The Surprise!

 My mother in law, the kids Grammy, is an amazing woman.  She turned 90 today.  Tim's sisters decided we should throw her a party - so we did.  A surprise party.  Can you tell we pulled it off?

 We set up for a family dinner first.  21 family members to be exact - we missed Dan and Sharon, Jen, Carrie, Shelly, Nicole, Nate, and Andrew!  We had the dinner catered by a family friend who has a catering business.  (Hi Sue!)  It was amazing food - really, really good.  I found out she reads my blog!  I love that!

 This is Anna - she is one of Tim's sister's girls.  This sister lives in Missouri, and one lives here in Florida. Planning was done through phone calls, and emails.

 I didn't want to say anything on my blog, on the odd chance that my mother in law may see it!  She did not know we were there until she walked in for dinner.  She thought she was going to Tim's sister's home for dinner and a dessert party.  She was happy to see her baby boy.  Have I ever mentioned I married the baby of the family?

 These are Tim's sister's grandsons - the Hobbits.  The bigger one of course is Merry and little one Pippin.  They are adorable...

 Their beautiful Mama is Melissa The Missionary Mama.

 With this arrangement of the tables, we could all see each other and talk together more easily.

We weren't allowed to use any candles with flame so I bought these cool battery operated ones from Costco...they looked pretty and help the ambiance.

 Photographer Lindsay's viewpoint of Photographer Melissa's camera....

 Sparkling grape juice to toast a well lived life...

 Pretty flowers on each table...

 Kyle is actually first cousins with Elijah's mom Melissa so that makes the boys first cousins once removed, I think.  

That is true for these girl cousins, too.  Miriam is Crystal's daughter and she is first cousins to my kids.  Sarah enjoyed holding her as did Rachel.  This is a very happy breastfed only baby.  She has the best disposition.  She is a joy!

 I love this series of photos of my mother in law telling about how we surprised her to all those who were at her second surprise - a real dessert party with so many of her wonderful missionary friends!

 Jean told us she was saved at age 10 and has served the Lord for 80 years.  She said "I haven't always been faithful, but He has always been faithful to me!"  She married late - in her 30's - had 6 children, two boys died in Africa - one as an infant from Malaria complications and one as a 10 year old boy who was killed by a crocodile.  Jean accepted God's Grace to her in these situations and stayed on the mission field until Tim's dad became ill and they came home to serve on the home staff of the mission.
She became a widow on her 30th wedding anniversary.  She remarried and has been married to her husband for 28 years.

Jean has been an example of a godly woman.  She is the most hospitable woman I know, and just loves to serve others.  Until recently she has done prison ministry, she still works at a food bank, and is active in her churches - she goes to one on Saturdays and the other on Sunday mornings.

 My lovely sister in law telling about what a blessing her mother has been in her life and in the family.

Here is my beautiful friend Jane.  We have been friends for 22 years.  She drove me all over today and was such a great help.  I love her like a sister.  She is dear to me.

 A lovely Costco cake...

 Crystal carrying sweet Miriam...

My girls with their beloved Aunt Jane....

 Kyle and his boy cousins...the hobbits.

 Rachel the baby whisperer...

 The family at the end of the evening...

 So many of these people have served on the foreign mission field.  They are a precious bunch...

 The young guy in the plaid shirt was one of the kids Tim grew up with in Senegal.  His parents were missionaries there, and he served there with his family as well.  In fact all his siblings have served in Senegal as adults.  He now works at the retirement homes (where we held the party) helping these elderly missionaries in their golden years.
 Our friend Rick (Jane's husband) and our brother in law.

I could go on and on but I won't.  It was worth the work and effort to pull this party off.  It was a joy to see folks we haven't seen since Emily was a baby.  

This photo is blurry, but I like it as it shows her joy...we couldn't have planned anything better but to have as much as her family there as possible and all her old friends for the dessert party.  By having it at the retirement homes, it was easy for them to come and come they did!  Oh, and did I tell you that Lindsay made a slide show for her of photos of Jean's life.  Jean LOVED it.  We'll be putting it on dvd for all the family and also make a book of all the photos....I think we have Christmas in the bag for this year!

