Monday, July 26, 2010

behind the scenes: taste & see!

Taste and see that the LORD is good;
blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.
Psalm 34:8

on july 3 we went up to michigan to carry on our family tradition of blueberry picking!

the kids had a great time searching for the biggest, juiciest berries (the size of grapes!)

we actually picked 10 pounds worth!

after we had picked the berries last year, i thought to myself just how beautiful and delicious they are. i kept thinking about the verse, "taste & see that the Lord is good..." and decided to use my favorite little mister's hands holding out his best picks.

the above is my final art, available here.

this verse, and actually all of psalm 34, has meant a lot to me over the years, as encouragement and huge challenge... verse 1 proclaims that i will extol (or praise) the Lord at all times ... really? will i? what a challenge. the last time i prayed about that as my pastor was teaching through this psalm, i went through the biggest trial and heart ache of my life. for the first time i understood the psalm which talks about the concept of worship being a sacrifice.

then, moving on through the psalm it gets to the taste & see part.

do i really believe that the Lord is good? or do i just think the things He gives me are good?
and, what does it really mean to taste the Lord?

when you taste something, you partake of it. it must enter in. you experience it with many of your senses. not just thinking. but, feeling. you either like it or you do not.

when thinking through a visual food to represent the tasting, fruits came to mind since they are naturally more sweet & tasty than other foods. apples have too much of a symbolism with the garden of eden; bananas would like silly; juicy grapes remind others of wine; then, after taking the photo of the handful of blueberries, i thought, "this is it!"

as i had mentioned in an earlier post, i also am a book designer for tyndale house publishers. i am currently working on the title craving grace, which utilizes psalm 34:8 as it's theme verse.

here are some top secret cover comps to share with you, the world!

in the above cover, i wanted the woman just truly contemplating if God is really as sweet as this honey. OH, i should tell you, the other main part of the book (besides God's grace & receiving it in your life & tasting His goodness) is that the author, lisa velthouse, goes on a 6 month fast from sweets and only allows herself the natural sweetness of honey.

now, at first i thought, "oh, that's nice." you see, i do not consider myself to have a sweet tooth (my hubby on the other hand does :) BUT, when strawberry rhubarb pie or chocolate chip cookies are calling my name, just one sliver, just one cookie, wow. do i have a sweet tooth!

so, i have much respect for lisa who did the fast & learned much through it.

the above cover taken on weathered stairs (which no one could tell except me i suppose) is to symbolize the salescopy of "stumbling towards a God who surprise" in that we go through this life climbing our way through the dirt, grunge, and brokenness of our hearts. then, we are able to rest, reach in, and partake of the sweetness of His grace.

that's me in the above cover, COVERED with sticky honey. oh my, a very fun photoshoot. my concept behind this cover is that the jar of honey (symbolizing God's grace & love) is just overflowing out & pouring over His children. it's held out to you as you crave His grace in your life too. it's not just for her, but for everyone.

and, alas, the final chosen cover; a variation on the above image, just with the jar being tipped more to pour out some more honey.

oh, one more thing to hopefully entice you all to buy the book (which does not come out until next spring, i believe...) in the book, lisa relays a story of a rabbi giving the pentateuch to his kindergarten class. fresh. new. leather. he then goes around & puts wax paper on top of each and every book. he then goes around a third time and pours out blobs of honey on the wax paper. he tells the kids to taste & says to remember that this is what the Lord tastes like!

oh, my! i just think that is the coolest image of partaking in the goodness & sweetness of God & His Word! when you read it, does it taste good to you? do you take it in? does it transform you?

well, that's it. that's my thinking. hope you have enjoyed!

most of all, i hope in your own life you truly do taste and see that the Lord is good! He is. amen.

grace & peace,

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

i {heart} you

i love you because
you are sweet
you are my shadow
you are silly
you want me ALL THE TIME

i love you because
you are mine

my gifts from above

i love you because
you love me endlessly
you love me without restraint
you love me in your own cuddly ways

grace & peace always to you,

Monday, July 12, 2010


a few weeks ago, i stumbled upon a very fun & inspirational blog, and i immediately felt a connection with allison, as a mommy, a Christian, a homemaker, and the fact that she went to wheaton college (which i would love to go to someday :)

anyways, in honor of her baby turning one, she is having an online giveaway, where her followers get the gifts, not her cute baby boy.

i am participating! so, please head on over to her blog & post a comment for your chance to win a framed 5x7 piece of art ... of your choice.

spread the word! OH, and she is also posting a coupon code in which you will receive a free gift with any purchase if you enter in the keywords to my etsy checkout "notes to seller"!

here's the link:

hope you win!

grace & peace,

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

my other {other} life

in my other {other} life, that is . . . besides being a wife, mommy, and co-owner / creative director of life verse design, i am a book designer. for the past 13 years, i have designed books for tyndale house publishers (and a couple for zonderkidz and willow creek association).

i had my first interview at tyndale the day before i married my wonderful hubby almost 13 years ago now. (actually, i had applied to tyndale before that, but was rejected based on my portfolio!)

i worked in-house for 7 years, then after i became prego w/number 2, i quit to be stay at home full time, but literally the week after i quit, my boss called with a freelance project and ever since then i have at least one book on my plate.

