0 comments on “Espirational Happenings @ All Things Espirational — September 12, 2018”

Espirational Happenings @ All Things Espirational — September 12, 2018

Interview with Bill Tonnis     

Today I would like to introduce you to singer-songwriter Bill Tonnis.  I am so grateful for Bill and others who are writing and singing such beautiful music while spreading their inspiring spiritual message.

Bill has graciously agreed to “chat” with me a bit and answer a few questions.  Thank you so much for doing this Bill.

I know that in addition to being a singer – songwriter, you are a fully trained chaplain, retreat presenter, former Youth Minister and former radio news anchor. That’s quite a leap — from news anchor to your ministry. Tell us a little bit about how you came to be where you are today.

(Bill) Well…I could actually write a whole book to answer this! Let me try to give you the “abridged” version. Somewhere along the line of me being a radio news anchor and reporter in Cincinnati…I realized that this could not go on for the rest of my life. There was a growing discontent…which expanded into a full-blown misery. The trouble was…being a “radio news anchor” was all I wanted to be from college. So the question was: If I’m not “Bill Tonnis the radio news anchor”…then who am I?

On top of that…I was actually really good at what I did…and listeners would routinely tell me how much they enjoyed listening to me! It was one of the most listened to stations in town…the one that broadcasted the Reds and Bengals. But the more I wrestled with my inner turmoil…the more I realized that delivering bad news on the radio was not what I was intended to do. At least not any more.

All my attempts within radio to make changes…like doing more entertainment-type reporting, doing movie reviews, etc. did not change my inner misery. Then in March of 1997, an almost biblical event occurred: A record flooding of the Ohio River! I was sent out by the News Director to report from sites along the river for an entire week while the flood remained…wreaking havoc for many who lived along its banks. It was the “coup de grace” you might say. I came home after an exhausting week of long hours reporting misery upon misery…and I sank into my couch in total surrender. I literally cried out to God, “I give up.” And it was in the silence of my surrender that I heard a small voice in my heart say, “Get your guitar.”

Now this made no sense as I had not even touched my guitar in probably ten years. And I hadn’t really played it much since I was a boy. I had more or less stopped playing after grade school…succumbing to the belief that I wasn’t as good as other kids who played…and how could my guitar playing ever “get me anywhere” in the world?

But the voice was clear…and so I went to my bedroom and opened a dusty guitar case that contained my boyhood guitar…and I began to tinker around with it. I even started to write a song about the flood. I had only written two songs in my life, both to a girlfriend, first in high school and then in college. Now, at the age of 37 in 1997, I started feeling an inner “yes” to what I had so many years earlier had said “no” to.

The songs started coming…slowly but surely. It was a work in progress. Eventually they became prayer put to music. Song lyrics…melodies…would come like little gifts to unwrap. I had already been re-examining my Catholic faith for the last several years…reading all kinds of books. I had been struck by a scripture in which Jesus asked his followers, “Who do you say I am?” I suddenly felt that the question was personal. My quest to figure out the answer led me back to school. I started taking classes on the weekends at the College of Mount St. Joseph (now known as Mount St. Joseph University) in 2000…and in 2004 I had earned a Master’s degree in Religious and Pastoral Studies. I had a new dream of being a Youth Minister so that I could help young people in their quests to find a purpose in life. Meanwhile, I continued working in radio.

In 1999, I had joined a contemporary Christian band that played at a local Catholic Church. How it happened is another story for another time. But in 2003, the band put out an album with three of my original songs, including the title song, “What Kind of Love?” Soon my friends were telling me to do my own album. In 2007, I released my first album titled Listen to Your Heart. In the summer of ’07, I interviewed for a Youth Minister job at a local parish…and to my surprise I was offered the job! I shocked a LOT of people when I told them I was leaving my successful news anchor job…for youth ministry.

The next five years were difficult…but more rewarding than any other time of my life! Then amidst this calling…came a new one: chaplaincy. That is also another story for another time…but it all involves listening to the movements of my heart or soul or inner spirit…whatever you want to call it. I had been practicing “contemplative prayer”…sitting in silence…also Lectio Divina…where you read scripture and mull over a word or phrase that strikes your heart. These practices were instrumental in helping me make decisions.

So following album number two that I released in 2009 titled Live to Love, in 2012 I began my studies in Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) at Good Samaritan Hospital here in Cincinnati. There are four units of 400 hours each, 300 in clinical visits and 100 in class, plus 8 overnights on-call per unit. Those are where you are the overnight chaplain at the hospital from 9:00 in the evening to 8:30 the next morning. There were very powerful encounters with the Sacred during those times!

