Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: As Molly Veldt’s faith has gotten stronger, she’s learned this about God.

Molly Veldt: God hasn’t put a smooth path in front of us. His promise isn’t that life is going to be easy. But He does promise that no matter what—and I feel very convicted and strong about this—no matter what the road has in front of us, He will be there.

Leslie: It’s Monday, June 4, and this is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Tragedy: we experience it collectively as a nation when disaster strikes. And you experience it in your own life where there aren’t any TV cameras or commentators, just pain. Today’s guest will help you learn how to live through tragedy for God’s glory. She’s going to talk with Nancy and our friend Holly Elliff. Let’s join the conversation.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Holly, you’ve been in ministry for a number of years. Both of us have ministered to a lot of women, and we’re reading a lot of the emails that come in from our listeners to Revive Our Hearts.

You know as well as I do that there is a lot of heartache out there, a lot of hurting people, a lot of just unexplainably difficult circumstances that make you wonder, “What was God thinking? What did He have in mind? How do I bear up through this?” And that’s just part of life.

Holly Elliff: It really is. We hear from so many women in so many different circumstances who are saying, “How do I understand what God is about at this moment?”

Nancy: "And how do I survive this? How do I endure this?"

I read some of those letters. I talk with some of those women when I’m in conferences. Some of them have experienced things that I have not experienced. And I think, “What do you say? How do you minister grace to someone who is really, really hurting? And how do we make sense of things that this side of eternity we really can’t fully understand?”

Holly: I think that a question on a lot of listeners’ hearts is, “How do I understand that the current moment is really about God receiving glory through my life?”

Nancy: You know, it’s one thing for me to teach on those subjects—to teach on the sovereignty of God and not becoming bitter and receiving the circumstances God brings into our lives. But it’s another thing to be in the middle of those circumstances, to face them, to face the Lord when your eyes are filled with tears, when you have no clue what in the world He is up to, and to still say, “Lord, I trust You, though I cannot understand.”

From time to time on Revive Our Hearts, we try to talk with women who have walked through different circumstances in life, different experiences, and have found God to be faithful. This week we’re going to have the privilege of hearing a testimony from a woman who has walked through some very, very deep waters and has found the Lord to be what He says He is: the God of all comfort.

Molly Veldt is with us. Molly, I’ve heard about you for years; we have some mutual friends. Actually, I met your parents a number of years ago. Over the years I’ve heard some of the unfolding of your story, and I’ve just been amazed at how God has given you, your husband, and your family extraordinary grace for some extraordinary circumstances.

But today is actually the first time we’ve had a chance to connect and to talk about your story. I’m so thankful that you’ve been willing to come and share with us today—to share with our listeners out of the message that God has put in your life. So thank you for being a part of Revive Our Hearts today.

Molly: Thank you so much for having me. It’s really a privilege to be here. I was blessed that someone asked me to do this. I feel like sometimes part of the glory that God wants to receive from the story that He gives us is just giving us the opportunity to tell it and to share it with other people. So I’m really honored that you would have me here today.

Nancy: You’ve been willing not only to walk through these deep waters, but also to find God in them and then to share your life message with others. It’s not a story that has just one chapter. It’s got a lot of details, a lot of chapters, as is true of a lot of our stories. We don’t even know what the next chapter is.

Your story has been an unfolding one. It’s a little bit complicated, so it’s going to take us a couple of days to tell it. But I’ll just start by saying that it is a story of, humanly speaking, a lot of tragedy, a lot of loss. You and Matt have been through some losses that would send any normal human being reeling, as it relates to the loss of, ultimately, three children. But it’s also a story of hope, and it’s a story of God’s grace.

We’ll have listeners listening who have perhaps been through something similar to what you’ve been through. Maybe their life circumstances are very different, and yet the same God who has met you and Matt and is walking you through this process is the same God who will walk every listener through whatever their story is.

So let’s start here. Holly and I just want to interact with you. We’ve not heard all the details.

Back in the early ‘80s, you and Matt were married. When you got married, you were both believers. Give us a little bit about what your hopes and dreams were when you first started your family as a couple.

Molly: That’s a good place to start. When we got married, we both were interested in mission work. My husband had been trained to be a school teacher, and he grew up in a very missions-oriented family. Growing up, he got to listen to missionaries sitting at his dinner table. His father was a pastor.

