Today is my 31st birthday. As I reflect back on another year gone, I am thankful to start today with a new slate. Not a clean one, mind you...but this is going to be the first year of the rest of my life. This is going to be the first full year that I know that I have Lupus.

It's been a long road to get here...trips to the ER, negative bloodwork, diagnoses come and gone, and frustration out the wazoo. However, it's been a trip worth taking. Looking back on all those hardships, I realize how much it has given me...it has taught me patience, grace, tolerance, and given me strength. Some days, I would think about giving up...not giving it over to God, but just seeing myself as a lost cause. I know I had to do that to really appreciate where I am now, and i had to do that to see just how much lower it would take me so that, when I did give my woes over to God, I could truly appreciate the difference it made.

We all are more alike than we realize. I look back over this forum and see the tales of years of frustration like mine, and see the smiles and struggles of today...even after our diagnosis. I am so grateful that I found all of you. I have received nothing but warm welcomes and great advice and friendship from everyone. This board has become a great tool in my fight to tame the wolf...and I appreciate all of you more than you know.

I look forward to 31 now as a stepping stone rather than a stumbling block. I look forward to being a Lupus patient that defies the odds and makes a turn for the better. I know that I have Lupus, but Lupus doesn't have me. I thank you all for letting me know that I have my own cheering section on bad days, and even on good days. This is a special, God-sent place...and I want you all to know that I consider your friendship one of the best parts of my birthday.

Blessings to you all!