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 -

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Changes for Advocacy Trips to China -


This morning I received news that a precious boy I'd been praying for had died yesterday, 
so loved, so brave, so fresh from China. I cried into my pillow in agony for his family. 

I'm not sure why everything feels related from one China baby to the next, but knowing they were
recently in the country you love just does it to you. The Chinese adoption community is tight.

I've walked around in a daze since Sunday and hearing about Everett.

 I've also been unable to shake the memories of China and a deep ache for CJ.
Last night I just messaged one of my friends, bawling. We talked about CJ for most of a half hour
and it was such a blessing. Most nights and mornings I've spent crying and longing and
giving him over and over and over again to Jesus and praying Mama prayers over him.


It wasn't until last night that I thought of the fact that something might be wrong with CJ. 
I instantly started panicking, so I shut that thought down super fast, and just prayed for him. 

That was last night. This morning I heard about Everett. It's been a heavy 24 hours. 

So when I read this article tonight, my heart stopped beating. It was bad news. 

The first time I read it, I had to audibly start pushing air past my lips to make sure I was breathing (because I wasn't).
The second time I read it, I started panicking, and messaged Martha immediately hoping I was wrong.
The third time I was breathless with shock. The fourth time it was read aloud (with many stops for explanations)
to my parents over dinner. 

It doesn't get easier to read. I kept hoping I was wrong.
When Martha messaged me back heartbroken, I knew I wasn't. 

Here is the article and explanation from Kelly at The Sparrow Fund. 

I encourage you to read it before you dive into this, but if you read it a few times and struggle
with why that matters, I'll try to break it down into why based on the points Kelly made. 

1. An End to All Advocacy Trips: No way back to China. 

I just stare at that sentence and burst into tears over and over and over again. No pathway to CJ. 

Ever since January when we realized China was cracking down on foreign NGO's and limiting trips,
we've been praying our hearts out that they would continue them. This announcement declares
all advocacy trips are terminated immediately and indefinitely. 

Our team walked out of our orphanage and boarded a plane and confidently said "March 2018, we'll be back."
No questions asked. Nothing could stop us. We'd say it to each other to encourage each other
in our sadness over missing "our" kids. "March 2018! We're going!" Before this, the ache and longing
were there, but we knew we could go back one day. Now we're cut off completely. 

This is heartbreaking news for our team and all the teams and multiple agencies teams who believe
that advocating for orphans and meeting them and telling their stories bring them hope, bring God glory,
and bring families together. It is hope-shattering to realize we don't have access
in this precious way to our kids who we so dearly want to advocate for and find families for. 

We believe so deeply that advocating for orphans and hosting makes a deep difference; 
so many of my China babies' parents told me that my stories/photographs/videos/heart talk with them
 led them through prayer to KNOW that that child was their son or daughter, and that's just one trip

There are hundreds of stories just like those. This, obviously, is the hardest part for me, and for my team. 

2. Partnerships between agencies and orphanages will be broken. 

From Kelly"What we know is that the 1:1 partnerships between agencies and orphanages 
that has been established for years will end at the end of this year." 

These partnerships took years and years to cultivate and are incredibly important, not to mention personal.
We seek not only to find orphans a home, but to minister and encourage the wonderful staff that take
 care of these children, and is, wow, such a special part of every trip. I cry just thinking about it.
Meeting with the orphanage workers is a great gift and this breaks that relationship. 

Not to mention that connection is what makes the inter-country partnership work so well,
working tirelessly together for the good of the kids in their care to be transferred into our care. 


3. We are uncertain how agencies will receive files for waiting families after this fall. 

Because I don't work for an adoption agency, I can't speak to this more deeply, just know that it's
happening and it's really concerning. What's even more concerning is that only the children who have
 been assessed and have their files filed onto the list by December 31, 2017 will actually BE on the list.
So this means it's a ginormous rush to get every child with a file onto the list so they're...on the list.

This also means as stated that "agencies are requested to look for children within
required deadline, otherwise the files will be withdrawn".
That's exactly as worrying as it sounds.

Obviously agencies will still receive files, since adoptions still remain open
(which is SUCH good news). 

