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Proof positive that God's grace IS extended to girls like you:
Josh Downs
Courtney Lee
and the wonderful life and home and love you enjoy every minute of every day.
Let your past go, Karen, today is who you are and what you deserve!
And you are blessed.


Karen, I saw a pin on Pinterest recently that literally knocked me to my knees. It says "Grace means that all of your mistakes now serve a purpose, instead of serving shame." Shame is what the Devil gives us. Grace is what God gives us.!

Jen Spain

It's hard to know what to do with a heavy heart sometimes, but one thing that helped me immensely when I felt the way you describe feeling now was reading Maya Angelou's book "Letter to my Daughter". You are a strong woman, as is she, and sometimes more strength is found in standing together. I apologize for taking up so much room in your comments, but if you haven't read it here's the intro:
"Dear Daughter,

This letter has taken an extraordinary time getting itself together. I have all along known that I wanted to tell you directly of some lessons I have learned and under what conditions I have learned them.

My life has been long, and believing that life loves the liver of it, I have dared to try many things, sometimes trembling, but daring, still. I have only included here events and lessons which I have found useful. I have not told how I have used the solutions, knowing that you are intelligent and creative and resourceful and you will use them as you see fit.

You will find in this book accounts of growing up, unexpected emergencies, a few poems, some light stories to make you laugh and some to make you meditate.

There have been people in my life who meant me well, taught me valuable lessons, and others who have meant me ill and, have given me ample notification that my world is not meant to be all peaches and cream.

I have made many mistakes and no doubt will make more before I die. When I have seen pain, when I have found that my ineptness has caused displeasure, I have learned to accept my responsibility and to forgive myself first, then to apologize to anyone injured by my misreckoning. Since I cannot un-live history, and repentance is all I can offer God, I have hopes that my sincere apologies were accepted.

You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them. Try to be a rainbow in someone's cloud. Do not complain. Make every effort to change things you do not like. If you cannot make a change, change the way you have been thinking. You might find a new solution.

Never whine. Whining lets a brute know that a victim is in the neighborhood.

Be certain that you do not die without having done something wonderful for humanity.

I gave birth to one child, a son, but I have thousands of daughters. You are Black and White, Jewish and Muslim, Asian, Spanish-speaking, Native American and Aleut. You are fat and thin and pretty and plain, gay and straight, educated and unlettered, and I am speaking to you all. Here is my offering to you."

Rachel C.

Karen, thank you for having the courage to share this. I am thankful for the things that God is unfolding in your heart.

Cate O'Malley

As a divorced (single) mom to two kids myself now, I totally get some of what's in your head. There are times when people say "your husband," and I don't correct them. Partly because I hate being part of a statistic. Partly because I wish it wasn't "ex," though not necessarily because I still want to be married to him. And partly because even though divorce happens all the time now, the more accepted norm will always be husband/wife/kids. Not single mom. Divorced mom. By herself mom.

nicole prather

karen i think it is the age of the late thirties when life becomes raw and no matter what around you is said you must feel it in your heart !! im there right now at 35 and it is sometimes bitter sweet because life becomes more clear but more harder to understand. you realize that control is an illusion and we dont have it !!! you are awesome and if I lived in Oregon I would love to sit with you and listen to your life !! i have read your blog everyday for probably like the last three years ( i am not proud of saying that outloud because it sounds stalkerish) but find your pictures and your stories calming !! dont know why but it is so true. i thank you everyday for sharing your life with complete strangers. Xxoxxoo Nicole


I am 32 and: You are the strongest woman I ever met (well, kind of met,, more read probably) and I am sorry for my bad english, but I admire you for reflecting publically. I hope it makes you feel better in any way. As for me and I think other readers as well it helps to struggle with my own life and I am so lucky and happy to know your blog. You are great!!




sorry "HUGS"! lol


You are a beautiful woman, inside and out, and you bring joy to the lives of your family, your students, and I am certain many other people. Every day I am grateful for the way you have taught me to use my camera to bring joy to the people in my life. There is no place for shame in your life. Only joy.


Someone said to me not to long ago when I struggled with something similar:

"you are just as worthy as anyone to give or receive the blessings from the Holy Spirit. The little side roads that all of us have drove down in life have been learning experiences and just that."

YOU karen are just as worthy as anyone. so am I (at least that's what I keep telling myself).


We ask for God's forgiveness and He gives it freely. Forgiving ourselves is the hard part. Hugs to you!


