Posted by: Shawn Ragan | October 31, 2008

Working Again, I hope

When I left the pastorate, I took a job as an apprentice electrician.  It was a pretty big cut in pay to take that job, but we knew we’d have to cut some things.  I am in school right now as well, and we are trying to build some for the future…being an apprentice is part of that as well.  Now, it’s pretty tight, but a journeyman makes quite a bit more than an apprentice, and it would give me a trade I could always fall back on even if I decide to do something else.

The last few weeks, though, we have felt some of what it means to be in construction right now.  I have been in a temporary lay-off for a month.  And, because I was a pastor the last eight years, I am ineligible for unemployment benefits, so I have had no income.  My wife started working in September for the school district, but they turn time cards in once a month, then do not issue checks for three weeks.  During this time, I have had to search for work and do whatever odds and ends I could.  We started this layoff with almost no savings, and we do not use credit cards, so we thought it would be a real struggle.

Fr. Patrick has said to me that the Psalmist says that he never saw a righteous man begging bread.  I am not very righteous, but God in his goodness and mercy and showed His grace and love anyways.  I am not exactly sure how it happened, we should be at least hundreds of dollars negative in our account right now.  But we are not.  It is not black by much, but the account is in the black.  We have had food to eat, our bills have been paid.  The only one we were behind on at all is our rent, and my landlord was nice enough to offer to let us do some work on our house in exchange for some rent money.  We are going to get some much needed work and paint and a break on our rent.

We harldy did any grocery shopping over the month, and hardly needed to.  Meals were brought to us a couple of times, and some friends and family helped out with some groceries.  But it seems like it shouldn’t of lasted so long.  Thinking about it, I still wonder in amazement a little.  It has been very tight, but we didn’t starve, and we were able to pay bills.  Not really anything extra, but that is more than enough.

I think the layoff is over, Lord willing, and I will be going back to work Monday.  I worked today at my job for almost an entire day, and I am working tomorrow for a friend for at least part of a day.

Things are a struggle, and even with me working it is financially very tight, but God has shown us that He can help us endure and make it through.

Lord have mercy on me, a sinner.



  1. I hope everything ends up working out okay for you. Our God is truely gracious and while he tests us sometimes, I have no doubt he will not let us fall too far into need. The Holy Fathers tell us time and time again that it is through struggling and suffering that we are able advance ourselves. I hope that you are able to see this as a chance to struggle and rely on God to get you through. God bless!


  2. May you be blessed my friend. Surely your patience in all this is not going unnoticed. In the end, Wisdom will answer the “whys”. Maybe you’ll bless us with blog post about it someday soon. May the Lord will it so. God Bless.

  3. “Take no thought” doesn’t mean “don’t look for work”. Ever seen a bird of the air just sitting when it is hungry? Food is out there but you gotta fly. 🙂
    I’ve been self employed for 26 years and have mowed lawns, hung pictures, dug ditches, swept parking lots… you name it. We’ve been late on bills, but never hungry or without “enough”. It is a lesson in faith and works.

  4. That is what we have been doing…whatever work we can find to do. I have put out a bunch of applications for other jobs, but in the mean time I have done whatever work I could find…almost of all my time has been consumed in looking for work, and doing whatever work I could find – almost always for less an hour than I make as an apprentice.

    I worked somewhere, doing something every week, but I wasn’t able to squeeze 40 hours of work each week, neither did I get paid what a full week of work would have been – though I feel like I worked twice as hard twice as much – pulling weeds, mowing lawns, I spent an afternoon pulling out a hundred feet or so of a blackberry bramble that lined a ditch – that was a pointy experience, and whatever else I could find.

    As hard as I tried, the simple fact is less money came in – yet, somehow it lasted. That was the amazing thing I was trying to bring up in the post. Things lasted longer, and money stretched out, and except for a couple bills, rent being one of them, we were able to pay all of our bills on time. We had food on the table. Praise be to God.

    We go back to our job site tomorrow, so it will be nice to not have to spend all evening looking for some way to make money the next day 🙂

  5. A hint on doing “side work”. I usually try to bid the jobs rather than do them by the hour, but sometimes you make less if you underestimate. I usually figure how much time I THINK it will take and add half again more and it often comes up about right. Here in Phoenix handyman/labor work goes for anywhere from 25-55.00/hr. People are usually pretty comfortable with you giving them a hard price rather than an hourly rate and I usually do better too. Anyway, may God bless your work, there’s a lot of unemployment in the trades here too now, my work has slowed significantly.

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