When Beads Meet the Bible
I stood in the bead shop and ran my fingers across the rows of hanging strings of vibrant, Swarovski crystals and I still didn’t know how these beads would end up being a wearable piece of jewelry. Moments later I would watch as one of the friendly bead experts would string my small, blue crystals into a bracelet and a matching pair or earrings that I would proudly wear to show my fellow fifth graders the next day. At ten years old I was intrigued by the idea of making my own jewelry.
My mom, sister, and I embarked on an adventure into the world of beads, which lead us down the winding path of semi-precious stones, findings, stringing wire, and other strange things that we had never heard of. Our view of beads was transforming, especially for my mom. She’s got a knack for garage saleing and in her various journeys she started to buy what other people had deemed junk jewelry. We took their unwanted gems, took them apart and strung our own creations.
Somewhere along the road, I fell in love with the craft and made it a point to really think before purchasing jewelry in a store. “Well, couldn’t I just make it and it would be cheaper?” I’d ask myself, and most of the time the answer was a resounding, “Yes.” I figured that my friends needed to have a part in this new revelation. From there I began to give handmade jewelry to all of my friends as birthday and Christmas/Hanukah gifts, and much to my pleasure and surprise, they loved what I made.
Fourteen years old and bound for my first year of high school, I sold my jewelry for the first time in order to help raise funds for a trip my church’s youth group was taking. Standing behind the table where my beads were laid out I recall feeling overwhelmed and energized by the eager church ladies thrusting their cash at me faster than I could bag the jewelry. I began to think differently when I would design a piece, no longer asking myself what a necklace would look like on myself, but wondering what other person might want to wear it.
What had started as a way to save money and have one-of-a-kind pieces of jewelry became a quest to bring enjoyment to others with my work. It grew to be rarity for me to be inspired to make a necklace or pair of earrings for myself. During my freshman year of college my relationship with God exploded unlike anything I had previously experienced and with that, reading my Bible became a priority. While reading through the book of Proverbs I found myself meditating on Proverbs 3:3-4, “Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and humankind.” The words “love” and “faithfulness” stuck in my mind and I could not rid myself of them if I tried. I felt that being literal with the scripture was appropriate, considering my love for jewelry. I set out to bind these words around my neck. This meant picking up a new medium: metal stamping. After finding blank silver charms and the tools I needed to learn how to metal stamp, I shakily started to learn how to put words on metal. I wore this new necklace nearly every day during my sophomore year.
My mom always reminds me that God cares about everything, and He’s proven that He cares about jewelry as well. While at school I find myself in a small chapel in the basement of one of the academic buildings praying and reading scripture, and at the end of my sophomore year I found myself not only seeing the Word of God on the pages before me, but necklaces, bracelets, and earrings. The words popped out from the page and my mind swam with design ideas incorporating words from verses in the Bible. I knew then that I couldn’t keep this quiet.
At the age of 20 I sat adjacent to my father and shared with him my idea to take what had once been a hobby and to make the move to turn my jewelry making into a business. I looked at the man who had been fighting the cancer that would eventually end his time on earth, and I sought his blessing to start this ministry. With the strength that he had left, he smiled widely and approved my ambition and my business name.
While I doubt that my father made anything more than a friendship bracelet in his lifetime, we shared the same passion. We both wanted to live out the greatest commandment that Jesus called us to: to love God with all of our hearts, minds, souls, and strength.
Worn Wisdom’s aim is to share a piece of the Gospel of Christ with each person who puts on one of the uniquely designed pieces of jewelry. I pray that as I make each earring, necklace or bracelet I am sharing the redeeming love of Jesus as I do so. I hope that as I share my art with you, I am also sharing something that is eternal.
The necklace inspired by Proverbs 3:3-4.