August Forum Recap

In J4 Leaders this year, we are discussing promises we can cling to, as Christian women leading in the marketplace. On Tuesday, Secily Wilson, Director of Community Relations & Financial Development for YMCA of Central Florida discussed her personal journey of God leading her through the the trials in her life.  

The grace of God is the favor of God. The grace of God causes good things to happen in our lives through the channel of faith. Here’s what you need to know: divine favor can come and overtake you. Divine favor comes by God’s anointing and is triggered by faith. Divine favor is not the result of luck but of obedience.

Psalm 84:11 "For the Lord God is a sun and a shield; THE LORD WILL GIVE FAVOR and glory; No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly"

Psalm 5:12 For You, O Lord, will bless the righteous; with favor You will surround him as with a shield. 

Psalm 23:5-6 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. 

The truth is that if we just concentrate on pleasing God, HE will give us favor with others when we need it most.

Women with Favor:

Hannah in Hebrew is Favor, Grace. Mother of the prophet Samuel.

Mary, Mother of Jesus. 

Then there’s Ruth a Moabite and another example of a humble, contrite woman who had been separated by God but received God by grace. 

Esther had abundant favor. 

The definition of ‘grace’ is unmerited divine assistance. It includes approval, favor, mercy, pardon and privilege. 

God has granted you privileged status. You’re His child, a child of the King! 

Proverbs 16:7 (NIV) says, "When a man's ways are pleasing to the Lord, He makes even his enemies live at peace with him”.

All God’s power is available to you through His Word, His grace and His favor. You know the saying…..membership has it’s privileges. American Express doesn’t have anything on the benefits you receive through the gift of His grace. You might have great benefits through your employer, Florida Blue, United Health Care…..But I can guarantee you….God’s benefits are far greater AND there is nothing that is not covered!

SOME of his Grace and Favor Benefits:

Grace blesses. The Bible says the Lord blesses you continually….more and more. When the blessing of God comes, the favor of God comes with it. 

The blessing is the empowerment to prosper. The favor produces the opportunity to prosper. You can have the ability to do something, but if you never have the opportunity, it’s not likely the ability will benefit you.  Every person who has accepted Jesus has the blessing of God on their life.

You’ve already been given the blessing. Now you have to start believing God for his opportunities. I thank him daily for divine connections and opportunities opening up on my behalf.


Grace gives. Psalm 68 says the Lord daily loads you with benefits! Psalm 103 lists some of those benefits: forgiveness, healing, lovingkindness, renewed youth and protection. Don’t take my word….it’s in the book. 

Psalm 103:2 Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits.  He who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good thing so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

So think about your own life and where he “gave” you some these benefits. While you’re thinking let me tell you what he gave me. Forgiving me of my sins of being judgemental. Don’t act like I’m the only one. I KNOW we have some JUDGE JUDY’S in here. But don’t worry, he’ll forgive you. He healed my heart of 2 strokes and restored my my voice giving me the ability to speak again. He restored my career, my finances and gives me good things so that my youth is renewed like the eagles. I’m 51 years old and I feel like 25. He gave me my good genes and good looks! Thank you BIG DADDY!

Grace is merciful. Mercy is defined as lenient, compassionate treatment, an act of divine favor. The Bible describes God’s mercy as ‘plentiful’, ‘new every morning’ and ‘from everlasting to everlasting’.  Mercy holds no grudges and stops punishment. God treats you as if it never happened.  Grace and Mercy shall follow me all the days of my life. It is God’s eternal grace. Cece Winans wrote a song that I love. Mercy said no!  ….when sin demanded justice for my soul……mercy said no. I’m not gonna let you go, I’m not gonna let you slip away, you don’t have to be afraid, Mercy said no, sin will never take control….life and death stood face to face. Darkness tried to steal my heart away…..thank you Jesus, Mercy said no.

Grace protects. Psalm 91 details the many protections available to those who make God their source. It says ‘surely’ He will deliver you, be your refuge and fortress, and that nothing can in any way harm you. No weapon formed against you shall prosper, not even the weapons we form against ourselves. A VERY clear example of his protection yesterday morning.      

Grace gives favor. Repeatedly, the Bible says that God ‘gave favour’ or ‘shewed favour’ to His people.  Ephesians says He ‘raised us up to sit in heavenly places’. Having a place in the throne room of God is pretty prestigious, don’t you think?  That’s like being in VIP all the time. He adopted us into His family and told us to call Him ‘Abba, Father’. I call him Daddy.

Well, God is your ‘Daddy’ and He wants to show you His favor. He told you to ‘come boldly’ and ask Him for whatever you need (Heb. 4:16) so you ‘obtain mercy and find grace to help’. God wants to show you favor! That’s grace – love in action.

As women God favors us more! It’s true. He said in Proverbs: 18:22 He who finds a wife finds a good thing AND obtains favor from the Lord. You need to go and tell your husbands…..you know you are successful because of me. Without me, you would have a hard life! 

As for me and my house, we shall serve the Lord. As mothers, when our home obeys the Lord and operates in his principals we gain generational Favor.
    
You see, when your relationships feel like they are totally off their equilibrium and causing tension in your emotions.... use your words.
When your business seems stalled and everywhere you turn there is delay...use your words.
When your creativity has waned and you feel like access to the very thing that makes you you, has been limited... use your words.

Here’s the deal. life and death is in the power of your tongue.
What I know for sure, is that none of us get to make it through life without encountering mountains and when you do, your instruction is to SPEAK to the mountain and it shall be removed.
Don't try to scale the mountain,
Don't try to go around the mountain,
Don't try to go through the mountain.
No matter what mountain tries to rise up against you today, the instruction is the same...
USE YOUR WORDS!!

Let me encourage you to Use your faith and the power of your words to access His grace and favor. Refuse to talk about the problem when God’s grace has already given you every answer in His Word. Refuse to let this world’s system dictate your life. Take your place in your home, in your marketplace, in your community;– the place He created for you. Stand in your power. YOU Choose what happens by your faith and the words you speak.

His words say, "You are the apple of My eye. You are My favorite child" Deut. 32:10. Because you are his favorite…….you better get ready. Your future is so bright, You have to wear shades!

A special thank you to Secily for sharing her story with us!

 

September Forum - Working with Jesus – #travelbuddy

September 6, 2016 | 6:00 - 7:30 PM (Registration begins at 5:30)

First Presbyterian Church of Orlando | 106 E. Church Street | Edington Ministry Center | 3rd Floor, Sterchi Conference Room | Parking Garage located at Jackson/Rosalind - Bring parking ticket for validation.

This year at J4 Leaders, we are learning to stand on God's promises! God is always with me- He promises to never leave me or forsake me.  He is my companion at work therefore I am not isolated as a leader.

There is no need to fear the future- no matter how bad we imagine, we need to remember that God will be in that situation and He will give us peace, comfort, provision.  We can enjoy peace in his companionship at work and even when traveling “alone”.  

Don't miss Julie Colombino sharing about God's promise of Omni Presence in our lives!

Julie Colombino is the Founder and CEO of REBUILD globally, a Kingdom business fighting poverty in Haiti. Since its inception, she has been a champion for impact-oriented business that are leading social change. From their global headquarters in Orlando, REBUILD globally has been making an impact in Haiti through education and job training, while developing a Haitian owned and operated business and fashion brand, deux mains designs. Under Colombino’s leadership, the past six years has been a dramatic evolution from earthquake recovery to a sustainable business that was quickly propelled into the world of ethical fashion. REBUILD globally has created partnerships with The United Nations, Kenneth Cole, supermodel Heide Lindgren and Ron Jon’s Surf Shop to fight poverty and strengthen families in Haiti.

