Tag Archives: epiphany

I Philosophize About Epiphanies

16 Oct

When I began this blog a friend asked me, upon hearing the title, “But what if you don’t have any epiphanies one week? What will you write about then?” I refrained from smiling but I admit I thought, “You aren’t a writer, are you?”

The truth is, a writer can write whether inspired by some huge revelation or not. I can write about the big stuff, yes, but I can also write about the normal moments of life. The day-to-day events that create me far more than the big things. Because, while big things may mold us faster, it’s the daily stuff that makes us able to face those big moments with grace.

While the huge “Epiphanous Moments” may not come every day, every time I sit down to write (or stand at the sink and get to thinking or drive into town while pondering) I have moments where life becomes a little more clear, where things clarify themselves into coherent thoughts or sentences and I have to run to the computer to jot down my revelations (or write them on the back of a business card if I happen to be in the car, all while keeping my eyes on the road and upholding the law).

I think that most of us have small moments of realization all the time. I will think about some decision I have to make: let’s say, to dye my gray hair or not. I ruminate. I puzzle it out. I consider. This may take anywhere from a few minutes or hours to weeks or months. Then, quite suddenly, I know. I have decided. And, of course, I want to act NOW. I get on the phone and make the appointment. Preferably for that very day, though, in the case of haircuts, that never seems to work. (In case you’re wondering: I haven’t yet decided about my gray. I’m still too freaked out to decide. I do know I need a haircut, though.)

Yes, those small decisions or epiphanies, if you will, happen all the time. But I do certainly have huge epiphanies, too. Take the moment that I knew for sure that I wanted to marry my husband. We had been talking about the “M” word and I knew that he (being the researcher that he is) had bought a “secret book” about marriage (Saving your Marriage Before it Starts, by Les and Leslie Parrott) which he wouldn’t tell me the title of lest it freak me out. We’d talked about the future, about kids and life together, but he hadn’t yet officially gotten down on one knee…which he eventually did exactly 17 years ago next month, in the snow, in the gazebo (and camp) where we had met. I totally knew what my answer would be at that moment…thanks to the thinking I had given to the issue prior to that event…and The Epiphanous Moment that came as I stood by my computer one evening and suddenly JUST KNEW.

“Yes,” I said to myself, watching him as he worked on the computer. “Yes.” I hadn’t been contemplating it just then…it just smacked into me from the blue. “YES! This is the person I want to spend the rest of my life with.” There. Decision made. No regrets.

I remember that moment clearly – though it was not romantic or memorable in any other way. It was a decision reached after the question had been left to simmer on the back burner of my brain. It was a decision made in a normal moment of life, knowing that I wanted all the rest of my normal moments to include him.

I did not know the moment was coming until it came. Such is the mystery of the epiphany. It is untouchable/unforcable/ unforeseen. And it is jolly good when it comes.

And that, my friends, is why I blog my epiphanies. Even if it’s a lesser decision – to dye or not to dye – I can write about it. I can make it work. I’m never at a loss for topics. The huge epiphanies may not come every day…and that’s okay. Just like my decision to marry The Sailboat King…I want my blog to include the normal moments in life.

I want to stand by my computer and say, “Yes”!

It’s Epiphany!

6 Jan

Just a tiny post because I can’t ignore the fact that, in the church calendar, today is Epiphany!

That means that today commemorates the day that the Wisemen arrived before wee Jesus with their gold, frankincense and myrrh. Or, as I’ve heard it said, “God, Frankinstein and Murray.” Whoever Murray was.

Notice I did not say “baby” Jesus. We think that they actually arrived 2 years later, when Jesus wasn’t at the stable anymore. Though, to be sure, we continue to enjoy the tableau of those cute small boys in their father’s bathrobes in the traditional Christmas pageant!

Pageant kiddos. Wisemen included!

