Episode 12: The Power of Perseverance
with Bill Renje

Former Paralympic gold medalist, Bill Renje, shares his story of how a crippling gunshot at 18 turned his world upside down and possibly saved his life. Through the power of perseverance, a positive attitude and a grounding faith, Bill has become an inspirational leader committed to investing in the lives of others.

About our guest

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Bill is a trained and certified financial coach through Dave Ramsey Solutions. The primary thrust of his ministry is to do preventative maintenance with teens, young adults and young couples by laying a solid spiritual foundation through the teaching of financial and discipleship principles. This will help better prepare them on issues such as time and money management which they will face as adults and in their marriages.

Bill lives in Locust Grove, GA with his wife Amy and their three children. An ordained deacon at his church, he served in full-time ministry with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes from 2011-2019.

Prior to FCA, Bill was an industry-award winning commercial real estate broker in Tampa, FL. Completing his financial counseling training with LifeChange Concepts (Tampa, FL) in 2006, Bill served as an LCC board member and volunteered his time as a counselor. He also earned B.A. and M.S. degrees from the University of Illinois and won two gold medals at the 1996 Atlanta and 2000 Sydney Paralympics.

Episode transcript

Sara: Bill Renje, welcome to the Growing As Grownups podcast, I am so excited to have you as a guest today. We have been friends for about three years, I think, and our families have really done life together for the last about two years. And I know bits and pieces of your story, but I've never actually sat down and had a conversation with you about your full story and so I thought, hey, why not do it on a podcast for everyone to hear? So why don't you just tell us a little bit about who you are and then we'll jump in to the interview.  

Bill: Well, good morning, Sara, and thank you for the opportunity to speak with you today, and my story really starts 30 years ago. I'm 49 now and when I was 18, I was shot in a drug buy and ended up a quadriplegic paralyzed to the chest down with everything that's happened since then has been really shaped by that experience and today I'm doing well and living life to the full and I'm married with three children and serve in active ministry in the area here that we live in south Atlanta, and just going through life. So, you know, I've been blessed in a lot of ways to see a lot, to achieve a lot. I have a lot of different life experiences that I have now to be able to share with young people, which is the primary thrust of my ministry is as well as my children. And I have been married for 20 years, will be 20 years in January. And we have three children, Nico, who just turned 15 and twin 12 year-olds, Danny Ray and Noah. So life is full of challenges as it is for all of us and but it's certainly not boring and and very interesting.  

Sara: Yeah, for sure and you have such a great family. We love you guys so much. So the premise of our first series of the podcast is talking about the challenges in life that have shaped us and turned us into the people we are now. So you mentioned already that at 18, you were you were shot and it's had some lifelong consequences. So I may be making an assumption, but I'm guessing that might be one of the biggest challenges you faced in life. So kind of opening question as you think back on your life: what is one of the biggest challenges you faced?  

Bill: Yes, that's a very, very good assumption and pretty accurate. So for me, you know, I grew up in what you can pretty much would categorized as a very normal upbringing, a nuclear family. You know, mom and dad in the home and two younger brothers and I play baseball and football and Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts and did all the normal stuff and then when I became a teenager, I started making a lot of bad choices, a lot of bad decisions, mostly surrounded around the types of friends that I was hanging out with and then put myself in a situation where, you know, with some negative influences, where we're at a party and ended up in a drug buy at two o'clock in the morning and ended up on the wrong end of a bullet shot by a police officer, actually in the process of trying to buy drugs and so that the bullet went in, pierced my spinal cord and left me paralyzed from the chest down. So I have impairment it all four limbs and really that that's been the challenge that's--that shaped me but I've been blessed in a lot of ways. I was left with enough independence where I was able to take care of myself but, you know, that's really been the the main challenge. That's the shaped me and grown me every step of the way. I mean, you know, life is full of just normal everyday challenges that we all have to deal with as parents and spouses and providers and just going through life. But that's been the one that's really tested me and that God has used me to really develop a perseverance and the ability to fight through adversity, which, again, hopefully others see that that I'm able to minister to. So that's been the kind of a guiding force of my life has been my relationship with with God and I don't just kind of share that with people because that's been important to me. That's been the thing that's been able to sustain me and help me to get through along with the support of my family. Starting with my parents from day one and my brothers and the friends that God's put around me as well to kind of help me get through, get through life. You know, we all need that support network. We all need those people that we can reach out to to kind of guide us and help us and lead us along the way.  

