Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!!!

Merry Christmas from our family!



James, Emily, Austin, and Baby Q

Sunday, November 28, 2010


This is my family!


This picture was taken yesterday on my 33rd birthday, and I think that it is my new favorite family picture! It is low key... it is sincere...James' starbucks is sitting on the side. We are taking things easy right now and just enjoying the simplest pleasures in life.

I am craving the simplicity. I want to just sit and put my feet up rather than wait in the crowds that surround me. (If you look in the background, you will notice a line gathering for our local craft fair). I decided not to stand in line this year - but just went and sat on the wall watching others file in. I figured that the craft fair would still be happening by the time I got off the bench! (I must admit that I also needed to sit after spending two days in bed from a vicious stomach bug).

I woke up on Thanksgiving morning (early at 3 am!) with a stomach virus. I can honestly tell you that I remember very little about Thanksgiving day other than my sister occasionally walking into the bedroom to check on me. We had planned a quiet sibling dinner this year. Mom and Dad are still in Minnesota for dad's new treatment, but Jenny and I wanted to still have mom's traditional dinner. We stayed at mom and dad's house, used her recipes, and planned for a little meal...

Then, our dear friends donated a 25 pound turkey to our family... and our small meal for four became a massive feast of turkey. Fortunately, James stepped up for turkey detail and from what I hear, it was a delicious bird.

Thank you to Jenny, David, and James for not only watching all the kids, but also fixing all the meal. My favorite part of the day, however, had to be waking up in bed in the middle of the afternoon to the sounds of splashing and delight coming from the backyard.

Later when Jenny came into the room, I asked, "Did the boys go swimming today????"

"Oh, yes!"

There is absolutely nothing better than Thanksgiving in Florida- even if you are stuck in bed :)

Monday, November 8, 2010

My boy...

Not much to report... but I wanted to at least post a picture.


This is my boy. We were at a birthday party for a friend last weekend and I caught this picture of Austin while he was waiting his turn to hit the pinata. We are really enjoying each other these days. Four is such a wonderful age.

Andrew (my nephew) is doing great after his brain surgery. He has had some mild headaches, but he is already back to school! We are so thankful for his recovery! Thank you so much for all of your prayers.

My mom and dad are in Minnesota this week for their initial consultation at Mayo clinic. They are meeting with the "leading expert" in the field of dad's disease and we are praying for some new treatment options. Mom and Dad met with the doctor today and seemed hopeful about his thoughts. They will have a follow up meeting on Thursday morning to review lab work and discuss a new "plan of action."

Thank you so much for all of your prayers and support. We will keep you posted!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

My sweet Avery Grace!

I need longer weekends! My blog posts are inversely related to the number of hours that I work!!! Last year, when I took some time off from teaching, I blogged almost every day. Right now, I am doing well if I blog every three weeks! I couldn't wait three weeks for this post, however, because I am already two days late in posting a special wish to my beautiful one year old niece, Avery!

It is so important to me that my nieces and nephew(s?) know how much I love them - and LOVE being their aunt! One way for me to set apart a special time for them is to at least post a very special message on their birthdays!

So, here is my blog post for October 28th... HAPPY FIRST BIRTHDAY, SWEET AVERY!

Avery is our miracle girl in so many ways! My brother and sister-in-law had dreamed and prayed for a child - and we were given the gift of Avery. Avery is both strong willed and sweet tempered. She has the most beautiful smile, and I love the way she already loves to read books. We are going to be the best of friends :)



A year ago, I stood in the lobby of a hospital waiting for the news of your arrival! We waited and waited and waited... it seemed like you were taking forever to come :) Perhaps we were all just anxious in the waiting room. I took Austin into the hospital gift shop to find a present for his new cousin, and my mom came running into the store. "She's here!" My mom yelled holding up her cell phone! "She's here!"

We found out shortly after that call that you were on your way to the hospital nursery. Every family member waiting in the hospital lobby crammed into an elevator at that moment to see you! We rode up to the nursery floor to stare at you through the window. Your daddy was standing on one side of the glass, and we all admired you from the other side! I held up Austin so he could see his brand new cousin. What I remember most was your beautiful black hair! So much hair!!! You were stunning; even as a newborn.

You are still stunning today. You have the most beautiful fair complexion with black hair and blue eyes. You have a smile that goes from ear to ear and you love to laugh. We love to ask you to "clap" or say "touchdown" and we all love to hold you!

I am so thankful for living so close and getting to spend so much time with you! You are so precious!!


Aunt Emmy


Saturday, October 23, 2010

Happy First Birthday!

