Mrs. Gore’s Hot-off-the-Press Guide to Silver Dollar City

After spending four days at Branson’s Silver Dollar City a couple of weeks ago, I feel the need, not only to jot down some things for us to remember next time we go, but to pass on my newfound expertise for those of you who have never been before.

These sorts of blog posts make all the difference when you’re planning for a trip. I know so because the blogs I read beforehand about how to navigate Silver Dollar City made a HUGE difference in the success of ours!

Thus, without further wordage, I present to you Mrs. Gore’s Hot-off-the-Press Guide to Silver Dollar City (as written in June 2017):

The packing and planning stages:

  • Call ahead (or swing by the day before you go) to talk to someone about all your options during the week of your trip, or ask for an up-to-date newspaper. You need to be armed with all the available info about special deals that might apply to your stay!
  • Likewise, order your tickets ahead of time and look into whether or not getting season passes will be a good deal for you. More on that later.
  • Download the Silver Dollar City app, where you can easily pull up a map, check showtimes, and find special attractions.
  • Study the map the night before and have a game plan. We circled ALL the things we wanted to do on the newspaper map before we went. You don’t want to be standing around trying to figure out where you want to go while everyone else is zipping by you to the fun. Be ready! This is game day, baby!
  • Take your packing really seriously so you’ll have everything you need. If you’re going to be at the park for a long amount of time and have small children…I’d even say children aged 6 and under…some sort of stroller or wagon is essential. There are some crazy hills at SDC and LOTS of walking. This is the collapsible wagon we have and we are superfans. It folds up so easily, it converts into a bench, and we love it. Click on any of the pictures of products below to be taken to the affiliated link at Amazon!
  • If you’re going during the warm months and plan on riding water rides (which you SHOULD, they were our favorite!), make sure everyone has quick-drying clothes and shoes. Our boys wore trunks and short-sleeved rash guards, our girls wore swim dresses from Hanna Andersson, and everyone had a sturdy pair of swim shoes like these. (cheaper versions of this sort of perforated tennis shoe can be found at Gap and other stores).

  • Speaking of shoes, many rides don’t allow flip flops! We took extra flip flops with us in case anyone got blisters, but we were so glad those weren’t the only shoes we brought.
  • Pack your own food and drinks. SDC can become a budget buster if you don’t plan ahead in this department. We saved so much money by taking our own!
  • So you want to pack well, but you also want to pack succinctly. We took two bags with us, both of which stacked perfectly in our wagon, leaving room for two little kids to sit side-by-side. Everyone’s hands were free, except for my husband who was pulling the wagon like an ox.
  • Bag #1 was a small cooler-on-wheels, like this (ours was a red-and-white gingham version of this same bag, but the print is no longer available at Amazon!) 
  • We filled up Bag #1 with frozen Capri Suns (that kept our other drinks cold, but thawed by afternoon for the kids to enjoy), lots of bottles of water, and little cans of Sprite. This bag had mesh pockets on the side that we could quickly slip our electronics into when we weren’t taking pictures.
  • Bag #2 was this medium-size insulated picnic hamper (also red-and-white gingham, also no longer available, but I love this blue version, too!):
  • We put ALL of our other essentials in Bag #2, including a Ziploc of various sunscreens, a Ziploc with hairties and a brush, a small first aid pouch filled with Band-aids (in the case of blisters or any falls and scrapes on the concrete), a Ziploc of medicine for motion sickness or headaches, a small bottle of baby powder (because after four days of water rides and walking, some of our family members had chapping problems, ouch!), my wrist purse, my husband’s wallet, and our kids’ lunch, which included apple juice pouches, Clementine oranges, apples, boxes of raisins, boxes of yogurt raisins, packets of peanut butter crackers (both plain and cheddar crackers), granola bars, and a variety of small bags of chips. Nothing squishy and nothing spillable. Every night before we left, I lined all these goodies up on the counter and let each kid choose which kind of flavors they wanted of everything so we didn’t have any confusion or sadness at lunchtime, plus I’d throw in a couple more of each item just in case.
  • So that was the KID’S lunch. The adults…because we’re adults and we have such fancy tastebuds…got to sample the fare at SDC. Not that we were totally stingy, the kids got to taste pretty much everything we bought without us having to spend our life savings on meals in the park. It worked perfectly, everyone was happy, and it left us with some spending money for afternoon treats like Dippin’ Dots or funnel cakes.
  • Other than that, I packed each of our insulated water bottles, stocked with fresh ice water every morning. When we’d stop for a bathroom break or lunch, I’d refill everyone’s bottle with the extra water we packed in our cooler. This is my own water bottle I bought for the trip. I have the white enamel and I got my mom the copper version because she loves copper and I love her. Another plus, our wagon had two cupholders that held our bottles perfectly! The rest of our family’s insulated bottles snuggled in nicely between our bags and the edge of the wagon.

  • Lay everything out…including the kids clothes and shoes…the night before, pack your hamper, and have all drinks ready in the fridge. Every good pastor’s wife knows that if you want to make it to church on time, you’ve got to start getting ready the night before. The same is true at SDC, people!

Getting to the park:

  • We had heard about the magic of the season pass before we went, but now we’re believers. If you are planning on going to SDC for more than one day, a season pass is a must. With it, we went to the park for two full days of our trip, and then we decided to go ahead and go every morning the rest of the week until the park got busy. It was season pass early hours week (SCORE!), so we would be IN line by 8:30 each morning, ride all the rides we wanted (with no lines!), go and enjoy one of the little children’s sections for about an hour (with hardly any other people there), and be pretty full up on fun before the park started getting even the slightest bit busy. Then we’d be on our way out by noon, just when the lines were started to get long. It was…AMAZING!!! We’d go every single day if we lived closer, and with a season pass, you could actually DO that. If you purchase your passes before a new season starts in March, you can also get free guest vouchers! We missed that deal, but it is ON our radar for next time! Season passes are just a great deal, all around.
  • If you have a season pass, you can also purchase preferred parking for $7/day. Worth it. My husband would drop us and our stuff off at the door (anything to save little feet and pregnant feet from more walking), then park the car in the adjoining lot nearby. It made the trip that much more dreamy, and we never had to wait on the trolley to pick us up from the more remote parking areas.

IN the park:

  • If you get there early…and it’s a thousand times worth it to do that (even if that means you all wake up at 6:30 every day of your trip to start getting ready!)…do all of the popular roller coasters that you want first. The lines will be minimal to nonexistent.
  • After that, do the water rides, *especially* the Lost River of the Ozarks. This ride will have a HUGE line by lunchtime, sometimes over 45 minutes. By following our routine, we rode this ride (our family favorite) four or five times in a ROW without ever waiting in a line. We usually didn’t even have to get out of our boat! After you’ve had your fill of Lost River, hit the American Plunge (a classic log ride) a few times. Family members can watch from a viewing stand, which is fun, and this ride has pretty fun pictures available for purchase at a hut nearby. If you’re going to buy a souvenir at SDC, I think this is  a pretty good one. This is our little guy, Shep, and his friend, Daniel, who also happened to be at the park that day. They loved it, I promise: 
  • After enjoying the big roller coasters and those two water rides, if you have little kids (ours range in age from 3 to 10), go to either The Grand Exposition or Fireman’s Landing. These are both very large kid-friendly areas that have a ton of fun little rides. Our family especially liked Fireman’s Landing which, aside from a collection of rides that our children loved most, also had a little splash pad and one of the most amazing playhouses ever. I liked to sit on a rock in the sun to dry off after getting drenched at Lost River and just let my kids run amok. The playhouse alone kept them busy and thrilled for nearly an hour every day. And it’s all so clean! And beautiful!
  • Now that you’ve gotten your fill of rides and play areas, let the rest of the folks deal with the growing lines while you go catch some shows! We got to watch an amazing Dog Tricks show one day, the Harlem Globetrotters the next day, a couple of good concerts, etc…it’s a nice way to rest, usually in an air-conditioned room, after racing up and down those hills to get to your favorite rides all morning. These shows change with the different festivals of the year, so be sure to check your paper or the app to find out what’s available to you!
  • Scope out a perfect spot for your lunch as you meander around. We found a little bench outside of The Opera House where we ate our lunch every day. It was covered in shade, very private, and gave the kids room to mill around while they ate. An added bonus to that Radio Flyer wagon is that the side zips down to convert the wagon into a little bench, giving us two places for kids to comfortably sit.
  • SDC has clean restrooms (and several nursing stations!) in every major area of the park. Be smart about your bathroom breaks! Make everyone go when you get to the park, make everyone go when you stop for lunch, make everyone go before you go into a show…otherwise, you’ll be taking someone to the bathroom all day, every day. It’s all about coordination. 😉
  • If you have big kids and little kids, it’s just a good idea to split up, at times. My mom and I would take the two littles to one of the kid-friendly areas while my husband did rides with the big kids, and if you need a place to take your littles in the afternoon when The Grand Exposition and Fireman’s Landing are packed with people, I can’t recommend Half Dollar Holler enough. Our littles went through this play area on repeat, for a good hour, while my mom and I sat and rested in the shade. 
  • You cannot go to SDC and miss out on Grandpa’s Mansion!! It’s a classic staple that must be enjoyed by the whole family.
  • The train is a neat feature that should also be enjoyed once (and once is enough, I recommend going in the afternoon), but be warned that there is a little show in the middle of it that could get long for tiny kids. Ours did okay with it, and so I’m glad we went. It’s especially neat to see the outskirts of the park and get an idea of the land that SDC was built on. It’s in the woods, basically! Amazing!
  • The BEST things we ate all week…the hot dog wrapped in a long spiral of fried potatoes, the funnel cakes (one a day, baby! Sometimes two…), the kids loved the Dippin’ Dots, and NOTHING BEAT the warm cinnamon bread. I thought it sounded good, but it was REALLY GOOD. If you go early, get you some coffee and a loaf of this bread and think of me.
  • Before you leave, have some fun at Tom and Huck’s River Blast, either riding on the boats or shooting at the riders from the sidelines. It was one of my son’s favorite things to do there, and the lines aren’t long here, even during the busier parts of the day. You will get pretty wet on the other rides, you will get DRENCHED on this one. It’s the perfect way to cool off at the end of your day.
  • If you’re a mom of littles and your little park-goers fall asleep in the wagon (ours did, every day), there is a great seating area in the shade near the front of the park. I got to sit in a big Adirondack chair under an umbrella every afternoon and make friends with elderly people while my family enjoyed the park. Being pregnant, this was a dream come true for me. And sometimes a loving family member would deliver a funnel cake to me, so, hallelujah.
  • Finally, as you are meandering your way out of the park, take some time to check our the artisan booths and houses, which are full of educational opportunities for your family. You could even pick a few a day to focus on. We didn’t do so great in this department this go round, but if we went to the park during a time of year when the water rides weren’t open, I think we’d take better advantage of them.
  • Oops, I have one more “finally” to your meandering…Marvel Cave. You’ll need to get the whole scoop on this experience from someone who works at the park, but we heard this hour-long walking tour through a REAL CAVE underneath SDC was a great way to cool off in the afternoons. It never worked out for us timing-wise, but this would be a perfect afternoon activity for the big kids while babies and toddlers nap. We have a raincheck with Marvel Cave.
  • Let your memories be your souvenirs. You could easily spend a thousand dollars on stuff at SDC…there’s even a toy store there!…but you don’t need to. The park is enough. If you don’t believe me, ask my very happy kids. They didn’t come home with a SDC shirt, or a toy, or a craft, or *anything*…but their hearts are bursting with memories.

So, by the way, is mine.

One last word of encouragement before you leave, while there are so many fun things to do in Branson, if you are on a budget like most young families, let your tickets to Silver Dollar City be your vacation. It has everything that the whole of Branson does…food, shows, crafts, music…so get your money’s worth and stay from opening to closing. I guarantee you won’t run out of things to do, though I can’t promise you won’t run out of energy. They even have an amazing concert at closing time!

Ah, it is easy to underestimate Silver Dollar City if you’ve never been there, but it is a beyond fabulous place to take your family. My husband has been to some of the biggest parks in the U.S., and this place is his all-time favorite. I second that, 100%.

I hope you love it as much as we do! If you have any questions, shout them out in the comments section! And if you have any fun or helpful tips to add to this list, please share! I might just need your advice for my next trip to SDC, which I hope will be sooner rather than later…

I mean, we have season tickets! Maybe we’ll go today!!

The Day Small Elephant Came Out of Retirement

We shared a video on Facebook this week that explained a lot of things like, 1. why I haven’t been writing a lot, 2. why I’ve been tired, hungry and emotional for the past three months, 3. why my kids are so in love with me right now, and 4. why I’m suddenly wearing tents and leggings every day.

Here, if you’re not on social media, you might want to watch it…

 

Um, WOW, right??

I have to admit, it feels so good to have this news out in the open.

At the same time, though, it has been nice to experience the first trimester of my pregnancy in the old-fashioned way. This secret was between me and my husband for the first month, and then we told the kids, not because I was really ready to let the cat out of the bag, but because I simply couldn’t hide it from them any longer. I was tired all the time, I was crying almost daily, I was sleeping late in the mornings, and I was under this constant cloud of nausea. “It will be better for the whole WORLD to know than to leave them in the dark about what is wrong with me,” I thought. Because I really felt that, once my kids knew, the whole world WOULD know, probably by nightfall.

We’re kind of a boisterous family.

Thus, on a total whim, we decided to tell them one by one, as you saw in the video. I had mentally pictured all the different ways we could break the news to them, but the minute I entertained the thought of telling them individually and really savoring their reaction, I knew that’s what I wanted to do.

So I grabbed my camera, got settled on my bed, and Mr. Gore started calling them in, oldest to youngest, locking our bedroom door behind each one as they entered.