When I was at college, I got exposed to missions. That’s where I took my first missions trip, a short-term missions trip.

So when we got married, we had these great plans of being in the States for a couple of years and then going to serve the Lord in some overseas capacity. Specifically, Matt wanted to teach in a school for missionary children.

Nancy: So you set about getting the training and were headed in that direction. When you got married, or before you got married, were you one of these people who always wanted to have children? Were you really eager to be a mother? What were your thoughts about that?

Molly: Most definitely. My husband was from a family of six children, and I had three siblings. We had decided that we would have five children—that was the average of six and four. And we did.

I always wanted to be a mother. When we married, we decided that we’d stay home for a couple of years before we went overseas to adjust to married life and adjust to parenting. We planned to start our family right away.

Nancy: And it wasn’t long before you did start your family.

Molly: We did. We had our first son, and we named him Skyler. About the time that we were making plans to go through training—the first summer of his life, really—he started to have some health problems.

Holly: At that point, God began to take your plans in a very different direction.

Molly: Definitely. It took us a while to figure this out. It was a very unusual, rare disease. The doctors started working on him and testing him and pursuing a diagnosis when he was nine months old. But it was a couple of years before we knew exactly what was wrong with him.

Nancy: What were some of the symptoms?

Molly: Initially, just failure to thrive, not gaining weight. Finally we got to visiting a neurologist. That’s when we started to realize that we were dealing with something neurologically related.

In fact, I remember the biggest disappointment early on was when he had a MRI, and he had a lesion on his brain. Then I knew that we were dealing with something serious that may not go away overnight.

Holly: Something rare that was not normally seen.

Molly: And no guarantee that we’d be able to treat him, fix him, and make him well and healthy again.

Nancy: Now, in this process you had another child, your first daughter.

Molly: We did. We had a daughter. Twenty-one months later, Hannah was born. And then, a week after we found out we were pregnant again, Skyler was officially diagnosed. The name of the disease was Leigh's Syndrome. It’s a rare genetic neurological terminal illness. So it was interesting, as I think about it the timing, because we were already pregnant with our third child before Skyler was diagnosed.

Nancy: Where were you when you got the diagnosis?

Molly: At home.

Nancy: So a doctor called and explained . . .

Molly: A doctor called and explained it. Actually, Skyler was almost three by that time. So you’re always thinking, “Well, maybe with the diagnosis, we’ll find a cure. We’ll be able to . . .”

Holly: Someone, somewhere, can fix this.

Molly: Yes. Someone, somewhere, could fix this.

So when he was diagnosed, we knew that it was untreatable, and we knew that it was genetic. Of every pregnancy that I had, there was a 25-percent chance that this child would also be affected by the disease.

Nancy: They told you it was untreatable. Did they give you a prognosis? Did you know that it was life-threatening?

Molly: We did. We knew that it was life-threatening. I remember the doctor coming in with these different scenarios. He said, “Well, we know it’s neurologically oriented.” He said, “It could be a disease that will fluctuate, wax and wane over time, and maybe eventually plateau out. It could be something where we figure out what’s wrong, and we can cure him.”

He said, “One of the options is that it could be something where he will continually get worse and worse and worse, and it will eventually take his life.”

And I just remember thinking, “Well, I can handle options one and two, but option three is too big for me, and I can’t deal with that.” I found out, though, that the Lord is big enough to deal with option three.

Nancy: So how did you and Matt process this together, getting that kind of news? Were you talking a lot? What were you doing?

Molly: You know, it’s been a long time, so the day-to-day of it I don’t remember really specifically. We did talk. We found great, great strength through our church. There were people that really rallied around us during that time.

In fact, that was the first time that I really understood what the Body of Christ is meant to do—how we’re working together, how we cry together, how we laugh together. In our laughing and our crying, we’re holding each other up. I just had never experienced that before.

I’m sure it was all around me because I grew up in the church. I’m sure it was there, but this was the first time we had been the recipients of that strengthening through the Body of Christ. So I remember that being one significant learning curve for me: just understanding how the Body works. What a miracle that is.

Nancy: Did you face, emotionally and mentally, pretty quickly the fact that this child could die, or did you just say, “Look, we’re going to go forward and pray and hope that doesn’t happen”?

