Small Town Freelance Writer and Web Designer

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Nestled in rural Pennsylvania with her husband and five children, Debra Torres makes much of her ability to write and be a present mother for her children. She’s a freelance web writer and designer in an area where the market isn’t large, but little competition exists.

Childhood gave way to her enjoyment of reading and desire to write, as she told how her grandmother would hand her a book during family visits and she would escape to her father’s old room to journey through the pages.

An undergraduate degree in communications led to a master’s degree in journalism. Debra spent a brief period interning at a newspaper, but starting a family soon followed, putting her writing career on hold.

Five years ago, Debra received a nudge. “I just really think it was God saying ‘you need to start (writing) again.’”

A quick Google search for “freelance writing” soon launched Debra into her writing career, with an unlikely mentor. The first website she clicked on led to the first person she asked for guidance, a woman who was a leader in the freelance community. She  became a close mentor for Debra, teaching her the ropes of today’s writing trends.

“She explained to me that in writing, right now, the money is in SEO, which I didn’t know what SEO was,” Debra said.

Small Town with Big Opportunity:

Debra laughed as she mentioned her first writing job—a $10 a month column for a local newspaper, which she continues to write today. However, that small job led to another writing job, this time writing the copy for a local beef farmer’s website.

“What I learned as a copywriter was that all of these people needed a web designer as well,” Debra mentioned. With an open door and an opportunity to fill a void for the business community, she hopped on Publisher to construct her first website, a process she said wasn’t at all easy.

“Being in a small town, the word gets out that you do web writing and design,” Debra explained, which was true because the ball was rolling and picking up speed. Once the word got out, Debra had more locals calling for her skills. They didn’t know what SEO meant, much less copywriting, but they knew they needed it for marketing purposes and Debra was the local expert.

Debra works with a small market as one of the few writing and design professionals, but that doesn’t mean business is always booming. She’s made cold calls and pursued business when it’s been less substantial, which is the life of a freelancer.

However, she didn’t hesitate to mention her trust in God to provide for the needs of her family during the slow spells of work.

When To Say Yes and When To Say No:

Debra doesn’t brand herself as a Christian, yet she includes a link to her ‘Who Is God’ blog on her freelance website. Although a non-Christian friend advised against including the blog on her site, Debra insisted the blog be highlighted.

“I am quick to mention that I am a Christian to people and I’m quick to turn down jobs that I don’t think align with my Christian faith,” Debra said.

On several occasions Debra has rejected writing requests. For one job, she cordially denied service to an Indian man who wanted flyers produced for a religious holiday that doesn’t align with the Christian faith. Close mentors to Debra said that even writing the copy for those flyers would promote a message other than Christ, so Debra had to say “no.” file000909879658 (1)

It’s not that Debra is elevating herself above others, instead, Debra chooses to remain honest about her standards and has determined to align her work with that of Christ. She won’t back down on what she believes, even if it costs her a few extra bucks.

Debra is eager to accept projects for ministries and non-profits, but if she volunteers, she makes sure clients understand the priority of her time. She wants to help churches and non-profits improve through presentation and articulation, but saying yes to every project, especially those without pay, leads to a lack of necessary income. Providing for her family is a priority, thus paying clients receive priority of her time.

It goes with the saying, “a worker is worth their wages.”

Work-From-Home Mother:

Working from home allows Debra to be available for her five children, which she says is a blessing and a challenge. Making sure the kids get to and from school, chores are accomplished and homework is done, along with writing content for clients is no small feat.

Luckily, her husband is a college professor, which allows him to be at home during the summer months, giving Debra a break from managing the kids during the day on her own.

While home life mixed with work may not be ideal at every moment, Debra mentioned that which is most important for the family—“I can still be that mom who is present.”

The Coffee Shop Church

As one church neared death, another church began. Josh Grimes became the pastor of the small church on the brink of closing. He introduced an idea that 14 of the members weren’t fond of—that idea was to start a coffee shop where the church would meet.

“Everyone in that church left and got mad except for one person,” Josh explained.