I am here! More than anything else, I want my blog to be a place of remembrance for Austin. I want AJ to be able to look back on my writings some day and know more about his life during these early years. Someday, he is going to look and say, "Mom, what happened between September 24 and October 23 in 2010? You didn't write a single thing! I am going to say... "AJ, we were just so busy living life!"

With that said, I have so many pictures and stories from the past month that I will try to update in the upcoming days. Today, however, is time to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

Yesterday, October 22, was my niece Megan's first birthday! Happy Birthday, Megan. I love you so much and I LOVE being your aunt.


It is hard to believe that one year ago I was working at my dad's office keeping up with my sister's progress through text messages with my mom. Dad had a morning mediation that day and I couldn't wait for everyone to leave the office so I could get to the hospital! As soon as the office was clear, I jumped in my car and drove to the hospital.

"She's pushing!" Mom told me on the phone.

"I'm on my way!" I shouted back. "I'm coming."

Just as I got off the hospital elevator mom called me and I could hear Megan crying in the background. "She's here!"

I went straight to the room and held my niece for the first time when she was only minutes old.

A few days later, I went to Jenny's to hold Megan and I asked Jenny if we could just play dress up. I just dressed her in all her girl clothes! I have enjoyed dressing her every chance I can get since that first day!


Megan, you have changed so much over the last year, and our love for you has only grown. We love you, sweet girl!



Thursday, September 23, 2010

Daddy is Home!

Oh my goodness gracious... someone forgot to remind me that teaching makes one's life FULL!

...and I am sure that someone mentioned along the way that having a four-year-old would be wonderful and exhausting all at the same time. But, I must have forgotten.

My lack of blogging has not been due to anything other than just trying to keep up... with lesson plans, four-year-old play dates, and laundry!

James just arrived back in town from a week-long conference. I am pleased to announce that Austin and I did great --- although I will be the first to admit that the house looked horrible (aka toys everywhere!) and we both went to bed at 8:00 pm every night exhausted :) We are so glad that James is home.

You may not know that between the two of us, James is the neat one. I call myself "the creative one." Sometimes learning can just only take place in a messy environment! James surprised us this afternoon by coming home early. I was at the grocery store when he called, and I knew from the tone in his voice that he was home.

"Hey! Where are you?" He asked.

"At the grocery store. (long pause). Why? Are you home?"

"Almost!" He replied.

"Whoooo Hooooo!! I will hurry and finish my shopping and head home."

Only a few seconds later after we hung up, I realized that I needed to call him back.

"um..." I hesitated when he answered his phone again. "If you happen to make it home before me, just remember that I didn't expect you home today and the house isn't quite picked up yet!"

He laughed.

And he knew. When he walked in to see the huge marble tunnels that Austin and I had created in the living room. When he saw the stack of children's books sitting on the kitchen table. Stepping over transformers and matchbox cars all the way to the back of our home, he knew. He knew that we had a wonderful time while he was gone, but we sure are glad that Daddy is home!

Oh, there are so many ways to read into that sentence. We are so glad that Daddy is home!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

enjoying every moment of the weekend.


Wednesday, September 8, 2010


our ever cautious, very ar-ti-cu-late (he pronounces every syllable!) child has entered a new phase...

one I expected a little earlier in life (say, when he was a two-year-old)...

but it is happening now

he is pushing against the boundaries

pushing hard

exploring the world with a little less caution

and finding himself at the receiving end of a little more discipline

fighting bedtime routine

fighting morning routine

not always telling the truth (oh, help me!!!)

trying to find out what will happen when he pours his entire glass of milk into our water purifier

and spills half of the milk across the living room rug

but, he is my Austin...

and my heart smiles that instead of crying over spilt milk tonight

he just called out

"Mom, stay right where you are. Do not come in the living room!!!"

and when I walked in and gasped at the mess

he just said,

"Mom, I warned you. I knew you wouldn't want to see this."

And as I collapse into bed at the end of this day being "mom"

I realize that I have the most difficult job assignment...

praying over

and shepherding this precious boy's heart

helping him become all that God intended for him to be

for in the midst of all the pushing he seems to be doing lately

he is my absolute delight and joy


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Several weeks ago, we were asked by a dear friend if we wanted to "rent out" her timeshare for Labor Day weekend. With my comps ever pressing at that time, James and I figured that a vacation away would be perfect at just about Labor Day time... so we agreed to the nominal fee and made plans to get away for a vacation!

As you now know, on Sunday (of last week) Austin woke up with a high fever. He had to miss his entire second week of school due to what we think might have been hand, foot, and mouth disease!

On Monday, my dad received bad news about his cancer treatments and their failure to fix his "nasty diseases."

On Thursday, we received more bad news that my nephew, Andrew, would need brain surgery.

By Thursday night, I asked my mom... "should I just come home for the long weekend?"

