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Grief Recovery Retreat for Pastors at Whitestone

April 13th, 2015 by Whitestone



There will be a 4 day / 3 nights workshop and retreat at Whitestone for Pastor/Spouses who have lost a child, grandchild, or spouse on Sept. 21-24, 2015. Grief is an individual process but Spark of Life, a national grief recovery ministry has been helping folks find strength and comfort after the loss of a close loved one. This will be the first workshop we have hosted at Whitestone specifically for Pastors and their spouses. There are some scholarship funds available. Call Paul for specific information on the workshop 865.389.7182.  – Paul

Below is a story from David Matthews, the Founder of Spark of Life on their journey and the impact it has had on those it serves.


When I was 20 and contemplating entering the ministry as my profession, a trusted mentor warned me with these words: “David, many people assume that there are three sexes – female, male, and pastors. Be aware.”

At the time, I didn’t quite get it. However, I believe I bought into that for a while, trying to be a little non-human. But pastors, as most know, are human beings as well. We experience life with hurts, pain, weaknesses, sins, and loss as others do. We are not immune to this fallen world and all its pain.

The toughest time in my ministry was when our grandson died. We felt powerless to help anyone else. His death affected my counseling, and my emotions as I stood to preach every Sunday. I felt empty, alone, angry, and deeply confused, even more than normal!

And I was weary.

One day, I broke. I told the church what I thought, how angry I was with God, and how I had nothing left in the emotional tank. And I learned some valuable lessons.

  1. Grievers, even pastors, simply MUST give themselves permission to grieve.
  2. Deeply grieving does NOT mean one has a failing faith. This includes questioning God, and even disagreeing with God’s non-action to intervene and heal. I seem to remember Jesus asking the big ‘why’ question.
  3. Being honest with one’s feelings, frustrations, questions, etc. and sharing these in appropriate ways, even from the pulpit, is quite healthy – both for you and your hearers.
  4. It is OK for spiritual leaders to seek help when they are struggling with whatever. Even Jesus one day asked three friends to help him – “Keep watch while I pray” he pleaded with them.

Shortly after Josiah’s death, God led us to begin Spark of Life, a non-profit organization that offers three-day Grief Recovery Retreats which have a simple mission: “We exist to give hope to grievers, that though life can never be the same after devastating loss, life can be one day rich and fulfilling again.”

As of March 2015, we have conducted 44 retreats serving over 600 grievers. These retreats are open for any who have experienced loss. Many pastors and their spouses have attended, with many losing children, and others with various other losses. We have even had pastors attend who wanted to learn how to help grievers better.

People ask us often, “How do you do what you do, dealing with death all the time?” I usually answer that question with another question – “How could we not do what we do? We actually deal with Life all the time. In every retreat we lead, we see much more Life than we do death.”

You see, death cannot defeat true Life. I hate death. It pains me to see those I love, and even those I don’t know, experience deep grief and hurt and pain when they lose a loved one. I know you don’t like it either. But this I know – Life triumphs. The grave is empty. And therein lies hope; therein is the Spark of Life.


David Mathews
Co-Founder and Executive Director

Our Groceries are Shrinking!

April 13th, 2015 by Whitestone




value of whitestone innBeen to the grocery store lately? I noticed last night that my tuna recipe called for a 6-7 oz. can of tuna, and my can was only 5 oz.. I also noticed at breakfast today that apparently factories are hiring large people to sit on our cereal boxes, thus rendering them flatter and lighter than before. I even noted at lunch that the bottoms of my peanut butter and jam jars are distortedly concave so that they appear to hold 12 ounces, but actually hold 10. While costs have remained constant, our entire array of available food products seems to be shrinking to a size only appropriate for Munchkin City.

I find this whole scenario frightening. There seem to be no product manufacturers who have not jumped into this happy conga line of greed.  We’ve endured job loss, increases in health care costs, and new airline charges for carrying on a copy of War and Peace, and now our groceries have all shrunk? Soon I expect farmers try to talk God into shrinking our produce.


I think this situation has boosted my appreciation for Whitestone. In all the years I’ve been a guest, the quality and quantity of service, amenities, and surroundings have never been compromised. There is still a warm fire burning in the Farmhouse fireplace, and homemade cookies in the jar in the kitchen.