With only one member remaining, Josh proposed his “church in a coffee shop” model to a dozen others who soon backed him and began meeting in a restaurant to discuss the future of a new business and new church.

“We closed the old church,” Josh said. “We put the property on the market and used the equity on the property to start the coffee shop.”

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A year of meetings brought the genesis of Avenue 209 Coffee House in Lock Haven, Penn. The church (The Common Place) wouldn’t meet for three months until the coffee shop was up and running, and had developed a substantial presence in the community.

In the meantime, Josh attended a coffee school operated by another church, and it was amidst his schooling that he learned “what is good for business is good for ministry and what is good for ministry is good for business.”

To explain the business and ministry concept, Josh gave a few laughs as he said, “If you treat people nicely, like Jesus would want you to, then they’re going to want to come back and buy more coffee. That wasn’t too much of a stretch for us.”

It’s not about exploiting Jesus’ teaching for profits, rather Josh learned how conducting a Christian business makes people feel welcome and accepted. He reiterated that what is practiced in church should also be practiced in business. The Christian business plan only makes sense.

Why Church in a Coffee Shop Works:

“We were pretty intentional from the beginning that we didn’t want to be known as the ‘Christian’ coffee house because we figured that would only attract the Christians, then we would go out of business,” Josh said.

The idea wasn’t for another Christian business hub where only Christians would gather, but rather a place where Christians and non-Christians would enjoy a cup of joe, casual conversation and community. Through being in the shop and around the staff, people would learn the meaning of the shop, but it wasn’t forced upon them.

They were intentional about being honest when customers asked who owned the coffee shop and what took place within the walls of the shop. Josh used customer interaction as an avenue to invite people to their church.

“We have a lot of un-churched people, in the sense that they don’t historically have a Christian background or they walked away from church for a long time,” Josh explained.

With a mixture of these people entering the coffee shop everyday, it only made sense to have church where the people were. “The traditional model was a big enough hurdle in their lives that they would not go to church even though they were very spiritual or spiritually curious.”

Whether it’s the traditional setting of churches, hurt from past church experiences or misunderstanding of Christ, Josh and his church set out to offer a setting where people could casually walk in and out and learn the truth of church, and ultimately, the trust of Christ.

Today: 

The coffee shop church continues to expand and bustle with people. One service led to two and now they must expand their space within the building to house more. Remodeling projects are ongoing to streamline the ministry capacity of the church and develop more functional space for the community.

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Intent is to stay in the coffee shop since it defines a place of gathering for so many and is strategic in its location and ministry.

“If we go to another location, we lose that entry point and it’s huge,” Josh said. “We have a lot of people that come because they were first customers and then became involved in the church community. It’s been pretty substantial.”

After four and a half years of existence, the coffee shop employs five people and talk of coffee roasting in-house is the latest buzz. The old rundown building is now a vibrant coffee shop, a place the whole Lock Haven community embraces as life giving in more than one sense.

Whether the northeast is a difficult location to operate a Christian business, Josh didn’t express any concern. He did have a simple message to say:

“I have found that liberal people and conservative people are all hungry for Jesus.”

 

 

Q&A with Jason Stambaugh, Startup Kick Starter

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Jason Stambaugh is a Maryland native, passionate about entrepreneurship and helping startups become thriving businesses. As an entrepreneur, he knows just how hard it is to get started, so he’s teamed up with his local chamber of commerce to create a contest for local business owners, sort of an American Idol for entrepreneurs. He’s a man of God, successful in what he does, and fond of small business. Here’s our Q&A session with Jason:

Q: What type of work are you involved in?

A: I have two companies. One is called Wevival, which is a social media, web marketing and development firm. Basically I work with businesses doing bread and butter websites, marketing strategies, social media, etc. Then I have new project, which is called Hometown Startups and I do local startup contests kind of like American Idol for entrepreneurs right in the local community.

Q: How did Hometown Startups get started?

A: I had just shut down operations on a business I had started and I was kind of licking my own wounds. Then I joined my local chamber of commerce to pick up some local web development and social media clients and through that process I became very involved and the chamber fell in love with it a little bit. Currently, I am the president of our young professionals group that’s here in Carroll County (Maryland). So that kind of gave me perspective on the chamber.

