ELAINE BUSCHMAN /
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.
On the net:
For more information about Julie's
Prayers & Squares, log onto
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
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
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
"I don't leave home without
it," she said. "It's just sentimental. It's pretty."