I'll leave it there on this point: there's just so much we don't know yet,
 and it's just....really overwhelming right now.  

4. Agencies may be allowed to "work in welfare and charity related activities"

This would be really really really good. We are all hoping this is the case. It's really not clear yet. 
It would be really good in the way we'd still be able to serve and bless kids by loving on them, yet very difficult
in another way because we wouldn't have access to their files/creating a file/advocating for them to be adopted.
We won't be allowed to do assessments for files. 

That's huge. 

I'm not sure anyone realizes until they have an adopted child with a back history written by a non-orphanage personnel.
The personnel are amazing, don't get me wrong. But to have a file written with personal notes and
moments and encouragements and general info that was created 10 months ago, and then again
5 months ago is HUGE to a waiting family that wants to know everything about their child. 

Instead it drastically feels like we are reverting back to 1991: you get one picture, you get a
medical description, and you get everyone together on the shared list. That's it. 

It's hard to read this document and see how it is for the best of the child, yet we know there are many
special and wonderful people in China who want the very best for the children and respect the job
they are doing. 

In conclusion, as Kelly wrote, agencies have already submitted questions to the CCCWA
and are seeking to figure out how to work with the CCCWA in their new regulations. 

Martha said right now it's a waiting game. Waiting and praying that China changes its mind. 

But I don't want to leave it there. I want to speak to all our hearts in this, as we are heartbroken. 
To my China team, who I respect and love and miss so dearly and for you all to know how to pray.


A. Our God is Sovereign & Powerful over Policies 

When I think about not seeing CJ in the next few years, I want to scream in pain.
I'm honestly holding back the really ugly cry right now, and trying to avoid panic attacks.
I've never in my life wished so much I was Chinese and lived in China so I could volunteer there.
It's the worst news right now. We are cut off from seeing our kids and
 telling them how much we love them and it hurts so deeply

Remember what I kept saying in China? Our God, the One Who goes before us.
Remember when we stepped into the lobby and felt at home and at peace?
Remember how we said Jesus was already there? 

Loves, He hasn't left. He hasn't left His children alone. He can be where we cannot. 

Policies can't keep the Father of the Fatherless at bay. He is in their midst. 
The Holy Spirit hears our "groanings too deep for words" and knows just what our kids need. 
They need us, but not as much as they need Jesus. We crossed oceans to know them, Jesus already does. 

We can trust that God is sovereign over really bad policies and will bring them to an end,
maybe not sooner as we would like, but one day. Until then, seek to remember that He is with them every day. 

B. We can trust God with this.

We can trust that the Father of the Fatherless will NOT leave us without access to the orphans He
calls us to love. This isn't talking about policies or boundaries or new rules. We know we are called

We don't know where next. We don't know what orphanage. We don't know how. We don't know when.

But the God of all the ages won't give His children a calling and then keep us from loving and serving
and going in His name to fulfill that calling. He will not leave us without a way to visit orphans
in their trouble when it's HIS WORK. 

We have to trust the same God who called us to go may ask us to wait for awhile,
and it's for a good reason, and we know that because He has GOOD for us. 

He has good for all His children and hasn't lost any of them yet. We.can.trust.God.with.this. 

Policies change. Countries change. Administrations and CCCWA change. God doesn't change.

C. There is a better Advocate than we could ever be. 

We know God is the One Who puts the lonely in families. We know God calls orphans to families.
We know God puts orphans in families hearts. We know He builds connections out of thin air. 

We've seen it. We've rejoiced over it. We've praised God over it. Now let us rest in it in our sorrow and absence. 

There is an Advocator Who stands before the throne and advocates for US every single day. 
He is the One Who called us to love orphans. Even if we cannot love tangibly, we can love with prayers.
Prayers MATTER. They "avail much", more than we could ever know. 

I believe that the same Jesus Who is here and holds me in the night when I cry over missing CJ
is the same Jesus Who is there in the morning when CJ wakes up in his bed in the orphanage. 

We have an Advocate Who cannot fail, and Whose plans cannot be ruined. 

Policies will not keep families apart when the King of Kings has promised to fight for His children,
 and will not leave them as orphans, He will come for them. They are not alone, and neither are we. 

