Tag Archives: pandemic

Be Not Weary

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This momma is feeling weary.

Like so many of you, I feel as though I am sprinting through quick sand. It has been a challenging few months at Patchwork Farm. Those that know us well have probably read between the lines of our summertime posts and have picked up on the strain and struggles we aren’t voicing.

Under normal circumstances the events that have unfolded in our life over the last 18 months would be enough to rock anyone’s world. Looking over the posts from Braden’s adoption day until today (adoptions, graduations, cross country college drop-offs, weddings, residential placements, lost jobs, new jobs, baby announcements, missionary farewells, etc., etc., etc…) , you can see that we have lived a dozen lives in the past 18 months. Each and every one of these major life moments is enough to rock one’s world, but pile them together, top it with a worldwide pandemic, and we find ourselves running on empty. These changes have challenged the family unit as a whole, but has been especially trying for those family members with a more disrupted past. Each change is a trigger and each challenging change leads to challenging behaviors…the compilation of which have left me feeling beat down and weary.

As I talk to friends who find themselves struggling with the unique challenges of living in a Covid world, regardless of what their personal challenges are…

– What school choice is best for my kids?

– When will I safely be able to visit my mother again?

– Is my best friend going to recover from Covid-19?

– Will my husband be able to safely get back to work?

– How am I going to manage working at home while schooling my children?

– Will the activities that feed my soul and bring me joy ever return?

…The feelings are the same.

It is the uncertainty about tomorrow, and the fear of things never getting better, that bring those feelings of weariness.

Whether we are talking about Covid-19 related challenges, or simply life challenges, it is the uncertainty of when the load will lift, or when the challenges will ease, that are the most wearing.

The burdens we find ourselves bearing (health challenges, relationship challenges, parenting challenges, financial challenges, etc.) can be likened to a boulder we are asked to push indefinitely,

Leaving us feeling much like Sisyphus.

In Greek mythology Sisyphus was the king of Ephyra. He was punished for his self-aggrandizing craftiness and deceitfulness by being forced to roll an immense boulder up a hill only for it to roll down every time it neared the top, repeating this action for eternity.

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Sometimes the trials of our life feel just that way…

Like an eternal punishment that we are forced to bear.

A heavy rock that we push upward, only to have it roll back over us when we make it to the top,

Forcing us to begin again.

But maybe instead of looking at the trials we bear as a punishment that we are sentenced to, we should look at at trials as opportunities for growth, as illustrated in the story below.

“Once upon a time, there was a man who was sleeping at night in his cabin when suddenly his room filled with light and the Savior appeared. The Lord told the man He had work for him to do, and showed him a large rock in front of his cabin. The Lord explained that the man was to push against the rock with all his might. This the man did, day after day. For many years he toiled from sun up to sun down, his shoulders set squarely against the cold, massive surface of the unmoving rock, pushing with all his might.

Each night the man returned to his cabin sore and worn out, feeling that his whole day had been spent in vain. Seeing that the man was showing signs of discouragement, Satan decided to enter the picture placing thoughts into the man’s mind such as: “You have been pushing against that rock for a long time, and it hasn’t budged. Why kill yourself over this? You are never going to move it.” Thus giving the man the impression that the task was impossible and that he was a failure. He decided to make it a matter of prayer and take his troubled thoughts to the Lord.

“Lord,” he said, “I have labored long and hard in your service, putting all my strength to do that which you have asked. Yet, after all this time, I have not even budged that rock a half a millimeter. What is wrong? Why am I failing?” To this the Lord responded compassionately, “My child, when long ago I asked you to serve me and you accepted, I told you that your task was to push against the rock with all your strength, which you have done. Never once did I mention to you that I expected you to move it. Your task was to push.

And now you come to me, your strength spent, thinking that you have failed. But, is that really so? Look at yourself. Your arms are strong and muscled, your back sinewed and brown, your hands are callused from constant pressure, and your legs have become massive and hard.

Through opposition, you have grown much and your abilities now surpass that which you used to have.

Yet you haven’t moved the rock.

But your calling was to be obedient and to push and to exercise your faith and trust in My wisdom.

This you have done.

I, my child, will now move the rock.”

