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's Dedication

Last Sunday was one of those days I anticipated, but didn't quite know how to prepare myself emotionally for it.

Our church regularly has baby dedications, in which the parents bring their little babes (dressed to the hilt, I might add) up in front of the congregation as a public way of giving their child over to God and asking the church to keep the parents accountable and supported. Well, Ben and I were asked if we wanted to be a part of it.

We weren't sure at first, because (as I think I had mentioned in Carter's birth story) our pastor had actually led us in dedicating our son to God in the hour after he was born. Right there in the delivery room, with our family members, close friends, and probably a few nurses gathered around us, Pastor Steve read Scripture and led us in a prayer of dedication, helping us hand over our Carter Benjamin to God.
"Handing him over" - this phrase just hits me over and over again because Carter was quite literally transferred from his earthly daddy's arms into his Heavenly Father's embrace, as our son passed away just minutes after the dedication.

While this image seems quite heavy, I have to admit that I felt God's presence more in that delivery room than I have in any church, cathedral, or religious site. I don't say this lightly, but I honestly believe God made that hospital room, with all its beeping machines and monitoring equipment, holy ground for those of us who were blessed to be there.
A time that should have wrecked us as parents wrapped us in joy. In those moments, we felt a peace and a strength to surrender our rights to be parents to Carter Benjamin. This calm surrender was from Someone outside ourselves. I will gladly be the first to admit I would have been a train wreck if left to experience these moments all on my own.

Carter's dedication was so sacred to us.

So when our church asked if we wanted to take part in the baby dedication, we were filled with uncertainty.  What could possibly "trump" the dedication experience we had in the hospital? In our minds, we had already given Carter's life and our rights over to God, so why would we need to do that again? Would we just be drawing unnecessary attention to ourselves? Did we have the strength to stand up with the parents who had babies in their arms and not fall to pieces? We didn't want to bring a cloud of sadness over what was supposed to be a happy occasion for these other parents.

These questions and concerns filled our minds, but our pastors had a clear vision of how they wanted to incorporate us and Carter's story into the baby dedication, without trying to "rededicate" him in any way. As it turned out, the pastors wanted to first of all share about his dedication and also make it an opportunity for the church to do its part in child dedication: to keep us accountable and support us as parents.

So on Sunday morning, March 6, in front of our church family at College Wesleyan Church, Pastor Steve shared briefly about our child who had been dedicated to God but that the dedication was unable to take place at the church building due to Carter's short life. He and Pastor Jil (our children's pastor) handed us a red, unopened rose not only to commemorate the dedication but also to symbolize that Carter's life (much like that rose) would open up not in this world, but in a heavenly one. Then, we along with the other parents who were up front dedicating their babies to God shared a time of prayer, led by Pastor Steve.

Looking back upon this experience, I'm glad we did it. I was very anxious about it all Sunday morning, not knowing how I might feel when it was actually taking place. But, just like He has all along, God showed up and gave us the strength to do it and the eyes to see past our own painful world into an unseen one to which we dedicated our son. Carter now sees this other heavenly world with completely unhindered vision. In fact, that is the only world Carter has ever seen since he never opened his eyes during his time with us. That's strangely comforting to me.

While the church dedication service had difficult moments for us emotionally, we were honored to stand beside the other parents with their babies. Their joy did not increase our pain, because we would never wish our circumstances on anyone else. Moments like that one just remind us of our loss. But by hearing Pastor Steve share about Carter's dedication in the hospital, we were also reminded of our joy, of that sacred, holy time we spent with our son in the presence of God before He took Carter up in His arms.

We were glad to share with our local church family (and the greater worldwide Church) how we dedicated Carter to God, so that as we move forward in this life, we can continue to be held accountable to live in God's presence, just like we were in that delivery room. Even now, I invite you to be a part of Carter's life by helping us to be parents to him the only way we know how: by being his voice in this world. Please pray also as we continue to parent our son Cohen (now 18 months old), and ask God to give us the strength and wisdom to daily surrender our rights as parents and to give both our sons to God.


  1. Thanks for sharing this with us Sarah... I missed the service as I was in first service but you wrote so beautifully, I have a good idea of how it all went. Love you guys!

  2. That is so so special! I remember standing on that same stage when Halle was dedicated. How neat that you were able to have such a special part in that ceremony. You are such a gifted writer Sarah!

  3. What a precious post. Thank you for being so open and honest. You truly are an inspiration for us all and a wonderful testimony of God's faithfulness and love. God has definitely been glorified through little Carter's life. I pray that our Father will continue to give you the strength and encouragement you need.

    Amie Ott

  4. Thanks for sharing your heart with all of us!! We were in the sanctuary and were able to be a part of the dedication beautiful! It brought tears to my eyes! We are continuing to pray for your family!

  5. Thank you for sharing this Sarah. Sunday was another day my heart was broken for you, and I will continue to lift you up in prayer.

  6. Thanks for sharing this, Sarah. And I'm glad you guys had the grace and humility (again) to participate in that time on Sunday.

  7. Dear Sarah & Ben: Thx for sharing this special day with us. You said it in a wonderful way that Gma Bender (Erlena) would have been so pleased... and many others.You put it all in God's hands. That's the way He wants it. Your faith was showing! Blessings to you, Ben & Cohen as each new day dawns. Love, Cousin Linda Messmann