Then I also have a business partner who is in the educational technologies field and he was invited to a large communicational startup contest called LAUNCH Edu. Basically it’s SXSW, which is the big interactive conference, and for frame of reference, Twitter was launched there. So it’s a huge, huge conference. So he (business partner) was invited to go out to that and was a little skeptical and thought maybe it might be a waste of time or not a very good use of time. But he comes back and he’s just fired up about his experience and how great it was for entrepreneurs and for the community.

So that gave me a thought—why the heck don’t these cool opportunities happen in my backyard, in my community, for entrepreneurs? So that idea turned into last year’s contest, which is called the Carroll Biz Challenge.

Q: What happens at your contest?

A: Basically there is an application window for local entrepreneurs who have brand new business ideas or existing, early-stage startups can pitch some of their business concepts, and make great connections, get lots of publicity and compete for a $5,000 cash prize. They apply until the application deadline has been reached, the advisory board reviews all of the applications and scores them and then selects five finalists. Then those five finalists pitch in front of a live audience and panel judges at an exciting, live community event where the audience can vote, we can hear the pitch, the panel can ask the finalists some questions and we announce the winner on the spot and give them a big check.

Q: Do you plan to continue the contest annually?

A: Yeah, that’s my plan to continue it every year and my goal is to bring this big startup concept model to areas around the country. So I’m in the process of that and a big national push to bring this contest to more communities.

Q: Why were you so passionate about getting this contest started?

A: It’s kind of scratching at my own niche. I’m an entrepreneur and I was one of those guys that was sitting there scratching my head at my day job, in retail and banking sales, and I was just wondering why the work didn’t seem meaningful. I was building somebody else’s empire and you know, I wanted to do my own thing. Out of that desire, I paved my own way. But the reality is that there are a lot of people like me in Carroll County and local communities around the country and I want to provide all of them with a successful opportunity to get noticed, connected and better. Small entrepreneurs and people who have a great idea need a catalyst, something that helps them along their way, so what a better way to offer that in a community where they are living and working.

Q: What would you say in regards to small vs. big business and how important small business is to our country?

A: Sometimes you look at these stats and basically, there are all of these crazy stats where 60-70% of jobs are built by small businesses. I think that the small business ecosystem is absolutely vital to the economic future of our country. I mean these are the places where new jobs are coming. These are where new ideas are coming from. Now, I say that knowing that their definition of small business is quite the stretch. I think like 500-1000 employees or less is considered a small business. But forget the stats, the bottom line is that the upward trend of development of small businesses account for an enormous portion of the economy. They’re employing people, paying local taxes…they really are the biggest drivers in the economy.

But the trend I’m most interested in is this trend to micro-entrepreneurship, where people encourage other people to start and grow businesses that aren’t necessarily multi-million dollar ventures, but are ventures that feed families, pay mortgages and they add to the vibrancy of the local, small town economic development.

Q: Working with a bunch of entrepreneurs, how do you approach the constant question of risk?

A: I think that I am probably the most cautious of the people that I know who are entrepreneurs. I started my business in my other free hours even though I had a full-time job and I think that’s becoming a more and more popular philosophy that you don’t have to “bet the farm” on a business idea—you don’t have to put your family or kids at risk.

I applaud people who do that (give everything for a startup), but I also think it’s not very smart. So I always counsel people, anyone who is interested in starting a business, to take baby steps. Take small steps while maintaining your current cash flow and make sure you have a way to eat and keep your family sheltered while you make your business dream a reality. I would never counsel someone to go all in until they have a good feel for the market and for the product and service they’re offering.

Q: How do you incorporate your faith in your work?

A: Well, for frame of reference, I was in high school and just a typical high school kid. The gnawing thought I had after my senior year of high school—I was quite successful in high school, team captain, I was great at wrestling and theater, I had won a bunch of awards, I had a really prestigious internship, I was headed to one of the best schools in the country and I felt like I really owned high school—but I had this nagging thought about whether I could possibly get my arm around everything in this world. I felt like I had won and I had beat high school.