Then, after they’d been told the great secret, they had to go hide in our neighboring bathroom until everyone was caught up to speed.

It was so much fun, and I gotta say, the resulting video is one of the greatest treasures I have in my possession. I had no idea how they’d react (although I did assume they’d be happy, they all love babies and have been hoping for one for a long time), but a truer representation of each of their personalities could not have been captured if I’d scripted it.

For instance, our firstborn, who thought for sure he was in trouble, but then hopped straight up to tell the WHOLE WORLD our secret!! (Told ya!) Once we caught him and sent him to the bathroom to wait, I could hear him clapping his hands and just giggling in sheer excitement. It was so dear. I said all of our kids love babies, but no one has a softer spot for the little critters than he does.

And then our eldest daughter, with that pure gaze of hers that melts me, who was so beside herself she could barely contain it. When I get to the part of the video where she says “oh, Mama!” as she stops to hug me on her way to the bathroom, I get a huge lump in my throat, every time.

And then there’s Oh Honey who processes the news with her signature “blink blinks” before fainting in the floor…before getting back up and bouncing like Tigger. So spot on.

And then there’s our little man, be still my heart.

You can hear the poor guy pounding on the door, demanding to be let in, during his sister’s portion of the video. And when we finally sit him in the chair and his papa informs him that I’m going to have a baby, he reacts in his quintessential way that, roughly translated, means “Hi. I have no idea what you’re talking about. I’ve never heard of anyone having a baby. But…I love you…and you’re smiling at me…so…THUMBS UP. I support you 100%.”

I love that kid SO stinkin’ much, and I love all the thumbs up that he has given me over the past year, and I LOVE that he gave me a thumbs up in this video. My husband and I just looked at each other (after I finished laughing my head off) and said something like “did that really just happen?!”

Anyhow, I didn’t really mean to review the video that you literally just watched, but…what can I say? I love my chiddlers.

But there’s actually more to it than that, I think.

You see, by the day we shot this video, I had been walking very silently through some pretty major things. First, the shock of a positive pregnancy test. All the emotions…both high and low…that followed it. The vivid memories of what I was about to go through and how real and raw and hard and beautiful it all is. The understanding that any momentum I had recently gained (such as…we had just put the high chair in the attic, we’d bought our last box of diapers or Pull-ups for the first time in TEN YEARS, our house was staying very tidy, we were killing it at homeschool, and I was waking up at 6:00 a.m. every morning like a BOSS!!) was flying out the window, all of it.

And then, of course, there was the realization that I am ten years older now than when I first began having babies. A lot can happen to a body in ten years! I mean, I have a friend whose hips start hurting when a thunderstorm is coming. We’re getting OLD, y’all!

And so I’ve just been a little more scared this time.

A little less sure of myself and my body’s abilities.

Add to that those long, trying weeks of nausea and fatigue where I had been pretending, even around my closest family and friends, that nothing had changed and that I was fine.

Phew! All that to say, I was SOUL TIRED by the day we made this video. I was lonely, with all kinds of pent up thoughts and emotions. And, again, I was truly scared. What if I couldn’t do this again? What if something bad happened? What if this changed our dynamic in drastic ways?

Enter, my children.

When I let them into my world once more and shared my great secret with them, what I found was such open arms.

Such love.

Such JOY!

Their reaction was a salve to me, and an immediate reminder that, yes, though this was going to be hard and though it might even be dangerous (did you know that being 35 years old makes this a “geriatric pregnancy”?!), it was also such a GOOD THING. It was going to be fun!!

And it was most definitely a blessing.

They just made it obvious to me from the very first second — you can see it so clearly in the video! — that any difficulties I had endured in the weeks leading up to this announcement were 100% worth it, for not only were we housing a precious and sacred new creation in our midst, we had made ALL of our children so, so happy.

Sigh. The four little people in the above video have embraced me so wholly in my current weakness that it has totally blown me away. They check on me constantly. They have zero expectations from me and hold no grudges about my failings (for instance, our two-hours-later-than-normal breakfast). They have fed me and soothed me and petted me and…well, they’ve just WELCOMED me, just as I am.

Even more heart-warming? They seem proud of me.

What a difference their reaction has made for this tired ol’ mama.

This is the kind of world that babies are supposed to enter into. A place where they are greeted with smiles and excitement and wonder and enthusiasm.

Children have got it all figured out, don’t they?

So after we told our kids, we’ve had the joy of telling many of our family and friends the old-fashioned person-to-person way, not all at one time, but slowly, as time and circumstance allowed. First it was my mom. Then my daddy. Then my husband’s parents. Then our best buddy at the nursing home. Then a sibling here, a sibling there, a friend here, a friend there, our neighbors across the street, my manager friend at Anthropologie, the owner of my favorite antique store, our church body…

as the news has spread over the past three months, our secret has gotten smaller and smaller and smaller, and now that we’ve finally made our way back to the internets, it is no more.

You know what? This sits well with me, even though the temptation was to keep things quiet until the baby was actually IN my arms.

Life begins at conception, and I believe that with all my heart. And I can read about my higher risks and I can be scared about the future all the live-long day, but that doesn’t change the fact that there is a human being IN my tummy.

Right now!

Right this minute!

You guys!

WE HAVE A NEW FAMILY MEMBER…

and, yes, come what may, I want the whole world to know it!

~

Sad you missed out on the first trimester adventures of Small Elephant? Worry not, I’ve been jotting down stories as they happen and will round them all up for you soon. Stay tuned!

Are you new here and don’t know who “Small Elephant” is? Oh, boy. You stay tuned, too. This is going to be fun…

 

The Wassup Chronicles – Vol. 1

Welcome to “The Wassup Chronicles”, where I tell you what’s up in my world and…you listen. (but then you get a turn, too, so hang in there!)

~

Good morning friends!

I have been working on and off for months — MONTHS!! — on a blog post titled “The Mission Statement of Mrs. Gore’s Diary”.

‘Twas one part funny and three parts dramatic and, oh, about five parts explanatory and I worked on it and I worked on it and I worked on it and I put other writings on the backburner and I let it clog up my idea queue and, last night, after pulling it up again for the 35th time since January and still finding it lacking or missing something (or more likely having too much!!), I said…

PHA-HOOEY!!!

I’m done with it.

Moving on.

I mean, all it was was my entire manifesto for living, so…whatevs, right? Sometimes writers write for themselves, and I suppose this was one of those instances. I know now what the mission statement of Mrs. Gore’s Diary is, so that’s cool. All 3000 words of it.

All that to say, I’m FREE this afternoon! And, rather than nail myself down to a specific topic (for instance, mission statements), I just want to blab.

So what do you want to talk about?

We could talk about Valentine’s Day. It was probably my least prepared holiday ever, and I’m trying to figure out why. Was it because my mom and Amy were out of town the week before and we didn’t have time to plan our annual party? Was it because I’m still trying to recover, somehow, from Christmas? Was it because my heart just wasn’t in it?

I don’t know, really. But I learned something: you can prepare for weeks to have a holiday or you can prepare the morning of, and chances are, your kids are going to have a blast. By the time they came to the breakfast table on the morn of the 14th, we had a pretty table set, and festive donuts, and a little gift at each place. Best of all, the kids got to pass out the cards they had made for each family member the day before, and it was so fun to see what sort of sweet nothings they came up with on their own.

Yesterday's Valentine breakfast. Donuts. Fruit. Strawberry milk. Lots of fun. Lots of love. ❤️😍❤️😍

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I’m always analyzing the purpose of education, and I discovered yet another reason we should be passionate about the schooling of our children…

so they can make their Valentine cards WITHOUT US!!!

I didn’t even have to make Shepherd’s cards, because his big brother transcribed them for me! (#manny)

All in all, it was a fun day, and the Mister and I even squeezed in a date last night!

Which leads me to the next thing we could talk about, if you’re in a talking mood…

La La Land.

Ohmuhgoodness.

Yesterday was my second viewing of this…this…this…CINEMATIC MASTERPIECE!!!…and I loved it even more the second time around. I so want to really talk to you about this movie but I abhor spoilers and so I can’t. All I can say is:

1. This is the coolest, most suck-your-breath-right-out-of-you-for-two-whole-hours movie.

2. Especially if you are well-acquainted with the old movies — SO many nods to the films of yesteryear, in major ways, but then in manifold subtle ways that just knocked my socks off.

3. Don’t expect a Christian worldview, duh, but this is actually a pretty clean movie. I was shocked by the utter lack of all the things that are routinely shoved down our gullets by Hollywood. THAT SAID, while there are not an immense number of expletives, the ones that are in the movie are like…BAM!!! The kind that make you flinch. I just didn’t want you to tell your hubby that “Mrs. Gore says this is a great movie! Let’s take the KIDS!”

4. I’ve seen the movie twice now and the second viewing was the best. I came away really understanding the film and letting it teach me something rather than trying to make it what I wanted it to be. I realize that’s vague but…just watch the movie. You’ll see.

5. I have a maternal sort of adoration for Emma Stone. I want to make her biscuits and jam for breakfast and tell her not to stay out too late and I also want her to know that she always has a place to come home to. I’m assuming she could afford to add a room on to our house because we don’t have a spare room, so that would just be an added bonus to the adoption.

Which leads me to the next thing we COULD talk about. If you wanna…

Some of my Facebook peeps already know about this, but GUESS. WHAT??

We have a special project in the works at Gore House.

(Doesn’t “Gore House” sound very Halloweeny? Ew. I mean, I like Halloween, you know that, but not the haunted house part of Halloween. Which is totally what “Gore House” sounds like, a haunted house, oooooooooooooooo!!!!)

Anyhow, special project.

The plans have been drawn up. The bids are about to come in. The fundraising has begun.

Ready?…

WE’RE BUILDING A SCHOOLHOUSE!!!!!!!!!

Oh, man, you know what, we can’t talk about this here. I’m gonna need a full blog post to talk about it. Just…consider this the official teaser trailer, with lots and lots more coming soon to a Gore House near you.

(ooooooooooooooooo!!!!)

Let’s see, what does that leave for us to discuss? Assuming you’re still listening…

Oh, how about this?

I got bangs in December.

I no longer have bangs in February.

I mean, I still have bangs, but they are long enough to pin back and, although my mom and my kids and my nieces REALLY loved them, and my husband really liked them, and even though I felt cool(ish) again, we have decided to part ways (literally, they’re parted down the middle and subtly pinned to the side).

Why? Because Mrs. Gore ain’t got time for THAT. Did you know that, when I don’t have bangs, I can wash and style my hair and it will last me for three whole days (and then maybe a half-day more with a lil’ dry shampoo, thank you Oscar Blandi)? And when I say “it will last me”, what I mean is that I don’t have to touch it, think about it, or even brush it in between. And did you know that I didn’t know how wonderful this was until I lopped off a whole section of hair atop my forehead and had to deal with it every. single. day.?!

All I had wanted, really, was to look as awesome as #ohhoney. (If you don’t know what all these hashtags mean, you’ve really got to join us at Facebook, pronto!). I’m mean, sure, she’s FIVE, but who cares? Her bangs are DIVINE. She looks like a miniature Jess from “New Girl”. Or a tiny Audrey Hepburn. When she wakes up, they are more or less perfect. And when she’s in the wind, they’re perfect. And when she’s wearing a hat, they’re PERFECT.

(See what I mean? This was after a windy and sweaty morning at Vintage Market Days…)

I'm always an #ohhoney fan. But after we take the sponge curlers out of her hair…😍

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My bangs, however, were little hair devils that stuck out in a million directions when I woke up in the morning. And when I was in the wind they stuck out in two million directions. And when I wore a hat…just no.

Even worse, somehow, when they weren’t being hair devils and were as en pointe as I needed them to be, they were making me feel vain in church and I seriously thought I was done with that, my sisters.

I’m not kidding, that’s when I really knew they needed to go. Preacher’s wife can’t be feeling vain on a Sunday morning, not when preacherman is bringing the Word to the flock. Get thee behind me, Bangstan.

So, do I regret getting bangs? No I don’t. I’m so glad I tried it. It was fun and exciting and I’m glad I got it out of my system.

Did I like my bangs? Not enough.

Maybe someday, when I have time to wake up and groom myself every morning instead of every third or third-and-a-half morning, I’ll give it another go.

If I’m no longer vain.

(But I probably will be. Even though I won’t know it until I get the bangs.)

Ah, this was a fun talk, and I’m going to try to do it more often. Thanks for listening.

Now tell me, wassup in YOUR life? What did you do for Valentine’s Day? Have you seen La La Land? DO YOU HAVE BANGS?? Are they perfect or are they hair devils? I’m all ears…

 

Dancing Hearts in Nantucket (Part Seven: You, Me & the Sea)

Hello beloved friends of Mrs. Gore’s Diary! Long time, no see! The holiday season has whisked me away, as usual, and I realize about every other day, with a start and a gasp, that I still have an important series over here, just waiting to be finished (if you’re new here, you can catch up! Here’s Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five, and Part Six).

With that in mind, this will be the last installment of my Nantucket series for the time being. I still have a few fun stories to tell about our trip, but I am momentarily tabling them until I can write in the unhurried and inspired manner that this tale – and my mom’s ongoing birthday gift – deserves. As soon as inspiration strikes and my memories are burning a hole in me once more – and I feel SURE that will happen – I will be back with part EIGHT of our Nantucket tale!

One last time, let me thank you EVER so much for joining us in our memories in Nantucket. You have made this recollection that much sweeter with your kind words and excitement. Forever grateful I am. ❤

Now…to the sea!

~

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The first thing my mom did every morning at the Wauwinet was wake up, get ready for the day and, then, waking me up so I could follow suit, she’d slip downstairs to the gorgeously bedecked back patio with her Bible study materials so she could spend some time with the Lord.