Julie received her Master of Nonprofit Management from UCF and is the proud recipient of the 2014 Credo Social Business Award, the 2013 Rally Award; the 2013 Young Leaders for Haiti Global Humanitarian Award; the 2012 Business Innovation and Growth Award from the Chamber of Commerce; the 2011 UCF's Alumni Community Service Award; and the 2011 Public Administration New Professional of the Year Award.
Julie's book, From Death to Dollars, will be available in 2017. It is based on her real life encounters post earthquake and documents the growth of the social business ecosystem she created to instill dignity and financial security for the most vulnerable in Haiti.

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August Forum - The Future's So Bright, I Need New Shades!

August 2, 2016 | 6:00 - 7:30 PM (Registration begins at 5:30)

First Presbyterian Church of Orlando | 106 E. Church Street | Edington Ministry Center | 3rd Floor, Sterchi Conference Room | Parking Garage located at Jackson/Rosalind - Bring parking ticket for validation

Future's So Bright, We Need New Shades! with Secily Wilson - There is incredible promise for you as a woman living and leading for Christ. As J4 Leaders in 2016 we are exploring the promises that God has made to us, His daughters. What would He have us do as His women in the marketplace? Which of His promises can we cling to as we face the challenges of everyday living? Join us as Secily Wilson shares about God's Promise to Give us Favor!

Secily currently serves as the Director of Community Relations for the YMCA of Central Florida. She is the mother of 2 daughters, a Telly Award winning broadcast journalist, media communications professional, Mrs. Florida International 1999 and founder of her own non-profit WOW Legacy Group Inc. which supports women in transition. For more than 20 years Secily delivered hard hitting, inspiring and entertaining reports in news, lifestyle, art and entertainment. Over the years Secily has interviewed notables like Oprah, Civil Rights icon Andrew Young, former NFL coach Tony Dungy, former CNN anchor Soladad O’Brien and many others.

She is passionate about issues like stroke awarenessand domestic violence. Secily is often found giving back to her community, spreading awareness and volunteering. She received her broadcast journalism degree from Valdosta State University, is a member of  Jack and Jill of America Inc., National Association of Black Journalist and a leader in the Central Florida community.

June Forum Recap - 'The Ultimate Delivery Man!' with Amanda Ober

In J4 Leaders this year, we are discussing promises we can cling to, as Christian women leading in the marketplace. On Tuesday, Amanda Ober, reporter for WESH 2 news and J4 Leader Board member, discussed her personal journey of God leading her through the storms of life. 

Amanda has always loved stories. In fact, when she was in the 4th grade, she confidently told her parents she wanted to be a news reporter. Because she loves stories so much, God often uses them to speak to her.  

Amanda explained that she is not known for being athletically gifted. She thinks she must have been doing her hair the day that God gave out the athletic gifts! In her 20s, she had a lot of very athletic friends, and joined them to climb Mt. Washington, the highest mountain peak in New Hampshire, where they lived. During this climb, the group leader, Brian was keeping a special eye on her, knowing this may be a bit of a stretch for her, physically. When they were nearing the top, a huge storm came and she started fearing for her safety. Brian grabbed her, looked her in the eyes and said "Amanda - Just follow my every step. Whatever I do, just copy me." He led her in the 'Step.Rest' method, alternately giving each leg time to rest after each step, allowing for more control and avoiding exhaustion. This was a method that she knew well, but had forgotten to use in the panic of the moment. Step by step, she followed him. 

Wouldn't it be great if we could make it to the top of the mountains without any storms? In John 16:33, Jesus says, "In this world you will have trouble, but take heart. I have overcome the world." 

What trial do you face today? We all need to be delivered from something. 

Psalm 34:4 says "I sought the lord and we answered me." and in verse 17, : The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles." When we seek God and cry out, God's word says that He will hear us and answer us and deliver us. 

In 2014, Amanda was enjoying a season that seemed as though God had given her a gift that had long been a desire of her heart. As quickly as it came into her life, however, it was taken away, leaving her devastated. Her heart was utterly broken but she was in a place in her walk with God where she knew that He was the only one who was going to catch her heart so she turned to Him. She sensed God asking her to devote 10 weeks fully to Him. All the time she had, she gave to being in His presence. Sometimes that looked like just weeping to the lord, other times she would read scripture and books, or journal or listen to sermons. Her condo became a holy place where she experienced the presence of God.

When we set our desire to seek God with all of our hearts, He honors that and makes a way. 

God delivered her through her storm, one step at a time. 'Step. Rest. Step. Rest.' She followed Him step by step. It was not instant, but slowly hope entered her soul. While the enemy went after her mind saying she was rejected. God revealed to her that she was being protected.

Since then, God has allowed Amanda to use this storm that He led her through to minister to others experiencing heartbreak and longing, causing them to question if God really cares about them. She now has confidence in God's love for us and ability to make broken hearts whole again. God turns the storms He delivers us from into our ministry. We can reach out to others and let them know they are not alone in experiencing the storms of life. 

On Mount Washington, as she followed Brian, step by step, eventually, the storm subsided. When she got to the top, it was one of the most beautiful views she had ever experienced. When God delivers us, there is joy and there is laughter.

When we seek Jesus in the trials of life, He will deliver us either from it or through it. When He leads us, out we can look back and remember His faithfulness and we can run to people who's hearts have been broken and show them the way out

A special thank you to Amanda for sharing her story with us!

Amanda Ober is a general board member for J4 Leaders. She joined WESH 2 News in August 1997, moving to central Florida from her home state of New Hampshire where she was the morning and noon anchor at WMUR-TV in Manchester. She earned a bachelor's degree in broadcast journalism from Troy State University in Troy, AL. She has received several professional awards, including the Associated Press Best Spot News award for tracking down two of New Hampshire's top 10 deadbeat dads. Amanda is an accomplished political reporter, part of the WMUR-TV team that covered New Hampshire's presidential primaries in 1992 and 1996. Amanda was also part of the team that won a Columbia Dupont award for coverage of the Space Shuttle Columbia tragedy, as well as an Edward R. Murrow regional award for her reporting on the Casey Anthony trial. Amanda has volunteered on the board of several faith-based non-profits including the Christian Service Center and Samaritan Village. She currently serves on the Governing Board of Summit Church as well as the board of J4 Leaders. She also volunteers as a coach to small group leaders at her church and as a mentor to several young woman. Amanda is a proud graduate of Lifework Leadership Orlando.

May Forum Recap

 

Calling on God at Work... What's His Extension? with Natalie Hamer - There is incredible promise for you as a woman living and leading for Christ. As J4 Leaders in 2016 we are exploring the promises that God has made to us, His daughters. What would He have us do as His women in the marketplace? Which of His promises can we cling to as we face the challenges of everyday living? At the May Forum, Natalie Hamer shared about God's Promise that He has a perfect plan for us.

Forum Recap:

We've all had times in our lives when our circumstances don't seem to add up and we wonder what God's plan is. Those seasons of life can be major growth opportunities if we let them! Here are a few things I've learned through seasons of waiting:

1. God truly does care about the desires of our hearts. He puts them there for a reason. It’s important that we believe this because it helps us to wait for God’s best for us instead of settling for less. We really can trust Him. A good thing at the wrong time is really not a good thing for us. God’s timing is perfect and we have to wait for God’s best.

