Tag Archives: God’s plan

After a bit of a Detour…

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Detours are a natural part of life.

They serve an important purpose.

Sometimes those detours follow a roadblock, as God redirects us down a different path.

Sometimes detours come in the form of delays, as God buys time to prepare us for our next purpose.

Sometimes detours are there to lead us to people we need to meet or to places we need to visit.

Regardless of the “why” behind divine detours, there is always a purpose behind the pause.

That doesn’t mean a change in plans is easy. It certainly hasn’t been easy for Molly, but like every divine detour there are blessings that come from His change to our plans, and Molly’s situation is no different.

Last December Molly sent in her paperwork to become a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. She waited with bated breath for news to come of where she would be assigned to labor for the Lord for the next 18 months. A process that typically would have taken a couple weeks dragged into a month and a half as she waited for her call to come. Road Blocks (or God Blocks) popped up as paperwork was misplaced and delays occurred. She had the opportunity to practice patience as she waited.

Finally, she received an email indicating that her news had arrived. Many loving friends and family weighed in on where they thought Molly would serve the Lord.

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She could have gone anywhere in the world.

She was called to Utah.

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At the time we had no idea what a blessing a domestic assignment in the states would be, and what divine purpose was in that six week delay.

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We had no idea a pandemic was on the doorstep.

She was given her date to arrive at the Missionary Training Center in Utah and airline tickets were purchased for Toby and I to fly her out. We were scheduled to fly out on March 28th.

On March 13th Grace, Molly and I drove out to Wooster, Ohio to have a girls weekend with my parents. That was the first day that the reality of the looming storm really hit. We enjoyed a day of shopping and lunch on Main St., but there was a tension in the air and you could feel the tides of life shifting. That was the last visit we had with family. After that weekend churches closed, schools shut down, and non-life-sustaining businesses were closed.

Then we received news that Molly would not be going to Provo, Utah for her missionary training. Instead, she and thousands of other new missionaries, would experience the MTC at home through the computer. For three weeks her days were spent attending classes, study sessions and devotionals in her bedroom,

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As the rest of the family (who were all at home as part of Pennsylvania’s Stay-at-Home order) tried to carve out some normalcy in other parts of the house.

I know it wasn’t the MTC experience Molly had dreamt of. Once again it was another detour off the path she had planned, but she handled it with grace and good spirits and was able to enjoy the unique blessing of being able to share her MTC experience with her family, firsthand.

When she reached the end of her training, she was detoured once again. Rather than arriving in Salt Lake City on April 21st to check into her mission, she was told to remain at home until travel was deemed safe. As the pandemic spread around the world, missionaries across the globe were being brought home before boarders closed. Like Molly, thousands of LDS missionaries were enduring their own personal detours as their mission plans changed. International missionaries were brought home to quarantine and then wait for a reassignment in the United States.

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Once again I saw God’s hand in those troublesome delays that were such a challenge for Molly at the start of her mission process, as they placed her where she needed to be prior to the events of the world unfolding.

Following her MTC online, she removed her nametag and waited once again, uncertain of how things would unfold. After another month of waiting news finally came. It has been deemed safe for Molly to travel and the Salt Lake City South mission is ready to receive her, so after five months of detours she is finally headed to her destination…

And she is thrilled.

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We have 12 days until she flies out on June 2nd and we are making the most of our remaining two weeks with her. Donning masks we headed to Walmart to purchase the final items on her packing list and we made a list of family fun we wanted to fit in with Molly before she leaves.

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We are still pretty shut down in out area of the country but a few things have opened up (like drive-in movies, parks, etc.) so we plan to make some memories before Molly flies the nest.

As happy as we are for Molly and the lucky people of Utah who will get our ray of sunshine for the next 16 months, (she will still return home at the same time despite the delay in her departure, thus her mission from 18 months to 16 months,) we are sad for our family. Molly will be missed SO VERY MUCH. It is going to be especially hard on my boys who struggle with being triggered by the loss of people they love. The good news, however, is that we will get to Skype with Molly once a week and exchange mail and emails which will hopefully make Molly’s time away easier on the boys.