Molly: You know, I have to say that there were times when—especially in the process of trying to find the diagnosis—we were sort of these frantic parents looking for a cure here, looking for an answer here. There were times when we pursued and researched and listened and talked.

Once they gave us that diagnosis and I understood the nature of the disease and why it was terminal, I really let go of this dream that I would not just have a healthy child, but have a child that I was going to get to keep.

Nancy: So you set about to minister, to meet his needs as best you could, knowing that it probably would not be a long life.

Molly: Right. And his needs were great. He progressed the first year where he could sort of crawl and get up on his feet and move around. But eventually he couldn’t hold his head up, and he lost his vision eventually. That was another difficult loss: when he woke up one morning, and I knew he couldn’t see me.

He would do some talking and babbling the first year. But he lost his ability to communicate at all. He was profoundly disabled. He was in a wheelchair for nine years. At age five he had a tracheotomy put in. Early on he had a gastrostomy, so we fed him through a tube in his stomach. He required lots of care.

Nancy: In the midst of dealing with all of that, you had your hands full, but then God blessed you with this third child, also a son. And you found out that this child also had the same rare disease.

Molly: Yes. Cameron was born. Really early on I had my concerns because he looked and presented himself just like his brother. The angst of waiting was really, really hard.

Holly: How long was it before you knew?

Molly: He was diagnosed at 12 months because we knew what we were looking for. But he was about six months old when we took the test.

Our doctor, our pediatrician whom we adored—I could tell that he was really rooting for us, even though I would come in with these nerves about, “He looks the same to me.” He’d say, “No. He’s fine. He’s fine.” Well, finally at six months he said, “You know, I can tell you’re really worried about this. Let’s just go ahead and do the test and get it over with.”

By the time that we got the results, I already knew in my heart. That’s when my husband dealt with the grief of this second child also being ill.

Holly: How did you guys walk through that together as husband and wife without allowing that to just destroy your marriage?

Molly: You know what? My husband and I have almost always been on the same page with all of this. We’ve grieved together. We’ve prayed together. He has been my friend. He has just been part of God’s provision for me through this.

It’s not everybody that goes through these situations and has their husband as a helpmate. Sometimes it does separate families. But it has brought us closer together, and I feel so grateful for that and give God the glory for that, because I know that’s not always the case.

Nancy: Both of you were really grounded in your view of God. When it came to a crisis, there was something bedrock-solid, although it may have seemed at moments that your whole world was spinning out of control. There was that foundational conviction that God is wise and good—that must have been an under-girding thing to walk you through that process.

Molly: I think that is true. We both did come from strong Christian families. But my view of God has so changed through all of this. I mean, I think when we were first married we were so idealistic about our life and our plans—making plans and just knowing that because we’re Christians, God was going to bless them.

Now I understand God in different ways. He’s so mysterious. There is so much about Him I don’t understand and don’t know. I look forward to getting to know that mystery of God as we move forward in our walk with Him.

But I learned God hasn’t put a smooth path in front of us. His promise isn’t that life is going to be easy and good. But He does promise that no matter what—and I feel very convicted and strong about this—no matter what the road has in front of us, He will be there. He will be our Shepherd, our Friend, our Guide. He will be our Comforter.

Holly: The promise in Philippians that God will give us peace even in the midst of those things—that He will provide what we need—is pretty amazing (4:6-7).

Molly: By the time Cameron came around and began to show signs of the disease and began to be more involved neurologically, our needs were great. I mean, I had two in wheelchairs. I had two that I fed through tubes in their stomachs and one with a tracheotomy. I also had a busy little girl, a very busy little healthy daughter, who was in between them.

Holly: How old was Hannah?

Molly: There’s 21 months in between each. So there was Skyler, and then 21 months later came Hannah, and then 21 months later came Cameron.

Holly: So even if you had had healthy children, you would have been a very, very busy mom. But you had three young children, two of whom were sick.

Molly: Three in diapers for a while, until we got Hannah out of diapers. So it was busy.

Holly: Which is overwhelming.

Molly: It was overwhelming. But that was one of the ways, as I look back on those years, that I experienced God in a whole new way, as I’d never known Him before—how powerful, how strong, how able He was to provide and meet us at every point of need—because our needs were so great.

