For 2 years I applied to Beauty Revived as a photographer for their campaigns. For 2 years, my name was never on the list. Until one time I reluctantly looked at the list and there it was towards the bottom, Gypsy Soul Photography, LLC. I couldn't believe my eyes. I couldn't contain my excitement. I HAD BEEN CHOSEN! I was chosen as one of Beauty Revived 50 Beautiful Mothers photographers!
And then reality set in, I have a 4 week old baby. I am too tired and too busy for this... But then this was an answer to a prayer. A reassurance from Him that everything was gonna be ok.
So I set out to find my deserving mom. I received tons of amazing nominations. Wonderfully strong women! I wish I could have told each and every one of their stories! And then on the last day of nominations I received Karen's story. Her friend Andrea had been a client of mine and her words stopped me in my tracks,
“When we think of strength, we think of muscles and large men. But my friend, Karen, has an incredible, deep strength. She is one of the most amazing women and mothers that I know. The hardships and trials that she has endured can hardly be imagined by most. Karen was married at 19 to her high school sweetheart and found out she was pregnant with twins shortly after. After her beautiful twins were born, she became so weak that she couldn’t even hold them. After countless doctor visits, she was diagnosed with a rare disease called polymyositis. Through all this, she still cared for her twin babies as she went through steroid treatments. Once she finally had a treatment that was working and helping, her and her husband decided to try again for a child. They were pregnant and so excited! They shared their news with their loved ones and then she miscarried that child. They tried again and she miscarried again. She got pregnant again. She delivered her precious Lily at 22 weeks as a stillborn. She went through the agony of labor, as her husband and children’s hearts broke as well. She stayed strong and held her baby for as long as she could before it was time to take her away. With her broken heart and her many losses, Karen still only thought of others. She began a ministry called Forget Me Not Ministries, which ministers to mothers who have experienced loss either through miscarriage, stillbirth, abortion, or adoption. Her heart yearned to bring comfort and love to so many mothers who experienced loss just like her. Her ministry has comforted hundreds of moms, if not more! As her heart healed, she followed the calling she felt God placed on her for adoption. She worked diligently to raise enough money to be able to adopt the exact child He had for them. After they went through the whole process to get approved for adoption through Christian Family Care, they were chosen by a mother! Karen came alongside this birth mother throughout the pregnancy and loved on her and shared God’s love with her. When it came time to deliver, the doctors told Karen that the sweet baby girl had hydranencephaly and wouldn’t survive any longer than a year. She was devastated! How could she be losing another baby? But God knew best! They named this sweet girl Ember Rose. Meanwhile, inside Karen, a baby was growing and she didn’t even know it. She struggled to let her heart connect with this child, but found it impossible not to. This sweet boy grew each month and she delivered him healthy and strong! She named him Jones and he truly is a miracle! About 3 years after having Jones, Karen got pregnant again. This was a blessing that wouldn’t make it to full term. This sweet baby boy was born at 21 weeks. She named him PJ after her father and sat at yet another one of her children’s funerals. No woman should ever have to deal with all the heartbreak that she did, but in true Karen form, she only thought of others. She took every supplement she could find to ensure that she would be able to pump and produce breastmilk. She knew she would never get to feed it to PJ, but her brother and sister-in-law were adopting and she wanted a legacy for PJ. She agonized and pushed through the pain and pumped a freezer full of breastmilk for her sweet adopted nephew.
Through all her heartbreak and juggling life with 3 children, she defied all odds and received her bachelor’s degree and went on to get her master’s degree. She works at Phoenix Children’s Hospital as a Child Life Specialist and is a blessing to every child she encounters there. She is truly incredible and has made beauty from ashes. Countless other women have been blessed because of her. She has taken her hardships and struggles and used them to help others.
There are so many reasons that I probably have even left out as to why Karen should be chosen for this project and why she is the essence of beauty revived!
Thanks for giving me the opportunity to write about my amazing friend Karen.”
I barely got halfway through her story before I was bawling my eyes out (postpartum hormones! Wait. Who am I kidding? I am just a crier)
Anyways. What an incredible woman! As I held my newborn in my arms and my 4 year old ran around, I couldn't contain my feelings. This was her! This was the story I needed to tell!
After reaching out and meeting up with her, it was settled.
Then I had to do a call to action. I needed to gift her some amazing items to make HER feel special. (You know what is even more special?! On the day of her photo session, she gifted ME with a super cute wood burned chicken sign and Arizona ornament!!! Psst check out her work here!)
Luckily I know some pretty amazing people who jumped at the chance to help! I was able to donate hair and makeup, an outfit and a sweet little gift basket.
After she was all dolled up, we headed out. Down the road from my house on Castle Hot Springs in Morristown, Arizona. The location was beautiful and so was she.
I am so grateful to have been chosen for this campaign because it introduced me to one of the most amazingly selfless and beautiful women I have ever met. Thank you Karen for letting me tell your story. Your heart is gold.
You can find more info about the ministry Karen started with her friend Becky on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/PalmcroftForgetMeNot.
Want to know more about Beauty Revived? Check them out here.
Thank you Tanner Davidson for the hair styling, Alexis Perez Artistry for the makeup, LuLaRoe Laura Davidson for the beautiful dress, Stephanie Ortiz for the Gold Canyon Candle, & Lexi Pignato for the Roden + Fields products.