You are so raw and honest and open and real. That takes such courage. The fierce love you have for your family is so apparent with every word you write. And through your beautiful photos, theirs for you is just as apparent. That love is big enough to drown out the shame. Let it.

Jennifer Fike

Oh Karen, I admire your honesty and courage in sharing your life with all of us. Ross and Coley are proof that you've done an amazing job raising those two boys! It's hard to let go of the past but if it wasn't for the past you wouldn't be who you are today. Think of how lucky you are to have Josh in your life. You have a beautiful family to be thankful for. Don't dwell on the past.


After reading what you wrote, I cried. Then reread what you wrote. Then I called my mom. Then I reread what you wrote again and decided I had to comment. My mom left my dad when I was three. She was pregnant with my sister. She struggled and scrimped and worked like a dog to put food on the table and put herself through school with the two of us. She got her degree. Worked as a teacher. And eventually met my stepdad (who is AMAZING) She talks sometimes about her loneliness, her frustration of having to do it all on her own and the shame of bad decisions. But I really don't get that because we ALL make them. And she took the consequences and made them into a wonderful life. And that's grace.

You've taken some hard experiences and turned them into a beautiful and amazing family story. That takes grace, guts, courage, and strength. You should feel the opposite of shame. You should be PROUD of the life you've created.


Your words bring encouragement to so many others, Karen. Thank you for being real and wise and funny and for sharing! ((( HUGS )))


Karen - at church the other day our pastor made a comment that really stuck w/ me. When Jesus came he didn't hang out w/ the Pharisees instead he visited w/ the sinners. Those are the people Jesus preached to and tried his hardest to reach. We don't have to be perfect to be loved by God and we can't earn his grace. They are gifts given to all of us.

Becky T.

I have to say that I follow your blog because I admire your photography. Over time your posts have slowly made me feel like you are a friend. I know you are guarded and you should be online! I just love that you open up like this, so randomly. I am a very firm believer that God only gives you what you can handle. You were a in those situations (and are now) for a reason, Karen. You are a lot stronger than you give yourself credit for and you are an amazing role model for your children. I hope you can hold your head high and know that in your own mind.

And on the lighter side... You Rock! :-)


You are a beautiful, beautiful woman. Amen.


Karen... your photos are great. Your photography posts are great. Your holiday and travel posts are great. But...

Your deep-down-inner-self-exposed-for-all-to-read posts are the most beautiful, raw, honest, and amazing things I have ever read. I know you're not looking for sympathetic words. But just know that we all have our own shameful things to face. And seeing someone we admire be as open and honest as you are makes us feel not to alone. You have a beautiful family. And you wouldn't be who you are or appreciate what you have without going through what you did. Our past shapes us but doesn't have to define us.

I'll be moving from Florida to eastern Washington in a couple of months. If we ever get the chance to meet, I will buy you coffee and a dessert and tell you face-to-face how much you inspire me. Don't get weirded out, okay? ;)


God has showered you with His grace.

These songs came to mind when I read this. I hope they are of some comfort to you.


I randomly found your blog one day, I am NOT a blog reader or writer and I never have been, but there is something about your daily musings, amazing photos, and stories that keep me coming back for more. It's interesting to me that when I read your posts, you are always real and honest, some days your life seems perfect and others it's not, that's real life... My dad left my mom when she was pregnant with me so and I have a connection with her like noone else, she probably could understand and relate to some of your feelings... in fact, I might show her this post. It always helps to realize you're not alone. :-) Bless you and your wonderful family, don't forget the past, but don't allow it to criple you either. P.S. This is my first comment, even though I've been reading for some time now. -Holly

Gabriela Divine

Karen, oh Karen how you humble me - today and most every day. I wish you knew how much I admire you.


Goodbye Earl by the Dixie Chicks. That was one of mine :) I understand you completely. My oldest who weathered the storm with me is now 27 (and a fantastic man). I have 3 other blessings that came along later. God is my rock but there are still days when the same and regret try to swallow me allow. It is a battle - but somehow fighting it keeps me grateful and humble and joyful for the journey. You are a blessing!

mandy friend

karen, go buy Captivating by the Eldridges TODAY! if you don't, tell me and i will go buy it and leave it on your door tomorrow. it's the book that finally got it through my thick skull just how much God loves me, and though i've walked a very different path than you, i think the Lord would speak through it to you as well. call me when you're done, we'll go out to circle j and tlk if you're up for it.