Meals are generous, and expertly prepared. Each room still has its own charming and colorful theme, and the thick towels are even folded artistically! The grounds are meticulously landscaped (and God still makes sunrises and sunsets over Watts Bar Lake breathtakingly beautiful). While I may be short on tuna and jam, Whitestone remains my one increasingly delightful investment.

by: Valerie Bryant Bennett

photo by: Matt MacGillivray

Spring Photo Contest

April 2nd, 2015 by Whitestone

Whitestone Getaway Giveaway Banner



The flowers are blooming, the grass is growing, and leaves are beginning to show across the trees here at the Whitestone Inn. Spring is here!

To celebrate the changing of the seasons we are hosting a photo contest.

Share an original photo of the Spring season either past or present for your chance to win! 

Past or present Spring photos of Whitestone are great but definitely aren’t required. The contest ends May 15th and we will announce the winners shortly after!

This contest gives you 3 chances to getaway with the one you love to the Inn.

The Contest Prizes

  1. One Free Night at the Inn and Dinner for Two
  2. Dinner for Two at the Inn
  3. Two Hand Thrown Whitestone Coffee Mugs

How to Enter

  1. Enter the contest by submitting your original photo of Spring (can be anywhere). You can upload up to 3 photos for additional entries.
  2. That’s it. We’ll be announcing the winners on May 21st.

Private message us on Twitter or Facebook if you are having any issues entering or have any questions and we will be happy to guide you through it.
Submit Photos Using this Form

  • Any details you want to share about the photo?


Like The Whitestone Country Inn on Facebook too.


How Much Does it Cost to Have a Wedding at Whitestone Inn?

April 1st, 2015 by Whitestone




That question can be answered the same way you can answer “How much does a new home cost?” The cost of a wedding or a house depends on how big it is and what do you want in it.

Whitestone Country Inn can do an elopement package for $850!! And that’s not just a two minute ceremony – Minister “Do You?” Couple “We do.” Minister “Then you are!”

dress on east tennessee wedding chapel near knoxville tnOur elopement weddings include a very nice thoughtful ceremony, but it also includes an overnight stay in our AAA 4 diamond property, a romantic five course dinner, a small wedding cake, breakfast the next morning (brought to your luxurious room if you prefer), a boutonniere, a bride’s bouquet, and an on-site wedding assistant.

But what if you want to add: a professional photographer, videographer, carriage ride, 100 friends, fireworks, a hot air balloon ride, bla, bla, bla, bla, bla? These things cost more than $850!

The average wedding according to the KNOT in 2014 was $31,213. That includes the entire U.S. and is not typical for the Southeast or Whitestone. Although we did host a wedding for a NFL player and his wealthy bride (well – her father was wealthy) that was way above that national average!

So a wedding at Whitestone starts at $850 but goes up from there to lots more, depending on the bride and groom’s tastes.

Chapel-Interior-Wedding1You can save money getting married in the back yard by your cousin who was ordained online. If you carry a bouquet of chickweed (they are actually a nice yellow but be sure you’re not allergic) and the groom’s boutonniere is a dandelion you can save money. I love Little Debbie Snack Cakes and they are all inexpensive. Just go to your corner convenience store and you have choices for a wedding cake. If your taste’s run in this direction, call me and I have even more suggestions regarding the bride’s wedding dress that might be helpful and save money.

Brides pay for what is important to them. After over 1000 weddings at Whitestone, I’m sure they find funds for what they really care about. A wedding is one of the most important memorable days in a lifetime. Do what you can afford and include what is valuable to you.

How much will your wedding cost at Whitestone? It’s entirely up to you. By the way, the hot air balloon ride as an exit is expensive and very unpredictable as to where you land. I don’t think that’s a good omen as a way to start your marriage.

– Paul

outdoor tennessee wedding - Your Reflections KNoxville tn wedding photographer

Most photos by Your Reflections Wedding Photographer.

17 Awe-Inspiring Views In East Tennessee That Will Astonish You

March 30th, 2015 by Whitestone

cades cove at the smoky mountains in tennessee



East Tennessee is unmatched in its ability to take your breath away with views of majestic mountains, peaceful lakes, and thundering waterfalls all within a short drive of each other. Enjoy this visual experience as you plan your next adventure to East Tennessee.

Looking for more ideas for your East Tennessee adventures? Request our Free 20 Page Guide to 25 Things to Do in East Tennessee.

Peaceful Cades Cove at the Smoky Mountains

cades cove at the smoky mountains in tennessee

Cades Cove is a broad, verdant valley surrounded by mountains. An 11 mile loop road circles this peaceful cove.