I forced her to let me take a picture. 🙂

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It’s easy to have a daily quiet time when you’re in heaven but, then, my mom has a daily quiet time no matter what. She has notebooks and notebooks filled with her prayers and notes, she has Scripture memory cards scattered to high heaven, and that’s actually just another of the things I love about her: she is faithful to the Lord and His Word in season and out, not just when she’s luxuriating on the back patios of resorts.

I, on the other hand…well, daily-sanctified-work-in-progress, with high hopes of being just like Mama someday.

Quickly showering, slapping my make-up on and finger-combing last night’s washed and styled hair, I would scurry downstairs to find her as soon as I could, and it did my heart a thousand worlds of good to see her there, surrounded by the tranquility of this seaside respite.

She might faithfully study the Word every day, but what an awesome backdrop she had here, the rolling waves of the ocean bringing repeated crescendos to the excellent and holy Word of God that she has built her life upon. What a blessed pause in this topsy turvy life.

The Wauwinet had an adjoining restaurant where a full breakfast was available for diners, but in a small room next to the bar, complimentary coffee and pastries were available for the inn’s guests every morning.

We went complimentary.

A few mini muffiins and a tiny bear claw later, we’d hop upstairs to brush our teeth and we were OFF for the day!

My heart squeezes within me to recall our next adventure.

Donning slip-on sandals and flip flops, hands free of everything but mom’s tiny wristbag and my giant camera (that you KNOW went with us everywhere we went!), we set out on foot to explore the private beaches of the Wauwinet.

Now, when you are researching your Nantucket vacation and you first see the rates for the Wauwinet — especially if you are in the middlest of the classes as we are — your jaw might drop to the floor to imagine ANY room, no matter how luxurious, costing that many precious dollars.

But during our experience, I quickly discovered that it was not just a room we were paying forno, not at ALL. We were paying for the most serene room we’d ever been in. We were paying for a conscientious staff who was devoted to our comfort. And, more relevant to this blog post in particular, we were paying for a secluded and pristine piece of land that we had the freedom and the right to stroll upon, to skip upon, to run upon, to LIVE upon, for as long as we were renting that room.

We were nervous, to be sure, when we claimed our Wauwinet reservation from behind a computer screen in Oklahoma, and it was all definitely booked with blind faith and a lot of prayers, but after the property had been ours for three nights and four days, after we’d explored and relished every corner to our heart’s content, it had undeniably been worth every penny and maybe a couple more.

On my more dramatic days, I’m convinced that I would happily live in a lean-to if I could spend a week at the Wauwinet once a year, and you might agree with me after I share with you our seaside adventure!

A short walk down the paved drive that ran beside the inn, the instructions from the concierge being painstakingly followed by our easily-lost feet, Mama and I took a right turn on a pebbled path that mozied beside a small collection of beautiful seaside cottages, and…

there it was.

The fence.

Like, I’m talking THE fence.

What was “THE fence” you ask?

It’s funny that you ask, because…

I don’t know, really.

It was just an important fence, and I knew it when I saw it.

Also, it was beautiful.

I’ve never been one to swoon over fences, but this fence was different.

Promises that something special was ahead seemed to hover about its pickets. Were we about to find the end of the rainbow? The pirate’s hidden treasure? A pearl in an oyster?

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See what I mean?! What a FENCE, right??

And aside from all the magical skin-prickling it produced in me, it was also eerily familiar, and I can’t really put my finger on it even today. Had I seen this fence…or at least one like it…in a magazine, perhaps? In a movie? In my DREAMS?!

Who knows, but here it was, beckoning Mama and me to follow its slats and find the sea.

The pebbled path morphed quickly into a deep, immaculate sand and our shoes immediately had to be abandoned. Giggling, holding on to those glorious pickets, we adjusted ourselves to this new and challenging surface, and the two of us clumsily made our way, laughing like children, over the little hill that would deliver us to the attainment of all that the fence was promising.

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And THEN we reached the top, and we really and truly were at the end of the world.

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I know that your teachers told you that the world is round, but I’m telling you, it’s not.

It’s so totally flat.

And wherever you are, if you will just start walking (and then swimming a little) until you get to Nantucket, the world will come to an end and then there is nothing but sea and then heaven.

I know, because I saw it with my own eyes.

We didn’t have a sailing vessel at our disposal, or we most certainly could have drifted our way to Beulah Land that very afternoon!

As it was, we were content to play on its shores, toes dipped in its shadow, hearts full with the knowledge that eternity was just around the corner and that it was very beautiful, indeed.

Now, when I shared the following pictures on my Facebook page last year, I think the common assumption from friends and family was that my mom had never seen the ocean and her uncontainable joy was based on the realization of that dream.

But that’s not quite true. She has seen the ocean several times, in Texas, in Seattle, in Florida, and she has played in the sand and she has sat on the shore.

But this…

this Nantucketly view…

this was HER ocean.

We all have aspects of God’s handiwork that involuntarily set our hearts on fire…for some it’s mountains, for some it’s a newborn baby, for some it’s a certain type of animal, for some it’s the tropics, for me it’s the homeplace…

but Mama had lived all over the United States as a child and she had journeyed through 40+ years of serving her family and her church and the days had been full and busy and there had been triumphs and there had been disappointments, and this placethis unvisited but always-seen place in her imagination….had somehow been deep inside of her all along.

And now she was seeing it with her very own eyes for the very first time.

I, by the crazy, unbelievable grace of God, got to be there to witness it, and the tears stung my eyes as I watched her acquaint herself with the sea of her heart. Like the God she serves, it was big and mighty and unpredictable and awe-inspiring yet still gentle and wooing and soothing.

And beside it, so tiny in comparison, I saw the GIRL she was, not just a mom, not my dad’s wife, not a cook or a cleaning lady or a baby-sitter or a nursery worker but…a child, dearly loved, of the Most High God.

It was like watching a real-life interaction between Aslan and Lucy, alone in the world, and I will never, ever cease to be grateful for God’s sovereign plan that picked me up and transported me across the country so I could carry this memory for the rest of my days.

All girls should get to see their mom turned inside out like this, to behold her soul with sight, to catch a glimpse of her heart as it danced on the shores of Nantucket…

 

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Will we ever go back to this tucked-away place on the map, the place where our spirits communed so deeply and our friendship was cradled by sky and sea and sand?

We want to…

but we don’t have to.

We took a vote, and it was unanimous: when they are this powerful and sweet and point to endless days to come, memories are more than enough. ❤

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~

Anyone else need a tissue now? It doesn’t matter how many times I go back and relive this experience, it strikes me with holy wonder and gratitude and LOVE! How wonderful will eternity be, when all is made right and we are free to live in the beauty and unity that was intended for us. I’ll be back soon with other non-Nantucket blog posts I’ve been working on – in the meantime, you can keep up with Mrs. Gore and family on Facebook and…breaking news…Instagram! See you there!

 

Dancing Hearts in Nantucket (Part Six: The Wauwinet)

Phew! We’re plowing through the WEALTH of memories that my mama and I shared on the island of Nantucket, and I just have to say ‘thank you’ once more for joining us for this very special time. Just to remind you of what we’re doing, for my mom’s 65th birthday, I wanted to set aside a month or two to write down all of our stories from her 64th birthday trip, and it has been so fun to have you all along for the journey. (If you need to catch up, here is Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, and Part Five). Your kind words and excitement about the blessing we enjoyed means so much to me. What grace and love you have shown!

Gah, I can’t believe it has been over a week since I posted Part Five; HOW I would love to get these installments out faster, but…I just can’t, apparently. In fact, the reason I first published three posts in one week is because two of my four kids were throwing up all week and I didn’t leave my house for seven days. Ha! All that to say, thank you for your patience as you wait for each part of this story. That you are still here and still engaged just blows me away.

Okay, I am SUPER excited for today’s post. Just…go get you a cup of tea or coffee and cozy up for this one. I think I’ll do the same!..

~

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So Nantucket Proper was fantastic, wasn’t it?

Do you remember that moment when my mom and I first left Union Street Inn and were making our way down the sidewalk toward Nantucket’s Main Street? And I said how much I love to go back in my mind during that point because I had NO idea what great things were in store for us, just around the corner?

Well, that same reality, TIMES ONE THOUSAND for this next portion!!!

I’m actually laughing right now, just thinking about it.

Okay, and maybe crying, just a ‘lil.

All the emotions, mostly.

Because, when we had wrapped up our second day of shopping and adventuring and sightseeing in the main part of Nantucket and had returned to Union Street to gather our bags (and have an impromptu prayer meeting with our new friends!), and then began our trek down the streets to find the jitney that would drive us to our next place of lodging, we had no idea…NO IDEA!!!!!…what was in store for us.

Seriously.

No. Idea.

I mean, it felt special enough that the place to which we were going had its very own jitney (aka shuttle), one that came to town on the hour to pick up guests and left town on the half hour to return to the resort.

You have to be pretty important to have your own jitney, don’t you?

I’ve never had my own jitney, that’s for sure.

But, then, I had KNOWN this place was important the first time I saw its website; I didn’t know how to pronounce the name of it at the time – “The Wauwinet” – but it wouldn’t matter, because I was struck speechless.

However, unlike my dramatic internet experience with the Union Street Inn, where I had “instinctively known” we HAD to stay there, the only instinct I had when I saw this new place was that I knew I WANTED to stay there.

But there was no way that would ever happen.

Because it was unreal.

A little TOO unreal for us, if you know what I mean, in that it was a level or two…or ten, maybe…above our heads. It looked like a place that Martha Stewart might live. Or a place that would be featured in a magazine that we couldn’t afford.

You know the ones I’m talking about, right? Those gorgeous magazines that cost $7 to $10 that you can rarely talk yourself into buying, even though you want to…Veranda, and the like…magazines that feature houses and hotels that you wouldn’t even pin on your Pinterest “Dream House” board because they are so out of your reach?

Enter “The Wauwinet”.

The only Relais & Châteaux member in Nantucket (I still don’t know what that means, really, other than fancy!!), housing the top-rated restaurant in all of Massachusetts, just the very pictures of this place screamed luxury and perfection.

Situated on a sprawling private property, hugged by the coast and completely saturated with beauty and care and tranquility, I took one look at the pictures on the website and my mouth went tee-totally dry. It was one of those things that, once you see it, you can’t UNSEE it, but, like, in a good way.

And even as I initially shrugged it off as a pipe dream, I went to bed that night with dreams of The Wauwinet sort of pumping through my blood.

It was calling to me, like a mythical siren calls to the captain.

“Come to meeeeee…” it hissed. “Even though you are a poor pastor’s wife who sells granola to buy cardigans, you beeeelonnnnng heeeere. Your mommyyyy deserrrrrrrves it…”

I’m telling you, I was sort of stuck after seeing this website — it was dug down deep in my heart — and so I did the only logical thing there was to do and I passed the siren call on to my mom.

We looked at the website together. We daydreamed about staying there with a view of the ocean from our window. We talked about our other options and how we really wanted to spend our week.

And, with these things in mind, we made a decision.

Remember our Nantucket motto?

We had all these credit card rewards piled up, we had birthday money from all the family, we were here for four short nights, we might never leave Oklahoma again…

GO BIG OR GO HOME, MAN.

So, laugh out LOUD, we went SO BIG.

Like…

The biggest.

Thus, after that first night at the Union Street Inn, the remainder of our stay in Nantucket would be at…that’s right…THE Wauwinet.

THE WAUWINET!!!

Even the locals we talked to about where we were staying were amazed.

By the way, you pronounce it like this — I know now because I’m an insider — Wah-WIN-it.

Now, get ready, because you’re not going to believe this place. Seriously. Just…eek!…squeal!…giggles!…I’m excited.

Now…where was I in our story?

Oh yes, the foyer of the Union Street Inn. We had prayed with our new friends, we’d said our goodbyes and, loading ourselves down with our tote bags and purses, we lugged our suitcases behind us down the sidewalk, their wheels really making a ruckus on those brick and cobblestone streets.

It was a tourist-y moment, one that I did not completely relish, only because it proved to Nantucket that we two gals did not belong, reminding me that I was a stranger in this town, a backpacker, a sojourner. And here I had been feeling like a regular…

But it was also fun, in a way, setting out with my best friend like this to try and find our next adventure. We weren’t quite sure where we were going, which is actually very normal; even in our own stomping ground, we’re not quite sure where we are going.

Without taking too many wrong turns, though — the hefty load we were carrying motivated us to pay close attention! — we found the Visitor Center which was, not surprisingly, precious and perfect, just like the rest of this magical land.

Peeking through the darling door, we were instructed to have a seat at one of the outside benches and our jitney would soon be arriving.

“Our jitney”.

Tee hee!

We were naturally atwitter. What was this REALLY going to be like? Would we regret leaving the beautiful-but-relate-able Union Street Inn? Was The Wauwinet going to be too fancy for us? What if we looked like hillbillies compared to everyone else? What if all the socialites noticed that my suitcase was from J.C. Penney instead of Louis Vuitton? Would we be sad that we had tied ourselves down to a remote area for the rest of our stay, instead of bunking in town? What if this place was all show, a fancy website, but I don’t know…haunted?! In disrepair? Situated right next to a pig farm?!?! Did they even have pigs in Nantucket??

My feet were tapping beneath me, excited, homeless, and, after our long day afoot, ready to find a place to rest.

Thankfully, we didn’t have to wait long; about five minutes before it was due, a shiny, black bus turned the corner onto our street and I made out the words “The Wauwinet” tastefully inscribed on its side.

Mom and I looked at each other and grinned. This was it. Our jitney had arrived! Roll out the red carpet and take us to our resort, maestro!!

It felt as though we were on the brink of a STORY, and my blood flowed to the siren call once more.