I released my third album titled Give Praise and Thanks in 2013, and finished CPE in 2014. My position at the parish switched from youth ministry to pastoral care. I began visiting shut-ins and the local nursing home…bringing Communion or simply having pastoral visits. The mystery to me was in figuring why I was called to write songs but then seemingly called to do the opposite…to sit with the sick and suffering and be a compassionate listener. I had another spiritual epiphany one night while at a Mass when the priest (who was a good friend of mine) gave his homily. He spoke of a young woman in his parish who had recently died but who had received much relief from a man who would drop by her hospital room with his guitar and sing to her. At that moment I “heard” a small voice say to me: “What if I asked you to sing for an audience of one?” Well…I thought…yeah…I could do that! I told my CPE supervisor and he made that part of my goals…to bring my guitar on my clinical visits. So that began my practice of bringing my guitar on my visits and sang my songs to those I ministered to.

My other role at the parish in overseeing the social justice programs, I also began taking part in Jail Ministry. That has become one of the most fulfilling ministries of all. Who would have thought back on that Friday afternoon in the first week of March in 1997 when I heard, “Get your guitar”, that all this would have happened? Not me!

I released my 4th album in 2017 titled, “Mercy Reigns”…which is mostly made up of songs spawned by my ministry to those who are ill or are hurting. And I’m also just about to publish my first book! It’ll be a devotional for an entire year titled, Mercy Reigns: A Daily Devotional of Compassion, Comfort and Healing. It came about through my blog in which I do scripture reflections each week day. I started that practice back in 2008 when I emailed reflections to my youth group. Eventually it turned into the blog. So instead of writing bad news like I did on the radio…I’m now writing Good News every day!

(Genie) I appreciate you sharing your story with us.  I love to hear peoples’ stories of finding their calling.

I know you are a contemplative Christian. Briefly, how do you live as a contemplative in the modern world?

(Bill) I have a regular meditation practice which is very important. Each morning I do “Centering Prayer” for 20 minutes. Centering Prayer is a type of meditation done in the Christian tradition. I attempt to get in another session later in the day if I can. I also practice mindfulness…attempting to be present as much as possible.

Most people tend to be lost in their minds and their non-stop thoughts. It’s good to focus on what is happening each moment. Chaplaincy was very helpful in this area as we were trained in the “ministry of presence” or the “sacrament of the present moment” as it was termed by the Jesuit priest Jean-Pierre de Caussade who lived in the 1700’s. It’s good to remind myself that God is always present…so I must be present as well. My “monkey-mind” (as Richard Rohr has called it) needs to slow down and stop periodically. Listening to talks and reading books by Eckhart Tolle have been very helpful to me in this regard.

(Genie) Thank you for mentioning these specific teachers.  I think that will be helpful for our readers. Bob and I incorporate the teachings of Richard Rohr and Eckhart Tolle into our own practice.

Tell us about “Love Will Always Lead You Home.” This has to be my favorite. I listen to it often for its gentle message of grace and encouragement.

(Bill) “Love Will Always Lead You Home” is one of my favorites as well! I’m flattered that it means a lot to you. It reminds me of Psalm 23. We all “walk through the valley of darkness” more than once in our life-journeys. It’s the human condition. We all share that experience. My “dark valleys” have turned out to be paradoxically the most meaningful and transformative experiences of my life. Like Jonah…we have all experienced not wanting to do what deep down we know we are being called to do. We don’t want to move out of our comfort zones! But sometimes we need to experience helplessness and a lack of control…like being swallowed into the belly of a whale…to be directed to a place of transformation and new life. I have gone through this type of thing many times…especially when I had a ruptured appendix back in 1998. That’s when I had a Spiritually Transformative Experience (STE) in the hospital…when I knew…that I knew…that I knew…that God loved me exactly as I was…and that I didn’t have to earn it. I knew that Love was leading me…and that I had nothing to fear. Love would certainly lead me where I needed to go…and eventually safely home…back to the Love that created me. That’s my message for you, too!

(Genie) Thank you so much Bill.  Now, I want to leave our readers with Love Will Always Lead You Home.

Bill’s music including his most recent album, Mercy Reigns and Listen to Your Heart. You can see them by clicking on these album titles.

Bill‘s first book, Mercy Reigns – A Daily Devotional of Compassion, Comfort and Healing “will soon be available on Amazon.” 

For more information on Bill, his music and his ministry please visit.  https://billtonnismusic.wordpress.com/

Bill Tonnis shares the unconditional love of God through his singing, speaking, writing and contemplative practice. In 2007, Bill left a successful radio news career where he was announcing a lot of bad news…to announce the Good News.