Sara: Yeah, that's definitely been a big theme with I think every one of our guests is talking about the importance of the people that are around you and support you and having what we call them "developmental relationships" of people that really come alongside you and help you grow into the people, you know, the person that you are today. So I know it was a few years ago but if you can put yourself back to 18-year-old Bill. Right. Who finds himself in the middle of the night trying to buy drugs shot by a police officer in the the days and weeks and months following that. How are you making sense of the world at that time? What were you thinking about those days?  

Bill: Just, you know, just trying to deal with the shock of it all and what life was going to be like when you grow up. Nobody says they want to spend the rest of their life in a wheelchair or spend their life as a quadriplegic and so obviously, that wasn't something that was on my radar but growing up through middle school and high school and now all of a sudden, I'm 18. I'm a recent high school graduate and what is the rest of my life look like? And, you know, but for me, it was there's just always been a sense of resiliency inside of me that--I think a trait that I inherited from my parents--and just always being one that was able to look on the bright side of things like, okay, you know, for me, early on when I realized I had enough independence to be independent, to live independently, to be able to take care of myself and get up and get out and go drive a car and do what I need to do throughout my life, I realized, "Okay, I could do this." And so then it was just trying to figure out, you know, what do I need to do from here and to be successful and I wasn't really focused on academics when I was at high school. But I realized after this happened, well, I'm not going to be able to work with my hands to make a living, so be it a construction worker or a blue collar guy so that's out the window so I need to learn how to use my mind and my brain. And so for me, it was get back and go to junior college and getting my grades to the point where I could transfer to a four year school, which I did growing up in the south suburbs of Chicago, I went to junior college there and then transferred to the University of Illinois, where I graduated with a Bachelor's degree and then a Master's degree and it's there where I really started playing wheelchair sports and thriving athletically.

And that's why I'm a big advocate for sports, because sports teaches us so much about character, about who we are, about teamwork, about how to work with others and there's just so many life lessons and so a lot of my ministry is geared towards around young athletes because I think they have an advantage about learning, learning about life and so when you combine what I was learning academically with how I was growing athletically as a young wheelchair athlete, that really helped give me a foundation to learn about success, how to achieve success, and then how to handle it, and also how to deal with failure, because, you know, that's part of athletics, too, is, you know, you don't always win, you lose. So you learn how to lose. You learn how to learn from your mistakes and grow from there. So there's a lot of things that you learn athletically from the playing field that you could take with you to the game of life. So that was really early on it was probably my involvement with wheelchair sports more than anything, and then surrounded myself with good people, too, because, you know, pre-Bill at 18 -- I had a lot of negative influences around me. I was just, you know, that was just how I was drawn. I was drawn to, you know, more of the negative influences, you know, and one of my favorite Bible verses is 1 Corinthians 15:33 which says "don't be misled, bad company corrupts good character" and I definitely allowed myself--I had good character, I was raised with good character, but I allowed the people that were around me to, you know, to influence me in negative ways and then after my injury and, you know, I started surrounding myself with better influences and it's pretty simple for me in life, if you want to be successful and, you know, surround yourself with people who are serious about being successful and at the same time, you know, just emulate people and find people in whatever field you want to get into that are successful and do what they're doing.  

Sara: Yeah, and that especially, you know, this happened to you when you were 18 developmentally, like, that's such an important age for you to be mindful of the people that you are surrounding yourself with, because, you know, you have teenagers, I have teenagers. It's like those early years are really when we are looking to the people around us as examples of who we want to be, what we're going to do, the choices we're going to make. So you've mentioned a few things that I think are really interesting. And I want to think through or I want you to think through, because I can't think this for you. You know, the pivot that happened in your life in that season where you went from being out doing drugs, right? Which is what got you to the point that you ended up being shot and paralyzed. You know, you mentioned this resiliency and this perseverance that was in you, I'm guessing, from a younger age. But then the point where you realized, "okay, I have to change my future plans, I have to come--wrap my mind around this new identity, right? Of I'm not going to be able to do the things I had pictured for my mind. So I'm wondering, in terms of the way you were understanding yourself in the world, how did you, like, what did you have to work through in yourself to make that change, because right now you are such a strong, independent, resilient person. You know, what are the battles that you had to overcome internally to get to that point?  