2. He’s always taking us somewhere. We don't serve a static God; We serve a God who’s alive and who is always moving on this earth and in our lives. And when he’s taking us somewhere - there’s always a preparation period.  God sees the big picture, he knows every detail, every circumstance, everything that will happen in the future and we have to be prepared.
 
"My ways are higher than your ways, my thoughts are higher than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:8.

He also uses these periods of time to tests us: Does our faith only work when we have the things that we want? Because that means our faith is actually in the things themselves and not in God. If we can follow Him and be obedient during hard times, when we don’t have the things that we want - He knows He can trust us when we do get to the 'promised land', so to speak. 

3. God’s perfect plan is about so much more than our jobs and our circumstances and what we want. As daughters of the king we can be confident that God has a good plan for us.
 
Matthew 6: 31-33 says: "Do not worry saying what shall we eat, or what shall we drink, or what shall we wear? For the pagans worry about these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well."
 
God’s greatest purpose and plan is for us to seek the kingdom of God right where we are. I don’t have a ton of huge regrets in my life, but I regret every second I spent worrying about my life! Looking back, every moment I spent worrying about how things were going to work out and what was going to happen next, was a complete and waste of time. 

God’s plan for our lives is that we would grow in the knowledge of the word and in the character of Christ. That we would have integrity as we carry out our daily duties. That we would care about those around us. That we would be prayerful and listen to the Spirit each day. God’s perfect plan for us is that we would know him, experience his presence and bear much fruit.
 
We all have gifts and a calling and things God is calling us to do each and every day right where we’ve been placed. There is a world around us that needs us to listen to the Spirit and dig into the place God has put us for today. All of us, regardless of our circumstances, have the most perfect calling – to bring the kingdom of God to earth. To be a part of restoring a broken world. Let’s let this be our first priority in all that we do. 

 

 

Natalie Hamer is the Community Partnerships Coordinator for LIFT Orlando and Executive Assistant for J4 Leaders. 

Encouraging Word - Seeking the Kingdom

by Marlee D'Arco, J4 Board Member and Founder of Radical Entrepreneurship, LLC

When I first graduated from law school, I was concerned. The job market wasn’t booming in Miami, and a quality employment opportunity brought on serious competition.
 
Would I be able to find a job?
Would I find a job that actually paid the bills? (When your student loan payments are the size of a mortgage payment, you wonder.)
How will I make it all work?
 
I prayed, and I worried. Mostly, I worried.
 
Then, I decided to start my own business.
 
Could I actually successfully launch a business on my own?
How would I convince people to do business with a newbie?
Would I make enough money to survive?
 
Again, I prayed. But this time, things were different. This time, I didn’t just pray and worry. This time, I prayed and listened.
 
And I heard: “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.”
 
Seek the Kingdom…
 
I used to pray and seek God to meet my needs…
 
“God, please help me find a way to make ends meet.” “Father, give me your supernatural favor with clients so that I can prosper.” “Lord, make a way for this business situation to change.”
 
But He’s told us to seek the Kingdom and our needs will be met, so when I heard that from Him my prayers started to change.
 
“Thank you, God, that you are teaching me to become love, so that I can be the Kingdom to those around me.” “Thank you, God that you are growing me in patience, so that I can do your will on your watch.” “Thank you, God that you are showing me the needs of others, so that I can bless them in any way possible.”
 
My prayers changed, but my needs didn’t.
 
And, do you know what?
 
My every need was - and is - met. He meets my needs before I know what they are, and more than ever He’s equipped me to meet the needs of others.
 
But here’s the best part.
 
I rarely find myself concerned with my needs. I find myself concerned with my King. I find myself concerned with the Kingdom, and every time I seek more of the Kingdom, more of the Kingdom He gladly gives.
 
All of my needs are met according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
 
He desires to do the same for you.
 
See: Matthew 6:33; Luke 12:32; Philippians 4:19

June Forum | The Ultimate Delivery Man

June 7, 2016 | 6:00 - 7:30 PM (Registration begins at 5:30)

First Presbyterian Church of Orlando | 106 E. Church Street | Edington Ministry Center | 3rd Floor, Sterchi Conference Room | Parking Garage located at Jackson/Rosalind - Bring parking ticket for validation

The Ultimate Delivery Man with Amanda Ober - There is incredible promise for you as a woman living and leading for Christ. As J4 Leaders in 2016 we are exploring the promises that God has made to us, His daughters. What would He have us do as His women in the marketplace? Which of His promises can we cling to as we face the challenges of everyday living? Join us as Amanda Ober shares about God's Promise to deliver.

Amanda Ober is a general board member for J4 Leaders. She joined WESH 2 News in August 1997, moving to central Florida from her home state of New Hampshire where she was the morning and noon anchor at WMUR-TV in Manchester. She earned a bachelor's degree in broadcast journalism from Troy State University in Troy, AL. She has received several professional awards, including the Associated Press Best Spot News award for tracking down two of New Hampshire's top 10 deadbeat dads. Amanda is an accomplished political reporter, part of the WMUR-TV team that covered New Hampshire's presidential primaries in 1992 and 1996. Amanda was also part of the team that won a Columbia Dupont award for coverage of the Space Shuttle Columbia tragedy, as well as an Edward R. Murrow regional award for her reporting on the Casey Anthony trial. Amanda has volunteered on the board of several faith-based non-profits including the Christian Service Center and Samaritan Village. She currently serves on the Governing Board of Summit Church as well as the board of  J4 Leaders.  She also volunteers as a coach to small group leaders at her church and as a mentor to several young woman.  Amanda is a proud graduate of Lifework Leadership Orlando."

The Great Provide with Claire Fournier

On April 5th, Claire Fournier, Chief Strategic Partnership Officer at Orlando Health (read bio here) and our very own J4 Leaders Board Member, shared about God's promise that his will always provide for us! Here is her talk in it's entirety:

Just so I can get a temperature of those here tonight, how many of you try your absolute best to allow Christ to be at the wheel, guiding your life? All right, a great number!

And how many of you might find yourself in the same trap that I find myself, many times trying to have the Lord drive from the back seat, or even worse, I lock him the trunk? OK, I’m glad I am not the only one who is a work in progress here tonight in my faith journey.

Many times in public speaking, you can warm up your audience with humor. And I think I have some humor to share with you tonight. Up until about 5pm yesterday, I had a great talk prepared for you on the Great Control – allowing God to have control in your life. Imagine my surprise at the end of the day when reading the email reminder; I realized the subject was the Great Provide.

Leaning not on my own understanding, I definitely leaned on Him last night to PROVIDE words for me to share with you tonight. So goodbye to my speech on handing God control of our lives. Please see me afterwards if you need someone to give that speech in the future. In reality, maybe giving up control leads to the Great Provide.

When thinking about how God has ALWAYS provided for me – I can say he has provided for my needs 100% of the time in my life….that is when I allowed him to guide me. So many times, I want my human needs to be met. As crazy as it sounds, I try to strategize, analyze or prioritize what I think is best for me. I ask for my prayers to be answered, promptly. Thankfully as we age, we come to understand many times unanswered prayers were anything but unanswered. God knows best what we need, far beyond our earthly desires and requests.