When weariness overtakes me, and feelings of despair and discouragement leave me feeling like a failure, I must remember that I was not called to push this boulder to the top of the mountain. I was simply called to faithfully arise each day, and continue pushing forward, trusting that when God has finished the work He is doing through me and within me, He will lift that boulder from my path.

There is a purpose in the struggle.

It is through the challenging seasons of mortality that we have the opportunity to grow, improve, and strengthen muscles we would never ordinarily use…

And in the process become more Christlike.

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Let us not grow weary.

This too shall pass, and we will be all the better for it.

“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”    – Galatians 6:9

 

Molly’s Missionary Message #9

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(Mom’s notes in red)

Hello everyone!

This week has been crazy! Some highs and a few lows, but a whole lot of miracles throughout! Right now Sister Tolley and I are spending a lot of time finding.
(When Molly uses the term “finding” she is referring to the process of seeking out and reaching out to others who might want to learn more about gospel of Jesus Christ)
As missionaries, we are still in quarantine and some days it can be hard, but over all there is so much great joy that can be found by reaching out to others with great love, personally growing closer to God, and being stretched every day to become a bit better than the day before. It is very humbling!
(Much of Molly’s week is spent in her apartment. Covid-19 limits the amount of public interaction the missionaries are allowed to have with others. The exceptions to that rule include weekly grocery shopping, daily exercise, service projects that can be done outside while social distancing, volunteering once a week at the Bishop’s Storehouse (a food pantry), and a once a week social activity with the other missionaries in her district.)
Here are some photos from those activities…
One day last week Molly and her companion, Sister Tolley, had the opportunity to serve their landlord by doing some yard work.
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Another day they were able to serve a woman from church by working in her garden. As a token of her gratitude for their service, she sent them home with lots of fresh veggies for their fridge!
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While walking home from that service project they passed a farm with goats.
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Anyone who knows Molly knows that goats are her all-time favorite animal. The owner was outside, and seeing Molly’s excitement, he invited her to step into the pen and feed them.
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Molly was beside herself. It made her day!!
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Every Wednesday Molly gets together with the other missionaries serving in her district. Together they share a meal and enjoy a fun activity together. Often those activities involve getting outside and enjoying the beauty of Utah! 
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One of the highlights of Molly’s week is always volunteering at the Bishop’s Storehouse. There she works with other volunteers sorting food, bagging vegetables, and filling grocery orders for those in need. This week she was on potato duty!
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Today was my p-day, I got my first perm, which was a fun adventure!
(P-day stands for preparation day. It is the day set aside for those serving full-time missions to care for their own personal needs. It is, in essence, their “day off.” This is the day Molly and her companion will do their grocery shopping, get a haircut, catch up on laundry, go hiking or do something fun in the area.)
I have always loved how my hair would look when I would I curl it, so I took the plunge and decided to perm it!
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My sweet companion waited and passed the time sending emails as I got my hair done.
Three hours later and ta-da!
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One of the best parts of my week would be Sister Tolley.
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She is such a sweetheart and everyday I learn something new from her.
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It is a great blessing to be able to motivate each other to work hard, have humor and joy in this work, experience adventures in cooking, and feel unified as companions.
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It has been really positive!
Shout out to her for being a awesome companion and friend on my mission!
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I don’t really have a whole lot to report for this week, but I am super excited for the days ahead.
It is always exciting to see what God has in store for us.
Love,
Sister McCleery

Molly’s Missionary Message #8

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Hello!! 

This week has been FULL of new changes and adventures! 

Last Tuesday was transfer day. It is crazy that I am going into my second transfer already! This transfer was full of changes. One of the biggest changes was that I got a new, reassigned companion who served in Chile for 9 months! Sister Tolley is the sweetest thing and has been a huge blessing to me! (I will be helping her adjust to this area and she will continue training me, because I have still so much to learn!) In the end we are learning together and I feel that, because of it, we are all the more unified as companions and friends. We also moved into a new apartment and have a new p-day, which has switched from Monday to Wednesday. Although all of these changes have taken a day or two to get used to, they have also brought new experiences and opportunities!

