Journey Mercies . . .

Journey Mercies . . .

Have you ever prayed for someone who was going on a long trip?  Maybe one that would take them to a place they have never been or one that could put them in harms way? Did you ever ask the Lord for journey mercies on their behalf?  Sixteen years ago I divorced.  After 23 years of marriage and four kids, I found myself alone. As traumatic as that was, the thought of being on my own was even more overwhelming. Would I be able to afford to stay in my home, pay my bills and move forward in my life? Was I strong enough to face the future head on?  Who would ask for journey mercies on my behalf?  I felt frozen.

Some of you know that feeling.  No matter what situation you’re in, it starts in the pit of your stomach, creates a feeling of hopelessness and speaks loudly to your inner self . .  “You’re never going to be able to do this.”  It was the most devastating time in my life!

I had been working for O’Connor Mortuary nearly three years at that time, and when Joe O’Connor, the CEO, saw me struggling, he became the first of many who offered their wisdom.  Like a child, I found myself eagerly paying attention, so I wouldn’t miss a thing.

I listened closely as he made suggestions and offered solutions.  One turned out to be a most valuable asset.  Sylvia Szabo-Larson, a friend of Joe’s and a fellow Rotarian.  Meeting Sylvia was the first of many positive changes that I would make.

My initial appointment with Sylvia was certainly not what I expected.  We talked about my fears of being single and that of being overwhelmed financially. Not only did she understand me, but had experienced some of those same fears.  For the first time in a long time, I felt a sense of peace inside.  This new someone was going to show me how to take care of myself.  You would think, after 50 years of living, I could figure it out on my own.  I was wrong!  I had made some terrible decisions in my life, both personal and financial.  Now they were all on the table. The journey had begun.

We began talking about my future.  Really? Did I have a future at this late date?   I couldn’t think past that moment, much less 20 years down the road.  Her words cut to my core . . . “to build you will need to sacrifice.”  How can I sacrifice when I don’t have anything left to give?  Her reply, “you do, and you will.” 

This was the first of many meetings, but each time we met, I realized that I was making positive changes and moving in the right direction.  I listened and I responded. I realized that for me, sacrificing meant saying yes to hard work when all I wanted to do was say no! I trusted her expertise, achieved my goals, and have begun setting new ones.  In the beginning of this journey, I was overcome with fear, but I learned that if I persevered I would succeed, and I did!

Here are four things I have found to be true, as I have moved through the past 16 years.

•  It’s never too late to begin again!  When we’re at our lowest the only way out is up!  It’s ok to fail. It means you are trying, so pull yourself together and start again!

•  Find quality people you trust.  We all have access to people in our lives that we admire for their character, wisdom, or their ability to rise above adversity. Seek their advice, or use them as someone you are accountable to.

•  Sacrifice.  It’s better than the alternative.  Becoming empowered financially was the first objective.  It meant that down the road the proverbial “nest egg” would be waiting. Know in your heart that you can accomplish anything.  You can!

•  Keep Moving Forward.  Be courageous and fearless.  There will always be challenges, but they will strengthen your resolve to succeed.  Hold fast to your commitments.  Here’s a great link for women in transition or any of us looking for encouragement, education, and self empowerment: They are dedicated to providing opportunities, experience and education though diverse programs that enhance and empower all women – their families, careers and communities.

None of this happened overnight.  It took a long time for me to overcome the fear of failure, past, present and future.  It was one step at a time, one decision at a time.  My blog entries will be about the Journey Mercies I’ve received in my life whether they be joyful moments of success, difficult lessons, or simply the hugs from my grandchildren when I need them most.

Here are some questions for you:

Have you ever had to start over?

What was your greatest challenge and who did you turn to?

What was your greatest success?  I’d love to hear your story!


Molly Keating
Molly Keating
Hello! I'm Molly and I run & manage the Blog here at O'Connor. I grew up in a mortuary with a mortician for a father who's deep respect for the profession inspired me to give working at a mortuary a try. Work at O'Connor has brought together two of my deep passions, writing & grief awareness. In 2016 I earned Certification in the field of Thanatology, the study of Death, Dying and Bereavement. I am honored to be able to speak on these taboo topics with knowledge, compassion, and a unique perspective. I want to sincerely thank you for following & reading the blog, I hope that this is a healing place for you.


  1. Marilyn Sechler says:

    This blog comes at a most perfect time in my life. After 39 years of marriage, I have gone out on my own with no real sense of where I’m going or how I’ll manage. I’m not getting a divorce, yet. I don’t know what I want. I don’t even know how to figure it out other than to wait and see. All I know for sure is that I don’t want what I’ve had for the last two years. Uncertainty and financial adversities that could have been avoided if we had been on the same page.

    It’s very sad that two people can spend almost a lifetime growing up together, raising a family together, and planning a future together only to discover that there comes a time when they are on a different page. How does this happen?

    It happens when one day you wake up one and realize that you are entitled to your own opinions and thoughts. It happens when you give yourself permission to look out for yourself. It happens when you quit being 100% part of a one sided team. It happens when you finally realize that your own happiness is every bit at important as anyone else’s.

