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

    Lies Moms Believe by Rebekah Hargraves: Book Review & Giveaway

    I am excited I get to give away one free copy of the book and study guide Lies Moms Believe and How the Gospel Refutes Them by Rebekah Hargraves. (Read to the end for detailed instructions.)

    Lies Moms Believe is the inaugural book by Rebekah Hargraves, birthed from personal experience of raising two littles and sharing these thoughts on her blog, podcast, and website.

    Rebekah Hargraves wrote, Lies Moms Believe to help moms battle the lies and find the freedom intended for motherhood.  Hargraves writes, “It all started way back in the Garden of Eden, this age-old ploy of Satan. It was the very tactic he first implemented in order that he might drive a wedge between God and Eve, and it is what Satan still uses today in his attempts to produce the very same outcome of division in our own relationships with God. What is that tactic, you ask? It is getting God’s people to believe a lie.”

    Lies Moms Believe debunks thirty-two lies moms commonly believe. Lies Moms Believe, uncovers the distorted view of motherhood and womanhood forged by culture and warped legalistic thinking. Lies Moms Believe, refutes the myths and misconceptions women accept as true with the absolute truth of the gospel of God’s Word.

    Hargraves gathered information from personal experience and via social media polls to detail thirty-two lies most commonly battled in motherhood.  These lies are broken down into five areas in which Satan seeks to lie to mothers.  These five main areas are:

    Part I: Lies About Motherhood

    Part II: Lies About How God View Us as Moms

    Part III: Lies About How We View Ourselves as Moms

    Part IV: Lies About Our Children

    Part V: Lies About Our Parenting Choices

    As a mom of two-teens, (a son and a daughter), I understand the internal struggle of motherhood in a Pinterest perfect world. Even among Christian influences, the battles of lies, debunking myths, and finding freedom in our unique calling continues past the diaper stage. I never felt cut out for motherhood. When our children were younger, I often shared obtaining a doctorate degree in pharmacy was much easier than raising our children. Lies Moms Believe unearth nuggets of wisdom and truth and offer encouragement to moms regardless of the stage of motherhood. Lies Moms Believe is an excellent Mother’s Day gift. 

    Rebekah Hargraves invites the reader to continue the conversation with the supplementary Bible study and joining the private Facebook group Moms Living Free. Lies Moms Believe is available as a print and e-book. 

    You may find Rebekah Hargraves online at https://www.hargraveshomeandhearth.com/, on Instagram @RebekahHargraves on Facebook @HargravesHomeandHearth, on Twitter @HHomeandHearth  Follow Rebekah Hargraves and Lies Moms Believe using these hashtags: #liesmomsbelieve #lmbcompanionstudy #authorrebekahhargraves #gospelformoms #livingintruth. 

    Lies Moms Believe Book & Study Guide GIVEAWAY!

    There are several ways to enter this giveaway:

    • Subscribe to my blog. Scroll down on the homepage of RedChairMoments.com and type in your name and email address.

    To earn more entries, or if you’re already following my blog,

    • Share this book review post via social media. Each share to a different social media venue earns you one entry. Tag me or leave me a comment so I know you’ve shared.
    • Share via email. Notify me of your name and the number of shares.

    Giveaways are open to residents of the continental U.S. and Canada only.

    I will announce the winner via blog post next Friday, May 4th. Thank you!

    DISCLOSURE (IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE FTC’S 16 CFR, PART 255: “GUIDES CONCERNING THE USE OF ENDORSEMENTS AND TESTIMONIALS IN ADVERTISING”): MANY THANKS TO THE BLOGABOUT NETWORK FOR GIVING ME A COPY OF Lies Moms Believe IN EXCHANGE FOR MY HONEST OPINION.”

    ~April Dawn White

    *Images courtesy of Rebekah Hargraves and The BlogAbout Network.

    © 2018 April Dawn White, All rights reserved

    Dear Mother Who Puts Herself Last: Guest Writer Angela Jamison

    I see you in the grocery store, hurrying along at 9 pm. I can imagine the thoughts running through your head from how you just want to be in bed to how badly your feet hurt because you’re not sure if you’ve sat down all day.

    I see you in the doctor’s office massaging your temples, wondering if this headache will ever go away. Wondering if uninterrupted sleep will ever be something you get again.

    I see you in the restaurant, trying to enjoy the beauty of not having to cook or clean up, but worried about the mess nonetheless.

    I see you. I am you.

    I, too, am a mother who puts herself last.

    Although it was my deepest desire to be a mother, I didn’t anticipate losing myself in the process. I didn’t anticipate some of my favorite things becoming foreign or dreams disappearing with diapers.

    I had no idea my deepest wish would be my greatest joy and my hardest trial in equal parts.

    I bet you had no idea either.

    I’d imagine your children are your world, the most important piece of your existence, but let me let you in on a powerful truth … you’re important too!

    We can not be effective mothers if we lose ourselves, always putting ourselves last. When you take care of you, you’re teaching a far more powerful lessons than when you run yourself to empty.

