For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. - Psalm 139:13-14


Carter Pictures

Only about a week before Carter was born, we were blessed to have some great maternity pictures taken through an organization called Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep. Our photographer, Marla, did a great job helping us capture our pregnancy time with Carter. Here are a couple of our favorites:

When I went into labor early and in the middle of the night, I couldn't sleep because I knew we needed to find a photographer in our area....and fast. Having good pictures of Carter was a must. Oh, and we needed to find someone who would be willing to drive to the hospital in the midst of the blizzard. Our friend Lindsey is a great photographer and was willing to brave the conditions (bless you, Lindsey), but she did not have the setup at our local hospital. However, she helped us find Carl at Portrayal Studios, who already did some fantastic newborn photos and had a small studio right at the hospital. He agreed to come to the hospital when Carter was born as long as his car could make it there. And we thank God it did safely! The following are a few of the priceless images Carl took of Carter and of our family.



It's been three weeks from today since we said hello and goodbye to Carter. I feel like it's been longer, as the last few weeks have brought every imaginable thought and emotion.

We keep asking ourselves, "What is normal now?"

More often, I find that my grief comes in deeply painful waves that fall in between somewhat "normal" moments. But these unexpected waves are so deep that it literally takes my breath away until I let the emotions all spill out. Things catch me off guard, like when Cohen points at my smaller belly and says "baby" as we finish our breakfast. Or when I look up from watching TV and see pictures of Carter on our entertainment center, and I just ache to reach into the photo and hold him close.

Sometimes feeling "too normal" in and of itself can be painful, because I'm afraid of moving forward too quickly or forgetting the blessings of the last nine months. I'm afraid that healing means forgetting, even though rationally I know that's not the case. But try telling that to my emotions.

As Angie Smith noted in her book I Will Carry You and on her blog, I am finding it takes so much strength to allow myself to be weak in these moments of intense grief. Being weak is scary. It means letting myself go to the lowest of low places, trusting that God will meet me there. And trust doesn't always come easy.

It is fear that keeps me from breaking down when I know I need to. Fear makes me bite my lip to hold back the tears when people ask if I'm okay. I'm afraid to be weak, and I often avoid it. I don't know why, and I'm sure that the why is far less important than choosing not to act on that fear.

But what I do know is that God does not call me to embrace my fears. He calls me to trust Him, even if that means letting my heart break into so many pieces I'm not sure they can all be found. It means trusting that He can and He will create something beautiful out of my brokenness.

Strength, I'm finding, isn't putting on a happy face and powering through. It takes so much more strength to let myself crumble, to be weak. And in those moments when I collapse in tears on our kitchen floor, when I cry until I'm physically tired, I find that God does something only God could do. I wish I could put the perfect words to it, to explain it tangibly. Here's the best I can do: When I let myself be weak before God and others, I don't walk away healed from my pain completely, but I also don't walk away feeling quite so lonely. Perhaps this is what God meant by finding joy in the midst of suffering.

So while we're hurting, we continue to find God faithful. We continue to find joy in our time we had with Carter, even though we miss him. God is good, and His fingerprints continue to be all over our lives as we do "normal" things like going to work or eating dinner as a family. We still don't know what our new "normal" looks like fully, but we are hopeful, knowing that our God is near.


A Letter from Us

The last couple weeks haven't been easy, and I haven't much felt like writing. It's kind of been a feeling of, "Where do I start?" However, we did want to be sure to post the following letter. For those of you who weren't able to be at Carter's celebration service on February 4, Ben and I wrote the following letter to our friends and family and had it read by one of our pastors during the service.

Dear friends and family,

When we first learned of Carter’s condition, we looked at each other and said, “I can’t do this.” “This story was not supposed to be ours.” Had we left that ultrasound room and tried to walk this journey alone, without God’s grace and strength and the support of His Church, we couldn’t be here today with such an inexplicable mix of joy and sorrow in our hearts.

This journey has and will continue to be bittersweet. We’ve experienced more pain and deep sorrow than we knew possible. We think about the “what would have beens”: Carter and Cohen as best friends and playmates, perhaps even partners in crime. All of Carter’s “firsts.” We ask ourselves what personality he would have developed and what funny things he might have said and done. These thoughts break our hearts and will probably continue to do so for a long time.

But in this pain, we are accompanied by a sweetness. God has drawn us closer to Himself, reminding us that our loss is Carter’s gain. Life isn’t easy, and neither is parenting. Raising a child in an unpredictable world can be such a scary thing, so although we miss Carter, we feel God is stepping in and almost saying “Hey, Ben and Sarah, don’t worry about this one. I’ve got it covered.”