So one thing led to another and I started reading the Bible a little bit and then that’s when I got connected with Young Life and a particular leader at a local high school. Then one thing led to another and I was like, ‘man this Christianity thing sounds like a pretty cool thing’ so I rolled the dice and I’ve been a big part of local faith communities ever since.

In terms of how my faith affects how I do business, I’m certainly not a Jesus fish type of business owner. However, where it does come into play is essentially my code of ethics. Primarily, which is integrity. What I do, or rather what I think or say is what I do every single time and that’s a big part of how I do business and how I’ve been successful. So, that obviously means a lot of transparency and honesty. I think that’s something that someone who does business with me, well, I want them to notice.

I try to live up to those things as much as I possibly can, and as you know with business, it’s all about relationships. There is no exchange of value without having a relationship with somebody or someone. So, my goal really is to just be a witness in my faith and what I’m all about in all my business operations.

Seeds: From Farm to Cup

Coffee roasting was just a hobby for brothers Jeff and Brett Huey. With a stovetop popcorn roaster, they roasted a few pounds of coffee from time to time with several friends. Selling a bag here and there, popularity grew and a demand for the coffee increased among friends and their church community.

“It was a hobby because we loved coffee and we always had dreams and desires to have a restaurant or coffee shop to connect people,” Jeff said.

They upgraded to a larger in-home roaster, spread the roasting duties among those interested, and spent several months roasting from a friend’s garage closet. Labels led to branding and branding led to the name Seeds Coffee Co.

“Well the name is kind of two fold,” Jeff explained. “The actual bean is a seed. That’s what we’re focused around is the coffee seed and since we’re pastors, it’s a seed of the gospel or seed of faith.”

In October of 2011, Jeff and Brett sat down with close friends and planned the future of roasting coffee. The first order of business was to purchase a commercial coffee roaster, so they gathered $16,000 in one night to make the purchase and to have startup funds.

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Credit: Seeds Coffee Co.

April of 2012 rolled around and the commercial roaster was installed in the break room of an office space supplied for free by a friend. Seeds Coffee Co. officially became a coffee roaster in Birmingham, Ala.

Now with a café next door to their roasting facility, they’re able to put their product directly in the cup for the community to enjoy. Their vision of being in the community and serving people of all ages and all backgrounds is now a reality. They wanted a location for community gathering, and now they have it.

The focus wasn’t just coffee. The group was fixated on coffee growing countries, areas they wanted to reach with the Gospel. They wanted to pay farmers an honest wage and work to develop direct trade. Self-prosperity wasn’t the agenda, both Huey brothers reiterated.

Much Time and No Pay:

Jeff and Brett, along with the other entrepreneurs, decided against paychecks from the new startup. Instead, they rationed their time to work with the intention of giving everything to grow the business and ministry it was becoming. Jeff and the others had other jobs and sources of income, but Brett dedicated his days to working for Seeds for no pay.

“I think we saw the risk. I probably didn’t see as much as the others money wise. One of my main roles was to just give my time,” Brett said.

Not to mention Brett was a newly wed and entered his marriage with the plan of working for free while his wife carried the couple financially. “I always thought growing up that I wouldn’t let my wife make more than me, and this was when I wasn’t a Christian,” Brett explained with a laugh. “I’ve never felt like a failure for not being able to support.”

No one was paid at first. The only staff members paid today are two girls who work in the café and receive a part-time salary for their efforts. Intentions are for more jobs and salaries paid, but the business remains in the early stages of growth.

“I’m still not paid and that’s fine,” Brett said. “It hasn’t been an issue and it’s been well worth the time. If I’m going to be selfish then yes, I’m going to worry about myself.”

Brett mentioned how in just two months the business is nearly out of debt, an unheard of reality for most startup businesses.

From the Farm to the Cup:

“We started thinking this could be something really cool for ministry,” Jeff said. “What we see is that coffee has opened this door to so many things.”

