April 17, 2003 - December 20, 2018
The first thing I think of when I hear that name is a sweet boy with an unforgettable smile. I also think about all the shifts I worked being his bedside nurse not being able to eat or go to the bathroom because he was so very sick. I remember when he had a stroke and we thought that was it. I remember the day he showed purposeful movements and started to have recovery and we saw the Jacob we knew and loved back. Of all the patients I have cared for in my life, I have never seen a child with the strength nor the will to live you had. It was clear you were different. That was the Lord in you.
From day 1 the Lord’s hand has been evident in his life. Jacob was born and diagnosed after birth with one of the rarest, most life threatening forms of congenital heart disease. He was in the 1% of those born with hypoplastic left heart with an intact atrial septum. For those of you who are non-medical, all you need to know is this is really, really bad. Outcomes and long term survival is very poor, even now 15 years later. But God! I am so thankful we place our faith in a God bigger than any statistic.
Chris and Lori chose life for Jacob and God began to work his first of many miracles to come in Jacob’s life. What an honor it has been to be apart of this journey from the very beginning. To be able to witness the work of God on display, definitely an honor I will never take lightly.
My words for you as his family.
You are are the salt and light on this earth. There are so many of you as family and friends that have carried this family through this journey. I know I can speak for the community of medical providers that cared for Jacob at any point in his life and say that it was our honor to be included in this amazing story God has written. It is because of patients like Jacob and families like yours that we can continue to do what we do.
Peyton- you are so beautiful inside and out. Seeing you these last few days I have realize that you are as stoic and strong as your mom. You have been the Best big sister Jacob could’ve ever had. I know he was so proud of you. How beautiful it was for you to sing worship songs over him in his final hours. The Lord has given you this talent and love for music to use for his glory.
Micah- my heart breaks for you knowing your brother is no longer here. I know you two have share so many memories together and I pray those will never leave your heart.
Chris- what a beautiful family you have. This has come from your love of the Lord and the way you have led them. What an example you have set for many fathers to come.
Jacob’s Grandma and Grandpa have always been there. From the day he was born to the day he left this world. You were always there. So faithful to the end.
Jacob's aunts and uncle... again so very present and supportive of his journey. I know your hearts are shattered as well.
And Lori, oh sweet Lori. Where to even start. I remember the long conversations we would have at Jacob's bedside. The times when we as a medical team thought he wouldn’t survive. But God! I remember when Jacob first went home after his first heart surgery. You talked about how he slept in his own crib immediately. I remember asking if that made you nervous not knowing if he was ok. Without hesitation you said no. You knew no fear but instead completely trusted the Lord with his life. You were his biggest advocate and never held your tongue when something didn’t seem right with his care. You have taught me so much about how to not only be a mom, but a heart mom.
What most of you don’t know is that in April of 2017, my husband and I brought home a baby to foster to adopt. He was a patient of mine that needed a home. He like Jacob has hypoplastic left heart syndrome. I knew exactly what we were signing up for. He is officially our son and we have loved every second of having him. Jacob and his family were one of the most influential people that God used to prepare my heart for my own journey with Reid. I have never met a heart family that lived so intentionally or with such purpose. There was not a second of Jacob’s life wasted. The Mowls never allowed Jacobs heart disease to dictate or define their life. Through Jacobs journey they came against some of the most unimaginable of circumstances. Yet they never pitied themselves or felt like it was unfair. When it really was unfair if we are being honest. They made the best of all situations. In fact just this week Lori shared about the Christmas they spent in the hospital when Jacob was only 8 months old. Peyton was 2.5 and she was pregnant with Micah. They all slept on the couch in Jacob’s room so Santa could visit them in the hospital together as a family. Cue the ugly tears.
I can’t begin to imagine the pain that Chris and Lori are experiencing. No parents should ever have to bury their child. The Lord has been so gracious to place them in a community that have surrounded and loved them well. It’s so beautiful to see how much Jacob was loved. I only know how much I loved him and his family. There’s not one person in my own family that doesn’t know who Jacob is. It has been so evident that anyone who came in contact with Jacob loved him just as much. I love how Jacob knew no stranger and he loved people. There will definitely be a void that no one else can fill.
What I do now know is that Jacob’s broken heart is now healed. He fought so hard for so long. He had so many years of a full life with no medical problems. I remember even having to text Lori and remind her it was time for a follow up. I love that they could easily forget he even had any problems. Jacob certainly lived like he didn’t. What a life lesson for us all.
