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.


  1. I LOVE the tattoos that you and Ben got! I have been telling Jeff I want one (he is not too fond of them!) but how did you find out how to write his letters in Hebrew? Is there a good website you went to? Did you just know? :) I would love to know how to write our boys names in Hebrew. Very very VERY cool!! Hope the last few weeks of your pregnancy go well!

  2. amazing and exciting Sarah. praying for many new blessings with the addition of two new feet ;-)

  3. apparently i cannot leave a comment as me, this is Melissa Martynyuk...dimo is my husbands google account and that is how it is allowing me to comment. oh the joys of technology.

  4. One of the blessing of children are how much we learn through them. You bless me in many ways. Your dad and I are so proud of you and Ben. We agree.... God is GOOD... all the time. Love you.

  5. So glad you and yours are doing well... I have loved having the opportunity to travel with you through your blog on your journey to healing. It is a slow process I am sure at times but I know God is using your families story to encourage and reach others for HIS ultimate glory. I love your tatoos.. what a great reminder of your Carter. I am so excited for your new adventure and little man who will soon be here. Just wanted to say thanks for sharing.. jess

  6. I got an hebrew tattoo in my back and now I got a keloid. Are yours tatoos fine? A friend told me that the works in ink of hebrew letters can cause scars. Thanks.

  7. This blog is a good one! Its original, thanks for the
    info! Is there a way I can tell my people about this
    post. for more info visit Sold on

  8. Bless your family for sharing your story.

    The hymn Nearer My God To Thee comes to mind......

    Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!
    E’en though it be a cross that raiseth me,
    Still all my song shall be, nearer, my God, to Thee.
    Nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!
    Though like the wanderer, the sun gone down,
    Darkness be over me, my rest a stone;
    Yet in my dreams I’d be nearer, my God, to Thee.
    There let the way appear, steps unto Heav’n;
    All that Thou sendest me, in mercy giv’n;
    Angels to beckon me nearer, my God, to Thee.
    Then, with my waking thoughts bright with Thy praise,
    Out of my stony griefs Bethel I’ll raise;
    So by my woes to be nearer, my God, to Thee.
    Or, if on joyful wing cleaving the sky,
    Sun, moon, and stars forgot, upward I’ll fly,
    Still all my song shall be, nearer, my God, to Thee.
    There in my Father’s home, safe and at rest,
    There in my Savior’s love, perfectly blest;
    Age after age to be nearer, my God, to Thee.

    Your angel baby will be with you again in heaven, try to be worthy of that so you will have the privledge of raising the child in the millenium. It is beautiful doctrine. Families can be forever, read more:
    marriage can last forever. Death can part us
    from one another only temporarily. Nothing can part us forever
    except our own disobedience. This knowledge helps us work
    harder to have a happy, successful marriage.