Hey! I’ve been pretty quiet the past couple of weeks. Those of you who also are on Facebook know that I had a little health issue that made it impossible for me to type. Not only did it make it impossible to type, it also meant I couldn’t do any photography, either. I’ve been going a bit stir crazy really. But after finishing my second pack of steroids a week ago, my hands are feeling pretty good. I’ve been working hard to get caught up on a lot of different things.

Quick background on the health stuff: We were camping a couple weeks ago and it was, quite possibly, the longest night of my life. I was freezing and could hardly move to roll over. I wrongly attributed my condition simply to camping, but by Monday morning my hands were so swollen I couldn’t close them, so I went to see the doctor. She diagnosed me with adult onset of Fifths Disease. This is a childhood illness that both my kids had a few weeks earlier. It does not typically impact adults, but in rare cases it can cause acute arthritis type symptoms, along with swelling and profound fatigue. After two days of a prescription pain reliever that didn’t touch the pain, my doctor prescribed a steroid pack. That, finally, got the pain and swelling under control. By the time I finished the second pack my symptoms were gone completely. The scary, stupid, interweb has stories of this being a chronic or long term illness, but I think that is even more rare than getting it in the first place, so I’m thinking (hoping and praying) that I’ve seen the last of it. Fingers crossed, prayers said, salt thrown.

The Monday that I went to the doctor, I also went on Facebook and asked for prayers. I started to do so on Sunday, but I held back. I can’t even tell you why I waited. What I can tell you is what an incredible help it is to see comments of encouragement and prayer just flood in. Friends asking what’s going on and telling me they are praying — I love that.

I’m probably considered an over-sharer by some. I do it very deliberately. I even make myself do it sometimes. I do it because, for me, keeping things private is not about protecting other people, it’s about protecting me. For a long time I thought, if I keep my struggles to myself then I can put on a mask and be who you think I should be. But what I learn every time I ask for help is that there is strength in letting people love you. There is strength in asking for help. Not only that, but I know what a privilege I feel when someone asks for prayer. What an honor to be able to join together with people and pray for a common need. I love it when I see comments come in from across the country. Along with my lifelong friendships, I have friends who I can count on two hands how many times I have met with them face to face, and I have friends who I have never met in person. It doesn’t matter; they will wrap me up in an encouraging comment, and their love lifts me.

I haven’t always felt this way. For many years I lived far away from my family, and I kept my business very private. It was an isolating and lonely time in my life. I had a few close friends who God sent to carry me through that time, but I was very much alone. A lot of that stemmed from my shame and embarrassment over my choices in life. This is an understatement: I married poorly. Then I divorced. Then I kept on making poor choices. And I isolated myself.

Having lived both ways — in isolation and as an over-sharer — I can tell you with confidence that living your life out loud and surrounding yourself with a circle of encouraging friends who love you is a fantastic way to live. Letting people lift you up, giving people space in your life to see your struggle – it’s a compliment you give the people you love.

I said earlier that I don’t know why I waited to post what was happening on Facebook, but I do know. I didn’t want to complain when I knew there were people out there dealing with far worse. I didn’t want to ask for prayers when I knew there were people out there that weren’t asking, but needed them far more than me.

We do that don’t we? We try to minimize our experience because there are others out there seemingly minimizing theirs. Who are we to complain? But you know what? Asking for help is not complaining. Admitting that you are having a really hard time does not negate the fact that others have it worse. There is not a finite amount of love, and just because I know that there are people who don’t ask doesn’t mean that I can’t. On the contrary, we never know who might be inspired to raise their hand when they see you raise yours and say, I need your help right now.

Life is hard. Sometimes I need support because the kids won’t stop fighting. Sometimes I need support because my grief is overwhelming me. Those are two different spots on the made up scale we have created – but when you are in the midst of either one, you need someone to lay a hand on your back and say, “I’m here.”

I have surrounded myself with physically present friends, and virtually present friends who have my back. A circle of people who, I know, when I’m down and I throw out an SOS they will surround me with life preservers. I’m thankful for each and every one of them. I hope I return that feeling. I hope they know that when they are hurting, I’m praying and trying to figure out if there is any way I can lighten their load for the moment. ‘Cause why? ‘Cause we belong to each other.

I encourage you to find the people in your life who love you and then let them love you by sharing your life with them. Maybe it is just one or two that you call, maybe it’s a whole Facebook gang. Either way I promise, it’s a deeper way to live, and it provides a color to your life and theirs that you miss if you live life alone.

Much love to you. And a huge thank you to my facebook gang.



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