Sister Tolley and I spend a decent amount of time in quarantine because of Covid-19, but we are trying to find the blessings and God’s hand in each day. Our day to day events consist of: 

Cooking meals,

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 Trying to get into the habit of running in the morning,

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 Buying ice cream and eating it from the container,

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 Going on hikes,

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Studying, seeking, praying, teaching,

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 And all in all, just trying to keep ourselves busy!

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We are seeking to work very hard everyday to be a blessing to others and use our time in a way that is pleasing in the sight of God.

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I love the quote by President Russell M. Nelson (our prophet) “The Lord loves effort!” This quote has been a good reminder because being a missionary during this crazy time has resulted in moments of feeling drained and discouraged, but as I weigh these moments against all of the blessings we have received in return, it is well worth it! 

I am so thankful for the challenges and trials that we experience daily because it brings into contrast the light and love of God, making it shine all the brighter! God never gives us more than we can handle. 

God is good- Always good!

Sending hugs and much love,

Sister McCleery

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A Poem written by Sister Molly McCleery:

“The trials I’m given, are they meant to crush me?

My perspective is so very limited to what I understand and see.

But yet I stand firm to the truth that God is my loving Father.

Why do I let fear and doubts seep in to add to personal bother?

Trials may seem heavy to bear, yet they’ll never be more than you can handle,

They are opportunities to grow your faith, adding like the guidance of a candle.

At times our burdens are just heavy enough to get us to our knees,

For this will open doors, because you now have the keys.

God anxiously waits for our acceptance to His hand that reaches out,

Once we do, then everything seems a bit better, resulting in a joyful shout!

If God wants us to have joy, why are there trials in the first place?

Now this can be addressed by breaking it down to the foundation base.

I believe this time on earth is an opportunity for growth and learning,

Where we experience opposition and practice the art of discerning.

I have turned more towards Christ in dark times, for I desire a source of light.

In Him I find comfort and strength, for He is my eyes of sight.

 I’m grateful that through Him I don’t need to feel alone, even for a day.

Because I know Jesus Christ can help us feel more than perhaps just “okay.”

Every time we fall down and feel that we are done,

Remember the love that is testified through God’s only begotten son!

He can and will lift you and clean you up,

Christ’s love and healing is like an overflowing cup.

This is one of the most amazing and humbling experiences to endeavor,

For that is He loves you, today, tomorrow and always, even to forever!”

Molly’s Missionary Message #5

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I made it!

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 I can’t believe I have been on my mission for a month…It has been truly extraordinary!

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This week has been filled with great joy, learning, and laughter. This week I had my first baptism. It was a young man who was a miracle referral. It was a beautiful event that left me teary eyed.

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There was great love and support for him which was such a blessing.

We also had our first service opportunity (other than volunteering at the Bishop’s Storehouse.)

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We got to weed the bishop’s yard with his family. It was such a treat because with the pandemic, missionaries are in quarantine and have few opportunities to get out of the house. It is the greatest feeling to serve and bless the lives around you! After we were done weeding, the Bishop ordered pizza for us to pick up and take home.

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This act of kindness overwhelmed me with gratitude. Honestly, the smallest acts of kindness can mean the world to another!

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Sister Briones got a new companion this week, which was bittersweet.

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Luckily, we still get to see her a lot since Sister Seal and I have a car and drive Sister Briones and her companion where they need to go. We honestly get to see each other quite a bit. Her new companion is Sister Ayers. Sister Ayers served in Japan for 8 months before the virus got really bad and she was reassigned to the States.

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(Mosiah 2:17) “When ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.”

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It has been so humbling to see this scripture come to life. As I have served those around me, I have been blessed with great love towards them. I am filled with the Holy Ghost, which gives me joy! It has been such a blessing to have the opportunity to serve so many people even with, and despite, the virus. Moments of serving others and being served is a continual reminder that God is good, always good. He is aware of us and is always watching out for us! We are His children. He is our father.

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And He loves us more than we can even comprehend!

Sending big hugs your way,

Sister McCleery

 

Week 1 of Summer Fun!

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Here is a peek into some of our themed fun this last week…

Make it Monday:

On Make it Monday, we decided to do a little tie-dying. This is a craft that all my kids can get into, as it involves a sufficient amount of mess to make it fun and you have a cool shirt to show for your efforts at the end of it!

On Monday afternoon we pulled out the supplies.