As best as I try, I hate to admit, I only give the Lord a part-time job most days in leading my life. And I’m learning that breaking that pattern starts with simple daily steps of trusting him to provide. When I wake up in the morning still thinking through last night’s problem, whether at work or home, I’m trying to cheat God out of his job of providing an answer to my challenge through quiet contemplation. Listening to him.

Christ wants to sit at the throne of our life. Proverbs 3:5 tells us to, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding”. Isn’t it almost comical that we would think with our faulty human brain that we could direct our path better than the creator of the universe?

In my favorite devotional, Jesus Calling, I was given some great content for tonight on March 29th. It read, “Stop trying to work things out before their times have come. Accept the limitations of living one day at a time. When something comes to your attention, ask Me whether or not it is part of today’s agenda. If it isn’t, release it into My care and go about today’s duties. Listen…for God to provide you your answers. You’ll recognize them.

I’m learning this one day at a time approach of trusting God with today, and not getting overly analytical about the past or future actions works well. In today’s crazy pace and constant demands, I yearn to simplify my life and find peace.

Why else do we envy children with their reckless abandon of freedom and happiness, except for the simplicity of their lives? They truly live in the moment. Let’s go back to being kids! And let our Heavenly Father provide for our needs in our daily walk.

When I think of the 3 areas that concern me the most, areas I continually ask God to provide for me and family, it includes: My personal happiness, health, peace and joy. You know, the fruits of the Spirit more: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness. Pretty good list. Because we all know if Mama isn’t happy, no one is happy.

My prayers next are for the health, safety and happiness of my family and cherished friends, my chosen family.

And lastly, I worry about being financially secure. It is the only explanation of why I would spend so much time and energy thinking about career or changes at work. Financial instability is a frightening thought to me.

Number one: When trying to make myself happy, I’m learning God can do a much better of job running my life. But it still doesn’t mean I am not hard wired to take the wheel back from him all too often. This is especially true when we are in the valleys of our lives.

I’ve been in a personal season of change the past two years as I transitioned from raising a child at home to launching my son Michael into his college career. Letting go was really hard, as was the joy in giving daily maternal love and influencing his life decisions.

How many of you have launched a child into college? How many found it extremely difficult to give ownership to that college freshman to make good decisions in their life? Aren’t we certain we would make much better decisions for them, based on our years of living and parental wisdom?

I wonder if the Lord feels the same way about us. He is beyond capable of directing our path and keeping us from harm. But much like our college freshman children, going away from home for the first time, we often don’t give Christ a chance to fill our lives with the fruits of the spirit. Only when we scrape our knees, or for our children they skip a class, flunk a test or overindulge at college kegger, do we both come to realize we are not as capable of making Godly decisions without his guidance and provision.

With time, I am finding it easier to easier to know that God will provide for Michael’s welfare and safety when away from me. He is the Lord’s child first and foremost.

My son is really precious to me. For you see I almost missed ever knowing him at all. Many of you know my childbirth story but some of you have not heard it. And it is a pivotal event in my life story. I hope I can get through it since my dear friend and sister in Christ, Sherrie Sitarik, is here tonight. Sherrie well remembers that day on August 7, 1996. Sherrie (then President of Arnold Palmer Hospital) sat with my husband Glenn, after Michael’s birth when things looked grim for my survival. You see no healthy first time Mom expects to give birth and wake up 13 hours later on life support with a hysterectomy.

With heartfelt gratitude I marvel at the miracle of what God provided to our family that day. A future, me being there for the first day of kindergarten, high school graduation, dropping him off at college and a lifetime of memories in between and hopefully beyond. God provided my good health and survival, something so easy to take for granted.

Christ turned that near tragedy into one of the greatest gifts of my life. He provided a dream job of working at Orlando Health where I can live out my desire to give back and serve others. When an organization and individual caregivers save your life, you feel a level of gratitude that is hard to express. God and I would add Sherrie and Kathy Swanson, provided me a second chapter career to feel passion again in my life and career. I have worked my entire adult life so my career and financial security has always been an area of high importance.

Maybe because I grew up in a solidly mid-class home where there were occasional financial concerns, I knew the meaning of a dollar and the delayed gratification of having something on layaway. By the way, who in the room remembers ever having something like a new outfit on layaway?

But the Lord has always provided richly, though not in my desired timing, especially during the economic downturn from 2009-2014. The real estate development jobs in Orlando virtually dried up during that period which impacted my husband’s career. Suddenly, I found myself as the sole breadwinner of our family. We had always been partners in providing for our family, and I found it extremely hard to trust God’s timing when job opportunities seemed within reach and then slipped away. This season of drought lasted 5 long, laborious years.

What God did provide during that time was clarity on what was really important. My teenager confided he was fine to stay home more, travel less and have more home cooked than restaurant meals. But where the Lord really impacted my attitude was when I was down on knees in despair that I didn’t know how long I could carry the financial burden. Just when I was about to give up, an absolute financial miracle would happen.

When the Orlando Health opportunity presented itself, my business partner at the time, in a handshake deal, provided me 15 times more than I expected for my stock purchase. It was the financial lifeblood we needed to bridge our shortfall. But Christ knew he needed to take me to the 2 minute warning in the fourth quarter, to recognize his hand in this miracle. Then I could say, I’m hearing you, Lord, because I was about to lose faith and fall into despair. But you had me covered the whole time.

Recognizing our shortcomings and natural instinct to sin and exert our will over God, helps us to identify areas of opportunities to grow. Even the disciples doubted Christ. And they were the group of followers anointed to follow him in his brief life on earth.

So if the chosen 12 can doubt and worry, I should forgive myself when I find myself going down a path of doubting his ability to provide exactly what I need, when I need it. I love Proverbs, and one of my favorite passages is Proverbs 16:3 “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.” And then there is Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart”.  When we doubt, when we reach the end of our ropes, verses like these have been my lifeline to hope.

Learning to trust the Lord to direct us in our lives takes trust and faith. A recent devotion really stuck with me when it differentiated the difference between facts and problems. We can identify a situation either as a problem or a fact, depending on our lens. Think of a problem as something that we have some power to influence, change, improve or solve. But think about that same situation as a fact, something that I have no control over, so why anguish about a fact?

Back to that college freshman, once I learned to but my trust in the Lord to direct my son’s path and to keep him safe, it was a freeing experience. The fact was my son lives 11 hours away in New Orleans. I can’t possibly influence his daily decisions or actions. Or at least I shouldn’t, I’d be one of those helicopter Moms! Though a work in progress, the Lord continues to take charge of my life and in trusting him to influence Michael; he helped me to transition in this new stage of life.

And trusting God to provide requires me to spend time with him each morning in study and prayer. It has had the single most positive impact in recent years and even months. Philippians 4:19 tells us, “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus”. Starting my day in quiet time, focused just on today, even journaling has expanded my faith. It has been uncanny how my “Jesus Calling” devotion would address my natural need to worry about direction instead of waiting on God to answer my prayers. Slowly, I have begun to shift this natural inclination to want to figure things out, influence the outcome.

Does anyone relate to this need to control outcomes? Do I have any A type personalities in the room? Yes, I thought so. Whether at work, at home with our spouse, our kids or in community activities, we do not pray in the Lord’s Prayer that OUR will is done – rather HIS will be done.

The Lord is capable to provide for all our needs if we only listen and obey. Glenn and I got married in 1996, I purposely took the word obey out of our wedding vows because this modern women was not looking to obey my husband. A bride at age 34, I wasn’t about to sign onto obeying my spouse. But the Lord does call on us to obey his word. And if we can only trust and obey his instruction, we can experience his Great Provide.