Now why this day is called “epiphany” and how it connects to having an epiphany, I do not know exactly. Perhaps it dawned on the Magi in an epiphonous moment (I think I made that word up. My spell-checker sure thinks I did.) that the wee baby was, indeed, God incarnate. Though it seems as if they must have suspected that when they set out on their trip. I know that I’d want to be pretty sure of something if embarking on a two-year (or longer) journey to find it.

My youngest...slightly distracted during the program.

I am try to understand, exactly, the connection of “epiphany” as we normally use it, and the “epiphany” of the wise men. I do know that “epiphany”, according to Webster’s, means “a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something.” I also know that another meaning Webster’s gives is that epiphany “commemorates the manifestation of Christ to the gentiles in the persons of the Magi” (the wisemen).

So…to combine those two meanings, the wisemen received insight into God when they met Him in the person of His son, Jesus, a two-year old boy living with his human parents somewhere in the Middle East. They perceived Jesus to be, in essence, God. They had an epiphany – a flash of insight – when they saw him – or, perhaps, finally meeting him was the apex of an epiphany that had been two or more years in the making.

They met Him and their lives were changed. Just as our lives can be changed by Him today.

I don’t know that any of my epiphanies are that important. That life-changing. That world-changing. Actually, I KNOW they aren’t! But I do know that I’m loving writing about them, loving your responses and the connections being made with you all every Tuesday.

Thanks for following my epiphanies! May you be inspired by The Epiphany today.

Yes, it is a fine day for an epiphany!

PS – I was inspired by Dick Staub’s blog when writing this. http://dickstaub.com/staublog/epiphany-pay-attention-be-astonished-tell-about-it-use-words-only-if-necessary/

The whole gang!

Horror Show – aka, Tanya’s Most Forgettable Student

11 Oct

My Matryoshka Dolls...looking a wee bit faded, some of them, but I'm still quite fond of them.

Every day in blog-land I get a listing of search terms that have brought people to read about my epiphanies. In fact, often the “top searches” include the word “epiphany”…no surprise there. “How often do epiphanies occur?” was one I got a kick out of. How does one answer that question?!

Usually these searches are quite innocuous, though sometimes they are downright weird. Terms like, “Pan Am plane” or “Wicked Witch of the West picture” (which has been modified by words such as, “looking sideways” or “with shadow”) are fairly unexciting. I get “Cogsworth” searchers, Amplemann searches, and “helicopter” searches and – especially after the new TV show has come out – Pan Am searches. I have gotten people looking for “witches on Bainbridge Island” – that was, ummmm…odd. I’ve even gotten people searching for “babysitters on Orcas Island”.

For the last week or so, the search term, “that Seinfeld episode where he can’t remember the words” has shown up and so has…now get this…something written in the Cyrillic alaphabet. Yes, in Russian.

That poor biggest sister. She's looking a little tough, compared to her siblings...


I took Russian in college. For one and a half terms. For some reason it took me that half term to finally admit I’d been defeated. I am not one of those blessed people for whom foreign languages come easily. Have I said this before? Quite possibly, but I’ll say it again. I am, in fact, UNblessed with language skills. It’s like there’s something in me that says, “I like English. I do well with English. Why would I want to mess up the good thing I’ve got going here?”

I do remember one word in Russian. Phonetically spelled, it’s “Hor-o-show”. This means, “good!” and was said by my teacher, Tanya, whenever her students got something right. “Ocheen Hor-o-show,” she would say. “Very good!” (Apparently I remember two words.) But let me be perfectly clear here: I do not remember this phrase because of the numerous times it was said to me. I remember it because it was said to others. Other brilliant linguists with whom I was stuck for three hours a week in a small classroom in Villard Hall. Brilliant University of Oregon students (one of whom went on to become Tanya’s “special friend”) would answer brilliant questions with their brilliant accents.

“Hor-o-show!” Tanya would exclaim, smiling her brilliant smile.

At them.

Horror Show, more like it, in my book.

This little one was given to me by a Soviet school-girl, complete with giant bow in her hair, back when I visited in 1988. She slipped it into my hands and would not accept "no" for an answer. I have cherished it ever since. Yes, the smallest sister is the size of a grain of rice.