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After choosing a design, Rusty and Tyler went to work securing their shirts with rubber bands and picking their colors.

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The set we had on hand had a great mix of color choices!

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The boys picked their colors and began dying their shirts.

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We also picked up a pack of onesies so these two proud uncles could create a matching piece for their niece or nephew to be!

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While we worked we failed to take notice of the white bulldog under the table. Winnie happily sat in the shade, enjoying the cool drips from above. We had no idea she was down there until she emerged sporting some colorful new markings.

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She somehow gave herself two expressive, blue eyebrows and a generous sprinkle of freckles…

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None of which are coming off anytime soon!

Foodie Tuesday:

For our “Foodie Tuesday” fun, we decided to try out cake decorating. This is a hobby that both Grace and Molly have enjoyed playing around with, but one that the boys have yet to explore. I thought it would be a creative outlet that would appeal to my teenage boys since they get to eat their efforts in the end!

I baked 4 small cakes earlier in the day and let them cool in preparation of our cake decorating party.

 

Cake decorating supplies were pulled from the cabinet.

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When Toby got home from work we gathered in the dining room to decorate our cakes while dinner cooked.

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We chose which tips we wanted to use and began mixing our icing colors.

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It was fun to see everyone’s creativity emerge as they began putting icing to cake.

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The finished results were charming…and delicious!~

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Wet Wednesday:

Wet Wednesday was our slip-n-slide day!

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Tyler has been itching to slip and to slide since we played slip-n-slide kickball as a family a few weeks ago, so we pulled out the roll of plastic, the hose, and some dish soap and let him slip-and-slide to his heart’s delight!

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Take a Trip Thursday: 

For our first “Take a Trip Thursday” of the summer, we stayed close to home and headed over to Moraine lake for the day. Tyler’s friend, Jonathan, joined us. This was Tyler’s first time seeing anyone outside the immediate family since March. He has been itching to hang with friends, especially Jonathan, who he considers his best friend.

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We stopped at GetGo for picnic supplies,

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And enjoyed a day of fishing and swimming lakeside.

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It was a beautiful day to be outdoors!

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On the way home we made a stop at The Snowman for some cold treats.

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Family Fun Friday:

On Friday the boys and I decided to do something wild and fun. Tyler has been begging to dye his hair for years. After a hard few w at Patchwork Farm, I felt the need for some silliness and novelty trumped all else, so we headed to Walmart to pick out hair dye. It seemed to me if the boys were ever to sport purple or blue hair, now was the time. Currently we have no upcoming family photos, no huge life events, or any outside activities. We headed into Walmart donning our face masks. This was Tyler’s first time venturing into a store, which was part of why I said yes to his hair dye request. We have been worried about his increasing anxiety since lockdown began. We noticed that despite things slowly opening up around us, he has no desire to leave the house. His fear of Covid-19 is slowly becoming a more concerning hyper-focused phobia. Feeling that getting Tyler into a public space would allow us to”rip off the bandaid” and face his fears head-on before they became debilitating, was extra incentive to let him dye his hair a crazy color.

It worked. His desire to color his hair trumped his fear of being in public. I explained that he would have to enter Walmart so that he could pick the color he wants. We talked through his fears, came up with safety protocols to address his concerns and then bravely ventured in. It worked like a charm and I saw a visible lightening as he moved past the fear and dread associated with that first step back into society.

We arrived home after Rusty and Tyler picked their shades. Rusty chose silver hair color, hoping for something fun without it being too crazy.

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Tyler went with Cherry Red. His color gave me pause when the box warned that it should not be rinsed out in the sink or tub due to staining…but we bravely pushed on.

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First we colored, then we rinsed…and rinsed, and rinsed, and rinsed!

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Rusty’s change was minimal. I think he wished he had picked a more daring color after seeing how little the silver tinted his hair.

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Tyler’s was a bit bolder. He loved his finished look and I love that he faced his fears!

Fun all Week Long!

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This summer has set itself up to be different than summers past. Many of our usual activities won’t be happening due to the increased risk of certain pastimes, and the activities/vacations we had planned specifically for this summer have been canceled for the same reason. On top of that, the dynamic in the household has changed as we find ourselves down a few family members. Currently we only have two kids at home until Braden returns from his stay at his Pap’s house. Handel’s Ice Cream shop informed the boys last week that they won’t be reopening, so we also have two teenage boys out of work hustling to secure employment to help fund school in the fall.