Do I have any Gator fans in the room? Anyone remember the scripture that Tim Tebow often had on his face? Philippians 4:13 – I can do everything through him who gives me strength. Now that is worth obeying and walking in God’s instruction for our lives. I need that type of strength at work and home. Trusting and loving God to provide for our needs brings real peace.

First Corinthians 13 tells us the greatest thing on earth is love. Love heals our hearts and hurts. Love can help us address pride and pain. Love helps to experience freedom in forgiveness. Using love as a barometer for our motives helps us flush out right from wrong. And love simply feels good. It feels good when love is in everything we do.

When we can make loving our Heavenly Father and all he has placed in our lives, our number one priority, we have the peace that he is more than capable to provide. God loves us enough to give us the desires of heart and make our plans succeed as he promises us in his Word. Love conquers all while God provides his Great Plan.

It has been a pleasure to serve on the J4Leaders board and I encourage you to get involved with these exceptional women. Your friendships can help you grow. I treasure the friends I’ve met through J4. God bless you all and goodnight.

 

May Forum | Calling on God at Work... What's His Extension?

May 3, 2016

Calling on God at Work... What's His Extension? with Natalie Hamer - There is incredible promise for you as a woman living and leading for Christ. As J4 Leaders in 2016 we are exploring the promises that God has made to us, His daughters. What would He have us do as His women in the marketplace? Which of His promises can we cling to as we face the challenges of everyday living? At the May Forum, Natalie Hamer shared about God's Promise that He has a perfect plan for us.

Forum Recap:

We've all had times in our lives when our circumstances don't seem to add up and we wonder what God's plan is. Those seasons of life can be major growth opportunities if we let them! Here are a few things I've learned through seasons of waiting:

1.God truly does care about the desires of our hearts. He puts them there for a reason. It’s important that we believe this because it enables us to wait for God’s best for us instead of settling for less. We really can trust Him. A good thing at the wrong time is really not a good thing for us. God’s timing is perfect and we have to wait for God’s best.

2. He’s always taking us somewhere. We don't serve a static God; We serve a God who’s alive and who is always moving on this earth and in our lives. And when he’s taking us somewhere - there’s always a preparation period.  God sees the big picture, he knows every detail, every circumstance, everything that will happen in the future and we have to be prepared.
 
"My ways are higher than your ways, my thoughts are higher than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:8.

He also uses these periods of time to tests us: Does our faith only work when we have the things that we want? Because that means our faith is actually in the things themselves and not in God. If we can follow Him and be obedient during hard times, when we don’t have the things that we want - he knows He can trust us when we do get to the promised land, so to speak. 

3. God’s perfect plan is about so much more than our jobs and our circumstances and what we want. As daughters of the king we can be confident that God has a good plan for us.
 
Matthew 6: 31-33 says: Do not worry saying what shall we eat, or what shall we drink, or what shall we wear? For the pagans worry about these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.
 
God’s greatest purpose and plan is for us to seek the kingdom of God right where we are. I don’t have a ton of huge regrets in my life, but I regret every second I spent worrying about my life! Looking back, every moment I spent worrying about how things were going to work out and what was going to happen next, was a complete and waste of time. 

God’s plan for our lives is that we would grow in the knowledge of the word and in the character of Christ. That we would have integrity as we carry out our daily duties. That we would care about those around us. That we would be prayerful and listen to the Spirit each day. God’s perfect plan for us is that you would know him, experience his presence and bear much fruit.
 
We all have gifts and a calling and things God is calling us to do every day right where we’ve been placed. There is a world around us that needs us to listen to the Spirit and dig into the place God has put in each day. All of us regardless of our circumstances, have the most perfect calling –to bring the kingdom of God to earth. To be a part of restoring a broken world. Let’s let this be our first priority in all that we do. 

 

 

Natalie Hamer is the Community Partnerships Coordinator for LIFT Orlando, a nonprofit organization working to break the cycle of poverty through neighborhood revitalization - formed by business leaders partnering with residents in the neighborhoods surrounding the Citrus Bowl. Natalie has also provided administrative support to J4 Leaders for the past year. 

Natalie holds a Master's degree in Social Work from the University of Central Florida and was heavily involved with leadership with Cru during her time there. This led her to spend two years after graduation in Salerno, Italy where she worked with the college ministry at the local university. Upon returning to Orlando, she spent three years at Heart of the City Foundation, before she joined the LIFT Orlando team. 

Natalie loves the Orlando community, seeking to better the city she calls home, and is passionate about seeing others live lives that are full of the purpose God has for them.  

Compound Interest And Achy-Breaky Hearts. God Redeems It All!

By Amanda Ober

I recently signed up for a boot camp-style financial class at my church. Money management is not high on my list of topics I enjoy,  but after hearing great reviews of the class I was excited to dig in.

On the first night we looked at a chart illustrating the impressive power of compound interest to grow your nest egg if you invest early in life. I did a quick survey of the room. Most of my classmates were in their twenties. I sighed as I thought of the opportunities I’d missed to start investing when I was their age. As regret washed over me, God brought to mind a scripture I was mildly familiar with. I heard Him whisper, “I will restore the years that the locusts have eaten.”  

The next morning, I grabbed my Bible and looked up that verse.  I had a sense God wanted to speak to me about matters more profound than missed investment opportunities. In Joel 2:25 the Lord promises the nation of Israel, “I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten.” I studied the verse in the context of the larger passage and learned that the prophet Joel used the locust invasion and the loss of Israel’s crops as an illustration of God’s judgment of Israel for its willful sin.

After Israel turned back to the Lord and cried out to Him, God pledged to restore them to a place of abundant blessing. He returned to them not just what they had lost, but much more! The harvest was described as “threshing floors that overflow with grain” and “vats overflowing with wine and oil.” I knew that promise was meant for me and I also knew God wasn’t just talking about money, but about the restoration of my heart.

Not long ago, an experience in my personal life left me with an “achy breaky heart.” 

It was the kind of heartbreak where you crawl into bed at night clutching your soft-cover Bible to your chest because if you don’t cling to some tangible sense of Jesus sleep isn’t going to come. During those first days of grieving, I felt God ask me to take ten weeks to hunker down with Him. It was both an invitation and permission to clear my schedule of anything but the necessities and spend the rest of my time focused on Him.

Psalm 56 says God collects every tear we cry in a bottle. Over the course of those weeks I’m sure I filled several gallon containers as I poured out my sorrow to an audience of one. Those precious days of desperately pursuing Jesus were the beginning of what has turned out to be one of the most transformative seasons of my life.

God performed a sort of spiritual triage on my heart. He used those early mornings and late nights in His presence not only to comfort me, but to go after places in my heart that needed going after. Again and again He whispered over me His truth of who I am, how He had protected me, and of His deep love for me. I came to know him as my healer, strength and comforter in ways I’d never known before.

After several months passed, I got to taste some of the first fruits of the harvest of restoration God was bringing.

I was sitting in a crowded coffee shop across from a friend struggling with her own heartbreak over a deep desire she held for her life that it appeared God wasn’t fulfilling.

Her circumstances were different from mine but the ache of unmet longing, the fear her prayer may never be answered, and the temptation to doubt God’s goodness were the same. With tears brimming in her eyes she asked me, “Amanda, how do you trust God with the unmet desires of your heart?  How do you cling to hope in the midst of such discouragement?”

