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Local News  -   Saturday, December 20, 2008
Woman praised for bracelets
Halverson sent prayer box to Gov. Palin

  When Julie Halverson sent one of her prayer bracelets to First Lady Laura Bush, she got a nice, printed thank-you note.
  The response from Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin was a bit different.
  "I got a very nice, hand-written note thanking me for the bracelet," Halverson said. "She wrote a two-page note and addressed the envelope herself. It was written on Nov. 23 and I got it right after Thanksgiving.
  Halverson said she sent the bracelet to Palin in September and had wondered whether she ever received it but realized that things were hectic with the campaign.
  The personal thank-you note was more than she expected.
  Halverson said she sent a prayer box bracelet to Palin after hearing about Palin's son in the military.
  "When Sarah Palin came to be known I was moved by her being the mother of a son going off to Iraq," she said. "I mailed her a bracelet on Sept. 9, sent to Alaska, and I wrote her a prayer specifically for the fact that he was being deployed and that I would be keeping him in my prayers."
  "Her story touched me because I have two sons of my own, and that was my inspiration. When I write a prayer, or about a situation, I try to make it personal, put myself in that place. My young driver prayer came right after my son totaled his car.
  "I was just so inspired by everything about her that I had to send her a bracelet."
  Halverson also had lost a family friend, Collin Bowen, who died while serving in Afghanistan, and had made bracelets for members of his family. She said knowing what the family went through also made her want to send a bracelet to alin.
  Halverson has lived in Marion for 35 years, and her jewelry business is called Julie's Prayers and Squares. 
 She started creating the

Julies Prayers and Squares
Julies Prayers and Squares
To learn more a bout Julie Halverson’s jewelry, or to order a piece, go to her web site.
Julies Prayers and Squares

ENJOYING ART---- At top, Julie Halverson, owner of Julie’s Prayers and Squares, in her studio at home. Halverson, who recently sent a prayer box bracelet she made to Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and received a personal note back, also sent prayer bracelets to Michelle Obama and her two daughters. Above, a photo of the bracelet is pictured with the note. At left, Halverson works on a prayer box bracelet in her studio.

bracelets after a mission trip in 2002.
  "I started with the prayer box bracelets as a result of an experience I had in the mission fields of Honduras," she said. "I  started with the bracelets which have a silver prayer  box on them. I have written prayers that people can select from based on who is getting the bracelet."
  That mission experience came as Halverson returned home from a trip to Honduras in November 2002. She had gone to see a young man, for whom she had been providing scholarships, graduate from the eighth grade.
  On the flight back to the United States, and feeling sad because she had to leave Honduras and the boy, she struck up a conversation with a minister on the plane who was headed to Mexico to speak at a seminar.
  "He was so kind, almost counseling me and helping me with my emotions," she said. "Two days after I returned home, I was checking my e-mail and I had a message from the farm school in Honduras to pray for a Paul Kleman, who had suffered a heart attack. That was the man I had sat with and talked to. Right after leaving me, he had collapsed at the airport. He died two days later.
  "I was the last person he talked to. Before our flight left I had met his wife, and I had this vivid picture of him kissing her goodbye. It made me think about how when we leave our loved ones, we don't know what will happen. So I had this idea. I made her a bracelet with a prayer

box and wrote her a prayer specifically on this whole situation. I then sent her a letter and told her what he had for lunch, what we talked about. She was very touched, and we started corresponding and that, to me, felt like my mission, that I needed to continue that."
  The prayers that can be put in the bracelet cover a range of needs and people including specific family members, such as a sister or a mother, and specific situations, such as a prayer for a teen driver.
  Since starting with the bracelets, Halverson has expanded her jewelry line to include other items.
  "Over the years, people had five or six bracelets, so I just decided to keep going with the beading. Now I have necklaces, earrings, pins, beaded frames."
  "Something new I have is called a Prayer Pin. It is a kilt pin that has a prayer box, and then you can attach different beads to it.
  Current First Lady Laura Bush got her prayer bracelet with a patriotic theme, during her husband’s second inauguration.
  Michelle Obama and her daughters won’t have to wait so long.
  Halverson did a prayer bracelet for Obama and princess prayer bracelets (they're made smaller) for the two girls with special prayer for all three. They were mailed to them on Dec. 12.
  I want to get them sent before they go to Washington because I think it will go through easier,” she said.


