Debbie Nelson: "God is Good"
When you face difficult circumstances how do you respond? Do you keep a good attitude? And rely on your faith to get you through?
We introduce you to a woman who does just that. She lives by the words "God is good...all the time." Not only through the good times... But all the time.
On January 17, 2012 Debbie and Richard Nelson's house and all their earthly possessions were suddenly gone.
"We basically stood out here on the hillside and watched it burn. There was nothing we could do," said Richard Nelson.
Losing everything in a fire wasn't the Nelson's first tragedy, just the most recent.
Debbie and Richard were married 41 years ago. They tried for eight years to have children. Then finally, their miracle baby was born.
Jennifer Suzanne Nelson came into this world on March 28th, 1978.
But at 3 months old, she only weighed 6 pounds. At five months, little Jennifer was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis and needed heart surgery.
She wasn't supposed to survive. She did. And then lived a normal life, with the exception of frequent hospital visits and treatments, for 28 years.
"She was the joy of our life. She was a wonderful daughter. We were lucky to have her 28 years but we wanted her 28 more," said Debbie.
Just three weeks after her golden birthday, Jennifer got an infection while at the hospital and died.
"We had planned to go fishing. She was supposed to get out that Friday. But she died," said Richard fighting back tears.
As hard as it was to lose their only daughter, Debbie and Richard clung to the memorabilia and photos of Jennifer. But those too were lost when their house burned down.
And with no home insurance they're now spending their retirement starting over. In the process, collecting pictures, books, and any written memories of their beloved daughter from friends and family members.
"She was a joy to everyone who knew her," said Debbie. "Never complained. I got a lot of my strength from her."
And Debbie would need that strength. In 1999 she battled breast cancer. And won.
Four years later, Debbie lost her mother, her father, and one of her younger sisters all within four months.
Then just last year, the cancer she beat was back. This time so severe she was not expected to survive.
"They sent me home on a ventilator and a trach and said there is nothing else they could do."
But boy were they wrong.
In September of 2011, the doctor called to say Debbie had no cancer in her lungs.
"God is good and he's good all the time!" said Debbie when she heard the news.
That one phrase is what Debbie says has gotten her through. In good times and bad. Even just weeks after losing her home, Debbie said "God is good and he's good all the time."
That simple but profound statement not only keeps her going but it inspires her to share her faith with others.
After Jennifer died, she started the "Jennifer Project" which offers arts and crafts projects for other kids with cystic fibrosis.
And she's also known as the "card lady" trying to lift other's spirits in their time of need.
"Somehow He gives you strength. I have my faith in Him. And it only takes a mustard seed of faith to get you through it. He has a plan for us, we don't know all the answers. One day we'll know. He's good. He gets us through it," said Debbie.
Those who know Debbie's story are in awe of the hardships she's endured. But she hopes others will focus not on what she has been through, but how she got through it.
"Turn it over to God. He'll listen. He's there with you. He's a loving God and a mighty God and He'll get you through it."
A fundraiser and chili dinner will be held Sunday, March 25 from 5pm to 8pm at the train station in downtown Little Rock (next level main events room). For more information contact Cathy Lamb at 501-529-6721.