(NOTICE: All materials in this e-zine and on the associated Websites and blogs are copyrighted under international agreement. All rights reserved.)


0 comments on “Espirational Happenings – I Goofed!”

Espirational Happenings – I Goofed!

Hi Espirational Readers.

Well, I clicked the wrong button at the wrong time.

Ever do that?

Some of you got my September article for Espirational Faith and Espirational Happenings today, 8/30/2018, accidentally. That copy is incomplete. The copy you will reeive in the September 18 issue will have the completed article.

Sorry for the inconvenience. Please just consider this a preview of the Espirational Happenings for September — and I might add a note to you that we are going to a weekly format so you won’t have so much to read at one time.

Sorry for the confusion.


Namaste’, Bob


2 comments on “Espirational Happenings for May, 2018”

Espirational Happenings for May, 2018

Welcome to the first official issue of Espirational Happenings blog-E-zine! Each month we post news about the inspirational things going on in our Espirational Family. We also include links to articles or websites we feel are the best in covering our monthly theme or creative Espirational lifestyle in general. This is new and is our monthly “newsletter,” only we do not send it out to you. It will appear here each month. If you want to receive it in your e-mail box, please follow espirational.net (see right-hand column of any of our pages for our follow button).


So What’s Happening?

Espirational.com  —  We are celebrating Older Americans Month at Espirational.com .  Our daily quotes this month are by people over the age of 60 with an emphasis on centenarians. Yes, those who have celebrated one hundred or more birthdays! Of course there will also be videos. Please join us as we take a different look at aging.


“Old age is not a disease – it is strength and survivorship, triumph over all kinds of vicissitudes and disappointments, trials and illnesses. “

— Maggie Kuhn –American activist known for founding the Gray Panthers movement after forced retirement.



Espirational Faith 

–What’s your thoughts when someone tells you you’re getting older? A teenager might think, “Thank goodness. It’s about time. Now I’ll soon be able to take my driving test.”For me, a person soon to be 70, many think that the time of my adventures and fun in life should be considered to be over. Not me. I’m just in “middle age” I tell people. What? Ridiculous! But wait a moment. Is it really so ridiculous? Read my blog post in Espirational Faith this month before you decide so quickly.


The Espirational Digest

Each month we will feature links to articles or websites we feel are the best in covering our monthly theme or Espirational living in general.  We welcome suggestions for these. Have you seen any particularly inspiring items in the virtual world of the Web you’d like us to consider as the “Best on the Web?” Use our “Contact Us” button in the About Us folder of this site to tell us about your finds.

Here’s our “Best on the Web” for May, 2018:


  • “The Big Lie” — Huffington Post article by Babette Hughes, 92 year old author

“I am often asked what my secret is — at the age of 92 I am writing my fourth novel and fifth book (up at 5 am). Post Hill Press will soon publish a series of three novels I wrote in my 80s…” more…


“Some people engage in creative activities as a hobby, and many do it to earn a living but forgets about the health benefits art-related activities has for anyone who”  more….


  • “What Lights YOU up?” from the RoadSIGNS Coac

“My coach Patty frequently reminded me that in life there are many choices and we get to choose what it is we want. She suggested that we chose in favor of ‘what lights us up’more…


“You can’t help getting older, but you don’t have to get old.” — George Burns, Comedian.   For 38 years, Bo worked in IT for IBM and the “retired” and worked for 3 years in the “best job I ever had.”  more…

Founded by Richard Rohr OFM, “the Center for Action and Contemplation seeks to empower individuals to live out their sacred soul tasks in service to the world through contemplative programs and resources.


The Espirational Calendar:

Espirational is an online ministry/community (E-spirational, get it?) so events listed here will be happening online. You may submit your free online events one month in advance (submission does not guarantee your event will be included). If you wish to advertise a paid event, please contact us for advertising rates).

  • May 5 Hay House World Summit https://www.hayhouseworldsummit.com/
    This free online event includes 100 interviews and 15 movies.  We look forward to this summit every year.


The Espirational Question for May:  

At what age to you think you will be “grown up” and why? Please ponder this question and feel free to respond in the comments below. Let’s make this the fun question that it truly is.


Coming up in June:

We are celebrating the grand opening of The Espirational Gallery and All Things Espirational. The emphasis for the month will be Creativity and there will be giveaways and prizes throughout the month at Espirational.com.


By the way, if you see something inspirational on the Web, or even elsewhere, send us a note and a link about it through our Contact page. We’re always looking for All Things Espirational.   —The Robbins.


And please keep in mind that all items we publish are copyrighted materials protected under international copyright laws, and the health advise is not meant to replace a licensed, trained medical professional.