“Coooommeee to meeeeee, Mrs. Gore and Mother!!! Luxury awaaaaittsss…”

A smiling driver quickly emerged from the jitney, and I instantly relaxed. His skin was dark and beautiful, and he greeted us like family, the accent of Jamaica delighting our ears.

“I will load your bags,” he said, taking our suitcases to the back, “and you can sit inside or on the bench while I get my lunch around the corner, wherever you are most comfortable. We will leave on the half hour.”

We opted for inside, and he opened the door of the jitney for us and helped us in. The seats were low and clean and…I was nervous again, all of a sudden. How unusual it was for an unapologetic homebody to be hopping about from adventure to adventure like this! How did I even GET here??

Oh, yeah. The tiny plane.

My mom, though, was still smiling like a child, and I could almost hear the melody of her youth rocking through that adventurous head of hers.

“How different we are,” I mused, “but so well suited to one another. When did we switch places like this, she the girl who wants to see the world and I the one who wants to keep us away from strangers and dangers? Or…were we always like this, deep down, and I just didn’t notice?…”

Before I had too much time to think, our driver returned and, still smiling with an apparent enjoyment in his work, took his place in the driver seat.

“Would you like a drink for the drive?” he asked. “It will be twenty minutes before our arrival at The Wauwinet.”

We accepted and, reaching down into the ice chest next to his seat, he handed us each a cold bottle of water, along with a paper cocktail napkin. “It’s the little things…” I thought, receiving this gift, and I had the tingly feeling that we were about to REALLY be taken care of. Maybe like we’d never been taken care of before…

You know, my mom might not believe she deserves anything, an attitude that I am trying to mirror as I grow, but I think she deserves the world, and as we made our way down the streets and then the highways of Nantucket, I slowly began to rest in this amazing blessing that she was surely about to receive. This was her time, her gift, her MOMENT!!!

It was everything I’d ever wanted to give her, but couldn’t.

As such, I couldn’t stop smiling, either.

I was surprisingly finding a home, of sorts, in this place that I never would have sought out on my own, and the blessing was mine, too, but I don’t ever want to forget how completely and utterly focused my heart and mind were on my mama for these five days and four nights; it was a deeply spiritual experience and I was nigh unto bursting with love for her. Her joy was my joy, and then some. I was her happy companion in this place. Her sidekick. Her supporting actress.

And I was having the time of my life!

The drive was indeed twenty minutes, on the button, and it was beautiful. Fresh air was blowing through our row of screened windows, and it was interesting to see that, on the main road with no ocean in sight, the countryside was actually quite familiar. A two-lane highway with trees and fields, sort of like Oklahoma…yet the ocean was just out there, somewhere.

It could have been home, but…no, we were on an island! An ISLAND!! How amazing. How…terrifying! For me, at least. Mom, not so much.

After miles of highway, the jitney took a left turn and, with no further ado, we found ourselves entering the private property of The Wauwinet.

Oh, mercy…

the dazzling place on the internet was now right in front of my eyes and I felt as though I was stepping through the mirror into a place that couldn’t REALLY exist with the rest of the stuff in this world. We had crossed into the Great Beyond, I just knew it.

My skin was literally prickling. This jitney we were in…this inn where we were staying…this entire TRIP…was just not something that two averages Janes get to do very often, if ever.

“Thank you, God,” I whispered. Like a wedding day, my heart was imparting to me the acute realization that this was a “once in a lifetime” sort of moment and that I’d better pay very close attention.

We pulled to a stop outside of a sprawling thee-story estate, the doors were opened, and another man, smiling graciously, extended a hand to escort us out of the bus while the driver retrieved all of our items.

My mouth dropped open as I stepped forward and surveyed the perfectly-manicured front entrance. The pictures I had gazed at endlessly in the planning stages of our trip were coming to vivid life in front of me, and to embrace the scene with all of my senses at one time instead of just my sight, to see and know that this fairyland was actually real and right in front of me…it was just too much.

It’s funny, I only see bright lights in my memory as I try to recall exactly what this side of The Wauwinet looked like – I was blinded, I think, by the glory of it! – but I DO remember seeing a long line of green Hunter rainboots on the front porch, available for guests who wanted to go adventuring.

“Well done…” I nodded, passing by them as we entered through the large and welcoming front door. It was my first time to ever tip my hat to a boot, but what can I say? I was impressed.

We found ourselves immediately in a spacious foyer that housed the most beautiful check-in counter I’ve ever seen and, as the staff carried all of our belongings – all of them, not just our suitcases – up the open staircase to the left, we stood and made the acquaintance of the manager on duty, a precious young man who was obviously amused by the exuberance we displayed about every amenity of which he made us aware.

You have a movie library??”

“You’ll bring us hot, buttered POPCORN?”

“There are blankets we can use in the chaise lounges out front??”

“You’ll bring us COFFEE? Anytime we want it???”

“This place is amazing!!!

We were laughing and clapping like schoolgirls, so excited, which made him laugh, and I knew that, even though we might not be the type of guest that The Wauwinet was most accustomed to, we were going to have a fun time here. I think both of us determined then and there not to worry about how middle-class we were or how Oklahoman and to just be us, and to show love and kindness and gratitude to everyone we met.

I noticed as the week went on that the front desk workers grinned so big when they saw us coming. “Oh boy, here come the enthusiastic girls…” they seemed to say.

Likewise, we also made some friends on the other side of the spectrum that week, including some businessmen and their wives from Boston, and it all just reminded me that people are people and a smile goes a long way toward easing through perceived barriers. It was a good life lesson, one I hope that I’ll remember.

And, oh!! I’m telling you, for the rest of our time in Nantucket, our every need and want was seen to by this eager and attentive staff. After the manager gave us the run-down and handed over our keys, our personal concierge (!!!!!!!), Damian, escorted us to our room and showed us around, promising his devoted service for the rest of our trip.

After conversing with him for some time about his homeland of Jamaica, he left to order us some ice (which was soon delivered in a beautiful copper bucket, with a matching scoop. A COPPER BUCKET!!! Have you ever?), and we found ourselves alone.

Shutting the door behind him, my mom and I finally had the liberty to really SQUEAL!!! This place was a dream! And our spacious and airy room was DIVINE!!

Two taller-than-life queen sized beds completely dressed in brilliantly white linens with a softness to their lines that belied lots of lots of feathers underneath.

A Bose radio on the nightstand between us.

A line of shuttered windows that let in seaside light and beauty.

A beautifully appointed sitting area, including a floral sofa, a cozy armchair, a flat-screen wall-mounted television, and a hand-painted armoire.

Cleanliness and luxury, all about.

And, for the rest of the week, it was OURS, with no chores or responsibilities attached to any of it. Just enjoyment.

Golly, do you know what? I’m feeling rather intimidated, actually, now that I’m trying to sit down and tell this part of our story.

How can I aptly describe this heaven-on-earth without making it seem like I am a thesaurus for superlatives?

How can I express all the emotions, the joy, the kinship that my mom and I experienced in this out-of-the-way place on the map?

The best way I can describe it is that, at The Wauwinet, hemmed in by the sea on two sides, it felt very much like we had found the edge of the world, just Mama and me.

And this is where the biggest joy of our trip came in because, not only were we free, for a moment…free from responsibility, from stress, from chores… as we’ve rehashed our trip, we have discovered that we also…somehow…miraculously…blessedly…unexpectedly…both felt free from sin.

It was as if, for one tiny week during this journey of life, my mom and I got to stop outside of time for a bit, outside of the fall of man, and wade in the shores of eternity.

We get these tastes of Eden all the time…at birthday parties, in shared laughter, at Sunday morning worship…but this was more than a taste. It was a feast. A week-long feast.

There was no fear of man in my heart. No comparison. No jealousy. No worrying about what people were thinking of me. No worrying about all the ways I’m failing. No keeping our friendship under a bushel. No selfishness. No pride. No self-loathing. No nothin’.

And on top of all these things that weren’t, were all the things there WERE, namely, an abundance of love the likes of which I have rarely experienced; it was all give and no take, on both sides. It was perfect communion, the kind that can only be found in Christ and that I’m so exceedingly grateful to share with my mama.

And so, yes, I loved the decor, I loved the chaise lounges in the back, I loved the private beach, I loved the coffee in carafes and the little bowls of sugar…

but I really loved having a place where the dearest friendship that I’ve had…the one that has been most true, the one that has been the easiest and the most constant and consistently mutual…could flourish and rest and commune and meditate and thrive.

Our hearts were dancing, I tell you.

Dancing in Nantucket.

~

Now…how about some pictures?!?

Here is our room, a big, comfy bed for each of us:

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Sigh…I want to go to there. Note the small box of treats next to the pillow, along with a set of personalized stationery for each of us bearing a watercolor print of The Wauwinet.

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Our sitting room, which had plenty of room for Mom, me, AND my giant Nantucket hair.

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The armoire! Pretty, pretty.

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Fresh flowers in the hallways. There were also bowls of complimentary green apples peppered throughout the inn…

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Can I sigh again? Here is the library. This room smelled amazing…their fireplace logs had magic in them, I think…and  we spent a lot of time in here. You’ll see more pics of this room in a minute.

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Are you ready to see the best part of The Wauwinet, the true highlight of our entire stay in Nantucket?

The huge lawn, with rows of chaise lounges, where lodgers could sit and watch the ocean, the sunrise, the back of their eyelids…

during the daytime, you could pretty much find us here, wrapped up in blankets, snoozing, reading, taking deep, gulping breaths of Nantucket air, and pretending like this was our permanent residence. The staff even brought us coffee here, in a carafe that I have long coveted at Williams Sonoma.

This was Mom’s first sight of the place…I think she liked it. 🙂

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From the lounges, the ocean was straight ahead, and then this was our view to the right. I swear that’s not a painting.

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Home sweet home. At least that’s what I kept telling myself.

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A pristine boardwalk led from the yard down to the dock where the Wauwinet Lady dropped off restaurant guests from town or took lodgers on excursions. We never boarded The Lady during our stay, one of our only regrets during our trip.

Mom was pretty excited just to stroll down the boardwalk like a lady of leisure. 🙂

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Another seating area closer to the ocean. Told ya this looked like a place Martha Stewart might hang out.

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More pictures from the dock and boardwalk:

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After a little poking around, we headed quickly back to the yard where two blankets were procured so we could sit and watch the sun go down.

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This was our heaven-on-earth…we’d found it!…and we couldn’t get over it.

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Hours were spent in those chairs, but when the sun had sufficiently set each night, we’d secret back to our room, share the sandwich we had bought on the cheap that day in town (keep in mind that “cheap” in Nantucket is a relative word), change into our lounging clothes, and skip like children down to the library where a fire was deliciously crackling and perfectly complementing the fresh, chilly seaside air that was permeating the entire inn.

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we usually had the place to ourselves every night

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and we read until our hearts were full which, with a good Jan Karon book, doesn’t take too awful long. Mom had scored a galley copy of Jan’s new book that was being released that week (“Come Rain or Come Shine”) in the town’s (amazing) bookshop and, though I was one book behind her (“Somewhere Safe With Somebody Good”), we were both SO happy to be in Mitford with Father Tim and the whole gang. We’ve spent countless hours in Mitford over the years, Mama and I, and it added to our trip in a very special way.

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When we had our fill of reading each night, we would go upstairs, take showers and put on our pajamas, order some hot, buttered popcorn (that arrived wrapped up in cloth napkins in a ceramic tureen) and watch an episode of BBC’s “Emma”,  which was another shared highlight of our trip. How we laughed at that show together, thrilled to our toes. It was especially funny to us because Emma’s father, scared of everything and always preventing Emma from going to the seaside, was very reminiscent of yours truly.

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Before it was too very late in the night — we wanted to take advantage of this opportunity to get good sleep — we’d turn off our lamps and nestle down into the cocoon of quality sheetage and feathers that I doubt I’ll ever be able to replicate at home.

But that’s okay because, though I fancied the notion from time to time, The Wauwinet wasn’t home.

It was a four-day paradise, the very fulfillment of the word “holiday”.

And what a jolly holiday it was.

~

(It was) a day of sheer delight, one of those magical times that are not forgotten while life lasts, a time when it seems as though nothing can go wrong, as though human imperfection were aided and sustained by something outside itself, and just for once allowed to bring to perfection everything that it attempted.”

Pilgrim’s Inn

~

I have more pictures of our stay at The Wauwinet that you’ll see in the days to come – this was just our first day! Until then, check out the gorgeous website here. Thank you so much for joining me today – stay tuned for our next adventure, where I watched with tear-filled eyes as my mama found the beach of her heart. ❤

And you can always keep up with the Gore family on Facebook!

Dancing Hearts in Nantucket (Part Five: Nantucket Proper!!!)

I can’t tell you how wonderful it feels to have that last story (part 4) out of my heart and down on paper (and if you need to catch up, here is part 1, part 2, and part 3). I’ve been carrying around these memories for a year now, trying to remember them, trying to hold them close lest they vaporize with all the other important information in my brain that I’ve lost, like WHERE MY OTHER FLIP FLOP IS!!! 

But it has been recorded now. The story has been told. And I feel like a million bucks! Thank you for your sweet encouragement and for letting me know the tale resonated with you – it means the world to me, and all glory to our great God who does great things.

Today’s post will be less touchy-feely than the rest, an introduction to the HEART of Nantucket. If you like action, if you like architecture, if you like homemade ketchup…

you’ll love this post. Thanks for reading!

~

nantucket-5

To begin today’s installment, we first must rewind 24 hours from our current place in the story and go back to that moment when, after enjoying our afternoon snacks at the Union Street Inn and quickly freshening up in our room, Mama and I set out, on foot, to tackle Nantucket.

