Dr. Karyn Purvis: …and She Could Also Draw Cute Bunnies

Farmer Herman and the Flooding Barn is new children’s book about 344 people working together to solve a big problem and is illustrated by 344 different people who are counting on the power of unity to bring hope to over 400,000 kids in foster care. This is the 2nd in a series of posts about just a few of those illustrators.

The first time I met Karyn Purvis was at a conference at Saddleback church around 2008. I was doing a breakout session that day and was going over some notes at a table outside of the worship center. I was fighting a cold at the time and coughing a bit while I worked there. Suddenly, I heard this sweet southern voice behind me as something was tossed over my shoulder and on to the table in front of me, “Hey hon, it sounds like you’ve got a cough there. This will help.”

Karyn Purvis had given me a packet of cold and flu medicine. From that day forward, Karyn became such an important part of our journey to raise kids from hard places. In the years to follow, I was at a number of the same conferences Karyn was speaking at and I consistently observed her responding to hundreds of overwhelmed and often desperate parents looking for hope. Karyn always delivered.

This past year, in October of 2015, Dr. Purvis was speaking at the Tapestry Conference here in the Dallas area and I happened to be speaking that day as well. Backstage in the green room she and I were visiting and I told her about the project we were working on to publish a children’s book about 344 people working together to move a flooding barn in order to raise awareness for kids and families in foster care. I also told her that we were getting 344 folks to chip in and illustrate it and ask if she might be interested in contributing a drawing. At the time of that conversation, Dr. Purvis was becoming increasingly ill. In fact, that day she spoke from the stage sitting down. So, backstage, with a blanket wrapped around her shoulders, this was her dependably warm response to my request:

“Honey, I would be more than happy to do that. Right now I’m feeling a little cold, but if you send the info to my assistant I will get something to you.”

A couple of weeks later, I got an email with a drawing of a bunny attached. I was always excited to get new drawings from folks for the book and loved seeing what people created. However, this was one I was particularly grateful for.

Karyn Purvis went to be with Jesus this past spring on April 12th.   I am told that the conference where we talked backstage in the fall was the last time she spoke publicly and it was the last time I saw her. From the first day I talked to her at that conference in California until the last, the soundtrack that followed her everywhere she went was kindness.

There’s been no greater champion for children in the orphan care movement and as it turns out, she could also draw cute bunnies. Hers is on the dedication page of the book and represents advocates everywhere who spend their lives speaking up for kids.

To learn more about Farmer Herman and the Flooding Barn, the accompanying classroom kit materials, and how to find your fit in foster care, go to MoveTheBarn.org.