To help cement the idea that she will return, I ordered a missionary countdown chart on Etsy. Tyler already helped me mark off the time that has passed during Molly’s mission days spent at home. It will be his job to add a dot each day so we can see the time pass in a tangible way.

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Here at Patchwork Farm we will be posting a weekly mission update with letters and photos Molly sends so that all of you can share in her experience.

This was the post she shared two days ago letting family and friends know her exciting news:

“I have an exciting update! I was called out into the field to finish up my mission. I will be in Salt Lake City South mission the first week of June! 

I am very humbled by God’s plan and will. When I first imagined my mission experience (and this year in general), it is a lot different than the present. It makes me reflect on how God works. 

It is like this: we are going about our lives, planning this certain route, thinking that it is the quickest way to our desired destination. We plan and prepare and find all the rest stops along the way. We pack fun road trip snacks and are all ready for the ride, then one day…  

God gives us a detour. 

This detour might not seem as fast. It may be a bit foggy at times, or maybe perhaps we feel we know best all together in our journey. 

I think I have learned this valuable life lesson by experiencing it: 

 I was feeling stubborn about the new direction God took me this year. In my mind I planned my missionary experience and new year step by step. (In a way I had my road trip snacks and details all set and ready to go,) but Heavenly Father knows better than me.  He sees the bigger picture. He knows the roads of life like the back of His hand and will be able to guide us in the best way. God’s way isn’t always easy though. We will experience bumps, hills, and waits just like any journey, but His way will bring the greatest blessings in the end. His path is where the greatest views will be witnessed, the most experience and learning gained, and will produce the most joyful adventure in the end. 

I am deeply humbled that God has given me recent experiences that I might not have picked for myself, but now I see the blessings flowing forth. I am thankful to be called out into the mission field and for the blessing of being able to have these past two months of waiting to progress and learn at home. I am thankful for the experiences that God gives me to humble me and teach me that His direction and detours are beautiful moments of progression in the journey. I am humbled that He hears my prayers and forgives me of my weaknesses. 

I would like to end my thoughts with a scripture verse I found that helps describe God’s great love and grace in our journeys of life, 

“Nevertheless they did fast and pray oft, and did wax stronger and stronger in their humility, and firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ, unto the filling their souls with joy and consolation, yea, even to the purifying and the sanctification of their hearts, which sanctification cometh because of their yielding their hearts unto God.”- Helaman 3:35 

As my mom has always taught me… God is good, always good!”

Detours are a part of life.

We can choose to mourn the change to our plans or we can delight in the journey. Molly has chosen the latter, and we are so proud of her choice.

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So Glad we “Gotcha!”

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In addition to celebrating the births of each of our children, we also celebrate the “birth” of our adopted children into our family. This annual celebration marks the anniversary of their day in court when they legally became a McCleery. This anniversary is known in the world of adoption as “Gotcha Day.” In our family we celebrate our boys’ “Gotcha Days” by allowing that child to pick a fun activity for us to enjoy as a family.

For our family, the “Gotcha Days” of our three adoptees fall on July 23rd, November 22nd, and March 26th…nicely spread out through the year for seasonal adoption celebrations.

Because the adoptee gets to choose the family activity, the way we celebrate “Gotcha Days” are as varied as the boys we have adopted. In the past we have gone for ice cream, visited car lots, gone to the courts to play tennis, etc. There is no rhyme or reason to these special days other than they are family-connected and driven by the wish of the adoptee we are celebrating.

This week we celebrated the “Gotcha Day” of our youngest child and our first adoption. This “Gotcha Day” holds a special place in my heart as his adoption opened the door to a world our family would have never known without him. Tyler came into our life as a newly turned 6-year-old and his entrance in our life was nothing short of divine intervention.

You see, when we were in the process of opening our adoption file, we were given the opportunity to select details about our potential child. The survey was specific with the adoptive parents given the opportunity to choose what behaviors, background and disabilities they felt capable of handling. Some questions were ridiculous like, “Will you accept a child who wears glasses?” Other questions were far more significant like, “Will you accept a child who has been sexually abused?” The questionnaire was hundreds of questions long and in the end, with much prayer and consideration, felt called to let God decided which child we were to adopt. With a desire to truly submit to His will and let Him pick our child, we answered yes to every race, sex, age, disability, trauma, and behavior with the exception of three hypotheticals that we felt were beyond our capacity as parents.

