Sunday, September 3, 2017

Dinner With Carmen -


I sat down and ordered hot tea and obsessively stared down the Chinese dim sum menu after making 
myself go in a restaurant by myself (that's a hard one for even an extrovert like me). I didn't know if they'd even serve
 one person dim sum since it's a family affair in China, but they did, and after ordering little dim sum plates for myself, 
the petite lady three booths in front of me softly called out: "I ordered dim sum for one too!" 

We both laughed, and then I said to her: "Would you like to come sit with me?" 
I could see her lonely eyes light up even as she hesitated, "Are you sure?" 
I called back: "Of course! No one should eat dim sum alone! It'll be more Chinese this way!" 

She walked over, we shook hands and introduced ourselves and as we waited for our food, we talked....

Her name was Carmen, she was from Puerto Rico, she had three adult children; she moved to Daytona Beach 
from Chicago sixteen years ago. Her eyes suddenly glistened with tears as she waved her hands expressively,
 "No one has EVER", she choked up, "... done this. No one has ever asked me to eat with them. 
I don't have any friends here." Her brown eyes pierced mine: "You KNOW how rare this is. You're so different."
 I just smiled because yes, I knew. I was eating dinner with a perfect stranger in a restaurant I'd never visited before. 


She went on: "People don't see people as....they see Puerto Rican. They don't see us as equals. They don't just talk to you." 
I decided 7 minutes into the conversation was as good a time as any to ease her into why I was so different.... 
I told her I was a professing Christian and that I believed what the Bible says about people: 
that every person is an image bearer of God and that is how He sees us, and that is how I want to see people too. 

Carmen nodded in shocked agreement and thanked me as our food arrived via my waitress who was 
starting to adore me because I'd invited a total stranger to eat w/me because "it was more Chinese."
She nodded in a brisk motherly manner at us: "That's how it should be.", and then about fell over in 
shock when this white girl thanked her in Mandarin. She proceeded to check on us every 5 minutes, 
wait on our every need, and tell the entire staff that I spoke Mandarin, which means when I left, 
I basically had tenure at the restaurant and a promise that if I came in every week, she'd not only teach me Chinese faster 
than anyone ever could, but she'd find me "a good Chinese husband....who will also adopt your Chinese babies". 
She lost her giddy self in my China baby pictures and laughed in delight that I called them "my babies". 
This white girl Shaanxi lover, an adoring Chinese waitress and Carmen from Puerto Rico. What a trio we were! 

I asked Carmen if I could pray for our food, and since she said yes,
I prayed a blessing on the food and prayed over Carmen and her life.
As I finished, she let go of her grip on my hand and reached for a napkin to cover her eyes.

She was crying. She was so so deeply moved. 

I smiled and quietly poured our tea and waited. I knew how that felt. 

The loneliness had faded from her eyes, replaced by the joy of belonging as she again stated: 
"You. You are so different. Especially at your age." I thought I'd never been so glad I'd invited a 
perfect stranger to eat with me, and just thanked Jesus under my breath that He'd led me here.

Over the next 2 hours, she poured out her heart and shared her life with me while we ate wonton soup, 
pork dumplings, egg rolls, shrimp & veggies and were adoringly waited on by our waitress.
 We laughed through me giving her a 10min chopstick lesson and talked about our families, our jobs, 
our towns, and I shared with her about China, adoption, and the Gospel. 

Every time some white people walked through the door, I said "Oh look. White people!"and she cracked 
up every single time, like "don't you know you're white?". I laughingly told her how much I loved 
being the minority for once. She just shook her head at me, me, her youngest daughter's age. 
She laughed so hard over my sesame ball story from China, as we munched into its crispy sweet goodness
 and we talked about the best way to cook plantains. 

Louis Armstrong sang "What a Wonderful World" in the background as her smile matched mine,
and all I could think about is how best to love her right now. I can't imagine much better ways than sharing life
 and stories over Chinese food, I truly can't. Two no longer strangers. She insisted on giving me her number:
 "in case you eat dim sum here again". The way she asked me to meet her daughter working across the street,
and the way she hugged me and kissed me on the cheeks like a mother would. "God bless you! God bless you!"

 It was wonderful meeting you, Carmen. 

Our worldwide family. Such a gift from the Father Who loves us so well. 
Jesus, lead us to see others more and more how You see us!! It's such a beautiful thing. 

What a wonderful world indeed.

- JM - 

Saturday, August 26, 2017

New article on the Confederacy -


New article up on JM Fambrough tonight!
Definitely one of the hardest things I've ever written but SO necessary,
especially right now amid recent events in America. 

