30 Years In Starkville! A “God Thing?”
Dear Patients & Friends:
Recently my wife was interviewed about how her job opportunities as a chef instructor at Viking Range and the MUW came about and she concluded that it was apparently a “God thing.” When I read her response it struck me that I had not yet fulfilled a promise I made just before beginning practice here 30 years ago this month, on July 5, 1979.
There are only a couple of things they tell you in chiropractic school never to discuss with your patients. First, don’t talk about politics; half your patients will lean to the left, and half to the right, you’re bound to upset someone. Too late, I’ve messed that one up. Second, don’t talk about religion. How many different religious faiths are there? Then some of my patients are atheist, others agnostic. Ok, you get the idea.
So try to understand here that this newsletter is not about my wearing my faith on my sleeve. I am not going to try to proselytize or convert anyone to my beliefs. However, after 30 years of keeping silent, I thought some of you might be interested in knowing how Vicki and I came to make our home in Starkville; for those who are not interested, you need read no further
Upon graduation in 1978, I decided that I wanted to be involved in chiropractic research. However, the door had been shut to my pursuing a master’s degree at the University of Colorado, when funding for an assistantship that I had been offered that summer fell through. So by the spring of 1979, after being encouraged that Mississippi was a place of opportunity for a new chiropractor by a good friend and mentor Dr. Tom Morgan in Tupelo, and after passing the Mississippi Board Exam, we headed over here to check out the Magnolia state.
Here the story turns ugly, so those of you who are feint of heart should stop here. You see, convinced that I would need research networking opportunities, we visited both Oxford and Starkville. The contrasts were amazing. Oxford had boulevards, antebellum homes, and charisma. Starkville had, well, two pizza huts on Highway 12, a Shoney’s, and a McDonalds. Ok, well it probably wasn’t that bad, but that’s frankly all we could remember.
So we headed to Oxford! We lived up there for exactly one month while I checked with the banks to see if my parents’ co-signature on a loan would help us start a practice. However, I quickly figured out that we would have to make other arrangements, and a kindly pastor found a parishioner who offered to let us stay rent free in exchange for yard/house work and painting. I had heard of starting practice on a shoestring budget, but could not help but wonder whether this was where we were supposed to be.
My prayer life had been anything but consistent up until that time, but with only a week before rent was due, that changed dramatically. Not wanting to return to either of our parents’ homes, and wondering what God would have us do, I prayed…I say it that way, because I’m confident Vicki had already been doing more than her share, but now it was my turn. I certainly never had prayed any more consistently or fervently before in my life. A week later, literally an hour before the phone was due to be turned off, I received a phone call. A caller on the other end said, “How would you like to make $400 next week?” At first I thought it was a joke, but soon found out that Dr. James Russell had been calling for weeks to find me, and after being recommended by the vice president of my college, sounded almost perturbed that he had gone through so many of my friends in Marietta, Georgia, before finally getting our phone number from my wife’s family.
It wasn’t until the rich tapestry of years spent working and raising our family here that I came to realize how much moving here had truly been a blessing of God. Starkville may be one of the best-kept secrets in the South. We have been richly blessed by having patients and friends that are the best. We have seen Starkville grow since 1979 in so many, many ways, culturally and physically, that comparisons are everywhere. Finally, yes even those research networking opportunities came along, and I have been honored by having scientist patients and friends that were not afraid to help a young chiropractor that was full of questions.
Here we are 30 years down the line, and I realized I had not fulfilled a promise I made to God when I was doing all that praying. You see, I had prayed that if God would open a door for us, that I would give Him the praise for it. Surely I felt strongly at the time, and still feel today, that it was a “God thing.” And since that time I have shared details of this testimony with Sunday school classes and individuals, but never publicly. So I will close this testimony by sharing the sentiments I have used in every one of my textbooks, a simple line in the acknowledgements, “Finally and most importantly I would like to thank God, the author and sustainer of life, for everything.”
My prayer now is that you would search and find God if you have not already done so, and that you would come to know His blessings in your life as well.