Happy birthday Jean Winifred Cornelius Rabe Sherwood.  You are an example to us all....we are blessed to have you in our lives.


  1. What an absolutely wonderful surprise!! Looks like a great time!

  2. How I loved reading this! Your family's heritage is rich and wonderful. Oh, I wish I could meet Jean! Tell her that just the brief recounting you did here in this post of her joy and service has inspired me to use my "golden years" more productively! God bless ALL of you (I know He does).

  3. That was beautiful!!! She is a beautiful servant of the Lord and your dh must be so happy to have her as his mother.

    I hope you have gotten some of her stories written down...what a wonderful testimony she has.

    Those little children cousins of yours are so cute! Especially the hobbitses....pinch their cheek cute!

    Call, or email if you would like to stop by or need some rest on the way back home okay!

  4. Pure joy on her face! How wonderful that family and friends united to celebrate 90 incredible years. One good thing about having so many family members together is that one can see how each one fits in and has a specific role. Love the "baby whisperer." Kyle must have had so much fun with the Hobbits!

  5. Beautiful Lady , beautiful family! Such a great testament of a Godly heritage. I leave so blessed.Thank you for sharing

  6. What a sweet thing for all of you to do! And I might say, she does NOT look 90! :) Looked to be a wonderful day with lots of friends and family around. Glad you could honor her in this special way! You have started off the Giving Thanks Challenge with a tribute to your MIL, and the Godly heritage you can leave to your own kids because of her efforts. Thanks for joining me - may you be blessed this month!

    - Leah

  7. It is so wonderful to celebrate LIFE! Looks like you have a great family! Thanks for sharing with us today!

  8. Looks to be a great party for a very special lady!! Thanks for sharing!

  9. What a joy it was to read about a wonderful celebration and a wonderful life lived for Christ. I pray she is blessed with many more wonderful years.

  10. Blinking back the tears. This was so touching on many levels. I love family....and celebrating the matriarch of this inspiring family is so special. Oh to have that kind of a testimony at the age of 90!

  11. Oh, wow! What a fabulous family story and truly a thing to sing sing thankful praises for!

  12. Florida!?! It looks like you had a great time! So nice.

  13. How wonderful to celebrate a life lived for God!

  14. What a most beautiful story and photos--WOW! And she is such an encouragement and a testament to the human spirit going through so much...and having peace inside.

  15. Hi!! Loved working with your family!! Glad you liked the food!! We enjoyed doing it for you!! Thanks to your family for helping us clean up!! Esp your husband. He is a servand like my husband!! Have a safe trip home!! Love, SUE

  16. Deanna - Really enjoyed all the photos of your special family day. What an amazing life your mom-in-law has lived. Such a testimony to the Lord - His peace and His joy in her grand smile. So many stories all your missionary family and friends can tell! Sounds like lots of book material, ya know . . .


  17. Well, the revelation of the mystery was certainly worth waiting for!
    What a lovely surprise to honor a lady who has invested her life in His service! Thank you for sharing these beautiful moments with us.
    Happy Birthday to your dear mother-in-law...and safe travels to your family!

  18. Just wonderful!
    Enjoy the rest of your time away!


  19. Praise the Lord for Grammy! Most importantly praise the Lord for her spiritual birthday!

    What a special time that was. Memories made... I'm excited about the way you all plan to preserve the memories through DVD & book albums.

    Great post!

    Nice pictures too =)

  20. Praise the Lord for Grammy! Most importantly praise the Lord for her spiritual birthday!

    What a special time that was. Memories made... I'm excited about the way you all plan to preserve the memories through DVD & book albums.

    Great post!

    Nice pictures too =)

  21. This will definatly go down as one of the highlights of 2011.
    SOOO good to see you all!

  22. How beautiful!! The travel, the gathering, the surprise, it is all beautiful!! tammy


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