Photo by Leeco on Flickr.


Sunsets at Watts Bar Lake

watts bar lake sunset in east tennessee by Your Reflections Photography

The 39,000 acre Watts Bar Lake is great for fishing, boating, bird watching, and great sunsets. Our Tennessee Bed and Breakfast sits on 360 shoreline acres of Watts Bar Lake.

Photo by Your Reflections – a Knoxville TN wedding photographer.


Drive the Cherohala Skyway During Fall Foliage


The Cherohala Skyway, a national scenic byway, runs 40 miles through beautiful mountains and forests with breathtaking views of the countryside. Experience a burst of color during peak Fall foliage.

Photo by Gorilla Girl on Flickr.


The Rolling Roan Mountain Rhododendron Gardens


Roan Mountain is a 2,000 acre state park covered by 600 year old wild Rhododendron gardens that spring into bloom every June.

Photo by Keith Callahan on Flickr.


Ruby Falls Underground Waterfall

ruby falls near chattanooga tn east tennessee

Ruby Falls is a gorgeous underground cave and waterfall 1,120 feet below ground under the surface of Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Photo by Chris Faulkner on Flickr.


Lovers Leap at Rock City and Lookout Mountain

rock city lookout mountain things to do east tennessee

See 7 States from Lookout Mountain and Rock City and not to mention the breathtaking waterfall view at Lover’s Leap.

Photo courtesy of Fuzzy Images on Flickr.

The Cascading Bald River Falls

bald river falls tellico plains east tennessee

Bald River Falls cascades over 100 feet down onto the rocks below. Be sure to hike the gorge above the falls!

Photo by Guillaume Capron.


Smoky Mountains National Park

great smoky mountains in east tennessee near knoxvillt tn

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is 800 square miles of unspoiled wilderness in one of the most visited parks in the United States.

Photo by pookie_NY on Flickr.


The Lost Sea


The Lost Sea is America’s largest underground lake, located in beautiful Sweetwater, Tennessee.

Photo by Joel Kramer on Flickr.


The Hidden Ozone Falls State Natural Area

ozone falls state natural waterfall east tennessee

Ozone Falls is a gorgeous waterfall within the Cumberland Mountain State Park.

Photo by Pulaw on Flickr.


Serenity at Cove Lake State Park


Cove Lake is a 717 acre lake near the Cumberland Plateau that gives picture perfect serenity and great hiking and fishing.

Photo by Dieter Weinelt on Flickr.

Clingmans Dome at the Smoky Mountains

clingmans dome smoky mountains tennessee

At 6,643 feet, Clingmans Dome is the highest point in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Tennessee. The views are spectacular.

Photo by Patrick Mueller.


The Vast Cherokee National Forest

cherokee national forest east tennessee

Get ready for shots of magnificent mountains and refreshing valleys throughout the Cherokee National Forest.

Photo by Chris Morris on Flickr.


The Gorgeous and Adventurous Ocoee River

ocoee river system in the smoky mountains east tennessee

Take in the gorgeous and exciting Ocoee River. If you’re feeling adventurous explore the whitewater. This was where the 1996 Olympic Whitewater games were held and recently ranked the #1 spot for whitewater rafting according to the American Outdoor Association.

Photo by beshagidt on Flickr.


Scenic Gorges of the Big South Fork


Encompassing 125,000 acres of the Cumberland Plateau, the Big South Fork gives amazing views of scenic gorges and sandstone bluffs.

Photo by Chris Morris.


Cane Creek Falls at Fall Creek Falls State Park

fall creek falls state park east tennessee

Encompassed in Tennessee’s largest and most visited state park, Fall Creek Falls, is a gorgeous 256 foot waterfall that makes you never want to leave.

Photo by Michael Hicks.


See the Beauty of the Cumberland Gap

cumberland gap east tennessee

The Cumberland Gap gives you spectacular views of the valley where three states meet and offer great hiking, unique rock formations, and cascading waterfalls.

Photo by DM on Flickr.


Explore these Views from the Whitestone Inn


The Whitestone Country Inn is a beautiful East Tennessee bed and breakfast and wedding venue on 360 acres of Watts Bar Lake shoreline. It’s the perfect place to find renewal while you explore these awe-inspiring views.

View our rooms and cottages or check availability today.

See our restaurant menu, wedding chapel, and the many activities and amenities here at Whitestone.



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