Cultivating Pearls was written in a way for each girl to go through on her own, at her own pace, or with a group of friends. The following pages will give you some tips and insight if you are going through the book with a group of friends, or you are leading a group of girls.
THE VISION FOR CULTIVATING PEARLS
The vision for this book started after I was invited to speak at my alma mater, Simpson University in Northern California, at a chapel service during its homecoming celebration. I spent some time with Dr. Wallmark, my theology and Bible professor. During my college years, his style of teaching had greatly impacted my life and taught me how to not only know about God, but how to walk in a personal relationship with him.
Dr. Wallmark knew I had been speaking at youth and college events for several years, and that I had written books to help girls on their journeys with God. Dr. Wallmark wanted to know how this next generation of girls were doing. I shared how in my work with high school and college-age girls I could see a desire to want to know God. To grow. To learn. To love. But I could also see a disconnection between knowing the truth of God’s Word and knowing how it flowed into all the parts of their lives. Even though many of them believed in God, he still felt very far away. I explained to my former professor that I wanted to help girls discover how to walk with God in a way that felt personal and part of their everyday lives.
Dr. Wallmark sat back in his chair and said, “I see another book coming! There is a prayer chapel down the road; it may be a good time to have a talk with God about it.”
I left our time together feeling stirred inside my spirit that something was about to happen.
I entered the prayer chapel and started reading Revelation 21 and 22, which had been part of my Bible reading that month.
I would read a few verses, and then I would stop and close my eyes, imagining what the words looked like and what it was communicating to me.
The Scripture paints a picture of this beautiful river that flows from the throne of God, and I imagined Jesus in this river calling us to come to him.
As I stayed with this picture in my mind I found myself imagining Jesus reaching for something deep down in the water. I could see golden light and beautiful blue water slightly moving as he brought his hand up to the surface.
I was curious what he was doing and found myself asking him in prayer, “Jesus, what are you doing?”
His eyes were fixed on me and his light and glory flowed all over me as his simple answer found its way deep into my spirit.
“I’m cultivating pearls,” He said, as his hand broke the surface of the water, revealing one of his treasures.
He held a solitary pearl before me and said, “This is Saylor. This is her story and how she is letting me transform her life, just like you did.” He reached for another pearl. “This is Courtney.” And another one. “This is Morgan.”
Over and over, he showed me girls from all over the world. Each one trusted Jesus with her life and placed herself in his Living Water.
It was the most beautiful scene. Jesus told me each girl’s name, her story, and what she had been through. He showed me how he was covering her with his grace and shaping her by the truth of his Word. The girls were like trees—firmly rooted and growing in faith and love. As each one flourished, I saw her leaves blowing off her tree and bringing hope and healing to others.
Then the picture in my mind shifted. It was as if I was looking at the whole world from a distance. I could see Jesus in the river calling the girls to come to him.
Some of the girls were close and they could hear his voice, and they were making their way to the river.
Other girls were farther away. It was as if they could hear this faint voice and were looking up, wondering where it came from, but they didn’t know what to do or where to go.
Other girls were so far away that as the call went out, they could barely even hear it.
Then I imagined girls who had heard the call and came to the river going back out to help the girls who didn’t know how to get there. Girls all over the world going out and taking other girls by the hand, until thousands upon thousands of girls are at the river and learning to experience God’s love and understand his purpose for their lives.
The picture in my mind shifted again and I felt like it was back to just me and Jesus. I asked him why he was showing me this beautiful picture and what he wanted me to do.
That’s when I felt him speak to my heart about writing this book, Cultivating Pearls, and guiding you on this beautiful creative journey of transformation that is filled with many lessons that have shaped my own life over the years.
I humbly knelt before the River of the Water of Life and slipped my hands into the water as a symbol of my dedication to fulfill the assignment Jesus was asking me to do.
“What is the most important thing?” I asked him.
“Make It Beautiful!” he said.
I felt as if everything I was reading in Revelation 21 and 22 was painting a picture of how beautiful the Kingdom of God is, and that Jesus wanted girls to know that although the process of transformation is not always easy, it will be the most beautiful journey they can ever embark upon.
WHY GIRLS NEED LEADERS AND MENTORS
Girls are looking for leaders and mentors to help them know how to make a personal connection with God and grow in faith and love.
BE A PEARL!
We will not hide these truths from our children; we will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the LORD, about his power and his mighty wonders. Psalm 78:4
Being a pearl is simple. It is coming alongside another girl coming up the road behind you and being a friend. In your own unique way, you will gently and beautifully reflect what God has done in your own life to offer value, hope, and life to the girls. A pearl listens, encourages, shares some of her own story, offers to be a sounding board, and celebrates the lives of the girls God has placed in her life.
Girls and women all over the world are using this book as a tool in journeying alongside other girls. As you work on some of these pages together, it creates an atmosphere of support, understanding, and a natural avenue for the girls to talk about what is going on in their lives and how God is meeting them there.
Thank you for your desire to be a Pearl and come alongside the girls in your church, campus, or community! They need you! They are looking for someone like you to shine value into their lives. I have heard it said, “If you teach a girl a rule, you help her solve a problem. If you teach a girl to walk with God and discover her identity, you help her solve the rest of her life.”
WALKING WITH GOD
Cultivating Pearls helps girls learn how to walk with God in every area of their lives. We present lessons, then ask the girls questions. We then encourage, equip, and empower the girls to go on a journey to discover their answers. The work we do goes deep into the inner workings of their lives. The girls create something meaningful to represent what they have discovered and how the lesson is meaningful to them. This becomes a constant visual reminder, guiding them on their journey of becoming the beautiful pearl God created them to be.
