Category: Relevant’s Own
December 17, 2016 by Relevant

 

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The following was written by Sara Frank, the mother of Allison Frank. It details what God did in Allison’s life through the faithful prayer of her parents, family, and friends.

 

“A little over three years ago, our oldest daughter was diagnosed with juvenile dermatomyositis, a rare autoimmune disease that can attack the skin, muscles, and internal organs. At our first appointment with the rheumatologist, he told us we needed to start her on medicine right away. He said that without it, her disease would only progress and that the longer we waited, the harder it would be to reverse the damage. The standard treatment was a minimum of two years on steroids and chemotherapy. We were honestly terrified, and told him we weren’t ready to decide that day, and needed time to pray about it.

 

After that first appointment, I became obsessed with researching everything I could about the disease. I would stay up most of the night every night, just starring at the computer screen and bawling. I was in the darkest place I had ever been, and so depressed that I just wanted to die so I could escape it all. I discovered through the research that before medication was introduced a third of the kids died from the disease, and a third were left permanently disabled; but with the medication, kids also passed away, because of the side effects. Either way felt so scary, and I couldn’t handle the thought of losing one of our kids. I often kept a lot of the information, and my emotions, from my husband. Because I was doing all of the research, his attitude was affected by mine, and I didn’t want him to lose hope.

 

Looking back, I was in such denial, and so upset, that I just didn’t go to God right away. I can be a huge control freak, and I think I believed that if I could just read enough, I would find some magic answer, and it would all go away. The weight was unbearable, and after several weeks of little to no sleep, I couldn’t handle it any longer – I was ready to just surrender to God. I felt led to start asking people to pray for miraculous healing for Allison and wisdom for us. We asked everyone we knew to pray for those two things, over and over. It still makes me emotional every time I think about a friend who looked at me one day and said, “You know I’m not the praying type, but I’ve been praying for your daughter.” God was carrying us through with the prayers and love of so many people.

 


 

“I couldn’t handle it any longer – I was ready to just surrender to God.”

 


 

It was during this time, that I literally felt closer to God than ever before. I wanted to really know and hear Him, so I began to set aside very quiet times with Him in the mornings. One morning, I felt led to pray “God, please don’t let me be unchanged by this.” I had been struggling with condemnation and wondering if maybe this was all a consequence for my sins. But if it was, I knew God didn’t want me to sit in that, but to change. Right away, I had two things come to my mind – sin issues I had been struggling with, and I knew God was calling me to deal with them. Since that morning, I have had freedom from those sins. I began to realize that God was using this trial to bring us closer to Him and make us more into the people He wanted us to be.

 

James 1 became our verse, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” I read that verse over and over and started to believe and see how we were finding the greatest joy in the midst of the hardest time of our life. Being that close to God was the best place we had ever been.

 

In the midst of all this, we were still undecided on the course of treatment for our daughter, and still seeking prayers and wisdom. In a short time period, I had three separate, unrelated people all suggest that we contact the same naturopath doctor in California, so we contacted her! She did some tests, and gave us a list of supplements she recommended. One morning, I prayed over the list, and was able to write exactly the ones I felt God was leading us to! We had also been told by several friends to try changing our diet, so we prayed over that as well, and totally felt Him leading us to the changes we should make. It was all a little overwhelming, but so cool because we felt like we were really hearing from God, and that gave us strength and hope that these changes might help with our daughter’s healing.

 

In the meantime, we knew we had to really pray about the steroids and chemo too. We had our third appointment with the rheumatologist coming up (about 3 months since the diagnosis), and we had to make a decision. My husband and I had both been praying, and the morning of the appointment we both felt led to the same thing: the doctor had been telling us we should do an MRI to see how much damage had been done to her muscles, and we both felt like we were supposed to agree to the MRI and let the results determine the treatment. If there was any sign of damage, we would start her on the meds, and if there wasn’t, we wouldn’t.

 

The MRI itself had been a scary decision because it was two-hours long and she would have to go under general anesthesia. The day of the scan, I would normally have been full of fear and anxiety, but instead, we felt a total sense of peace. We knew we had done all we could and that we had so many prayer warriors who had really, truly been praying. For the first time, right before she went back for her MRI, we texted all of our friends and asked “Please just pray for God’s will to be done.” It was such a hard thing to ask for, but we knew that it was the safest and best place to be, in His will. We were finally okay with whatever plans He had for our daughter’s life.

