Early on in my foster training days, I was turned on to Karyn Purvis and her Empowered to Connect crew. After reading and listening for two years, I was finally able to attend a conference this past weekend.

Oddly enough, before yesterday, I always felt disempowered by Karyn’s teachings. I didn’t doubt that they were spot on. That she was right. But I didn’t seem to understand how to do what was right. Only that what I was doing was wrong.

It felt like I heard more don’ts than dos.

But then the conference. Cue lights and music.

I might just need my hand held more than most, but the videos showing Karyn literally holding kids’ hands as they disobeyed made it finally start to click. I walked away with a list of tangible ideas and practical strategies on how to help our boys. And it’s already making a difference.

My biggest takeaway though wasn’t from Karyn or anyone on stage. It was from a friend sitting next to me. During a break, she casually used the word “alpha” to describe Karyn’s presence.

That was it. Alpha.

Suddenly so much clicked for me.

I could see Karyn’s strength and grace interwoven. Structure always coming through nurture. Not one versus the other.

Too often I error by choosing. Picking punitive or permissive. Rather than finding the sweet spot that’s neither.

Karyn instead loves with and, not or. Always comforting while standing firm despite the anger or disrespect she might be shown.


Not the domineering or tyrannical I fear. But not the mousy and meek I can swing to instead.

I can do this kind of alpha. This strength and grace.

Or I can at least try. And keep trying.


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  1. Krista

    I was also heartbroken by her passing. So much to teach and such a unique and loving approach makes her passing feel too soon. I am so greatful she has imparted her passion and knowledge to some great leaders, they did a great job on the conference, though I still missed her face and heart. Loved your poetic perspective on this great lady.

  2. Abigail

    I’ve never met Karyn but, like you, I have seen her videos, read her writing, went to the conference. Hearing of her passing this week broke my heart, strong emotions for a woman I never actually met or even saw in person. However, as a family preparing to adopt, I am confident her training, her research, and (most of all) her example, is going to have a significant impact on the health and joy of my family, especially on the children we adopt. For this I am forever grateful.

  3. Jeannine

    My husband & I attended a webcast of last weekend’s conference at our church. The teaching is simply amazing, and we are so encouraged by the videos and speakers. I’m grateful your friend helped with that wonderful insight to help you feel less defeated. Thank you for your blog and sharing your experiences!

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