Having mentioned to you, my faithful followers, time spent in high school French class and time spent struggling with German in Germany, you’d think that I would have known better than to attempt Russian. But no, at that point in my life, I wanted to be a journalist and live in the center of the Cold War zone: Moscow. I’d been there. In February, no less. I thought I knew what to expect and I could take it. I collected Matryoshka dolls. (Still do.) I liked a good onion dome. I’d read War and Peace…well, except for the war parts. (Seriously.) All I needed for my dream to come true was a little language skill.

My newest acquisition, bought in the former East Berlin last February from a scruffy-bearded man who tried to convince Colin to buy a Soviet-era military cap for a ridiculous price. The other girls have welcomed her into the clan...as far as I can tell.


And that, my dear friends, is why I live in Minnesota…and not in Moscow. I throw “bitte” into my colorful vocabulary, “merci” from time to time, even “uff da” because it’s regional.

But never “Hor-o-show”.

I’d rather not remember my ineptitudes.

Sometimes Epiphanies Come in Neon-Green Flashes of Light

26 Jul

Didn't catch this lightning bug flashing, but here he is...in all his non-glowing glory.

So…it just O’Ccurred to me that I often begin my blog entries with “So…” Oops! On the other hand, I like the feeling that we’re continuing a conversation – that I’ve just stepped out for a minute and now am back, ready to pick up where we left off. Somehow “so…” sets that tone for me.

So…I bought the 2011 Writer’s Market Deluxe Edition about 3 weeks ago. I opened it today for the first time. “Why,” you might be wondering, “did you wait so long when this is the thing you’re aiming at? SELLING your book? Finding an agent, finding a publisher. Why didn’t you dive right in?” Because it makes me nervous. It makes me afraid. It makes me a wee bit queasy.

I keep telling myself, “Hey, it’s being edited now. Then, inevitably, you’ll need to change things, clean it up, fix stuff. You’ve got plenty of time to research publishers, agents, etc.” Yes. And no. Plenty of time…but the time all goes so quickly. Especially when singing and dancing get in the way. (See last week’s post!)

The singing and dancing is a little less stressful now that I’m getting it somewhat figured out, but it’s even more exhausting with the late nights of practice. We were driving home from rehearsal after dark last night, and, despite my weary state of mind, I was able to admire the lightning bugs. They’re incredible this year.

One got caught in Lucy's hair!

I love the Morse code of the fireflies. I love sitting on the deck as it gets dark and watching them come out randomly across the yard, singly or in groups, like neon-green chips of light sewn in the air by some giant farmer scattering his seeds.

We didn’t have fireflies in Washington…a sad lack in the Pacific Northwest skies. The first time I saw them was in Thailand, the summer of 1989. I remember standing at the edge of the jungle, in the yard of the church where we were staying, and wondering what on God’s green earth I was seeing flashing all over the place like insane disco balls of light. I asked someone what they were and they, being from the southern United States, stared at me through the darkness like I was a crazy woman. “You don’t know what lightning bugs are?”
“Well, sure I do. I’ve just never seen them before. Is that seriously what they are?” I could hardly believe it. “They’re amazing.”

They are unbelievably hard to capture on film. This is the best of about 50 tries!

And they are, truly. They hover over the long wet, boggy grass that is our yard and they speak to each other of their day, their troubles, their love. And we foolish humans gasp and clap our hands at their beauty. This is a gift from God, a reward for the humidity, the soaring temperatures, the long nights of play practice. Lightning bugs: the great stress reliever.

And they’re way more fun than researching publishers.

Yes, Epiphanies Really do Happen

31 May

So, given the title of this blog, I’ve been thinking about “epiphanies” this week.  How often do they come?  What truly constitutes one?  I like the word “epiphany”.  Just saying it makes me smile.  I think it’s the “ph”…I get a kick out of “ph” words.  Those two letters, masquerading as ff’s.  (I have no idea how that rule of spelling came about.  Not that I have very many ideas about very many spelling rules.)  I had an honest-true epiphany this week.  One of those moments where, one second you don’t know…and the next second you do.  I like the moments as well as the word.