In that holy, precious moment, I wanted to tell everyone around us to stop what they were doing and take off their shoes because this coffee shop was about to become holy ground! I had something rich and authentic to offer her. I knew this battle and I was further along in the fight.

I offered that lovely and vulnerable young woman the story of my own heartbreak.  I told her of the nights I had cried out to Him to come for my heart and how beautifully and richly He answered my call and entered in with his healing and comfort. I did my best to point her towards the truth that no matter how things may look, she could cling to the knowledge that God is good and He is for her!

That coffee date was the beginning of my seeing a harvest of purpose and beauty out of my season of heartache and loss. It was the first glimpse of restoration of what the locusts had stolen.

What harvests have the locusts stolen in your life? 

Maybe you thought your career would be more fulfilling than the vocation you find yourself in and years of hard work and effort feel wasted. You may question if you’ve ever really operated in your true gifts or fulfilled your calling. Maybe the business you always dreamed of starting never quite got off the ground or you were passed over for a promotion you thought was yours.

Or perhaps like me, your lost crops involve matters of the heart. It could be a betrayal in a relationship, a marriage gone cold, or the elusiveness of a dream you once held dear but now fear may never come to be. Whatever crops have withered in your life, God can redeem them! It’s a promise that is ours to claim and it's never too late.

I am realizing the compassion, empathy and wisdom I have to offer others after journeying through my own heartache is just the start of my personal harvest. The seeds God planted in my broken soil of loss are blossoming in my life in many beautiful ways and I sense the story is just starting to unfold!

Is it possible God is inviting you to surrender the pain of your stolen crops and lost years to Him? 

I've come to see it is from a posture of surrender and looking to Him as the only one who can truly meet our deepest needs that He can till the soil of our life to bring forth a new harvest.  A harvest more abundant than we may dare to dream.

Our God is a god who is always about the business of restoration and redemption. It’s the story of the bible from beginning to end.  And it can be our story. It can be your story.

To Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory!"

Ephesians 3:20-21

April Forum | The Great Provide

April 5, 2016 | 6:00 - 7:30 PM (Registration begins at 5:30)

First Presbyterian Church of Orlando | 106 E. Church Street | Edington Ministry Center | 3rd Floor, Sterchi Conference Room | Parking Garage located at Jackson/Rosalind - Bring parking ticket for validation

The Great Provide with Claire Fournier - There is incredible promise for you as a woman living and leading for Christ. As J4 Leaders in 2016 we are exploring the promises that God has made to us, His daughters. What would He have us do as His women in the marketplace? Which of His promises can we cling to as we face the challenges of everyday living? Join us as Claire Fournier shares about God's Promise that He will always provide.

Claire Fournier is a general board member for J4 Leaders. She serves as the Chief Strategic Partnership Officer for Orlando Health. Prior to her current position, she served for two years as the Chief Strategy Officer of Women’s Services. Leaving a 32-year business and entrepreneurial career, Fournier entered her “second career” in health care in 2012. Her life was saved after the birth of her son, Michael, at Arnold Palmer Hospital in 1996. She serves with the passion of a grateful patient, striving to make access to health care easier for women and their families. Moving forward, she will create partnerships with employers to improve of the health of their workforce through preventative care at Orlando Health. 

Claire served on the Arnold Palmer Medical Center Foundation Board and Winnie Palmer Women’s Advisory Council as a volunteer until joining Orlando Health as a team member. She has been involved in numerous community organizations including serving as the Chairman of the Board of Shepherd’s Hope, which offers free health care to the working uninsured.  She is a proud graduate of the University of Florida in communications and marketing. Claire currently serves her community on several Boards including: Boys and Girls Club of Central Florida, Winter Park Chamber of Commerce, J4 Leaders, United Way Women’s Executive Council and Hispanic Business Initiative Fund. One of her life mottos of service is, “to those whom much is given, much is expected."

 

March Forum | I Like Big 'BUTs' and I Cannot Lie...

March 1, 2016 | 6:00 - 7:30 PM (Registration begins at 5:30)

First Presbyterian Church of Orlando | 106 E. Church Street | Edington Ministry Center | 3rd Floor, Sterchi Conference Room | Parking Garage located at Jackson/Rosalind - Bring parking ticket for validation

"The Bible is filled with stories and situations that seem hopeless and people who appear to be 'unredeemable'. Then these beautiful words follow, "BUT God..."

"BUT God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8 

"But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him." Luke 15:20 

Join J4 Leaders in March to hear these truths: God pursues us and redeems our lives for His glory! 

Don't miss Amy Lein sharing about God's promise of redemption. When all seems lost, "BUT God...."

Amy Lein is a general board member for J4 Leaders. As a SPHR, SHRM-SCP, she is Director of Human Resources with Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida. Previously she served in Human Resources with Cirque du Soleil in Orlando and Treetops Resort in Gaylord MI. She holds a Master’s degree in Organizational Management from Spring Arbor University. Amy volunteers as a Team Leader with The Jobs Partnership of Florida and serves on the board of GOSHRM (Greater Orlando SHRM) as Workforce Readiness Director. Additionally, she serves on the HR Council for Feeding America, the Business Advisory Council with the Central Florida Jobs Initiative and as co-leader of the HR Affinity Group of non-profit HR professionals in Central Florida. Amy and her husband, Johnathan, are active members of Orangewood Church in Maitland. They have one son, Noah David, along with his wife, Natalie, and granddaughter, Vienna Grace.


February Forum | Jesus Take the Wheel... Driving My Career

February 2, 2016 | 6:00 - 7:30 PM (Registration begins at 5:30)

First Presbyterian Church of Orlando | 106 E. Church Street | Edington Ministry Center | 3rd Floor, Sterchi Conference Room | Parking Garage located at Jackson/Rosalind - Bring parking ticket for validation

Jesus Take the Wheel - There is incredible promise for you as a woman living and leading for Christ. As a J4 Leader in 2016 we will explore the promises that God has made to us, His daughters. What would He have us do as His women in the marketplace? Which of His promises can we cling to as we face the challenges of everyday living? You don’t want to miss Marlee D'Arco discussing God's Promise in your life that He is always sovereign.

Marlee D’Arco is the founder of Radical Entrepreneurship, LLC a company dedicated promoting businesses with purpose.

An attorney turned copywriter, digital marketing expert, and entrepreneur Marlee knows the speed bumps, stops signs, and detours that come with driving one’s career. And in that process, she’s learned it’s better if Jesus takes the wheel.  

A graduate of Southern Methodist University and University of Miami School of Law, Marlee’s colorful background is sure to encourage you in the sovereignty of God over every area of your lire. Her testimony is proof that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.   

Slowing Down for the Christmas Season

By Claire Fournier, J4 Board Member and Chief Strategic Partnership Officer, Orlando Health Physician Group Administration

Scripture: Ecclesiastes 3 – A Season for EverythingWith 80 degree days lately, many times it is hard to feel in the Christmas spirit until we visit a retail store. From Black Friday on, the push to boost fourth quarter profits have converted Christmas into a busy, stress filled “holiday” season. So this year, I’m trying an experiment in my own Christian journey. My goal is to do something loving and thoughtful for someone each day until Christmas Day. 

My “gifts” this year have been less about shopping, wrapping or buying. It will be about showing the love of Christ to others during what can be a painful season. And the prime place that I’ve found great need and opportunity is in my workplace. Gifts have been a loving phone call, an unexpected card of encouragement or sharing a meal together. So far, I’m certain those receiving these gifts will long remember feeling the love of Christ more than any store bought gift. And it is an opportunity to show Christ’s love in a workplace where many times we are not always comfortable sharing our faith. 

