Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: Here’s Molly Veldt.

Molly: It was very painful to watch this disease progress. It’s an ugly disease and to see my children lose skills over the course of the years was painful, but there was also the blessing of feeling that God gave you the grace that you needed for that day.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Tuesday, June 5.

God has enough grace for the most impossible situations. That’s what one mom learned while watching her children suffer. We started to hear her story yesterday. Nancy and her friend Holly Elliff are here to pick the story back up.

Nancy: Holly, we’ve been talking with a guest who is telling us an incredible story of human tragedy and loss but also of the grace of God.

I’m intrigued by the fact that we’ve been reminded that being a Christian, being a child of God, even being a committed Christian, doesn’t spare us necessarily from having to walk through some really difficult, hard times.

Holly: I think so many of us, especially if we’ve grown up in a Christian home, believe that ultimately, God almost owes us a happy life. Then when God changes that, sometimes that’s a really tough thing to walk through, to realize that God has a far different plan than we thought He was going to have for our life.

Nancy: Our guest this week is Molly Veldt who has walked through some indescribably difficult circumstances, and any mom, especially, is probably breathless or teary as you’re telling this story.

But it’s also a story of God’s faithfulness and God’s grace, and a story of hope in a way that a person who doesn’t have the Lord could never experience.

Thank you for being here with us this week, for your willingness to let your grief and your heartache become something that could become a source of ministry and grace and help to someone else who may be going through their own grief and heartache.

For those who may not have been with us yesterday, let’s recap briefly. You and Matt got married in the early eighties, committed Christians, headed toward the mission field, wanting to serve the Lord.

God blessed you early in your marriage with your heart’s desire, which was to have children, and you had three in pretty quick succession, 21 months apart. But the first child and the third child, both sons, were born with what you came to realize was a rare disease. Just recap for us what it was that that disease was about and how it affected their lives.

Molly: Yes. They were diagnosed with a degenerative neurological disease called Leigh’s Syndrome. It’s a late onset disease. It impacts them, or you begin to see symptoms or signs of it at age six months.

Most children’s life expectancy is three to five years.

Nancy: You knew that they would likely have short lives, and you were having to go through the daily challenges of caring for two very sick, wheelchair bound children, with another little girl, a healthy little girl, in the middle.

So your lives were very, very full of sadness and challenge from the earliest years of your marriage.

Molly: Busy, busy years, as I look back on those days in my life. They were busy. It’s almost a whirlwind, but they were rich and full and good years, in spite of the heartache.

It was very painful to watch this disease progress. It’s an ugly disease, and to see my children lose skills over the course of the years was painful. But there was also the blessing of feeling that God gave you the grace that you needed for that day, giving you the hope that someday your children would be healthy and well and whole again in heaven.

While we did experience this pain and loss in huge ways, we also experienced God’s presence in our lives in profound ways.

Holly: A minute ago you used the word “rich” times. They were hard. They were busy, but it was a rich time in your life. That almost sounds like an oxymoron, to say that it was the toughest time in your life, but it was also such a rich time.

And that’s because you were constantly forced to encounter God’s presence in the midst of your circumstances.

Molly: I think that’s a lot of it, and I think just understanding that a lot of times, that is how God works. You think of the redeeming work of the cross, the pain that Jesus suffered for us on our behalf. And yet, what did that provide for the world for anyone who comes, anyone who seeks Him, anyone who looks to Him? They have forgiveness. They have a wonderful relationship with the Lord. And yet for that to be available to us, Christ had to suffer so, so much.

Just learning, yes, experiencing the presence of God, learning how God works.

Nancy: The ways of God.

Molly: The ways of God, yes.

Nancy: And realizing that out of what seems to be the most horrendous tragedies, sometimes God brings His greatest glory and purposes and blessing to us and to others.

Molly: It’s so amazing that He can do that.

Nancy: Now, in time,  you did lose first one child, and then another, and as we’ll hear later, ultimately a third.

But it was your third child who actually died first.