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What fun it is to go back into my brain in this moment. I was mostly just SO happy to be alive. I definitely liked what I had seen of Nantucket so far…

but I had NO idea, really, what was in store for us, just around the corner. 

I had no idea that, a half a block down the street from our one-night residence, the manifestation of all of my village dreams was waiting for me, a real-life Mitford, if you will (albeit bigger and less affordable, ha!). We turned the corner onto Main Street and…

WOW. My pictures in no way do it justice, so do me a favor and do a Google image search of Nantucket Main Street.

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It was a sight, for sure, and then some. A treat for the eyes. The ears. The nose. The HEART. I was immediately…home. Not like, home-home, of course. Home-home was waiting for me in Oklahoma, with four little loves and that dashing red head and a wonderful church that makes my world complete. No, this was a sort of heaven-home, a slice of near perfection in a fallen world that continually disappoints me with its consumerism, its billboards, its lack of care and imagination and beauty…

I couldn’t believe this city had been there, all these years, just waiting for us.

My mom most definitely was in agreement. This was it. This was the place she had been trying to find for decades, the fulfillment of a thousand dreams and wishes.

And what we still did not yet realize, as much as we adored this first street we’d found, was that the beauty was never going to end!

You know those special rooms you have in your house where all the junk quickly goes when company is coming? Those last-minute things that you just don’t know what to do with? So you just wad it all up in a ball and throw it in there and shut the door?

Nantucket, as far as I could tell in our short time there, did not have one of those rooms.

Every residence, every yard, every street, every block, ON EVERY CORNER OF THE ISLAND, was beautiful.

I’ve been to many pretty towns in my life and many pretty Main Streets, but the quaintness usually comes to a screeching halt a couple of streets over.

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Not so here.

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It kept going…and going…and going…and going!!!

As such, when Mom and I decided just to walk for a bit to look at the pretty houses, we didn’t know that we could basically keep walking for miles. And who knows? We might have!

Every structure was gorgeous. Every house was different. Every garden was perfect. And every tiny detail was tended to and taken care of. For instance, the door latches! They were darling. Not a deadbolt in sight!

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The yards and pathways betwixt them! I’d never seen such thoroughness.

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The cobblestone streets! The brick crosswalks!

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The flower boxes in every window, each one a different variety of color and _____!

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The churches!

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The movie theater!

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Gulp…THE BICYCLES!!!

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We walked and we walked and we walked and we ooohed and we aaahed and we dreamed and we reveled. I’ll just share a couple of my favorite houses here, but at the end of this post, I’ll share a gallery of all the pictures for those of you who want to see it all.

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After walking to our heart’s content, tummies beginning to rumble, we decided to rustle up some food and, I have to say, this part was tricky for us: there were so many places to eat, but we found that a lot of the restaurants we peeked into were gearing up for their supper crowds and had a reservation-only set-up. It made sense, because the rooms were small and cozy and…well, PERFECT. I could have/would have eaten at all of them.

Finally, though, we stumbled upon a little restaurant that was immediately approachable and easy, that could seat us right away, and that had a menu that felt familiar for us middle-class landlubber gals.

It was called the Starlight Theatre & Cafe and it was the ideal place for our first Nantucket meal.

Yes, it had a tiny movie old-fashioned theatre inside (!!!!!!). Yes, the huge windows were latched wide open, giving us a full view of the street. Yes, Pioneer Woman was on the television, bringing a little Oklahoma to our Nantucket. Yes, the food was DELICIOUS. We shared a simple chicken sandwich (called the D.F.C) and fries, but it was so flavorful and filling and the ketchup…the HOMEMADE ketchup…was so ridiculously good and now all other ketchups are dead to me.

You know, just typical vacation stuff, where you find something you will forever crave that you can never have again. 🙂

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I went out onto the sidewalk to get a picture of my mama at our table. Take note of the window boxes, please, and let us all swoon in one accord.

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After this wonderful meal – at the early hour, we basically had the place to ourselves! – we set out once more, this time towards the wharf, to see what was on the other side of Nantucket. The sound of the sea was beckoning us and we walked, in a trance, water-ward.

On our way there, though, something came up that quickly interrupted our trance and I’m speaking, naturally, of a little place called “The Juice Bar”.

“We have to stop here!!!” I told Mom, immediately recognizing it as one of THE highest rated eateries on Trip Advisor, “I’ve read about this place…”

And, boy oh BOY, do we now know why it has such high ratings!

Imagine, if you will, a vast variety of homemade ice creams. Then imagine seeing the ice cream of your choice being piled into a waffle cone that is not only homemade on the spot, but that is STILL WARM (!!!!!!!), and wrapped at the bottom in lightweight foil.

I have never in my life seen anything like it. Like the poor woman in this Babylon Bee article, I lost my ability to even once I was standing in this shop, and I don’t know that I’ll ever recover; during our short stint in Nantucket, Mom and I stopped by for an ice cream cone as often as we could — mostly because we’re not dummies — and what I would give to be able to run down the street and have another one.

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Funny story, though, when it was my turn to order, I could not for the life of me decide which flavor I wanted — they all sounded delicious — and, panicking under that awful spotlight of being in the front of the line and not knowing what I wanted, my eyes just landed upon the word “cookie” and I blurted out the flavor that was attached to it. Because I do like cookies.

“I’ll have the…uhh…cookie monster!!

“Okay,” the clerk said, “but I have to warn you that it is dyed blue. Are you okay with that?”

“Oh, sure!” I brightly replied. “No problem…”

As she put my ice cream together, though, and I was able to relax into a less-blindingly-anxious state of mind now that I was no longer being put on the spot, I began to process what I had just done. A bright blue ice cream. A bright blue ice cream named “cookie monster”. Ohhhhh…as in…Sesame Street. As in, THE Cookie Monster.

As in…this was an ice cream flavor for children!!!

Me dumb-dumb. Me like cookies.

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So there I was, walking next to my mommy down the streets of Nantucket, with my bright blue ice cream cone. I wonder if people thought I had just had my vaccinations and had been “a brave girl” about getting my shots? Or that I had been to the dentist without crying?…

I certainly felt like an overgrown child.

Especially when my mom got tickled at me because my LIPS TURNED BLUE.

And my teeth.

And my tongue.

And, of course, the white undershirt that was peeking out from my v-neck tee. It had been white before The Juice Bar.

Now it had a big blue blob on it.

Because I’m a 33-year old Cookie Monster.

Anyhow, regardless of my momentary shame (that was soon replaced with uncontrollable giggles), I pray that I will never, ever forget what it felt like to walk beside my mama in this city of her dreams, ice cream dripping down our hands, the ocean to our left, the cobblestones under our feet, the cold, invigorating wind whipping our hair all over the place.

It was the stuff of dreams.

The wharf wasn’t so bad, either…

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~

The next morning, after eating our breakfast at the Union Street Inn, with a free morning and afternoon to spare before heading to the next leg of our adventure, we walked again to Main Street, this time as Nantucket was waking up for the day. Mom was, obviously, excited.

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Now…I don’t want to continually sound like an overly-dramatic gushing exaggerator, but…IT WAS LIKE A MOVIE!!!

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People greeting each other in the streets, sellers turning over signs in their windows and opening doors to customers, dogs out for morning trots with their owners, bicyclists getting in an early round of exercise, and…brace yourselves…a Farmer’s Market TRUCK setting up produce.

I stopped right there on the sidewalk and rubbed my eyes.

“This can’t be real…” I murmured to my mom.

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But it WAS real. And, in Nantucket, it was just daily life.

I wanted to sit on the sidewalk all of a sudden and cry my eyes out.

In fact, I want to cry right now, all over again.

I collected myself, however, and Mama and I managed to squeeze a lot of sightseeing and shopping into the rest of that day.

We visited the library. (sniffle sniffle).

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We shopped and shopped some more.

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More house swooning.

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Aunt Leah’s Fudge Shop. (Don’t even get me started. Best fudge I’ve ever had, and we’ve even ordered it online since! Get the Sea Turtle flavor and thank me later).

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Boat watching.

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(here’s Mom when she realized I was taking ANOTHER picture of her as she watched boats – I told ya I photographed her like she was my baby! And you haven’t seen nothin’ yet!).

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Fish n’ chip eating.

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Dock walking.

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Sigh. It was a fabulous, wonderful day, the birthday celebration of the CENTURY.

I think we should go back, maybe tomorrow.

Want to come with us??

~

Oh, boy, you guys, stay TUNED for the next installment, when Mama and I find ourselves smack dab in the middle of the playground of the rich and luxuriating. So, so, SO out of our normal mode of living…but SO FUN!!! Until then, here are some more pictures for you to enjoy! Thanks for reading!

Dancing Hearts in Nantucket (Part Four: Union Street Inn)

Welcome back, dear ones, to our nautical trip down memory lane. I can’t tell you how much I’ve enjoyed revisiting this experience, walking through each moment, smelling the smells, tasting the food, seeing the beauty, and jotting it all down before the crispness of the memories fade.

My mom was out of town when I published the first three installments of this series, and came home to find this birthday gift waiting for her on the internet. She has tried to speak to me about it, but the words keep failing and she hugs me and says “Someday I’ll be able to talk about it…”

So thank YOU, to each of my blog readers, for giving us this opportunity to tell our story, and for accepting it so lovingly. You’re the best cheerleaders in the world! If you’re new to this series, part one can be read here, part two here and part three here. And now, I present to you…part FOUR! Settle in for this one…

~

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As I mentioned in my last post, if my mom and I ever go back to Nantucket, we will most certainly take the ferry and skip out on the tiny-airplane-over-the-ocean-thingy — in fact, we briefly considered skipping out on our return flight and doing that very thing, if the timing would have worked out! — but I have to say, the Nantucket Airport was quite the fantastic welcome.

This was no cement and brick structure, cold and airporty.

It was…gorgeous.

Grey shingled walls and roof. Clean white trim. That tarmac full of tiny, rich-looking planes. And, on the inside, instead of little cushioned rows of seats, there were wooden benches and…rocking chairs. ROCKING CHAIRS!!!

We were in love at very first sight, both of us.

The airport was our first drop on the tongue of what Nantucket had to offer, and we immediately knew we had landed in a very special place on the planet.

In fact, if you want to be a real Nantucket geek like me and know even more about the airport, you can read this interesting article that outlines the airport’s recent renovation, as well as describes the policies that keep Nantucket Island looking so uniform and beautiful. It’s fascinating. Well…it is to Nantucket geeks. The article can be found here

(Wait, what? Did I just seriously share an article about an airport renovation? Yes. Yes, I did.)

Anyhow, walking through that completely unique airport, feeling SO HAPPY to be alive, to have made it, to be rid of a sinus headache, to have both feet on the ground, I was first met with a precious navy blue sweatshirt on a rack just outside of the gift shop. “OH!!! I adore that shirt!!” I gasped.

“We just got here!!” Mom laughed.

“I know, right?” I chuckled. “But I love it. I need it.”

We took a vote and decided it was ridiculously soon to buy a souvenir, so we kept on walking, but we had this awesome feeling that, if the first thing we saw was purchase-worthy, we were in for a GREAT TRIP.

(spoiler alert: I bought that sweatshirt before our flight home and wear it just about every other day. M’favorite.)

We quickly grabbed our bags because, tiny plane, and, just like that, we were free to go. Our vacation could officially begin!!!

We said goodbye to our fellow tiny plane survivors, all of us exultant and chatty about the experience we’d just shared, and walked excitedly out of the pretty doors, straight to a row of taxis where, before we could even worry about what to do next, an eager driver immediately stepped forward and asked us “where to?”.

Neither Mama nor I had ever ridden in a taxi before, so we were a bit goosey about the whole experience; the cool island air, the exciting week ahead, the fact that we had just zipped across the ocean in a Cessna, coupled with our first taxi ride…it was the perfect formula for face-splitting grins and giggles.

While the driver loaded our bags, the two of us quickly murmured together in the backseat, consulting the little “guide to tipping” I’d printed off for mom’s purse. Our only tipping experience in the world thus far had been at restaurants, salons and spas; taxis, bellhops and concierges were all new to us, and we so wanted to treat everybody right on our special trip!

We quickly got the hang of it, though, and, by week’s end, Mom — a generous person, already — was passing out bills like a post-redemption Ebenezer Scrooge.

Our driver talked easily to us all about Nantucket as he squired us through winding streets, pointing out important buildings and sharing interesting bits of trivia; one thing we learned right off the bat is that Nantucket Island is very pure and historically preserved. There are no billboards, no fast food, no restaurant or market chains of any sort and very particular codes for new structures. The result is a kind of village-type beauty that I had only read about but never seen, and I just couldn’t stop staring, in wonder, at the scenes before my eyes. It was a feast, one upon which my beauty-hungry heart would continue to gorge all week long.

On one narrow street, in particular, our taxi began to slow and we were pulling up to the curb of the beautiful Union Street Inn.

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Now, backtracking just a bit, in the weeks leading up to our vacation, we had quickly reserved three of our four nights away at a more remote location on the beach (which you will hear ALL about later), leaving us just one remaining night to find lodging; with the rest of our week taken up in the country, we were hoping to spend this first night in Nantucket proper, close to all the action.

The only problem with that is there were about a thousand choices and, oh my goodness, they were all beautiful. It was like “pick a mansion, any mansion”, you know?

That is, until I landed upon the stellar website of the Union Street Inn. Once the site loaded upon my screen, with its gorgeous photography and magazine-quality decor, I simply could not move on. I was absolutely smitten.

I couldn’t believe our luck when their reservation calendar showed that one room was still available for our free night…yay!!!…

that is, alas, if we were staying for more than one night.

Like most popular inns and b&b’s, Union Street had a reasonable two-night stay minimum.

