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.

12046691_10156073083970464_7742486327018080141_n

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.

12038018_10156073116755464_3357015118468103159_n

12039518_10156073084500464_3784404515834519941_n

12074864_10156073929990464_7634973143405189693_n

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.

12074541_10156073119970464_6200069085565414966_n

Not so here.

12063493_10156073117055464_4667066542054403556_n

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!

12047081_10156073118290464_687284499000811799_n

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

12063389_10156073118205464_3381702131569290455_n

The cobblestone streets! The brick crosswalks!

12032076_10156073084680464_8036796363117282099_n

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

12036867_10156073084710464_740577260285663364_n

The churches!

12019787_10156073121450464_3071824166763031516_n

The movie theater!

12079517_10156073121935464_6802643012511040396_n

Gulp…THE BICYCLES!!!

10524724_10156073084230464_2238279516636706489_n

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.

12036986_10156073119235464_2179988319614422963_n

12027738_10156073118610464_3102151251239606225_n

12074950_10156073119405464_6837495034389443134_n

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.🙂

12047198_10156073121525464_7894067422847947169_n

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.

12038284_10156073121460464_5705709134615929681_n

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.

12039321_10156073122185464_1818365377002811116_n

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.

12072793_10156073122400464_2572148907987801053_n

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…

11049495_10156073929635464_5637643436177698543_n

12042641_10156073929860464_6641090124644480040_n

~

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.

12072584_10156073932235464_3684728502729738953_n-1

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

12003146_10156073934440464_2770763022030105957_n

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.

12036921_10156073934775464_2677543647650832978_n

12019857_10156073933890464_6710108633141712211_n

12065561_10156073933470464_1008274012191249745_n

12038081_10156073932725464_1176866798803499143_n

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).

12038134_10156073934980464_4406233673714119149_n

We shopped and shopped some more.

12032938_10156073935265464_3016289509332584566_n

12074933_10156073116670464_4071149330728448060_n

12046994_10156073938965464_3711710757335478205_n

More house swooning.

12039593_10156073936685464_4786381244637631505_n

12046569_10156073937180464_8805201644030296276_n

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).

12047009_10156073937675464_4828856371941557235_n-1

12088284_10156073937835464_1055739850947877604_n

Boat watching.

12074997_10156073938075464_1777749744714657487_n

12065553_10156073939075464_5214736664761615754_n

(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!).

12047139_10156073938125464_1477077290310612471_n

Fish n’ chip eating.

12047167_10156073940135464_1691483109729036008_n

Dock walking.

12038190_10156073938160464_4758853106311128402_n

12019857_10156073939490464_6662358476060756070_n

12063792_10156073939670464_2616587755212485944_n

12065581_10156073940040464_1625020986325066490_n

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…

~

union-street

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.

12088266_10156073083310464_966365603014324938_n

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??

11217957_10156073080570464_4074990517771620319_n

12038566_10156073081085464_2288099032776662782_n

11218992_10156073081045464_6160013628656818298_n

12079276_10156073081205464_4696043313445463103_n

12032111_10156073081975464_3069763143353835027_n

12019901_10156073082055464_556066813146826628_n

12042956_10156073082340464_2938801448059428204_n

12039586_10156073083250464_4956175699696154021_n

12079107_10156073083275464_4908279829157359264_n

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.

12019971_10156073930125464_1548278381154871082_n

11063740_10156073930050464_2368847925864484692_n

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?…”

12063533_10156073930385464_8132465028539985836_n

12047035_10156073930575464_5606138558536630057_n

12033172_10156073930530464_3800879123813864529_n

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.

12042852_10156073931260464_3554251350074748145_n

12032991_10156073931470464_5596191201299874370_n

12049304_10156073930740464_5789404017515520001_n

11224012_10156073931145464_4698091035813676247_n

12038088_10156073932305464_493971217950118283_n

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!

~

nantucket-3

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!)

12038055_10156073052260464_4573409238200201577_n

…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:

?????????????????????????????????????????????

?????????????????????????????????????????????

?????????????????????????????????????????????

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?!?!)

12015227_10156073049345464_6471420486996551107_o

…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.

12063589_10156072998130464_7244103458931391318_n

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.

12027084_10156073046055464_3756184329548431836_o

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

12002375_10156073053850464_1141990863663447244_o

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…

12033198_10156073080295464_2599007221636536545_n

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

12046699_10156073080175464_1918204577385080221_n-1

Gulp.

~

“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

~

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.

~

nantucket

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.

~

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. 

