The Great Blue Hills of God is a memoir from the co-founder of Blackberry Farm, Kreis Beall.
The title comes from the rendering of the Native American name for the Great Smokey Mountains, the setting for Blackberry Farm.
This book chronicles not only the story of Kreis’ life, but but her journey toward God as well. It is a journey out of a disfunctional family and a childhood influenced greatly by her mother’s design expertise. Kreis also developed from that time a pattern of having an “exit strategy” for any situation in her life.
Kreis married Sandy Beall, the founder of the Ruby Tuesday chain of restaurants, back when the number of restaurants could be counted on one hand. Together they had a passion for buying, building, remodeling, designing, and selling homes. This became the framework of their marriage, as they moved close to 40 times.
Sandy poured his main passions into Ruby Tuesday and was usually gone during the week. Kreis poured her efforts into Blackberry and another restaurant, sometimes to the detrament of her children.
When they moved to Alabama, Kreis wasn’t working and she struggled to find her identity. At times she and Sandy kept her sister’s two boys, about the same ages as their own two. The begining of problems in their marriage started when Sandy made the decision to send all four boys to private school while Kreis was out of town. This even took away her job of mother.
Kreis began to develope some close friendships with other women. Kreis’ design skills rose to the top like cream during this time. She was not promoting herself, but ended up in at least three magazine spreads.
Eventually Kreis ended up back at Blackberry. She had endured the loss of a beloved home to fire, her husband’s infidelity and the subsequent loss of her marriage, and a devastating irrecoverable blow to her health.
Kreis’ pastor had been praying for her to become a Christian for many years, and finally the circumstances and time in her life led her to accept Jesus. One further loss awaits Kreis near the end of the book.
I cannot wholeheartedly recommend this as a Christian book because, like the Israelites who followed God during the reigns of the kings but refused to remove the high places of idol worship, throughout the book Kreis still made pilgrimages to an ashram. Nowhere in the book does she denounce this practice, which is decidedly not Christian.
Kreis is a woman of grace who has endured much. We are often more able to find God during the dark times of our lives. He is there at all times, and he requires complete allegiance.
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