Cultivating Pearls, a creative journey of transformation written by Christina DiMari. A new book release by Tyndale House Publishers!
Cultivating Pearls is a fresh innovative and interactive spiritual formation book, guiding girls on their own unique creative journey of transformation where their faith and life meet. This book walks girls through six life-changing multi-week sessions using the acronym of P.E.A.R.L.S.:
Purified in the River of the Water of Life.
Called, Loved, Accepted, Forgiven, Whole
Empowered in the Light of Christ
Evaluate, Freedom, Forgiveness, Friendships, New
Anointed with God’s Blessing
Grace. Blessing. Peace, Identity, Value
Rooted in God’s perfect Love
Truth, Nourished, Healthy, Strong, Confident
Living to reflect Gods love in your own unique way
Dream, Explore, Discover. Purpose, Create
Make it Beautiful!
You are loved. You are unique. You can make a difference!
So many of us want to find our true identity and purpose—one that brings light and hope to our lives, no matter what circumstances we face. In Cultivating Pearls you are invited to begin a personal creative journey of transformation where your faith and life meet.
Through the chapters, coloring pages, questions, and journaling prompts, Cultivating Pearls gives you fresh, innovative tools to experience freedom with God, discover your identity, pursue your dreams, and explore creative ways that will make a difference in your life, and ultimately point others to life as well.
Let God transform every area of your life as He cultivates you into the beautiful pearl you are meant to be.
FOCUS OF THIS BOOK
For female students and young adults - spiritual formation, discipleship, and mentoring.
CULTIVATING PEARLS IS PERFECT FOR
CULTIVATING PEARLS WILL HELP GIRLS & YOUNG WOMEN
“Cultivating Pearls is the most effective book I’ve read and used in my work with high school and college age girls. It is powerful blend of spiritual formation, creativity and practical life coaching. Girls are searching for connection, meaningful relationships, and to know who they are. Cultivating Pearls provides an authentic way for girls to explore and express how their life and faith meet.”
—Irene Neller, Vice President, Westmont College
“Christina DiMari’s passion to bring a life-changing message to girls is contagious. This book will help anyone who dares go on this adventurous journey of personal and spiritual growth to develop a much more meaningful life.”
—Jim Burns, president of HomeWord and author of The Purity Code and Confident Parenting
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.
A NOTE FROM CHRISTINA
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.
THE MEANING OF A PEARL
When a single grain of sand enters into the living membrane of an oyster, it causes the oyster conflict and irritation. The oyster’s reaction is to continually coat it with a substance called nacre, eventually transforming the grain of sand into a beautiful pearl. The pearl is a symbol of deep inner change that now shines with beauty outward to the world. The Latin word for pearl literally means "unique," attesting to the fact that no two pearls are identical. You and I are like that grain of sand when we come to God. He receives us as we are, then covers us with His grace and refines us by the truth of His Word. Through that process, He creates something of beauty in us that, each in our own unique and creative way, reflects who He is to the world around us.
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.
DO ON YOUR OWN OR IN A GROUP OR CLASSROOM SETTING
Cultivating Pearls is an innovative and interactive curriculum that can be taught as spiritual formation curriculum on high school and college campuses, in youth group settings and mentoring programs. It can also be done on your own for personal growth. Although this curriculum was written for high school and college age girls, all ages can engage with the journey as it meets you where you are.
IF IN A GROUP SETTING
If you are able to separate the girls, this can be used for their core Bible and Spiritual Formation class. If you are not able to separate the girls for their core Bible class, this can be offered as an elective or advisory class. This can also be used for mentoring and discipleship groups as long as they meet consistently.
CONSISTENCY IS IMPORTANT
This book is loaded with over 350 pages and each lesson builds upon each other all coming together for a beautiful completion at the end. All that to say, whatever format you choose it can work as long as you can meet consistently throughout the year. Personally, I like to do this with a group of girls for the entire school year. Meeting at the very least once a week but ideally 2-4 times per week.
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.
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.
This book is a tool for you to allow your own story and wisdom to flow and and mentor the girls in your class or group. The book creates the structure you will need so the path is clear but I encourage you to approach each lesson in prayer and implement all your creative ideas that will help the girls connect with each lesson. We are all wired differently. Have fun being yourself and encouraging the girls on this beautiful journey you are walking alongside them on.