“Noooo…” I wailed, sure that we were destined to be at this inn, determined to be a part of its history while the opportunity was ours. How could we possibly set foot on the island, knowing it was there and yet not calling it home? T’would be tragic, I tell you!

My heart pining and pounding like it does when there is a sale at Anthropologie, I e-mailed the inn, told them of our situation, and basically groveled at their feet. They were so nice, encouraging me to keep checking back and, if it was nearing our trip and no one had reserved the room, they could open up a one-night reservation for us. It wasn’t very likely to happen, I was warned, but it wouldn’t hurt to try, so long as I didn’t mind waiting until the last minute to snag a reservation.

I could handle that. I was in love, after all, and love will make you do crazy things, like go on the trip of a lifetime without nailing down your reservation until it’s too late to get another room!

The inn’s manager and I e-mailed back and forth a couple of times, touching base about the room and, by jing, what do you know??? Just a few days before our trip, glory hallelujah, we GOT it.

I was beyond thrilled.

I had just known, of all the websites I’d visited and all the beautiful places we could have stayed, that mom and I needed to kick off our trip at the Union Street Inn — we HAD to! — and, though I’m wrong a lot…

this time I was so right.

The Inn was amazing. Situated right there on the narrow sidewalk and street, just down the block from Nantucket’s picturesque main thoroughfare, it was nestled snugly in a row of shingled houses that looked like something straight out of historic New England.

Wait, that’s because it WAS something straight out of historic New England. Listen to the description…

“Occupying an 18th-century whaling captain’s house, this high-end boutique inn is a 1-minute walk from Main Street, a 4-minute walk from the ferry terminal at Straight Wharf, and 0.4 miles from Children’s Beach.

The luxurious, individually designed rooms include period details and feature free WiFi and flat-screen TVs. Some have wood-burning fireplaces.

Complimentary hot breakfast is cooked to order and there are also free afternoon snacks. A patio overlooks a garden.”

Is anybody else out there swooning right now?

I AM!!!

Lucky for us, since we had left Tulsa before dawn, we arrived at Union Street Inn just in time for those free afternoon snacks! Making the acquaintance of the manager and then stowing away our things in our pristine room, we had the sweet luxury of sitting down at a table on the spacious and quiet back patio to a variety of teatime treats and coffee.

Heaven, it was.

HEAVEN.

The air was crisp and perfect, the mood was tranquil, and the treats, delicious. What a perfect way to kick off our time on the island, and to fuel up for an afternoon and evening of exploring.

Mom, by the way, was still beaming. 🙂 Is she not the cutest 64-year old girl you’ve ever seen??

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There was no doubt about it, we’d found us a spot in this world, one of incandescent happiness and relaxation. We leisurely finished our repast, had a refill of coffee, took some time to unload our things and freshen up in our room, and then set out, on foot, to see what this Nantucket had to show us.

Now, I will save the details of that unforgettable jaunt for my next post (stayed tuned!! You won’t want to miss the bustling Main Street, the homemade ice cream and the shopping!!) and, fast forward, instead, to the moment when, many hours later, tummies full, hearts SOARING from all we had just seen and experienced, we walked, in the dark, back to the inn to call it an early night; our day had begun many, MANY hours ago, and 8:00 p.m. was feeling an awful lot like midnight!

As we approached the little steps that led to the front door, however, a light fell across the threshold and I looked up to see a couple exiting the foyer, starting their night on the town just as we were ending ours. We stepped aside as they descended the stairs, nodding and smiling at them in greeting before beginning our own trek up the stairs to go inside.

But before we could, the woman stopped, laid one hand gently on my arm and another on mom’s, looked us deeply in the eyes with the most genuine expression I think I’ve seen this side of heaven, smiled like an angel, and lilted, with a voice full of otherworldly joy, “I hope you two have a wonderful night…”

It was a simple but world-stopping moment, an extraordinary act of friendliness in this increasingly unfriendly world and it sort of stopped mom and I both in our tracks. We thanked her, gushingly returned the sentiment, and then stood, gaping, at her retreating back.

“Who was that?” I whispered.

“I don’t know…” Mom said, her voice matching mine in wonder.

“Does she own the inn?” I guessed, marveling over the kind familiarity that had passed between us. “Do you think she recognizes us from our I.D’s or something?…”

“I don’t know…” Mom repeated.

The woman had just been startlingly beautiful, for starters. The kind of beauty that you don’t see every day. Her figure was petite and perfectly trim, her bob haircut was sleek and shiny, her eyes sparkled with a rich soul, and that outfit, though: figure-skimming ankle-cut jeans, a simple and classy black sweater, a leopard-printed belt with the perfect amount of taste, and skim brown flats that just shouted style and class.

At least that’s the way I remember it. Sometimes I think she might have had a detachable fur collar on her sweater. And then I think the sweater might have been a twin-set cardigan. And then I wonder if I made up the leopard-print on the belt…

regardless, she looked like a movie star from days gone by, one who had voluntarily left Hollywood before becoming jaded, and had been living out her days in anonymity and health and beauty. And the John Hamm lookalike who was escorting her looked so happy to be hers and she looked so happy to be his. They were, in a word, dazzling.

Mom and I eventually retrieved our chins from the path and scuttled up the stairs and into the inn, but this unusual encounter had somehow added the perfect story to end our day.

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Our night there in Room No. 5 at the Union Street Inn went on to be as relaxing and luxuriating as I had hoped it would be. The bathroom in our room was minuscule, as the reviews at Trip Advisor had warned, but I didn’t see what the problem was in that: it was gorgeous and clean and looked straight out of a magazine!

The room was perfectly cozy and immaculate, the kind of clean that refreshes your soul, the very essence of what you shoot for in the look and feel of your own home, but in this instance, on this one glorious night of your life, you didn’t have to lift a finger to get it to that state.

How delicious it felt to shower away the day of travel, not one responsibility on my brain, not a worry, not a timetable; I might have gone through a thousand degrees of mental anguish to find my way to this island, wrenching my heart away from my husband and children, flying across the country on those dying-flying machines, but now, here, with my mom beside me in this perfect room, I was immediately tapping into a deep rest, a time of refreshing, that I didn’t even know would be beneficial for me.

And here I thought this trip had been for Mom!

With open windows pouring sweet Nantucket air into our room, Mama and I settled into our four-poster bed for the night with our books, two like-minded and like-hearted women propping up our feet in the primary way that delights us, whether we are in the Northeast or the Midwest, and we read to our heart’s content.

And then…

we slept.

Like babies.

~

One thing that can be said about our time in Nantucket is that we didn’t waste time.

Primping and long grooming sessions could be done in Oklahoma, but not here: we had exploring to do! Food to eat! Stuff to buy!!

It struck me many times on this trip how happy I was to have this experience well into my adulthood, all of my man-hunting days behind me. “Let my hair be untamed! Let my make-up be passable! No one knows me here! No one will remember me! Hallelujah, no one cares, and neither do I!!!!”

It was a fantastic way to live, especially since my very thick hair, next to the ocean, was an untameable beast. And I just let ‘er fly, like never before.

All that to say, we typical slow-pokes readied quickly the next morning and made our way back down the stairs, full of excitement for the day ahead, to the inn’s dining room and kitchen where a hot, made-to-order breakfast awaited our command.

“Is this real?” I asked myself as we walked through the maze of historically-preserved rooms. “Have I died and gone up yonder?…”

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The dining room, so quaint and picturesque, was a tempting place to sit and enjoy our food, indeed, but the fresh fall air beckoned us back out of doors with a call that we couldn’t resist. To the garden patio we went!

I marveled once more over the beauty of Union Street Inn, the cleanliness, the order, the perfection.

“Could I not live here, for good?” I sighed. “Or at least stay here once a month?…”

Mom and I are dreamers, both of us, and we had only been eating for a couple of minutes before we started imagining out loud about how often we would frequent the inn if we lived in Boston. Every fourth weekend, to be sure.

Our laughter and our daydreams mingled in the air and unbridled joy was our comrade as our breakfast was consumed.

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The blueberry pancakes were scrumptious, the sausages the fattest, and we felt like the queens of the manor. But before we had quite finished our patio breakfast, one more blessing came our way when, to our surprise, the celebrity couple we had briefly met the night before, looking just as beautiful in the daylight as they had under the street lamps, came outside and took their seat at the table nearest us on the patio.

We exchanged polite greetings once more and, before too long, had begun to acquaint ourselves. They did not own the Inn (ha!), they were not former movie stars (aww, shucks!), and they, too, were as enamored as we were with the beauty of Nantucket.

It was a nice, lively chat, with words easily flowing and, before we returned upstairs, they offered to take a picture of mom and me on my camera. “That flower behind you is just so beautiful,” the woman said. “You two look just like a picture!”

We returned the favor for them and, just like that, we were on our way, my heart a little sad to know that, since we would be checking out of our room in just a few minutes, we would likely never see this couple again.

It was a pity, for I could have stared at them all the day long.

We said our goodbyes to them, then to the inn’s manager (who kindly offered to store our bags for the day until we checked in to our new hotel), to our beautiful Coastal Living bedroom, to the screen door that I adored, to the quaint lobby, to the yellow buffalo-checked dining chairs, to the spacious back patio and garden, to the kind wait staff and, with our hearts already full of memories, my adventurous mother and I, her homebodied mate, made our way back to the streets to do some more exploring, which, again, I will share in more detail in my next installment.

Our precious time at the Union Street Inn had come to a close.

Or…

had it?

Skip through the hours with me, if you will, to late in the afternoon when, full-up on sight-seeing and shopping for the day and eager to begin the next chapter of our trip, our feet stepped one last time over the threshold of the Union Street Inn to retrieve our bags from the foyer.

At least I thought that’s why we were there; what I could not see with my common eyes is that a sort of magic — my favorite kind in the world — was at work in that room and strange and amazing things were about to take place.

Grabbing our bags from their neat pile in the corner, we were about to load ourselves down like pack mules and walk to our shuttle location when, would you believe it, our new friends materialized once more, and the four of us again began to converse. Turns out, some friends of theirs were also vacationing in Nantucket and they were meeting them in the foyer for a group excursion.

I was so happy for this chance to say a final goodbye, and I tried to convey to the woman, without sounding like a flatterer, how happy I was to have met her, and how she and her husband were genuinely special to us just from the short time we had conversed, but I needn’t have worried, for God, as ever, was very near, and had very special things in store.

“I know the answer to this already,” she said, smiling knowingly at mom and me from behind her shaded glasses, “but you two are believers, aren’t you? Am I correct in guessing that you are my sisters and that we’ll be spending eternity together?”

“We are!” I confirmed, delighted to my toes. A mid-westerner, through and through, I had just never once dreamed that we would stumble upon other Christ-followers in Nantucket and, though I had not been able to shake the familiarity I felt with this couple, I had been reluctant to put my finger on its source. I had hoped, I had prayed, I had wondered, but, to my shame, I hadn’t dared believe it.

And now my joy knew no bounds.

Wordlessly, like magnets, we crossed the room and embraced as family.

“I knew it,” she murmured, hugging me like a daughter, a sister, a friend.

“I did, too!” I laughed, tears filling my eyes as I recounted how reluctant I had been to leave them that morning.

Our entire group exchanged heartfelt hugs and greeted each other anew, one by one, our acquaintanceship left behind us as our true kinship took root and sprang up like some enchanted tree in a faraway Kingdom. Clasping hands with mama and me, the woman went on to recount the recent loss of her mother, the way God had allowed her to speak to her mom about Christ, and the way she had been abundantly blessed just by watching mama and me interact with each other.

“Hold on to each other,” she encouraged us, tears spilling onto her cheeks. “It’s so beautiful to see a mother and daughter together, loving each other, enjoying each other….it has ministered to me so deeply in my grief.”

I’m telling you, and I will tell you all the way to glory-land that, right there in the foyer of the Union Street Inn, the floor just fell out from underneath my feet.

Why? Why was this “chance” meeting such a big deal to me?

Because, though I have seen proof of God’s sovereignty and kindness my entire life, though He has led me, faithfully, every step of the way, I never stop being shocked and amazed by it.

In the “Lord, I believe, help me in my unbelief” sort of trajectory I was born into, I am always looking, always inspecting, always longing, to see this work, to see this power, to see this proof that God is, indeed, real and active and working, and yet, when I do see it — again and again and again — I see it as if for the first time. Like a hungry child, I cry out and He feeds me. And He does it the next day. And He does it the next day. And I stand amazed, every single time the food reaches my soul.

Precious readers, to see and know, deep down in my heart, on our first full morning in Nantucket, that this mother-daughter trip might have been about something bigger than just my mom, than her birthday, than me, than our relationship, than the things I could see and understand and orchestrate…

to see that it reached beyond our own life, our own state, our own story…

it just made me want to weep.

My mind reeled back through what it had taken to get us to this inn, at this moment, with these people, the little things that had seemed random and circumstantial, those reviews I read that kept us away from Martha’s Vineyard, the room at Union Street Inn that had remained free, the timing that had allowed us to bump into this couple one, two and now three times…

not a bit of it seemed so random, anymore.

It was just another beautiful step in my long, long journey of learning to trust the God who made me and to rest in His will for my life, whether he has me in Tulsa or Nantucket, and any hidden doubt that I’d held onto about this trip being Spirit-led, planned by God, every detail, just flew out of that beautiful screen door, never to alight again.

I was free in that moment, free to trust Him, free to praise Him…

free to believe.

Mama and I had left our nests in Oklahoma to find this sister and brother in Nantucket, and it was one of the most joyous and awe-inspiring parts of our trip because, yes, Nantucket was beautiful and remains so in our memories, but the REASON it is so beautiful is because God was there, from start to finish. What joy. What grace. What LOVE!

