun. She’s just the best little kid. A lot of the SheLoves and Mercy Canada community showed up so it was nice to see everyone and catch up for a moment. My sweet girl completely dominated the circuits: she lunged, she squatted, she punched the air, skipped, did push-ups, with tremendous enthusiasm (while I heaved and sweated my way through all of it.) ย She’s an athlete, man. She ate a cake pop while she was doing her stretches, bites between reps.

Anne loved being with “The Ladies” at church and earnestly paid attention to the info video.ย She proclaimed herself one of the SheLovelies.ย She came home with a little key necklace and proudly informed her father that it meant she was “the key to someone’s freedom.” Well, then.

Annie is at that age when she simply longs to be with us: it doesn’t matter what we’re doing, as long as we’re together. Like most kids, her little love language is absolutely “quality time” and she doesn’t care if that means talking about menstruation and social justice with her mum while driving on the Fraser Highway to a little workout night at a Pentecostal church for a schoolroom of African girls that she likely won’t ever meet in her lifetime.

I want to raise tinies who rest in their God-breathed worth, who walk in the fullness and wholeness that comes from living loved. I don’t care much about the Romans Road or star charts or behaviour modification techniques. I want to raise tinies who walk humbly and do justly. I want to raise them to know and understand the importance of family and community. I want them to see, know, and honour the men and women who have walked ahead of us on The Way.

And so that translates into a lot of “come along and see for yourself.”

Come along, sweetheart, come along and see for yourself.

Come along while I pray, while I write, while I read, while I visit friends, while I minister, while I cook, while I do laundry, while I learn, while I worship, while I go to church, while I preach, while I advocate, while I clean this house, while I rest, even while I do an undignified circuit work out in the multi-purpose room at Church for girls in Uganda.

Come along and see for yourself what I think it looks like to be a disciple of our Jesus. I’m figuring it out as I go along, come figure it out with me. It will look different for you, of course, but a little child shall lead them.

I believe that the Gospel is usually caught, not just taught. For every earnest conversation, there are a hundred more unscripted moments: the rides in the van, the talks at the supper table, the nights at church, the invitation to come along and see for yourself. Maybe this isn’t the most important moment but all those small moments have a habit of adding up and creating a small outpost for the kingdom of God.

However imperfect, however incomplete, come along, dear one, and see for yourself.

P.S. You can still donate to the Keep a Girl in School project right here….

photos courtesy of SheLoves.

In which I explain why I like going to church
In which I talk a bit about writing
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  • So I’m crying. Thank you.

  • Oh I love this, just love.

  • Tara_pohlkottepress

    so so beautiful. and necessary. oh, sarah. yes.

  • Mark

    This reminds me of the disciples’ call in the last half of John 1. “Come and see.”

  • you are a good mama, sarah bessey. thanks for this.

  • Angie Burke

    Yes! Just. yes.

  • I’m with Preston. Also crying. What a beautiful picture of real, honest motherhood and discipleship.

  • Perfectly written. “Come along and see for yourself.” What better way to teach our tinies? All the instruction in the world, all the beating over their heads with an AWANA book, all the rules and standards…nothing tops letting them see with their own little eyes and hearts. Inspiring!

  • Amanda M.

    Yes. All of this. Some of my best moments are my car rides with my four year old – his impromptu singing and prayers – his questions about “how big is God? What is a soul?” The way he pray at night “Help it to be my birthday. And help us to know You in our hearts.” in one breath.

  • Oh yes. This is the way to do it, isn’t it? Talking too much, letting them experience the horrible wonderful beautiful ugly of LIFE. Walking alongside our small ones, being real, treating them as the people they are, telling them of Jesus as we go, this is the way to parent. Love you. So glad we’re walking these stages at the same time.

  • Jen P

    Thanks for this, Sarah. Thank you. My little is 5 and has a heart for people that makes me inspired. She’s gotten to come along with me to a thing or two and I am thankful for the reminder to keep taking her.

  • Love it. Parenting is all about those “see for yourself” moments, and it’s really the best way for kids to sink in to what might otherwise just skim the surface. Words are nice, but I feel like most little kids just crave being able to see, smell, hear, touch something to really understand it.
    I love her being the key to someone’s freedom. Kids pick up the neatest things to say, don’t they?

  • I love you. And Anne. And getting undignified in a Church, sweating for girls in Uganda. Bring it on.