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.
A NOTE FROM MADISON
Five years ago, when I was a junior in high school, I was taken on a journey through the lessons in Cultivating Pearls where I discovered what it meant to accept Christ’s invitation to come. To come to the River of the Water of Life that flows from the throne of God to be purified, empowered in the light of Christ, anointed by God as his daughter, rooted in his perfect love, and given life to shine for others.
Through this process I learned how to not only believe in God, but to make a personal connection with him. I discovered that God asks us to join him and he gives us a purpose to be part of his Kingdom work on earth. I ended my year-long journey by making a sacred covenant with God and dedicated my life to live within the beautiful boundaries of his Kingdom and continue to allow the truth of his Word to shape and guide my life. I dedicated my life to sharing his love with other girls so they, too, can discover how to respond to his call and come.
As I entered college, I realized so many girls were searching. They were searching for something that would fill a hole in their hearts, mend broken relationships, or bring light into something difficult they were experiencing. They were searching for meaningful friendships—who they were and who they could become. They wanted something real. Something authentic. Something lasting. Sadly, I mostly saw girls looking for what their souls longed for in places and people who left them disappointed and unfulfilled.
I knew someone who can totally and completely satisfy what their souls longed for. He did it for me. His name is Jesus. I wanted to help the girls get to know him and understand how to have a personal relationship with him.
Even though I was only a freshman in college, I asked some of the girls I met if they wanted to grow spiritually. Before I knew it, I was guiding a group of girls through the same lessons in Cultivating Pearls that had shaped my own life.
They listened to the call of Jesus inviting them to come. Each girl, with her own unique story, came each week to learn and grow. Some of the girls had never read a Bible or the teachings of Jesus, while others grew up going to church but didn’t know how to make their faith personal. It was the most rewarding experience to come alongside the girls and share these lessons and watch Jesus bring hope to their lives.
They learned how to walk with God in an intimate way. To take time to evaluate where they are, open their hearts and allow the truth of God’s words to bring light and guidance. The creative and journaling elements of the lessons create a safe way for the girls to explore and express what they are feeling in a way that brings clarity. They love how it is a journey with God, not a program. It’s not something they do and ta da they are done and know it all and have it all figured out. They are learning how to process, how to communicate, how to connect. They are learning how the Kingdom of God is not far away, but through their faith in Jesus, it is in their hearts.
As the girls came together each week, they were vulnerable with each other, sharing their stories and struggles, being real. They allowed each lesson to bring guidance into their lives, and I watched the beauty of God’s Word bring about transformation in each of the girls over the year we met together.
I am now a senior in college, and each year I have continued to lead a group of girls through the life-changing lessons in Cultivating Pearls.
I receive deep satisfaction and joy by helping the girls connect with God in a personal way, break down walls they built up, and discover truth in the midst of so many lies our society tells them. I love watching the girls experience the presence of God in the middle of chaos, discover their identity in a lost generation, and allow the love and power of Christ to transform their lives.
As I am getting ready to graduate from college I have been praying about how I can continue to be a light for more girls.
Christina reached out to me and asked if I would come alongside her as she created this newly revised version of Cultivating Pearls you now hold in your hands. She asked if I would create the illustrations for each lesson that will help you process and explore. I immediately said YES, knowing it would be an opportunity to come alongside more girls as this book finds its way into your hands.
As you begin your own creative journey of transformation, I pray that the words on each page would not only speak truth to your mind, but they would soak into your heart. I pray that the Word of God would become like precious jewels that continually show you new things about the Kingdom of God. I pray that the drawings and word pictures in this book would be seen as something beautiful and will inspire you with fresh ideas to create a beautiful reflection of what is happening in your heart. I pray that your relationship with Jesus grows deep and wide, and that you will experience his love in a radical way and desire to make him the center of your life. I pray your spirit will hear Jesus calling you to come to him, and you will respond and make your way to the River of the Water of Life where you will be Purified, Empowered, Anointed, Rooted, and filled with Life to shine for others.
You are seen. You are known. You are worth it. You are loved.
Open up your heart as you begin your own creative journey of transformation, because it is going to be a beautiful one!