Nicole Reid

I certainly don't have the answer for you but perhaps forgiving yourself and hand all the shame over to God so he can heal you. Women and especially once we become mothers, feel so much guilt for every little thing that we're always so down on ourselves. God has and has always had, a plan for you. Everything you have been through, good, bad and ugly, has made you the person you are and I must say, you're pretty darn awesome! I know I'm not alone in thinking that either.


Truth. I didn't listen to the music.

Even without, tears are in my eyes. Part of your story follows my heart (PG and becoming a single mom). It was hard. It still is hard sometimes. I've learned a lot about myself in the process.

You are amazing. I admire you so. Let's do a meal or a drink :) xoxo


I couldn't agree more with what Crystal said. I mostly look at your beautiful photos and read your journaling, but I rarely comment (sorry). I love the honesty and integrity you're evidencing yet again and I really admire the way you try to handle your feelings.
My brother & I were raised by a single mom as well - who chose to split up with our father, because he was not treating my brother well. She was 22, had a four-year-old and a newborn and a husband who was making things harder, not easier for her. She lived in the former GDR and all of her relatives managed to push her into that marriage that she didn't want in the first place. She divorced and many people kept telling her that her kids would never achieve anything. But she managed and she did a great job, just as I am sure you do.
Best wishes for you & your family!
P.S. Love the music!! :)


Hmmm, I'm not really sure what to say, only that some trials in life take more time to heal than others. And we can rationalize it all we want, and know what the right thing is, only it's hard to actually get our feelings on the path we want. Make sense? Only to me? Ok then. Hope you have a good evening, Karen :) Watch a movie and have a drink, might make you feel better for today?

Gabriela Divine

P.S. ...and it's not whether we win or lose, or are married or not that counts. No sireebob! It's how we deal with things that counts.

Jennifer S

Why oh why do we all feel this way at one time or another? have felt this way many times in the past year or so....but truth be told - there are always blessings to count (especially counting all those you love!) Life is a strange thing... stranger than fiction. Love you Karen!

PS nice choice of scorned women music! My favorite depressing music, AKA lost loved ones, includes Avril Lavinge, and PINK actually! But you really should "Shake it Out" with this one : "Shake it Out!'


We all carry our own shame/burden/regret and I think it's very brave of you to share so openly. When we allow ourselve to be 'real' and take the risk of being open and vulnerable, it lets us become closer to one another as women and friends.

I hope you find some Blessed-Beautiful Women's Music to fill your iPod and that you can realize your divine worth, in spite of your human choices. You are amazing!



Been in your shoes Karen...or have been in mine-i am older :) its not easy and truthfully it doesn't ever get trick is to sit back and watch the kid that I raised become the man he is becoming and thank God he is mine. I have had the experience of raising one the unconventional way and two the conventional way and I wouldn't trade either experience. Hug yourself...forgive yourself and sit back and enjoy the beautiful kids you are raising!


Wow it took courage to write those words! I pray that you will begin to see yourself as God sees you and that He will reveal the love He has for you not because you are perfect but because you are His.

Nicky from Okotoks

Our journey and lifes lessons take our soul where it needs to be. Each day is a gift and blessing and that is the most important thing in life.
What amazing gifts you have been given even though sometimes the road is long.
God Bless


I wish I could give you a hug. You are amazing, inspiring and I admire you. I wish I could say something to make you feel better. xo


I feel that way, too. But opposite. But the same, because your words are sticking to my heart.
Mine is the frustration and shame and bitterness that my babies came to me through adoption and to get any more I have to grovel and beg and jump through hoops and wait to be chosen because I'm not good enough to do it the home-made way. And that the women who surround me--good women who love me and embrace me--also judge me as less because my body won't make the babies. That I'll always be different than my bestest friends because they are total mothers and I just come in after the hard part. That maybe that's part of the reason why my sisters and mother and I don't connect--because I'm a fake.
And I hate it.
And for the most part I look the other way and count my blessings--a good man and two beautiful boys--but somedays I can't get past it.
Don't we all have these things? Isn't this how we all feel about something? None of us is good enough? I sort of hope so.