i cannot tell you what a blessing tyndale has been to me and my family. they are an incredible company, built on the strong leadership and noble character of dr. kenneth taylor (i still remember feeling like a little girl, meeting with him in his office, discussing book design as i sat on this over sized leather couch with my feet dangling down!)

in any case, this bookshelf represents my life's work (well, some of it). it is jam packed 2 rows deep of books i have designed over the last years of my life. books that have changed lives, touched people's hearts, and brought laughter and tears.

i was honored to be a part of the left behind series, as i got to follow after my wonderful art director to finish out the design she had so strongly set. (i designed books 4-12). they are now being repackaged and i got a sneak peek... they look AWESOME!

i have loved using my illustration background and combining it with the more technical skills of design. (i went to school to get a BFA in illustration, always knowing i wanted to illustrate children's books.)

the design team at tyndale is so strong. i am honored to still be a part of them.

here are a few of my favorite designs
(though there are many more & each book has a special story):
the Jesus Storybook Bible
written by sally lloyd-jones
illustrated by jago

ok, this is not a tyndale book, but i got the job through an agent whom i worked w/at tyndale.

as i mentioned before, i LOVE children's picture books, so i jumped at the chance of designing this one (even though sunshine girl was a mere 12 weeks old when i got the job). to work with an artist as great as jago was a thrill. he took my concepts & thumbnails & brought them to life through color, texture, and style that i only dreamt of.

this bible is a MUST HAVE. it has won many awards and more than that, it will bless you and your children.

seriously, no matter your age it will touch your heart. the way sally conveys God's great love for us is remarkable.
go get it now :)

the growing reader phonics bible
written by joy mackenzie
illustrated by jill newton

the growing reader phonics bible has a special place in my heart because:
a. the writing is so creative. i am seriously amazed at this book
b. i LOVE the art: the texture, the color, the whimsicalness! jill is great & has many other picture books (as does jago!)
c. it was the first picture book i ever did . . . yes, tyndale gave me a 200+ page bible to be my first picture book . . . ahhh!

it was a joy every step of the way and i was just on the tyndale website and learned it is out of print. boo-hoo i say! if you can find it, get your hands on this one too!

the lineage of grace
written by francine rivers
illustrated by vivienne flesher

this series design was a huge risk for tyndale, as it is (obviously) so contemporary and abstract for christian historical fiction. i LOVE vivienne's art and actually had tried proposing her for many other books i had designed, which were never chosen, so to get to work with her (finally) was a dream come true. (sidenote: i actually have 2 originals of hers in my home . . . yippeee! maybe i will show those later).

in any case, they went and now tyndale has repackaged the series in one compilation book and totally redesigned the look to be more of francine's "style" (the traditional historic fiction genre) & i must say, the cover is gorgeous and does better fit francine's look.

i LOVED working on these books and i actually read them. (they are some of the few books i have actually read that i designed!) francine is a beautiful writer and i love how she brought in so much of the jewish culture that you may not have known to make these stories come to life in such a powerful way.

another must have!

bringing up boys & bringing up girls
written by dr. james dobson

these books were fun because the photoshoots were SO fun. we actually put peanut butter on the boy's cheek so that the dog would lick him, and for the girl's shoot we did a million great shots, both indoors and outdoors at a horse farm (it was impossible to narrow down the images!)

for these covers, i probably showed at least 100 comps combined btwn the two. literally. wow.

but, it was worth it, and dobson recently wrote to the tyndale team to say that bringing up girls is his favorite cover ever for one of his own books. yippeee! thank you.

ok, i should have been in bed an hour ago.

i am obviously very passionate about my work & love my book design & could talk about each one. (but that would be another blog :)

last but not least, shaped by God
written by max lucado
most of the photos are by michael hudson

this book is special to me because it was my first full color book i ever did (well before art directing a children's illustrator to create paintings). max's words are so strong and inspirational. i would recommend any & all of his books.

michael's photography is just another story. ahhh is all i can say. he's got the eye, the technique, and his work is exquisite. i loved being able to work with him and by observing him shoot, i learned a lot for my new venture of life verse.

well, really, i did not plan to write my own book here, but i did. i will hit the hay. hope you've enjoyed getting to know a bit more of my other life.

grace & peace,

Sunday, July 4, 2010

happy 4th of july!

happy 4th of july! it's hot over here & been a great weekend.

though i hate the idea of war, i am truly grateful & in awe of all of the men & women who so selflessly serve our county to ensure our future freedom. i salute you!

grace & peace,

Friday, July 2, 2010

my clippy angel

the hair clippy angel fairy visited my home today in the form of my pumpkin-poos!

during breakfast, her big brother decided to "decorate" her with all of the clippies we own. (she would have NEVER let her sister do this to her & in fact, when sunshine girl joined in the fun after dragging herself out of bed, the fun ended immediately... what is it about sisters?!)

i had to take pictures, as she was soooo cute & it was so funny. just a normal day at the chen's with a million clippies in her hair.

i dragged them to a very fun & challenging family photoshoot i had, and during the 45 minute drive there she literally pulled out all except 3. loads of entertainment! so note, next time you have a long trip, just load your girl's hair full of clippies & who needs the dvd to keep her busy?!

happy 4th of july!

grace & peace,