In addition to hoping one of his job leads comes through, Rusty is taking summer classes through his college. Tyler, on the other hand, has a summer that is wide open. All of his out-of-the-house activities are currently cancelled or on hold, so his calendar is quite empty.

I think we have all been mourning the loss of what makes summer “summer,” and trying to figure out what this summer will look like at Patchwork Farm. There is a definite feeling of grief that has settled on our home as we mourn recent losses and navigate the emotions associated with those losses.

Although the challenges in our home might be unique to our situation, the feelings we are feeling are universal. I think many are feeling the emotional fatigue of the last few months and are craving what once was.

I recognize the “normal” that existed six months ago isn’t returning anytime soon, but as a family we need some semblance of a new “normal.” We need routine. We need something to look forward to. We need some fun…

So we came up with a plan.

Knowing that summer fun in the form of concerts, county fairs, vacations, and big family reunions were off the table this summer, we chose to focus on what we could do to make the summer fun, rather than focus on all that has been shut down for the sake of public safety.

We started by having a family pow wow one night at dinner and listing all the fun things we enjoyed doing during the summer months. After crossing off the things that aren’t safe or available in the midst of a pandemic, we found our list was still quite long. Then we added bucket list items…those things we have always wanted to do, learn, or try. Next we set aside our disappointment over canceled summer vacations, and made a list of local day trips we could enjoy instead. We compiled a list of places to see and things to do in Pennsylvania, with the plans to be tourists in our own “backyard.” Next we made a list of fun foods we wanted to bake and crafts we wanted to make. Once we had our master list it was time to organize our ideas…

Taking a page from Pinterest, we decided to organize all these fun ideas under daily themes:

Make it Monday: The day when we would try out a new art form or craft.

Foodie Tuesday: The day when we would try a new recipe.

Wet Wednesday: The day dedicated to wet and wild outdoor fun. (lake days, water balloon fights, slip n slide)

Take a Trip Thursday: The day we road-trip our way around Pennsylvania, exploring state parks and local sites.

Family Fun Friday: The day we would dedicate our evenings to themed dinners, game nights, or movie marathons.

Super Saturday: The day set aside for bigger, more extensive fun. With Toby at home, this day will be set aside for fishing trips, camping, drive-in movies or backyard Olympics.

Service Sunday: The day we would work on a service project as a family to bless others.

Once we decided on out themed days, we went to work sorting our master list into smaller lists for Monday-Sunday ideas that we can pick from each week. I think it will be a good way to make summer fun here at Patchwork farm.

Stay tuned for a peek into last week’s themed days!

 

Molly’s Missionary Message #1

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Hello friends and family!

I have been out in Draper, Utah officially for four days, but I feel like I have been out here for weeks!
Tuesday was a big day, starting with good-byes to my family in the morning. That was hard.
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Flying required two separate layovers to get to Utah. Once I arrived I was given a lot of new information. I met my mission president, President Meredith and his sweet wife. They are so very kind and have welcomed me with so much love.
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In fact, everyone welcomed me with open arms, which was such a blessing because it all started off very intimidating. In the afternoon of my first day I also met my two companions, Sister Seal and Sister Briones, party of three!
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They are so adorable and have such sweet spirits.
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Over all, Tuesday was full of lots of changes. Wednesday and Thursday offered a more of a normal schedule, as us sisters filled the day with teaching opportunities, meeting our district,
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Preparation day shopping,
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And a drive to the mountains. (They were stunning!)
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It has all been a lot to process but oh how great God’s love and mercy is! This goes up there as one of the greatest lessons God has been teaching me. John 14:27 is a powerful scripture to me right now because I have had many moments when fear or doubt have slipped in, leaving me feeling inadequate, but God is real! He has given me so many tender mercies. He doesn’t just help keep me afloat. He helps me to soar!
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 God is so good, always good! He hears our prayers and answers them. Perhaps not in the way we expect but peace in Christ can always be found!
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I am so deeply humbled by God’s grace and the love that I feel every day as I turn to Him to lift me up. I am also very grateful for this sacred opportunity to serve the Lord and be a blessing unto others.
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God knows and loves us individually and personally. He is good, always good and I believe this with a heart that overflows with gratitude.
Deepest love,
Sister McCleery

A Covid-19 Graduation Celebration

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This has been the weirdest graduation year…EVER!