 


 

“We were finally okay with whatever plans He had for our daughter’s life.”

 


 

The wait for the results seemed like an eternity. When we finally got the call, the nurse told us the results had come back completely clear … there was zero sign of damage. They had also done an echocardiogram and PFT to check her heart and lungs, and those came back completely normal as well! We couldn’t believe it. I have never been that emotional or in awe of God. I hung up the phone and started balling and worshipping like crazy. I sang and danced around the house the rest of the day, just yelling to our girls that God is SO good. We knew He had given us His answer.

 

We went to our next appointment shortly after, and the doctor agreed to let us hold off on the medication, as long as we came back for appointments every two months. So every two months we went in, and each time, our daughter’s symptoms disappeared more and more. Before long, she had no symptoms left, and no sign of disease. It was seriously a miracle. Our doctor told us he had never seen this in his career, and had no explanation for how it could have happened. We told him we knew exactly how it happened – God had answered prayer. We are now over three years since her diagnosis and although they say you never “get rid” of an autoimmune disease, she is still symptom free, and we are still treating with just food and vitamins. Every day is a gift.

 

We are honored and humbled that God chose to give this story to us. We can see clearly now how he used every detail to make us better, make us closer to Him, and guide us in the directions He wanted us to go. And our daughter, at a young age, has been given a testimony she will never forget. So cool.

 

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December 14, 2016 by Relevant

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What follows is a story from Brian Steere on how an act of kindness changed his life.

 

“I met Matt Paddack, Relevant’s Worship Pastor, in November of 2015. A few months prior, my marriage was irretrievably broken, I had lost my job, I had no money, and I was unable to pay my bills for several months. I thought I was going to lose my possessions like my house and vehicles. Christmas was coming and I couldn’t even provide a gift for my child. I remember staring at the bare Christmas tree praying to God to show me my worth. The thought of being unable to provide for my child overburdened me.

 

Two weeks before Christmas I woke up and headed to my CrossFit class which the Wounded Warrior Project provided me to help with my physical rehabilitation. I used this time to help with the depression I was feeling. I said my good mornings to Matt and his wife, Holly, and after my workout I went to change and noticed a red card on my belongings. At first, I wasn’t sure whose it was and I am not a thief so I grabbed it and put it on the bench thinking it may have fallen out of someone’s bag. Upon setting the card down I noticed it had my name on it and what I read had me in tears. Inside there was a card that said “Something unexpected to show you God loves you” and attached to the card was God’s gift to allow me to purchase presents for my daughter. I found out it was Matt who gave me the card. I still have this card, and in fact, I have used it to start a new holiday tradition that reminds me to remember that day and the lessons God showed me.

 

On Christmas Eve, I had presents under the tree but my family wasn’t there and there was an awkward silence in the house. On the back side of the card that Matt gave me was information about Relevant’s Christmas Eve services. I felt rather than sitting in the house I would attend Relevant and am I glad I did. As soon as I walked into the Christmas Eve service I was welcomed by many people, many whom didn’t even know me. There was this black curtain up, bright Christmas lights were everywhere, and I believe they even had hot chocolate. The service wasn’t traditional, rather, I felt like I was at a concert. Pastor Ronnie was hilarious, and preached in a way I had not seen before which I thoroughly enjoyed.

 

I decided to continue attending Relevant because I enjoyed the preaching and being able to feel the presence of God again during their worship services. The presence of the Holy Spirit is not something that I had felt in a long time. I longed to continue to be in the Lord’s presence because it brought reflection and value to my life once again.

 

A year later, I still attend Relevant and even went through their Volunteer Staff program. Relevant isn’t just a church, it’s a family, and they are invested in me just as I am them. Pastor Ronnie still makes me laugh during his preaching and the music still allows me to feel the presence of God. But most important out of everything is this journey which has transformed me. Relevant has renewed my relationship with the Lord and shown me that I am valuable, I am loved, and most important of all that I am family. Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 states for everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven, a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to harvest. For me, my time was Christmas Eve 2015.”

 

To learn more about attending Relevant’s Christmas Eve services, visit ChristmasInElkhorn.com. To learn more about blessing others through Something Unexpected Cards, visit SomethingUnexpected.org.