Mom emphatically replied that we should go on to our vacation destination as planned. The thought of passing along hand, foot, and mouth disease to my sick old man alleviated any guilt from my mind (of not going home), and we were soon off as a family of three to the "happiest place on earth!"

As we drove through the afternoon on Friday, I soon realized that with comps two weeks behind me (and the scores still unknown) this would be my very first vacation EVER with Austin that I wasn't writing a paper!

I applied for my PhD program when he was four months old and have been trucking along (sometimes just hanging on) for the past three and a half years. I have a very vivid image of family vacation when Austin was only one-year-old. My entire extended family stole away to Callaway Gardens the summer of 2007 for a wonderful week of swimming, biking, golfing, and boating.

I had a deadline for a major paper due the FRIDAY of that vacation. To be honest, I am the QUEEN of procrastination for writing papers, and I remember leaving Austin and the family while I snuck away for eight hours in the hotel "office" and wrote and wrote.

All of that to say, I was so excited to think that I could read for PLEASURE for the first time on vacation in three years! I immediately put out a plea to all my facebook friends for book recommendations... and did they provide!

Austin, James, and I had the most wonderful long weekend away. We slept in late, we ate well, I had a pedicure, and we just talked... we just enjoyed being together without working, without typing, without thoughts of cancer or brain surgery. (Well, maybe some thoughts of those things).

And yesterday, as we drove home, the realization that a new week was upon us started to sink in... but something about this weekend has left me changed...

a little less worried...

a little more relaxed...

a little more trusting...

that He who began a good work in me will be faithful to complete it.




Monday, September 6, 2010

A LOT to update!

In many ways, this blog has become a forum (of sorts) to ask for your continued prayers for our family. What started as a place to post pictures and stories of Austin has become a place for me to update my friends quickly about our growing prayer needs.

As you know, my dad continues to receive chemo every Monday and Thursday at Moffitt for his multiple myeloma and amyloidosis. It is hard to believe that I first heard the word Amyloidosis in December. Dad came home from a visit with his kidney doctor.

I was working at his office for the afternoon, and dad and mom came in from their appointment. "Well, Emmy... I don't even know if I can pronounce it, but the doctors say that I have amyloidosis."

A quick google search once my parents were out of the room led me to a quick realization. This was not a good diagnosis. Amyloidosis... a disease I learned to spell (and pronounce) that afternoon has never been far from our minds since.

Dad did not receive good news last Monday at his appointment, and mom and dad are now looking for treatment options in other parts of the country. You can read more from my dad at his latest blog post (click here).

As some of you may also remember... Six weeks ago, my nephew (Andrew) was sent to a neurosurgeon to discuss results of his MRI. Six weeks ago, we were so relieved to get the good news that brain surgery would not be necessary for his Chiari malformation, the doctors just wanted to keep a close eye on his brain every six weeks.

On Thursday, my sister and her family went back to All Children's hospital for their six week follow up. My day continued as normal - I called my mom several times to check on dad and his chemo for the day. "He is doing great, Emmy!" was my mom's ever positive response.

Around 4:00 pm, I received a text from my sister. "Andrew is going to need surgery."

What??? I was caught completely by surprise - expecting that Thursday's MRI would simply be a routine visit. The entire family was caught off guard based on the phone calls that ensued over the next few hours.

Jenny agreed to send my mom an email which explained everything they knew so far.

So, here is my sister's email: explaining everything that happened on Thursday

Today, we returned to All Children’s Hospital for an additional MRI of Andrew’s brain and spinal cord then a follow-up with the neurosurgeon. Based on today’s MRI results, the neurosurgeon was to make a recommendation about whether our boy would need surgery to correct his Chiari Malformation.

After reviewing Andrew’s images, the surgeon came in to speak with us. His use of words like “worrisome”, “severe”, and “concerned” were not what we were hoping for or expecting.

Andrew’s brain extends past the base of his skull and creates a sort of “cork”, plugging up the entrance to his spinal column. Today’s tests showed that this malformation is virtually blocking all spinal fluid from entering and exiting his brain. In addition to the fluid blockage, this “tonsil” of brain that’s extending downward is throbbing against his spinal column with every single heartbeat. The MRI images also showed that some spinal fluid (but only a very small amount so far) has accumulated in his spinal cord.

The surgeon was most concerned about the throbbing of his brain into the spinal cord. It’s very rare (he mentioned that this was the 2nd time he’d seen this effect with a Chiari patient) and exposes his brain to undue jostling and potential for injury.

The good news is that this can all be corrected with surgery. The procedure was clearly explained and the doctor reassured us that it’s a much less invasive procedure when done on children (adults require a much more aggressive surgery with a longer healing time). And from all accounts we’ve heard, it’s a remarkably effective “fix”, virtually eliminating most patients’ symptoms.