Bill: I just think, you know, identity was a huge one because, you know, it's just it's different when you're you know, you're in a wheelchair. It's a whole different identity. I mean, you're not like 99.9% of the population so it's like, where is your identity coming from? You know, is it coming from what's on the outside or what's on the inside? I mean, everybody has problems. Everybody has issues in life. But you can't see what other people are going through just by walking down the street while you could see what what I'm going through and you could see what I've been through. So there's no hiding, there's nowhere where to to run and hide. It's like, "oh, so you don't know all of what I've dealt with or all of what I'm dealing with, but from the from the physical aspect, you could certainly see that." So for me, it's just where was my identity? And for a long time, you know, I buried myself in, okay, academics. So when I went to the University of Illinois, I was going to be the best student I could be and I graduated on the dean's list and received a Bachelor's degree in sociology and a Master's degree in journalism. So I was drawing my identity from that and then, you know, from there it was wheelchair sports and, you know, trying to achieve with that and draw my identity from wheelchair sports and ended up winning a gold medal in the 96 Paralympics in Atlanta and then the 2000 Sydney Games in Australia and so there was, you know--but all that was fleeting. All of that kind of came and went and then, "okay, what was the next thing that I was going to grab onto?" And then, you know, as a Christian man -- I mean, you know, I have to include that I gave my life to the Lord when I was 24-years-old in 1995 and I was six years post injury. And that made me realize that, "okay, my identity isn't in being in a wheelchair, my identity isn't being a great student or being a great athlete, and once I got married it wasn't in being married and it wasn't in having kids, it was--you know, my identity was in was a Jesus Christ and that was important for me because that's something that can't be taken away. So once I kind of adjusted my mindset and, you know, I still struggle with these issues. I mean, I still struggle with trying to fit in and being a part of whatever group I'm around, because, you know, again, it's you know, unless I'm with guys that are just like me that I played wheelchair sports with or whatever, which I'm not in those circles too often anymore, I don't always, you know, I don't always feel like I belong. But you have to realize my identity isn't in, you know, my disability or my athletic achievements of the past or my academic achievements or again, family status, marital status. It's not in what I achieved in the business world before I got into the ministry. It's not into who I am, as--in my ministry. My identity needs to be in my Creator and  so that wasn't just like a sudden shift. That didn't happen in a day or a week or a month. I mean, you know, it's been a lifelong process and it's still going on today. You know, it will continue to go on until I'm no longer here.  

Sara: Yeah. I love that, and I think, Bill, you are the first guest we've had on our podcast who has not been through one of our programs or, you know, sat through a talk that Keith or I did. And yet the truth that you just expressed is foundational to the work that we do and what you are--what you were talking about is what we refer to as this "effectiveness transition" in life, where we go from looking to outside sources to define who we are, what matters, letting our circumstances influence our well-being and then we all hopefully go through some transition in life where we become grounded in who we are, what we believe, what matters and it's when we make that transition that we're really able to be more effective in the influence that we have. We are not swayed by our circumstances as much as we were before and that really is the heart of our work, is helping people make sure that they overcome that hump. And in what we talk about and the reason we're doing this series on the podcast is that it is the challenges in life that provide the greatest opportunity for us to work through that, because we realize the way we were making sense of the world doesn't fit anymore. There's all these challenges and contradictions that happen that it's like, "hey, the things that I was putting my identity in, that's not working anymore. These friends are not working anymore, these achievements aren't getting me what I thought. I got to figure out who I am." And for some people we talk about the average age of that transition happening is right around 40. But you had this massive challenge that happened to you early in life that made you wrestle through that a lot earlier. And so, you know, the thing is, we have to look at it. People like you and we look at Martin Luther King, who is somebody who made this transition way early in life, and it's like we don't all have to wait for these big challenges to come our way, right? Like, I don't have to go through what you went through in order to go through that internal process of establishing my identity, I can use the challenges I faced with friends or, you know, 2020 I think has provided everybody with enough challenges to go--I had a job that I thought was going to get me through, the job isn't working or, you know, struggling raising teenagers, you know as well as I do that that is bringing a whole new world of challenges and I think, you know, that really captures--your story really is a great example of how this massive challenge that happened to you had such an influence but for even people like me who haven't had a big challenge like that, but have had a series of little ones, we can still use that same principle. So I do want to--I don't want to jump over this just because I think it's pretty cool that I have a friend that has gold medals but will you just tell a little bit? You've mentioned a couple of times your wheelchair athletics, just, what your involvement with that was and the cool things that have come out of that.  

