Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Flying Again.... -

I wrote up a little news on the next few weeks and put up some of my favorite flying pictures 
over on JemmiePhotography.com, plus last week I finished blogging 19 sessions from 2016-2017! 
It feels so amazing to be all caught up!! I'm so looking forward to rest and rejoicing time now. :)

Check it all out by clicking here

Much love,
- Jean Marie - 

Monday, March 20, 2017

My 2016 Reading List -

I thought it'd be fun to share what books I read in 2016! 
Looking back, 7 books doesn't really seem that many, but many of them were hundreds of pages thick,
so I think that helps spread them out a lot. And as you might be able to tell,
I found the NASA section of my library, and the autobiographies (my favorite!)

1. Highest Duty: My Search for What Really Matters by Captain Chesley B. Sullenberger III

LOVED this book. Impossible to put down. Five stars.

2. It's What I Do: A Photographer's Life of Love and War by Lynsey Addario 

Terrifying at times. Loved the photojournalist stories. Four stars.

3. Pipe Dreams: A Surfer's Journey by Kelly Slater

Kelly Slater grew up in Daytona Beach (just 30 mins from my house), so I loved his 
"Growing up in Florida" stories and his surfing stories had me longing for the ocean. 4 stars

4. An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth by Col. Chris Hadfield

Probably cried a lot during this one more than most people. LOVED it. 5 stars.

5. Failure Is Not an Option: Mission Control from Mercury to Apollo 13 and Beyond by Gene Kranz

More crying. Daddy, upon seeing my book "Genie Kranz!". Household name for a space family.
SOOO so good. Loved reading so many details about the early space race.
I read some of the stories aloud to Daddy and we were crying laughing. Easy 5 stars

6. Marriage by Tim and Kathy Keller

Hard to read at times for a single girl, makes you wistful!
 So much wisdom though. 4.5 stars.

7. A Reporter's Life by Walter Cronkite 

I was crying laughing in the first chapter. I LOVE journalism, and have always loved Cronkite.
An amazing legacy and great reporting, back when most reporting wasn't sensationalism. 5 stars

I'm so looking forward to taking the time to read even more in 2017! 
I've already started on another space autobiography that Mariah gave me for Christmas! 
And I'm excited to read the stack of books I bought at Ligonier. 

- Jean Marie -

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Meeting Douglas -

~ A story about God showing me His love & blessing me in an unexpected way. ~

Thursday, March 9, 2017 at the 2017 Ligonier National  Conference: 
"In my grief of not going to China this year...I prayed today that God would show me moments of beauty 
in his kindness over these next few weeks. Moments when I felt greatly loved by God in an instant. 
Known. Cared for. Blown away by the touch of His hand upon creation. He is already on the move. This blue sky did me in today."

Friday, March 10, 2017
"Remember yesterday when I wrote this? "In my grief of not going to China this year...
I prayed today that God would show me moments of beauty in his kindness over these next few weeks. 
Moments when I felt greatly loved by God in an instant. Known. Cared for. 
Blown away by the touch of His hand..." This morning I woke up and cried for 10 mins and then took
a deep, brave breath and said "He (God) has goodness for us." and went on to have a beautiful day.

I looked for lovely moments and found so many like a stunning sunset and light through trees
and shadows on the concrete, but it was never the moment worth posting about.
"Oh well..." I thought. "It can't be something every day."


Tonight I was looking at books in the bookstore and I hear Mandarin being spoken behind me.
I turn to see a family with 3 little girls and a little toddler boy who I'd had tears in my eyes last night 
watching him. I walk over and ask where they're from and introduce myself.
"We're from PA" the Dad says. "But where are you FROM...before! I heard you speaking Mandarin.", I persisted.
They laughed and said "Yes! From Taiwan." I told him I'd just been in China last year and how much 
I missed it and then we talked for 15 minutes on adoption and orphans and CJ and China and NGO's and ministry...
and then as the lights flickered to shut down, he asked if he could pray for me.

Tears filled my eyes as I quietly said "Yes please.". Then he prayed for me by name in his halting Chinese-English accent:
"Remind her she is adopted. She is loved by You. She is family. Thank You for her heart for orphans.
Lead her and show her and incline her to the way You want her to go. 
Thank You for bringing us here for this moment..." 

I stood there with tears streaming down my face, in awe that this was happening. 
He prayed for 5 minutes for me, so many things I've struggled with these months. 
We took a picture. I thanked him over and over again "xìe xìe ne". 

Douglas, we may never meet again, 
but your prayer for me tonight gave me the strength to live courageously this year. 
You instantly loved. God used you to remind me that when we reach out and ask to SEE, 
He gives us beauty. The God Who Hears."

Never getting over the GRACE and LOVE of that tear filled moment when God set instant tangible love upon me, 
simply because He could, simply because He desired to, simply because Love is Who He is. 

Xìe Xìe Ne, Ài Baba God, Xìe Xìe.