Although we have not yet scheduled his brain surgery, we have been advised to get it taken care of within the next several weeks – early November at the latest. This will include a 3 day hospital stay and a recovery period of about 5-6 weeks.

We’re sad for our little guy that he has to go through this at all, but we’re grateful for the peace that comes from knowing God is in control and loves Andrew even more than we do. We are ready to get this taken care soon – and get him back to his busy schedule of Kindergarten and t-ball!

I promise to continue to update, but please continue to keep my Dad (and Andrew) in your prayers!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Ready for a New Page!

My comprehensive exams are done! I cannot begin to tell you how relieved I am to have these tests behind me. Last Friday, I sat in a computer lab and answered questions for five hours. It has taken me a week to want to write another word... including my blog :) On Saturday, I participated in the oral component of my exams. My presentation focused on "Developing Student Leaders." I wanted to synthesize the research between student development theory and leadership development theory. Basically, I want to know the best way for us to teach college students and develop their leadership potential!

After my presentation, I went to the airport to catch my flight HOME! I have never been more excited to come home! It was such a draining week. I hope that I pass my comps simply for the fact that I NEVER WANT TO TAKE THEM AGAIN! I am ready for the "new page" in my PhD program - dissertation phase.

Austin was staying with my parents for the week, so I flew into the local airport to see my boy!

On Sunday, we spent the day together as a family. As most of you know, my dad is on a new "chemo regime" to try to get the upper hand on his fight against multiple myeloma (cancer of the bone marrow) and amyloidosis. As we all sat down for lunch on Sunday afternoon, I heard my dad call out for my brother. Adam raced to the back, and we soon saw him "carrying" dad through the house to the bedroom. Dad has now passed out on my last two visits home! Dad, we need to talk!!! Please continue to keep my dad in your prayers.

My dad will post his own blog on Friday morning, so please go read at to get all the latest information and to encourage him by your comments.

As many of you know, I love to write, and I feel that writing is such a wonderful way to talk about your feelings. Last summer (at one of the hardest points in my life so far) I found that journaling allowed me to grieve... to express myself from the deepest places of my heart. The writing allowed me to sort through my thoughts, lay them before God's feet, and MOVE ON - (to allow God to write a new page in my marriage)! I found that my own healing process through adultery was accelerated through writing.

The most interesting part of my dad's cancer journey so far is that I cannot write about cancer. Perhaps one day the words will come. But not today. I have no desire (right now) to write about my dad, how much he means to me, and how devastating cancer can be.

So, I have found that in the meantime, my blog is often silent. For the very thing that I spend so many hours thinking and praying about (my dad and his cancer journey) is the very thing that I don't like to even mention in writing.

Basically, I would rather spend the rest of my life taking comprehensive exams than watch a family member fight cancer. Ughhhhh.... I don't know how to express my feelings other than a growl. Isn't that wonderful?

Cancer, grrrr.... you have reduced me to a growl.

Perhaps pictures will make my growling less noticeable.

DSCN4614 This is one of the faces that greeted me home after comprehensive exams.

We all spend lots of time reading!

Reading somehow takes you into another world...

A world full of surprises behind every page.

So, dad, I continue to pray that the next page will be a really good surprise!

I love you so much!!!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

It cannot be true...

I cannot believe it.

This little one will start Pre K tomorrow morning!


His lunchbox is packed and his book bag is sitting by the door. He is ready, but am I?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Study Break Needed

Shortly after our anniversary at the beginning of August, we took this picture!

(we both look so tired! This has been a very long summer :)

Happy Anniversary, James. I love you now more than ever before!

We went out for a wonderful anniversary dinner the first week of August, but I didn't take any pictures of us dressed up and ready to go!

This picture was actually taken the day after our anniversary. We went over to my sister-in-law's house for a good home-cooked meal of homemade fried chicken and macaroni and cheese! The women in this family know how to cook!!! (please note that I am not talking about myself).

After dinner, mom and dad Q wanted to get a picture of the whole family together. Since we didn't have our tripod (or an extra guest) we just took two pictures.

One with Granny:


And one with Grandaddy:


whenever we would count to three, Austin would look down! He is at the fun "I don't want to smile for a picture" stage!

Believe it or not, these are the most current pictures on my camera- and they were taken on August 3rd!!! I have grand plans for all the things I cannot wait to do after my comprehensive exams are done.

Grand plans!

I leave on Wednesday to fly to Texas to take my exams.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

These Days

These days...

We are trying to enjoy the last week of summer
before a new school year starts.

Next Monday I will start working in a new classroom
with at least fifteen absolutely precious four-year-olds.

