Friday, February 26, 2010

Happy Birthday!!!!

Hey Everybody!

I (Hannah, Stephanie's annoying younger sister ;) am writing because today is a very special day! Today is Stephanie's 23 birthday!! And since I knew Stephanie wouldn't post anything, I had to! Hahaha! =)

On a more serious note...Stephanie, I am so thankful that the Lord has placed you in my life! God has taught me (and still teaching me) so much from watching your example. From being a joyful sister, respectful daughter, patient aunt, confiding friend (I'm thinking of all those late-nighters of staying up talking and laughing! I'm glad our siblings have learned to be patient with us! ;), contented spirit, love for the Lord, the list goes on and on. I'm so glad to have a godly example of what a daughter and sister should be like. Thank you!! I pray this year will be full of blessings, love, and laughter! =) I love you!

"Her children arise and call her blessed;..."

(But in your case, your family rises up and calls you blessed! =)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

It's a Boy!

Today brought a precious addition to our family: Philip Zachariah Franseen was born this morning at 5:45. Heather and baby Philip are both doing wonderfully!

Noah and Mercy are both mesmerized by their new brother

Noah sharing his toys. He's anxious to have a playmate!

Dads excited about his grandson named after him!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A Step Towards Physical and Spiritual Health

These past two months have been full of many lessons and grace from my Savior!
The tool He's been using to teach me so much is eczema. I've never had eczema to the severity that I've had it this winter. As a child, I would occasionally get a rash in the folds of my arms; but it was rare and, many times, unnoticeable. This time it couldn't go unnoticed, as the main break-out has been on my face.
At the beginning signs in January, we tried every possible home remedy and recommendation others had about healing eczema, but to no avail. Since the beginning of January, I have experienced three "flare-ups"; all of them taking the same cycle of inflammation, weeping, drying (resulting in a very attractive scab), and slow healing from there.

The severity of the itching has sometimes required a great amount of self-control; made possible only through the Holy Spirit! Because of the discomfort and disruption of every day life, I was determined to find out what was causing this sudden problem and would try anything to clear it up.
The answers didn't come all at once, but have come through bits and pieces along the way. My Naturopathic doctor told me in September that I have Leaky Gut Syndrome (a condition of altered or damaged intestinal lining, caused by antibiotics, toxins, poor diet, parasites or infection. It can lead to increased permeability of the gut wall to toxins, microbes, undigested food, waste or larger than normal macromolecules. It has been proposed that these substances affect the body directly, while others postulate an immune reaction to these substances). At the time, she thought it most important to focus on my hypoglycemia/adrenal fatigue, because my bodies response to insulin concerned her. My diet was then focused on keeping my blood sugars leveled by avoiding foods my body didn't like, and eating only foods that tested well for me. Even though my blood sugar levels were regulated, I look back now and realize how unbalanced my diet was. I ate very few fruits and vegetables, and drank a tremendous amount of coffee.

At the beginning of January, the first flare up appeared on my face. We watched it for a week and concluded that it must be shingles. With my face covered in a humbling weeping rash, we went for a visit with our family Practitioner and he informed us that it was atopic dermatitis; brought on by allergies, skin sensitivity and a weakened immune system. He then prayed with me and prescribed a steroid, antibiotic, and a (might I add wonderful) drug to relieve the itching. After five days the rash was completely cleared up and I was thrilled about being able to get back to a normal routine and sleep through the night! About a week later though (while still on the steroid and antibiotic) the rash reappeared, and with each day intensified.
We were in pursuit to find out what allergen was causing the reaction- environment was our first target. Through trial and error we found that it was the wood stove causing the irritation. My family was so kind and suffered through the cold weeks without it. Even though we had found the irritant and removed it, we were confused and wanted to know why I had suddenly, at the age of 22, formed an allergy to something that's always been around.

It was about this time in our confusion that my sister, Christie, came for a visit. She was very sympathetic in seeing me and immediately began putting her researching skills to good use. After about two hours of research, we were given some answers to the many prayers we had entreated over the past weeks! All the symptoms went back to the diagnosis of Leaky Gut. The eczema, adrenal fatigue, sudden allergies to food and environment, and a list of other problems I'd been trying to cure. The diet and medications I'd taken were only treating the symptoms, and not targeting the cause. Of course it all makes perfect sense when all the cards are laid before you.