I am a mother of a seven year old, his father and I have been separated for almost two years. I began dating somebody a year ago, and it became more serious. I just found out I am pregnant a week ago, and he wants nothing of me or the situation. I needed to read this. The only thing I can say is my soul hurts. Ive thought about having a abortion. This goes against everything in my soul. I am a mother. I love children. Reading this just confirmed, I can do this, I will overcome this, and I will have my two kids by my side the whole way. Thank you

Tobi Kelly

You felt it and wrote it...and you should know that your honesty is beautiful. You cannot control the haters, because secretly they just can't accept that their lives are not perfect, and they are to embarrassed to be real. Be you, be real, you are beautiful. Your life is beautiful, with all it's bumps and bruises, flowers and laughs. Be proud of yourself, not because you have made the best of some things that came in and out of your life, but because of in spite of things you might decide are your fault, or not your fault, you are real. You are real. You are real. You don't pretend to be better than anyone else trying to navigate this life, and this business of being a parent. You are real. You are real. You inspire me. I am real too...and have made ugly decisions, and some great decisions. I come from shame, and there are embarrassing decisions...but I am real. I would give my last dollar to someone who needed it more, I love Jesus, and I am trying my best to leave this earth better than I came upon it. I will be real, and you will be real, and your words helped me to be proud to be real.

Nancy N.

Maybe this post was to encourage another. Thanks for sharing your struggles!


You are a brave woman to share so much. I'm sorry you feel this way. I think you are an incredible, strong, gorgeous woman. xx


Alright no sympathetic words, but lots of prayers. Those work whether we realize it or not. (I don't comment often, but I've been following you for years. Your family is beautiful (and that includes you!))


Thank you. Thank you for not being "perfect." Amen. : )


I hurt with you while I was reading this. I, too feel the daily burden of guilt and shame. I was young and I made so many many mistakes. They have made me who I am and they led me (eventually) to the man I was always meant to be with. But... the other stuff is still there. I don't know how to make it go away... but it makes me so much softer and more understanding of others. So, maybe that is why it's meant to stay.


Sometimes all God wants is for us share our testimony with others. You may not know why but God does and deciding to hit the publish button is the Holy Spirit encouraging you to to share with someone who might need to hear what you've been through. Think of what the New Testament would be without Paul...



Thanks for sharing, Nellie. I know that wasn't easy, but it makes us love and respect you even more (if that were even possible....)

We are ALL humbled by something in our past, but your past doesn't define who you ARE. (Jesus does!) Don't let satan steal your joy and tell you you are unworthy. YOU ARE WORTHY, MY FRIEND!!!

"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." 2 Corinthians 12:9

God always has the perfect words to say to us.


Karen, YOU CHOSE LIFE and that is the most important thing! Let the past be the past...rejoice in the present, which is your beautiful family that God has given you. You are a blessing to so many! HUGS!!!!!


You've got guts. No reason to be ashamed. I've been a single mom for eight years. It's hard. People treat you weird. We have to stick together. And you make us look good.


Our pastor signs her emails with "Grace and peace." I thought of that for some reason after reading your post, and realized that the grace is already with us--it's a gift. We "know" that as Christians, but I think the peace comes when we truly KNOW it. Grace and peace, Karen.


sometimes I think it's crazy that I hardly know you, you connect to people in such a good way! if only I could let you feel what I feel/learned about God's forgiveness and the need to forgive yourself!


We are all imperfect but the joy is that we are loved by a perfect God.


I needed this today.

Thank you.


Oh, this has to be one of the very best posts ever. Sharing your fears and insecurities just makes you more authentic and wonderful.....a person that is full of wisdom and love. Thank you for your story, your talent and most of all...thank you for being you. My favorite saying is by Mr. Rogers.....".You make each day a special day. You know how, by just your being you. There's only one person in this whole world like you. And people can like you exactly as you are."


Karen, you are an awesome woman and mother. Some days are better than others. God is good and you are deserving. Thanks for your blog...I love all of your posts.


I think we all have shame...I am ashamed that I could not give birth natually to my three lovely perfectly healthy children. Obviously there is something wrong with me...right? I find myself going into long drawn out rambling explanations as to why exactly I had to have three c-sections.

mandy friend

Karen, i came back to read again. did you read Jamie's comment above? did your read it? GOD just used YOU to save the life of an unborn baby. He couldn't have used you to do that without having walked the road you were on. YOUR broken path and courage just SAVED someone's life! i hope i am a witness in heaven when that little one gets to come hug you and thank you for the part you played..!