I’ve been doing my final read-through of my manuscript.  One last proofing/editing before feeling like it’s ready to be seen by an editor.  I was sitting at Ben Lee’s Café, the wonderful coffee shop I write at during my daughter’s pre-school for two hours, twice a week.  (Oh, precious hours!)  School is out now.  (MIXED FEELINGS!)  But my friend Sarah offered to take the kids so I could do this final reading.  Things were going well.  I was reading chapters I hadn’t looked at in a long time; I was enjoying the editing, the coffee, the feeling that things were being accomplished…and then I reached the end of a chapter and one line leaped out at me.  Just one innocent line which I wrote months ago…and suddenly I had my title.  It had been waiting there for me for all this time and I didn’t know.

I’ve been unhappy with my working title…titles, I should say.  None of them were obeying their title and WORKING.  I’ve even asked my friends in
our critique group (Oh, marvelous women!) and they, too, weren’t thrilled with my options.  In fact, last month when we met, we said, “Well, maybe it will leap out at you as you read through the whole manuscript again.”  YES!  It did.  Even my aforementioned friend Sarah – who knows very little about the topic, etc., of the story, pointed in an instant to that new title when I gave her a list to choose from.  Yes!  One second I didn’t know.  The next second I did.

Ah, the beauty of epiphanies.

PS…sorry…I decided not to post the title as it’s not copywritten and I don’t want it to be swiped!  Yes, I’m possessive!  I guess you’ll have to keep on reading my blog to find out how it all plays out.  :-)

Tuesdays With Gretchen

24 May

So…mark your calendars now because this is the first installment of many which I’m hoping you’ll look forward to with at least a small degree of anticipation!  Tuesdays with Gretchen.  That’s what I want you to remember.  It’s too bad, really, that my name doesn’t begin with a “T”…or that a day of the week doesn’t begin with “G”.  I could have called it Tuesdays with Trudy.  That has a ring to it.  When I was small, my sister called me  – among a wide variety of nick names – “Trudy Myra”.  Not sure why, you’d have to ask her.  So I could, I suppose, call this Tuesdays with Trudy…but then, no one would know who the heck I was talking about so I guess Tuesdays With Gretchen it will be.

Have I said it often enough yet for you to remember?!!  TUESDAYS WITH GRETCHEN!

So…now you know how often and when I intend to post on my blog!  Yes.  That would be Tuesdays.  Why Tuesday?  I met a girl once, who met a girl, whose name was Tuesday.  I always thought it was a kinda cool name.  Not that I named any of my children “Tuesday”.  I’m married to a die-hard Mid-western guy.  “Tuesday” is way too out there for him.  I was all for “Finnley” for our third child…but yeah, that didn’t go over too well, either.  Especially since she turned out to be a girl.  So I had to use it for one of my character’s names. 

What character am I talking about?  More on that another day.  Another TUESDAY.

It’s possible that I’ll have epiphanies on days other than Tuesday.  And I may be compelled to write about those.  Either that or I’ll store them all up for a month of Tuesdays.  So don’t be surprised if there’s an occasional non-Tuesday post.  As a matter of fact, you can always read anything I post on any given day…even on a Wednesday!  All this to say, I’d love you to stop by as often as you’d like.   If I ever figure out how to post pictures properly, I might even post them on a Friday…just to keep you on your toes.

Okay, so now you know when…I suppose you’re wondering what.  Well, I think I’ve covered that in my “about”…which I believe is located on your upper right hand side and titled, “Where I’m Coming From”…look there to see what I’ll be writing about.  ‘Course, who knows what epiphanies I’ll be having, so who knows what will show up…but those are my basic parameters.  Those are where I’m being led.  Compelled, as it were. 

I really hope you’ll join me on my journey.

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