The Bible reminds us there are many seasons in our lives. And that includes a time to mourn and a time to dance. For many experiencing grief and loss, the holidays may be a difficult time. What an opportunity we have to provide a glimmer of hope and joy in other’s lives. And providing that hope can be from even small gifts of random act of kindness. And the unexpected by product from giving gifts of ourselves, is that we experience peace and joy that surpasses all understanding.  What else should expect from the Prince of Peace?   

Wishing everyone a blessed Christmas season full of opportunity to love and serve others with our unique gifts.

January Forum | One Heck of a Promissory Note!

January 5, 2016 | 6:00 - 7:30 PM (Registration begins at 5:30)

First Presbyterian Church of Orlando | 106 E. Church Street | Edington Ministry Center | 3rd Floor, Sterchi Conference Room | Parking Garage located at Jackson/Rosalind - Bring parking ticket for validation


One Heck of a Promissory Note! There is incredible ‘promise’ for you as a woman living and leading for Christ. As a J4 Leader in 2016 we will explore the promises that God has made to us, His daughters. What would He have us do as His women in the marketplace? Which of His promises can we cling to as we face the challenges of everyday living? You don’t want to miss the kickoff of this year’s focus with the founder of J4 Leaders, Lisa Schultz, as she overviews this year's forum theme: God's Promises. 

Lisa Schultz is the founder and (CEO) Chief Encouragement Officer of J4 Leaders. She is Chief Services Officer for CNL Financial Group. She has a Master’s Degree in Industrial and Organizational Psychology and a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Appalachian State University. In her position at CNL Financial Group, Ms. Schultz is responsible for the company’s internal and external communications functions including public relations, community affairs and corporate branding. She is also responsible for facilitating human capital solutions that meet the company’s business needs. Previously, she served in senior executive roles with Barnett Bank, NationsBank, and Bank of America. She served as an elder for First Presbyterian Church of Orlando, as a board member for Lifework Leadership and as an advisory board member for the Soderquist Center for Leadership & Ethics.

 

November Forum Recap: Stephanie Garris on Serving Where Called


What is a great disciple? And how do you become one? Great disciples share some key characteristics, each of which can be learned and applied in all areas of your life. As J4 Leaders live and lead for Christ in the marketplace, it’s critical that they continually focus on their own discipleship. This year we are exploring some of the key characteristics of discipleship and how it applies to our work life.

Each month encouragers will share their personal stories of how they have developed themselves, and what J4 Leaders should aspire to as disciples in the marketplace. This month’s encourager, Stephanie Garris, Executive Director of Grace Medical Home, explored how J4 Leaders Aspire To . .  .  Serve Where Called.

God tells us to put feet to our faith – to live as evidence of who we are, and whose we are. That calls us to serve as He would have served – to the least among us. But what does that look like, and how do you know you’ve been “called?”

For Stephanie Garris, serving where she was “called” wasn’t always clear in the moment. “I didn’t feel called for every single decision, but in hindsight I can see it was a calling.” Stephanie had a love for democracy and government, which led her to pursue a career as a legislative aide on Capitol Hill. In that moment, she didn’t know if it was her “calling,” but she knew it felt right.

Through prayer and a sense of personal peace, Stephanie made critical life-shaping decisions that looking back, reflect the clear hand of God in her life, and clearly led to what is her calling. Sometimes serving where called simply requires you bring your best to what you do. To stay faithful in waiting on God’s timing and to surrender trying to control how and when everything should happen in your career. So long as you’re following God, you can be confident that He is with you. So long as you’re following God, you can serve where called.

In closing Stephanie recounted a story of her and her husband on a backpacking trip around the world. They had traveled to Nepal to hike to Basecamp at Mount Everest, but weather conditions forced them to hike another summit. After 12 days of hiking, one shower, and a bout of elevation sickness, Stephanie had had enough. It was time to head home.

Stephanie and her husband made arrangements to return to Katmandu, but on their way down the summit Stephanie’s husband wandered off the beaten path only to end up stuck in a rice paddy! Freeing her husband from the rice paddy put them behind schedule, and put Stephanie through the roof because she didn’t want to miss their flight to Katmandu.

Upon arriving at the airport they were met with more chaos and confusion, which forced them to make the 5-hour drive to Katmandu because they had likely missed the flight. Stephanie and her husband would later learn that the flight Stephanie so desperately wanted to catch had crashed into a communication tower killing all 25 people on board. If she had gotten her way, if they had made that flight, they could have lost their lives.

And so you have to remember, your steps are ordered by the Lord. You may not see it now, you may not know you’re “called,” but you can trust that your Father in Heaven is working all things together for good for those called according to His purpose.

If you serve Him right from where you stand, wherever you are called, He’s got you covered.

About Stephanie Garris

Stephanie has a lengthy career in civic activism and community service. Prior to working at Grace, she served as Executive Director for the American Cancer Society in Central Florida and held several positions in the federal legislative arena when she lived in Washington, D.C., including the American Hospital Association and the American Medical Association. Stephanie also worked as a Legislative Assistant on Capitol Hill and a political fundraiser. She attended the University of Florida and the American University Washington College of Law.

Stephanie has a long history of volunteer service in Orlando through the Junior League of Greater Orlando (President 2009-2010) and the Florida Bar Association (Elected Member, Young Lawyers Board of Directors). She is also very active in the Florida Association of Free and Charitable Clinics where she is a founding Board Member and Public Policy Chair. She also serves on the Board of the National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics.  Locally, she is on the Board of the Primary Care Access Network and the Dental Care Access Foundation where she advocates for those in need of services.  She is an active member of the First Presbyterian Church of Orlando.  She and her husband are the proud parents of three young sons.

October Forum Recap: Angie Winn on Stepping Out of Our Comfort Zone

What is a great disciple? And how do you become one? Great disciples share some key characteristics, each of which can be learned and applied in all areas of your life.

As J4 Leaders live and lead for Christ in the marketplace, it’s critical that they continually focus on their own discipleship.

This year we are exploring some of the key characteristics of discipleship and how it applies to our work life.

Each month encouragers will share their personal stories of how they have developed themselves, and what J4 Leaders should aspire to as disciples in the marketplace.

This month’s encourager, Angie Winn, Director of Leadership and organizational Development at Desire Street Ministries, explored how J4 Leaders Aspire To . .  .  Go Where It's Uncomfortable (Step Out of Their Comfort Zone).

For Angie, every step along her journey has required her to step out of her comfort zone.  As Angie put it, “I am a pilgrim on a journey, limping at times – cheering at others. But one things is certain, her every step was led by the Lord. And in the process, Angie learned how to let go of the things she felt were important to make room for the things that were important to the Lord.

Angie shared how she was called out of her comfort zone during her experience as a juror on a trial that found a young man from an impoverished neighborhood guilty of murder.

Angie mapped out her journey in 8 segments: Preparation, Sight, The Adventure, Equipping, The Desert, Discerning, The Path, and Perseverance. With each step the Lord called her deeper into dependence on him and further away from her own personal comforts.

In closing, Angie left us with the following key insight. If you don’t make the treacherous trek up the mountain, you’ll never see the majestic things God wants to do.

