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


Tattoos, Race Cars, & Swollen Feet: Here's to New Chapters

Over the last several months, we've had many changes and challenges. I became a Resident Director at Anderson University, which required us to move in to a female residence hall apartment. (We love Morrison Hall!!) Ben and I both continued to tackle our graduate programs (Ben graduates in August & I am set to walk in December). Throw in there the challenges of raising a fun but strong-willed 2-year-old Cohen, still processing the loss of Carter (whose first birthday would have been February 2), and navigating the new pregnancy joys and anxieties of Baby Boy #3 on the way....and, well, let's just say our new chapter has been nothing but full.

However, as I reflect on the last few months, a few specific milestones stand out to me. Moments or ways in which Carter Benjamin continues to mark us and influence our daily lives.

Back in August, after much thought and planning, Ben and I both got tattoos in honor of Carter. We decided to both get his initials "CBW" in Hebrew, and Ben added the phrase "your works are wonderful" (from Psalm 139:14) to his. This decision brought us our first major wave of healing. It solidified Carter's mark on us and on the world. We have been forever changed, and these marks serve as reminders of all the ways God continues to restore our brokenness.

In October, we found out that we were pregnant for baby number three. With this news came much excitement, hope, and anxiety. We knew the likelihood of bilateral agenesis reoccurring in a subsequent pregnancy was very low, but we had been a rare statistic before. No longer did we consider ourselves safe. So baby three has become a new experience in trusting God.

January brought us some relief. We had our mid-pregnancy ultrasound, which revealed not only that we were having another boy (apparently Ben is overflowing with testosterone) but also that he was about as healthy as you could get. Our doctor was so thorough and patient with us; I think he was even a bit elated at such a "model ultrasound," as he put it. Our newest baby boy has definitely been a source of hope and healing.

Only days later, February rolled around much too quickly. We found ourselves trying to figure out how to remember and celebrate Carter's birth (February 2) while simultaneously grieving his death all over again. Ben and I both decided to get away for that weekend to give ourselves space to grieve, but not before our family stopped at Carter's grave. We tried to figure out what to take to commemorate that day, but nothing seemed fitting for a little boy. I didn't like the idea of leaving flowers, because I didn't want to come back to find them dead. We finally landed on leaving a small Matchbox car, much like the ones Cohen plays with daily.

Cohen and I had made a special trip to the store to pick out just the right car. Cohen decided a bright yellow race car was just the thing. He held onto it tightly on our way to the cemetery. Ben and I weren't sure if he would actually leave it there when it came time, but we decided to wait and see what happened. When we pulled up to Carter's gravestone, Cohen pointed to it and said enthusiastically, "Carter's stone!"

Ben and I both stopped breathing for a second.

While we had talked to Cohen about Carter's stone, he had never been there. He had never seen a picture and really didn't have reason to know what "Carter's stone" even was. But, as if it were the most familiar thing in the world, Cohen approached Carter's gravestone and began to race the yellow car around it. Ben and I could do nothing but watch; this was the closest thing our two oldest boys would get to playing together in this world. It healed and hurt fiercely.

Now here we are well into May. The weather has again turned warm, and my pregnant swollen feet remind me that we have only weeks until our third baby boy joins us. God has been so faithful, and while life is often so busy, we continue to see the many ways God restores our family, taking what was broken and making something beautiful out of it. I love my job, getting to know and support all the college women in my residence hall. We have beautiful friends and family surrounding us, giving us permission and space to keep walking (sometimes wounded, other times firm and confident). While I am sure there are many more to come, we have turned yet another corner in our journey toward this new normal.

God is truly good. Amidst tattoos, race cars, and swollen feet, He is good. All the time.



I've never been a fan of those books where the author drops you right in the middle of some conversation or storyline, with little to no back story. However, today's post may feel a little bit that way. I apologize in advance and hope to give you more of an update on our family in the near future.

But here's where I am today...

This morning while getting ready for work I found out that my friend and former neighbor Brittani gave birth to her son Elijah. Around Thanksgiving, they found out that Elijah had a similar condition to our little Carter, so my heart has hurt for this family as they have anticipated the day that they too would get to meet and would have to say goodbye to their little boy.

Today became that day.

I do not want to tell Brittani's story for her, so I won't mention any details that surround her son's birth and their time together.  That's Brittani's story to tell. However, I do want to mention that she has traveled this road thus far with much grace, dependence on God, and openness in what she has been experiencing. I praise God that she has known His faithfulness like we did only a little over a year ago.

While I am confident God will continue to be faithful to this family, I have to be honest that I hurt deeply today. I hurt in part because I was there not that long ago, in that same hospital with the same nurses and doctors, having to say goodbye to my son. While I had inexplicable joy and peace in those moments, I would be lying if I said it was not mixed with the deepest pain possible. I feel a few of my bandaids have fallen off today.

But I also hurt for them. So deeply. I hurt that they have to experience that all-to-familiar pain in the weeks ahead. My heart groans because I don't have the words to express to God how I hurt for them. I'm glad God understands those groans and moans from deep within me, even when I don't myself.

So I write all of this to first of all ask that you too pray, groan, ache for my friend Brittani, her husband Kyle, and their other two children. Whether you have the words or not, please join me in supporting them. Pray that they might have inexplicable peace, joy, grace, and comfort now and in the days ahead. They need God's Church to show up now more than ever.

Secondly, I am reminded today of our own loss and God's continued faithfulness in our journey thus far - a journey that continues daily. I've been very busy the last several months and have neglected writing about Carter's ongoing story, how his life continues to impact our family. But "impact" almost doesn't do justice to how God uses Carter in our lives. Today is a reminder that I need to keep his story alive. I am not sure whether telling it is more for me or for God to use it in his wisdom, but I know I need to do it nonetheless.

So today is about hurting with the loss of these beautiful little boys, Carter and Elijah, and for the families they represent. I am glad God gives us room to feel this pain. And today is about continuing to claim that God is good and faithful. May we all know that in the deepest part of our souls.