Sunday, December 23, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Dear Friends & Family,

As many of you know, 2012 was a nutty year for us. We wanted to give you a visual snapshot of our life this year.

Sam worked 2 full time jobs: as teacher & nurse. Add to that hubby & daddy & wow... let’s just take a nap. Sugar became a night nurse’s friend & the doughnut holes got him through the 3 a.m. low. God graciously kept us pressing on  & we made it through!  

Julie held down the fort as well as grew Life Verse Design, designed books for Tyndale, led bible studies, did more family photography, & coached soccer. 

My Favorite Little Mister is as passionate as his parents & this year the passions were botany, owls, reading, piano, & cello. 

Sunshine Girl's passions include art, soccer, comic books, homework, piano & reading.

Pumpkin Poo's passions include art, puppies, dolls, ballet, & books. 

{Can you tell reading is a theme in our family?!} 

We wish you a very MERRY Christmas & a RESTFUL New Year.

 {here is an out-take}

{& here is Sunshine Girl 
after my good friend called it a wrap, 
she stood there enthralled in her Spiderman book 
until we had to pry it out of her hands! That's my girl!}

Grace & Peace, the Chens  

Friday, December 14, 2012


Like all Americans, I am grieving the tragedy of lives lost today in Connecticut.

Like all mommies, I am hugging my kiddos a little longer, looking at their sweet faces & counting my blessings that they are snug in bed, safe & sound.

I am completely baffled, shocked, sickened & brokenhearted that innocent lives are lost every day.

And we all ask, "Why?" "How on earth can this possibly happen?"

And all I can think of may sound like a cliche, but it is truth.

All we need is LOVE.
All we need is healing.
All we need is to do unto others as we would want them to do unto us.

We all have brokenness in our lives and I believe only Jesus can heal those cracks, mend our hearts, and make us whole. He came to save the lost. He came for the brokenhearted. NOT for those who "have it all together" (which is not possible anyways!) This Christmas we celebrate His arrival as human form, the best gift of all.

I hope the country (& world!) takes this precious gift as their own, receives His love & forgiveness to experience hope, love, freedom, peace, and new life.

Just think if we really lived out my life verse, Ephesians 3:14-21, KNOWING & EXPERIENCING the LOVE of GOD how much this broken world would change as we would be empowered to love one another.

My prayers, tears, and love is with Connecticut.

Grace & Peace,

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Custom Work: Little Lamb

I customized this print for a customer today who emailed me asking for the "Mother, You're one of His precious little lambs" to be added to the bottom of the print.

Her mother is 86 years old & a woman who visits her weekly tells her during each visit that she is one of her little lambs. So, in turn the mother calls herself one of her little lambs.


It reminded me of James 1, caring for widows. (I am not sure that this woman is a widow, but am making the assumption.) What a blessing in this world that we have people to reach out and care for the elderly & make them feel so loved, as little lambs.

No matter how old you are, you are still God's little lamb.

Grace & Peace,

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Custom Work: Wedding Keepsake

Hi you all! I hope your Christmas season is merry & bright.

I just wanted to share with all of you this amazing image I had the joy of creating for a very sweet customer. It will be a gift for her sister-in-law & new hubby!

I love creating custom work. If you have an image & quote you'd like me to work with, please see my ETSY shop for pricing & email me at

Grace & Peace,

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Christmas Worship

One of my favorite things about the Christmas season is the music. I LOVE traditional Christmas songs & it is a joy to sing along.

This year, the biggest gift I am giving my 3 children is my time. All of me. Fully present {you know, not multi-tasking in your head your to-do list while you are spending time playing on the floor with your child, which is soooo typical of me, the do-er}.

We started an advent devotional which the kids are totally digging. I am sure it's partly due to their love of art, but each night as I read to them out of the Scriptures, they color their ornament to hang on their own special tree. Even my 5 year old has made comments about reading about Jesus & connecting it with what she is learning in preschool. Blesses my heart {the devos I am using are a little over her head.}

I am trying to savor the moments & truly worship this Christmas, instead of being caught up in the busyness of the season. I hope you will slow down and do the same.

The magic is all around us! He is in us. He is with us. Emmanuel!

OH & I almost forgot: I am giving free shipping this week & even combining it with my buy 3 8x10 prints & receive the 4th FREE offer! I am hoping you buy meaningful Christmas gifts to bless others with beauty and truth for their lives.

If you are purchasing the 3 8x10's to get the 4th FREE, simply write in that 4th print in the NOTES TO SELLER when you check out of my shop. {ie: please do not put it in your cart}

And the THANKFUL coupon code is in the checkout area also.

Grace & Peace,

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Red Couch with Friends {Downers Grove Photography}

 One of my very favorite things about being a photographer is photographing friends. Especially those "life long friends" like these guys. We have known them since college when we were in Intervarsity together & they are near & dear to my heart.

 On of my passions as a photographer is not only snapping a picture, but rather, telling a story. To capture someone's personality and spirit is the ultimate goal. To show true life is compelling. Above you see what Daddy-S was known for in college: sleeping in is cave. Nowadays, he sleeps on the couch surrounded by his beautiful daughters!