Bill: Yeah, I mean, I've always been a sports minded person and love sports from a from a fan standpoint and playing sports. I was always involved in athletics growing up. Unfortunately, I got away from that in high school when I was little more focused on doing the wrong things and I didn't want the sp--the discipline and the structure of sports. It was more fun to, like, go out and party and do that kind of thing but after my injury, I was introduced to the sport wheelchair rugby, which is specific sport specific for quadriplegics, and it's played on a basketball court with a volleyball and it's much like football. There's a goal on each end of the court and the object is to get across the line with the ball and you get a point and it's much like bumper cars in wheelchairs. There's a movie out there documentary that came out in 2005 called Murderball and there's all kinds of videos if people want to Google and go on YouTube or whatever. But that was just--that really felt--filled a competitive void for me and, you know, it wasn't something, again, that I jumped into and I was great at doing. I mean, I was--my first year we had 14 guys on the team and I was 12th on the depth chart and didn't even make my--the travel squad with the club team that I was playing with in Chicago and so by my second or third year, I became a player that was a starter. When I went down to the University of Illinois started playing down there and then by my fifth year I was invited to try out for the other Paralympic team, went out to Colorado Springs and they took the 42 best players in the country and they chose a team of eight and I made one cut after the other and I was still around at the end when they announced the team on after launch on Sunday and so I made the Paralympic team and came to Atlanta for the '96 Paralympics where we won the gold medal. And then I was tried out. I was a member of the national team for the next four or five years and went to Toronto and won the gold medal in World Championships in '98 and in Sydney, Australia in 2000.

Sara: You may have covered this already, but you've mentioned a couple of times in the context of sports how the lessons we can learn from failure in adversity are really important. So can you just give me maybe one of those lessons that you think we all should learn?  

Bill: [ Yeah, I mean, just don't give up. I mean, it's such a cliché to say, but two of my favorite scriptures that I quote to young athletes and what I've done for the last 10 years, I've been I've been in ministry involved for the first--Up until last year, I was on staff with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and I have a new ministry now, and I'll get into that a little bit later. So but I've been working with high school athletes and just relating my story and the lessons from life. But two of the verses I always quote is James 1:4, which says, "Perseverance must finish its work so you may be mature and complete, not lacking in anything." And so when we persevere through trial, when persevere through struggle that that helps us to become mature and complete. And then Romans 5:3-5 that says, you know, I'm paraphrasing here, but "we know that when we go through struggles that that leads to endurance and endurance leads to character and character, leads to hope." And at so many people really just quit at the suffering. They quit at the struggles and for me, I've learned in life not to quit. You look, I'm like anybody else. I don't want to struggle, I don't want to have trials and tribulations, but, you know, that's just a part of life. I mean, we're all going to have struggles, we're all going to have trials. But I really believe that if we persevere through those struggles and we persevere through those trials, you know, there's light at the end of that and that's what develops the character and that's what develops the hope. So that's really you know, if there's anything I've learned in life it's "don't give up."

Sara: Bill, it's like you have been through our program, right? What we call the "formula for growth", and we have this plastered on our wall at the office. People who have listened to the podcasts have seen it in the background of some of our episodes but our math formula for growth is as if it was that easy is the challenging contradiction over time. When you persevere through it, that is what leads to growth and if you do the math, if you take out the perseverance, it zeroes out the whole equation. And yet it's something that is hard, right? Life wants to beat it out of us, but actually it really does make a difference.   

Bill: That is true in every area, it's you know, it's in our career, in our family, in our marriages, it's, you know, it's applicable in every area of our lives.  

Sara:  So now I have the tougher question for you is when the interview gets serious, Bill. "What challenges are you facing today that are going to require you to continue growing instead of just saying, I've made it, figured it out, we're going to go?"  

