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Who Are You Taking For Granted?

June 26th, 2015 by Whitestone


Ecclesiastes 7:14 “God arranges both good days and bad days so we won’t take anything for granted.”

But we do take things and people for granted! Especially dependable people who have been around for a long time can almost go unnoticed and under appreciated. We become so accustomed to their love and support that we only focus on how much they contribute to our lives when they are no longer there.

hugsIf you are like me, you have some wonderful low-maintenance folks who are always there that you can easily “take for granted”. It’s tragic that we wait until someone you love doesn’t know how much you value their relationship until they are gone. The epiphany of how important they are to you comes when it’s too late to tell them.

Look around as you move through your day, Is there someone who quietly benefits your life that you have become so used to their presence that you’ve neglected to tell them how valuable they are to you? Can you tell them today how much you are blessed because they are connected to you? Without being morbid, express some of what you would say at their funeral.

Someone who is always there for you needs to hear you tell them how much their relationship means to you. Friends and family who are always there will be blessed if you don’t take them “for granted” today. You will be blessed as well. Love is not love if it’s not expressed.

“If the stars only came out once a year, we would stay up all night to behold them.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

A Story of Loss | Grief Recovery Retreat for Pastors

June 13th, 2015 by Whitestone



Whitestone will host a 4 day / 3 nights workshop and retreat 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, Founder of Spark of Life on personal loss and the need for grief recovery.


As many of you know, our partners in Spark of Life, Rusty and Nancy Meadows, lost their 34 year-old son, Justin, on January 17, 2015. They were told the news of Justin’s death a few minutes before we were to begin our last day of Spark of Life Retreat # 43 on Sunday morning, January 18. Rusty and Nancy were leading the retreat with Debbie and me.

The following is what I read at the conclusion of Justin’s Celebration of Life service on Saturday. It obviously reflects our personal beliefs

We were excited about our first Spark of Life Grief Retreat of 2015. Rusty and Nancy Meadows and Dennis and Terri Rine and Debbie and I absolutely love what we do, though of course we hate the circumstances surrounding the people who come.

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. You see, in every retreat we lead, we see much more Life than we do death.”

So last Wednesday, January 14, the four of us gathered in Texas to prepare for 17 grievers whom we would meet the next night. This would be our 43rd retreat since we began in 2009. We approach each one as if it is the most important one, for it is the one that occupies the present.

We knew that on Thursday, when we meet everyone, we would hear sad stories of loss. We would see despair and hopelessness on many faces. But we also knew that we would grow to love 17 people, and experience a spark of life with each one. And despair would turn to hope – hope that though life would never be the same again after such losses, hope that each one could live forward, having a rich and fulfilling life once again.

Little did we realize what was to come.

As Thursday turned into Friday and then to Saturday, we experienced too many tears to count. But we also saw smiles, and laughter, and joy – right there in the midst of death. We saw those who had experienced unthinkable loss reach out to others, encouraging, listening, hugging, loving. We saw ‘hope’ begin to take its rightful place.

And then Sunday came.

Sundays, to me, have a multitude of connotations. But each one centers on victory, and hope, and life. And each one goes back to a Sunday a long time ago. The Sunday of January 18, 2015 would certainly need a Sunday 2,000 years ago. About 10 minutes before we were to begin the last day of the retreat, Rusty and Nancy received the phone call all parents hope they never get. Their 34 year-old son Justin had died earlier that morning – totally unexpectedly.

The expected shock and tears and wailing began. Confusion and numbness engulfed them, and us as well. Death was smothering life out of the room.

And then Life showed up.

I will never forget Rusty and Nancy’s words to us. Mere minutes after this horrible, horrific news, through such deep tears and anguish, Rusty turns to me and takes my hand and says, “David, you and Debbie must finish the retreat. You must take care of these 17 precious people. Finish the retreat!” And Nancy affirms this to us – “Finish the retreat!”

And there, in the midst of death, Life reigned.

You see, and many of you know this, 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. 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
Spark of Life Grief Recovery Retreats

Cooking Class: Summer Grilling

June 10th, 2015 by Whitestone

WS - Grilling Class



Join us for an exciting hands on cooking class with Whitestone’s Chef’s on Saturday, July 11th. Learn how to prepare a variety of meats, side items, and marinades and sauces throughout the day.

