When Kari and her younger sister, Kris, were little girls, they imagined a day when they’d be able to share the wonder and excitement of being pregnant at the same time. So when this dream came true, they were ecstatic! They celebrated and laughed with each other as they talked about nausea and baby names and having to wake up in the middle of the night to eat. But the dream ended when seven and a half months into her pregnancy, Kris and her husband, Michael, lost their baby girl, James Ivy.

It shook their entire family to the core, and Kari struggled to balance her overwhelming sadness and grief while remaining present and expectant for her own baby. “It was uncharted waters. I’ve never experienced a season where I had to learn to grieve and celebrate at the same time,” Kari says. “I spent a lot of time crying and questioning God. If I didn’t feel my son move in my belly for a while, I would be overcome with fear. And when I finally had him, it was difficult to hold him knowing my sister couldn’t hold her baby too.” 

It was during this vulnerable season that Kari began to write, not only for her and her family’s healing but also for anyone who was processing a traumatic experience, questioning God, or waiting for prayers to be answered. “Anytime I walk through something difficult, I always want to be able to turn around and share what God has done out of it,” she says. She took all her questions and prayers and poured them into each word, each note, and each song of her newest project, The Garden.

About four months after James Ivy went to heaven, Kari and her husband, Cody, purchased a home in Nashville. As spring approached, they were surprised to find a beautiful flower garden blooming in their new backyard. And ivy was everywhere. Kari stood in the garden, holding her son, Canyon, with tears rolling down her face. “It was one of the sweetest spiritual experiences of my entire life,” she says. “I felt so seen, so cared for. God used His own creation to bring me and my family back to life.” Her sister and brother-in-law named their baby girl not knowing God would later use her name to heal them in their grief. 

Out of that moment, Kari wrote the title track of her newest album, “The Garden,” where she sings, “Then I saw the garden / hope had come to me.” Every lyric of the song points to God’s faithfulness in bringing hope and healing to their family. In a very real way, Kari’s family learned that God “will stop at nothing / to heal my broken soul.” And in a delicate yet powerful bridge, she sings, “Faith is rising up like ivy / reaching for the light. Hope is stirring deep inside me / making all things right. Love is lifting me from sorrow / catching every tear. Dispelling every lie and torment / crushing all my fears.” 

When Kari and her sister get together, there are still moments when they cry and grieve. “But immediately after, we are able to look at each other and say, ‘God has really moved,’” she says. “He can turn something really difficult into something truly beautiful if we open up our eyes to see it.” 


Kari would like to thank Gateway for being instrumental in her and her family’s process of grieving and healing. She says,“Gateway is family, and that’s what family does for one another.

The Garden album is available at iTunes, Gateway Bookstore, and Amazon.