Austin will be attending pre-K just across the hallway, and I am reminded that I am doing exactly what I want to be doing...
teaching, but poking my head in to check
on my beautiful boy throughout the day.

These days...

I am wrapping up "Summer Camp" with twenty first and second graders.
I am exhausted, but the days have been filled
with field trips and water slides and legos;
and it is a good kind of exhaustion.

These days...

Austin is picked up from school by his granny and grandaddy
and I get a few hours of uninterrupted study time before we start dinner.

Because in just a few days I will fly to Texas
to take my Comprehensive exams for my PhD work...

These days...

I am a little bit overwhelmed, but trying to still enjoy every moment.

Even those moments when my head is swirling with dates, books, and facts...

So, when I am quiet for some time

When I don't post pictures

or journal too much about our lives

It is because sometimes life is just a little bit more full

a little more intense

a little more difficult

and that is how I describe "these days."

Thursday, August 5, 2010


Austin and Andrew are at the wonderful age of joke telling. They absolutely love to tell jokes to one another... and the jokes make absolutely no sense whatsoever.

This past weekend while we were visiting my hometown, Austin and Andrew were telling jokes while swimming in the pool.

"Why did the boogie board go through the diving board?"

"Because it wanted to get to the hose!"

And then pure belly laughter!!!

"No, No, I have one."

"Why did the hose talk to the baby?"

"Because it wanted to answer the phone!!!"

Bahahahahaha Ba-hahahaha!

I listened to them tell jokes for at least thirty minutes. Each joke making absolutely no more sense to me than the one before. But to these boys, each joke was the funniest thing they have ever heard in their lives.

So, today, on the way home from summer camp, Austin said, "Mom, let's tell each other funny jokes!"

"Okay, buddy. Why don't you go first."

"Okay, mom. Why did the lunchbox get in the car?"

"I don't know, Aus. Why did the lunchbox get in the car?"

"Because it wanted to play on the playground!!!"

And I laughed. I laughed with everything that a mom can give her four-year-old son following a joke that she absolutely does not understand... but I laughed. Because his five-year-old cousin wasn't here to laugh with him. I laughed with Austin. We laughed until we cried simply because the joke was just that horrible.

And then, it was my turn.

"Mom, it's your turn. You tell a joke!" My son asked in full expectation.

I tried to go for something simple. Something classic. Something maybe he could remember easily to tell his cousin next time.

"Okay, buddy. Why did the chicken cross the playground?"

And he welled up with excitement. He was so excited to have mommy playing his game.

"I don't know, mom. Why did the chicken cross the playground."

And I paused. I wanted the full weight of the moment to get his attention... and then I said it...

"To get to the other SLIDE!"

And I laughed.

And he just sat in the backseat. And there was absolute silence.

And I knew that I had not played his game well. He confirmed my suspicions.

"Mom," he said after a long pause. "I just don't think that you quite understand this game."

Oh, buddy, you are so right. I don't know how to play all of your games well. But, you just absolutely delight my heart... and I cannot wait to get back to Beachtown with your cousin. I cannot wait to hear you tell jokes that center around objects you see around you at the moment. We speak different languages - you in your four-year-old way and me with my thirty-two-year-old life experience.

Perhaps tomorrow we can try again. I will give up a little of my rules, my experience, and my reality and I will just laugh with you over the lunchbox who wants to answer a phone.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

My (almost) Teenager

Yesterday, James and I celebrated our 7th Wedding Anniversary! 7 Years!!! Whoo Hoo. If you know our story, then you can only imagine that we decided to spend the day celebrating... Celebrating all that the Lord has done in our marriage over seven years (but particularly celebrating his grace and mercies that have been new for the past year).

I want to write a blog post about our marriage on another day, but we are headed out of the house in just a few minutes for our family celebration dinner tonight. (Mom Q's birthday, our anniversary, and Dave and Kendra's anniversary will all be celebrated with a big family dinner tonight at Dave and Kendra's house).

So, before we head out the door, I had to share this picture of Austin from last night.

We were on our way out the door for dinner, and Austin grabbed my car keys. The years flashed before my eyes and suddenly he looked 16 years old asking to borrow my car.


He is growing so quickly


I want to push pause


Because Austin at four-years-old is one of the absolute joys of my life


So, even though my anniversary flowers were absolutely stunning...


the best part of our seven year marriage (besides being with my best friend) is having this little person around who is such a blend of his mommy and daddy!


Sunday, August 1, 2010

Hospitals and Good Hair

As many of you know, my dad started a new chemo plan two weeks ago to fight his amyloidosis (nasty disease). As he mentioned on his own blog this past week, the chemo treatment has knocked him "on his fanny." Since I am done traveling (and writing papers) for the summer, it was time to GO HOME!