    I’ve lived very comfortably most of my life. That’s comfortable as in ‘material things’. Now I’m living a very simple lifestyle and watching my pennies. I’m much happier now. I make my own decisions. I rely on no one but myself. I’ve quit fixing other people’s problems and inconveniences. And I am able to do this because I have some very dear girlfriend’s who were forced into this same lifestyle and survived. They have been my support system. They are helping me through this transition.

    God knew what he was doing when he made Gal Pals and Best Friends. I am truly blessed!

    • Patricia Kolstad says:

      Hello dear friend:
      Thank you so much for sharing your journey. I am so very proud of you and the steps you are taking to bring peace back into your life. I have watched from afar as you have “been there” for everyone, never thinking about yourself and your own needs. I support your decision to take a step back and look at your life from a different perspective. It doesn’t mean that you are finished in your marriage. To me it means giving yourself an opportunity to grow and be an individual with hopes and dreams, ideas and value. I know you are strong. And I will support you in whatever decision you decide is best for you. Thank you for sharing. I know how difficult that can be when your in the throws of uncertainty. Move forward, be fearless, and seek out those you respect and trust to help you along the way. You will succeed. Please keep in touch and let us all know how you are doing. I know how important it is to share our journey! I love you dearly.

  2. cindy bock says:

    Congratulations, these articles are fantastic and the magic you have sprinkled in is captivating. You are so articulate and heart warming in your experiences. Your passion, devotion and integrity are some of your many wonderful qualities. You are an excellent example of success and I am blessed for connecting with you on this journey.

    My best wishes for your prosporous journey,
    Cindy bock

    • Patricia Kolstad says:

      Hello Cindy,
      Thank you so much for your kind words. It has been such a blessing to me to re-connect with you after a couple of years, and learn of your desires and passions to help caregivers better serve families. You have a tender heart and a gifted mind, and I know you will bring your dream to reality soon. Good things come to those who do good things. You have been that person as I have watched you make something from nothing. We, as women, can define our lives if we want. It make take us down some “roads less traveled”, but as we get our bearings, we see that we really are moving forward toward our goal. I will support and help you in any way I can , because I value you as a woman and as a friend. Keep moving forward!

  3. Susan Conforti says:

    Continue on, Pat, “from strength to strength” as we Jews say. Or colloquially, “You go girl!”
    May you continue to receive every good thing and have the time and friends with whom to enjoy all your blessings.

    • Patricia Kolstad says:

      Dear Susan:
      Thank you so much for your comments. It’s friends like you that make our journey so worthwhile. Even though there will be difficult days, I know I can call on those who I love and respect for guidance and love. I have enjoyed so much, getting to know you. I so respect your desire to walk beside those in crisis or near death. You are the face they need, and you are there. Thank you for using the gifts God provided. You are a wonderful servant.

  4. Anne Collins says:

    Do you realize, Pat that I began working with you a mere couple of weeks before your present journey started? I have been there through all of it, the good and the bad. I have watched you blossom, change, mature and succeed in things that truly terrified you at the outset. I believe you will be well for the rest of the journey, for you have put in the effort, made the changes, taken and applied the advice of those who knew and sacrificed to make the future more secure. You weren’t afraid to ask for prayer and friend support when the day’s problems were too great. All in all, I think you have a lot to say and if this post is an example, I can’t wait to see what you have to say next!!

    • Patricia Kolstad says:

      My dear friend, Annie
      Thank you for your kind words, your faithfulness to me, and the unending power of your prayers. You truly are a “prayer warrior”, and have made a difference in the way my journey has gone. You held me through those days when all I could do was cry and you made it all the better by offering up your lovingkindness through prayer. We have a deep respect and love for one another and I am grateful to call you my friend. What we share is faith and trust. Two powerful gifts of a great friendship. Thank you so much for your support and care for me all these years. It does take special people to care for those who are hurting. Amazing, isn’t it . . . that you are here?

      God Bless you, Annie


  5. Karilyn Leslie says:

    To my little Momma,
    So proud of you and what you have built for yourself and our family! You are a great example of strength and tenacity. Thank you for your support of all of us over the years. In many ways you are like the Phoenix rising out of the ashes of what could have been a disaster. Now you are flying with new new wings and beauty that surpasses what was your life. I am right at the age you were when your new journey began, and I am so thankful for the examples you set every day of love and support for your family and friends.
    I love you big as the world!!
    Kari Lyn

    • Patricia Kolstad says:

      My darling “first born” . .
      Your support and encouragement has brought me through the “dark days” of the past and helped me to gain strength and renewed hope for what could be. You have always been “present” when things weren’t going well. I have been encouraged, applauded, and most of all loved unconditionally by you and your family. It is because of those qualities that I have had the courage to begin again and realize that, in the end, all we have are each other. And isn’t that what this journey is all about . . Caring and strengthening our hope for a better future and a deep love for one another? You are my hope and I love you!

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