 

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December 7, 2016 by Kelly Samson

 

For over two years I’ve had a lot of back and SI joint pain, sometimes severe, often just uncomfortable and annoying. Because this has been going on awhile, I started accepting this pain as something I might deal with for the rest of my life (often people do). As a physical therapist, in some ways I think I’ve gotten hardened by seeing and hearing stories of people having chronic back pain. Despite my efforts to treat it myself, it has never gone completely away. I had started praying before that night at Staff United about this back/SI pain and surrendering it to God, telling Him I believed He could take it away if He chose to. I’m not sure that I really believed He could though.

 

At the second Staff United of the summer, Ronnie and Matt encouraged people to go forward and be prayed for at anytime during the night about anything that they wanted prayer for. I immediately felt like God put on my heart that I should go and have by back and SI joint prayed for.

 

Since I was running the computer stuff at Staff United, I knew I would wait to go forward for prayer until the end…IF I went. In the mean time, from the start of the night on, the stuff going through my mind was interesting. I knew going forward to be prayed over, for me, meant that I was choosing to believe and expect that God could heal me if He chose to. Partly out of pride (the fact that my job is to “heal” people’s injured backs and SI joints and I hadn’t been able to make myself better) and also out of fear (what if God didn’t heal me and I truly believed in full faith that He could?), I wasn’t sure if I could take the step of faith and choose to go forward for prayer about my back.

 

Then, something made me think of the story in the Gospels about the woman who had been bleeding for 12 years, who reached out and touched Jesus his cloak and was healed. I had read recently that part of the power and significance of that miracle lies in the fact that the woman had been bleeding for 12 years! Even after all the failed treatments, she still expected and believed Jesus could heal her, and He did. The next song we sang after that story popped in my head had the line “[He is] Greater than our pain”. With all that on my mind, I decided I would go forward at the end of the night…if He could heal the woman who had been sick 12 years, I believed He could heal me too. I believed that He is greater than my pain.

 

I was still kind of scared to go forward. I was in a lot of pain that night. Going forward meant facing my fears and letting go of my pride. But, at the end of the night, I went up to Mitch and Kim Elliott and told them about my back pain a little bit and asked them to pray for me. Kim asked if she could put her hand on my back. Without me telling her the exact spot, that’s exactly where she placed her hand—the most painful spot, a very spasmed muscle. I don’t remember the words that Kim and Mitch prayed over me exactly, but I remember telling/encouraging myself to believe in full faith that God could heal me. To believe that He could do it.

 

In my heart, I think for the first time, I believed He could. At one point during the prayer, Mitch took hold of my hands and helped me stretch my arms upward toward the sky, while praying about God giving a spiritual traction to my back and he said something about this being a prophetic posture of me praising Him with my arms lifted for healing me.

 

I walked away after being prayed over, and instantly the spasm that I had in my back/hip that night was gone. I’ve had spasms like that many times before in the past few years, and it never before just went away. It usually took weeks (sometimes longer) for a spasm like that to fully go away. And there it was…gone. My back pain, gone. My SI joint pain, gone.

 

I went to Dairy Chef afterwards, and as I sat there I just kept feeling my back and muscles around my lumbar spine and SI joint, and I couldn’t believe how it felt. The tightness was gone, the pain was gone! I probably felt my back and my back/hip muscles 100 times that night. I believed that God could do it, but I couldn’t believe that it had actually happened!

 

I laid in bed that night, and stretched my arms overhead, like I had remembered Mitch praying prophetically for me to praise God for what He had done with my arms lifted. And I did just that. I praised God and I told Him that whether He chose to heal me for just that night, a few days, or for the long term, I would praise Him and remember the miracle of that night–experiencing Him be my Great Physician, my Healer that night.

 

I woke up the next morning with some stiffness but none of the dreaded “knots” and tightness in my back and hip musculature that I have grown accustomed to having. In the days that have followed, I’ve had some pain in my SI joint, but my muscles do not have any of the same spasms that I’ve dealt with for so long.

 

I praise God for showing me that night what He can do when we expect him to move!

 

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June 3, 2014 by Relevant

Some of you may know the journey that Steve and Cassie Hultgren have been on over the last several months with the birth of their premature twin boys. The complete story is below, along with what the Relevant community can do to serve them.