~

nantucket

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

~

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…

The Day I Took a Walk – Our Tenth Anniversary Celebration

If you are just now joining us for this week’s very special anniversary series and have a hankering to hear all the details, you can catch up by reading Part One, Part Two and Part Three.

However, here is a nutshell recap of what I’ve shared this week that will explain the pictures you are about to see…

Following a strong conviction, my husband and I decided to shelve any ideas of celebrating our 10th anniversary in a distant location and to spend the day, instead, at the homeplace, with our children.

With a heart to make much of our marriage and to celebrate what God has wrought in our family, we each took two of our children that morning – the girls with me and the boys with him – and spent the entire day talking to them about marriage and walking them through the details of the wedding we had shared ten years earlier.

The girls accompanied me on a complete bridal experience in the big city, getting my hair put up, getting my make-up applied and then coming home to hide in the very same room where I had awaited my wedding ceremony.

And as afternoon turned to evening, we left that room and walked down the path my daddy led me down on my wedding day, meeting our boys in our fancy clothes in the EXACT same spot on the back porch where their papa and I said “I do”.

As I stated in one of the above previous posts, this was not a vow renewal, really, but “a meditation of vows already made, a proclamation to our little family that Papa and Mama spoke sacred words of promise to each other ten years ago, words of promise that God designed for men and women to flesh out, words of promise that God alone has helped us to keep, and words of promise that we intend to fulfill, by the grace of God, till death do us part.”

And then, of course, we would have a PARTY!

~

To everyone who has read so faithfully and with such encouraging words all week, I thank you, from the bottom of my heart. You inspire and motivate me every day of my life, and knowing that you all would be on the receiving end of this experience gave me the courage to proceed when I wanted to chicken out.

I also have to give MAJOR CREDIT to Champagne & Blush Photography for capturing this momentous day for me in perfect fashion. I couldn’t possibly be happier with the finished product – I sincerely cannot stop marveling over Becky’s talent! – and I would love it so much if you would go and visit her beautiful website here.

Now…

FINALLY…

it brings me great pleasure to invite you to join us on the walk we took, as a family, on June 11, 2015, to commemorate the covenantal vows that Mr. Gore and I made on June 11, 2005.

If you’re on board, just say “I do!”

~

After almost two hours of holing ourselves up in my mama and daddy’s room, the girls and I began to get dressed.

Here is Rebekah in her Boden Christmas dress from two years ago. Still gettin’ our money’s worth, and Betsie hasn’t even started wearing it yet!

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

And Betsie chose to wear her precious floral-printed birthday dress that was custom-made for her by my beloved friend, Leslie, at My Dear Poppy. A PERFECT choice, if I do say so myself.

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

Because most of my dearest friends are family members, including my mama, I chose not to have “official” bridesmaids on my wedding day and to let everyone have a seat and enjoy the wedding from the front row.

I didn’t know then that, in ten short years, I’d have the perfect girls to fill my bridesmaids role, for life.

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

After making purchases online and returning purchases online and then finally making a desperate trip to the mall (NOOOOO!!!!), I found the perfect dress for me.

It was pink and shimmery and ladylike and…

I liked it a whole lot.

I scraped a lot of pennies together for this dress, and so I will be wearing it to every wedding I attend for the next decade or two. Just don’t mention it if you see me in it.

“New dress?” you’ll ask.

And I’ll nod and wink at you.

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

The bedroom was full of mementos from our wedding day. First, here are my “engagement shoes”, the Jimmy Choo pumps that my husband surprised me with on the night he proposed.

It was a big deal and I want to tell you ALL about it, but you’ll have to wait until my book is finished and then possibly published.

Give me about eight years, mkay?

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

Here are my wedding shoes, a pair of beaded, sparkly flats that were perfect for our outdoor wedding. Heels were not an option, unless, of course, I wanted to sink into the dirt with every step I took.

These shoes were just the ticket.

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

This is a little letterpress card that I keep in our bedroom next to our wedding portrait.

“Forever thine” is a true sentiment for me, because I frequently ask God to let me be married to Mr. Gore in heaven, or, at the very least, share a duplex with him.

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

This floral handkerchief was one of six different prints that were passed out to the female guests as a wedding favor, and on top of it is the silver tussie mussie that my mama carried down the aisle, featuring, not surprisingly, a rose.

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

Obviously, we were in a bridal haven, and it was so much fun to spend time with my daughters and my mama, mulling over my memories and getting dolled up.

I had seriously considered getting my girls’ hair fixed at the salon or by one of my talented friends but, in the end, we settled on sponge rollers and curling irons and pretty hair accessories that we had in our collection.

