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

    When Life Gives You Scraps

    When life give you scraps quilt square EDITEDWhen life give you scraps make a quilt.

    I saw this quote painted on the wall in a sewing shop in Chesapeake, VA. I love this old twist on the “when life hands you lemons make lemonade cliche’.  

    I don’t know about you, but I rarely have lemons. But I as a mother of two and novice quilter I always have scraps. I quilted this square by using paper piecing technique. My friend Robin taught me this skill last fall.

    This quilted square is positioned on a piece of prime real estate within the White house. This quilt square serves as my coffee mug coaster,which resides next to my Bible beside my red chair. Every morning I am reminded of my dear friend Robin (who now lives four hours away) and that God will one day use all my scraps to create a beauty quilted tapestry for His glory. 

    This image is my Freebie Friday gift to you. Feel free to download, print, and share this image on your blog or social media. Please keep the image intake with my website watermark visible. 

    ~April Dawn White

     

     

    Hemmed In On Every Side

    You hem me in, behind and before,
    and lay your hand upon me.
    (Psalm 139:5, ESV)
    On Saturday, my daughter and I made a quilted kite. In the past, Rachel has made smaller and quicker projects such as pillows and pillowcases. However, this was her first quilted project and her first major project. Here are the steps she learned:
    1.      Select fabric
    2.      Iron
    3.      Cut fabric into a 2.5 inch square (60 squares total)
    4.      Sew two squares together with seam allowance, right sides together
    5.      Iron again
    6.      Repeat steps 4 & 5 until each square is sewn to another, creating strips
    7.      Iron again (sigh)
    8.      Sew strips together
    9.      Iron (double sigh)
    10.  Attach batting and backing material
    11.  Select, cut, iron, and sew binding
    12.  Finish binding by hand stitching with a blind stitch
    Time passed quickly, and we watched the entire first season of the Cosby Show while sewing. Rachel’s desire for the project began to waiver when I taught her how to finish the binding by using a blind stitch.  A blind stitch is a hand stitch, where you place the needle under the binding fabric, behind the previous stitch, and sew a small almost invisible stitch.

     

     
    As I demonstrated the blind stitch, the Psalmist’s words flowed through my mind: “You hem me in behind and before, and lay your hand upon me” (Psalm 139:5, ESV). Seven and a half hours later we proudly displayed our finished artwork.  
    Each time I gaze upon our kites, I think about being “hemmed in behind and before” according to Psalm 139:5. This Psalm details God’s intimate knowledge of our being, because He hand knit us together.
    I believe we are blind to most of the hemming God does in our lives. We are unaware of all the ways He protects us on every side.

     

     
    This morning God brought the concept of being “hemmed in” full circle in my personal life. My Bible study reading today included Psalm 139:5! “You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.”
    Last week, I shared about feeling stretched thin during a time of great trial in our lives. I felt hard pressed on every side (2 Corinthians 4:8-9).  God reminded me to look up to Him for strength. God showed me that He has a panoramic view of our circumstances. (See post titled Taffy Generation and Panoramic View).
    But today, God brought it all full circle! I love the way God works! I love watching how He uses our real life trials, His Holy Word, and quilted kites to teach me a life lesson.
    We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
    (2 Corinthians 4:8-9, NIV)
    Today’s Bible study reminded me of my secure position in Christ. While, I might feel hard pressed on every side, the truth is I am surrounded by God on every side. Look at these treasures:
    ·         The Lord took care of them on every side. (2 Chronicles 32:22, NIV)
    ·         I made you, I will carry you, I will sustain you, and I will rescue you. (Isaiah 46:4, NIV)
    ·         You are all around me on every side; You protect me with your power. (Psalm 139:5, GNT)
    ·         The Lord encamps around those who fear Him. (Psalm 34:7, NIV)
    ·         The Lord’s unfailing love surrounds the one who trusts in Him. (Psalm 32:10, NIV)
    This morning, I studied 2 Chronicles 32:22 in different translations. Here are a few of my favorites of what God does on every side.
    ·         Guided them on every side. (2 Chronicles 32:22, NASB)
    ·         Gave them rest on every side. (2 Chronicles 32:22, HCSB)
    ·         Protected them on every side. (2 Chronicles 32:22, Darby)
    ·         Gave them treasures on every side. (2 Chronicles 32:22, DRA)
     Dear friend, I do not know what you are up against. Do you feel hard pressed on every side? Do you feel surrounded by difficult circumstances on every side? If you are a child of God, rest in the treasure of protection because God has you hemmed in and surrounded on every side. 
    ~April 
    Hebrews 6:19

     

    Repurpose


    Rachel’s place mat

    “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, 
    “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” 

    (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV)

     

    Frayed cuffs and thread bare knees are all that remain of my children’s denim jeans. I carefully slipped the blade of the seam ripper under the thread and lifted the blade. After cutting the stitches, I removed a back pocket from a pair of blue jeans.  During this project, I repurposed the worn out jeans into funky denim place mats. Any salvageable part was cut away and assembled into something new. What once was a back pocket is now a utensil and napkin holder.


    From the tattered jeans, I created four distinct place mats. Each denim place mat has a unique backing and binding fabric to represent the personalities of our family members. On my daughter’s place mat I repositioned a crocheted pocket and covered the back with pink and red heart and star material. As I reworked the fabric, Genesis 50:20 came to mind: “But God intended it for good.” 

    As the youngest in the family, Joseph was teased and despised by his older brothers. Their hatred for Joseph was so great, they sold him into slavery. Decades later, Joseph held a prominent place in the king’s court. The same brothers, who sold him off, later stood before Joseph begging for assistance. Joseph had every right to turn them away. Instead he said, “You planned evil against me, but God used those same plans for good” (Genesis 50:20, MSG).


    I love the phrase “but God used those same plans for good.” Those same plans, not different plans, the very same plans—for good! I stopped sewing to offer praise! I began to examine those areas of my life that once were painful. Now I can see God was using those same plans for good. Praise God that He is the ultimate recycler! He was reducing, reusing, and recycling long before our generation. He wants to reduce our burdens, reuse our trials to help others, and recycle areas to bring us good and to bring Him glory!
       

    ~April Dawn White
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