With this new found knowledge, I began a diet focused on healing the intestinal lining (this diet was created through information gleaned from the books Nourishing Traditions and The Maker's Diet; and websites like The Nourishing Gourmet and Passionate Homemaking). My diet mainly consists of:
plenty of vegetables; grass fed, hormone-free meat; brown rice and soaked beans; coconut and flax seed oil (which I put in my rice and shakes); fruits and soaked nuts; green juice and spinach shake; kombucha and coconut milk kefir; plenty of water; lemon water, apple cider vinegar, burdock root tea; and supplements like L Glutamine, Evening Primrose Oil, MSM, salmana, and digestive enzymes. Because the digestive system is irritated, it's best to follow the rules of food combining. It's also important to exercise daily and get a little sunshine when you can.
That pretty much sums up my exciting diet!.. another way the Lord is teaching me self-control. He always knows how to best get to the root of our idols: food and comfort being some of mine!

It's been quite an adjustment, but after only a week of eating well my face had improved drastically, and I was back to sleeping through the night. Although I was so excited about this improvement, my face was still dry and in need of some kind of moisturizer (with so many allergies, it's hard to find a lotion that doesn't irritate). Tuesday night I did some researching and found that Aloe Vera is really good for the skin. We have an aloe plant in our kitchen, so I thought it would be worth a try. I cringe now at the remembrance of how impulsively I put the aloe on my cheeks. My skin instantly started to burn and I quickly washed it off- but if was too late. Within five minutes my face was swollen and I couldn't open my eyes. Mom and Hannah graciously helped me to bed and encouraged me that it was going to be alright. When I woke up the next morning I looked in the mirror in despair...the cycle was on, yet again; and all because of a careless experiment. I didn't know it was possible to be allergic to aloe; but I'm going to be much more careful in the future.

It's been a little over two weeks now and, despite this new reaction, I'm feeling much better and am encouraged to continue eating well and see what happens with each new day.

Little Josiah has been my helper with juicing. Every night, when I turn the juicer on, he'll run into the kitchen with his precious smile anxious to help me

I am so thankful to the Lord for His direction; but most importantly His steadfast love and peace which passes all understanding- without which these two months would have been extremely discouraging! Even though it has been a long journey, I trust and know that He means it only for good. He does not willingly afflict the children of men (Lamentations 3:33), but allows suffering as an invitation to get to know Him better. I am so thankful that He loves me so much, and desires my fellowship enough, to place something so drastic in my life to draw my attention to Himself.

I have received so much encouragement and have been blessed by my wonderful family and friends! The Lord has used the prayers and encouragement to exhort me to constantly find my joy and satisfaction in Christ and to continually praise and trust Him when unexpected suffering comes our way.

Lamentations 3:22-27, 31-33

Romans 5:3-5; 8:18

1 Peter 4:12-1:153, 19; 5:6-10

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A Birthday Celebration!

Last night was our usual Tuesday night dinner with my grandparents; one of our favorite evenings of the week, for that reason. But yesterday was a little more special than usual- our dear Papa celebrated his 80th birthday!

He was so patient with me as I took picture after picture- adjusting my camera settings to get the right lighting

Spice Cake!

These gluten, grain and dairy free muffins are what get me through the temptation when there are yummy desserts in the house. It's amazing how tempting cakes can be; even when you know they'll make you sick! Here's the recipe for these delicious muffins. Enjoy!

Hannah's creativity at work...

Essie Rose


Sunday, February 7, 2010

Snow Fun and Fellowship

Last Sunday we woke to a South Carolina winter wonderland. Since the roads proved unsafe to travel far, we spent the day at home in fellowship with some of our dear friends. The day concluded in a game of Settlers of Catan, which is quickly becoming a family favorite!

The beautiful view from our porch. I was a little hesitant to venture further...even for a picture!

Spending some time encouraging and edifying each other after lunch

Hannah, Eve, and Carrie

Worshipping together

Like father like daughter!

Hannah's creativity at work during one of dad's turns

Dad, David, and Esther enjoying the snow. Who says you have to leave home to ski?!!

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