- Jean Marie -

My Project 52 {Week 11} -

{Week 11} Tuesday, March 14, 2017 ~ Ponce Inlet Lighthouse, Ponce Inlet, Florida 

Saturday, March 11, 2017

My Project 52 {Week 9 & 10} -

 {Week 9} Washington Oaks Gardens, Florida ~ Saturday, March 4, 2017

{Week 10} First Baptist Church of Orlando, Orlando, Florida ~ March 10, 2017 ~ Blue skies.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

I miss everything about China -

Monday: It's noon and I've finally caved and taken painkillers for the neckache that's plagued me since I awoke.
I let Lucy Mae out the back door and stand with my face tilted up to the spring sun, and I pray....
or rather, I try to pray. I try to push the grief aside....why am I even grieving? 

"Jesus. I'm so sad. I'm hurting. I'm empty. I'm aching. I'm overwhelmed...and I miss my kids."
Hot tears sting my eyes. 

I walk back inside and write this down:
  "Just a reminder that if you want a good thing too much or more than Jesus it's no longer a good thing." 
and this "One year ago this Friday I flew to China. Today/this week I'm trying to ride 
out the grief of not being there this year. It's not going well. I miss my nan hai."

I stared at this picture of CJ and cried. I've been crying all week. 

Thursday: It's been the hardest thing not going back to China this year.

I miss everything about China (except Mary Jo getting vertigo/dehydrated & me being sick 1.5 days).
I even miss the back of the bus where the seat didn't have any padding between the springs and the
thin material and you realllllyyy took one for the team on the bus by sitting back there, because the
potholes on those springs left you rattling and bouncing (and laughing, because: you were in China).

I love you so much, China Team!! March 2018!! 

I wake up from multiple dreams and I can smell the tangible smells of China in my bedroom.
I've been playing Kenny G endlessly and sharing memories that haven't popped up until now.

I miss our kids. I miss the music. I miss the alley cats screaming at night. I miss the smoky smog. 
I miss the craziest things. And I miss them all because the ones we love so much are there. 

CJ is there

And I've been so impatient to get back, because my heart breaks not to hold him for one.more.minute,
that I've had to constantly and consistently remind myself "and. be. thankful."  

It was some of the best and yet most broken days of my life. 

CJ is two now. I can't think about it without crying. All week I've ached with missing him. 
He's two. He won't remember me. Yet the way he felt in my arms won't ever leave me.

When I walked out of his room for the last time sobbing over leaving him, and his wail followed me
 down the hall, I comforted myself that I would be back in a year. Every year. I would be back. 

But I won't be there this year. None of us will. Others will hold my boy. Others will make him laugh.
I shouldn't be jealous. But I am. He's the whole world all wrapped up in a boy with almond eyes
who likes having his nose beeped and searches my eyes for all the joy even when they're filled with tears.  

It's odd to be grieving something that was such a gift and not a loss. 

But I miss China with every fiber of my being, and especially this week on the 1 yr anniversary.
 I miss my team!! I miss going. I miss the tang of smoke in the air. I almost miss the 14hr flights.

I miss my CJ. I'm going to really miss stepping onto a plane tomorrow and flying halfway
around the world to tell some beautiful kids who can dance and sing and live better than I can....
that we've been missing them. That we've been holding them in our hearts. That we've been loving them.

And that Jesus has been loving them since the beginning of time.

And that Jesus will be holding them when we can't.

And that Jesus will be holding us when we aren't with them.

And that Jesus is all the LOVE we will ever need.


- Jean Marie - 

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Kimberly's Baby Shower -

On December 30th, 2016, at our church, we celebrated the coming arrival of my nephew!
I know. It's March 8. But I've been absolutely slammed with my photography business
and blogging this got shoved to the bottom of the list.
I wanted to blog this now though, since he's due in a few weeks!

A little prep BTS: December 28, 2016, I wrote this:
"230 days, or 33 weeks, or 8.25 months ago....I carried my sister's dried wedding bouquet 
(filled with eucalyptus) and laid it softly on top of her wedding dress in the back of her SUV,
and then they drove off to their new life together. I took a selfie in the garage with it, 
feeling the weight of joy and change and importance. Today I took another selfie in the garage 
with my arms full of eucalyptus and blue hydrangeas (blue for boy). 
Feeling the weight of joy and change and importance. It's their 1st engagement anniversary today,
and in 2 days, I will throw a baby shower for the little one in her womb.
Carrying a bouquet into the house this time, for the very best of reasons.
 A baby is coming, and we love that he is." 

Supplies on December 30th. Hahaha.

 December 30, 2016 ~ CCC, Titusville, Florida ~ Baby Shower: Baby C Allison 

I took a very mini mini maternity session of Ben & Kimberly right before the shower....
the rest you'll have to wait to see on JemmiePhotography.com - they're scheduled to hit the blog next week! 

Even though I hosted the shower, I could not have done it without the help of my Mama and
 our sweet church ladies who brought food, and for Shannon for shooting photos for me when I couldn't!

I'd thought up a little Winter Woodland theme, since it was just a few days past Christmas. :)

Eucalyptus are personal favorites of both Kim & I, so I decorated the tables with it! 
I wanted it to be peaceful yet pretty! 