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And it is doubly disappointing, as we have 2 graduating seniors.

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Due to Covid-19, 21st Century Cyber Charter School, like so many high schools across the nation, have opted for an alternative graduation ceremony rather than risk the possible spread of sickness. I certainly agree with their call but it is disappointing for Rusty and Braden who imagined their graduation from high school would look very different from how it looks now.

As Rusty’s senior shirt expresses, “Worst. Ending. Ever!”

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Gracie and Molly’s graduation from 21st Century Cyber Charter School looked quite different. For their ceremonies we traveled out east to Downingtown with friends, so that the girls could enjoy the festivities in person. We stayed at a hotel, they attended prom, and we enjoyed watching them walk across the stage with their high school friends.

Gracie’s graduation day:  https://ktmccleery.wordpress.com/2017/06/13/graduation-day/

Molly’s graduation day:  https://ktmccleery.wordpress.com/2019/06/10/mollys-graduation-day/

For Rusty and Braden there will be no trip, no prom, no graduation celebration with friends from school. All of our traditional graduation experiences are on hold, so I have spent the last month trying to come up with an idea of how we can celebrate their achievements and make them feel loved in a world where graduation parties are unsafe, restaurants are closed, and vacations are on hold.

This is what we came up with…

Memorial Day was our graduation celebration day for the boys. Their actual graduation ceremony will take place on June 11th on YouTube…the world we are living in is SO BIZARRE…but we wanted to celebrate the boys’ graduation from high school before Molly left for her mission on June 2nd, so Monday offered the perfect opportunity!

Our day was split into two parts. First we planned an outing for the morning, and then ended our celebration with a fun dinner at home. There was so little open on Memorial Day that it took some searching to find something we could do for their special day. We finally landed on Wagon Trails drive-thru animal safari.

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This was our first time visiting this local attraction, located 45 minutes away near Youngstown, Ohio. Wagon Trails Safari has been able to keep its doors open by making some adjustments to the experience they offer. Rather than having visitors board an open wagon and feed the roaming animals, they now have visitors remain in their car and drive through the park on their own. Guests are not allowed to feed the animals or get out of the car to walk through the petting zoo area of the safari, but the experience was still a lot of fun. It was nice to get out of the house, do something novel and unusual to celebrate the boys’ graduation, all while supporting a local business.

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We arrived, pulled up to a booth, and paid the admission fee. Our crew of eight were split into two cars so that everyone could have a window seat.

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Rusty and Tyler rode in Gracie and Zach’s car,

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And Molly and Braden rode with us.

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The animal park was split into enclosures where the animals freely roamed.

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Many species mingled with each other.

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Feeding troughs were placed near the road as to entice animals to hover close enough for guests to enjoy.

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It was a delight!

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Some of our favorite critters included the momma and baby pot belly pig,

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The herd of zebras,

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Goats, and elk, and deer…oh my!

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And of course, the bison.

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But the star of the safari were the ostriches!

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They did not recieve the social distancing memo!

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Standing as sentries along the road, they greeted each guest who approached, hoping that someone had treats stashed in their car. They were sorely disappointed and only let us pass once they realized we were contraband-free.

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These log-necked pick pockets were a delight!!

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It wasn’t the traditional senior celebration, but Wagon Trails offered us a great way to “make lemonade from lemons.”

Next Stop: home…for the second half of our graduation celebration!

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Since a graduation celebration with guests was an impossibility, and since restaurants are still “take-out” only, a meal out or a party with friends was impossible. Instead we celebrated at home with family.

The boys requested wings for their graduation celebration so after our animal safari Toby and I headed to Cranberry to pick up wings from Big Shot Bobs. We ordered a variety of flavors and when we returned home we had a veritable feast of meat!

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My big boys were in heaven!

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We gathered in the dining room to eat. It was already decorated for our celebration. The girls had helped me transition our dining room from the Disney décor leftover from our themed dinner night, to a graduation decorations for our two seniors.

