The Songwriting Retreat


songwriters, songwriting-retreat

L to R: Devon O’Day, Brian Henningsen, Brent Anderson, Dave Pahanish


It was after midnight in Monteagle, Tennessee, and songwriters were still making music around the bonfire. I retired to my room at the lodge, but sleep was somewhere seemingly hours away. I spent the day soaking in valuable songwriting wisdom from writers who have practically perfected their craft. I met new friends and re-united with old ones. I worked on a new song with a stranger-turned-cowriter. It was close to a perfect day. I laid in bed, my mind racing with energy from being surrounded by people with whom I share a dream.

The entire weekend at the Smokin’ Hit Songwriters Retreat was that way: purposeful and passionate.

I turned 42 today, and time is tick-tick-ticking away. The desire to write meaningful songs grows, and I’m not wasting any more moments. I feel a gnawing urgency at my soul to refine and use my voice — the one that brings to light the messiness of humanity wrapped in grace.

This past weekend, the people I met at the retreat were the same people who had had near-death experiences, who had been hurt by the church, who had experienced betrayal, who had beaten addictions, and who had lived through broken childhoods. I was reminded again that we never know what goes on behind closed doors. We have no way of knowing the aches others have felt. We don’t know what horrors may be hidden behind a smile.

On Saturday, Devon O’Day urged those of us at the retreat to channel our dark sides into our music. What better way to wrap our humanity in grace than to create something beautiful from our aches and ashes? Is there anything better than seeing broken dreams become a reason to believe?

It’s been four years since I walked away from church, from the sterile atmosphere that didn’t allow people to be human. In the meantime, I’ve discovered grace and love in the most unlikely places — like at a songwriting retreat. Then again, Jesus always showed up at unlikely places and extended grace and love to those who least expected it. Maybe he’s still doing that considering everyone in attendance felt a power and presence beyond themselves.


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  1. Lynn D. Morrissey says:

    I’m so happy that you have found a way to include your God-given gift and passion, Rebekah. Often God allows us to express our brokenness through our art, because He knows that there is beauty in the mosaic of pain. He puts us back together again through our art in the most exquisite way. I’m glad that you are receiving healing and that you will be able to share it with others. Being a singer (though not a songwriter), I know something of the beauty you are experiencing.Happy Birthday. Looks like we are the recipients of a birthday gift too–YOU.

  2. Beautiful words of discovery and community and real relationships.

  3. I love that you are getting to pursue something that you love and gives you joy! From a distance, it seems you are coming alive again.

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