The Great Blue Hills of God|Kreis Beall
The Great Blue Hills of God : A Story of Facing Loss, Finding Peace, and Learning the True Meaning of Home
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The creative force behind Blackberry Farm, Tennessee's award-winning farm-to-table resort, reveals how she found herself only after losing everything in this powerful memoir of resilience.

"I couldn't put down this wise, honest, beautifully written story."--Shauna Niequist, New York Times bestselling author of Present Over Perfect and Bread & Wine

Born with the gift of hospitality, Kreis Beall helped create one of the nation's most renowned resort destinations, Blackberry Farm, in Tennessee's Smoky Mountain foothills. For decades, she was a fixture in the travel and entertaining world and frequently appeared in the pages of popular home and design magazines. But at the pinnacle of her success, Kreis faced a series of challenges that reframed her life, including a brain injury that permanently impaired her hearing and the conclusion of her thirty-six-year marriage to her best friend and business partner, Sandy Beall.

Alone and uncertain as her world shifts and marriage ends, Kreis begins a new journey to find her faith and find God. After spending years on her beautiful exterior life and work, she begins the hardest undertaking of all: reclaiming and redesigning her interior life and soul.

Kreis retreats to Blackberry Farm, moving into an unassuming, 300-square-foot shed with peeling paint on the exterior walls, "where I met myself for the first time." She examines what it takes to redefine life after deep loss and acknowledges, for the first time, often unbearable truths that existed beneath the beauty she had created.

By turns fiercely honest, heartbreaking, and warm, Kreis Beall's story will resonate with anyone who can benefit from her discovery that "All it takes is all you've got. And it is worth it."


  • ISBN-13: 9781984822246
  • ISBN-10: 1984822241
  • Publisher: Convergent Books
  • Publish Date: February 2020
  • Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.83 pounds
  • Page Count: 288

Searching for meaning

When our relationships falter under the pressure of political or religious demands, when ambiguity more than certainty guides our lives, we may be tempted to succumb to our malaise. However, there is another option: We can stumble through the shadows, searching for some thread of meaning that will guide us out of the darkness. The authors of these books have chosen the latter path, peeling away the detritus of life to discover meaning—personal and political—and plumbing the spiritual depths that accompany their searches.

★ Thin Places

With humor and razor-sharp insight, Jordan Kisner’s Thin Places: Essays From in Between captures the visceral, palpable feeling of loss. The ways we inhabit space occupy many of these evocative essays, such as in a piece on an art installation at New York City’s spacious Park Avenue Armory, in which Kisner encourages readers to find someplace “big and empty” when they are “stuck somewhere small . . . somewhere unhappy or afraid or paralyzed or heartbroken.” In her celebrated essay “Thin Places,” she discovers the age-old concept of the space between the spiritual and physical world. This “thin place” is porous, a space where distinctions between “you and not-you, real and unreal, worldly and otherworldly, fall away.” It’s in these thin places that we can find ourselves, absorb glimpses of new meaning from another world and live in the moment. Kisner weaves together reflections on Kierkegaard, her early Christian conversion (and later “unconversion”) and waiting for the subway to gracefully guide us through our own emptiness in search of fullness.

The Great Blue Hills of God

Kreis Beall’s The Great Blue Hills of God explores in lyrical prose what happens when her life falls apart. Beall, who helped create Blackberry Farm, one of the South’s most heavenly resorts, appears to have it all: a loving marriage, great wealth, a beautiful family and a satisfying career. But the demands of building up several properties slowly erode her marriage, and she finds that her and her husband’s financial bank is full but their “emotional bank” is being emptied. As her marriage fades away, Beall falls, and suddenly her health is compromised, and she temporarily loses her hearing. She experiences further devastation when her son, Sam, dies in a skiing accident. Despite the loss of her family, health and wealth, she discovers glimpses of grace in her reading of the Bible, discussions with her pastor and friends and meditations on the nature of home. Throughout the book, Beall sprinkles in fruitful bits of wisdom, embracing the conclusion that, “to me, home is God, family, friends, and legacy. . . . A home is a heart. It is love, people, relationships, and the life you live in it.”

Scandalous Witness

Lee C. Camp’s Scandalous Witness: A Little Political Manifesto for Christians offers a brilliant summary and exposition of the ways that Christianity is a politic, not a religion. Camp (Mere Discipleship) asks a series of questions that frames Christianity as not just a private spiritual practice but a guide for our life together: “How do we live together? Where is human history headed? What does it mean to be human? And what does it look like to live in a rightly ordered human community that engenders flourishing, justice, and the peace of God?” In the end, the Christian community embraces its mission when it “sets captives free, demolishes strongholds, and . . . [sows] the seeds of the peaceable reign of God.” Camp’s manifesto is a must-read in a world in which Christianity has become either a bedfellow of political parties or an isolated, private practice.

I Am Not Your Enemy

Michael T. McRay’s I Am Not Your Enemy takes Camp’s idea to the personal level. We create meaning in the stories we tell each other, and if we tell a good enough story, we can convince others that certain individuals are our enemies. But just as stories have the power to cultivate hate, they also have the power to reconcile and redeem. Throughout his travels across Israel and Palestine, Northern Ireland and South Africa, and through his work as a conflict and resolution counselor, McRay hears violence-filled narratives with shattered endings. Yet, as he illustrates, not every story needs to end this way. McRay shares stories of a mother who refuses to seek vengeance for her son’s death, a community theater director who helps people who are marginalized find their voices and discover beauty in their lives and a woman who forgives the man who murdered her father. With the verve of a great storyteller, McRay regales us with spellbinding narratives that illustrate the power of words to change our lives and bring meaning to the world.