Bill: Yeah, well, we don't--we never get to that point where we made it and figured it out. If there's anybody out there that has gotten to that point, I'd like to hear from them. I'm certainly not in that way. But I think just there's just the aging process, you know, for those of us in my situation, we--it's just harder on the body we age quicker. You know, I've been lifting myself in and out of bed, in and out of the shower, in and out of the van or the vehicle for, you know, push my wheelchair. For 30 years, I've been put in a lot of stress and trauma on my upper body and my shoulders that, you know, your normal able-bodied person doesn't have to put. So and you start to feel those things after a while. You get a lot of wear and tear a lot of mileage on the old vehicle. And so, you know, you fight through--there's physical pain. Now, there's--you're not having the strength and energy that I once did. I mean, you know, when I'm talking about wheelchair sports, I mean, I can't imagine doing that now. I mean, and I'm 49 and I really noticed in the last couple of years, just again, not having the strength, not having the energy. So mentally that's that's grinded on me and that's been a whole 'nother challenge and I've had to persevere through that and deal with that and again, I'm still dealing with it in some ways. And you know, will always be dealing with it. It's just a part of life. I'm not, you know, somebody who looks 30 or 40 years down the road and say, OK, I'm going to live to them 80 or 90. I'm a live however long God wants me to live. But, you know, I'm going to fulfill I'm going to run the race while I'm here. As hard as I can, as long as I can. And so when you get to middle age and beyond, you can start to see the other side and so you start questioning, "OK, what am I really here for? It's not for the external things. It's--or not for me." Now, it's all about trying to have an impact and have an impact on other people's lives. When you're--I think when you're younger, it's more about you and, you know, especially when you're single and then you get married and you realize, "oh, I'm pretty selfish person," and then when you have kids, you really realize, "oh, I'm really a selfish person," and so it's like my life isn't about me anymore. It's about those that are around me because I'm not going to be here forever. And that's---my legacy is just going to be that, you know? I'm not going to be somebody that has any monuments or statues or street names after me and that's fine. But my legacy is going to be what I leave behind for everybody that's coming next behind me.  

Sara:  That's beautiful. I think it's really--we talk about it in terms of, you know, naming your destination and when you know where you're headed, you know where you want to go, you're way more likely to get there than if you're just going through life. And you say at the end, like, "oops, I really want to leave this legacy," you know, it's kind of too late, but to decide early and take steps every day to leave that legacy, I think really is important and I think you're doing a great job for your family and your ministry and all the different ways that you serve. But I'm wondering, you talked early on about the importance of the independence that you recognize that you still have, right? Following your accident, when you knew you were going to be a paraplegic, you still had enough independence through the use of of your arms that is what gave you a lot of motivation to keep going. And so I'm wondering now if if connected to why this aging process is hard on you, is the recognition that some of that independence is slowly going away? Is there a connection there? 

Bill: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. You know, it just takes me longer to do things now, you know, and longer to get up and get going in the morning or to get to where I need to be. And I have to pace myself and I do pace myself and so I do start forecast, "OK, 10, 20 years down the road what's it going to be like?" You know, but it'll be what it's going to be. I mean, just, you know, not going to be just trite about it, but it's you know, I may need help in 10 years or 20 years or whatever. Luckily, my kids will be grown by that time and I'll have my wife around or whatever it might be. But it's yeah, I just, you know, again it goes back to identity and, you know, I look around my office or whatever, and I've got medals and trophies and framed jerseys hanging up and there's videos out there of me but that's not me anymore. Know, I can't do those things. And so it you know, but again, that's true of anybody as they get older. Just for me, it just comes a little bit earlier. But, you know, most people, when they get into their whatever it might be, their 70s or 80s, they start to lose that sense of independence or they're more reliant upon, you know, prescription medication, whatever it may be that they need or, you know, other people to help them out and so for me, that aging process, it's just sped up and it just it just comes sooner, you know? And I think when I was in my 20s or 30s, I was a little naïve about that, because you're not thinking that far down the road. But yeah, it's definitely it's you know, it is what it is.  

Sara: So as you think over, let's say, the next 10 years and you think about what you--what it's going to take for you to come out of these 10 years as the man you want to be, leaving the legacy you want to be, what growth is it going to take from you in order to get to that temporary destination? Because we're going to count on you living more than the next 10 years, but over the next 10 years.  