    We can not be effective mothers if we lose ourselves, always putting ourselves last. Click To Tweet

    Those dreams that disappeared with the diapers, rekindle them. Your children need to see you have a passion and work toward it. Some of the best encouragement in the world comes from children! Allow them to enrich the path to your dreams instead of being a roadblock.

    That nap you skipped because there were bottles to wash, laundry to fold and floors to vacuum, take it next time. Your health is imperative to healthy kids. When you are healthy, you are happier and when you are happier, your children are happier. Take the rest and allow your children to see you slow down. In a “go go go” world, our children need to know it’s ok to take a break.

    Putting yourself last seems to be in the unwritten motherhood handbook. I’m tearing that page out and so should you! Our children may be our world, but the more powerful truth is – we are theirs.

    Take care of your children’s world, you, by moving up in line. As mothers, we’ll never be good at putting ourselves first, but we can happily fall somewhere in the middle.

    We are more important than being last.

    Sincerely,

    A Mother Moving Up in Line

    Angela Jamison is a mother of four and works with young children as the director of a Christian preschool. After struggling with infertility, she and her husband entered the world of foster care where they have been overwhelmed exploring the path laid before them by the most perfect Father. When she is not entertaining children, Angela loves to read, write, and connect with mothers and parents to encourage and reiterate God’s design for the toughest job on earth. To learn more about Angela, visit her webpage at http://www.angelajamison.com or follow her on Twitter, @AngJamison04.

    The Hospitality Hibiscus

    The hardy hibiscus plant is a true showstopper with its dinner plate size blossoms. Unlike its tropical cousin, Hibiscus rosa-sinensis, the hardy hibiscus is a perennial plant, which brings a tropical flare to a non-tropical flower garden.

    As a child, my family spent many summer vacations at Myrtle Beach. It was there in coastal South Carolina, that my Mother fell in love with the hibiscus plant.

    Tropical hibiscus plants are not native to the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. However, after returning home from South Carolina, Dad surprised Mom with the hardy hibiscus variety. Forty-four years later, crimson, champagne pink and white blooms with a distinct red eye, add a South Carolina tropical flare to my parent’s back yard.

    One day I surveyed the streets surrounding my parent’s house. I was amazed at all the hibiscus plants I observed.

    “Mom, I see beautiful flowering hibiscus plants in many of the yards here. Did you have anything to do with that?”

    Mom’s laugh lines deepened, her grin served as her response.

    “Seriously mom, even several streets away from your house, I see hibiscus plants.”

    With a glint in her eye, mom replied, “Your Dad and I share our hibiscus plants with new neighbors, old neighbors, when someone is sick, or anyone who walks by. One day, your Dad saw Miss Helen out walking and asked her is she wanted a hibiscus. Miss Helen said, “Do I want a hot biscuit?” Laughing Dad repeated,  “Do you want a hibiscus plant?”

    Miss Helen received a few hibiscus plants and she and Dad still joke about having a hot biscuit.

    I counted over twenty yards with the beautiful hardy hibiscus plants, gifted by my parents. Some yards have all three varieties of color.

    The Bible describes the use of hospitality in three easy ways: Show, Offer, and Practice.

    Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it! Hebrews 13:2, NLT

    Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 1 Peter 4:9-10

    Practice hospitality.  Romans 12:13

    Showing, offering, and practicing hospitality are my parent’s love languages—their gifts. Mom and Dad serve as extra grandparents to the neighboring kids. Dad repairs bikes and scooters and helps to build pine wood derby cars. Meanwhile, Mom is in the kitchen, cooking a meal, restocking the cookie jar or restocking the freezer with popsicles—sharing whatever they have with others.

    Show, Offer, & Practice Hospitality. Click To Tweet

    Just as the tropical hibiscus plants are not native to the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Kindness, hospitality, generosity, sympathy, and compassion are also no longer native to our of our culture. By replanting these diminishing character traits we can begin to replenish our communities.

    My parents have lived in the same home for forty-four years. They have planted hospitality for decades and have the unique advantage to see how their hospitality has blossomed over the years. 

    Sometimes we plants seeds of hospitality, seeds of kindness, seeds of compassion and we don’t remain in the area long enough to see it come to fruition. But whether we stay planted in one neighborhood for a lifetime or move frequently we can practice hospitality right where we’re planted.

    How can we show, offer, and practice hospitality with those around us?

    ~April Dawn White  © 2017 All Rights Reserved

    Red Chair Moments, on location at my parents’ house.

    Happy Birthday Dad!

    birthday-cake 1008396_1280 pixabay“Happy birthday” I exclaim a little too loudly over the clinking coffee mugs. Dad shuffles towards table. Even after total knee replacement surgery, his knee still lacks range of motion. He gestures to his leg and shrugs his shoulder in an “Oh well. What can you do?” motion.

    Dad collapses into the chair and repositions his bum knee. Handing him the breakfast menu, I kiss him on his cheek and repeat quieter this time, “Happy 70th birthday dad!”

    Dad's 70th birthday selfie!

    Dad’s 70th birthday selfie!