Hi Karen. I don't think I've ever left a comment before but after reading your post today I felt inspired from a very deep place to do so. I love your blog. Your photos inspire me to capture the beauty in the everyday and the stories of you and your sweet family remind me to slow down to give thanks for what is right in front of me. But I also read your blog because you are honest, you are sincere, and you are filled with joy and grace, in essence a most awesome woman. You are a teller of truth and truth tellers are those courageous individuals that pave the way for others to do the same. In this truth telling we become connected through our joys, sadness, suffering and moments of triumph. I teach in a business school and the one thing I hope my students remember from our time together is this, "Tell your story -- change the world." Reading your post today made me think about the power of how our stories transform us and in turn transform those who listen, really listen. I can't imagine how many lives you touched today and I, for one, am deeply grateful. Big blessings to you, now and always.


Just try to remember that "comparison is the thief of joy." It is totally true even if you are comparing different versions of yourself.

I have lots of these little shame moments that sneak up on me during my day. And, I try to remember that every single moment of my life up to this one has made this life possible for me. And, I wouldn't change that for anything.

Doesn't make every moment easier to get through! I will send some extra good thoughts your way!


I am glad you hit the button. Thank you for having the courage to share you.


I am a big fan, have been for years. Your blog is at the top of my bookmarks. I love your honesty so much.
I am 52 years old and i still feel as you do.

"But there are just some things that I can't seem get past, no matter how much I want to get past them.

And there's just some part of me that feels like God's grace isn't extended to girls like me."

For me, I have learned to live with them. I love who I am and I accept them as part of what made me who I am.

This doesn't mean I don't cry about them every couple of weeks. I still do, but that's part of me too.

I'm rooting for you!



Lean on Him....He loves you faults and all! I know it's cheesy, but what how does the saying go "You can't have a rainbow without a little rain"? God's given you some pretty great rainbows I think. Even though the memory of rain lingers, God loves you girl!

"But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me." 2 Corinthians 12:9

Air max LTD homme

Laman blog ini adalah sangat sangat baik dan memberi penerangan. Saya akan memaparkan pautan ke halaman ini pada laman web saya. Saya pasti pengunjung laman saya akan mendapati bahawa sangat berguna!

Air max LTD homme

Laman blog ini adalah sangat sangat baik dan memberi penerangan. Saya akan memaparkan pautan ke halaman ini pada laman web saya. Saya pasti pengunjung laman saya akan mendapati bahawa sangat berguna!

Joanna Jerome

Karen, I know exactly how you feel. I have a very similar story and I too feel shame, anger and down-right hate sometimes for my ex-husband. I haven't spoke or seen him face-o-face in over 30 years. He was my senior year boyfriend and we married right out of high school. We, thank goodness, didn't have any children come from our brief union but his betrayal hurt just as much. I have never been able to forget or forgive the pain he caused. I'm happily married to my soul mate now but the past will never be over because he has never said he was sorry, never showed regret. I could forgive and move on if only he would ask for least I think I would. It's been 30 years and I still feel the bitterness too.


This very day, today, I was talking with my therapist about this very issue. I feel shame for things that happened to me as a child, how we lived, and the mistakes my parents made. Getting over that shame seems like a mountain to me. I cried in bed, and prayed for insight and wisdom. When I got up, I opened your blog to see this post. I believe God sends healing, and today a little bit of that was sent through you. I also have read the comments, and they are eye opening and inspiring. Thanks for always being honestly you!

Tammy T

What "A" said is beautiful. And I hope you know how wonderful your promptings are, and how glad I and many others are that you follow those prompts. I have a past that I don't feel free to share here, but if we sat down together I would tell you. And I just know that if God's grace can cover my shame, then by all means he can cover yours. Our thinking otherwise just diminishes how big our God is. And how loving. I hope you know how many lives you have touched, just by being honest in your walk with God. Sometimes your blog touches me in ways that a church sermon never would. And your post on Praise will stick with me forever. You so deserve Grace Karen Russell. You truly do. I hope you allow yourself that. It will set you free. I promise.

tammy t

Julie in Aust.

Was going to write something wise but read through everyone elses replies first...just as well I did...because they all said exactly what I wanted to say before me...thanks everyone!

Hugs Karen...


