Baby Cora Rose’s birth in November 2020 culminated a long and arduous dream for Jason and Larissa Cockrell.
Raised in her hometown of Falls City, Nebraska, Larissa Cockrell, 38, loved working with children and had been active in children’s ministries since her teenage years. She graduated from Central Bible College in 2005, and felt blessed to serve an internship with Jay Risner at James River Church in Ozark, Missouri. That fall, she moved to Moorhead, Minnesota, and served full time in children’s ministry at River Valley Church. In 2008, she moved far from home and family to serve as children’s ministry director at Rise Church in Rocky Mount, North Carolina.
“Little did I know that my family waited for me at Rise Church,” says Cockrell, 38. “The Lord was about to add a husband and a teenager to my life.”
Jason C. Cockrell, 51, served as executive pastor at Rise Church. He and his then 13-year-old daughter, Amanda, had been there for seven years when Lisa joined the pastoral team. After Jason and Lisa spent time working together, they began to date. They wed in 2012.
Though they felt God had promised them a child of their own, they struggled to conceive for several years. They served as foster parents and tried adoption, but the door closed multiple times on that option. In the summer of 2018, they discovered a little miracle had been on the way for nine weeks.
“We waited till 14 weeks to share our news,” says Cockrell. “I couldn’t believe how many people came to tell us they had been praying for us.”
But that very week, in July 2018, their world came crashing down when Larissa experienced a miscarriage. As the days passed, she began to struggle with feelings of abandonment and disappointment.
From that point, her body went into what seemed like constant miscarriage mode for more than a year and she began to slide down a slippery slope of fear and doubt. She wearied from the hormones created by the miscarriages, the constant doctor visits, talks about adoption opportunities, and from being stuck with needles for various tests.
Cockrell, who also has served as children’s ministry director for the AG North Carolina District since 2014, tried to throw herself into loving other kids and fulfilling God’s call on her life, but she continued to fight feelings of hopelessness. It seemed her and Jason’s dream of a family of their own might never happen.
“There were many dark days,” Cockrell says.
“Larissa seemed to embrace the grief, yet honor the Lord in the loss,” says Justin Hall, a mother of four and Larissa’s friend for 13 years. “She cried when she needed to and voiced her feelings honestly.”
Cockrell, who had always enjoyed being around others, now often found crowds challenging. She sometimes forced herself to attend events, then fell apart when she arrived home.
“Finding purpose in pain helped process through my grief for a while,” says Cockrell. “But as time went on, frustration rose and questions toward God multiplied.”
The Cockrells continued to pray, cry, and talk together about the promises of God’s Word. During a prayer retreat, Cockrell says the Lord brought Psalm 31:24 to her attention, reminding her to hope in Him. Relief didn’t happen overnight.
“I saw life happening all around me, but for us it was at a standstill,” she says.
After a sad and lonely Christmas together, Lisa and Jason flew to her parents’ home. As they boarded the plane to return home, Lisa says she experienced a wonderful tranquility.
“All of a sudden, peace I cannot describe filled my heart,” she says. “That peace prepared me for the miracle that was to come.” In April 2020, Cockrell learned she was pregnant again.
“Though there were some scares throughout this pregnancy, there was not a moment I was crippled with fear,” Cockrell says. “I was filled with trust.”
“Friends, family, and church family have experienced the joy of the Lord through the miracle of Cora,” says Hall, a high school history teacher. “Larissa’s unshakable faith has, and will continue to be, a testimony about the importance of hiding God’s Word in your heart and relying on Jesus to carry us when we don’t know how to take the next step forward.”
Because so many people have followed their story from the beginning, Cockrell’s inbox overflows with stories of women who have dealt with infertility and miscarriages. Many of those accounts are more gut-wrenching than her own, she says, but as women open up — some for the first time — they finally can begin to process the loss.
“Sharing our story and watching healing begin in some who have carried hurt silently for so long makes the pain seem worthwhile,” Cockrell says.
Cockrell’s miraculous journey is similar to that of another woman who works for the AG North Carolina District, Joy Morris.