  • Terri Trewin

    Thanks for making me cry. Again. x

  • JE

    “Come along while I pray, while I write, while I read, while I visit friends, while I minister, while I cook, while I do laundry, while I learn, while I worship, while I go to church, while I preach, while I advocate, while I clean this house, while I rest, even while I do an undignified circuit work out in the multi-purpose room at Church for girls in Uganda.”

    Oh… So THAT’s what parenting looks like! Interesting…

    I don’t have children or know if I want to have them, but that version of parenting is a relief compared to what I had been thinking. It’s living well in front of your children, allowing them to grow and change and explore. Oh… Interesting!

  • Beth Anne

    This might be the greatest thing ever written on parenting.

  • Megan Gahan

    Ok, well Anne was like my favorite thing in the world last night. And I didn’t even think about you having to talk pads on the way to the church . . .but that makes sense! Thank you so much for coming . . . for making the effort, for standing with us, for writing about it. Love you to the moon and back my friend.

  • Sarah Silvester

    I adore it when you write about your daughter. There’s just something that catches my heart and I feel so blessed to read your beautiful words. Thank you xo

  • KimberlyCoyle

    You’re one courageous mama. Periods and workouts and Africa all in one night?! My not-so-tinies are learning this same lesson through serving at church. My eight year old worked in the toddler room last Sunday and I saw Jesus in her hands, feet, and sweet baby voice that morning.

  • Jada

    ๐Ÿ™‚ Yes!

  • ChervelleCamille

    I actually broke out into legit tears at this point -> ” She proclaimed herself one of the SheLovelies. She came home with a little key necklace and proudly informed her father that it meant she was โ€œthe key to someoneโ€™s freedom.โ€” Yes! This is 100% what it’s all about! Thank you ever so much for your support. And I’m so thankful that Anne came along. We are raising future leaders!

    **exit note:: still crying. It’s image is burned in my heart.

  • Kendra

    So lately I’ve been thinking in this same vein – as I watch my 2 year old learn things and impress me and those around him with how smart he is. And I’m so proud of him. But you know, it’s tugging at my heart that although he may be smart and fairly well-mannered and so many other qualities that I could beam about… that’s not enough. He makes parenting easy, but there is still so much more to it than that. Discipleship. How do I raise him to love God and people and use his gifts to serve, not to boast? A few weeks ago some friends at church helped me realize I can’t teach or pass on to him that relationship with God if I don’t have it myself. Even then it’s not guaranteed since he will always be his own person. But I love what you said about the Gospel being “caught, not taught.” I might have to steal that phrase ๐Ÿ˜‰ Thank you for your mom-spiration!

  • Lovely. Our 7-year-olds really are something else, aren’t they?

  • This is so great and an area I find challenging. It’s that wrestling with my flesh that just wants a few minutes to breathe, so bringing them along seems like such a task. But you are so right on. It’s my calling for heaven’s sake, and we won’t simply preach them into the Kingdom.

    And, really? Pads is what keeps them from school? Is that ALL? Holy cow. Let’s get them some sanitary napkins y’all.

  • Kristina Skepton

    Your line, “the gospel is usually caught, not taught,” reminds me of the AA slogan – “attraction rather than promotion.”

    Thanks for a super post with a catchy phrase that I hope really catches on, “come along and see for yourself.”

    I mean, I am all about “Guess what day it is?” ๐Ÿ˜‰ but I am not sure that catch-phrase is really changing the world – Yours can!

    God bless!

    Kristina Skepton
    Founder, SeeingGod Ministries

  • I love this, it’s a glimpse of my future with our four year old which is only starting to bloom.

  • Lizzie Goldsmith


  • Bev Murrill

    Sarah, I love this. Your beautiful girl will get it not only because you got it, but because you have the capacity to pass it on. ‘Come along and see for yourself’ is such a powerful statement of intention!

    Intentionality is one of the greatest gifts we can operate in because it’s intentionality that takes generalisations and makes them specific, and takes broad statements and defines and refines until a little girl can understand and relate with sisters she’ll never meet. My daughters/in law get this, and now I’m working on my grandbaby girls…. all of whom are getting close to grasping what you are doing right now with one late school night. You go Girl!

  • Sandy Jones Fox

    When our now 20 year old daughter was young, someone gave me the image that she was in the Springtime of her life. Spring is the time to sow seeds so that you have a harvest in fall. You sowed many beautiful seeds by taking Anne with you and the harvest of “Come and See” will be lovely.

  • jamieivey

    love … come along. great words.