They are SEEN. Known. Deeply loved by Jesus more than we could ever say,
 and we know it to be true....because it's all we ever wanted them to know



Friends, PLEASE pray with us that China will retract these policies and allow advocating teams in. 
Pray that the restrictions will be reconsidered and remanded. Pray that we would be allowed in to serve and bless.
Pray that God would bring us all peace and comfort as we grieve not returning so soon. 

Pray above all for our orphans, our beloved, precious orphans. Pray they would know Jesus. 
Pray for tender hearts as they wait, pray for the very best care, pray for Jesus to hold them in their waiting. 

Pray for Everett's family as they grieve and miss their sweet boy, just 4 months home. 

Thank you for reading this very long message. We trust a God Who IS Hope. 
We will not stop singing the anthem of all that He can and will do. Father to the Fatherless. 

- JM - 

** I want to be sure to remind you all that I'm blogging personally and do not speak
for AWAA or for any other adoption agency. This is merely me processing.**

Saturday, July 1, 2017

My Project 52 {Week 26} -


{Week 26} St. Andrews Chapel, Sanford, Florida ~ July 1, 2017 ~ Samantha & Phillip's Wedding

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

My Golden 28th Year -

Dreams fulfilled in my 28th Year of Life -

1. Won a spot along with 30 other people at a live podcast taping for Relevant Podcast (my favorite podcast). 
I laughed so much my ribs hurt the rest of the week. {July 2016}

2. Visited my sister & bro-in-law at their house in Texas for the first time! {August 2016}

3. Took maternity pictures in Texas for my sister & bro-in-law (in the RAIN, no less) {August 2016}

4. Traveled internationally for the second time, this time to England! {September 2016}

5. Visited England!!! This is too many dreams to count. {September 2016}

Walked the countryside while singing The Sound of Music.

Explored beautiful towns like Salisbury.

Traveled to England with my best friend Shannon to visit another best friend, Sarah!!

Saw Stonehenge in person! (The aliens totally built that)

Found a telly booth perfect for me.

Saw wild horses in person (very very closely in person). 


Walked along the English Channel! 



Experienced the magic bliss of Durdle Door and the English Channel.


Traveled by train in another country! 

Saw Big Ben in person! 

Saw Bath, and walked on stones laid by the Romans. (mind.blown.)

Visited and walked in real castles.

Saw the Rosetta Stone!  

 Saw real Egyptian tombs, mummies and statues (and hundreds other ancient treasures!).


The Royal Guard! 

6. Shot my first wedding as primary photographer (I'm a certified lover of travel weddings now). {September 2016}




7. Threw a baby shower for my sister and shot a mini mini maternity session for her & Ben. {December 2016}


8. Shot my first birth and fell in love with it forever. Little Lily Brower {January 2017}


9. Shot my second birth (this time in a hospital). {February 2017}

10. My nephew, Clark Viret Allison was born on March 20, 2017!!

11. Mom, Dad & I flew out 2 days later to meet baby Clark!!!




12. Shot my nephew's newborn session! (full session here) {March 2017} 








13. Booked my second travel wedding! Shannon & I are headed to Georgia in late July. {March 2017}

 14. My Daddy retired from Boeing after working for 34 years!
What a strong, generous and loving provider he has been for us! {May 2017}

15. I started my own professional writer website! I say, "professional" because, they're actual articles, 
instead of starting a whole new blog. It's the product of years of dreams and I love it! Check it out! {May 2017}


16. I cut my hair short again!! {May 2017}

You'll notice I didn't just post one picture for each thing...it's impossible.
I've had some of the best times of my life this year. It's SO good to look back upon and see all the joy.
There's been so many hard and sad things this year too, but I know God is working all those sad into
something beautiful that I don't yet see or understand. He is too good not to redeem our pain.

It's been a challenging, deep, hard, yet extremely beautiful Golden Year. I'm so glad I lived it.

I'm just so thankful. Here's to Year 29, doing amazing, adventurous and brave things.
Through it all, Jesus is worth it. I love my family & friends so dearly.

I'm so blessed and I'm so grateful. May I love Jesus more this year than my 28th.
And every year until I see Him face to face.

With love,
- JM -