The entrepreneurial team has traveled the four corners of the globe in search of building honest relationships with coffee farmers in hopes of developing direct trade and substantial ministry. Traveling to Guatemala, India and Sumatra, the Seeds team has seen the coffee production,  spoken with the farmers themselves, settled on a living wage for the people, and partnered with Christians on the ground to bring ministry to life.

“Every time we go, we hope to improve on making ground work there. A lot of vision is going into it,” Brett explained.

From the parable of the shrewd manager in Luke 16 grew the vision for the Seeds staff. This passage is commonly known for the teaching of only serving one master—either God or money. They focused on these passages:

“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?” Luke 16:10-11

To the team, it’s not difficult. God has trusted them with much and they want to be honest with what they’ve been given. This mentality is the life-blood of everything they do. They want to be honest with God and honest with people.

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Credit: Seeds Coffee Co.

The staff just purchased their first direct trade coffee from Sumatra. They work with an importer in Atlanta that is connected with the farmers they know in Guatemala so they can purchase the beans at a fair price for all.

Until Seeds reaches a certain level of sales and roasting capacity, they cannot purchase direct trade because the requirements are too high. However, the importer in Atlanta is as close as they can get to direct trade while retaining honesty and fairness.

Brett isn’t worried about the business going under or suffering fallout. He simply said, “if it fails, then it fails, we don’t worry.” It’s all an understanding of how God has provided and the staff is being faithful to their calling.

“We’re not business people, we’re not café owners, we’re not even really trained in coffee,” Jeff said. “We just love it and it’s presented itself before us as something we can use.”

Q&A with Personal Trainer, Pastor, Entrepreneur, Author – Jake Merrick

Jake Merrick has a packed, full life, as he’s started a fitness gym, nutritional supplement line, is a bivocational pastor and author. You could say Jake is an entrepreneur at heart. He starts what he believes in and sees no separation of church and career. It’s all one. One life surrendered to God’s glory and use.

I sat down with Jake to discuss his work, his thoughts on being bivocational and honoring God in his endeavors, and how he handles some tough situations within his career. Here’s our Q&A session:

Q: What all are you currently doing and involved in?

A: Well we own a fitness studio here in Oklahoma City (Balance Fitness Studio), and we bought it a little bit over a year ago. It’s been going really good and I’ve been in personal training for over seven years and then God just really opened this door to start this place and it’s centrally located, so we’re still learning about how to grow it and market it, but it’s headed in the right direction. I have this and help pastor at a church up the road. And I have a book coming out this summer (“Bodies of Christ”) that deals with fitness, especially within the church.

Then we have nutrional supplement company that we’re putting together and we have a partner down in Florida who has a manufacturing plant, so we’ve been working with him for a couple of years. Hopefully we can launch that about the same time as the book comes out.

Q: I guess you’re an entrepreneur at heart?

A: Yeah, exactly. Always have our hands in several things, which I love it. It definitely keeps us busy and moving, but we don’t just want to be busy, we want to do the things God has opened for us and I feel like all of the things we’re doing now are. It’s just about balancing them and it’s really neat because they all work together and it’s not like they are all separate entities.

Q: Do you have a business background or just interested in these things and learned how to do them?

A: My background is a major in Biblical studies and psychology, and then I went to seminary with the pursuit of full-time ministry. Over the years God has just morphed what full-time ministry is and it doesn’t have to be in the pulpit all of the time. I went into personal training because I was going into church planting and wanted to be bivocational to help supplement while we’re planting a church. Then God just really started opening doors with the training and He just taught me that that is ministry—helping people, working one-on-one with them.

Seven years later we have this business and we’re still learning about the business end of it, but one of the things God has shown me is that it’s about serving people, and when we do that, He is going to bless it. It’s been an interesting journey.

Q: How would you encourage bivocational living and letting your career be your ministry?

A: That’s one of the biggest problems we have, I believe, in the church, is an artificial divide between our church life and our real life. It’s all just one life live to God’s glory. If we glorify Him in everything we do, then our whole life becomes ministry and He’s going to gift you with certain talents, whatever that is. For me, I have a passion and calling to teach and to preach, and that’s something I’ve had training in, but it’s something that comes naturally for me—it’s a passion of mine.