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Following dinner we presented the boys with their graduation gifts. Typically our gift to the graduate is a trip or a personalized experience. As a family we definitely enjoy “doing” more than “having.” Unfortunately,  we are living in an uncertain world where so much is closed and travel plans must be written in pencil, so I racked my brain to come up with an alternative gift for the graduates. We didn’t want to just give them something or throw money at them. We wanted them to have something to look forward to…an experience that could be enjoyed. We decided to gift them each with a subscription box, personalized to their particular interests.

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We thought it was the best plan. It was doable, even with all that is going on in the world, and it would give them something to look forward to each month. Who doesn’t like getting a package in the mail?!

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With so many subscription boxes to pick from it was tough to chose. For Rusty we decided on a Disney World themed box in which he will receive a variety of theme park gifts and goodies each month. For Braden we subscribed to Loot Crate. His monthly package will include a mix of gaming gear. It was one of those “different but equal” gifts we strive for as parents when our children reach milestones simultaneously. I wanted them to feel equally loved while feeling loved in a way unique to their personalities and interests.

They were both thrilled!

Next Thursday the boys will graduate from 21st Century Cyber Charter school.

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Their ceremony will be a YouTube Live event, and rather than walking across a stage, these photos of them wearing their cap and gowns will be flashed across the screen.

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It may not be the ending they envisioned but it will be a notable beginning to an exciting future. Congratulations, boys! You did it!

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Disney Magic!

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The winds of change are coming to Patchwork Farm. As our state slowly moves from red to yellow, normalcy (under strict mitigation) is returning. This week work at the daycare resumes for Grace. Graduation is a week away for Rusty and Braden. Molly will be leaving us in seven days to head to Salt Lake City to serve as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for the next 16 months. Grace and Zach spent the weekend moving back to their little apartment, after living at Patchwork Farm for the last 9 weeks during quarantine. With all these changes coming down the pike, we have been working hard to create pockets of fun and memory-making opportunities before everyone scatters.

One way we have done this is through themed dinner nights. Gracie had the idea of having a Disney dinner night, an idea that our Disney-loving family jumped at!

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This was probably our most extensive themed dinner yet. This Disney-loving family had lots of ideas, and our inability to edit ourselves meant we incorporated

EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM!

This themed dinner took a day’s worth of effort as we spent all of last Wednesday shopping for groceries, decorating, cooking, and creating.

Our efforts began in the dining room as we transformed the space into a tribute to all things Disney, incorporating many decorations from Rusty’s room!

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Then we started cooking. Our meal was a hodgepodge of Disney-themed dishes.

Grace took on the task of creating corresponding food tags for each of our side dishes. Using water colors, she captured the Disney film represented by each dish.

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While she painted, Rusty and Molly helped me cook.

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Some of our culinary nods to classic Disney films included:

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Our main dish was Toy Story’s Pizza Planet Pizza. We made the pizza dough ahead of time. When Toby and Zach arrived home from work everyone was sent to their rooms to dress for dinner. Everyone was instructed that they were to arrive at dinner Disney-bounding as a character from a Disney movie or ride.

Many of our outfits paid tribute to Toy Story…

With Molly representing Woody:

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Tyler dressed as a Pizza Planet delivery boy:

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And Toby and I as Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head:

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Rusty came to dinner Disney-bounding as Brer Fox from Splash Mountain:

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Others came to dinner dressed not as a particular character, but instead sporting Disney gear.

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Then it was time to make our personal pizzas. Everyone got a ball of homemade pizza dough that Grace had mixed ahead of time, and plenty of toppings to pick from. The kids enjoyed getting to create their own culinary masterpiece.

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As the pizzas baked everyone headed into the dining room to check out the other goodies,

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Including character cupcakes for each family member.

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When the pizzas were done baking everyone dished up and headed to the dining room where we enjoyed a delicious dinner paired with Disney music and Disney movie trivia.

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We REALLY loved “The Grey Stuff!” Here is the recipe we used if you’d like to try it yourself…YUM!