Shortly after arriving home, my dad fainted and was rushed to the emergency room. I am so glad that Adam and his family were over visiting as well. Adam helped "carry" my dad to the car; and mom, dad, and Adam were soon on their way to the nearest ER. Sharon and I took the kids swimming (to keep some sense of normalcy) while we waited for more news.

Mom soon called with good news. Dad needed IV fluids for dehydration, but would not be admitted for the night. They were on their way home! Jenny and her family were able to come over and we all spent the evening just being together. Please continue to keep my dad in your prayers. We are praying for renewed strength even in the midst of intense chemotherapy. We are especially praying for the chemo to work!!! We want healing. I need my dad to be around for a very long time :)

With the entire family home safe and sound, Adam allowed me to play with his camera for the night, and I just need to talk to you about Megan's hair!

IMG_8742 copy

This precious girl is nine months old! Nine months... and her hair is already longer and thicker than mine!

Good hair must just run in the family.


Saturday, July 31, 2010


I am HOME this weekend!

Spending my time with plenty of pink


and loving on the two most adorable nieces in the world.



Thursday, July 29, 2010

Yesterday was Granny Q's (James' mom) birthday! Happy Birthday, Granny Q!!!

We love you so much!

Remember how I have been finding random photos in my phone?

Well, this is the blessing of losing my camera. I have found the lost photos... such treasures... like this series of photos Austin and I took one day at Granny and Grandaddy Q's house when we were house-sitting. I turned around to find Austin like this.


"What are you doing, Austin???" I asked.


"I am pretending to be Granny." He stated firmly.

Happy Birthday, Granny, from a little one who loves you so much he wants to be just like you!


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Our REAL life in Pictures

I have not been blogging lately, and I will be completely honest about the reason. My camera is still missing...

I am heartbroken over a camera. With everything else that has happened this year, it seems rather silly to be so upset about a camera, but I am just devastated about losing my camera. My camera was a Mother's Day gift from James last year and it was the first NICE camera that I have ever owned. I fell in love. As you can tell over the course of my blog's life in the last year, I took that camera everywhere and fell in love with taking pictures!

When I traveled to Washington, DC two weeks ago, I couldn't wait to take some pictures of the Nation's capital to put on the blog (and to have for my photo albums). Since the camera is a little too big for carrying around, I (think) I left the camera in our conference room at the hotel while we held registration for the conference. I have not seen the camera since. Some of my friends lost ipods and bookbags in the same "locked" room, however, so I have my theories...

All that to say, I am mopey. Mopey about not having a camera to take picture for my blog... but also willing to wait until James and I can save some money to afford another camera. I have come to grips with the reality that is... a camera on my phone. Definitely not the quality of pictures I have been dreaming about, but these pictures still capture those moments. Those precious moments that I don't want to forget.

However, since I always used my other camera before, my camera phone was relegated for Austin's pleasure while we were out and about (or bored)...

So today, for the first time, I uploaded my camera phone's pictures to my computer, and laughed out loud at some of the results.

While most of the pictures included the inside of my car


or an unflattering picture of my back side


There were also visits to the Doctor's office


And moments with Andrew (his cousin)


that were caught on film.

So, I am slowly coming to grips with reality... the pictures will not be high quality, but they will still be moments of our life. They will still contain all the memories that make me laugh out loud, and memories that I still want to share on the blog.

So here they come...

Pictures from my phone. In all of their glory


Sunday, July 25, 2010


I don't know when it started. Perhaps it has always been this way...

but I love my quiet time.

I am not talking about my "devotional quiet time" (although I love that time too)

I am not trying to be spiritual

Just myself.

I love being by myself... MY quiet time.

And this summer has been a busy time of working, and playing, and vacationing, and traveling, and interning, and working some more. And I often go to bed early in order to hear my 5:30 am alarm going off...

and I am working on finishing some papers

and trying my best to teach with excellence this summer

in the midst of being mom, and wife, and friend

So, this weekend, we stole away to the beach.

Just James, Austin, and me

And I sat for hours last night on our 17th floor balcony overlooking the ocean

and I just stared at the moon

long after everyone else was asleep

and it was absolutely peaceful

and I felt fulfilled... just being...


Monday, July 19, 2010

I have spent a week away from my family (and regular job) enjoying almost 800 high school students in Washington, DC. The days were long, typically waking at 5:45 am and not falling into bed until after 1:00 in the morning. My body is exhausted, but my heart is full. Full of processing conversations... full of moments of laughter that delighted my heart... full of new friendships and relationships... full of pictures that will be forever captured in my mind.


And yet, while I was away, my family's world kept spinning.

