Category Archives: blog

Julie Chen Photography Senior Photos — Miss S


Meet the beautiful Miss S. She’s a Jesus-loving full of worship girl who has a heart to serve. Bassoon player {not for long though, right?!} volleyball hitter. I believe an ideal day would be coffee with friends at Starbucks then off to the beach to chill. We had a ball last autumn in the VW Bug. Happy Graduation & many blessings for your future. I know YOU will change the world. Love you!


Grace & Peace,


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Meeting Caldecott Winner Dan Santat


{the crazy Chens with the even crazier Dan Santat! Yes, my hubby is wearing a shark suit.}

Yesterday we had the PURE JOY of meeting the 2015 Caldecott Winner Dan Santat. For a few years now we have followed his work, devoured his books, and greatly enjoyed his artwork. If anyone knows me, you know what a big deal this is. {Remember these encounters with my pal Laura Huliska Beith?!} Some people dream of meeting their favorite movie star, rock star, or sports hero, while I dream of meeting my favorite children’s book illustrators. Maybe it’s because illustration is what I studied in college so I deeply appreciate their skills, or maybe it’s because I design books for a living and I love working with illustrators, or maybe it’s just because I am a child at heart.

In any case, it truly was a dream come true.

{Now I would like to come see his home studio! hee hee hee}

Dan is so much more than a Caldecott winner. He deeply loves his family, is so passionate about art and creativity, is full of life and humor. We became even more endeared to him when we learned he is going to comicon with his boys, loves video games, comic books, and our kids’ favorite movie, The Iron Giant.

For the event, my family decided to dress as their favorite characters he has illustrated.Dan_Santat_Photo_02

{Dan Santat & Pumpkin Poos}

Pumpkin Poos went as Beekle. She was too much. In the car on the way to the event, she said, “Mommy, I feel so scared.” {being dressed up in front of people while NOT on Halloween to meet an author was a bit much for her.} All I could think was, “How do you think your father feels?! He is driving in a minivan wearing a shark costume!”

In any case, it is The Adventures of Beekle The Unimaginary Friend that was the 2015 Caldecott winner & it is such a sweet, fun story. Go pick it up!


{Dan Santat & Sunshine Girl striking a Ricky pose}

Sunshine Girl went as Ricky the mouse from Dan’s series that he illustrated for Dave Pilkey, Ricky Riccota’s Mighty Robot. They were signing that series at the event. Sunshine’s FAVORITE Dan Santat book though would definitely be Sidekicks. She has read it at least 10 times and has been known to sleep with it tucked under her pillow.


{Dan Santat & My Favorite Little Mister in their best picture day pose}

My Favorite Little Mister tried to get his best hat head & put on his silly faces for his favorite Dan Santat book Picture Day Perfection. OK, this is like full circle for my son, as he literally tried pulling this off for his 6th grade photos in the fall, but the photographer made him re-do the picture. So fun. Go for it son!


{Dan Santat & Sam the shark}

Sam went as a shark in honor of Dan’s Carnivores book. Yes, full out. Bought the costume this week. It was all his idea. When Dan released Carnivores, he did a fun little promo video which you can see here. PLEASE go watch it. You will not regret it. And BUY THE BOOK. It is so funny.

OK, so Sam & Dan are like brothers from another mother. While Dan was describing his childhood, I could not help but laugh: asian parents who wanted them to grow up to be doctors?! check. Video games?! check check. Comic books?! check. check. check. They would so be friends. If only we lived in sunny California.


We left our meeting very happy campers with a whole stack of books signed. I only wish I could have brought his Always Lots of Heines at the Zoo, but I could not find that one anywhere. Boo. Next time Dan.Dan_Santat_Photo_07

Here is a small sampling of Dan’s work. Be sure to pick them up for your reading pleasure, ahem, I mean for your KIDS’ reading pleasure! And, don’t forget to shop local.

Again, you can follow Dan here.