The metal headband and hair comb that the girls wore came from Anthropologie.

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

My darling Betsie.

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

And OH how sweet it was to still have my mama here to tie my sash for me.

(p.s. On the television in the background is the series of old movie clips that we played on a big-screen at our wedding reception!)

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

By the way, Mama was very proud of the bow she tied.

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

As the girls and I continued to primp, Becky ran to the other side of the U-shaped house to get some pictures of the boys in the guest bathroom.

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

Gideon was given the very important task of holding onto my wedding bands, put back into the box that held them in 2005.

His vest and hat, if you’re wondering, came from Janie and Jack.

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

Ring-bearer or best man?

Maybe both.

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

I love that Gid took time to explain what was going on to his baby brother, Shepherd. I might have cried just a little when I got to these pictures.

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

My handsome menfolk. I’m so proud and so grateful to have them in my home.

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

And…

brace yourselves…

Shep is the cutest thing I’ve ever seen or held in my life, and when you put suspenders on something that cute, be prepared to keel over.

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

Mr. Gore’s last task of the day was to set up our wedding music, most of which were selections from my favorite movie, “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers”.

The “June Bride” song was actually the theme for our entire wedding, and it still makes me feel all mushy and gushy when I hear it today.

You can listen to the song and read more marital musings here.

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

And here is the spot where it all started, the married life of Mr. and Mrs. Gore.

There were little mason jars of roses hanging all down the fenceline on our wedding day, and garlands of greenery and roses were draping these porch rails.

Thus, at the last minute, I threw a few of our extra roses from Stem’s into some jars to pay homage to our floral arrangements of yesteryear.

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

“Ceremony” time!!

When Mr. Gore was a bridegroom, he walked out of this front door with my brother, Jerry, and his mentor, Mat, both of whom were speaking during the service.

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

They stepped into the yard, took a right turn, and my beloved waited for me at the bottom of the back porch steps in front of all of our family and friends.

On that day, I did not yet belong to this man.

Today, I have been his for a decade, and I have relished the privilege, with all my heart.

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

And the sun was shining through the trees…

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

“It’s time!” my mom told us, back in our part of the house, and the girls and I gathered up our flowers and began our walk.

Sometimes I wonder, if there weren’t photographs documenting my wedding day, would I really remember this walk? Would I have a blank spot in my memory from where my nerves took over and the glory of my wedding day blinded my comprehension?

Perhaps.

But there are lots of pictures and so I DO remember it, very well.

My daddy was smiling at me in his handsome suit, and I was smiling back.

The grass was greener than it had ever been before.

The breeze was filled with songs and love and, for a rare and beautiful moment, what felt like utter perfection.

Had Eden come down to visit, just to feed us on our pilgrimage?

I think it did. It felt like sin was gone for just a minute, and suffering, and sadness, and brokenness.

It felt like heaven…

998109_10152873374110464_404134523_n

1017394_10152873374270464_32870121_n

970214_10152873374795464_1372017011_n

296104_10152873374800464_1158971509_n

968916_10152873375315464_2062607708_n

969466_10152873377705464_1470867947_n

With the memories of that day assailing me and the sameness of our surroundings flanking me, I tell you for a FACT that my breath was taken right out of me as I stepped through those doors once more with my daughters by my side.

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

And as we rounded the corner and saw them – our men! – a lump rose up in my throat the size of Texas.

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

They were whistling and clapping and making a grand fuss over us, and I was glad all over again that I had kept this day simple and small.

Now, it won’t surprise any of our Facebook readers that Betsie got a little lost on our walk – she was VERY excited and just took off like a bullet when we walked out the door – but we’re used to our “oh honey” girl and we lassoed her back to where she needed to be.

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

And Rebekah, basking in every aspect of this event, performed like a pro. She’s hiring out for weddings now, so if you need a bridesmaid…

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

And, um…

here’s me.

Sing along with me, why don’t you, so I don’t feel embarrassed.

♬ Here comes the wife

married for life 

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

My family.

When I said “I do” to Mr. Gore, I was a delusional young woman with big dreams that centered around yours truly.

God has used these five people here to change me, through and through, and to teach me what it means to die to myself.

I would be nowhere without them, and I could care less about the stretchmarks that it took to get me to this point.

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

Husbands are a blessing and a gift and a treasure.

Children are a heritage from the Lord.

Let’s shout all of the above from our rooftops, yes?!

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

I mentioned my ridiculously idyllic imagination yesterday, and in the months leading up to our anniversary, I grew some big ideas about what the following “ceremony” would be like.