I'm sure having just spent time with Rachel sharing your story of your life this stuff has been on your mind. You would not have met Josh Downs and had that array of amazing kids (albeit from different fathers aka sperm donors). So you are the person you are today because of those life choices/chances that were presented before you. I do know that I hate the term "single mum" (being one for 4.5 years now) Of course I would like to have a husband so I could share my life with someone (just not the husband I had). When we are at this point we all wished it could have been different (ie my husband was loving and devoted rather than a cheater, lier and drank too much). Like another comment above, she wished she was still married, however not necessarily to the ex. To put yourself through dental school at 19 when all your friends were out on the town and then again to support little ones all the time you are emotionally trying to recover from your husband walking out on you....all of this takes its toll. I do know however you have a wonderful family (that being said, all families don't have rosy 24/7 moments and all new husbands may not in our eyes be perfect 24/7) however I do know you have a husband and kids who love you and your family life and that YOU SHOULD BE VERY PROUD OF. Naturally it's not the story of life as a 15 year old you could see ahead of time but it is where you ended up. YOU SURVIVED!!! and so did your wonderful KIDS. Thanks for sharing your very personal story and I understand sending it out into the universe is totally scary however that could be the "letting go of the past and those losers who didn't deserve you: and now enjoying your family and your wonderful career/hobby of photography. What could be better. Even having the old argument with Josh Downs at home is 10 times better than him being stuck over in the war even if you are annoyed with are together, he is safe and not seeing eye to eye is normal relationship stuff whether it be with your mother, sister, friend etc. ONWARDS & UPWARDS. Remember in 2008 when I had to end my marriage I found your blog and read your story and it gave me hope that one day there would be a better, nicer man for me. It was your blog that I thought if Karen can do it so can I. Off to school pick up now and we all know that you didn't write the post to get sympathy or compliments but it's a part of sharing who you are and we all love you for that. Regards Kathy A, Brisbane, Australia xxxx


Thank you Karen. I think you have spoken it out loud for all of us. None of us are worthy. That is exactly why God sent His Son. Check out "Bad Girls of the Bible" by Liz Curtis Higgs. Sending you love and prayers for peace.


Hi Karen,

Thank you for sharing this. You are an amazing person: reading your blog makes me feel like I am having tea with a friend.

Perhaps this post today was more to help others than yourself? Did you see the comment from "Jamie"? Perhaps this post was for her.

I think that sometimes we feel a need to put something out there without knowing the "why". And sometimes it is because someone else needed it.

Just my two cents.

You seem to be an amazing woman and mother. Your family is blessed to have you.



I love your blog. I'm so happy that I found it sometime a year ago or so. I love your story and the way you tell it. I look up to you how you have survived for so many difficult times and always still keep your feet on the ground and smile on your face. You are definitely the best role model your kids could ever have. Just wanted to say this :)

And sorry for my not-so-good english, it's not my first language. Hi from rainy Finland :)

amanda june

i think that admitting the places where we feel our shame is beyond the reach of redemption
is often a really important step toward receiving healing.

oh, how he loves you. brave, sweet daughter of his...nothing could make him stop.

i'm learning it's okay to be frustrated or disappointed with parts of our story -- that he will still meet us there and remind us tenderly,
how near he's always been
and how (just like with mary and martha, even though he KNEW he was about to raise their brother from the dead!)
he just wept and weeps with you.

keep moving forward and engaging your heart and being honest. oh, how he cares about your heart.


So many times we stop reading at John 3:16, but verse 17 says volumes, "for God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved." He doesn't condemn us, but He saves us from heartache and guilt! He takes our past mistakes (Micah 7: 18-19)and buries them in the bottom of the ocean. A no fishing sign needs to be posted! Prayers for a peace that passes understanding! Thanks for sharing.

Carrie B

Karen- It will be OK. Just because you have so much to be thankful (now) for doesn't mean that past hurts and shameful feeling "magically" go away forever. I am 57 years old and have made plenty of mistakes. One of the good parts of being my age is that you can look back and see that every thing painful that happened was for a reason. Just because we don't understand it doesn't mean it's not there. Next time you come to Portland I'd love to meet you for a vodka/sprite/cranberry juice or whatever. You are a wonderful blogger, photographer and mom.
Hang in there. It will be OK I promise.

Holly Preslar

Hi, Ms. Karen: I, too, like so many who have commented today, am incredibly moved by what you write on your blog,by what you teach in your classes, by your beautiful photos, by how you openly share you, your family, your experiences, your joys and your sorrows...(And especially when you post compromising photos of your Uncle Brad...they make potentially great blackmail photos for me to use against him professionally...only kidding, kind of...LOL! Just injecting humor to lighten the moment)

And like so many others have shared with you today, I have had experiences in my life that I have felt shame about, or have felt if others "knew", I would be judged by them, it would negatively define me, I would be less loved, less liked, less worthy. But what I have realized, perhaps like you are now realizing too, is that as I grow older, I really need to share these things, I need to bring them out into the light, to hear myself open up about them, to examine them, to hopefully see if I am not alone, to hear others' similar experiences, to maybe give someone else the courage to also be more open, to let go of these feelings, to perhaps finally !e free from that shame, that sadness.