    He grunts, “Seventy makes me sound like an old man,” and grunts again. We stifle our giggle as the server refills my coffee and takes dad’s drink order.

    For the following two hours, we share life.  We talk over endless cups of coffee about everything.  I watch my father tell a story by repositioning the salt and peppershaker and jelly packets. I follow his hands in giant gestures. I joke that dad likes to tell the long story long, sparing no details.

    As dad speaks, I realize I inherited much more than his facial features; I also inherited his gift of story telling.  Dad moves the jelly packets to detail another story and my mind wanders to my little red chair. The iconic metal red chair on the website, Red Chair Moments (dot) com, was my dad’s chair when he was a child. This little red chair now resides on our front porch and is a conversation piece, welcoming all that enter our home.Red Chair Moments Theme Photo

    While showing dad our house listing online, we exchange a sorrowful glance. Wordlessly, dad is sharing my thoughts, “I can’t believe I have to sell my home because of a rare illness.”  “Is there a long-suffering gene,” I wonder as my dad holds my smart phone and watches the online virtual tour of our home. My dad is no stranger to hard times and long-suffering.

    Mom & Dad with all the grand kids!

    Mom & Dad with all the grand kids!

    Is my ability to suffer long a result of nature or nurture, or is it totally faith based? Like thousands of Americans, dad was laid-off during the economic recession in the 1980’s. He picked up several part time jobs and eventually returned to work for the original employer. As a child, my parents shielded us from their financial struggles.  During those hard times, I recall overhearing my mom ask, “Can we afford to tithe?” Dad responded, “We can’t afford not too.”

    Dad and I share an enormous sweet tooth, the same eyes, nose, and laugh lines. We love to tell stories to anyone willing to sit long enough to listen. My faith began by the foundation established by my parents. Dad taught me that I could never out give God.  We serve and share in the community of long-suffering. Through many hard times, dad anchored his hope to the Word of God and I never witnessed wavering faith. 

    Happy birthday dad! I love you!

    ~April Dawn White

    *Images courtesy of author and Pixabay.

    © 2016 April Dawn White, All rights reserved

    Missing Pieces or Room for Blessings?

    alphabet-missing-q-meme“I’m missing Q” stumbled out of my mouth before I realized no one was around to listen. I positioned the rediscovered Kindergarten photograph next to my son’s eight grade school picture.  The rediscovered Kindergarten photo displayed a round face, wide blue eyes, and a crooked smile. The recent eight-grade photograph, of the same child, displayed a confident and mischievous I-know-it-all thirteen-year-old smile. Staring at the two photographs, I pondered at the handiwork of our Creator.

    During my son’s Kindergarten year, the dental hygienist noted that our son was missing the tooth labeled as “Q.” He was greatly disturbed to be missing something that everyone else had. It bothered him so much that each time our son saw his school picture from that year he would point to the photograph or his mouth and state, “I’m missing Q.”

    I tried to convince him missing “Q” did not matter. I explained it was only a baby tooth and he would eventually loose it anyway. I tried to convince him that the missing tooth would actually provide more space for the future adult teeth. With each explanation, my strong-willed five-year-old peered at me with a look that said, “Mom, you can’t fool me.”

    Over dinner one evening, my husband explained that he also had teeth that never grew in. Andrew’s attitude instantly improved when he realized he was just like daddy.

    Eight years later, the phrase “I’m missing Q” automatically stumbled out of my mouth when I saw this old photograph. Talking to the image of my five-year-old son, I said, “See you were so worried about this and you didn’t even need it.” Immediately a thought, perhaps the voice of God, downloaded into my brain. These words penetrated my heart, “April, what about you? What are you so worried about missing, that you don’t even need?”

    My knees suddenly buckled. Pressing my palms against the refrigerator, I steadied myself. “Oh Lord,” I exclaimed. “Please forgive me!”whats-missing-meme

    We spend too much energy fretting over missing pieces. We are afraid these lacking details will cause us to appear different and prevent us from fitting in or worse, prevent us from fulfilling our purpose.  But, what if we changed our perspective? Instead of complaining about the missing aspect of our life, what if we praised God for the extra space it provided. What if what’s missing allows God the space to plant a future blessing?

    What if what's missing allows God the space to plant a future blessing? Click To Tweet

    Today, I ask you the same question that penetrated my heart.  Dear friend, what are you so worried about missing? Perhaps it is God’s way of making room for a future blessing. 

    Last week, I explored the notion of having growing room in our faith in a blog titled, Soccer, Shoes and Faith: Growing Room. If you want to dive deeper into the idea of God making space and growing room for faith, I encourage you to also read this post.

    GIVEAWAY WINNERbook-cover

    Congratulations to Dana S. for winning a free copy of 66 Ways God Loves You by Jennifer Rothschild! Dana, I will be in touch soon.

    ~April Dawn White

    *All Scripture is NIV from Bible Gateway. *Images courtesy of Thomas Nelson, author, and Pixabay.

    © 2016 April Dawn White, All rights reserved

    My Christmas Gift to You!

    My Christmas Gift to You!

     

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    Christmas Hope: Advent Reading 2020.

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