Because of the 3 non-negotiables we marked on our application Tyler never should have come into our life. Good thing our God is bigger than our insecurities because had He not circumvented our barriers, we would never have been blessed with Tyler.

How our file ended up on the desk of an Allegheny County social worker is still a mystery to us. Our agency claims it wasn’t sent by them, knowing that this child wasn’t a fit with our specifications. All we know is one day, in the middle of August 2011, we received a call informing us that we were one of two families being considered for a little boy named Tyler. It soon became clear to the social worker that I had no idea what he was talking about so he quickly emailed us Tyler’s child profile and made plans to visit our home the next afternoon to discuss the matter further.

That night, after the other children had been put to bed, Toby and I sat in bed and began reading through Tyler’s child profile. Before we finished reading the first page we were already certain that this child…his trauma, behaviors and needs were far beyond our scope of expertise as parents, and those three non-negotiables that terrified us were all present in this poor boy’s past. Our hearts broke for him but we felt certain that we were unequipped to be the parents for this hurting child.

With our decision firmly made we went to sleep brokenhearted but certain that we were making the right decision. The next day I called the social worker first thing in the morning to cancel our appointment scheduled for that evening. I spent the day attempting to make contact with no luck. No one could track him down and none of our messages made it through, so despite our attempts to cancel, that social worker arrived at our home that evening.

We sat down, ready to let him know that we didn’t feel like we were the right match, when he opened the file and a picture of Tyler fell out on the table. In that moment I knew I was looking at the face of my child, long before determined and destined to be part of our family. I knew he was mine and despite my fears and insecurities, I knew Heavenly Father was delivering Tyler into our arms for a great and important purpose…a purpose that has slowly been revealed through time as we have grown as a family in size, purpose, patience, compassion and eternal vision.

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Knowing he was destined to be our son didn’t erase the realities in his file that worried us and made us feel overwhelmingly inadequate, but knowing God was calling us to this journey lifted us above the “what ifs” onto the plane of submissive trust in God’s plan.

How grateful I am that God did not let us get in His way of His plan. I can look back now and see that His hand was in the creation of our family from the start. His hand was in  every “no” he whispered to us as we grieved the disappointment of our own plan falling through, and in every push He gave us toward a “yes” when we were too afraid to take the first faithful step. He knows what our final family unit will look like and He has been the architect of each phase as we grow into that family.

Who knew that is setting our family file mysteriously on the desk of an unsuspecting social worker He was opening the door to two children, pre-destined and divinely selected, to be a part of our forever family.

First came Tyler’s adoption in 2012:

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Then Tyler’s adoption brought Braden to our family seven years later when he became a McCleery on March 26th, 2019.

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I can’t imagine how much love, learning, personal growth and blessings we would have missed had we said no to that little six-year-old boy.

This week was our seventh year celebrating Tyler’s “Gotcha Day.” On Tuesday we found ourselves home with just Tyler and Braden. Everyone else had school or work. Tyler’s request for this year’s “Gotcha Day” was to go to the movies, so on Tuesday night Toby, Braden, Tyler and I went to see the new Spiderman movie. The movie was great, but the company was even better.

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How grateful I am for the blessing of adoption in our life.

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I can’t help but reflect on all the beautiful moments we might have missed out on if we had allowed ourselves to be guided by fear instead of faith.

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The blessing of “Surrender”

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Tyler’s entrance into our lives was no coincidence…

It was 100% a “God-incidence!”

The way God delivered him into our arms was nothing short of miraculous.

The process towards adoption is an arduous journey, filled with mounds of paperwork, interviews, inspections and scrutiny. Once approved, a waiting family is given a questionnaire to answer which gives the adoption agency parameters to work within based on what you are looking for in a child and what struggles, behaviors, and special needs you feel equipped to handle.

In our desire to surrender the process to the Lord we filled out the paperwork with the belief that God knew best what child was to be part of our family. We didn’t want to stand in His way by creating a profile with strict parameters, so we said we were open to any sex, age, race, religion, background, disabilities, handicaps, and behaviors, with the exception of 3 struggles we didn’t feel equipped to handle…

And then we gave it to God.

