• Liz Shemwell

Faith, Fear, & Unexpected Blessings


Photos: Kaylie Plummer Photography; Kasey Moore Photography


People always told me that when I was done having kids, I would know with certainty. If I wasn’t sure, then I wasn’t done. Sounds simple enough, right?


We have been beyond blessed with two amazing, beautiful boys. Unique in their own way – both loving, kind, created in the image of God. Maximo is the sensitive, thoughtful, intellectual one. Marco - adventurous, athletic, courageous, and bold.


Before Marco passed, I would tell people that I was about 90% sure that we were probably done with babies. Notice the non-committal. The reason? Marco was so full of life, his energy filled the room. And he was very clearly meant to be the baby. Also, frankly, I didn’t know if I had enough energy to keep up with a third.


Then, after four short years, Marco was gone.


What remained was sorrow so deep I thought I might drown in it.


And I realized that I was right. Marco’s presence did indeed fill the room, any room, he was in. His absence weighs like a ton of bricks. The silence left behind, deafening.


In the fall, a year after Marco’s passing, we were faced with the decision of trying to grow our family one more time. We felt strongly, for several reasons, that this was a “now or (possibly) never” situation.


Emotionally, I was walking a tightrope between hope and fear, stuck somewhere in the middle. My personal life experiences have shown me that anything can happen at any time – good or bad. The thought of willingly putting my family at risk for the potential of more heartache was terrifying and crippling.


On the other hand, a continual thought kept creeping into my mind. What if fear, MY fear, was keeping my family from experiencing joy and healing? What if we were missing our blessing because of the pain of our past, because I was too scared to move forward? Would I choose fear over faith, or faith over fear?


What did I want? I had no idea. So, I prayed for clarity and guidance. Still, I couldn’t get out of my head about it. So, I prayed more. And then the answer finally became clear as I was sitting in the doctor’s office having this very conversation about my fears. The answer? What better time to give something completely over to God than when you’re struggling with your wants, fears, and expectations. So, I did just that. I gave it to God. I was determined that I would not worry about it again. We would be fine no matter what the will of God is for this point in our lives. He knows exactly what we need, His ways are perfect. We would continue to rejoice in the blessings and in the sorrows. We would trust in Him, and we would be okay.


My commitment to not think or worry was strong. In fact, four months later (in February), it was Ben who said that he thought I was expecting. I thought he was crazy. After a few days of back and forth on the subject, I decided to take a $1 pregnancy test in an effort to stop him from bugging me about it.


I was completely stunned as I watched two lines quickly form. I stood there staring at those two lines, still unsure of my feelings, hearing my heartbeat in my ears. Then, after several unmoving minutes, tears formed as I said aloud, “Lord you know what my heart needs. Thank you for this miracle. I put my trust in you. Your will be done.”


As the months go by, we are overjoyed as we simultaneously tiptoe around emotional landmines. Things like cleaning out Marco’s bedroom and going through baby items that both Marco and Maximo once wore. The pain of having a third child when only two will be here with us. The undercurrent of grief existing with the joy of God’s blessings and new beginnings, new life. Thankful that God is giving us a small piece of what we lost.


A friend of mine put it best when she said:

I didn’t know if this was your prayer, but I knew it would be your blessing.”

Isaiah 61 tells us that the Lord will bestow on those who grieve a crown of beauty instead of ashes, joy instead of mourning, praise instead of despair.


Our journey continues with this amazing plot twist, and for it we could not be more grateful.


Out of difficulties grow miracles. We are expecting our miracle in November.


Marco Shemwell Foundation

To bring hope, comfort, and healing by creating Marco Moments that leave ripples of positive change.

Email: liz.shemwell@marcoshemwellfoundation.org​

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