Bill: Yeah, whatever may be just digging in for the long haul and growing again in my faith amid the the less that my identity is in who I am physically, the more it's become who I am spiritually. And so it's really just been digging into my faith, you know, my trust, my hope in my Savior and that--the fact that He's got me, you know, and relying upon that, that whatever is written is going to be done and I just kind of--I have to rest in that. I have to keep persevering and keep willing to grow too and realizing that the challenges are going to continue to come, whatever it may be. But then I think too, the big thing is drawing back on previous experience, you know? And again, athletics is a good place to do that. You know, when you could draw on the lessons that you learned from your previous successes, your previous failures, and realizing that, you know, God's had me every step of the way, He's had my marriage every step of the way, He's had my family every step of the way. And you know, for me, I don't worry about me as much anymore but I worry about my wife, I worry about my kids. And so, again, there just has to be that trust factor and--but I think going back to it, just drawing from experiences of the past. I've had enough experience in my past to know that, "OK, I could persevere through this. I could fight through this adversity. I could grow through it and God's never let me go every step of the way. He's not going to let me go now." So that's just drawing on past experience as well.  

Sara: Are you able to identify the--you've named one end of this spectrum, but I think about our growth kind of as a tug of war sometimes, that there are two elements within us that are fighting. One of them that's pulling us forward is the--we call the "me I want to be", the bigger me this "I want to make a difference. I want to have influence in the people around me. I'm going to persevere. I'm going to be optimistic," kind of all these values that you've talked about. But within us, there's also this pull for the status quo of "I just I don't want to do the hard work of growth. I want things to stay the way they are." You know, for me, it's a lot of I just want to stay in control or I want to be secure. For other people it's things like "I just want people to like me." There's always something inside of us that fights against that, but we have to learn how to live in tension with these and you're so clear--and one of the things I respect about you is you're so clear on the Bill that you want to be. Have you been able to figure out for you what it is inside of you that you do have to overcome that's trying to say "no, no, no fight for your independence, fight for this identity as a guy who can do a lot despite all of the challenges you faced in life"? Like, what is that other pull within you?  

Bill: Yeah, I mean, we all have insecurities. We all have things that we don't like about ourselves. We all have things that make us feel inferior. We all have memories from our past and things that happened to us when we were younger or whatever that make us feel insecure, you know, that molded us, that shaped us, you know, the good, the bad, and the ugly, whatever it may be. And so for me, it's just, yeah, those insecurities, I guess that--they become less as I get older, but it's still there, you know, and fitting in and how do I fit into the culture around me and with people that are around me or whatever. So that's that internal fight, you know, is going to be there in all of us, you know--and it is you know, it's easy just to kind of take your foot off the gas and just want to just "OK, I don't want to fight anymore. I don't want to put one foot in front of the other. I want to just kind of sit here, whatever." But, you know, I've never been that kind of person, you know, I just been like, "OK, I got--I have to do what I need to do," you know? And I need to get out of bed every day and I need to do what God's calling me to do. And I need to be the husband that I'm called to be and the father that I'm called to be. But, you know, you do. I mean, in comparison issues, I mean, you know, we all can get caught up in that and, you know, you look at other people that, "well, gee, if I just, you know, had--" you know, I mean, I think when you're younger, you look at it like, "well, if I was good looking like him or funny like him" or, you know, when you get older, you're like, "well, I wish that I was, you know, maybe the husband that he is or the father that he is or the had the career that this person has." That stuff isn't, like, front and center anymore, but it's still there and we can still get into those comparison issues. And so, again, it's just keeping the the the eyes on the prize. And for me, that's my faith and that's my Christian walk and that's my relationship with Jesus and just being, you know--drawing my identity from him. But those those old insecurities, they're always right there, right behind the the corner for all of us. And so it's...Yeah, I mean, that's kind of where, you know, the struggle that we all have and that certainly I have and I'll have to the day I die in some ways.  

Sara: Yeah, don't you just wish they could all go away, that we outgrow them at some point in the last few decades of our life or just sitting pretty? But...  

Bill: It would be. Yeah, but those are also the opportunities for growth, too. And again, so how do we look at it? Glass half full or glass half empty?  