We would read our vows aloud to the children, we’d exchange rings, we’d all cry and gaze at one another in devotion, and then we’d pray as a family, hands clasped in heartfelt pleading.

As it turned out, we just had time to exchange rings, quickly.

Silly me, I had completely forgotten about our less-than-two year old and that he doesn’t know how to gaze OR pray yet.

But do you know what?

This was enough.

As Mr. Gore reminded me, we talked to our children about marriage all day, we had dedicated our day and all the details to God, and now it was time to rest and enjoy, wherever the evening (and our circus of a family) led us.

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

Funny sidenote: we had a LOT more trouble getting those little rings on each other’s fingers on our 10th anniversary than we did on our wedding day.

Oh, well. That just means we’ve enjoyed a jolly and bountiful decade, don’t you agree?

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

And then, because my husband was both bridegroom and minister, he demanded that I kiss him.

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

Twice.

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

Kissing still makes me happy, even though I’m 33.

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

But a word of caution to all you young ones out there. Kissing is the BEST…

600544_10152873376045464_2096832368_n

but it tends to multiply.

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

which is the only kind of math that I like.😉

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

Ladies and gentlemen of the internet…

it is my TRUE honor and pleasure to present to you…

Mr. and Mrs. Gore!!!

935219_10152873376265464_510437515_n

till death do us part

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

Sweet story, when I was preparing for my wedding day, I had gathered up clips from my favorite movie weddings to use as inspiration.

The candles hanging in the trees came from “Anne of Green Gables”.

The hymn singing came from June Allyson’s “Little Women”.

However, the one detail I was never able to mimic was a scene from the American Girl “Samantha” movie where, after Uncle Gard and Cordelia kiss as man and wife, Samantha pulls on a sash that releases hundreds of rose petals from a contraption above them, surrounding them in a shower of, well, flowers.

I did NOT plan this next picture, but when Gideon told us to kiss ONE more time because he had a surprise for us in his hands, Becky had her camera ready.

Sigh. My falling rose petals.

My life is now complete.

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

After the ceremony, we took some family pictures in the various pastures surrounding the house.

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

And then, just like on our wedding day, we strolled down the path that led to our reception by the creek.

Ten years ago, my daddy and his friends built an open-air wooden pavilion for the wedding, and we decided we’d end our anniversary party by going there to enjoy some cake together.

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

Ten years ago…

1013439_10152873379040464_52616603_n

Today…

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

What God has joined together, let no man put asunder, and the next picture displays one of the most important reasons why.

Friends, let us fight for our marriages for the glory of God, and for our children.

They deserve to see us dying to ourselves and choosing to love one another, for life.

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

Denying myself and living for this crew of people has brought me more happiness than I have ever known, and I mean that from the bottom of my heart.

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

During our “ceremony”, my mom, without whom ANY of my blog or fun parties or peace of mind would exist, ran down to the pavilion to set out all the supplies we had gathered.

She did a beautiful job, and it was a feast for my eyes.

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

This strawberry cake, from Queenie’s Cafe in Tulsa, was the most beautiful and delicious wedding cake, and we order one almost every anniversary.

The Fred and Ginger figurines were our “cake-toppers” and they dance all their days away on the dresser in our bedroom.

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

Now that I’m a grown-up, I can cut cake. This is what all that “dying to myself” has resulted in.

I used to make someone else cut my cake for me.

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

Before digging in, we showed the kids how we had crossed arms in the tradition of newlyweds and drank some much-needed ice water on our wedding day.

Whether it is 2005 or 2015, the same is true: Oklahoma is HOT.

8674_10152873386570464_293014680_n

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

then we fed each other cake…

998391_10152873386385464_1299376064_n

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

and then we partied, relaxing as a family and enjoying the sweetest fruits of creation:

life.

love.

laughter.

strawberry cake.

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

Before we headed back to the house, Becky, a TRUE honorer of details, took some more photographs for us.

These are the earrings that I wore on my wedding day, and I hope my daughters will enjoy them when they marry.

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

This blue ribbon holding my bouquet of roses together was used on so many of our wedding details, including the mason jars, the invitations, and the choir songbooks.

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

And I don’t know if Becky planned this or not, but I couldn’t believe it when I saw this picture.

Here’s my daddy on the day of my wedding in 2005, shuttling guests around the farm in his Kawasaki Mule…

1002235_10152873392270464_1509071177_n

and here he is in 2015, stopping by after fishing to steal a piece of cake!

That’s a pretty trusty Mule, ain’t it?!

And the vehicle’s not so bad either!

(thank you, thank you very much – my mom really got a kick out of that joke.)

