Inspiration: Debbie Nelson

This isn’t one of my typical “inspiration” posts. I’m not even talking about stitching. I’m talking about a woman whose remarkable spirit uplifts everyone she meets. And she needs our help.

Remember this group photo from our Fork and Talk blogger meet-up last September? Front and center is Debbie Nelson. At that time, she was still battling a second bout of metastatic inflammatory breast cancer–as is evidenced by her trach and stylishly bald head. I am so happy to tell you that, beyond anyone’s expectations–especially her doctors’–Debbie is now cancer free. The bad news is that a few weeks ago, Debbie and her husband, Richard, watched their house burn to the ground in 15 minutes. They lost everything. They had no insurance. Their friends and community rallied round, meeting their immediate medical needs and supplying them with basic clothing and necessities. And efforts continue to raise funds to provide them a place to live. About 30% of the costs have been raised to get them a mobile home with a wheelchair ramp.

This is just the latest in a 10-year run of challenges and tragedies for Debbie and Richard that would have defeated most of us. But Richard says, “We have so much to be thankful for.” And Debbie’s bywords are, “God is good. And he is good all the time.” Today as always, Debbie focuses her energy on helping and encouraging others. In fact, she’s known as “the card lady” because, even when she was in the hospital or housebound, she spent time nearly every day handcrafting greeting cards and then using them to express thanks to anyone who had helped her, celebration to anyone passing a milestone, or loving support to anyone who was struggling, particularly other women with breast cancer. Like everything else, Debbie’s stash of craft supplies was destroyed by the fire.

I hope you will read or watch the feature story that aired on local television yesterday to get to know Debbie a little better. Then, please consider making a donation to the Nelson Fire Fund to help provide Debbie and Richard with a home. Or send a craft-store gift card to me, and I will deliver it to Debbie for you. Or do both!

Debbie Nelson is a precious personal friend of the four CraftGossip editors who live in Arkansas. But even if she were a stranger, she’s the kind of woman I want to support. She’s the kind of woman I want to be.


Updated 2/16/12, 12:05 a.m.: You can donate via PayPal by logging into your account and using the “Send Money” tab to send an amount to Or you can mail donations to Nelson Fire Fund, Fellowship North Church, 1 East 52nd Place, North Little Rock, AR 72116, USA.

Craft-store chains in our area are Michaels, Hobby Lobby, and JoAnn. Please send gift cards for craft supplies to Denise Felton, 54 Garden Oaks Drive, Maumelle, AR 72113, USA. I’ll post photos when I deliver the cards to Debbie.



  1. Laurie says

    Oh no!!! I’m going to try to round up some donations in the NWA community. Has there been a story on the news or anything? Doing a story about her medical challenges plus the support she has given to others through her journey might get the attention of someone who is able to donate a home or furniture, or something. Just a thought.

  2. says

    Hi, Laurie! There’s a link in paragraph 4 of my story above to a feature that aired on Little Rock TV on February 13. It does a beautiful job of telling Debbie and Richard’s story.


  3. says

    The Nelsons are living temporarily in a friend’s lake cabin. A Facebook group was organized to locate furnishings for the Nelson’s new home when it’s available. Most of the furniture they will need has been gathered. I’m sure there will be showers and other events to help replace linens and supply their kitchen. Now, we just have to get them the home!


  4. Irene M. says

    I love to hear about people like her, always giving even when she has next to nothing. People think “taking” will make them happy. But obviously Debbie knows the true key to happiness is when you look outside yourself and find a way to make others smile.

  5. says

    I really enjoyed meeting Debbie at the “Fork and Talk” last Fall. What terrible tragedies and remarkable Faith Debbie and her husband show others every day. I’ll certainly help in whatever way that I can.

  6. says

    It was such a pleasure meeting Debbie last fall. She is the type of person who instills courage and faith in everyone around her. What a testimony that through all their troubles, this couple has remained steadfast.

