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: www.womansage.org/. 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!

 

Patricia

Patricia

About Patricia

I’m a native Californian, born and raised in Long Beach. I raised 4 great kids and now have 9 grandchildren. I’m experiencing the greatest chapter of my life right now. I’m blessed beyond words, and so grateful for each day. I’ve been with the O’Connor Family for the past 19 years and have counted it one of my deepest joys and greatest accomplishments. Never did I realize that a passion could become a profession. I have come to believe that serving others, in whatever capacity, gives me a sense of purpose. It has also given me the opportunity to meet incredible healthcare professionals as well as myriads of selfless volunteers. And out of those relationships have come deep, meaningful friendships. We all have an opportunity to do good work. My goal is to create trusting relationships. My desire is to know that what I have done matters. I sum this up with a quote by Norm Henderson . . . “I want to plant trees under whose shade I may not sit”.
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  • Karilyn Leslie

    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

      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!

  • Anne Collins

    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

      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

      Pat

  • Susan Conforti

    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

      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.

  • cindy bock

    Patricia,
    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

      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!

  • Marilyn Sechler

    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

      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.

  • GREG FORSTER

    Pat, just a note to say “thank you” for sharing some of your life’s journey with us. You stated it very well, that we need to both seek out and savor the “journey mercies” that we may and in fact do receive during our personal journeys of life. What a terrific accomplishment when we can encounter those who can help us so that we may then be emboldened to move forward in turn to help others. Congrats to you on your personal strength and goal achievements!

    Greg

    • Patricia Kolstad

      Greg . . . thank you so much.
      It’s been so wonderful getting to know you and really seeing your desire to make a difference in the lives of those we serve. I feel that you are on a journey as well, taking a path that most would hesitate to travel. I sense your commitment and passion for service to others, and I want you to know that I will support you and help you in anyway that I can. We are all on this journey together, whether we realize it or not. It matters to me that I walk along side strangers and friends, as did those who walked my road with me. Thank you for your strength and stick-to-it-tiveness, in a profession that you see no acknowledgment until a family says . . . “Thank you so much for helping to make this process so much easier for us and for our family” I see that happening for you. Never give up!

      Pat

  • Cheryl Lanterna

    Dear Pat,
    What a beautifully written and meaningful piece! Knowing you as I do, I am not surprised by your wise and most insightful presentation. I found so many personally useful and meaningful “pieces of advice” to think about and to ponder in my own life! Thank you for sharing such a personal, and educational journey with all of us and for giving us ways to face our own journies. I can always count on you to put life’s trials into perspective and to give useful advice on how to face them. You have done that again. Love the four things you have learned, will put them where I can see them all the time! I forwarded this to my daughters and husband too!
    I am so impressed my friend! I am looking forward to more .

    • Patricia Kolstad

      Cheryl
      My goodness, hasn’t this been an amazing friendship! From marketing colleagues to dear, dear friends. I have so enjoyed our deep, heartfelt talks as we have traversed Lake Mission Viejo. We have literally “spilled our guts” as we have cried and laughed at ourselves and our families. I believe that when you are passionate about something, it matters to share. We have discussed our heartaches and our days of joy. We have celebrated the births of our grandchildren and how amazingly they have changed our lives. And out of those conversations, we now have a lifelong friendship. Thank you for always being there for me. It matters more that I will ever be able to express. Lake Mission Viejo – here we come!

  • Lori Bristol

    MP,

    You are such a role model to those of us who are single and have to make life decisions for ourselves.

    I was in the midst of starting over a few years before coming to work with you. I had not been working for a couple of years and did not have any idea of what I was interested in doing as full time work. It was a very depressing time for me. I felt very lost.

    Around that time I began attending Saddleback Church. I volunteered in various ministries and formed some wonderful friendships. While serving in the Memorial Ministry I met many of the directors from O’Connor. I knew I had found my home.

    I am so excited about this chapter of my life. I enjoy my work family and how we serve families together.

    Continued Journey Mercies to you!!

    Love you,
    Lori

    • Patricia Kolstad

      Lori . . . my adopted daughter.
      Thank you for your note and for sharing your journey with me and others. It never ceases to amaze me how we all came to this family. Our lives are so intertwined with stories of heavy burdens, sacrifices, answered prayer, celebration, gratefulness, joy, peace, contentment. Not always in that order, and not always inclusive. But it gives us reason to hope for a better tomorrow. I believe this to be true . . that we are all responsible for our lives and for what we choose to do with them. We can sit back on our laurels and hope someone will take care of us, or we can move forward and take charge. And like the Nike sports giant says, “just do it!” We have the strength, we just need cheerleaders. And whether we make it or we fail . . we did it on our own. Failure is the challenge to rise again. Failing without a renewed plan is tragic. We need to be the role models for our girls, our teens, our young women, and those ladies who never expected to be alone and facing the future with little hope. We need to be “in the present” and offer our support and our resources.

      • Lori Bristol

        Well said!!

  • Pat –
    Life is full of stop & starts, struggle, struggle, struggle and then freedom. When we think we have it “all” we really have nothing, and when we think we have nothing, we really have everything we need already.