We thought we were surrendering to His will but He soon showed us that when He asks us to surrender and trust in His plan, he asks for TOTAL surrender, not just “mostly surrender,” as we soon discovered.

Once the agency has the list of preferences in hand they use those parameters to match your family with potential children. When an email comes from local county CYS social workers about a child that needs placed, the agency will look through their families’ files for families that match up with that child and his or her particular needs and then an email will be sent out to their potential families. As a waiting family we have the option to say “yes” to having our family’s profile submitted to CYS for consideration or the option of saying “no” if it doesn’t seem right.

Once the county receives a pile of profiles from various adoption agencies they will narrow the large pile of potential families down to a handful of possibilities and then move forward with more extensive interviews.

This process never occurred in Tyler’s placement with our family.

We were never sent his profile by our agency. You see, Tyler’s child profile included those three issues we said we wouldn’t accept in a child so our agency never even contacted us about Tyler as a possible child for our family and never submitted his file to the county…

So, you can imagine our confusion when we received a call out of the blue that we were on the short list of three families being considered for a 6-year-old boy from Pittsburgh. We had no idea who this child was because we had never been sent information on him.

Then the placing social worker called and asked if we could meet the following afternoon and in the meantime sent us Tyler’s child profile. As I read through his child profile the first time I knew that his needs were extreme and although we said we would let God choose our child, this baby boy’s profile contained the three non-negotiables on our list.

The next day I tried calling the CYS caseworker to cancel our meeting. I hated for him to make the long drive out to our house, knowing we were going to have to say “no,” but despite phone call after phone call and numerous voice mail messages I was never able to make contact.

At 5:00 pm he pulled down the driveway and Toby and I prepared to apologize for his wasted trip. He stepped inside, greeted the family, and opened the file in his hand, revealing a picture of Tyler…

And I knew.

In that moment I knew without a shadow of a doubt that the child in that photo was ours.

By the end of our meeting the social worker declared that he was going to cancel his meetings with two other families he had appointments with because he knew he had found Tyler’s family.

From there things moved swiftly and within 3 weeks Tyler was placed in our home and part of our family.

To this day we still have no idea how our profile ended up on the desk of that social worker or why none of our voice mails were received, but it simply testifies all the more loudly that Tyler’s place in our family was heaven-ordained and orchestrated by a loving God that knew better than us what we could handle and what we needed.

Through that experience we learned a powerful lesson on the true meaning of surrender to God’s will…

And the abundant blessings that come with trusting His plan for our lives.

That day occurred 6 years ago and today we celebrate that little boy’s 12th birthday with the addition of his biological brother into our family.

Much like the “God-incidence” that brought Tyler into our lives, Brandon’s placement was not part of our plan, but it was clearly God’s plan.

We weren’t looking to grow our family. Coming on the cusp of a really challenging year, adding another child seemed crazy, not to mention the fact that the child was a 16-year-old boy!

But just like our experience with Tyler (and then Ozzie) we could see God’s hand in the orchestrating of events that soon made it clear that God had big plans for our family and that He was once again asking for our surrender and our faith in His plan.

Brandon has been placed with us. It will be 6 months until we can pursue adoption and making him part of our forever family, but this was the first step. He is now officially and legally placed in our home as a pre-adoptive placement.

Today we also celebrate Tyler’s 12th birthday. When he moved in six years ago we couldn’t even imagine how our life was about to change. We had no idea how challenging, rewarding, and miraculously glorious this journey was going to be…

And we certainly had no idea that for Tyler’s 12th birthday we would be giving him the gift of family.

12th birthdays are a big deal in our family. They represent the transition from primary to the young men’s program at church. With this birthday comes acquiring the priesthood at church and the opportunity to pass the sacrament. He is now old enough to go to scout camp on his own and will be included in the youth activities at church that he has enviously has watched the older kids participate in for years.

12 is a big birthday, one that is remembered and cherished by all my kids…

But probably none more than Tyler,

Who, for his 12th birthday, is receiving the gift of a lost brother found and brought into our family.

Happy 12th birthday, Tyler!

How grateful I am for a loving Heavenly Father that knew better than us what our family needed most:

You!

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