 If you knew this family, you would agree that the above image should definitely be their Christmas card. If you want a good laugh, hang out with these guys on a Saturday night & ask for his real life stories to be told as Mommy S giggles her contagious laugh!

 Another thing I love about them is their girls. I love how they are such a mix of the parents & yet all so different (& sweet I might add!)

Thank you again for allowing me to create these memories for you! Love you guys!

Grace & Peace,

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

6 Grandkids 6 + Under! (Downers Grove Photography}

A couple weeks ago at my red couch photo shoot, I had the joy of photographing my friend's family of 6 as well as her sister's family & the grandparents. We had so much fun & I am soooo glad "J" brought the silly glasses as the kids went wild.

Some things to note about this shoot:

1. SWEETEST Grandpa EVER.... while I was finishing up with the family before them, I could over hear him teaching his grandsons about the forest... & they are IN LOVE with their grandpa. It was so sweet. You can tell this man has waited his whole life to have this role & he thrives at it.

2. You have to love the grandma too (btw: most beautiful grandma you have ever seen, no?!) as she licks the lolly her grandson is sticking in her face!

3. So glad I snapped a pic of the sweet little grand daughter before she decided to melt down :( poor little thing is missing from some of the photos.

4. Also so fun to see families growing! The last couple we mentored when they were back in college & now we are all raising our families together!

I am honored to have created these memories for them!

Grace & Peace,

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Highs & Lows of Halloween 2012

 {Pumpkin-Poos aka "Hot Dog Girl"}

High: being adorable. being creative. getting TONS of candy & smiles.

Low: walking "too far" ... she was SPENT & mommy making her wear gloves, making it difficult to grab that candy when people let you pick out your own piece.

 {Sunshine Girl aka "Balloon Girl"}

High: being sweet & sunshiny. being creative. getting TONS of candy & getting to practice being her new career goal: a balloon girl who will work at the zoo, giving away balloons to children for free.

Low: the huge balloon bouquet tied around her wrist somehow loosened & flew away at house FIVE. ugh. resulting in no "costume" & people asking, "what are you?!"

{My Favorite Little Mister aka "Ranger's Apprentice"}

High: being handsome. being super creative. getting carried away in his latest book series, that inspired the costume. HAND - MAKING the cloak with Daddy, thank you very much youtube!

Low: the WIND. it kept blowing is hood & cloak back, thus making it look like he had a piece of fabric on his winter coat. oh, he was heart broken. did not even trick-or-treat the majority of the time. also, his quiver full of hand made arrows kept falling off is shoulder strap.

Mommy's High: Seeing how amazingly creative my kids were in coming up with these costumes & making them together!

Mommy's Low: Seeing my son heartbroken after all of his hard work, as the costume did not fit as he wanted, due to windy conditions. Seeing my daughter watch her little sis get ALL the compliments of how "cute & adorable" she was, as she (the big sis) (who is BEAUTIFUL by the way) stands there & is asked "what are you?" "well, I was a balloon girl, but my balloons blew away...." She stuck with it & did well though.

Hope your trick or treating was fun!

Grace & Peace,

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Christmas Card Designs Available through Life Verse

 Classy Style Christmas card {front & back}

 Elegant Style Christmas card {front & back}

 Vintage Style Christmas card {front & back}

 Rejoice Vintage Style Christmas card {front & back}

  Frames Style Christmas card {front & back}

  Stripes Style Christmas card {front & back}

  Filmstrip Style Christmas card {front & back}

  Simple Blues Style Christmas card {front & back}

 Simple Reds Style Christmas card {front & back}

Since I have been busy editing all of my red couch shots, I thought I would give you a preview of the Christmas cards available through Life Verse Design. 

Each card is a 2-sided flat 5x7 card, printed full color & includes envelopes.

Pricing is as follows:
Set of 25 $64
Set of 50 $100
Set of 75 $137
Set of 100 $163
Set of 125 $195
Set of 150 $225
Set of 175 $260
Set of 200 $295
Set of 225 $330
Set of 250 $360

{plus $5 shipping no matter how large your order!}

If you are interested in ordering a set, please contact me at

Grace & Peace,

Love Covers All {Downers Grove Photography}

 This past weekend I held the 2nd annual Red Couch Event at a local park. I photographed 13 families in one {chilly} day & we had a ball!

 My dear friend, her loving hubby, and 3 adorable boys braved wearing "dress clothes", shivering lips & I was honored to photograph them.

 Snuggle up sweet baby boy!

A highlight was watching them sing & rock out with Daddy.

 Another highlight was witnessing the strong love between this couple, who have endured more than anyone's fair share of hardships in their life together. The joy of the Lord is their strength. I believe they are high school sweet hearts.

 My biggest highlight would have to be seeing how affectionate Daddy was with his boys. Both mama & dada have their PhD's {I am talking major brains in this family...}, but it is so clear that family & parenting comes first & they take such joy in their children.

 Here she is, the proud mama with her boys. Eldest brother was adopted from Uganda & middle brother was adopted from the Congo & baby boy was another gift from above. A true miracle.

OH, & you may recognize her hands {& feet} ... as she graciously allowed me to immortalize her & middle brother shortly after he came home. All of you adoptive parents, you can thank HER for the inspiration of these verses!


Grace & Peace,