Hey y’all!

My name is Brandi Wagner and I am known as the “joy curator” behind all things Give Joy Crate. If you have a few minutes I would love to share with you the heart behind this little box of joy! Give Joy Crate was birthed last fall from a place of discouragement and sadness. Kind of ironic…huh?

Last year, like many of you, I had a hard time turning on the television, looking at Facebook or Twitter, and truthfully I was sometimes fearful to engage in face to face exchanges with friends and neighbors. As a result of the cultural, political and religious happenings that were unfolding at the time, it seemed that the tone of the conversations that were happening on those platforms were just not so joyful. It was, and still continues to be, a tumultuous time in our history where words are tearing us apart. I tend to be more of an observer in situations of conflict and verbal disagreements. Because of this, I found myself feeling just so heartbroken watching friends become enemies and families being torn apart due to the way that communication was being handled in regards to the events in the world that are unfolding before our eyes. I was losing hope in our ability as humans to communicate respectfully in love and truth. I found myself questioning my decision to just watch from the sidelines and I wondered if I was called to respond in some way as a follower of Jesus. If I’m being really transparent with you – I hoped that I could continue watching. Engaging in conversations of conflict isn’t really my thing, I’m more of a people watcher – it’s the best fun! I ignored my instinct to keep quiet, and I began to pray about what intentionally communicating with people in a loving and truthful way would look like for me.

Something happens when you start asking God questions…He begins to answer. The answer to my prayers came and I indeed was to respond, but in the way that I am gifted. My response needed to be in the way He has formed me and equipped me for this life. I felt the need to bring my creative passions and my love language of gifts together to try to make a real difference in my corner of the planet. However, I still wasn’t totally sure what that looked like.  God always leaves his fingerprints, and what I’m learning is that you have to train yourself to look for them. Oftentimes, it’s a comment or remark that is made by someone that grabs my attention and speaks to me deep down in my soul.  Other times it’s a piece of scripture or a quote that provides me with inspiration and motivation. The things I love are random, vast & sometimes strange. I started analyzing the things that I am passionate about and that truly bring me joy. I can recall one morning before work, when I was just walking around my house and I realized that I have words, phrases, and scripture placed in key points all over my home. I have words in my car, and in my office and in my closet.  Whether it’s those pretty printable quotes in my office, or the amazing wooden signs that friends and family have given me over the years – I have little bits of joy sprinkled all over my world.

I began to meditate on the power of words in my life and how they have shaped me over the years and why I felt the need to plaster them everywhere. I also thought about how words have been used by me to hurt others as well as used by others to hurt me. We’ve all been there…. that old cliché “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” Whoever coined that phrase was sorely mistaken I’m afraid.  Words have literally shaped and changed my life…(heck, I found Jesus through the lyrics of an Amy Grant song) and they’ve probably shaped and changed yours as well if you really think about it. When I turned to scripture, the ultimate book of living words, I found Deuteronomy 6: 4-9.

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

This passage helped me realize why I need those words in my home, why I need to read them on the daily to be encouraged, and why it’s important for me to keep walking each day in faith. I need the good words in my world so that I can face the not so good words on social media and face the not so good words on the television and so I can encourage myself to keep praying and keep asking the Lord to move and change hearts and minds.

I like to think of myself as a somewhat creative person, but really at my core I am someone who has a deep respect and affinity for the products that creatives dream and make.  I want to bring awareness to what these artisans are doing. The older I get the more awe I have for handmade things and for the vision and art behind how they are created. I also love me a good boutique and would prefer to shop a row of unique stores any day over the mall. Don’t get me wrong, a good mall day does me a world of good, but boutiques, they just speak to my heart. I love to decorate my home with things that bring me joy and I like to go out into the world wearing or carrying things that inspire. I also love products that give back and I’ve been able to see firsthand how these products are providing economic sustainability in impoverished countries and how products that give back can help foster kids and widows right here in the United States.  So many good things are happening and I feel like my response is supposed to be one of love, truth, and joy in the ways that I have found them in my life.  And thus, Give Joy Crate was born as a way to speak all these things into the lives of women in the form of a box of beautiful products for the home and life delivered every season.

I would love it if you could help us get the word out and share about this concept with your friends and circles of influence. If you know a maker or artisan whose products speak life, please send them my way (brandi@givejoycrate.com).  If you know of someone doing a good work with the least of these, please tell us their story so we can link arms and bring awareness and funds to their campaigns.

Words have power…use yours to speak life and spread joy!

Brandi Wagner