The Joyful Table

The clink and clunk of hammering ricocheted around the Bonsack Methodist Church gymnasium. Approximately fifty women gathered in November for The Joyful Table’s monthly craft party hosted by Jennifer Houf.  Jennifer is momtrepreneur (mom + entrepreneur) of a craft business called The Joyful Table. Jennifer and her husband Jeremy use their creativity and profits of The Joyful Table to foster children into their home.

As soon as Jennifer and Jeremy Houf tied the knot, seven-years ago, they wanted to adopt from Russia. “However, eight-days before our marriage, Russia closed the door to outside adoptions, and have remained closed since,” remarked Jennifer. God’s plan for a family took the traditional path and shortly after the wedding, Jennifer became pregnant.

Birth of The Joyful Table

Jennifer desired a side job that allowed her to work from home and contribute to the student loan payoff. Inspired by an idea from a home décor magazine, Jennifer created her own version of a huge wall growth chart.  “I sold over 300 growth charts in my first year. I worked as much as I could with babies at home and had a full-time employee and we could never stay ahead of orders.” Back then, Jennifer and Jeremy lived in Texas. Looking back on the early years of their marriage Jennifer reflects, “I know God had us in Houston, in the greatest grossing zip code in Texas, so we could be blessed to make enough to pay off our $35,000 debt in one year.”

 

Foster Parenting

Two years into their marriage, the burden to adopt never left their hearts. “We felt led to foster as it would cost less than straight adopting, so we opened our home to children almost five years ago,” reminisced Jennifer.

Since then, Jennifer and her husband moved to Virginia for a full-time position and we could turn the focus of The Joyful Table income onto our foster children. “We have spent thousands of dollars on beds, mattresses, and home decor as our rooms for kids have changed and changed over the years with each placement. We purchased a 12-passenger van that we needed in order to transport our large crew. We have taken our foster children on big trips including three trips to the beach, trips on planes, and trips to NFL and NBA games in different states. The income that I make allows us to continue fostering without the added stress of finances that having extra kids in the house can bring.”

The Houf’s have a large crew including, five biological children and have welcomed 13 children into their home over the course of the last five years. “We have had up to ten children at a time and currently have eight (five biological and three foster children).

As if being a mom of five, and a foster of three, and a business owner isn’t enough, Jennifer and Jeremy flip the homes they live in.  Jennifer says, “Our kids have enjoyed the chaos of knocking down walls, removing kitchens, and putting them back together. I try to allow these new experiences to challenge our kids and give them confidence that they can do anything. All of our older children know how to do vinyl work, how to build signs, and how to use most hand tools.”

     

    Craft Parties

    Jennifer hosts The Joyful Table craft parties every month. Over the past five years, she has hosted over 120 parties in Virginia and Texas. Jennifer loves combining her love for teaching, crafting, and spending a night out among other women.

    “All of our kids fight over who “gets to work” when I have a party. They all love crafting with me, seeing all the ladies, and getting messy with the paint. The older kids really love getting to help make the actual signs and assist with the classes. So many of our older foster children have never earned and saved their very own money, so it is very rewarding allowing them to work by my side.”

    The next party will be December 10, 6 pm-9 pm at Bonsack Methodist Church. The feature project will be a 42-inch wooden sled. Don’t worry, it does not require craft skills at these classes. Jennifer offers step-by-step instruction with a plethora of supplies and assistants to lend a hand or advice.

     

    Foster Kids Need Families

    “These kids need families,” says Houf.  “They may need a family for one month or for two years, but nothing happening to them is their fault. They are just kids, and kids need families to keep them safe until they can return home. I pray the church will rise up and do what we are called to do; to love on these kids in their distress.”

    “I hope our story shows people there is no such thing as ‘the perfect time to start fostering.’ I have been pregnant, given birth to kids, moved, redone houses, and so much more, all while fostering these kids. We have five young kids of our own and a very small home, but our hearts and our table are never full. We are so humbled and grateful to be a small part of the story for all the children we have had the pleasure of fostering.”

    November is National Foster Care Month. Please consider your role in supporting area foster children or foster families.

    You can follow The Joyful Table on Facebook or shop online at The Joyful Table’s Etsy site. 