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

As my mama began packing up our party, we sat down for just a few more family pictures…

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

and then we called it a night and returned to the house, the same house we slowly walked to after being the last guests to leave our own wedding ten years ago.

But this time…

we RAN.

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

Cinderella reportedly said “One shoe can change your life.”

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

I, after ten years of wedded bliss, am much inclined to agree.

View More: http://champagneandblush.pass.us/gore-family

~

Thank you, again, for joining our family for this very special occasion! My greatest prayer is that God would have used our celebration to draw your hearts back home.

Marriage and family have become disposable in our world and it is time, Christians, that we claim them back for the glory of God, for the health of His Church, and for the spread of the Kingdom.

Marriage belongs to God. May we treat it right, cover it in prayer, and maybe, just maybe, throw it a great big party every once in awhile.

~

And now I invite you to share! Join me in spreading the word that marriage is worth fighting for and that being a wife can be even sweeter than being a bride. Pick a pin, any pin! 

Untitled presentation (24)

Untitled presentation (26)

Untitled presentation (25)

Want to stay connected with Mrs. Gore’s Diary? Find us on Facebook!

The Day I Took a Walk

On June 11, 2005, I took a walk.

My daddy’s arm was intertwined with mine and, as we passed by the long rows of white chairs holding our lifelong family members and friends in the backyard of our country home, my white satin gown was dragging the ground behind me, and I thought that I must be the happiest girl in the world.

Mr. Gore met me at the end of that early evening stroll, and he took my hand and he made me a promise.

1005572_10152873378550464_1828264501_n (1)

Ten years have passed since that beautiful day in June and, as the months were drawing nearer to the day of our anniversary, my husband and I began to discuss how we might celebrate. Our anniversary, bringing up the rear in a string of family birthdays, always seems to take the back burner, and the last time we actually appropriately celebrated our special day had been about five years and counting.

We wanted to do things right this time.

There were talks of returning to the seminary in Louisville, KY, where we spent our first years as man and wife.

There were dreams — okay, maybe just on my part — of taking a road trip through Texas’s Hill Country during bluebonnet season.

We even volleyed about the idea of traveling to Colorado with the kids, a state we’ve wanted to introduce them to for years.

But none of the ideas we came up with, fabulous as they sounded, seemed to match up with the weightiness I was feeling in my heart concerning this important milestone we were about to celebrate.

My heart was deeply stirred, drenched in sentimentality, and I couldn’t shake the persistent yearning to partake in an anniversary celebration that would satisfy all of the thoughts and emotions that were welling up within me concerning my husband, our life together, and the ten years we have traveled through as man and wife.

Fast forward to last week, the week after our anniversary, when a friend at church asked me how I had come up with the idea for the celebration we ended up settling on.

I was speechless for a minute, but finally, I responded with the only answer that seemed truthful.

“I think it was actually the Holy Spirit,” I laughed.

And I really mean that.

~

Marriage is under attack on a worldwide level.

And I’m not talking about the political agenda of the democratic party, or the recent Supreme Court decision.

I’m talking about within the Church.

Every day, it seems, there is news of another divorce amongst professing believers, another scandalous affair, another set of vows crumbling under the weight of our culture’s wooing. It breaks my heart.

And, believe me, it’s not as if I think I am better.

I’m terrified, actually, and when I hear these stories, I am driven to my knees, not because I’m sad on a purely sympathetic level, but because I’m scared.

That could be me, you know.

That could be Mr. Gore.

That could be us.

Because, if I’ve learned one thing in the last ten years about the union of marriage, it is that a lifelong agreement between two sinners is in most desperate need of a divine Helper.

I didn’t understand marriage when I first got married, no, not at all.

When we first said our “I do’s” I, like so many brides, was dizzy under the fog of romance and fairy tales and happily-ever-afters. Yes, I tried to agree somewhere in my brain with all the Christian platitudes that we were proclaiming about marriage being a picture of Christ and the Church and so on and so forth and whatever else the preacher said that day, but…

secretly, I knew we were going to “make it” in this business of marriage because we were in LOVE! Mr. Gore was my Prince Charming and I was his dream wife. We were PERFECT for each other!

However, as the pixie dust fell slowly to the ground in the wake of years and babies and surgeries and budgets, my love underwent a steady transformation, morphing into something a little less fluffy and naive and more realistic and grounded.

But here’s the good part, and the part that I am most passionate to proclaim to anyone reading today…

it has been a love no less beautiful.

In fact, I truly believe the love I have for my husband today is even more beautiful than it was the day I became a bride, and I am sure that many wives of Christian husbands who are eager to love them in grace and truth, would agree.

