I recently graduated from The University of North Alabama with a degree in Mass Communications. When I started UNA in the fall of 2010, I immediately started hearing about a professor - Dr. Larry Nelson. I had several friends that would go to his house with him and his wife for these "Edifying Gatherings." I wanted in on this. I had my boyfriend at the time take me to a gathering and I fell in love with the Nelsons. They loved Jesus more than anyone I've ever met. I knew I should be living like Larry Nelson because he was trying to live like Jesus. I grew very close to Larry and Verlie and even had a sleepover at their house with some of my girlfriends. Verlie cooked for us at least once a month and made us her special "Verlie cake."
I just knew I had been placed at UNA for several reasons, and to meet Larry was one. At 70 years old, he was one of my very best friends. At the end of 2013, Larry had a minor wreck and was taken to the hospital to be checked out. They found a tumor on his brain. He had cancer. I was devastated. The whole community was. We prayed over him, loved on him, and even showed up at his house unannounced and made a huge student-filled circle around his home to pray healing over him. All along, he always just said, "Less Larry, More Jesus." He said this cancer wouldn't bring death, but life. It was for the glory of God no matter the outcome. His constant faith and gratitude inspired me every single day.
He died on January 15, 2014. I was at his house to tell him goodbye the day before. I felt like I had lost my best friend. Oddly enough, I had so much peace. The day I had gone to his house to tell him how much I loved him and hoped he could hear me, his whole family was there. His wife was handling it so well and I just thought, "Wow. She has the strength of God radiating from her." I was, again, inspired - this time by the strength and love of his wife. I knew what I had to do. I took off my giving key necklace that had INSPIRE written on it and handed it to her. I briefly explained it, and I don't think she even understood, but I understood and I knew I had given it to someone who had inspired me to the fullest. I hope to be just like Larry and Verlie. Even in their time of despair, they inspired me to always have the mindset of "Less Kaitlin, More Jesus."