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April 12, 2017

Hope on the Horizon: Remembering Dr. Karyn Purvis

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1 year ago today, Dr. Karyn Purvis–internationally renowned child development expert, popular speaker, author, and passionate advocate for vulnerable children–went to be with the Lord.

On August 20, 2014, several of foster care’s leading thinkers met in Oklahoma City to share ideas that are making a difference. Dr. Karyn Purvis–with her trademark compassion and her hair cut short from the effects of cancer–shared many thoughts with the group. Here are a few highlights–

God has a plan.

We serve a God of extravagant love. It’s the God of extravagant love that we see in the Gospels when parents bring their children to Jesus. He scoops them up in His arms and He holds them and He blesses them. And He gives them all that He is. That’s extravagant love.

This God that we serve also has an extravagant plan. And even when we don’t think the plan worked, there’s still a plan. This is the God Who, from the foundations of the earth, prepared a Lamb Who was slain.

God made a fabulous plan for children that when they were born into loving homes that they would be nurtured, adored, rocked, snuggled, carried, and cared for tenderly–and that when that baby cried, someone would come. Millions of children in the world don’t have that experience. And so when the divine plan of a Sovereign God–being held, being loved, being cuddled, being nurtured–is not available to these children, they come to us. These children have a different brain, a different body, a different biology, and a different belief system … which leads to different behavior.

The person they were supposed to trust became the source of their terror.

God offers hope.

I love the teachings of Jesus, and I love following Him through the Gospels. I love that Jesus looked at the behaviors of the woman at the well, or the behaviors of the woman caught in adultery, and He spoke to their heart–their need. That’s the same Sovereign God Who brings us to the children.

Not everyone should foster or adopt, but it is our DNA because we are made in His DNA to care for the vulnerable.

Do you want to know the most phenomenal, miraculous, amazing thing of all? God’s original design is the same design that brings healing to the traumatized brain, the traumatized body, the traumatized biology, and the traumatized belief system. There is an answer to everything that has happened to our children, but it’s going to take us understanding where they’ve come from and what they need. It means I simplify my life, and I change out some of the chaos in my home, and I do different things at school, at church, and in the community.

But we know there’s an answer to help even the most difficult children heal.

God wants to meet our needs.

Many years ago I used to take my 2 little boys to visit widow ladies in the church in another community. My oldest boy was 4 years old. And one day as we left a widow’s house she said, “May I give your son candy?” I said, “Sure!” and my son put out his chubby little 4-year-old hand. The widow filled it to the brim with candy. And I turned to him and said, “Sweetie, what do you say?” And he said, “More please!”

We serve a Sovereign God Who wants to meet our needs and the needs of those He brings to us to love and to serve. The hope is found in John 15:5. So I say, let’s say, “Yes, Lord! And more please!”


I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

John 15:5


With gratitude to God for a life well-lived, we remember and appreciate Dr. Karyn Purvis.

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