As we bowed in prayer with our newfound family, hand grasping hand, voices lifted to God, I realized once more that the Christian life truly is a pilgrimage and one of the most beautiful aspects of that journey are the fellow-travelers we meet across the way. Some we do life with, day in, day out, meeting to worship together weekly, through the breadth of our days….

some we simply pass as we’re walking and, joining hands for a moment on our way, we spur each other on.

We meet to part.

We part to meet.

How sweet it was to meet at the Union Street Inn.

~

Ah, lovely memories! Thank you for hanging in there with me through the recounting of this sweet tale. I can’t move on without sending you first to the Union Street Inn’s website, but I urge you to do so cautiously…you just might fall in love. To take a look, click here.

And stay tuned, for a fun-filled visit to the sights and shops of Nantucket! Until then, find us on Facebook!

 

Dancing Hearts in Nantucket (Part Three: the Journey)

Welcome back, dear readers! I can’t thank you enough for travelling with mama and me on her birthday adventure and lending me your ears to share our memories. If you missed the first parts of this series, find part one here and part two here! Happy reading!

~

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I would say our mother-daughter trip began early on a Monday morning, September 21st, 2015, to be exact, but…

it actually began before then.

It began at Trip Advisor, scouting out all the best places to eat and stay and shop in Nantucket. It began at Dillard’s and J. Crew and Banana Republic, buying new sunglasses and loungewear and cardigans to take on our trip. It began with an online friend who listened to my fears, prayed for me, helped me plan and told me about a special book that would end up playing a big role in our trip (more on that later). It began one dark night, as I rocked my baby boy on the edge of my bed, tears flowing at the thought of spending ONE night away from this beloved extension of my heart, let alone four! It began with heartwrenching goodbyes to each of my children late Sunday night, the unsurety that I always feel about us making it back together again filling up my soul with trembles and doubt. It began with one last tiptoe up the stairs to drink in the sight of their sleeping faces, praying with all my heart that I would hold them again. It began with an amazing husband, deep-down happy and eager to take on a week of housework and homeschool, without blinking an eye, so he could honor his mother-in-law and bless his wife. It began with a daddy, willing to splurge on the trip of a lifetime for this wife who is so different than him, but so worth it…

And then, yes, our trip literally began. Still dark outside, I kissed and hugged my husband one last time, my tears bravely tucked away for the rest of the week – I was determined! This was MOM’S trip, and I would not sully it with my homesickness! – and walked resolutely down the sidewalk, my rolling suitcase making quite the statement on our cobblestone path.

“Something BIG is happening!!” it reverberated through the silent morning, “Mrs. Gore is going places!!!”

My daddy helped me load up my bag – we were traveling very light – and with the thud of the back hatch and three car doors, we were really on our way.

I was keeping a secret, though.

All the way to Tulsa, though I spoke oh so brightly and tried very hard to conceal the fact that I had a massive (MASSIVE!!) sinus headache, by the time we made it to the airport, I was as close as I had been in some time to throwing up.

I wanted to cry!!!

Why was this happening, now, of all days???

I can’t rightly convey the misery, trying to be chipper and focused on Mom’s special day, yet really unsure how I was going to make it another minute without dying.

The headline would read: Local Woman Dies in Tulsa Airport of Sinus Headache and Acute Plane-o-phobia.

And now I was in a real pickle. I had a whole pack of Tylenol Cold and Sinus in my carry-on bag, but I am quite sensitive to medicine.

What if it made me so sleepy I couldn’t function?

What if it made me even more nauseous?

What if it make me so hyper I’d be WIDE AWAKE on the flight?

What to do???

Finally, I could stand it no more. Throwing my paranoid collection of questions to the wind, I took the full dose and just prayed for the best. This headache could ruin the start of our mother-daughter extravaganza, and it simply had to go.

Thank God, about ten minutes into our flight to Dallas, the pain began to abate, and I could think clearly and smile sincerely once more.

Great news, yes?

Not so fast.

By the time another ten minutes had passed, I discovered a new crisis: my limbs, thanks to the full dose I had taken, were beginning to feel like jell-o, jiggling about in a bowl in the refrigerator.

I did my best to snuff out this alarming awareness, but the escalating thickness of head and limb became impossible to ignore when we stood up to disembark for our layover and my main question became this: HOW AM I GOING TO WALK????

How was I, in this heavily drugged-up state, to carry our bags and act normal for Mom? I needed a wheelchair…a fainting couch…a conveyor belt…a man to carry me…anything!

But this was my first test of selflessness and I was dead determined to tough it out: how I managed to walk across that airport with our bags and pillows and normally converse with my mom and the other folks we met on the train, I’ll never know. I was dying inside. Dying.

No longer from a headache, but an overwhelming desire to dig a hole in the airport tiles and hibernate for the winter.

For a girl who is rarely sick and simply wanted to give her mom the week of a lifetime, this was a lot of drama to face, especially before 8:00 in the morning.

Thankfully, though, sometime during our flight to Boston, things began to even out and I was no longer ruled by the headache or the medicine. I’d been traveling on a pendulum since leaving our house, swinging first this way, allllll the way to the left, and then swinging the other way, allllll the way to the right and how WONDERFUL it felt to be back in the middle again!

And this was one of the funniest parts of our trip, our time in the airplane together.

Flying used to be fun for me and I was a well-traveled gal, but once I had kids, a new anxiety was born, and it settled with a vengeance.

Therefore, while we were in the air, this trip became just a teensy bit about me. Obviously, I had to have the window seat so I wouldn’t be by a stranger whilst trying to compose my inner junk, but I also couldn’t have the window shade raised so I could block out the view and pretend that we weren’t in the clouds, but on a happy little bus, on the ground.

I also couldn’t speak. Or look around. Or make or listen to jokes.

So basically, my mom was stuck in the middle of the row, in darkness and absolute silence. But she and I both knew that this was just part of the getting there…I was deeply suffering for her, because I LOVE her…and she was both tickled and touched by the drama.

Neither of us, however, had any idea that our first two flights were just the prologue to a greater drama that lie ahead for us.

After walking in confused circles at the Boston Airport in pursuit of our new gate and meeting many…er, frank?…Bostonian airport workers who obviously thought we were daft Oklahoman looneytunes, we finally were directed to a completely different wing of the airport, one with a separate name, security gate, and staff.

This seemed odd, but I couldn’t make sense of it. I’d never seen a set-up like this in all my acquaintance with airports; we were in too big of a hurry to do much guessing, though and, arriving at our gate, we had been seated for approximately two minutes…

(we even had time to take a selfie!)

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…when our names were called over the loudspeaker.

Puzzled, we went to the front desk to speak to the associate, a kind lady who greeted us with one simple question: “We just need to know your weight for your upcoming flight to Nantucket?”

Excusemewhat?!

This felt like an important moment, one that demanded honesty, so I proceeded to answer with a weight only five pounds below my actual weight instead of twenty, like I normally put on my driver’s license.

And this is when the question marks started flying through my brain. “This is all so strange…” I thought, but I couldn’t even drum up a scenario that made her question make sense.

That is, until they called our flight number.

My mom and I stood up, along with six other people – that’s right, I said six – and the group of us were instructed to walk, single file, down a long staircase and wait at the glass door for further direction.

Um…come again?

??????????

I was getting nervous by this point…very, very nervous…but with no experiences like this to draw from, I had no idea what was happening. I couldn’t even guess. I was all question marks now. Really, my brain looked like this:

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After waiting for a couple of minutes, the entire group of us nervously laughing and wondering what in the world was going on, a flight attendant approached the door and opened it.

“Single file,” she reminded us, “please follow me.”

A wave of fresh, comfortable air hit my face and before me, on the tarmac, I beheld a collection of tiny planes.

I blinked, disbelieving, as my brain and my reflexes struggled to work together, first to comprehend what I was seeing, and then to find an escape route, godspeed.

“But…my mom!… my MOM…” my conscience reminded me, and my feet continued to march me forward, my expression impassive but my eyes as big as the biggest plane in front of me.

Which was, don’t forget, tiny.

I couldn’t begin to pick which one I’d rather die in…er, fly in…because they were all about as big as a Matchbox car.

But I didn’t get to pick. Our line was led to one plane, in particular, where a smiling pilot greeted us and said, “Welcome to Boston, folks, destination Nantucket. Who wants to be my copilot?”

GULP.

Dearly beloved internet, I will never be able to explain how I was able to pass my bags over to the attendant (who stowed them IN THE WING…my laptop!…my fancy camera!…my identification!!!!) and board that dying machine…er, flying machine…knowing that, not only would I go up into the air in it, I would go up into the air and OVER THE OCEAN.

The situation before me, one that I’d had no idea to prepare for (if I had, we definitely would have taken the ferry!!) was the culmination of so many of my biggest fears, it made my head spin: Tight spaces. Airplane. Surrounded by strangers. Ocean.

I’ve always broken into near-hyperventilation at the thought of entering into an MRI scanner. This was like FLYING in one, miles and miles above the water, with people you don’t know staring at you and observing your paranoia. Certain death. CERTAIN DEATH.

But, doggone it, y’all…

I DID it.

I got on that plane.

Well, I crawled into it.

But…I did it!!!!!

I did it for my mom and only my mom, so help me God.

Now, remember how I gulped when the pilot asked for a co-pilot?

Thankfully, a courageous young man was eager to fulfill that role. Phew! Close call!

I, LUCKY ME, got to sit directly behind the co-pilot, with my knees touching his seat. You see, this plane was so tiny that EVERYONE WAS THE CO-PILOT!!!!

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!

It’s so funny!!!

It’s…so…funny…

right?

Funny.

The pilot quickly gave us the run-down, telling us where we were going, how the weather looked, and that we would be landing in Nantucket in forty minutes.

Our group nodded, placidly.

“FORTY MINUTES!!!” I inwardly screamed.

Forty minutes. That’s close to an hour. That’s a whole episode of Gilmore Girls. That’s a church sermon, on a day when my husband’s not preaching.

So here’s what I did. It’s what I had to do.

I told my mom I was going under and that I wouldn’t be talking to her, or anybody, only God, for forty minutes.

I slid down in my seat, I closed my eyes, I accepted my mama’s petite, cool hand in my large and clammy one and…

I counted to sixty, very deliberately, very slowly, very calmly…

forty times.

One one thousand, two one thousand, three one thousand, four one thousand, five one thousand…

I did not stop.

I did not open my eyes.

I did not think.

I did not move my head to the right or the left.

I just counted and I breathed.

In and out.

In and out.

In and out.

It was, in reality, a forty minute mind game. I was counting and I was trying not to picture the tiny plane that I was in, which would then cause me to picture the tiny plane that I was in, and I was trying not to picture the ocean below me, which would then cause me to picture the ocean below me, and then I’d think about the numbers I was counting and try to focus solely on them, ignoring, to the best of my ability, the sky wind that was coming in through the OPEN WINDOWS of the front seat and…

(see? see the open windows? see how close I am to the pilot?!?!)

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…and somewhere in the middle of our march to doom, I took a moment to think it, because God had pushed me into this crazy, hilarious, terrifying situation where the affection had been tested and now proven: “I love her,” my heart declared. “I love this woman and I know now that I would do ANYTHING for her and…I think she knows it, too. Thank you, God…”

It felt good. I knew in that moment that, even if we died, even if our plane crashed, even if I never saw my little family again, I had trusted and obeyed God in this journey and, frantic as the situation felt to my external senses, I was at peace in my heart. The bond between us was complete, in a sense, and so tangible and pure that it cloaked me in a comfort that felt like Eden.

Well, praise be to the Maker…PRAISE BE TO THE MAKER!!!…on my fortieth round of sixty seconds, my mom squeezed my hand and quietly murmured, “You really need to open your eyes now, we’re landing. You HAVE to see this!!!”

I opened them, blinking at the brightness of the world I had shut out for forty minutes.

And do you know what I saw ahead, with just a little bit of ocean between us?

Beautiful land.

Blessed land.

SWEET land.

And, how beautiful this land, in particular, was, surrounded by ocean, this little sandy line of earth that was beckoning us down…

down…

doooowwwwwn!!!!…

But, looking to my left, a relieved smile of victory dawning across my features, I saw a sight more beautiful than land, more beautiful than Nantucket, more beautiful than safety and comfort, and more beautiful than the end of this flight, and it was the face of my mother.

She was beaming.

Her eyes were lit up like a child’s in front of a birthday candle and her smile was as free as I’d ever seen it.

She looked…full…somehow, from the inside out, full of adventure, full of excitement, full of life! This woman whom I had watched for years and years at the kitchen sink, at the kitchen stove, at the washer, at the dryer, in the church nursery, in the flower beds…

she was high in the sky, with water below, the wind in her hair, adventure in her heart, and she was beaming.

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The sinus headache, the drug coma and my forty minutes of tiny plane hell had most definitely been worth it.

~

Me and the co-pilot, after landing. He doesn’t know I almost threw up in his hoodie there.

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Introducing…Miss Nantucket!!! It suits her, don’t you think?

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I’m happy here. SO HAPPY. And, I have to admit, even though I’d spent the last forty minutes inwardly whimpering like a baby, I felt pretty hardcore after conquering the Cessna. It wasn’t no big thang…

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Goodbye, tiny planes. I’ll see you again in four days…

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Gulp.

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“Poor Mole stood alone in the road, his heart torn asunder and a big sob gathering, gathering, somewhere low down inside him, to leap up to the surface presently, he knew, in passionate escape. But even under such a test as this his loyalty to his friend stood firm.

Never for a moment did he dream of abandoning him. Meanwhile, the wafts from his old home pleaded, whispered, conjured, and finally claimed him imperiously. He dared not tarry longer within their magic circle. With a wrench that tore his very heartstrings he set his face down the road and followed submissively…”

The Wind in the Willows

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Phew! We did it! We survived the journey and now we’re ready to explore the gorgeous island of Nantucket. Stay tuned for our next stop, the Union Street Inn! And until then, keep up with Mrs. Gore and family on Facebook!