Grace & Peace,


P.S. A Chicago Tribune reporter was there & we might make the Printer’s Row section of Sunday’s Tribune. Ha! So fun!

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My Thoughts on Quitting


Today marks my hubby’s last day as a neuro-cardiac ICU nurse. What this means is big changes for our family. A chapter of our lives has closed.

About 5 1/2 years ago, my hubby took a 2 year sabbatical from his anatomy-physiology teaching job to pursue his life long dream to do something clinical with all of that head knowledge and he got his masters level degree in nursing. It seemed to be a perfect fit: he is an amazing teacher & nurses are known for truly teaching you how to take care of yourself and compassionately help you through your hardest times. His personality and passion fit the bill. He then spent one full year working 2 — YES, TWO—full time jobs: teaching days & nursing nights. 7. days. a. week. {needless to say, it was not a fun year & anyone who met him at this time, I just feel sorry for as you did not get to know the real Sam.}

His amazing boss allowed him to go part time at the year mark, and then extended her graciousness to allow him to work 1—12 hour shift a week for the last year. All the while he has been teaching full time & recently added to his responsibilities department chair of the biology department. {throughout this process, he determines that teaching remains a passion & the ability to train up hundreds of nurses a year is a big vision for him in his career—to be able to influence the masses.}

As you can tell, it’s been a very “full” 5+ years, but with the busyness comes emptiness and you begin to wonder: do I work to live or live to work?! He has been wrestling with this for months. I was against him quitting, wanting all of this craziness to be “worth it” in the end & wanting him to be a nurse as he is GREAT, but then again, I am also sick of seeing my hubby work so much & stressed & missing out on LIFE.

Another influence was his patients themselves. They are unfortunately on their death beds & do you know what message they gave my hubby week by week? Spend as much time with your family as possible. ENJOY life. {These words coming while he’s missing the girls soccer games & our sons cello concerts, etc…} Not one of them told him, “I just wish I would have worked more!”

We are both so grateful to God for allowing us the privilege to actually have the freedom to pursue our dreams. We recognize most people do not have this option and are bound by money or debt or other limitations that do not allow them to just go for it. We are also thankful that this whole endeavor was never about money. It always made me so sad when people would comment how we must really be “rolling in it now” or “double dipping” as they obviously do not know our hearts nor know how we value our money. In fact, we essentially did not see a penny from all of his work. Rush University on the other hand saw a LOT of those pennies 🙂 but not us. This pursuit was always about fulfilling dreams and helping others.

I hope in the months to come my hubby truly slows down and feels refreshed. I also hope that someday God will open another door for him to use all of these nursing skills. The notes from patients and families have meant the world to us and made this all worth it. Nurses are truly amazing people who pour out their lives in order to humbly serve others.


Thanks for listening!

Grace & Peace,




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4 Generations {Julie Chen Photography}


This past August, I had the privilege of photographing 4 generations of family in honor of the great grandfather’s 90th birthday. I honestly do not know if I had ever met anyone who was 90 years old in my life, and I was amazed at his spunk.IF5A9571_WEBIF5A9602_WEBIF5A9762_WEB

What a loving family! I hope they treasure these memories forever!


Grace & Peace,



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Flash Life Verse Design Sale!


Remember a couple weeks ago when I shared my heart about the importance of Scripture art in your home? 

Well, I have some good news for you:


Because I am SO PASSIONATE about getting Scripture art in  your home, I am offering a buy one get one FREE sale on any 8×10 fine art print in my shop {sorry: no custom work included}, + FREE SHIPPING on all orders. No coupon code needed. At check out in the special instructions box, just write in the name and color scheme of the art you would like for free.

Offer good now through Monday, January 26 on 8×10 fine art prints only.

You may use the offer as many times as you like & please pass it along to a friend!


Also, I am guest blogging today over on & discussing creative ways to get Scripture into your child’s heart. Please join me there!


Grace & Peace,


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