"We cannot as Bible believing Christians, stand for slavery, which means we cannot revel or glory
in a history (that could repeat itself) that promotes it. We cannot stand for racism. Or white supremacy. 

We cannot. We cannot. We cannot. 

We cannot choose our family's history over Jesus. 

If we're going to die on a hill for a cause, let it look like Calvary and like Jesus and not like 
our own self built kingdoms that we treasure more than the the one He died to bring us into...." 

Read more by clicking the link below - 

With so much love,
- JM - 

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Happy Birthday, Sarah! -


{Photo by Abbie Melle: September 24, 2016 - Gold Hill in Shaftesbury, England}

Happy Birthday to the girl who has put up with A LOT over the past 11 years. ELEVEN YEARS.
She's known a lot of me. The dark and the light. She has been such a faithful friend and so so kind to me. 

And after years and years of putting it off because I was scared of being arrested by the 
British customs police (I am not kidding you.), it was one of the best trips of my life to see her world. 

And then she put up with a lot lot lot more. This sweet, introverted, calm friend. and myself
She drove us wherever we wanted to go, led us up and down millions of streets across England,
waited for the billionth picture while Shannon and I lost our minds....
and let me sleep a lot in the backseat of her car because walking England is not for the faint of heart
and by that I mean if you have a heart condition, you will not do well on England's hills. 

From doing a U-turn at Stonehenge while being watched by some VERY sketchy biker dudes,
and saying "Oh my" when we got some air after going over a hill to which Shan and I said
 "WE HAVE COMPLETE CONFIDENCE IN YOUR DRIVING SKILLS. DO NOT SAY OH MY."
to being a beauty of grace and poise as one of Rachael's bridesmaids to 50 cups of tea and long conversations
 to enduring me being outrageous at the dinner table just to make her family laugh that much harder....

....we're opposites. Honestly I don't know why she loves it. But I'm glad she does. 
There's hundreds of reasons we now love England but we love it most of all because it's where she is. 

You are so loved, Sarah. Thank you for being my friend!!
Happy Birthday, babe. *hugs* I love you so very much, and am so grateful for you! 
Praying this next year is full of wonder and joy and special memories. 

- JM - 

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

15 Years -



Today is 15 years since my Grandma died. 

I remember everything. In the clearest detail. Still yet too painful to think of too long. 
A few years ago I got a whiff in a store of the sanitizer used in the nursing home where she died 
and I almost threw up from the panic. I was a little 13 year old (4yrs & 3mo after this pic was taken). 

The night before she died I said one last goodbye. One last kiss on her pursed, uplifted lips. 
One last whisper from her in her Atlanta accent "I love YOU, darlin'." One last smile into her gentle eyes. 
That night I caught my first firefly. The next day, she was gone. 

The Mama who raised my Daddy, the woman who called him "Eddie", the one whose hands I can still see peeling a tomato,
teaching me how to pick out produce in the store, and sassily telling me how to pump gas correctly. 

The way her eyes would twinkle over the long table at my grandfather. Her hand in mine. 
Sometimes I'd open my eyes during prayer just to memorize her hands and her face.
Even then, I knew she might not be there one day. When we'd end prayer, she'd wink at me, and pass me the rolls. 

I still remember how my head fit perfectly on her chest and how she always wanted hugs. 
Her perfect wavy hair, her constantly ladylike style, her laughter, her incessant grace,
 even when in pain. I adored her and still do. 

I wonder what she'd think of me being a photographer, a writer, and what she'd think of CJ. 
I KNOW she'd love Ben & Clark. I miss so much of her in my life. 

The sun literally split a red flare of glory light into a picture taken at her burial. 
My hair, red-gold, tears on my face, forever loving sunsets for bringing beauty to the sad. 

I guess what I'm trying to say is if you ever wonder if your legacy of love will matter, it will.
It will last. It will last as long as the one so deeply loved lives. 

The sandwiches made with love, the expensive special truffle bought "just for you" at the mall, 
the tight hug when you won't let go.... it all matters. It's all the most beautiful legacy
 and I just can't wait to see her again and see that stunning smile cross her face. 

"I'll be looking at the moon, but I'll be seeing you." 
All my love forever, your red-haired "sugar lamb" granddaughter, 
- JM -

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

New Article on Relationships -


I've written a new article on relationships over at JMFambrough.wordpress.com

In between editing hundreds and hundreds of wedding pictures. :) 

Keep up with my photography at: the JemmiePhotography FB page

or my Instagram: Jemmie Photography Instagram 

Hoping to post some Project 52 pictures at the end of this week! 

- JM -