    The circle of trust, “family & friends” can help guide us when we are drifting in life. I can relate to searching for many answers in life, most of the answers I looked for came from a dear friend of family member who helped shape me.

    I have seen you get uncomfortable with your self and become bold with your perceptive, to me that is success.
    I have enjoyed watching you grow over these years, you make me proud to be in your company.

    • Patricia Kolstad

      My dear friend
      We have experienced much together these past 19 years. We have laughed deeply, cried unashamedly, and celebrated with all our hearts, and struggled to understand each others views. You have been an integral part of who I have become, as a woman, a colleague, a survivor, and a leader. Thank you for your support, love, friendship, guidance and your desire to see me succeed. I will forever be thankful.

  • Carrie Bayer

    What an inspiration for me- thank you so much for sharing your well-earned wisdom, Pat! I have learned from your experience & am grateful you are willing to talk about your journey. Thank you!

    • Patricia Kolstad

      Carrie
      I’m so proud of your transformation. You are becoming a woman of strength and passion, and one that I am proud to work along side. Your life’s story will include some very poignant times, and you will become a mentor to others as you share your walk with them. I see your strength and your willingness to do the hard work. I’m so proud of you!

  • Jeff Turner

    My friend,

    Like others who have responded to this writing, I too have lived through much of this journey with you. There is something about this place we call work, O’Connor Mortuary, our work family, the people we spend more time with than our own family, that has an energy, power and force to help transform us from who we were when we started here, into people we would never have guessed we could become. I believe a great part of this is the influence of a man, his family and his desire to provide help to those in special need. It turns out that Joe O’Connor, Jr. loves to help others in time of need. He has created the environment where we have become part of his extended “family” to all who work under this roof. You and I have been two of the very fortunate beneficiaries of his character and faith lived out in everything he touches.

    Your transformation has been truly remarkable. It is not without its difficulties, set backs and moments of panic. What has come from some of the darkest moments, is strength and resolve you could not have discovered in any other way. The shadow times also provided Joe O’Connor and others the opportunity to speak into your life, guide, suggest, direct and help you hope for better times. The better times have been more plentiful than the gray days, have they not? Thank you for giving me hope in many of my uncertain and joyless moments. I am thankful to you also for sharing in the seemingly impossible triumphs of yours and your family’s.

    We never know when we meet anyone in life, just what our journey together will lead us to. It has been my privilege to any small part of yours.

    Your friend.

    • Patricia Kolstad

      To my dearest friend . .
      You were the foundation that I used to build back that which was torn down. Our friendship is deep and goes back more years than I want to say, but being carpool buddies for 12 years, you were the one who sat quietly and listened to my broken spirit and damaged heart. You were the one who supported me and strengthened my resolve to push through those dark days. You showed me Grace. Not every woman has a best man friend. You are that to me. You, Karen, Molly and Andy have been family to me and I cherish that so much. A lot that I have learned over these past years is how you helped me to be able to show Grace to others. I hope that I am able to reflect all that I have learned from you to those who are traveling that unmarked road to who knows where. I want to be that mentor that you were to me. We have learned so much about life, friendship, devotion and unconditional love. Thank you for the gifts you have given to me, convincing me that there was a brighter future ahead. I believed you then . . . and I believe you now!

  • Wow, so many amazing comments here! What a testimony to the power of your own testimony, Aunt Pat! I’ve known and loved you for almost as long as I can remember. Growing up you were a sort of smiling hug that I just loved running into. Even more so now. It is a true privilege to sit next to you and hear your heart, your wisdom, your hopes & constant prayers for your children & grandchildren. Your journey has been a remarkable and the courage you displayed is awesome. But what I find all the more wonderful is that you are inspiring me NOW in your every day life as you sit at your desk.
    I treasure you, this precious time that I get to work with you, and the lovely moments when our hearts get to speak together. I love your heart & I’m so happy that there is this place to share it. Thank you for the beautiful post.

    • Patricia Kolstad

      Sweet Molly . . .
      What a privilege it has been to watch you grow from that beautiful baby girl to a woman of substance! Who would have known that after all these years we would be sharing an office and enjoying the collaboration of our ideas. You are such a smart, savvy lady, tenderhearted and the very best of “listeners!” You are an old soul, Molly, as we move though our conversations together. I find that very heartwarming. Thank you for your deep, rich, heritage and your ability to create what I dream up in my mind. I love you dearly, and I am thankful for our “family” connection.
      Aunt Pat

  • Pat,

    It has been awesome and wonderful to watch you become the butterfly you are today. Keep the faith and love in your life and the journey will always be entertaining. Thank you for being a part of my life, I,m so happy to be a part of yours.

    Chuck Ricciardi

  • Patricia Kolstad

    Chuckie, Chuckie, Chuckie . . .
    I can’t believe that I have know you since you were in your 20’s . . . late 20’s that is! What a remarkable friend you have been to me. I have learned so much about the “power of pause” with you. You are the man that sits quietly, intently listening to whoever is across from you, taking in the conversation and never interrupting. You never raise your voice and always have a tidbit of wisdom to impart, whether you spoke it or it was revealed through your actions. You are a wonderful teacher. We have gone through some very hurtful times together and we have leaned on each other for strength. You, my friend, are a big part of my history with O’Connor, and I am grateful to have your constant support and love as I continue this journey.