There is a deep rhythm to the way we teach that changes how the girls learn. Once a girl finishes her journey through Cultivating Pearls, she takes the tools she learned and applies it to the next season of her journey. One of the main things we hear from girls is how these lessons have changed their life. Not just for now, but for the rest of it. It has given them a new perspective, new tools, and the knowledge of how to apply these tools to their continued spiritual growth.
WHAT GIRLS HAVE SAID
When we asked several girls to sum up their journey through the book, Cultivating Pearls, this is what they said: Healed, Changed, Restored, New Life, Inspirational, Faith, Transformation, Forgiven, Identity, Anointed, Growth, Cultivated, Unforgettable, Love, Shine, Beautiful.
HOW TO BREAK IT UP TO TEACH
This coming fall over 5000 girls with hundreds of leaders will be leading girls through Cultivating Pearls on a high school or college campus. Some of you will be teaching this every day, 5 days a week. Some of you will be teaching 2, 3 or 4 days a week. Some will be leading girls in a discipleship or mentoring group that meets only one day a week. As you can imagine, there is no one formula for how to break this up. Here are some tips.
- Once you know how many days a week you will be meeting come up with a master plan of how many days that will be for the year. Once you have your total number of times you will be be meeting with the girls you can come up with your own unique formula from there.
- When I taught this to girls in a high school class setting I met with each group of girls three times per week. I made a map of the school calendar and figured out how many times per year each group would meet and then made a plan for how many days I could plan for going through the lessons in each session. If I ever finished a lesson but wasn't ready to start the next one I created activities to do that helped instill what we were working on.
- Master Map! Each leader will have fun making your master plan and figuring out your own unique plan as each of you will be doing it differently.
- Be Yourself! This is a tool for you to teach this material in a way that flows from you as a teacher and leader. At the same time as you will make it your own, it has the structure needed to help reach the girls right where they are.
- Have Rhythm. Once you have your master map of the year and you have fun being yourself as a leader I encourage you to find the balance of having a plan and having rhythm. Pay attention to how the girls are doing and give them enough time to go deep. If you see the girls are going through the lessons faster than you want them to I suggest slowing it down and helping them interact with each lesson more deeply. A few good questions can help them continue to explore.
CREATE A SACRED SPACE
Whether you are meeting in a classroom setting, dorm room in college, a community center, or a home, I encourage you to take time to create an environment that feels clean, peaceful, inviting, cozy, and safe. Speaking as a leader, this can be fun! I want the girls to walk in the door and feel like they were transported to a special sacred space where they can tune out the noise of their lives, spend time with God and are ready to listen, explore, and grow. Whatever I do, my goal is to make it beautiful for the girls.
ASK GUIDING QUESTIONS
I try to never tell the girls what to do. Instead, I guide them to discover what God’s Word says by asking them questions that will help them figure it out on their own. This will make it theirs and be life changing for them.
What the girls create will give you a window into their precious hearts. Pray for wisdom and insight as you gently guide them with truth and love.
The girls are on a journey and it often takes some time for them to discover how to apply the lessons to their life. Sometimes all you can do is plant a seed and water it through prayer. Sometimes you will see girls’ lives transform right before your eyes each week. Every girl comes with a different story and unique background. Love them all. Be patient with every one of them.
WHAT YOU NEED
Cultivating Pearls book, a bunch of colored pencils, and a writing pen. In addition to practical items, you will need consistency, an open heart, and desire to grow.
DO I NEED TO BE CREATIVE?
When I use the word creative I am not referring to being an artist. I use the word creative to define a unique way of processing your thoughts, ideas, and feelings through words, drawings, and color. I believe we all have a creative outlet, but how that flows out of each of us is in a very unique way. So the answer is, you already are creative. This book will inspire you to discover how.
IT ALL FLOWS TOGETHER
Every lesson is created to flow into the next, bringing the whole journey together in a beautiful way at the end. Everything you do on the way will become your own reflection of discovering how to listen and respond to the truth of God’s Word as it transforms your life.
After I share a lesson I will ask a variety of questions. This is not the kind of book where you just read something and fill in the blank. This is a book of lessons shared, questions asked, and you go on your own personal creative journey to answer them. Some of you may be more inclined to write or journal. I encourage you to also try and sketch something to get a visual to go with your words. Some of you may be more inclined to draw. I encourage you to also try and add words that describe what you are drawing.
THOUGHTS & EMOTIONS
When we write, we are primarily using our minds to express our thoughts. When we take time to consider what drawing or visual may represent what we are thinking, we tap into our hearts.
TRANSFORMATION IN MIND & HEART
When we read a verse of Scripture, it is important to understand what we are reading so it has the power to transform our minds. When we think about a verse of Scripture and try to come up with a visual way to illustrate this verse and then find ourselves in that picture, it helps the transformation flow into the depths of our hearts as well. My hope for you is that you will not only know about the Kingdom of God, but that the beauty of the Kingdom of God will become the very center of your heart and flow into all the pieces of your life.
COLORING PAGES AND EXAMPLES
You may notice two other blog posts from Madison and Morgan. Two of our interns worked very hard to help your girls by giving them starter creative pages in the book and examples of completed lessons on our Instagram page.
CONNECT YOUR GIRLS TO OUR INSTAGRAM PAGE
By the end of July, Morgan will have completed lesson examples on our new Instagram page to help guide and inspire your girls. Connect with us on Instagram at River + Pearls.
LEADERSHIP TRAINING PACKAGES
We have created this blog to give you tips as you step into your role of being a pearl for all the girls in your lives. If you would like more than what we can offer on our website and would like to purchase a leadership training package we can send you the information over email. This includes one on one phone sessions or group sessions for your team here in Colorado.
I want to thank you for your heart to come alongside the girls in your life, school and community!