Molly: Yes. That was Cameron, our second son, but our third child. It was a bit unexpected, simply because Skyler, his older brother, was still with us and doing fairly well. We came home from one summer vacation, and he was doing very poorly in the car on the way home.

Nancy: He was how old at this point?

Molly: Three and a half.

Nancy: Okay.

Molly: We took him to the emergency room when we got home, and he had about a two week hospital stay where we struggled and tried to figure out what was going on, what was happening.

Over the course of a couple of weeks, we realized it was the progression of the disease that had impacted this important part of his brain which was controlling his breathing. That’s why he wasn’t breathing enough and was listless.

So one hard, sad day, we brought him home from the hospital, and he died in our home.

Nancy: You knew that you were losing Cameron. What were you doing? What were you thinking? It sounds even like a crazy question, but some of us have never been there.

Molly: Right.

Nancy: And each experience is its own. Tell us just a little bit about what was going on in your heart and in that experience as you were releasing this child.

Molly: Well, it was just a sad, hard day. There were lots of tears that day.

It was really my first experience with death. I had never seen it up close, and never in my wildest dreams would I imagine I would see it with my own child, except in a way, we knew that this was coming.

We had been preparing for it, although I don’t think you’re ever fully prepared. But even the two weeks prior as we were in the hospital and trying to figure out what was going on, we anticipated that this might be the time God would call him home.

So it was a very significant time for me to experience seeing someone in the present, especially someone you love and someone dear to you like this, slip into eternity.

I believe now with all my heart what a sacred time that is, while it’s full of tears and pain and sorrow, because you’re saying temporary goodbyes, you are giving your child to the hand of God.

There’s something very sacred about that moment. There’s like a veil there, and he’s passing through this veil into the very hands of our heavenly Father.

During those years that we cared for the boys, I knew that God loved them, and I knew that He loved them more than I did. So there was comfort in knowing that you were passing your child to this amazing, powerful, loving heavenly Father, and that He was going to take care of them until we got to see him again someday.

Holly: And you had wrestled through to the point of believing that God was even more of a loving, faithful parent than you were at that point, and surrendering that child into God’s care when you could no longer care for him on earth. That’s a tough process.

Molly: And it is a process. It’s not something that happens over night. Because we knew it was a terminal disease, we did have time to sort through and think about eternity.

And as they lost their physical bodily skills, you had time to long for heaven for them and look forward to the day they would be whole and healthy—but it definitely is a process.

It’s not something that we as parents let go of easily, and it wasn’t easy for us.

Nancy: Was there ever a point along the way—what you just described is so beautiful—but was there ever a point at which you found yourself thinking, “No, I can’t release this child,” clinging, holding on, rather than relinquishing? Or was just a battle being engaged in your own heart as a mom?

Molly: I think that was happening in those two weeks that he was in the hospital. Skyler, his older brother, was with us, and we were so grateful for that, but this was unexpected.

We just presumed how the disease would progress, and since Skyler was already six years old, we felt like we had more years with Cameron and that Skyler would probably pass into eternity first.

So, it was unexpected at that point. We did wrestle with the Lord. There was a definite wrestling that went on in my heart, saying, “No. I’m not ready for this. I’m not ready for this.”

Holly: Because you had had Cameron for such a short time.

Molly: Yes. We’d had him for a short time, and I don’t think we’re ever really ready to let go of our children.

It’s an unnatural thing for a parent to let go. It’s much more natural for children to bury their parents. It’s unnatural for a parent to bury a child, and there’s just no time when you think, “I’m ready for this.”

So yes, there was a wrestling, but also in that wrestling, there’s what God is giving to your heart in saying that He’s ready for him in the promise of eternity, the promises of what God has for your child.

As you let go of your desires and wants, you can, over time, surrender them to what God has for your children.

Nancy: And when it came down to it, you didn’t have any choice. You couldn’t hold onto this child. God made it clear this was His time to take Cameron.

