BLOWING ROCK, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – People come to Blowing Rock for all kinds of reasons. Some are searching for spectacular views and others are searching for more. They often find exactly what they’re looking for.

When it comes to life’s big questions, they aren’t always answered with obvious signs. Much is left- open to interpretation.

But on the corner of Maple and Main in Blowing Rock, there’s a one-room purple shop that stands out in a rustic mountain town.

“This house has been built in love,” said Sheri Furman, owner of ‘Take Heart.’

They’re only two inches long and covered in plastic.

“They’re beautiful,” said Sheri.

However, to Sheri, the handwritten prayers are priceless.

“I just want to be loved,” read Sheri, pulling out a prayer.

For years, they were hung on the vines outside her store. The makeshift tree became a pilgrimage for those looking for more.

“There were so many prayers that were so similar,” said Sheri.

The prayers piled up. Sheri lost count somewhere in the thousands.

“The day came, the loss came, and then the love came,” remembered Sheri.

That loss- happened in 2019. Her store caught on fire and shortly after, the Prayer Tree had to be taken down.

“I fell to the ground crying,” remembered 12-year-old Payton Harrison. “Then, all of a sudden this wonderful woman named Sheri came to me.”

While growing up, the Prayer Tree was Payton’s favorite place to visit when visiting Blowing Rock. She said she’d tied prayers on the tree for years. Some were silly, but most were a message to those she loved.

“A little part of my heart was chipped away,” said Payton.

When Payton was seven, she lost her dad. When she was eight, she lost her mom. Her notes on the prayer tree were her messages to them.

“It was kind of like my communication to them,” said Payton.

Sheri still remembers when she walked out and saw Payton crying because the prayer tree was gone.

“The moment I had met her, I said God you have taken everything from me. That is okay. But please help me keep this promise to this little girl,” said Sheri.

Her promise to Payton was to create a garden for the prayers. At the time, Sheri didn’t know where or how that would happen.

That’s when Renee Carter stepped in.

“Just like love touches love in our experience, grief touches grief,” said Renee.

Renee lost her husband, Wes, suddenly in 2021.  When talking with Sheri one day, Renee learned that there was a piece of land that Wes had loved that would be perfect for a park.

“I said, Wes wanted to buy this land when he was alive. There’s no doubt in my mind if he was sitting here, he’d tell me, what do you need?” remembered Renee.

So, after some finding out who owned the land, Renee was able to buy it and gift it to Sheri. 

“This being here for the community does things that I can’t even fathom,” said Renee.

When the park became officially Sheri’s, she knew who needed to open the gate first.


“You get to be the one,” Sheri told Payton, in a video recorded at the time.

Sheri watched as Payton stepped into the park, not seeing it for what it was, but what it would become.

“Just like Looking around and seeing all the things that would be possibilities but also how beautiful it was as itself,” remembered Payton. “I was crying. Happy tears, but I was speechless honestly.”

As for those answers to the big ‘why’ questions, maybe over time they become obvious.

Like an abandoned garden ready for spring.

Or, thousands of paper prayers that never caught fire.

Though her shop was destroyed in the fire, not a single prayer burned.  When she rebuilt, Sheri put the prayers in the foundation and in the walls of her store. More will be going in a time capsule in the garden.

They’re still in the beginning stages of the garden. The vision is to make it a place for the community to visit, whether that’s to pray or find peace.