    ~April Dawn White

    © 2019 April Dawn White| Images courtesy of The Joyful Table

    Mercy for Meh Days

    Have you ever felt meh? Meh is the verbal
    expression equivalent to a shrug of the shoulders.

    Meh days can result from physical, emotional, or spiritual battles. For those of us suffering a chronic illness, meh days are usually a combination of two or more of these factors.

    I am writing this article on a meh day. I had a flare-up of my illness last night and today is a day of rest and recovery day.

    My body is weak. I forced myself out of pajamas only to pull on yoga pants and t-shirt. I gave myself an imaginary gold star for changing clothes, even if I traded one set of comfortable clothes for another. Because conservation of strength is my primary goal, showers are optional these days. Showers require too much energy.

     

    My favorite coffee mug is too heavy, so I traded it for a lighter mug. My thought processes are as slow as Eeyore’s trot. Between sips of liquid mercy (AKA coffee) I hurry to type before the fog completely enveloped my brain.

    As I refilled my mug with liquid mercy, the phone buzzed with a text from my friend and spiritual accountability partner. The text reads:

    “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

    (Lamentations 3:22-23, NLT)

    I smiled at God’s timing. He knew I was having a meh day. He knew I needed an extra dose of encouragement. I sensed God nudging past the brain fog,

    “My mercy is for meh days too!”

    God met me in the kitchen, wearing my yoga pants and holding my I-feel-weak-today coffee mug. God knew my struggle. He knew I wanted to cry, but that would only make my body hurt more. He knew the true number on my pain scale, even if I tried to fake feeling better than I was so my family wouldn’t worry (again). He knew the brain fog blanketed my thoughts and that today I should not drive nor pay bills.

    I began to sing “Great is Thy Faithfulness:”[1]

     

    Great is Thy faithfulness!
    Great is Thy faithfulness!
    Morning by morning new mercies I see
    All I have needed Thy hand hath provided
    Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me!

    Dear friend, God knows your struggle. His compassion and mercy are new every day. Every morning we brew our coffee with fresh coffee grounds, so is God’s mercy. We never have to live today on yesterday’s compassion or mercy. Whether you are a chronic illness warrior or a supportive caregiver, God’s mercies are new every day. His mercies are for the meh days too!

    © 2019 April Dawn White |Images courtesy of Canva

    [1] Written by Thomas Chisholm, Composed by William Runyan, Public Domain

    I originally published this article in the “Pressing On” column for the Broken But Priceless Magazine. Broken But Priceless, is an online quarterly magazine, which addresses the heartfelt needs of those battling chronic illness and their caregivers. If you or someone you know, would benefit from such encouragement, please share this article and/or link.

    Hugs & Hope, April 

     

    15 Awesome Friendship Quotes

     

    August is a month of friendships. Students return to school forming new friendships and renewing others.  Today, August 15, 2019, is my friend Nicki’s fortieth birthday. Our friendship spans over a decade of hills and valleys, all of which God has shown Himself faithful. In honor of our friendship, here is a list of my fifteen favorite quotes on friendship.

     

    15 Quotes on Friendship

    A friend is someone who knows all about you & still loves you.

    Elbert Hubbard

    True friends are families which you select.

    Audrey Hepburn

    A sweet friendship refreshes the soul. 

    Proverbs 27:9

    Be true to your work, your word, and your friend.

    Henry David Thoreau

    Many people will walk in and out of your life, but only true friends will leave footprints on your heart.

    Eleanor Roosevelt

    I have learned that the friends who hold your hand through tough times and watch your soul twirl during the best, are the ones you should spend your lifetime dancing with. 

    Stacie Martin

    Friendship is one of the sweetest joys of life. Many might have failed beneath the bitterness of their trial had they not found a friend.

    Charles Spurgeon

    Life is partly what we make it, and partly what it is made by the friends we choose.

    Tennessee Williams

    A friend is like a good bra; hard to find, supportive, comfortable, always lifts you up, makes you look better, and close to your heart.

    Unknown

    A friend knows the song in my heart and sings it to me when my memory fails.

    Donna Roberts

    Wishing to be friends is quick work, but friendship is a slow ripening fruit. 