 

Steve & Cassie’s Story

Jameson and Harrison were both born 3 months early at 27 weeks. They weighed just 2lbs 3oz and 2lbs 4oz. They entered this world covered in prayer. Cassie was hospitalized when the boys were 23 weeks and she was able to remain on bedrest and carry the boys to 27 weeks. We spent our days in prayer that we would be able to carry the twins until they were viable.

 

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We were fortunate they waited a few weeks to be born but unfortunately were very ill. Both boys were intubated immediately when they were born. Unfortunately they had to depend completely on a machine (ventilator) to breath until they were 31 weeks old. At that time they were weaned to C paps which just assisted with breathing and then eventually to oxygen alone. It was a very difficult process to see your children struggle to breath every second of their lives and to not be able to help them.

 

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We were told at birth that both boys had small brain bleeds and that Jameson had what is called a PVL. This news devastated us. We found out that a PVL causes death of brain matter and Jameson may never be able to walk, talk or have independence. We at this point had to make a conscious decision to give to all to GOD or we were never going to make it. We reached out to our sharing life group and friends and family for prayer everyday.

 

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The boys had good and bad days. We would leave the hospital praying that when we returned our boys would still be alive. Around 34 weeks the boys started to slowly improve. Although we kept trying to give it to God, we kept worrying. We lived off prayers and faith. At 38 weeks Jameson underwent a repeat brain scan to evaluate his PVL and we were blessed with a miracle!!!! The PVL was gone. It just disappeared!!! The doctors all kept saying this never happens.

 

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That was how our entire hospital stay continued. The boys would have a difficult day and we would depend on the Lord and he would pull us through. He was our strength and our refuge and he brought our boys home! The boys will continue to have weakened immune systems and may have some delay from the brain bleeds but the the thing we have learned is that God has got this!! And there is no greater Physician.

 

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The Hultgren Benefit Concert

Steve is one of the drummers on our worship team. His fellow worship team members are stepping up and throwing a little benefit concert to raise money for Steve and Cassie’s medical bills. The benefit concert will be held at Dairy Chef in Elkhorn on Sunday, June 15 at 6:00. Donations will be accepted and Dairy Chef is donating a portion of their proceeds to help the Hultgren’s. We encourage you to come out, enjoy some music from the Relevant worship team, maybe a little ice cream, and help bless this Relevant family!

May 28, 2014 by Relevant

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Kimberly’s Story

In October 2013 Kimberly Hanfland was diagnosed with breast cancer after finding a lump during a self-exam. She underwent a double mastectomy and lymph node removal in early November. After recovering from surgery she began chemo treatments specific for the cancer that was found. The first treatments went by with normal side effects. Then the second round began which included a drug called Herceptin. This medication is meant to prevent the cancer from returning in the event any cancer cells were missed. After the second treatment of Herceptin, Kimberly was hospitalized for a week due to a severe allergic reaction to the drug that caused her lungs to fill with fluid.

After recovering from this setback, alternative medications were discussed. Two options were given, one that would be given thru her port and one that was 5 pills with less harsh side effects. Insurance would not cover option one because it is only used for metastatic cancers, not as a preventative. Option two is a drug called Tykerb. After a long battle with insurance Kimberly found out that insurance will not cover Tykerb either.

The Tykerb is important because Kimberly’s tumor was tested and this is the best treatment to give her the greatest chance of not having the cancer return. Unfortunately the Tykerb comes at a price of $3,600 dollars a month! In addition to the medication cost and medical bills from her complications, Kimberly still will be going thru a reconstructive surgery after treatment is completed.

With three young daughters, Emilie, Olivia and Kayla, Kimberly and Matthew are looking for the very best treatment to ensure she is around for the graduations, weddings and grandchildren in their future. Please take just a moment of time today to support the Hanfland 5 Fundraiser. Your contribution, no matter how large or small, will make a world of difference to Matthew, Kimberly, Emilie, Olivia and Kayla.

How You Can Help

Attend the Spaghetti Fundraiser

The Hanflands are hosting a Spaghetti Fundraiser on Sunday, June 22 from 12:30-7:30pm at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Papillion. Stop by after the morning Gatherings for lunch or go later in the day. There will also be a silent auction featuring tickets to Broncos, Royals, or Creighton games, bikes, tablets, gift cards and more. All proceeds go to support the Hanflands.

Other Ways to Help:

If you’re unable to attend the fundraiser, you can…

 

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