And really your only choice was whether you were going to relinquish to God’s choice or in your heart become bitter toward God, which so many would have chosen to do.

So, Cameron goes to be with the Lord, and you have a funeral. I mean, it’s not just a one moment experience. It’s ongoing. What was the funeral like?

Molly: It was a celebration. We let off balloons; we had ice cream sundaes for the kids to have afterwards. It was, of course, a bittersweet time, and I don’t want to minimize the loss we felt in our hearts.

But as believers, when you say goodbye, it’s totally different. It’s a temporary goodbye. You know you’re going to see them again someday. You can look forward to that day with hope and promise.

So all of those things were part of my emotions and my feelings at that time. I am so grateful to God that we have that hope, that we can look forward to seeing them, that we didn’t just put them in a tomb and put them in the ground.

Someday we’re going to be with them in heaven, and I am so thankful for that. Not everyone in this world has that promise.

I remember being in a little bit of angst prior to losing one of the boys, thinking what was it going to be like to lose one and then have to face the other one on a day-to-day basis until God took him home.

Nancy: Knowing that was something you still faced.

Holly: That was still coming.

Molly: That was coming. And so another gift that God gave to me in Cameron’s passing was the way that He met us and the way that He reached and the way that He wrapped His comforting, loving arms around us and filled us with all this hope and promise of heaven someday.

That just took away all the angst that I had with Skyler, because we did have two more years with him where we would take care of him and get to keep him and hold him and cherish him. Then it was time for him to go home, too.

Nancy: Did Skyler know that he was dying?

Molly: That’s a good question. We talked about it all the time. He could not talk back. His responses were with smiles and frowns, and he could cry and express discomfort that way, but he couldn’t talk back.

But we certainly talked about it a long time. You know, the physical body can be handicapped, but the spirit cannot be handicapped, and I believe that we never lost sight of that.

During the times that we cared for those boys, we continued to minister and to pour into their spirits songs and Sunday school and talking to them about the Lord Jesus.

I believe they understood. On the day that Skyler and Cameron passed away, we could say things like, “You’re going to see Jesus today,” and let them experience the same hope that we were feeling for them.

Holly: How old was Hannah when Cameron died?

Molly: She was five years old.

Nancy: So you were having to walk her through this process, too?

Molly: We were having to walk her through the process. Yes, she’s been through a lot. We picked her up from kindergarten and took her home so that she could be with us that day when we said goodbye to Cameron.

She was in there, and she would hold her brother’s hand, then leave the room, then come back in after a little while. Other people were visiting us coming to say goodbye to Cameron, too.

The day was going on and on and on.

Nancy: It must have seemed like eternity for a five year old.

Molly: By ten o’clock that night, she’s coming in saying, “Is he still here?” A little comic relief!

Nancy: Which may have been just what you needed.

Molly: Yes. Yes.

Nancy: And just a reminder that our lives, our times, our days are in the Lord’s hand, and we have no control over that for ourselves, for those that we love, but we love and trust One who does.

It’s all in His hands when it comes down to it, and you chose to say, “Lord, I accept Your will, Your choice, Your direction for our lives. We are going to find a way to let Your glory shine through us in the midst of these horrendous loses.”

And you did within a couple of years then, lose Skyer as well. Was that a similar process?

Molly: It was similar. It felt a little bit different just in that it was sort of a close to a chapter in our lives, and it was an opening of a new chapter. That was significant time as well. We had him for nine years, so that’s a long time.

Nancy: And longer than you initially expected.

Molly: Yes, much longer than I had expected. It was similar to experience this bittersweet loss, but also the sacredness of letting your child go to heaven, to a very, very amazingly special place, which I look forward to experiencing some day.

Nancy: God’s given you a whole new perspective on eternity that you probably would not have had apart from having to release children into eternity.

Molly: I think that’s one thing that death does. It forces you to think eternal thoughts. With both Cameron and Skyler, when you’re right on the edge of this life and eternity, you’re right there, and you’re passing someone off.