  • Diane Kopylow

    What an articulate and insightful way to continue your work of serving others! Wow. These comments are proof of your validity of spirit! I am so grateful to be able to call you my friend. You are courageous to share such an intimate story, but it is one that so many can relate to… therefore it was worth your effort. It is obviously written from the heart, but I do believe I felt your soul within as well. Thank you, my friend.

    • Patricia Kolstad

      Diane:
      Thank you so much for your note and for your support of my journey. It has been extremely cathartic to share again, and I look toward the future with eyes wide open. I hope that my words not only touch the reader, but give them a sense of hope. You are such a wonderful woman, strong and sensitive – a combination that creates a meaningful depth of character. I want you to know how blessed I’ve been to have you as a friend. You are so joyous and positive, and I know why your students loved you so dearly!

  • Maria Fernandez

    Pat,
    Wish I could just go over there and give you a hug for writing this. You are such a strong woman and such a good friend and your story is so inspiring. As children of God we are blessed to know that All things work together for good to those who are the called according to his purpose. He’s so faithful to bring people to hold up our arms during those trying times and fill our hearts with unexplainable peace. Please continue sharing… this is powerful!
    Maria

    • Patricia Kolstad

      Maria
      Thank you so much for your comments. We all have times in our lives where we need the support of others. Our circle of family and friends become the “ears” to hear our cries for help and to direct us to those who will serve us best. I know that you understand this better than most women your age. I would be the first to call on you and George for help if I knew of a family member or friend who delivered a premature baby. You know the struggles, heartaches and successes – and the importance of a strong support circle. Thank you again, for sharing your thoughts.
      Pat

  • Kristen

    How can I possibly follow all of these beautiful comments? Mom, I am so intrigued and inspired by your story. This road was one I traveled with you quite intimately, yet reading your words (YOUR struggles and difficult decisions) leaves me with a very real sense of humility for the heartaches you endured. I often think of that time in our lives, though my thoughts invariably turn inward, seeking out my own lessons and blessings from that journey. I value so much the opportunity to appreciate this story from your own eloquent words. YOU ARE AN AMAZING WOMAN. It is overwhelming to replay it all in my mind from your vantage point, imagining the angst and fear you felt. This life is your victory! (The previous comments are a testament to that.). Gaining such an articulate and loving person for a Mama is one of the greatest blessings God has given me from that journey. I can’t wait to read more….it’s wonderful getting to know you better! Love you, Mom.

    • Patricia Kolstad

      I think of you, your love and support, each time I write. You have been there through the good and the bad and have encouraged me in countless ways. I remember the cards you would leave me that spoke of love and the possibilities of a new life. And after all these years . . . here I am. A new and better life. We Kolstad women are strong and are pioneers when it comes to new beginnings. Thank you, my darling daughter, for never giving up on me and for supporting me through my dark days. You are a gift and I will be forever grateful to you. I love you, dearly.

  • Amy

    You are a courageous woman, an inspiration to others. We could all learn from you. Thanks for being so open and honest about your personal journey.

    • Patricia Kolstad

      Thank you, Amy, for your kind words.
      In my life I have learned that we all travel a road with peaks and valleys. I’ve also learned that it’s ok to be in the valleys . . that’s where all the hard work is done, and where we can appreciate the view from the mountain tops! I have also learned that we need support. Whether it be from family, a pastor, a close friend or mentor. Being able to share life’s disappointments helps us through. Each day is a gift, and I have chosen to live out the rest of my days with a heart of gratitude for my life and for those who have supported and helped me along the way. I have been blessed beyond measure.

  • Fitz

    Pat,

    Thanks for sharing your story. I have watched you grow all these years to become so confident and assured. You are an inspiration!
    I appreciate you for all you do and am so glad you’re a part of my and my family’s life.
    Fitz

    • Patricia Kolstad

      Thank you Fitz, for your sweet comments.

      It has been an incredible journey, and one that you have watched unfold. Simply put, you have been an integral part of my growth and for that I am profoundly grateful. It has been wonderful to know you and your sweet family and watch your children grow into such incredible young people. You are blessed, as I am by your friendship.

      Pat

  • Kori Marie Kolstad

    My Beautiful Mother,
    I love you and have never been more proud that you are my mother than I am at this moment. You told your story eloquently and gave some sage advice. I am so grateful to the Lord for our relationship and for the restoration in our family.
    Love, Kori Marie

    • My sweet daughter
      Without all of you, this story would have never been told. You all have given me the courage and strength to move forward each day with confidence in knowing who I am and where I want to be. I am equally proud of you and your journey. At some point I want to share your life then and now. I know that you would be a huge inspiration to those who may be struggling with their trials.
      Thank you for your love and your support. It means so very much to me.
      I love you . . . Mom

    • My dear daughter. . . Ours is a story to be told. Who would have ever thought that so many years down the road we would all be together celebrating each others journey. May it never cease! The story is new and exciting. Let’s write it together! I love you dearly,
      Momma