Sara: There you go. Bill, you just need to come teach for us. That's how it works. So as we wrap up, I just want to give you a chance to tell our listeners kind of what's going on in your life right now, that you're excited about how people can find you and follow what you're doing. Just give us--kind of tell us what's going on right now. What are you excited about?  

Bill: I'm just excited about being able to have an impact on the lives of others and that's really, you know, through my marriage and through my family and through our church involvement and through my ministry. I launched a ministry called Life Change Concepts a little over a year ago and that's a personal finance and a financial stewardship based on ministry and focused primarily on young people and late teens and early 20s and people that are just kind of getting started in life to help them develop the financial and the time management skills that they need to be successful. And so many people that I'm sure you run into, that I run into that are in their 40s or 50s that developed these skills when they were young and they're having issues now and issues and, you know, whether it's personal issues or marital issues or family issues and debt issues. And so if we can help young people kind of lay that foundation of what it looks like to manage your time and to manage your money and to do it according to God's Word, it's all scriptural and biblical-based but we build that spiritual foundation and then branch out into, "OK, what does it look like to invest God's way?" Was it look like to to buy a car and purchase a home and stay out of debt or get out of debt or budgeting, planning and just aligning your life in a way that glorifies God but just makes it a whole lot smoother, you know? And so that's what I'm excited about. I like working with young people and I'm still involved with FCA--that will always be an extension of what I do and so I'm a team chaplain at a local high school here, working with the football team, with the baseball team. So I get to pour into young people and pour into coaches and it's just trying to leave that impact for the next generation, because like I said, you know, 50 years from now, 40 years from now, 20 years from now, whatever it is, I'm not going to be here anymore and the only thing that's going to matter is what kind of impact that I leave behind for the next generation. And certainly pouring into my kids and trying to prepare them and give them that foundation and I can't wait till they can--a couple of years from now where they could take my personal finance class and, you know, my 15-year-old, you know, he--if he gets money, spends it right away. I mean, he can't keep two dollars, you know, so I look forward to when he could take my class, but that's what I'm excited about. I'm excited about ministry work. And that's kind of what drives me at this point. And again, and all that takes place through my marriage, my family, and my church involvement, and the ministry that God's blessed me to do now.  

Sara: I love it and we will definitely link our listeners to Life Change Concepts in the podcast show notes and on our website. So if anybody themself is interested in some financial planning lessons and involvement, if they have, you know, probably a lot of our listeners might have young adults in their family, grown kids that might need that. So we will definitely give them your card. Hope you're open for business. If we find some people that are interested.  

Bill: Absolutely. We could do it virtually, too, for people that aren't local. So that's that's fine. You know, we're one of the things that's come out of this COVID world is, well, we've all become accustomed to Zoom, so.  

Sara: Right. I'll be glad when this season is over, but I think Zoom is going to be a part of our life forever. So, Bill, as we wrap up any last words of encouragement or advice you'd want to give to our listeners? You've already given so many great nuggets about perseverance and identity and digging in anything else you want to say in wrapping up?  

Bill: Yeah, it's really--that kind of sums it up right there. I mean, just, you know, don't give up and and keep fighting and draw your strength. You know, for me, I draw it from the Lord and then for those that are around me. You know, with--when I was younger, it was, you know, doing it for my parents and through my parents. And now it's for my wife and my kids. And, you know, no matter what you're going through, God can use it and He will use it if you allow Him to. You know, it's we all have those struggles. We all have those trials. We all have things that we have to fight through. And it looks different in different marriages of different families, different individuals. But, you know, life is--it's you know, it's not easy and it wasn't supposed to be easy, but there's great reward when we meet and face and overcome those challenges, you know, and until those next challenges come along, that's just how it goes, so.  

Sara: So true. So true. Well, I am so thankful for the role that you and your wife Amy have played in my life and my family's life. And I love the ministry that you are doing and investing in the people around you. So, I'm really grateful for you taking the time this morning to share your story with us and talk about the challenges that you have faced and in your journey to become really grounded in who you are and what matters. And I think it's an inspiration to everyone who will be listening  to our podcast. So thank you so much for everything you do.  

Bill: Well, thank you, Sara. I appreciate the time, I enjoyed the discussion.  

Sara: All right. We'll talk soon.  

Bill: Alright, bye-bye.