You can’t help but look and think, “What’s next?” And that gave me significant perspective, too, on what we were experiencing because it felt so much like lots of pain, lots of suffering.

Early on when the boys were diagnosed, I thought, “This is just going to ruin my life. How can I ever experience joy?”

And yet, in the light of eternity, this is a heart beat, this is a very small part of eternity. I guess that too gives you strength and perspective to endure, because, while yes, it’s profound pain, it’s not forever. Forever is forever.

Nancy: Molly, you quoted a verse yesterday from the end of 2 Corinthians four, and I want to pick up with that verse and then read the paragraph that follows because it’s God saying exactly what you just said.

Second Corinthians chapter 4, beginning in verse 16, “So we do not lose heart,” and you certainly were in situations where you could have, and many, many would have totally lost heart. But the apostle Paul said, “We do not lose heart.”

“Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day.” You shared how you had experienced that reality even through the years of caring for these two dying children.

And then Paul goes on to say, “For this slight momentary affliction,” and listening to a story like yours, you think, “This is not slight. It is not momentary. It certainly is affliction.”

But Paul looked at the hardships, the painful, anguishing, excruciating circumstances of life, and with the perspective you’ve just shared of eternity, he said, in that light, it is slight. It is momentary.

Then he said it’s doing something. It’s preparing for us, and also “preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Corinthians 4:17). Paul is saying to us, God is saying through His Word, and you’ve experienced that these experiences in this life—painful, difficult, challenging, impossible as they may seem, when seen in the light of eternity—are brief.

And they’re nothing compared to this weight of glory that God has prepared for us for all of eternity. So Paul says, “We look not to the things that are seen.”

And if that’s all we could look at, we would be depressed all the time. There would be no reason for joy—no reason for hope.

But he says, “We look not at the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen,” which is exactly what you and Matt chose to do—heaven, Christ, eternity.

It doesn’t mean you put blinders on and you couldn’t experience or feel any of what was going on down here, but it gave you perspective.

And Paul closes that paragraph and says that the things that are seen—disease, pain, affliction, infirmities, terminal illnesses, death, funerals—these things are very real, but they’re transient. They don’t last. The things that are unseen are eternal. (See 2 Corinthians 4:18.)

And that’s the perspective God wants each of us to have in whatever affliction we may be experiencing now. And let me say, if you you’re not experiencing one now, hold you—you will.

That’s life on this fallen planet. There is death. There are tears. There is pain. There is suffering. But according to the wonderful promise from God’s Word, it’s not forever.

Heaven is forever. Eternity is forever. God is forever. And God wants to use that affliction to prepare us for an eternity spent in His presence. That perspective makes all the difference as we face the trials and afflictions here on this earth.

Well, there’s more to Molly’s story, and Molly, you’ve been so open and transparent with us. I thank you so much. Holly and I want to continue this conversation with you tomorrow.

There’s some more chapters in your life that at this point you had no clue were coming. We have a wise God who did know and was preparing you, and I know our listeners will want to join us again tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts as we continue talking with Molly Veldt.

Leslie: Molly’s been talking with Holly Elliff and Nancy Leigh DeMoss about what it mean to surrender.

She literally learned to surrender her children to the Lord. She also learned to surrender her future and her plans to God’s will.

Your story will be different from Molly’s, but you’ll still face the same issue. Are you going to surrender everything to God’s perfect plan? Nancy Leigh DeMoss has written a book that will take you into this question.

It will give you biblical perspective on your life, who owns it, and what you should do with it. The book is called Surrender: The Heart God Controls. We’ll send you this helpful resource when you make a donation of any amount to Revive Our Hearts, and we’ll include this week’s interview with Molly Veldt on CD.

Ask for Surrender and the CD series when you donate by phone. The number is 1-800-569-5959, or order online at ReviveOurHearts.com.

After losing her two boys, Molly Veldt was ready to close that chapter of her life, adopt, and move to the mission field. But there were many more surprises still to come. We’ll hear more of Molly’s story tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

 

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.