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.”
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.”
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.”