And maybe at the end of the day, if nothing else comes from what you have shared, from what you are going through, you will at least know this (but you are a very smart girl, so I'm sure you really already do know) that when it comes to how you feel, that shame that you hold onto, that you can't seem to let go of, that having that still with you, well, that maybe THAT is okay...because it is part of who you are, it is what makes you "you", and that because of it, you have compassion and love and gifts you wouldn't otherwise have. And, that by sharing it with the rest of us, you are using it to heal yourself some more, maybe only in some immeasurable way, but at the same time to maybe help others struggling with something similar. I hope so, and by reading some of the comments today, I know so.

And any time you are in GP, please know you have another friend who would love to hear more of your story. Take care, Karen.


I'd love to share that coffee and dessert with you too.
I keep telling myself that just because the lie I'm hearing is the loudest, doesn't make it true. We all have our own stuff that seeks to trip us up and steal the joy and blessings. I have to choose every day to step over the hurdles and not listen to the lie. Bless you - even more for your transparency.


your blog is amazing Karen and it is one I ALWAYS read and have done so for a few years have a talent for writing that reaches out to people and is just amazing. I have some things in my past that I still agonise over even though I know I shouldn't....and I think that is part of life. We need to accept we are not perfect and that it is OK....who is?


You're such an inspiration....


Girl you continue to inspire me every single day. :)


I don't even understand why you feel shame. You should be incredibly proud of how you raised you kids, where you are in life and how hard you have worked to get there. I think you are stuck in looking at your past instead of looking at what is right now. You are an inspiration. Truly.
Brene Brown did a wonderful talk on shame (available on TED) and has a wonderful blog about the topic. I highly recommend.


Funny, across the miles and never knowing one another...we have walked in similar paths. One thing that is the exact same. GOD. He connects us all. Blessings to you and thank you for sharing your heart.

Mary Claire

If you haven't read the books by Brene Brown, I highly recommend them. She is a shame researcher and writes about how to overcome shame and how to be vulnerable etc.

Dawn S

So I've been following your blog for a long time. I started following it because I admired your Scrapbooking! Then I continued to follow because I admired your incredible photography skills. Then I continued to follow because I was a student in one of your classes. Now I follow because I admire you as a person. You are amazing...and courageous...and inspiring...and honest...and truly blessed with God's graces. Thank you for sharing so much of yourself with all of us. You are a gift.


I've been reading your blog for about 3 or 4 years now, and I might have commented one other time. I don't have words of sympathy, but I do have words of gratitude. As of today, I am officially a single mom to a 5 year old, and while I always pictured the mom part, I never pictured the single part. I am equal parts relieved, sad, excited and nervous about where I find myself today. Although I don't know exactly where the path is going to lead me, having these words - your words, is so comforting. I'm not alone on the single mother, holding down a good job that lets me pay the mortgage, feeling strong enough but sometimes not good enough, oh my stars what I have done journey that I'm on. Seeing you celebrate the amazing children that you have, the joy you have found and acknowledging life's imperfect moments makes me feel like I can do it too, and I'm on the right path for me. Thank you for sharing your stories. I think you are amazing.

Cindy Welch

This week is my sons 27th bday and my daughters 25th bday. I had some deep forgotten regret, lonliness creep up for some reason. I sat down and wrote them each a letter. Just as in your post, I gave them the good and the bad, but in the end your children reflect your sacrifice, your love. They show what a great person you are and nothing or no one can change that. Your grown son tells you how great you are, believe him. Its ok to feel, the experience. Its part of life and the healing process. So feel, believe and you will move on to a new day....

Carrie Thompson

Thanks for sharing Karen, I know that couldn't have been easy...every step and mistep we take leads us to where we are right now and makes us who we are...If you hadn't gone through what you went through you wouldn't be you...and trust me I know how much that sucks, and even though there is not a day I don't wish I could erase a car accident that took my husband, I know without a doubt that that was part of God's plan for me because it has made me who I am today and through the pain and sorry has made me stronger and closer to God...You are an amazing woman Karen...and God loves you!


