The Formation of Pearls

Pearls are formed when a foreign particle enters an oyster.  To protect itself from irritation the oyster secretes nacre—the same substance that strengthens the inside of the shell, known as mother of pearl.  Nacre contains calcium carbonate, a nutrient taken from the food the oyster has consumed.  Nacre surrounds the irritant in thousands of layers over the lifetime of the oyster, building the pearl.  The more nacre that has been applied, the larger and more valuable the pearl.

I wonder how many layers of nacre it takes before the oyster’s irritant no longer causes wounding.  Once the pain ceases, does the oyster still experiences a measure of discomfort, requiring continued applications?  After multiple ministrations, does that nacre-enveloped irritant eventually become the “new normal”?  Even then, I suspect the oyster will never identify this substance as a jewel.  It will take the eye of an outside observer to recognize its immense value.

Perhaps you thought your life was sufficiently attractive without the need for jewelry making.  I know I sure did.  In fact, I thought I was a much lovelier person before I became a parent.  Like that in the oyster’s shell, the nacre in my life had already produced strength and beauty.  But the rare and enduring quality is found not in the shell; it’s found in the pearl—and pearls require an irritant.

In our lives, irritants enter uninvited.  Once there, they don’t go away.  We must deal with them whether we want to or not. It matters not that we feel undeserving, intruded upon, or victimized; the new inhabitant needs attention.  If we respond with resentment or bitterness, wounding will result.  However, if we secrete spiritual nacre, we will find what was once an affliction has emerged a priceless gem.

And how do we develop healthy spiritual nacre? By continuously feeding on the Word of God and anything else that contains Scriptural truth (like worship music). Surrounding ourselves with people whose lives reflect Biblical values also enriches our nutritional resources.

I am sharing my pearls with you, developed through the challenges of parenting rough-edged children.  I trust you will find nutrients to ingest and apply to the irritants in your own life.  I pray that the truths of God’s Word, given to express God’s heart, will coat your heart with strength and beauty.

I pray you’ll cherish the treasures God has chosen to plant deep into your soul—not the treasures you thought you’d find, but those from Him—those of eternal value—those that someday you’ll witness as you pass the pearl gates into His kingdom (Revelation 21:21).

copyright February 2016 by Cheri Johnson

My Story Matters

Just a little bonus material I wrote for @DaySpring #mystorymatters Contest. I thought it appropriate to add here.

My story matters. As an adoptive mom of five Russian orphans, I limped my way through parenthood much like tens of thousands of step, foster, and other adoptive moms have. Our stories need to be heard.

We need someone to cry as we share how we have suffered broken hearts, mourned shattered dreams, feared for our safety and emotional well-being, and failed miserably.

We need someone to pray when the road seems endless, the battle grows intense, the challenges overwhelm, and the enemy comes in like a flood.

We need someone to cheer as we graciously overcome scandalous attacks, respond in a Christ-like manner, give from the marrow of our souls, rejoice in praises we eventually receive from our children, and finish the race.

My story matters because I did it all. I cried. I screamed. I packed my bags. But, I never quit. I started over each morning, clinging to my Father. I successfully launched my children into adulthood. And now, I play with ten grandchildren.

Moms to “other women’s children” can find thousands of how-to books, many of which offer excellent techniques and tips. But little encouragement is available in the area we need it most—how to parent with the heart of the Father who adopted us all.

He alone was my salvation. Through His Word He transformed the irritants of my soul into gems, just as an oyster transforms an unwanted granule of sand into a precious pearl.  He sent fellow adoptive moms—sisters in Christ—who came along side me (2 Corinthians 1:4), offering encouragement and prayer at my toughest moments.

My story matters because second-round moms need to know they are not alone in their struggles. They are not monsters. They are not failures. They will survive. They will succeed. They will glorify the Father.

Because my story matters, I started a Facebook page (“Mother of Pearls”) and a blog ( I can’t wait to publish my first book, Pearls of the Heart, and I have a second book in the works, Strings of Pearls.

This little snippet of my story is an invitation for moms to open my treasure chest and handle the gems God has formed in my soul through almost 20 years of embracing rough-edged children. I envisioned an adoption story far different than the one I experienced. I would never have written it as it ended up playing out. But that’s just it. God never intends us to write our own stories. He wants us to sit back and trust that the story He writes for our lives will have a glorious ending.

His stories always conclude in triumph. His painting always transforms drabness into brilliance. His handiwork always molds gems around irritants.

This is my story—His story—of beauty emerging from the grit of my heart.

copyright January 2016 by Cheri Johnson


Let me introduce myself


Greetings, SAFE mom!

My name is Cheri Johnson. I, too am a SAFE mom: a Step/Adoptive/Foster/or Every other kind of mom to non biological children.

I am a mother of five children all adopted from Russia in 1997 and 2000.

Five adopted children? Yes!

Crazy? In-sane!

Worth it? Ab-solutely!

But many days I wanted to run away. Many days I screamed at my kids; screamed at myself; or screamed at God. I felt alone, misunderstood, and beaten down. Yet, God took the painful, confusing, and scary times and turned them into wholeness, beauty, and treasures.


Can I show you my pearls? They are lessons I’ve learned of God’s goodness, faithfulness, and purposes.

They started as a grain of pain cradled in the dark, hidden years of parenting young wounded souls. They grew until my heart felt so crowded and overwhelmed I thought I would suffocate. They were spewed out into the world with a gush of tears and a rending of spirit. But when I turned to examine what was produced I found beauty instead of ashes.  Truth to replace lies.  Softness where there had been hardness.

If you find yourself in a parenting situation that threatens to shred your heart with fear, failure, and fatigue, then this Mother of Pearls offers understanding, comfort, and hope. Hold tight, dear friends. By applying soothing nutrients to your soul, you too will one day display jewels of immeasurable value.


copyright January 2016 by Cheri Johnson