I would encourage people to find their gifts and those are going to be used within the four walls of the church and outside of the church. I have a friend who just loves to serve people and he looks for ways to come alongside people with a vision and help them out. So he doesn’t really carry a vision or try to be the lead man, he just wants to be there to support. And that’s a huge thing!

I would just see your life as one life, surrendered to God, and He has gifted you with certain things to bless the body and bless the world. That’s inside and outside the four walls (of the church).

Q: Have you had opportunities to share your faith through your work?

A: Oh yeah, it’s all the time. Seeing life as a unit and not divided up into spiritual and non-spiritual is important. I carry that into my training and when I’m training someone physically, it’s not just about their physical health. When someone is really overweight and out of shape, there’s a reason they got there and it usually has a spiritual route to it. They may be in prime condition but have depression or some other type of issue and there are spiritual routes there as well.

With everyone that I train, it’s all about, first and foremost, that God created this body and we need a living breathing relationship with Him.

There’s a guy right now that I’m training and he’s almost 400 pounds and just struggling to lose weight. So I’ve been training with him for almost a year and he hasn’t seen much success and he came in the other day and said, “I have problem. I can’t stop eating.” And I kind of laughed it off, but he said, “I’m serious. I have real problem. I can’t stop eating.”

So I asked him, “how bad do you want to change?” And he said that he wanted to really change. So I said, “what are you willing to do to change?” Then he said he would do anything.

Then I told him he needed to sign up for training five days a week because he wasn’t getting in the gym five days a week and needed to. Then I asked him again, “how bad do you really want this?” And he said he really wanted it. So I told him we were going to his house and made him take me to his house across town and I went through his fridge and cabinets and cleaned it out. I said, “if you want to make a change, you have to get rid of this junk and start making real choices.”

Then it went deeper than that and it was about how he wasn’t connected to a church body and he’s Christian but he’s out there on his own. I said, “man you need to get connected to a body and that needs to be priority number one.”

We get people who come to us and are real desperate, but I say to them, “okay, I’ll help you, but we’re going to do this on my terms.” And our terms are to lead them to the one who can really heal them, who is God.

Q: How would you address the issue of gluttony, one of the biggest issues that the church tends to sweep under the rug?

A: It’s actually the focus of the book I wrote. I’m passionate about it and believe it’s a real serious issue. What I believe the root cause of it is—well, I look at God’s number one priority. What is His most valuable creation? His greatest creation is His church and His people. And He’s called a people out to be separate and holy. We’ve got this individualized mentality about it being all about my life and I’m going to live it for me, and so it becomes a selfish way to live. And it becomes about your cravings and what you’re going to do to satisfy your cravings.

When you sacrifice those cravings, you sacrifice your individual life and you commit it to other people and you become accountable. It becomes about something bigger than you.

I believe that when we truly understand the nature of the church and what God wants to do through His body, then we’re going to see success with our own physical bodies. Then I believe that people aren’t living on a daily basis surrendered to the Holy Spirit and just letting Him lead you in everything you do. Paul says, “whatever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it for the glory of God.”

We’ll go to church and tie it to the glory of God, but we won’t choose to not go to McDonald’s for the glory of God. You know? We need to know that He wants to lead us in all the small things in life.

Q: What’s your advice for people who have a desire to start something and how to manage the risk?

A: Speaking to Christians, the way we live is one big risk. We are betting everything on a God we can’t see. Our whole life is about faith, so that should flow over into every aspect of our life and so we are constantly taking risks, and I think God is wanting us to take bigger risks because that means we are trusting Him more and more.

God, who is the source of creativity, is going to give his people great ideas and inventions. It’s just about Him leading and you following him. Don’t try too hard to figure all the details out, just walk in it, take the next step as He leads you and don’t run ahead of him.

Oklahoma Chiropractor Practices What He Preaches

What began as a risk, yet a calling, turned into the chiropractic practice Dr. Micah Carter now owns in Oklahoma City, Okla.