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Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups of cold whole milk
  • 1 (3.4 ounce) package of instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 15 chocolate cookie sandwiches (Oreos)
  • Food processor
  • 1 (8 ounce) container whipped topping, thawed
  • 3 tablespoons instant chocolate pudding mix
  • Edible sugar pearls
  • Directions

    1. Pour milk into a large mixing bowl. Add instant vanilla pudding mix and whisk for 2 minutes until smooth and slightly thickened. Place in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours, until firm.

    2. Place chocolate sandwich cookies in food processor and pulse until pureed.

    3. Fold pureed cookies into pudding mix. Stir until fully mixed.

    4. Add whipped topping and instant chocolate pudding. Stir until fully mixed.

    5. Place in refrigerator and chill for one hour.

    6. Spoon grey stuff into piping bag fitted with desired tip. Pipe grey stuff into cups. Top with sugar pearls.

    7. Enjoy your very own grey stuff, because as Lumiere says, “It’s delicious!”

It was a “magical” night!

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Let’s Go to the Movies!

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Last weekend we ventured out for the time since March for an excursion other than a supply run or essential business. Our local drive-in movie theater received permission from Harrisburg to re-open. While movie theaters are considered high risk environments, drive-in movie theaters have been deemed safe.

Offering all the best of the movie theater experience with minimal risks, and we jumped at the chance to get out of the house and watch a movie on the big screen.

Dependable Drive-in has created a new set of policies to keep guests safe… guidelines that were handed to each guests at the entrance.

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These guidelines included an unoccupied space between each car as they opened at 1/2 capacity, mandatory masks if guests left their parking spot, the addition of touchless soap dispensers, sinks, and paper towel dispensers in the bathrooms, with a limit of two guests in the bathrooms at a time.

They were also allowing guests to bring in their own food for those hesitant to take advantage of online ordering at the concession stand.

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On opening night Dependable Drive-in was offering two movies. It was a test run for the drive-in, so rather than offering double features at their four screens, they offered a single movie at two of their screens. The choices were Trolls: World Tour or The Vast of Night (An Amazon original movie). We opted for the latter.

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Suspecting that opening night might be busy, and since they were only admitting half the capacity, we arrived at the drive-in 90 minutes before the movie began. We weren’t the only ones being proactive. As we turned off the highway exit we were greeted with a line of brake lights, as cars waited to enter the drive-in.

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When it was our turn to enter we paid the special “opening weekend” price of .50/person. For a whopping $3.00 we enjoyed a night at the movies!

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As we waited for the movie to begin, we played card games, safely tucked away in our parking spot.

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As the opening strains of the Star Spangled banner began to play, signaling the start of the movie, treats were passed out and we settled back to enjoy the show.

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A review of The Vast of Night as taken by a reader on IMDb:

“The Vast of Night is a classic tale that stays true to what makes the subgenre so appealing, while innovating and delivering fresh and interesting tactics to keep your eyes glued to the screen.

From the moment the film introduces us to one of our protagonists, we are greeted to an amazing long-take tracking shot that would make Iñárritu (ala Birdman) jealous. These beautiful tracking shots persist throughout the film, including one where we are quickly transported through the quiet small town setting seamlessly into the busy action of the high-school basketball game. These shots are also complimented by long takes that have almost no obvious movement at all, save for maybe a methodical zoom towards the character as they deliver a captivating monologue. In fact, there are moments where there are no visuals at all but simply a black screen allowing us to focus entirely on what is being told.

Dialogue and performances are also a highlight. The slick and smooth conversation starts immediately as we are introduced to our characters, helping transport us easily into the 1950s. This is assisted by the spectacular performances that never let up. Whether it be a tense monologue, fast-paced banter, or fervent arguing, every emotion feels real.

As for screenplay, the film plays out in real-time which let’s us hang on every lasting feeling of mystery and suspense. The Vast of Night masterfully balances both hiding and teasing us with aspects of a reveal that do enough to terrify and excite, leading up to a simply beautiful payoff that feels as rewarding as it is earned.”

Some enjoyed it more than others. It definitely had a more creative and artistic filming style that lent to a Alfred Hitchcock or Twilight Zone vibe. The suspense was built through interesting camera angles and movie soundtrack. I loved it and found the movie charming and engaging, but some of my kids found it lacking in special effects and action scenes. Regardless of the mixed reviews, we all enjoyed a night out of the house after months in lockdown!

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