We had financial needs and physical needs—just the physical demands of meeting the needs of these children—and, of course, we had emotional and spiritual needs. Those were probably the most profound, and that is where I felt the richness of God in the most profound ways.

There’s a verse that I love from Corinthians that says, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day” (2 Corinthians 4:16). That’s how I experienced God during those years: through this day-by-day inward renewal.

Holly: Even as you were watching your children get weaker and weaker.

Molly: Yes, they were sort of a visual word picture of that verse, that outward wasting away. They were kind of a reminder to us of what’s happening to us, what’s happening to all of our bodies all the time. We’re always deteriorating, if you will.

Nancy: There had to be times when you felt physically so stretched that you must have thought you were wasting away outwardly—in terms of the physical demands of three young children, two of whom were very sick.

But you did experience that inner strengthening that God was giving during that time, that only He can give.

Holly: And obviously, Molly, with all that going on in your home, you didn’t have hours to go sit down and meditate on God’s Word. How did you find yourself able to find encouragement and strength from the Lord when you didn’t have volumes of time to go sit and be quiet or still? How did God minister to your spirit?

Molly: I heard somebody early on in a conference, a women’s conference, say that mothers of young children need to snatch that time. You’re not going to have volumes of time, but you need to snatch it. So during the day, sit down with the Word for just a few minutes.

I used to really relish naptime and just look forward to that part of my day, when it could get quiet and I could have some time to sit and reflect. But also, I think I really relied and depended on encouragement that came through the Body of Christ.

It might have been something that came in a note from a friend, or just a hug, or even a tear that someone would cry for me or with me. Some of that strengthening came through the Body of Christ that the Lord had supplied for us.

Nancy: Molly, this is such a rich story. You’re sharing not only the details and the specifics of the tragedy and the hurt, but overarching that, the faithfulness of God and the grace of God that were at work in your life.

There’s a lot more to this story. I’m going to ask if you would come back and join us again tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts. I know our listeners want to hear what happened. I will just advance it to say that you did lose those two children—“lose” in the sense we say “lose,” surrender them to the Lord. There’s nothing that could make that easy, nothing that could make that walk pain-free.

But you did find a Shepherd and a Savior who walked through the valley of the shadow of death with you. We’re going to pick up that story and find out more about how God met you through that experience and is continuing to meet you as a mom today.

Let me just say that the same God who walked with Molly through her valleys and is still walking with her today is the same God who will walk with you today through your life experience—whatever it is, no matter how hard it is.

You may be physically wasting away, as described in that wonderful verse that Molly quoted a few moments ago. You may have children that are physically ill. There may be financial issues. There may be an issue in your marriage. And you’re thinking, “This is a hopeless situation. It’s not my children who are dying; it’s my marriage that’s dying.” Or, “It’s me that’s facing this life-threatening disease—or something that’s more emotional or spiritual, inner in nature, not so visible.”

I just want to say that the God of all grace, the God of all comfort, has promised that He will be with you. He will walk with you through this. And He will strengthen you in your inner person, even as Molly has testified she has experienced during those very difficult years.

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been speaking with Molly Veldt about staying faithful to God when it seems like your world is falling apart. Holly Elliff has been part of that conversation as well.

Perhaps you know someone in the type of excruciating circumstances Molly’s been describing. At ReviveOurHearts.com , you’ll find resources that can help. For instance, you’ll find the transcripts to a teaching series Nancy finished a couple of weeks ago. It’s called Enduring Life’s Hardships. These transcripts will provide valuable, biblical perspective.

Again, there’s a lot of help just like that at ReviveOurHearts.com. When you make a donation at ReviveOurHearts.com, we’ll show our appreciation by sending Nancy’s book Surrender: The Heart God Controls.

Learn how to surrender your desires, your life, your kids—everything—to God’s wise plan. This book will help you learn this difficult but crucial process of letting go. We’ll send you the book Surrender along with this week’s conversation with Molly Veldt on CD. Both are yours when you make a donation of any amount to Revive Our Hearts.

You can donate by visiting ReviveOurHearts.com, or ask for the CD series and book when you call 1-800-569-5959.

What’s it like to watch a child slip into eternity right in front of you? Molly Veldt’s description might surprise you. She takes us into that moment tomorrow. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

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

All Scripture is taken from the New International Version.

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