After marriage and college graduation, Carter started his professional career as a high school teacher, but his teaching stent ended after three years when he and his wife picked up everything to settle in the metropolis of Dallas. Being small town folks, the adjustment was no small feat, especially pursuing chiropractic school with no income and no promise of work for his wife.

“We totally trusted God that that’s what we were supposed to do. We had complete faith about it and were at peace about it,” Carter said.

Settling down at his cousin’s house just outside Dallas in Plano, Texas, God began unraveling his plan for Carter’s future in chiropractic care and the intricacies of how that plan would unfold.

It was a “seamless transition” as Carter described it, as his wife landed a job receiving an income near equal to what they both made teaching, they sold their house in Goodland, Kan. and they closed on a house in the Dallas metro.

The dream of becoming a chiropractor, a dream Carter avoided because he was a small town man, was coming to fruition.

“Faith is how I got here in the first place because I was a high school science teacher first,” Carter explained, as he continued to mention the situation was a “God thing” and no other explanation was needed.

While Carter knew chiropractic school was his dream and felt God’s blessing on the situation, he still found himself face-to-face with doubt. Entering any new phase of life, fear is a crippling factor, yet Carter’s cousin, a dentist, was blatantly honest about Carter’s situation—“yes, you can do this. It’s not that hard but it’s going to take time.”

Fear seemed a distant factor now as Carter flourished in his education.

While in Dallas, Carter discovered another love—his love for God and his faith, something he accepted years ago but didn’t believe was fully-mature or intrinsic in his life until he and his wife relocated to Dallas. “Our spiritual journey really took off at that point.”

Today, Carter owns Family Tree Chiropractic in Oklahoma City and has been practicing since 2002. He originally wanted the name to be “Agape Chiropractic,” but he said he couldn’t get the name to stick and some may not understand the meaning. He finally settled on “Family Tree” because he encourages care for the entire family from great grandparents down to the youngest toddlers.

Before All Else, They Gather To Pray:

Carter took time to share about his professional adventure and blessing while he missed the prayer meeting he conducts with his staff twice a day. His practice opens in the morning, breaks for lunch and then reopens in the afternoon. Before each opening of the practice he gathers the staff for prayer.

They pray for each other, for the practice and for the patients. Carter says they even pray for patients directly when they’re helping them recover from this pain and that ailment. However, Carter never forces the matter.

“I don’t push it on people because some aren’t comfortable,” Carter said. “I don’t want to be showy, but I want it to be clear whose practice it is.”

Carter has even noticed patients asking for referrals to other specialists and inquiring whether “they will pray with me before treatment or surgery.” Carter smiled as he explained the power of prayer in his practice and how it’s connected him with a strong network of specialists who uphold their faith as well.

Hiring for a Christian Practice:

Does Carter only staff his practice with Christians? Is it a Christian only zone? By no means does Carter want to exclude people from his staff or community of patients because they don’t agree with his beliefs.

Upon entering the practice it’s difficult to miss the Christian messages and themes as Christian music plays over the sound system and messages of faith fill the walls. People know the mission of the practice as Carter designed it with that intent.

When Carter hires new staff members, he’s genuinely upfront and personal about what he believes and what the practice embraces.

“We don’t search out and say you have to be Christian, I wouldn’t do that. But I tell them in the second interview, ‘look this is really God’s practice and we pray for all of our patients, we pray together everyday as a team and we take prayer requests as a team. I’m not going to require you to pray with us, but you’re more than welcome to.”

It’s an open invitation to join what Carter and his staff members advocate and believe, but it’s not pressure or exclusion from him or the others. Carter is simply honest and open to people making their own decisions.

Work Isn’t Really Work:

Carter joked as he stated that work isn’t work for him. Watching patients improve and heal is the blessing of his work. The fruits of his labor, and staff’s prayer, are evident in the people they serve, making work a worshipful experience for him, he said.

“It’s kind of hard to call it work,” he mentioned. “It’s easy to be joyful through what I do.”