    Aristotle

     It takes a long time to grow an old friend.

    John Leonard

    ~April Dawn White

    © 2019 Red Chair Moments |

     

    Photo by Alexis Chloe on Unsplash 

    Photo by Dan Bøțan on Unsplash 

    Photo by Vincent Chin on Unsplash 

    What is Your Favorite Genre?

    I dedicate this post to all my fellow bookworms who believe the book was better.

    What if you could only read your favorite genre for the rest of your life, what would it be? For my movie watching nonreaders, what would be your favorite movie genre?

    Recently this was a conversation starter on a local morning radio station. I wanted to ask my online friends the same question to help stir up ideas for my next summer read.

    My Favorite Genre

    If I could only read one genre for the rest of my life, it would be historical fiction.

    I’m hooked on the Maggie Hope Mystery series by Susan Elia MacNeal.

    Maggie Hope is a secretary turned secret agent working for Winston Churchill in the 1940s.

    2019 Reading Thus Far

    My reading list for 2019 contains a mixture of historical fiction, political thrillers, and nonfiction self-help.  

    I hope something on my list will spark an interest with you.

    Fiction:

    • Sweet Tomorrows by Debbie Macomber
    • A Dog’s Journey by W. Bruce Cameron
    • Snobs by Julien Fellows
    • Missing Isaac by Valerie Fraser Luesse
    • The Chosen People by Robert Whitlow
    • All the Stars in the Heavens by Andriana Trigiani

    Historical Fiction:

    • Belgravia by Julien Fellows
    • Mr. Churchill’s Secretary by Susan Elia MacNeal
    • His Majesty’s Hope by Susan Elia MacNeal
    • The Prime Minister’s Secret Agent by Susan Elia MacNeal

    Political Thriller Fiction:

    • The Kremlin Conspiracy by Joel C. Rosenberg
    • The Persian Gamble by Joel C. Rosenberg

    Non-Fiction-Self-Help:

    • The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin
    • Spark Joy by Marie Kondo
    • Why We Get Fat by Gary Taubes
    • Girl Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis
    • Girl Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis
    • Have a New Teenager by Friday by Kevin Leman

    Non-Fiction-Religion/

    Inspirational:

    • Leaving Legalism by Kendra Fletcher
    • Grace Outpouring by Roy Godwin
    • A Wife’s 40 Day Fasting and Praying Journal by Kaylene Yoder
    • The God I Never Knew by Robert Morris
    • Face to Face with God by Bill Johnson
    • Anchored by Kayla Aimee
    • More for Mom by Kristen Funston
    • Prayers for Prodigals by James Banks
    • On Bended Knee: Praying Like Prophets, Warriors, and Kings by Crickett Keeth

    Happy Reading!

    ~April Dawn White © 2019

    Images Courtesy of by César Viteri on UnsplashJason Leung on Unsplash

    More for Mom Living Your Whole and Holy Life by Kristin Funston |Book Review

    Real-life talk. Witt. Biblical truth

    More for Mom Living Your Whole and Holy Life

    Kristin Funston delivers refreshing grace for the daily grind of motherhood. Written in a conversational style, More for Mom Living Your Whole and Holy Life feels like a back porch conversation with a longtime friend.

    She shares a common struggle with modern Christian moms—how to live a whole and holy life in a world filled with lies, distractions, and comparison from our culture.

    Funston debunks the lie demanding more from moms, but God has a plan of more for moms. 

    Funston wrote More for Mom with moms in mind. However, women with or without children, millennials and older, can apply the principles and strategies for a deeper relationship with God. 

    More for Mom Living Your Whole and Holy Life

    Funston wrote More for Mom with moms in mind. However, women with or without children, millennials and older, can apply the principles and strategies for a deeper relationship with God. 

    I recommend More for Mom Living Your Whole and Holy Life for the Christian woman eager to receive more from God.

    More for Mom Living Your Whole and Holy Life by Kristin Funston is available wherever online and wherever fine books are sold. To connect with Kristin you can visit her website.

    ~April Dawn White © 2019 All Rights Reserved.

    Photographs courtesy of Kristin Funston and the Blythe Daniel Agency

    Pin It on Pinterest