More than anything I believe the Mowl family would want each of you to know that while these days are difficult they are surviving only because of their relationship with Jesus. The hope they have today is the same hope that has sustained them over the last 15 years. The same hope that will sustain them in the hours, days, months and years to come. The hope that is spoken of in the book of Hebrews. An unwavering hope. Chris and Lori have a faith that has been solid and has never changed.
Lori and I have had many conversations over the last few weeks about having joy in all circumstances.
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. (Romans 8:18)
We spoke of the Lord’s faithfulness and his mercy in Jacob’s life. We spoke of all the ways that God had shown up big in Jacob’s life. The fact that he was listed for a transplant and the team got the call just a few hours later that they had a heart. Only God. I shared with Lori that it was in my own journey with cancer a few years ago that I learned how real God was. He was more than someone I had read about. It was in those moments of complete desperation that he showed up and his peace truly covered my soul. I think the Mowls would agree.
I believe the Lord uses these moments in our struggles to show us He is who he says he is. He is a living God that is very active in our daily lives. He is working all things together for the good of his people. He turns our "what ifs" to "even ifs". Even if this or that happens ... Even if the very worst imaginable happens... He is still good.
The Mowls showed each of us how to have joy in all circumstances. That joy comes from the Lord only. It comes from a firm belief that Jesus is who he says he is. Jacob’s life was a witness to so many .... showing the true power of God. In medicine we can only do and explain so much and then there is God. I love that He is the unexplainable. He is the miracle worker. The Mowls have not placed their faith in man but in a God who created it all. A God that loves each of us enough to care for even the smallest of details.
Since the transplant, each of Lori’s posts have ended with #Christmasmiracle. Today is the miracle each of us prayed for. It is not the way anyone wanted this journey to end, but I still believe a Christmas miracle happened. Thousands of people have heard the name of Jesus and have seen the power of Jesus because of Jacob's struggle. The world has been watching and thousands of prayers have been said on behalf of Jacob. People have been flooding the throne of God with prayers and pleas for healing. Sadly, we see that God doesn’t always answer the prayers in the way we want. As believers in Jesus, our hope is in a loving God who knows far greater than we do for what is best in our lives. Because of that truth we can celebrate that Jacob is now fully healed.
His heart is now whole. He no longer is in pain. He is now with Jesus. Heaven is a place we should all long to be. A place with no pain, no heartache and no suffering. Thankfully you too can have the same faith that this family has so beautifully displayed. This same relationship is available to you at no cost. Call on the name of Jesus, confess your desperate need for him and it is yours. You may not realize it but without Jesus, our spiritual heart is no different than Jacob's physical heart. It is broken. It is in need of a miracle. Without this life-saving power, we are destined for death. You see Jacob was given a second gift of life on November 30th, but today he received the ultimate gift we as believers can ever receive. The free gift of life that we celebrate at Christmas. It’s not about the presents but about the ultimate present God gave us. His son Jesus.
A few weeks ago at church we sang the song “Hark” by Hillsong. It’s a newer version of the old Christmas song "Hark the Herald Angels sing". This song has been so special during this season. It is so beautiful sung and is how the Lord drew me into it. But you know what? I honestly had no idea what “Hark” meant so one day I googled it. Did you know it means “Listen”. I have sang this song for many years but just recently have I fully grasped the meaning of its words.
"Hark the herald angels sing, Glory to the Newborn King"
It is really saying... LISTEN! All Glory to our Newborn King. The Savior of the World.
Jesus, this newborn king. He came to this earth and suffered just as he knew we all would. He ultimately suffered and died in our place for our sins so that we can ultimately have true life. This truth is what I know Lori and Chris would want you to know. The gospel, the good news. As sad as death is, it doesn't end there for believers. Jesus loves each of you too. This is the miracle of Christmas. Jesus. Jacob has given us this opportunity to hit pause. We will not only celebrate the coolest little dude ever but we get to hear about this Christmas miracle.
Jacob my buddy, I know you’re having chips, salsa and all the water you want with Jesus now. Your physical presence will be missed but your impact on this earth will last for many years to come. Your suffering in this life was not meaningless. It was worth it. Your life was worth it. Every second of every day. You glorified God in your short 15 years in more ways than most adults every could. I can’t wait to hear all the stories for years to come of how the Lord used you to change the hearts of people and draw them closer to God. I pray many are saved because of you my friend. You will live on in our hearts forever. Until we see you again sweet boy.