I love my husband now not simply because he makes my heart flitter around like a thousand butterflies, but because God helps me to love him.

I die for him not just because he fills up my mind and my heart on a 24-hour a day basis, but because God enables me to lay down my life for his sake, even, incredibly, when I don’t want to.

And would you believe that these sorts of binding matrimonial chains are incredibly freeing?

In fact, I daresay they taketh my breath away!

The world is an expert in downplaying the beauty of marital love. They make it look ugly and fat and boring and like something that is only worth celebrating on day one.

The bridal industry is booming, while years and sometimes only months down the road, marriages are unraveling like the Berber carpet on our stairs. In other words, everyone wants to be a bride, but few people want to be a wife.

We need help.

Love that is easy and without blemish is sweet to look at. I’d be lying if I said the moony eyes of a young couple in love didn’t soften my heart and lead me to all kinds of goose-bumpy nostalgia.

But love that has learned to endure, love that has found triumph and joy after seasons of busyness, of coldness, of exhaustion, of stress…

it is a city on a hill.

Because that sort of love, while admittedly more gritty than the newlywed version, points back to a loving Savior who makes the broken whole, who can enable men and women to die to themselves daily, and who can cause the naturally faithless to cling to one another in an oath that causes them to soar.

The glory of it all makes me desperate.

I want my kids to witness this truthful and biblical beauty of marriage, on a daily basis. The after-the-happily-ever-after. The romance of “true love”, but mixed with a little bit of life and proof.

And do you know what? I want the Church and the world to see it, too.

Thus, it soon became clear that I didn’t want to go to Texas or Colorado or Kentucky for our 10-year anniversary.

I wanted to take a walk, and I wanted my kids to be there with me.

~

I am beyond excited to share this anniversary series with you! Please stay tuned for Part Two, coming up tomorrow!

I love you.

I woke up in the middle of the night, and all of a sudden, the space between us was much too far…

The practical side of my brain was telling me to just shut my eyes and go back to sleep. We were running on just a few hours a night, and I had homeschool in the morning and a newborn beside me who would undoubtedly be waking me up in an hour anyway. We needed sleep.

But I needed him more.

I sat up, moved the co-sleeper that was safely cradling our infant boy to the side of the bed, and crawled beside him, curling up into the arms that have been faithfully holding me for seven beautiful years.

The months of pregnancy that had built a huge belly between us melted into a distant memory…

I was home.

Tears gathered in my eyes, and my heart sang a silent love song to my husband as I reveled in the security and comfort of his embrace.

I love you…

because I know I don’t deserve you.

because you make me think of God, just by looking at you. His grace is evident to me when you walk into the room.

because you have given me enough beautiful memories to last a lifetime.

because I know without a doubt that you love me back.

because you are mine.

because you are good and kind and gentle, and only grow more so with each passing day.

because when you smile at me and delight in who I am, I feel like I am safe. Cherished. Your dream come true.

because you know all my secrets and scars and you forgive me freely. You love me like I’m flawless, even though we both know that I am not.

because your heart is so tender and your eyes are so watchful. You treat me like I am a priceless treasure…

and being married to you has been the single greatest thing that has ever happened to me.

I never, ever get tired of you, and when you walk out the door, I already want you to come back. There will never be enough days, enough minutes, enough time to spend in your company.

The world lied to me. They told me that marriage would be stifling. That it would be boring. That the honeymoon would be over…

bunch of dummies. They were so wrong.

Life with you is an adventure that never stops, and the more I grow in my love for you, the closer I grow to the God who created that love. You lead me to Him, and so I rejoice in our marriage with every fiber of my being.

And I never, ever want it to stop. If God would be so good, I’d love to spend eternity with your hand in mine…

or at least a lifetime.

IMG_9268

I love you, Mr. Gore. Forever and ever.

My Confession(s).

Not so very long ago, I sinned.

And it wasn’t the kind that was just between me and God, that I could quickly work out through private prayer and repentance; rather, from the get-go, it was glaringly obvious to my redeemed heart that I must confess my sin to the one I had sinned against and ask forgiveness…

in this case, my wonderful, sweet, kind, pure-hearted husband who, though he knows the very worst about me and loves me anyway, would be rightfully disappointed and saddened by my actions.

Kill me now.

And to make things worse, when I met him outside that very day to carry out my intentions, I chickened out and sort-of confessed before softening my sin with a blatant lie.

Heavy sigh. Now I had two sins to confess.

I carried them around for two entire weeks.

