Elise Ballard was an actress and filmmaker living in Austin, Texas, when she had an epiphany that changed her life. Her experience sparked her own research into these kinds of revelations. Interviewing people from all walks of life—from celebrities like Barry Manilow, Dr. Oz and Maya Angelou to her own friends and family—she asked, “What has been your greatest epiphany?” She collected their responses in her book, Epiphany: True Stories of Sudden Insight to Inspire, Encourage and Transform. Mysterious Ways asked Elise about what she’s discovered.
What is an epiphany?
An epiphany, by definition, is a moment of great revelation that usually changes your life. What makes epiphanies different from an everyday realization is their divinely inspired quality. They feel like something deep within. Something greater than yourself.
I believe that epiphanies are a deep, deep calling. It’s your soul calling to you, guiding you to use your gifts and talents to accomplish your purpose. Every person experiences epiphanies differently, but generally, an epiphany feels as if it’s something different and more important than an average thought. It’s ephemeral, and it feels like truth.
And what got you so interested in epiphanies?
I had an epiphany of my own. I was an actress in Austin in a play. I was playing a woman who was madly in love with her husband—a Texas politician— and desperately wanted to have a baby. But she couldn’t. I kept noticing parallels to my own life. I was married to a politician too. But I had been unhappy in my marriage for years. We both were. But I was stuck. I couldn’t bring myself to end the relationship.
In preparing for the role, I did a lot of research into adoption and fertility. One day, before dress rehearsal, I was printing out a brochure about adoption to use as a prop. Suddenly I had this thought. I could do that. And instantly it felt as if everything just shifted.
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The Christmas Clock
It was December 2012, a week before Christmas. I was sitting alone at my kitchen table in Missouri, watching the hands of my Christmas clock tick toward the hour. I was waiting to hear it play “Silent Night,” which it did every night at 11 o’clock. The tune always lifted my spirits. But the second hand passed the hour mark without a peep. My heart sank. The music mechanism must have broken. You couldn’t have picked a better metaphor for my life—I kept on ticking, but the joy was missing.
Q&A: William Peters
A CONVERSATION ABOUT THE HEALING POWER OF SHARED DEATH EXPERIENCES
We were only 48 hours into our family’s three-week road trip when the car broke down. White smoke billowed from the engine. The dashboard warning lights went on.
“I saw a butterfly,” my mother said with a shy smile. It was the first time I’d seen her smile since my father’s death the week before. After a seven-year period of steadily declining health, he’d passed away in his bed at home, surrounded by his wife and three daughters. It was a peaceful end to his suffering, but saying goodbye was still difficult. We all missed him terribly. Especially Mami.
Wings and a Prayer
I heard the front door to our apartment open and walked over to see my mom returning home from the laundromat. She had tears in her eyes.
It was a sunny October day. My husband, Anthony, and I sat with our three kids—Ella, seven; Luca, five; and Zoe, two—as they drew with sidewalk chalk in the driveway. The whole family was enjoying the last bit of nice weather before the winter. Everything felt warm and peaceful.
Secrets of the Labyrinth
I WAS AT THE ENTRY OF Battery Park’s Labyrinth of Contemplation in New York City. A winding pathway of rocks and grass stretched out before me. After studying labyrinths for weeks, I wanted to try one. I’d learned that these fantastical, circuitous pathways can act as prayer tools, helping calm the mind and soul. I sure needed that. Beyond this quiet park, the city had been hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. Though cases were down and things seemed to be improving, I still felt overwhelmed and uncertain about the future. Will I find the spiritual comfort I’m looking for? I wondered. Adjusting my face mask, I took a deep breath and began….
An Unexpected Visitor
I couldn’t even sort through the first box of our dog Bama’s toys without bursting into tears. My husband, Alan, found me sitting on the floor in our utility room, clutching our late boxer’s favorite squeaky. He gently pulled me to my feet. “It’s okay, Lisa,” he said.
Whenever I think about the Transfiguration, my mind travels back to the fifth- and sixth-grade Sunday school class I once coached to act it out for the congregation. The task seemed nearly impossible.
I stepped out of the federal prison in South Dakota after a decade behind bars and breathed a sigh of relief. I’d served my time. But I wasn’t just free. I was a new man. Honestly, I doubted anyone who knew me before would recognize me. I hardly recognized me.
Impress clients and colleagues in the star-studded capital city.
A TALE OF TWO 1,500HP 6.0L POWER STROKES
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The Dolphins spent an awful lot of resources this past offseason, both in draft picks and free agency capital, on their offensive line.
Promising start for rookie O-linemen
The question of when Austin Jackson would be ready to get into the starting lineup at left tackle for the Dolphins got its official answer in the Week 1 game against the New England Patriots.
The 10 Most Beautiful Homes IN ST.LOUIS 2020
How do you define a beautiful home? Is it in the architecture or the setting? In the mix of building materials or the assemblage of stylistic influences? It wasn’t until our search for beautiful homes ended this past summer that writer Amy Burger and I recognized how our instincts drew us to properties with incredible landscaping and gardens, to places where homeowners place a premium on outdoor spaces and details: window boxes in bloom, statement-making walkways, a passion for the front porch, which, this year above all others, proved its hero status as the place to connect with neighbors and nature alike. –VERONICA THEODORO
GW LESSON LICKS OF THE BLUES GIANTS GROOVE MASTER
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TESLA PICKS TEXAS SITE FOR SECOND US VEHICLE ASSEMBLY PLANT
Electric car maker Tesla Inc. has picked the Austin, Texas, area as the site for its largest auto assembly plant employing at least 5,000 workers.
IN UNBELIEVABLE, 23-YEAR-OLD KAITLYN DEVER GIVES THE PERFORMANCE OF A LIFETIME. AND SHE’S ONLY GETTING STARTED.
UNDRAFTED FREE AGENTS
UNDRAFTED FREE AGENTS
Hustle and Heart
Monica Peraza O’Quigley loves the challenge of creating new companies. With her latest, the Etho, she’s zeroing in on her goal to empower women worldwide.