Local News  -   Sunday, May 2, 2004

A new way to pray
Prayer bracelet proprietor


ELAINE BUSCHMAN / ebuschman@marion.gannett.com

JUST BROWSING -- Sandy Park and Becky Bearns, both of Marion, browse the prayer bracelets handmade by Julie Halverson, which each contain a prayer for a specific event or person.


CREATOR -- Julie Halverson, owner of Julie's Prayers & Squares, talks about her mission trips to Honduras, which inspired her to start creating the prayer jewelry.

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On the net:

For more information about Julie's Prayers & Squares, log onto http://www.juliesprayersandsquares.com/

In this town, there are many who need someone to pray for them. Marion resident Julie Halverson is doing her part by making prayer bracelets in her spare time.

Behind the purchase of every prayer box bracelet is a story. Julie Halverson has heard dozens -- many of them tragic -- since she started making the beaded jewelry at home a year and a half ago, tucking a short prayer into the tiny sterling silver box that adorns each item.

She heard the story of Bernice Stephens, whose son was killed in an industrial accident Dec. 10, 2003.

Stephens, Marion, received a "loss of loved one" prayer bracelet from two friends. Her son, 26-year-old Justin Stephens, was working at Performix Technologies, Kingsford Heights, when his pant leg got stuck in a machine.

"It crushed him," said Stephens, who wears her bracelet of black, gray and crystal beads every day. She wrote her own message on the back of the stock prayer, prepared by Halverson and folded up inside the ornamental box.

"Justin, you are my baby," Stephens read, her voice breaking with emotion. "I will miss you and your funny wit. And I will miss you forever and ever and love you forever and ever."

Halverson gets emotional when she recounts the stories she's heard since starting Julie's Prayers & Squares in her Marion home.

A day care operator by day, she spends her evenings and weekends making jewelry and traveling to craft fairs and jewelry parties to sell her work. She considers it a mission, spreading comfort and hope to people through prayer.

"There was a lady at an art fair last summer," said Halverson, a 30-year Marion resident who has done custom framing and other art projects for 25 years.

"She had big tears in her eyes. She said she had to have a bracelet. She said the prayer would have to be the 'difficult times' prayer. She went on to tell me she'd had all these things go wrong in her life. She'd been through a difficult divorce. She needed her knee replaced. The last thing, her father was murdered. I just stood there. It just blew me away."

Halverson's own story is moving, as well. She shares it at every jewelry party and includes a brief version of it in every bracelet box. She tells how mission trips to Honduras over the last several years have turned her life in a new direction. She's saving profits from jewelry sales to bring 19-year-old Wilson Velasquez, Honduras, to Marion for six weeks.

"It's just such a neat way to connect with people," Halverson said of making and selling prayer box jewelry. At her first Marion jewelry party last week, she sold more than a dozen bracelets, many of them Mother's Day gifts.

Lori Standfest bought two, one for her mother, one for her mother-in-law. The prayer inside reads: Heavenly Father, bless my mother who wears this bracelet. Thank you for her love and devotion to our family. Keep her spirit in your tender care, reminding her often of your presence in her life.

"I really like her prayers," said Standfest, Marion, who is considering having a jewelry party in the future. "It's real inspiring."

Although Halverson will invite people to her home to shop for jewelry and visits church groups, craft fairs or clubs, she doesn't want to sell the jewelry in stores. Prayer box jewelry has become popular over the last several years and is available at a variety of locations.

"If I do that, I don't hear the stories that move them to buy a difficult times prayer," she said, adding that the personal contact is part of the healing process. "I have found it brings strength and joy to people who are suffering."

Halverson remembers Stephanie Gillespie's story. A Marion mother of five, her husband was deployed to Iraq in January 2003.

Gillespie's mother, Linda Morrison, commissioned Halverson to create a bracelet made of red, white and blue beads.

"It was an emotional time for her," Morrison, Fairmount, said of her daughter. "She was just at a time in her life where she needed a pick-me-up. (The bracelet) just gives a glimmer of hope."

Although Halverson has written more than 20 stock prayers for customers to choose from, Gillespie wrote her own.

"I just got on my computer and did real small font," said Gillespie, Upland, who lost her job at Thomson and now works at Carey Services. "I think the prayer was 'Give me strength to get through this and bring my husband home safely.' Something like that."

Gillespie's husband, Keith Gillespie, returned home in October after serving 10 months in Iraq and Kuwait with the Army National Guard Reserves. Gillespie still wears the bracelet every day.

"I don't leave home without it," she said. "It's just sentimental. It's pretty."

Copyright ©2004 Chronicle-Tribune. All rights reserved.

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