Participant, Rock Steady Boxing, Hearthstone
Bill Bruxvoort and his high-school sweetheart, Norene, have been happily married for more than 55 years. The two have owned many businesses: a trucking firm, an insurance agency, and now a large woodworking shop dedicated to creating carts for disabled in under-served countries. Throughout life, Bill and Norene have faced many obstacles. Through God’s guidance and “purposeful but not always positive" events, they are enjoying retirement in Pella. They raised three children and now have 15 beautiful grandchildren to enjoy.
Bill got involved with WesleyLIfe when he helped start Rock Steady Boxing classes in Pella. He loves to do woodworking and continues to assist others in honing their woodworking techniques in his shop adjacent to his home.
Read the Transcript of Bill's Devotional:
Well, you know, as a kid, I always heard a phrase, "God is good all the time." In my childhood, I didn’t believe that, because I didn’t think God was very good at all.
I say that because of the life I lived when I was a kid. My father was blind and I had to stay home and work while my friends could go out and play ball and do all kinds of fun things, while I had to stay home and feed 18,000 turkeys every year. I didn’t think God was very good to me at that point.
My wife and I were going to the same church and we connected there, as she was going through some difficult times as well. But you know, as we progressed along we wound up getting married, but that was a tough decision also because we didn’t have anything. During that time, I also lost a brother who drowned in a farm pond at the age of 14. How could God be good all the time when I had all that stuff going on?
When we first got married we had some good times and some bad times, but most of the time it was like, "Why is this going on?" I didn’t realize that God was preparing us for the future. You see, when I was a young man we had a few good years in the trucking industry when we made a lot of money. Then we went broke, so I started in the insurance business. That went pretty well because I had a lot of contacts with my prior customers. It went pretty good for a while, then it would go south for a while, and I would say, "God is not good again."
When I got closer to retirement and I started looking forward to what I was going to do when I retired, I decided to put up a building. I put up a 48’x40’ building and put in woodworking tools and some antique equipment. I thought that was going to be my man cave, and I felt God was good to me at that point. He had blessed me with the resources to be able to do all of that, and I was thankful. Then I ended up getting Parkinson’s disease. I asked, “What is going on here, God? You blessed me with all the resources to build this building and now you give me Parkinson’s.” I knew I was not going to be able to use it like I thought I would.
I started getting this urging in the back of my mind that I was supposed to share the tools, the equipment, and the resources that I had. I did not want to do that because I had built it for me, and it was mine. I wouldn’t let anybody in the shop because everything was covered up and dust-free. I didn’t even want to let my wife in there; she wouldn’t put the tools back where they came from. But then I kept getting this feeling like I was supposed to share it. I did not want to do that and I fought that for the longest time, probably for at least six months or so.
Our church was having what they called ABC groups, which stands for Authentic Biblical Communities centered around a common interest. I got to thinking, "I wonder what would happen if I opened up an ABC Group in my shop?" I went to the church and talked to the person who was coordinating that program. She said that was a great idea. I said, "No, you don’t understand; it is a horrible idea, but I just can’t shake it." She told me to put it in the church newsletter and "if nobody shows up you know it wasn’t God’s will. But if people do show up, it is part of God’s plan." I decided to do that, because I didn’t think anyone would show up anyway and that would get me off the hook.
The first night 13 people showed up. I was a basket case! They were using my tools, they weren’t doing it right, and they weren’t treating them correctly. One of the gentlemen came to me and said, "You look like a basket case. Why don’t you go sit down in the corner?" So I went and sat down in the corner and I was overcome with emotion. I thought, Wow! What a blessing to be able to share! Consequently, that group continued to grow and we ultimately had about 30 people coming. It grew so much that we needed to build on, so I built another 48’x40’ addition onto the building and also added a restroom, a shop, and a paint room. People started hearing about it and I started getting people coming from quite a distance away to use the shop. I would just furnish everything, except if they wanted to build something for themselves they would buy their own lumber. The building began to be very popular and well-known in the area.
One Sunday morning, my wife and I were asked to be greeters at church. It was not the Sunday we were supposed to be scheduled to be greeters. Somebody else was scheduled and couldn’t make it, so we were taking their place. We were placed at a door where we had never greeted before (it was a large church). As we were greeting, this young man came in and shook my hand. He saw my name tag, and he said “Bill Bruxvoort? Are you the guy that has the big shop in Leighton?” I said, "Yes." He said, “My name is Garrett Verhey, and you need to talk to my brother, Pete!”
Pete happened to be the president of a competing bank in town. Here were two bank presidents competing against each other, and Garrett was encouraging me to go talk to his brother. I wondered what that was all about. Well, come Monday morning, in walks Pete into my shop and told me he was in a hurry and didn’t have time to talk, but gave me a brochure. He told me to look it over and "see if it's something you would like to be involved in." I looked at it. There was a website, so I pulled it up. It was a website about PETS – not cats and dogs, but Personal Energy Transportation, which are three-wheeled hand-crank carts used for mobility when people do not have the use of their legs.
When I looked at that, I was really touched because there were a lot of pictures of people crawling in the dirt who were very handicapped and couldn’t get along very well. I thought about that on the following night when we had a Bible study at our house. When we were finished with Bible study, I asked the others to come with me to my computer so I could show them the website. So I pulled it up and played the video. After the video was done, I looked over and saw that one guy was very emotional. I asked, “What is going on, Larry?” He told me that he wanted to retire and this is what he wanted to do. He asked how he could get involved.
As time went along, we thought more about it, and it turned out four of us went to Florida for training to learn how to build these carts. Well, the first 10 we built were a train wreck! But we stuck with it, continued to refine it, and now we have had several thousand that have gone out to serve people in more than 100 different countries. We are still going at it and getting bigger and going farther.
As I said, "God is good all of the time." When I was younger, I didn’t believe that all of the time. Part of the time, I just didn’t think that was true. But as I look back now, I realize that everything God put me through was preparing me for the future. Even being here today, there is a specific reason. Just because something is not good-feeling right now, I have comfort knowing there is a purpose – there is a reason I am having the difficulties and trials. I still have trials and difficulties and things don’t always go right, but I know God is good, and someday we will understand why.