Dancing Hearts in Nantucket (Part Two: the Planning)

Happy Wednesday! Thank you so much for joining me in this gift to my mother on her 65th birthday, the story of our mother-daughter trip to the place of her dreams. To read part one of this series, click here.

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The phone rang.

“Hello?” I asked.

Is this for real???” my mom’s voice squeaked over the line. “Are you guys serious?!

We were so serious, and apparently, Daddy had just broken the good news to her.

For a week in September, even though I hate flying, even though I hate leaving home and being away from my kids, even though it had never crossed mom’s mind, or mine, for that matter, that I would even THINK of doing such a thing, I, the homebody of all homebodies, would be packing my bags and joining her for a special birthday trip to…somewhere! The possibilities were endless!!…to spend a week.

Just me and her.

“Where are we going to go??” she asked, her voice skipping down a lane like a little girl going to a tea party.

“Maine!” I laughed. “Or…this magical place in your mind that could be Maine! We’re going to find this dream place and we’re going to go there!”

You see, even though my mom’s dream destination has always been “Maine”, the two of us had seen pictures one day in a Country Living magazine, not in Maine, that made her reconsider her “dream”.

“That’s it,” she said, pointing resolutely at the photo. “That’s where I want to go!…so…maybe I don’t want to go to Maine? Maybe I thought it was Maine but it’s actually somewhere else! See this sand? See this fence? This is where I want to go…this, to me, is “Maine”…

I agreed. I had been to Maine for part of my honeymoon and, while beautiful, indeed…it didn’t look quite like the picture she was showing me.

This picture looked more beachy and New England-y. Less rustic and tree-filled.

The only problem was, these several years later, I didn’t remember where “this” was, nor could I recall the issue of Country Living we had seen.

“We’ll find it,” I promised her. “To the Northeast!”

“To the Northeast!” she laughed, dumbfounded.

And to the Northeast we went, via Google.

Before long, after doing image searches all over the area, we had narrowed oukr trip down to four potential places:

Kennebunkport, Maine – while beautiful, though, it looked a little TOO ritzy for us, like a place Regis Philbin or Donald Trump might stay.

Cape Cod – nah, it just didn’t sound right.

Martha’s Vineyard – SO beautiful, it sounded SO right (“Martha’s Vineyard”! Squeal!), and it was so close to being our final choice…but, alas, reviews revealed we’d need to rent a car to get around and that, go ahead and laugh, it felt very dark and remote there at night. On top of my fear of flying and leaving home, I’m afraid of darkness, especially in strange places, and mom agreed: this seemed like a place we’d want to go with the menfolk, not alone.

Nantucket – while this island seemed a little more “happening” than Martha’s Vineyard, a quality that would usually have turned us off, it also seemed more doable for two gals on their own. We wouldn’t need a car and could easily get around by foot or shuttle, it looked very similar to Martha’s Vineyard, and…well, enough said.

Nantucket it was!

And we never looked back.

The lodging options were many, but after checking out every website from Trip Advisor, I quickly narrowed them down to two and, before I knew it, our trip was PLANNED.

Done.

Just like that.

We were actually going to do this thingy!

Now, before I continue, if you’ll indulge me, I’d like to lay some groundwork about our vacation, for the sake of my own conscience.

First of all, I want to say that my mom is a hard working woman, and about 98% of that work is done for others. Here is a woman who fiercely loves her family, who keeps grandkids at the drop of a hat, who has people in her home around the calendar, who cleans our houses and does our laundry any chance she gets, who gives her things away, even her favorites, because one of us mentioned liking it…

and what is so astounding about it all is that she thrives off of this servanthood. She never complains, she never regrets, and she. never. stops. It’s why she’s so skinny, I’m convinced.

And so here’s where that “advocate” thing comes in: even though Mom has always been all of the above, as I have begun to listen, as more of an invested friend than a needy daughter, I have started to realize some surprising things that I had never paid attention to before.

Namely, this: my mom might be a full-time family woman and she might happily pour her life out for us but, deep down, in the youthful heart of her, she is something of a traveler.

That’s right, a traveler.

An adventurer, really.

MY mom!

Who would have thought it??

I sure didn’t.

But it’s true, as our friendship has grown and our understanding has harmonized, these bits of her personality have been revealed to me and, with them, her long-cherished dreams.

And I have marveled, for, unknownst to us, these sweet desires have been lying dormant, tucked away, through all of her years of homemaking and housekeeping and childrearing; focusing her efforts on her family, she kept them hidden, entrusted to God as she chose contentment in the life He had written.

It’s such a contrast, really, who she “is”, in her heart, and who she has “chosen” to be, in obedience to God.

In fact, it kind of knocked me over when I caught my first glimpse of what she had given up for us.

What love. What kindness. What sacrifice.

But she would only call it “love”.

All that to say, this choice has kept her pretty busy and, though the idea of a big trip to her dream destination would be occasionally discussed, something would undoubtedly come up and “Maine” would be put on the backburner.

It was just never going to happen, and she had resigned herself to that fact and put it to rest, no bitterness, no regrets.

Therefore, as rare and surprising a treat as this was, and as perfect was the timing (i.e. no one was pregnant and no one was due with a baby and no one had a newborn and no one was nursing!!) we decided that, by GOLLY, if we were going to go on this trip, we were going to GO.

In other words, we would stay at the best places, eat the best food, and tip like there was no tomorrow!!!!

This trip was a long time coming — the trip of a lifetime, really — and, though the pictures to come might insinuate that we are of the swanky set, believe me when I say we’re NOT. We just decided that, for these four nights and five days, we were going to be, tee hee!

This sort of commitment to luxury was mostly in part to the credit card rewards mom has saved up for years. Our plane tickets and much of our trip was paid for, and the rest was covered by her birthday money and the teeth that I sold so we could scrape together enough to live in style for a week. 😉

So there you have it: “Go big or go home”. That was the motto of our trip to Nantucket.

Now, moving on, I mentioned earlier that this was a Spirit-led trip, and I meant that, truly; there are times in life when you feel you’re on auto-pilot and your feet, of their own accord, are compelled to follow, your heart is wooed to trust, and the details just fall into place like magic.

This was definitely one of those occasions.

I don’t throw “Spirit-led” out lightly, but neither will I downplay the Lord’s work and power when I see it and feel it and know it and, well before this trip even came up, He was at work in the way I thought of my parents

Christians focus, rightly so, on loving our spouses and our children well, and we speak often about loving the members of the body but…

we don’t bring up our parents a lot.

In fact, if you listen very long to us young or middle-aged people, you might hear common jokes, disparaging the towns where we grew up, the churches our parents took us to, the archaic ways we were raised, the theology that was wrong. We would never flat-out say we are more spiritual than our parents or have arrived to a better understanding of all the things concerning God, marriage, children, and recycling, but…

we can act like it. It makes my cheeks burn to think I have ever made my parents feel less-than from my high and mightiness. That I have spoken, prideful, when I should be humbly listening. That, so focused on my own life and how difficult and busy it is, I have failed to appreciate that they have not only been through that already, for my sake, but are still going through that. They still have a life! A full life!

And yet, when we need a baby-sitter, who do most of us run to? Who do we receive the most help from, the most gifts, the most true and consistent care? Who is there, still loving us, when we are despised and abandoned?

Heaven knows I have been guilty of still playing the child, seeing my parents as two people who are there for my good and my needs without taking a day out of MY life to do something for THEM.

Increasingly sensitive, however, by the grace of God, to these failings, I have tried, in my grown-up years, to do a better job at honoring them, helping clean when company comes or after they’ve left, or bringing home a little gift when Mom keeps the kids for us (usually, a scone or a cinnamon roll), or making sure she knows when she’s baby-sitting that we plan to be home at such-and-such time and being true to our word, or taking care of her internet shopping because the internet confuses her…

these are just a few of the things that the Lord has been teaching me, and I pray for grace to do better and to do more.

But this trip — oh my goodness, this trip!! — was an unprecedented opportunity to practice those God-given convictions in the most beautiful and satisfying way, to put them into concentrated action, and to shore up what was being written and cement it securely in place.

It amazes me still, to the depths of my soul, for I have never in my life had the Spirit-led foresight to personally diminish like I did on this vacation.

You see, I wrestle so daily with selfishness. It is my vice. The baby of four children, I just grew up in this happy bubble of thinking the world revolved around my comfort, and those tendencies have been hard to squash; to this day, even without meaning to, I can end up making things about me, and I hate that.

It has been a long, slow death, one that I struggle with constantly, with much failure. And that’s how I know that God wanted me to see to this trip for my mom and accompany her on a dream…

to reward her selflessness and to sanctify my selfishness.

“Oh, boo hoo,” I was afraid people would scorn, “you’re really doing “big things” for God, “sacrificing” yourself to go to Nantucket…”

But…I was.

I was following Him in this. I was obeying a summons. And, through my fears, my crippling fears of tragedy and separation and change and…gasp, adventure!…the Lord was compelling me to the point where I didn’t even have to question it…

I needed to do this.

For Mama.

And I didn’t just need to do this, I needed to pour myself into it.

For the first time in my life, oh bless the Lord and His story-writing, I became HER shadow instead of the other way around, following two steps behind her as she realized this long-held dream of her heart. I kept a lid on homesickness and swallowed it whole. I watched her. I delighted in her joy. I photographed her like she was my baby. Where she wanted to go, we went. What she wanted to eat, we ate. I carried her bags and I let her have first dibs on everything, which, believe me, was a complete reversal of our relationship thus far. She always takes the seconds, always.

But in Nantucket, she was my queen. 

And, oh friends, it was the most beautiful and heaven-like week the two of us have ever spent in this fallen, broken world.

When my mom and I reminisce about our time in Nantucket, we sigh. We yearn. We marvel. We sometimes cry. Our hearts hurt at the remembrance.

We found our spot in this world, mama and me, we found it together, and we’ll never, no, never be the same.

“You deserve this,” everyone told her, including me.

“I don’t deserve ANYTHING,” she said, not blinking an eye. “But I’m very grateful…

Me too.

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Stayed tuned and join us for Part Three where I will face some of my biggest fears, holding tightly to the hand of my mama! And, as always, to read our daily stories of life, love and humor, find us on Facebook!

Dancing Hearts in Nantucket (the Prologue)

Greetings, blog readers!! Life has been as full as ever, a good thing, and most of my writing has been shared on my Facebook page in 2016, but I am taking some extra time in the month of September to write a very special series. My beloved mother turns 65 years old today and, for her birthday gift, I am penning a recollection of THE most precious time the two of us have ever shared.

This is no vacation slide-show; rather, the story of two women who flew across the country to find each other in a place that God, in His unbelievable kindness and sovereignty, had prepared for them.

I invite you to join us, as we travel to the island of our hearts, and celebrate one of the deepest and most faithful bonds there are, that of mother and daughter. I pray this series will not only knock my mom’s socks off, but will renew and inspire mothers and daughters everywhere, to see each other, to die for each other, and to love each other, wholeheartedly and purely, as God intended. 

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Moms have dreams, too.

I didn’t realize this, of course, until that topsy-turvy moment when my first child entered the world and I understood, for the first time, maybe, that my own mom is just a girl, a girl who had a baby and then had another baby and another and then one more.

This woman who raised me, who knew all the answers to all my questions, who has, from the moment my lungs first drew in a breath, caused the world to feel steady and secure…

she has a history?

She has a heart of her own, and a brain full of ideas and opinions and longings?

She is, like, a person and not just “my mom”?

She doesn’t just exist for my happiness and comfort and to find my stuff?!

Oh.

One of the greatest gifts of motherhood, then, is that it allows us to understand our own moms like we never have before. A veil is lifted and we step across and join them on the other side, in heart, in mind, in spirit.

I can look into my mom’s eyes now and understand her gaze, for was I not just turning that very same love-filled eye toward my own children?

I know now that her praise of me is sincere.

I know that she truly loves me unconditionally, to the moon and down the street and back.

And I also know that she probably wanted to eat the last piece of pie.

I had no idea, truly!

As the only daughter of the family, though, even before I had children of my own, there naturally came a time in my life where I stopped solely being the recipient of my mom’s ministrations, and began slowly taking on the role of advocate.

As I matured, I started seeing, really seeing, all the dishes she had to do.

I started empathizing with her workload.

I started tuning in to her faithful character of kindness and hospitality, even when I knew she was tired, and I did what I could to hold her arms up.

Ha, I even started making it my own personal calling in life to keep people out of the kitchen while she cooked, striking up conversations in the dining area and living room so she could think clearly and juggle all her different recipes until the last dish was in the oven!

We became a real team, the two of us, much like my brothers and my dad out on the farm or at the sawmill or at the gas plant.

I’m not good at many of the things there are to be good at in this world, but I was born, I think, to be on “Team Mom”.

Anyhow, my mom had been talking about it for years, this dream to go to Maine.

It didn’t reach my ears for the longest time.

It didn’t reach anybody’s ears, not really.

This was Mom! She needed to stay home and take care of us. And we had places that we needed to go. And then there was that long stream of graduations and marriages and pregnancies and births and newborns and then I looked up and I was 33 years old and my mom was about to turn 64.

Where had the time gone?

It was as spontaneous as anything we’ve ever done, by a MILE, and I will say that it was Spirit-led for the rest of my life, because I’m telling you, it was.

I called my dad. I called my husband. Three ‘yeses’, including mine, and…

oh my goodness, the rest is totally history.

The kind of history we will never, ever forget

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If Mom’s dream was to go to Maine, why is this series titled “Dancing Hearts in Nantucket”?! Stayed tuned for Part Two tomorrow!! All will be revealed…