They sat like weighty bricks on my conscience, and I prayed for an opportunity to release these burdens…

but everytime the opportunity arose, the words stuck in my throat. I just couldn’t allow him to see me for who I really was.

“Tomorrow…” I thought, “I’ll do it tomorrow.”

Obviously, God was using the entire episode to teach me a great truth, because He pursued me like a hound, convicting me through sermons, hymns, Bible verses, and even other people’s facebook statuses; I could not escape the fact that I was meant to confess my sin to Mr. Gore, and I knew my soul would not rest until I obeyed.

Dang it.

Finally, in the most yellow-bellied act of all time, I sent my husband a facebook message with three confessions and three pleas for forgiveness…

1. My initial sin.

2. My lie about that sin.

3. For pathetically confessing all of the above via the internet.

When he later checked his messages and responded in the most gracious manner possible, I began to weep right there at my computer. And as tears ran down my face, great understanding about the art of confession flooded into my heart, things I had never seen or understood before that moment…

when it comes to sins against other people, verbal confession is vital to repentance. Even though I had talked to God plenty about what I had done wrong, until I obeyed His Word and made known my secret sin, I hadn’t truly dealt with it. And it wasn’t until I received that response from Mr. Gore that I was able to freely mourn over my initial disobedience in an honest and healthy way; it was so painful and so freeing at the same time and one of the most defining moments of my Christian life to date.

verbal confession is one of the greatest forms of accountability. The guilt I suffered those two long weeks, coupled with the awareness that my husband now knows new and grisly details about the state of my heart, is enough to keep me from committing that same sin possibly forever. It is easy to continue sinning when you hide (and thus, cherish) that sin in your heart. Making sin known, on the other hand, illuminates its true ugliness and helps you to hate it in the way you are intended to.

confession is good for everyone. It benefits no one for us to put on a façade of perfection, but when we confess our failings, it allows us to share love and forgiveness with our brothers and sisters, to grow in our relationships, to help one another along in the faith, and to build a firm foundation of obedience on the rock that is Jesus Christ. It is amazing what happens when Christians start being real with one another – we find that we are FAR from alone in our depravity, and we can then truly spur one another on to love and good works. This is exactly what my husband did for me, and it was life-changing.

and finally, confession is an exercise. Why was it so hard for me to confess that sin to my husband? Mainly, this: I have had very little practice. Confessing this type of sin out loud (er…on facebook) rather than just dealing with it inwardly, was a new thing for me, and I was as rusty at performing it as I would be doing curls at the gym. I have a feeling, however, that no matter how much I will probably always dread this exercise, it will grow easier and easier the more I employ it in my life…and maybe someday, I’ll be able to do it face-to-face rather than through a silly computer screen! Disciplining ourselves to do hard things is never fun, really, but my, it brings about the most glorious changes…

Obviously it was a big moment for me.

Fast forward a couple of months to yesterday morning…

I was having a really crummy day.

I was grouchy. Self-absorbed. Entitled. Unloving.

I was just being a real jerk.

Really.

And I knew it.

But the saddest thing was, I couldn’t scrape up enough care to even want to combat this sinfulness. I just wanted to wallow in it.

Lay in it like a pot-bellied pig.

I was being mean and sour on the outside, lazy on the inside, taking out whoever happened to cross my path, and even failing to smile at the people I passed at Wal-Mart. Usually I can at least be nice to strangers…

But I was especially hateful to my family.

And I hated every second of it.

Finally, by the sweet grace of God that never fails me, I was drawn out of this attitude, at least enough to start trying to beat it, even though the inward battle was still raging, and by late afternoon, I was privately talking to God about my failings and my desperate need for patience with the little children He has entrusted to me.

Phooey on it!” I thought, as I washed white paint off of Gideon and Rebekah in my bathtub (deja vu, anyone?), “just be honest with them. Confess your sins, woman!”

“You guys…” I blurted out, “I am really, really grouchy today, and I am so sorry about that. Will you forgive me?”

“Yes,” Gideon matter-of-factly replied, “how could we not forgive our Mom?”

“Yeah…” said Rebekah, as I lifted her out of the tub and wrapped her in a bathtowel, “how could we not forgive our Mom? We love you!!”

And with those words, she threw her soft, damp arms around my neck and covered my face with kisses.

Heart bubbling over with love and gratitude, I returned her embrace and we rocked back and forth on the wet bathroom tile, my sin forgiven and forgotten, my weary soul drinking deeply of the healing power of confession as the open wounds of my struggling heart were closed up by the exuberant love and forgiveness of my family.

That’s some heartbreakingly beautiful stuff right there.

