A weekend of self-reflection, support and surrender ended with a stunning sunset at Huntington Beach at the closing event of the “You’re Designed to Shine” women’s conference on Saturday night.

Shining brightly into the lives of approximately 70 women from Biola and the surrounding community, author Christina DiMari led the two-day conference, encouraging and inspiring participants to cling to God and surrender all to Him — valuable lessons she said she learned through her own life experiences.

“‘Designed to Shine’ is a program to encourage girls to become the shining stars that God designed them to be in a unique way,” said DiMari. “Each one of the girls takes a look at their lives to see how God created them. They take what they have learned on their spiritual journey and turn around and be a light for others in a creative and unique way in their own communities.”

Weekend event draws girls from the community to Biola campus

The Biola-sponsored event consisted of a kick-off session on Friday night at Fluor Fountain, the “You’re Designed to Shine” workshop on Saturday morning and the closing event at the beach. Through these sessions, DiMari shared her experiences and urged girls to reflect and surrender their hearts and allow God to heal.

The vision of the “You’re Designed to Shine” program is to establish small groups, referred to as pods, at Biola and within the community and hopefully expand to other universities in the future. This event attracted attendees from the La Mirada community and local high schools. The program itself has already spread to other states and even the island of Barbados.

"Designed to Shine" event a first at college level

The “You’re Designed to Shine” event at Biola was the first of its kind at a college campus. DiMari, along with co-leaders recording artist Jessica McLean and pro-surfer and artist Shannon McIntyre, said they hope to continue putting on similar events in the future.

“It was great to come to Biola University and be able to do this ‘Designed to Shine’ workshop weekend,” said McLean. “I was honored as the musician to come and just be a part of it and share my heart. I truly believe in what God can do when people open up their hearts to him. This event was awesome and I’d like to thank Biola for being so supportive to do something like this. I really think it made an impact.”

DiMari gave attendees a copy of her memoir, “Ocean Star,” and prayed with each attendee individually. She gave the women instructions to read the book and pass on what they have learned, shining as a pearl into the lives of other women.

In addition to “Ocean Star,” participants also received a free copy of the accompanying workbook, “You’re Designed to Shine.” In all three portions of the event, girls were divided into small groups to begin working through the workbook, discuss questions about personal dreams and reflect on what kind of person they wish to be.

Ocean and pearls fitting metaphors for sessions

The “You’re Designed to Shine” program is focused on the theme of water and the ocean being the source of life. In “Ocean Star,” DiMari illustrates her six lessons through objects and animals of the ocean, drawing analogies and parallels to life in a relationship with God.

DiMari used the phenomenon of the formation of a pearl to show that sometimes forming something beautiful requires a lengthy and, at times, painful struggle. She then reminded everyone that, “when God knows you’re ready, he’ll call out that pearl in you and you’ll go out and share how he shaped you and worked in your life, how he transformed you.”

“There are so many people out there waiting for what you have to share,” DiMari said. The pearl served as a symbol of God’s refinement and transforming work, and each participating woman received one to remember that they are truly beautiful and unique pearls of God.

Attendees learn from Fluor Founatain and beach settings

“I learned that we are all important in God’s eyes and individually, we shine,” said Jasmin Guzman, an attendee from Ontario High School. “We are those pearls that he has made us. It is a process but we will get to that state.”

DiMari also shared the example of an ocean star, or a starfish to illustrate the healing and restoration offered in a connection with God. When a starfish is bruised, broken or has missing pieces, it can be healed and completely restored once it is put into the ocean, its source of life. God is that life source, and DiMari encouraged the young women to connect with God, surrender all brokenness and allow him to begin the restoration process. To symbolize this dependence on Him as a life source, DiMari gave each young woman a starfish.

On the Biola campus, the Fluor Fountain served as a symbol of those healing waters. Attendees formed a large circle around the fountain and sang worship to God, opening up hearts and offering dreams. At the beach, everyone wrote their dreams in the sand and symbolically wrote the inhibitions keeping them from achieving those dreams close to the water, allowing the waves to come up and wash them away.

“The most inspirational part about the conference was just allowing God to transform me, heal me, restore me and just show me I have purpose,” freshman Faith Siler said. “This conference has helped me to acknowledge that God has a plan for me beyond my imagination and in his timing he’ll do it.”

Senior Jillian Metz, one of the coordinators of the Biola event, invited anyone who is interested to get involved with “You’re Designed to Shine.”

To either lead or join a pod, contact IMC at 562-906-4520.  The fountain painting was gifted to Biola by DiMari and McIntyre and is now on display in the President’s Office.