You will receive the “Grilling with Excellence”, class manual including all the days recipes, tips and your notes.

Relax and socialize with fellow grillers over a leisurely summer lunch prepared by the Whitestone culinary staff.

Ask about the 50% Room Discount for Friday July 10, 2015 and Saturday July 11, 2015.

Saturday, July 11th
10-4 PM
$75  / person (includes tax)

Call us at 865-376-0113 to make your reservation. Hurry only a limited number of spots available.




Photo by Ginny.

Giveaway: Share Your Anniversary Experiences

June 1st, 2015 by Whitestone



Here at Whitestone it’s a rare week that we don’t have numerous anniversary celebrations. Anniversary guests range from their 1st year while just starting out to 69 rich years together. In fact, the couple who celebrated 69 years of marriage actually hiked one of the trails. Amazing!

We want to hear about your best anniversary celebration. Just fill out the form below sharing your experiences and you will be entered into a giveaway.

Entries will be randomly chosen for the giveaway so feel free to answer freely. Contest ends on June 26 and we will announce the winner within a week later.

We look forward to learning more about some of your most memorable anniversary experiences!

The Prize

Free Room and Dinner for Two at Whitestone Inn

Enter Here

    This doesn't impact the drawing for a free room. We hate spam too! :)

The 3 Best Rivers for East Tennessee White Water Rafting

April 23rd, 2015 by Whitestone

east tennessee white water rafting



White water rafting enthusiasts are always looking for great rapids and an amazing adventure.  And when you think “white water rafting”, you may think the best places to catch a raft would be Colorado or Southern California. You might be surprised to learn that 3 of the top 4 places for white water rafting in the United States are located right in East Tennessee. East Tennessee white water rafting is full of great options for any type of adventure you are after.

east tennessee white water rafting

Ocooe River Rafting

The Ocoee River, located in Polk County, TN is ranked #1 by the American Outdoors Association as a destination for white water rafting in the United States. The Ocoee River was the home of the 1996 Summer Olympic Whitewater Games. To get in on the Olympic Course, you need to be sure to raft the Upper Course, or a combination of the Upper and Middle Courses, which takes about six hours. Beginners are totally welcome on the Middle Course, with guides offering instruction before heading out on the river. Ocoee River rafting is available Saturday through Monday from Memorial Day through Labor Day, so be sure to plan ahead and book the experience you want with a great rafting company.

White Water Rafting on the Pigeon River

The Pigeon River is ranked #3 by the AOA and is located in the Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge area of the Great Smoky Mountains in East TN. Offering both a lower and an upper course, the Little Pigeon River white water rafting experience truly has something for everyone. The lower course is designated as a “float trip” with both easy rapids and in-water experiences, great for children ages 3 and up. The upper course is designated as an intermediate course, and takes about an hour and a half from start to finish.

Nantahala River Rafting

Coming in at #4 by the American Outdoor Association, you’ll find the Nantahala River. Just over the border from Tennessee this river experience is near Bryson City, North Carolina. The Nantahala river rafting isn’t the only thing you’ll find when you arrive at the meeting of the Appalachian Trail and the Nantahala River. The Nantahala Outdoor Center opened in 1972 and has grown to one of the largest outdoor companies in the country.

3 Best Rivers for East Tennessee White Water Rafting

The Full Outdoor Experience

These three locations don’t just offer world class white water rafting experiences. You can have whole-day experiences including zip-lining, hiking, shopping, mountain biking and more. Some even offer great package prices – be sure to check on the specific river and with the specific company you are planning on using.

Each of these spectacular river rafting experiences is a great day trip from The Whitestone Country Inn. Each river is less than a three hour drive from the inn, meaning that not only can you experience world class rapids on a day trip, you could even plan a whole week of river-rafting adventures!

And after a day or two of rafting, nothing will help you stretch out and recuperate like a short walk up to see the Scottish Highland Cattle or down to the lake’s waterfront to see if you can spot the Bald Eagle. If your muscles are still feeling sore, you can schedule time in our relaxing spa for a wonderful massage, making sure that when you head home you are as good as new, if not better than when you arrived.

We look forward to hearing all about your East Tennessee white water rafting trip over a delicious Whitestone breakfast. Be sure to check out our availability and start planning your own adventure.

Photo by Torrey Wiley and Melissa Johnson.

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