Saturday, January 28, 2012

Five Generations

Yea, thou shalt see thy children's children...Psalm 128a

What a beautiful promise from the Lord! And on January 18th, this verse took on an expanded meaning...

G.G. met for the first time her great-great granddaughter...the granddaughter of her granddaughter!

The 94 year old great-great grandmother holding her 9 month old great-great granddaughter.

The 'more' of this wonderful moment is five generations were gathered together for the first time: Dorothy (Elizabeth) Shewbridge Smith, Patricia (Louise) Smith Martin, Katherine (Elizabeth) Martin Sanford, Joshua Robert Sanford, Jael Mercy Sanford.

And because it takes two...Dot (and Alton), Fred and Pat, Bob and Katherine, Josh and Jen with Jael.

Two very proud parents and one teething baby chewing on her toy carrot.

Jael Mercy once again captivating her doting family's attention with her 'idea of fun' this case, shoe in month, crawl across room, make everyone laugh!

A tradition begun when Joshua was born...the parting photo with G. G. (now 3 G.)...

Times to remember and yet to look forward to, for prayerfully this will be our joy one see our great-great grandchildren....Jael's children's children!

To God be the glory!
Katherine (for the family)

2011 at Shiloh…

What a wonderful time of year this is! Not only did we get to celebrate the gift of the incarnation of Christ and what that means as a blessing for ‘us poor sinners’ last month, but we also tend to reflect upon the past year as we steadily move forward in the New Year!

Before sitting down to write this, I pulled out the family calendar to recollect many of the ‘goings on’ of the past year. What a wonderful walk down memory lane! The Lord had been very gracious and generous to the Sanfords in 2011 and He kept us very busy! There is much to be thankful for and to share but we will hit only the highlights:

Josh and Jennifer celebrated the birth of their daughter Jael Mercy at 3:00 AM on Easter Sunday, April 24th! She was the perfect baby, 7 lbs 14 oz and 20 ½ in. with a head of light brown hair, coming into the world after causing her mommy only five hours of labor; her daddy had the joy of catching her! Just one month before, this little girl put her mommy and daddy through quite a scare when they were up here visiting from Oklahoma. Jennifer went into pre-term labor causing immediate hospitalization and an airlift by helicopter to the nearest pre-term labor hospital an hour away. We were blessed to learn that this hospital just happened to be ranked one of the best in the Nation! The most disappointing part at the onset was Josh and Jen wanted to have a home birth! By God’s grace, the doctors were able to stop the labor and after a week in the hospital, Jen was sent home on complete bed-rest for one more week. To make sure Jen could ‘obey’ doctor’s orders, I rode down with them to take care of Jen and then flew back at week’s end. From then on Jennifer was free to deliver at home if the baby decided she still wanted to come a few weeks before her due date. Needless to say, the Lord had Jael wait until the perfect day to be born, the day we celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus! Our family traveled the next day to meet this new granddaughter and niece. It was a surreal moment to hold for the first time the "first-born child of our first-born child"!! 

Three months later, Josh, Jen, and Jael traveled to Illinois for Jael Mercy Sanford to be baptized at Providence Church surrounded by most of her family including Uncle Garrison, home on leave from Japan, and Great-Gramma and Great-Papa from Virginia.

Garrison returned home safely in April to his base in Okinawa, Japan after a seven month tour in Afghanistan. It was such a relief to know he was ‘out of harm’s way’! He was ‘in the desert’ for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s. In June, Garr received orders to move to a new base after having spent two years in Japan. With his combat leave and transfer leave, Garrison was able to spend six weeks with us this past summer. That was the most time we had spent with him in the last three years combined!! This year he spent Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s at Camp Pendleton, California. But now that we have regular phone conversations it does not seem that he is really even that far away! On December 3rd, Garrison celebrated his third anniversary in the Marine Corp. He has been promoted to Corporal and is counting down to when he will separate from the Corp in December 2012, if not sooner, due to the early release program.

Melinda married her true love becoming Mrs. Justin Ryan Ryken! It was a whirlwind year for them: courting began in June, engagement in August on her 21st birthday, then married on October 15th. Yes, only six weeks to plan a wedding! But what a beautiful covenant ceremony it was, complete with beautiful weather for an outdoor reception. It was also a special day for Daddy on two accounts. First, he had the very special honor of walking his first daughter down the isle. The second was with Melinda on his arm, he told Justin in front of about 200 guests, "when Melinda was 13 her mother and I gave her this ring as a symbol of her pledge and commitment to purity. It is also a remembrance and a sign that she entrusted her heart to us until her wedding day. Well, Justin that day as arrived, so I give you this ring and her hand in marriage!" (You can read more about Justin and Melinda on this blog and at

Peter received his official American Citizenship in September! It was a wonderful experience for us all, going to the big Immigration building in Chicago, seeing almost a hundred people from many different nationalities, creeds, and color stand to take the oath of citizenship. It was very sobering and exhilarating!  We did have a bit of a scare with security when we arrived. The lines were very long and time was running out for us to get to the room for the swearing in. As we got closer to the scanners we watched as the security personal treated folks with ‘contraband’ in a rather ‘official shake-down’ manner! Melinda remembered that she had a little pair of scissors in her purse, triggering Mom’s memory that she too had mini-scissors in her purse. We tried to find a trash can nearby but there was none to be had without fighting past a crowd to the outside of the building. So we were stuck with the scissors. Mom put both pairs in her purse and then prayed that the Lord would give us favor with the security personnel. Sure enough, they saw the scissors in the scanner, verified by personal search, kept them in the purse, and told us to have a wonderful day with many smiles. Shocked and praising the Lord for answered prayers, we made it through security without a hitch!

We now ‘only’ have 7 children at home: Peter, Zachary, Adrianna, Nathan, Victoria, Rebecca, and Elaina. In September, the youngest six joined Peter in doing high school which is mostly self-study. For the first time in 20 years Mom is not actively teaching, though she is still facilitating learning. It has been a fun time of challenging, exhorting, and encouraging the children as they embark on the next level of learn; especially since five of these children have only been speaking the English language for 8 and 6 years! It is amazing to see how far they have come in such a short period of time, and this also in light of the fact that they had ‘little to no’ school before becoming a Sanford!!

Dad celebrated his 50th birthday in April and 24 years of working for State Farm this January. For the past few months, his schedule has become a bit grueling as he is a key designer to a company-wide implementation. Job security at its best! However, his favorite view of working at SF is looking forward to only 12 more years until retirement!

On December 13th, we celebrated 25 years of being husband and wife! Looking back over our married life, we are amazed at how the minister's words prayed over us during our wedding ceremony were actually a 'prophecy' of the Lord's calling and blessing for our marriage: “Oh Eternal God, Creator and Preserver of all mankind the Giver of all spiritual grace and the Author of everlasting life. Send Thy blessing upon Robert and Katherine whom we bless in Thy name, that they may surely perform and keep the vow and covenant between them made. And may ever remain in perfect love and peace together and live according to Thy laws. Look graciously upon them that they may love, honor, and cherish each other and so live together in faithfulness and patience, in wisdom and true godliness, that their home may be a haven, a blessing, and a place of peace through Jesus Christ our Lord.To God be the glory!

The last bit of news for 2011 and 2012 is the Lord has called us to pursue the adoption of a sibling group in the Philippines. The J's, as we fondly call them, will hopefully and prayerfully join our family sometime this year.  

May the Lord richly bless your 2012 as we pray He blesses ours!
Katherine (for the family)