Hey there. You. My friend. Lets be real for a minute. No, this is not going to be an upbeat happy post about how when life hands you lemons, make lemonade. This is about when life hands you NOTHING. Life is just sitting over there watching you and eating popcorn with resting b**** face waiting to see what happens next. Everyone either has been there, is there, or is going to be there at some point in their lives and its real. Real, messy, real messy, real hard, real scary, real sad, just plain real. Your emotions are fileted, your nerves are shot, your soul is so tired you don't know how much longer you can be strong. Let me tell you a little story....
My husband was a coal miner in 2016 making great money. We had just built a house on beautiful land and moved in the night before Thanksgiving. We had finally accomplished all the goals we had set out when we first got married. We were happyish. He was never home, he was always tired, but we were comfortable. Sure, I missed him but life is life right? December 28, 2016 I am sitting at Chic-fil-et (a moms best friend) with my two girls when I got the call from my husband telling me that he had been laid off. This was right after Christmas, the day after my birthday. So I packed up the kids, drove home with a brave face, and greeted my husband with all the love I had to give. I knew we were both sad and more than a little scared. Our faith makes us strong but we are still human, we still look for that next step. We decided that we would look at it as a vacation. We had our savings and the company had assured us that it would most likely be only a month before they would call him back. And seeing as it was hunting season, my husband looked on the bright side.
Two weeks later found me sitting in my children's bathroom while everyone was napping with a pregnancy test. Those two little blue lines have never scared me so much. OK, now we were out of a job and expecting the unexpected. Still, we felt that though God obviously had a sense of humor, he would take care of us. Our insurance was still good, one of the perks of being a coal miner, laid off or not. So everything went along fine. January turned into February, February into March, March into April (still no sign of going back to work). April rolls around and we get a letter that our insurance is going to be cut off because the company is filing for bankruptcy and the money for insurance has run out. Well, great. What do we do? We pray. We contemplate all of the possible avenues of getting insurance that are available to us. Then my husband gets a call from a company with a job offer. We are ecstatic! It is not the same money we were making but it is a job and with so many people out there looking, we were happy with the offer. The only downside was that he would have to work there 60 days before he would be eligible for insurance.
We are still living off of savings and now I have to pay for private insurance for two months because we cant be without insurance with two kids and one on the way. When you are pregnant, the doctor wants to see you all of the time. So here we go, $850 a month for insurance that was ultimately never even filed on. He starts the job, we tell our family that we are expecting (at five months, no one even guessed I was pregnant), and life seemed to be settling out. Now we are going along into around August. Almost nothing in savings, but making it. My son was born the end of September and my husband got a week off. No one tells you how crazy it is going from two kids to three kids. I figured nothing could be harder than going from one to two, but that was relatively easy compared to going from two to three. It didn't help that I had post partum depression and would cry at the drop of the hat. But everything leveled out after about two months. We are into November now and celebrating one year in the house! Yay!
An explosion happens at my husbands work. Thankfully no one is hurt, but a very important piece of equipment is damaged. My husband comes home with the news, there is another lay off. Last hired and all, he was laid off with a severance package and a notice that our insurance would end shortly after. REALLY life, these are not lemons! We hit our knees in prayer again. This time we have no savings. Its December 6th and our kids having nothing under the tree. We are tired, weary, sad, raw. Again? What did we not learn the first time? We need to catch our breath! We need a break! We need to know that there is an end to this seemingly endless up hill battle! In the middle of the storm, it is hard to remember that there are blue skies just above the grey. We held on to each other and our family and we didn't let go. Some days he would be down and I would lift him up. Some days I would be down and he would be my rock. We did as much as we could to keep life the same for our children.
News reached us that they were calling people back to the mines. I hated for him to even think of going back. It is dangerous, stressful work. It is the kind of work that makes you hold on a little longer than normal when you see them out the door to work. The kind that makes you wait up for them to get home at night. And it is the kind of job that my husband went back to on December 19th with full insurance and benefits starting that day. A sacrifice for his family. One that I both admire and hate all at the same time. And this is where we stand. Holding onto one another, taking life day by day, and waiting for the clouds to part so that we can catch the rays of sunshine when they come through. Following my passion is one of those rays. Chasing the light is a term used by natural light photographers that really stuck with me. They use light for capturing beautiful pictures and preserving happiness. Chasing the light in life means finding those rays of hope, even in the storm. Those little moments that refresh you enough to help you keep on going. The balm that doesn't heal the soul, but soothes it enough to get you to another day.
Sometimes life hands you lemons, sometimes it pummels you with lemons, and sometimes it doesn't bother picking lemons and throws the whole tree. Use those times to grow and learn, adapt and breath. Those are life lessons that help you along. And then sometimes, life doesn't hand you a damn thing. It sits back and watches you crash and burn over and over. It lets you drift on the ocean with no goal or purpose in sight. There is no cliff hanger to get through, climax or antagonist. Most of the time these moments sneak up on you. You go through the motions and go through the motions and suddenly one day become aware of the fact that you haven't had a break in months. You keep trying your hardest and nothing seems to change. Your nerves are shot, you feel like you have lost control and you just want everything to stop. Just let you breath. Let you see the light at the end of the seemingly endless tunnel. Give you a chance to analyze how to adjust course and get back to calmer seas.
That is the time when you have to stop trying to find a stopping point, but make one. Stop and breath. Stop and say a prayer. Stop and look for the good, the light. Because once you look for it you will find it. It is there, even in my story. Yes we were laid off and it was hard. But I got to spend time with my husband and he got to spend time with his family. Yes we had an unexpected child, but I love my son more than anything and he has been the happiest blessing. Yes, we barely got by for a long time and it was truly scary, but we leaned on each other and our faith was strengthened. There truly is light, even in the dark, even when life hands you nothing. Even when life hands you nothing....chase the light.