    Can you check the Paypal link? I was unable to access it from the article link and want to donate.

  7. Mary Friederichsen says

    Hi Denise!
    I have craft supplies that I would be so willing to donate and send to her. Is that some thing that I could do for her. I know that when having health issues sometimes it is hard just getting to the local craft stores . I have papers and embellishment, and even some stamps ( I sell {ipptiy } stamp by Unity) so I have some sets I can send as well. Please let me know of that would be okay to do?! You can send me an e-mail if you would like. What other things does she do besides card making?
    I will keep them in my prayers. By her and her husbands actions they are teaching us all about the goodness of our Lord. Though they are tested their faith remains strong. And the Lord is providing for them. And Praise the Lord she is in remission again!
    Blessings and Hugs,

  8. says

    I’m so sorry about the issues with the PayPal link. We keep correcting it, and it keeps reverting to an expired session. I’ll make a permanent fix as soon as I can.

    Mary, how lovely that you would share supplies with Debbie! Her primary craft interests are scrapbooking and card making, so any suitable supplies would be wonderful. If you’d like to ship supplies, just send them to my mailing address (shown near the bottom of my post), and I’ll put them in her hands from you.


  9. Maxine Miller says

    So sorry to hear of the tragedy. What kind of craft supplies does she need? I have some yarn i have been wanting to down size. Does she crochet or knit? Please email me to let me know.
    Thank you,

  10. says

    Hi, Maxine! Thank you so much for your gracious offer! We’re focusing on gathering scrapbooking and card-making supplies. So far as I know, Deb does not knit, crochet, or sew. She loves pretty papers, stamps and inks, punches, adhesives, embossing powders, and other embellishments. In fact, she’ll have to replace some of the pricier basics such as scissors, paper cutter, bone folder, hole punch, and other similar tools. That’s why I thought a gift card might be helpful–if several people gave cards for $5, Debbie could combine them to buy, for example, a paper cutter.

    That’s just my thinking, not Debbie’s. I know she would be grateful for any support you lend her.


  11. Mary Friederichsen says

    Thanks Denise for answering so quickly ! I will get some things together for her. I have one of those flat rate shipping boxes from the post office that will hold the 12×12 paper. I will see what else I can fit into it!

    Thanks again!

  12. Kimberly Eagle says

    Thank you Denise for such a wonderful post!

    And thank you all for your wonderful comments about my sister. She is a true inspiration to so many .. some day when I grow up I want to be just like her. :)

    I wish there was a registry for craft supplies .. wouldn’t that be fun?

    Hugs to all,

  13. Mary Friederichsen says

    Hi Denise!
    I have not forgotten about sending those items!
    Just wanted you to know that I will send them out to you this weekend. Sorry for the delay. I hope things are looking better for her now. Keeping her in my prayers.


  14. says

    Thank you, Mary! The response from the community has been incredible. A family is paying forward the kindness they received when their own house burned by GIVING Debbie and Richard a two-bedroom mobile home. Volunteers from a church-based charity are doing the hook-ups and building not only a wheelchair ramp but also a craft-room addition for Debbie! I’ll post a follow-up story soon. But in the meantime, a thousand thanks to everyone who has contributed in any way to relieving stress for Deb and Richard and improving the quality of their lives.


  15. Brittany says

    I just pinned this to my Pinterest account and I’m making my way over to Paypal now. I see that they have been given a trailer and that volunteers are doing the ramp – I’m ecstatic – but it’s not going to keep me from donating. I want Debbie to continue to CREATE and INSPIRE. YOU GO GIRL!!!!! And Mr. Nelson – YOU GO ON WITH YOUR BAD SELF TOO!

  16. says

    Hi Denise!
    This makes me so happy to hear how much their community has come together for them!
    Well I kept adding things to her box, so it is FINALLY in the mail to you!
    If you do not receive it by friday, since I am not sure how long priority mail takes ( I am in calif.) to reach you,will you please let me know?
    I hope she enjoys the box!

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