And Andrew (my precious nephew) received good news about his MRI results. He will not need surgery at this point to correct the skull malformation, and so... we lift up praise!

But Dad's blood work reveals that he must start new treatment immediately (as in this morning at Moffitt)! And yet... we continue to lift up praise. For while cancer shakes all of our lives to the very core; it also makes every moment in life a little more precious. Especially the moments that I can spend with smiles like these:


And a staff like this:


Thursday, July 15, 2010

It is after midnight in Washington, DC.

I can honestly confess that I don't know what day of the week it is...

This is not because I am overwhelmed or burdened - just the opposite in fact, I am having the time of my life learning about leadership with almost 800 high school students from around the world.

I am here as a part of an organization I love. I am here to serve 56 students as their "tour guide" for the week. I am here to learn about leadership for my PhD program. I am here to serve others.

And these days of service are long. But, I just got to tour the Jefferson Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, the Korean Memorial, and the Vietnam Memorial... with 56 of the most interesting and respectful students you could meet.


We have an update on my nephew, Andrew!

My sister's blog explains it all in detail! click here to read all about Andrew's appointment with the nuerosurgeon

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Mom, what does gratitude mean?


I learn so much from my four year old.

from silly bandz to scooby doo... to the latest apps and games for an ipod

I learn things from Austin every single day.

Several days ago as Austin and I were running errands around town, I noticed the ugly beast of selfishness rearing its ugly head from the back seat.

"What are you going to buy me from the store, mom?" Austin asked matter-of-factly.

"Toilet paper!" I replied quickly.

"Toilet paper??? I can't play with toilet paper!" Austin stated loudly from the backseat.

"Of course you can play with toilet paper," I replied, "But I would prefer that you not play with toilet paper. It would sure make a mess for you to clean up!"

"But mooooommmmm..." and the whine started.

And I stopped the car.

And he stopped the whine.

"Why did you stop the car, mom?" He asked with a little bit of Godly fear starting to come into his day.

"Austin, I stopped the car because you do not have a heart of gratitude. Your behavior is unacceptable, and if you cannot show gratitude towards the things that I have already given you, then we will not go to the store at all. We will immediately go home and start packing up your toys and donate them to other children who don't have any toys. Do you understand me?"

"I do have a gratitude heart, mom!" He started crying. "I will have gratitude!"

And I turned the car back onto the road - towards the store for toilet paper.

As we walked up to the store from the parking lot, Austin looked at me with big eyes.

"Mom, What is gratitude?"

As we walked into the store, we talked about having a thankful heart. Thanking God and others for all the blessings we have received. Telling Jesus thank you for all the wonderful things that happen every single day in our lives.

And we bought toilet paper... and I completely forgot about our conversation.


Until this morning.

Following a beautiful service at my sister's church, a man in his thirties sat down at the grand piano and started playing an offertory song. The music was mesmerizing, but the melody... it was the melody that stirred my heart.

Give thanks with a grateful heart.
Give thanks to the Holy One.
Give thanks because He has given Jesus Christ, his son...

And suddenly, tears filled my eyes.

"Stop it!" I told myself. "Do not get choked up over a song you learned in third grade!"

But I was choked up because I was so convicted.

"Emily, you have not had a grateful heart." I sensed the Lord's prompting in my spirit. "You have been whining and complaining about all the things that have happened over the past year. You have not been thankful."

And it is true! The Lord has redeemed my marriage from the pit (in a year)! I am more in love with my husband than ever before in eight years of marriage. God brought my marriage back from the dead. In every sense, he figuratively did a working of resurrection power in my love for my husband (and vice versa).

And, in in the most literal of senses, God has brought my dad back to life! I will never forget walking into Dad's hospital room a few days after the transplant and honestly wondering if he was still alive in the hospital bed. He looked so weak, so wounded, so small. My dad... my hero dad was taken to death's door... and now he is back.

Yes, Dad still has multiple myeloma. Yes, dad looks like he has been to death's door and back (sorry, dad). But, I get to sit in the living room and talk to him. I get to see and hear his testimony daily about what he is learning about God through cancer. I get to have my dad. And while I hope that it is for another 40 years, I have my dad back today.

And I have not been having a heart of gratitude. Have the trials been difficult? More than words will ever express. But, would I do this year all over again?

I hesitate in my answer. I want to be honest.

For what I have learned about Jesus. For what I have experienced about his love and intimacy.

The answer is yes.

And I am so grateful.


Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.
Colossians 3:16

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Polka Dots

Several years ago, I was helping with a Bible study on I Peter. I will never forget my study of I Peter chapter 1.

3Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, 5who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. 6In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. 7These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 8Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

Little did I know ten years ago as I taught about I Peter, God was preparing my heart for “such a time as this!” Beth Moore explained verse six in this way: We all have different trials. The original word for “various” trials is “poikilos” - which means “many kinds or many colors!” It is the Greek word from which we derive our word “polka dot”. You know how polka dots come in all shapes and sizes. That is how trials come. They are different for every person. They are various. They come in small, large, blue, black, and even red! Poikilos Trials.

Polka dotted trials.

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of various (polka dotted) trials. These trials (of all shapes and sizes) have come so that my faith, which is worth more than gold, may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed! Through these polka dotted trials, I am receiving the goal of my faith!!!

Would you mind if I just shared some of the huge polka dots from this year?

July 2009: James tells me that he has been having an affair.
July 2009: I move home with my parents.
July 2009: James loses job. I quit mine. Income stops. All parents help provide.
December 2009: Dad diagnosed with multiple myeloma (cancer of bone marrow).
January 2010: We sell my dream home in Texas.
January 2010: Make cross-country move to Florida.
February 2010: Dad undergoes bone marrow transplant.
April 2010: Austin and I move back in with James in a new city.
June 2010: Bone marrow transplant results do not show any improvement.
July 2010: Andrew brain scan – shows malformation.

In the midst of all the huge variety of trials of 2010 have also come all the little everyday trials… the trials of being a mom, being a PhD student, being a friend, being a daughter, paying bills… you get the drift.

I was once taught that each of our trials prepares us to help someone else down the road when they face the same kind of trial. I have always tried to be as honest as possible about my trials – hoping that I Peter 7 would prove true – that my faith would be proved genuine and that others would come to praise and glorify Jesus Christ!

When I found out about my husband’s infidelity, I immediately knew that no matter how things worked out in the end, this was now a part of my ministry. (A ministry I never wanted, and NEVER would have dreamed of… but as a result of my own life, would allow me to hopefully minister to other women in the same horrible situation.)

Then, when we found out about Dad’s cancer, I thought… “Okay, God is now preparing me to help minister to those directly affected by cancer.” This is now part of my ministry.

Did you know that this same word: this polka dottedness is also used to describe God’s grace? I didn’t! But I Peter 4 tells us that God’s grace comes in “various” (i.e. polka dotted) forms. It makes complete sense that God’s grace is various to meet the specific needs of the situation. I Peter 4:10 tells believers that we should use whatever gift (and I believe circumstance) that God has given us in order to serve others, “faithfully administering God’s grace in all it’s various POLKA DOTTED forms!”

So, this week, when we found out that Andrew would need to visit a neurosurgeon, I had a long talk with God. “Lord, you do realize that I am not trying to experience every single polka dotted aspect of your grace, right? My goal is not to have every single life experience so that I can affectively minister to all people in all situations, right? Isn’t it enough that adultery, cross country moves, job loss, and cancer were all added this year? Do we really need to add another color to the polka dottedness of my year?”

And today, through a series of events, emails, lessons on tape, and conversations, I am reminded of the purpose of every single trial – no matter what shape or size. The trial has only two purposes: 1) to show the genuine-ness of my faith! And 2) to bring praise, glory, and honor to Jesus Christ.

If you were to ever ask me the deepest longings of my heart, I hope that I would answer truthfully. In the purest places (the quietest places of my soul) I want to live this life, this relationship with Christ that I confess, in the most intimate way and I want him to be glorified! I want him to receive all praise, glory, and honor…

To be continued.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Prayer Request Update!

Can you tell that my mom and dad are just a little bit happy about having four grandchildren?


Just a little bit happy!

If you have been following my dad's blog (A Cheerful Heart), then you know that we continue to covet your prayers as a family! Dad had an appointment at Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville last week. For the first time, a doctor stood before my parents and gave a prognosis. As a family, we have never asked for a prognosis, never looked online for a prognosis, and believed that it is God who truly numbers all of our days. While we still believe it is God alone who numbers our days, it is hard to receive a prognosis from a doctor - especially when it is preceded by the words, "Mr. Bugg, you have a very bad disease!"

Dad is having some tests done in the next week or so to try to begin another treatment option, so please keep my parents in your prayers as they navigate this journey of cancer.

In other prayer news, my nephew will be meeting with a neurosurgeon on Wednesday, July 14th to discuss an MRI he had done last week. Please keep Andrew (age 5), my sister (Jenny) and David (brother-in-law) in your prayers during this time. I will update you as I find out more information. He went to have an MRI last week due to headaches - and his pediatrician has asked for follow up with a neurosurgeon. At this point, I really don't have other details. So, just as always, we ask for your prayer. We continue to believe in a God who is in control! Thank goodness!

My sister, Andrew, and Megan

And just because cuteness abounds from my two nieces, I will throw in a picture of them too!