The Dessert table: A delicious Orange Citrus Cake that my pastor's wife made,
 and two pies that Mama made: blueberry & coconut custard. 

I spray painted those cardboard letters I bought for under a dollar at Hobby Lobby! 
I also decorated with fun things we had around our house....
including wrapping that little pine tree in a plaid swath of cloth.

I found this free printable woodland animals printout on Pinterest, so fun!
The triangles though...no joke...took me 20 minutes to figure out how to cut out correctly.
I LOVED that banner, but it took me 2 hours to get it completely done (I was so slap happy tired).
haha. I actually sent it home with Kimberly & Ben for Baby C's nursery!

Hot Cider! And Water! And Eggnog! It was only 2pm after all....who needs coffee.

Cinnamon & Clove & Maple Toasted Pecans

I decorated each table with acorns (woods!), a few rocks or stones from a TN River (water!),
cute little wooden woodland animals (also Hobby Lobby), a vase filled with a spray of hydrangeas (gardens!)
and set upon an oak wood round that Daddy cut for me.

I invited my friends to ease the tension. Jk. But they certainly made me....myself. I can't stop laughing.

How is Abbie 10 years old? I remember when she was a baby!! Oh goodness.

trying the eggnog.... ;) 

modeling crackers because she was wearing her Minnie Mouse ring. hahahaha.

Sweet Marie who I took pictures of just a few days earlier!! SO CUTE I couldn't stand it.

One of my greatest achievements as hostess of Kimberly's baby shower was putting
this baby to sleep in a matter of minutes. Haha. 7 years of Nannying do not go to waste. ;)

Content & asleep in her Moogie's (Grandma's) arms.

hello's to Lily who was moving around

Here's where Shannon took over shooting for me....proving once again, she's an angel. 

I surprised Kimberly and asked a few very special women we've admired all our lives to 
share a special Mothering moment and Scripture that helped them in hard days. 

Judy (Mrs. Gilchrist) was first! 

Our pastor's wife, Margaret, was next.

Three generations....reading a Psalm that put almost everyone in tears. So precious.

And Mrs. Drobnick, giving a special talk to Mama becoming a Grammy.
Yeah, we were definitely crying at this point.

And then gift opening! I wrote Kimberly's gift list/thank you list on her phone so she'd have it.

LOVE all these women so much!! Emily cracking up on the far left....hahahahha.

*pretty much my face every single time any present was opened because: BABY THINGS*

There was really fierce competition at Baby Bingo for the 3 door prizes!
Especially, for some reason...at the homeschoolers table.
I kept saying "Ok, calm down. Don't light anything on fire." It didn't work. They were intense.

Literally crying laughing so hard over something Tricia said that I had my head between my knees.
I can't even look at this without laughing aloud. Earlier Emily had made me laugh so hard that I had to leave
and fake getting a cup of water and go in the hallway to breathe because I was crying laughing.

The Janie & Jack jacket that my parents *bought*. Haha. I bought it.

She's the beautiful-est.

Burp cloths to fund the adoption of Talia!! The BEST burp cloths!

*me losing my mind over the Janie & Jack nautical sweater onesie I bought*

... and telling the story of buying this vintage Winnie the Pooh book in an antique store in England...

A crocheted baby blanket made by our great great aunt, a gift from our own dear aunt. SO special!

Chatting with my favorite people....and Tricia giving me a back massage for the knots of stress
 I accumulated at having to talk in front of people. I have THE BEST friends.

It really meant a lot to me to get a group shot of our girls group, so we headed outside after the shower....

Emily thankfully was willing to be my test focus & lighting subject.

*normal* "Leaf! Oh leaf! Leaf of crunch and browned hue! we....ok. that lighting's good."

She literally does not stop getting more gorgeous as the years go by. haha.

Pretty sure I said something unkind to Shannon 3 seconds before this about not caring where she
stood because she was short, and Tricia went into full Mama Bear mode to protect her and Gracie and
 her daughter just looked adorable and stood there. (also can we talk about that tree bokeh - PRAISE HANDS)

Gracie and her sweet Gwen.

And I had to shoot some double pregnancy pictures for Emily & Tricia while the light was perfect outside! 

We really did not stop laughing the entire afternoon.

Gorgeous Tricia.

Ok. Picture time. HAhahhaa, Emily. 

We really don't take ourselves too seriously. 

Mrs. Fitzgerald & Mrs. Smith took these! Meanwhile, we were dying laughing over their commentary.

LOVE these women soooo much!!!

Serious THANK YOU to Shan for shooting for me. You're the best backup in the world.

 Having everyone bless us with their presence really meant so much to me.
I know our love language is quality time, but it amazes me how loved you can feel knowing your people
drove 2 or 3! hours to celebrate your sister and her baby, and to rejoice with you.

And thanks to everyone for making me laugh harder that day than I had in months.
Never forgetting the laughter and JOY of Baby C's baby shower. Such good memories!

With so much love,
~ Jean Marie ~