Of course, my prayer is to continually sin less and less, but as we make this pilgrimage together, I also pray that our home will continue to grow into a place of honesty and transparency, where we can lay our souls bare, knowing that forgiveness and reconciliation are just a confession away.

Mr. and Mrs. Gore: The Blushing Years (Part 2)

continued from Part 1:

“I was painfully aware of him, each moment spent near him adding to my interest and my desire to know him better. Which, praise be to God, eventually came just a few months later…”

~

Mr. Gore came to our small town that May to take on a summer internship at our church.

A high school graduate now, I was nearly on an equal playing field with this young college boy, even though I still had the summer left before I would officially graduate from the youth group.

Thankfully, in the confines of our tiny town, he was forced to finally take notice of me, and before too long, he even knew my name.

And oh, how he could set my heart to beating!

It was difficult, being under his authority and tutelage, unable to even think about pursuing a relationship, yet wanting so badly to be noticed by him. Our youth group was full of attractive and wholesome young ladies, and at the time, though they would laugh at the idea now, many of my friends were also interested in this new boy; his presence that summer definitely sent a jolt of energy through the fairer members of our small town’s youth group. In fact, I would say the matchmaking mothers were even more atwitter than I was…

But it wasn’t too long before I noticed that, although a summer romance was strictly forbidden, there was an electricity between the two of us that surely I wasn’t the only one feeling. He was admittedly a bit of a flirt…what young, single man would not have enjoyed all that attention?…but when our eyes would meet, we would both begin that tell-tale fidgeting, and although he had to leave me guessing that entire summer what he really thought of me, I could sometimes read in his eyes that he admired what he saw. (And well he should have, the little toot!)

Thankfully, I had a little help in my pursuit of this romance. My bosom friend, Misty, and I concocted a game that summer to gauge Mr. Gore’s interest in me; both of us were back-up singers in our youth group’s praise band, and when we were on the stage during church services and he was in the congregation, I would yawn while Misty kept her eyes peeled to see if he yawned, too. Because, you know, yawns are contagious. Neither of us were very good at math, but that game was genius, if you ask me!…

and I’m sure it didn’t interfere with our worship. Not at all. We were super gifted at multi-tasking.

Anyhow, by summer’s end, after a week-long mission trip to Seattle that pushed us closer and closer together, I would say that I had very much fallen in love with…my gosh, there is a lump growing in my throat!…this most amazing man. I don’t think I could ever make a universal statement on the subject of soulmates and being “made for each other,” but I do know this…my heart, before we ever even went on our first date, was his. Forever.

Jackson Energy ERM 1

And so I was absolutely bereft when he returned to college that Fall without ever declaring any kind of love, or even interest in me. We were now very good friends, to be sure, but nothing else. We had even gone to dinner and a movie with a dating couple in our church…not that we actually sat by each other in the theater (and believe me, the awkwardness was palpable when we chose seats on either side of the couple rather than next to one another…how were we supposed to brush hands in the popcorn bag when we were 3 seats away from each other?!).

And for the first time in my life, I truly pined for a man. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I became a bit listless, and even lost weight in his absence. Church became dim, no longer the place where I knew I would see him, but the place where he had been…

And so I can’t tell you how touching and sweet is the memory of the day when I sat at the kitchen table, feeling so forlorn and lonesome, not even aware of my sad countenance or that anyone was watching me, when my Daddy spoke up from his place at the table’s head. “Don’t worry, Lester…he’ll be callin’.”

My head snapped up, his words pulling me out of a fog. I had no idea my Daddy even knew of my secret love; I had hardly discussed it with anyone. “You think so?” I asked, kind of breathless and embarrassed at the same time. “You betcha.” he said, bolstering my spirit considerably, for my Daddy is the best judge of character that I know; if he thought Mr. Gore would call, well then, he would call.

Turns out, Daddy was wrong. He didn’t call.

But he did e-mail me…

And I e-mailed him back.

And he e-mailed me again.

And I e-mailed him back.

And on October 28th, 2000, we met up with my now sister-in-law Amy and one of her friends at a Coach’s restaurant in Norman to watch the OU vs. Nebraska football game. It was one of those “non-date” kind of outings that we actually claim as our anniversary now, because somewhere between our appetizer at the restaurant, the football game, the 30-minute drive to a youth rally where I was singing and our youth minister was preaching, and the 2-hour drive back to my home, we became an item. Love still had not been declared, nor had he even asked me to be his, but believe me, the feelin’ was mutual, and we both somehow knew it…

and “the blushing” had just begun!

~

Part 3, coming up soon…