My Bible reading today was "My grace is sufficient for you" 2 Cor 12v9. It then said "Whatever your story, His grace is sufficient for you. Ask Him for His resources to meet your need and His grace to help you endure".
Praying for you Karen xx

Nicole Campbell

oh Karen....HUGS!!! and darn you...I just did my makeup and once again you make me cry!!!!! Be proud of who you are!!!! I feel like I know you, and I don't other than being a stalker!!!! but I'm proud of all the things you do!!!!! You don't know what a huge inspiration you are to me and I'm sure to many others!!! Love to you!!!!

There are so many things that I relate to in this post. It is hard to go from head to remember that His graces covers all of us. It's is hard to remember that guilt comes from Satan and not God. I will be praying for you. I think our journeys are all about growth...thank you for sharing your growth.

Kim S.

God Bless you, Karen. And Ross is right. You are a beautiful woman. No words of sympathy, but you inspire me to keep plugging along. God gives us nothing that we can't handle. If I didn't live on the other side of the country, I'd love to have "a meal or a drink" with you! Look UP.


Take comfort in the fact that nothing that has ever happened to you (or will ever happen) is a surprise to God. He has given you grace and courage through tough times-that in itself is an immense gift-He was always looking out for you. Like a marriage counsellor once told my husband and I after ten years of marriage-we can do nothing about the past-lets work on the future and build something beautiful (we've now been married nearly 25 years)-you're building something beautiful Karen.

Kelly Webb

You are a precious, precious woman. What a mess Satan will have on his hands the day your heart casts off shame and you truly believe and know you are worthy, and forgiven. All women carry shame, each of us in our own way. That is satans way of keeping us down because he knows the power we hold. We can give life, grow life, nurture life and shape life. We don't have to let our history read as prophecy, and sometimes things have to fall apart for better things to fall together. Praying blessings of love, acceptance and fullness over you.

Jules Q

Just when I think no one could ever be more beautifully REAL as you are on this site of yours, here you go upping the ante again! Thank you for being yourself in this public space. Thank you for sharing so many parts of your story, even when they squeeze your heart to the point of suffocation. You are the embodiment of COURAGE and such a beautiful witness to the healing grace of God. We're never promised that life will be easy. But it's in the middle of the messiness that we find peace. Praying God's peace for you today, dear woman. Your story truly inspires and your voice delights my soul!


I agree with Gabriela Divine, I admire you. Your blog is the only "reality show" I ever want to 'watch'.
God Bless!


God is using your words to heal many girls along your way. He put you in this place, this public forum for times like these. Thank you for continuing to share your story. Two books I also recommend are Captivating by Eldridge and God loves Ugly by Christa Black. He is still healing my heart and I have found encouragement in these books.

tara pollard pakosta


I am sure it's all been said up above and a million times before.
I know where you are coming from, there are things from my past that bother
me sometimes. We ALL have those things, every last one of us.
You are WORTH the grace extended by God, let yourself have it.
you give Grace every single day to your family, your husband, your kids.
FRee yourself of the guilt and let it go, let God have it one last time and just accept it.
move forward and be HAPPY because you 100% deserve it all.
I am AMAZED at your story, humbled by your parenting, overjoyed that your son Ross is so awesome and such a gift
to you. My heart rejoices at how God just KNEW you needed Coley and found a way to give him to you, he's an amazing boy!
and courtney, what an extra special little girl, always saying the right thing and having such a loving open heart to let
you love her like a mom! and then there is Annie, full of spunk and just such JOY in a little girl!
and your husband, how could you NOT think you are deserving when God gave you such a man as Josh Downs?~
YOU ARE WORTH IT, you are deserving!
I know you didn't put this out here for words of affirmation, but I am giving them anyway.
you know why?
because girl, you are worth the time it takes to type these out and then some!
everyone who meets you IRL, says how amazing you are, honest, open, humble, beautiful soul
and Karen, it's TIME you TRULY believe it!
much love,



Thank you...for pressing the publish button. Stay strong.


thank you for hitting that publish button because some of your readers have changed their stars, went on to marry a good man, have more beautiful children, and know God's grace but still have that shame show up from time to time and needed to feel less alone in that world.

Colleen Barron

Karen, I think we all have those demons that rise up from time to time to remind us that we are not perfect. The truth is that you are a child of God. You are incredible and I feel like I know you from reading your blog. Thank you for sharing and for your honesty.


Hey, Karen ~
You are as God made you and how can that not be beautiful? That quote about photos with imperfections being the best because they are honest? That is what this life is about. I appreciate your honesty, because I am finding myself struggling everyday, but knowing that others do too and life goes on - that is inspiring - and with some prayer, is what keeps us breathing in and out . . .

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