God’s peace is something we may never fully understand or grasp, but this journey has allowed us to experience it in a deeper way than we knew possible. God is so faithful, good, and loving. In that one hour we were able to spend with Carter before he passed, God orchestrated such a beautiful and sacred time with our son. We felt God’s presence in that delivery room as we held Carter; heard his sweet little cries; kissed him; watched as grandparents, aunts, and uncles snuggled him close; as Cohen touched his baby brother’s toes; and as Pastor Steve dedicated Carter to God. In that hour, Carter experienced more love than many people get in a lifetime.

So while it’s tempting to ask, “Why God? Why us?”, we think about that hour we had with Carter and simply reply, “Why not us?” Life is difficult, but God redeems the broken pieces. He creates something more sacred than what we could have ever put together ourselves. Our hearts mourn the loss of our son, but we know God has and will continue to demonstrate His faithfulness. We hope that everyone who hears about our baby boy will not walk away angry or bitter but instead will see God’s presence in the midst of pain in a very real and tangible way.

We also want to thank everyone for all your prayer and support. While we may appear brave at times, we have had (and will continue to have) many moments and days where we don’t know how to move forward, but we firmly believe that is where God fills our broken pieces with the prayers of His people. Thank you for walking beside us and making Carter’s life so special.

We love you all, 
Ben & Sarah


Service Details

The following is the information for Carter's celebration service and graveside ceremony:

Celebration Service - Friday, February 4
Visitation with the family and a celebration service will take place at College Wesleyan Church in Marion, IN. Visitation begins at 10 am in the church chapel; the service starts in the church sanctuary at 11 am.

Graveside Ceremony - Saturday, February 5
A short burial service will take place at 11 am at St. James Lutheran Cemetery of Reynolds, IN.

Carter Benjamin Westfall

We finally got to meet our Carter Benjamin yesterday. While I want to share the entire story of his arrival and our goodbye, we aren't ready to include all the details quite yet. However, we wanted our friends and family to hear from our lips about the beautiful blessing that came to us yesterday morning.

Because pretty much nothing has gone as planned with this pregnancy, God decided to allow that trend to continue with Carter's birth as labor began about five weeks early. Plus, the day of his arrival brought the worst snow and ice storm to hit the area in years. So when my water broke early Tuesday morning, we knew that traveling to the IU Med Center in Indianapolis was out of the question, and therefore we opted to deliver Carter here in Marion. My OB-GYN actually had the day off, but he made an exception to come in to the hospital to help us and deliver Carter.

The labor progressed slowly, which allowed all of our immediate family to make it to the hospital carefully and safely on the bad roads. Since we ended up in Marion instead of Indy, we were able to have several church friends stop by and offer support and prayers. When it came time to give birth to Carter, our family was surrounded by a lot of love.

Carter arrived at 5:52 am on February 2, weighing 5 lbs and measuring 17 3/4 inches. He was so beautiful and perfect, and we were able to spend one amazing hour with him. During that time, Carter was overwhelmed by love as Ben and I, along with Carter's big brother Cohen and each of our immediate family members, pastors, and a close family friend were able to hold him, kiss him, and talk to him. Pastor Steve literally sprinted through the winter storm a block and a half to be at the hospital. He arrived in time for us to all gather around Carter and dedicate him to God, right there in the delivery room. I wish I could describe how beautiful and sacred that moment was.

When Carter passed away, he went quietly and peacefully snuggled in Ben's arms. Ben and I both felt God's comfort and peace in that moment, knowing it was Carter's time to be with Jesus. Our family continued to surround us as we took pictures of Carter and held him for quite a while. Saying goodbye was the hardest part. I can't even go into detail about that right now.

We just want you to know that while our hearts mourn the loss of Carter we feel God orchestrated his entrance in and out of this world better than we ever could have imagined. Our God is good.

God has been so faithful, answering so many of our/your prayers. However, we still covet your prayer support in the days ahead as we know they will continue to be quite difficult emotionally and physically. I (Sarah) am recovering quite well from labor and delivery, but I know that the next few days will be quite taxing. Please pray for God's continued grace and strength for us, our family, and close friends. Many hearts are hurting. Pray for us today as we finalize Carter's memorial service and burial plans. Pray also for Carter's big brother Cohen as he continues to fight off some seasonal illness and ear infection; we would love for him to feel well. Thank you for your love and prayers. We will post memorial service information soon.


In labor

This post will be short as we are in the hospital and time is coming closer to meet Carter. My water broke early this morning and we have been slowly progressing all day.

Please pray that labor will continue to progress and that Carter continues to handle it well. We just want some time with our little boy.

Please pray also for family members who are traveling in adverse winter weather conditions in order to get here. Most of our family is here. Between family and our church family, we are being well taken care of.

While taken off guard, we feel God's timing is perfect, but just need His grace and strength to do what's next.

Thanks to everyone for caring and for supporting us. You are much appreciated.