About Angie

Since her days of high-school, Angie Winn has had a passion to help people and organizations thrive. Over 17 years, Angie has been able to live out this passion in a corporate context through her work as Vice-President of Leadership & Organizational Development at CNL Financial Group, and at the Forum Corporation. Both of these companies have given her the opportunity to ensure the leadership and talent were equipped to perform at their highest potential through launching performance management systems, facilitating leadership coaching, training, and strategic planning sessions, and working with teams to improve their effectiveness.

During a 2005 experience as a juror on a case where a young man from an impoverished neighborhood in Orlando was convicted of murder, Angie’s life took a major turn.  A vision was planted in Angie’s heart to help transform struggling communities. A few months after this experience and as an aside to her corporate job, she managed a research project titled Seeking the Welfare of the City, for which she led a team of research students from Reformed Theological Seminary to conduct a needs analysis of Central Florida by identifying indicators of community health and distress, researching the neighborhoods against those indicators, and gathering best practices of community development. The research led to Angie co-founding the Polis Institute, whose purpose is to improve community health through Asset-Based Community Development training.  Polis launched a curriculum called Dignity Serves, which is now used nationally and focuses on serving with long-term impacts and employing asset-based approaches in communities.  She also joined the board of Leadership Foundations, which is a global non-profit working across cities to promote transformation on behalf of the vulnerable.

In October 2012, Angie left CNL to pursue her passion to develop leaders giving their lives to people living on the margins.  Angie joined Desire Street Ministries as the Director of Leadership and Organizational Development. Here, she walks alongside DSM’s partners by providing assessments, coaching, and overall programs to help DSM partners and their ministries thrive. She continues to consult through Winn Executive Development for both for-profit and non-profit organizations. She facilitates strategic planning sessions, redesigns organizational structures, diagnoses and helps teams with their effectiveness, and coaches leaders. She facilitates a multitude of workshops, including Crucial Conversations, Emotional Intelligence, Managing for Performance, and the 5 Dysfunctions of a Team.

Angie holds a Master’s of Science in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from the University of Central Florida, and a Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology from the University of Florida. She is also a Master Certified Coach from the Behavioral Institute of New York, and certified in the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, Kolbe Assessment, and Emotional Competency Inventory assessment. Angie and her husband, Jeff, live in Windermere have two young boys and a rescue dog named Fenway. She and her family serve and worship at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Windermere, FL.

J4 Leaders Aspire to... Serve Where Called

November 3, 2015 | 6:00 - 7:30 PM (Registration begins at 5:30)

First Presbyterian Church of Orlando | 106 E. Church Street | Edington Ministry Center | 3rd Floor, Sterchi Conference Room | Parking Garage located at Jackson/Rosalind - Bring parking ticket for validation

Garris Headshot.jpg

Stephanie Nelson Garris, J.D., Executive Director of Grace Medical Home

Stephanie has a lengthy career in civic activism and community service. Prior to working at Grace, she served as Executive Director for the American Cancer Society in Central Florida and held several positions in the federal legislative arena when she lived in Washington, D.C., including the American Hospital Association and the American Medical Association. Stephanie also worked as a Legislative Assistant on Capitol Hill and a political fundraiser. She attended the University of Florida and the American University Washington College of Law.

Stephanie has a long history of volunteer service in Orlando through the Junior League of Greater Orlando (President 2009-2010) and the Florida Bar Association (Elected Member, Young Lawyers Board of Directors). She is also very active in the Florida Association of Free and Charitable Clinics where she is a founding Board Member and Public Policy Chair. She also serves on the Board of the National Association of Free and Charitable Clinics.  Locally, she is on the Board of the Primary Care Access Network and the Dental Care Access Foundation where she advocates for those in need of services.  She is an active member of the First Presbyterian Church of Orlando.  She and her husband are the proud parents of three young sons.

J4 Leaders Aspire to... Go Where It's Uncomfortable (Step Out of Their Comfort Zone)

October 6, 2015 | 6:00 - 7:30 PM (Registration begins at 5:30)

First Presbyterian Church of Orlando | 106 E. Church Street | Edington Ministry Center | 3rd Floor, Sterchi Conference Room | Parking Garage located at Jackson/Rosalind - Bring parking ticket for validation

Angie Winn

Since her days of high-school, Angie Winn has had a passion to help people and organizations thrive. Over 17 years, Angie has been able to live out this passion in a corporate context through her work as Vice-President of Leadership & Organizational Development at CNL Financial Group, and at the Forum Corporation. Both of these companies have given her the opportunity to ensure the leadership and talent were equipped to perform at their highest potential through launching performance management systems, facilitating leadership coaching, training, and strategic planning sessions, and working with teams to improve their effectiveness.

During a 2005 experience as a juror on a case where a young man from an impoverished neighborhood in Orlando was convicted of murder, Angie’s life took a major turn.  A vision was planted in Angie’s heart to help transform struggling communities. A few months after this experience and as an aside to her corporate job, she managed a research project titled Seeking the Welfare of the City, for which she led a team of research students from Reformed Theological Seminary to conduct a needs analysis of Central Florida by identifying indicators of community health and distress, researching the neighborhoods against those indicators, and gathering best practices of community development. The research led to Angie co-founding the Polis Institute, whose purpose is to improve community health through Asset-Based Community Development training.  Polis launched a curriculum called Dignity Serves, which is now used nationally and focuses on serving with long-term impacts and employing asset-based approaches in communities.  She also joined the board of Leadership Foundations, which is a global non-profit working across cities to promote transformation on behalf of the vulnerable. 

In October 2012, Angie left CNL to pursue her passion to develop leaders giving their lives to people living on the margins.  Angie joined Desire Street Ministries as the Director of Leadership and Organizational Development. Here, she walks alongside DSM’s partners by providing assessments, coaching, and overall programs to help DSM partners and their ministries thrive. She continues to consult through Winn Executive Development for both for-profit and non-profit organizations. She facilitates strategic planning sessions, redesigns organizational structures, diagnoses and helps teams with their effectiveness, and coaches leaders. She facilitates a multitude of workshops, including Crucial Conversations, Emotional Intelligence, Managing for Performance, and the 5 Dysfunctions of a Team. 

Angie holds a Master’s of Science in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from the University of Central Florida, and a Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology from the University of Florida. She is also a Master Certified Coach from the Behavioral Institute of New York, and certified in the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, Kolbe Assessment, and Emotional Competency Inventory assessment. Angie and her husband, Jeff, live in Windermere have two young boys and a rescue dog named Fenway. She and her family serve and worship at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Windermere, FL.



September Forum Recap - Leigh Ann Horton on Generosity

What is a great disciple? And how do you become one? Great disciples share some key characteristics, each of which can be learned and applied in all areas of your life. As J4 Leaders live and lead for Christ in the marketplace, it’s critical that they continually focus on their own discipleship. This year we are exploring some of the key characteristics of discipleship and how it applies to our work life.  

Each month encouragers will share their personal stories of how they have developed themselves, and what J4 Leaders should aspire to as disciples in the marketplace. This month’s encourager, Leigh Ann Horton, CEO for AIT Life Safety and Trinity Advisory Services, explored how J4 Leaders Aspire To… Be Generous With Their Time, Talent, & Treasure.

Is generosity learned or born?

At first you might be inclined to say generosity is learned. But just think about the people in your life for whom generosity is just their nature.

Perhaps it's both.

For Leigh Ann Horton, generosity was just part of her life.But after years of being satisfied with success and giving (what seemed good enough), God showed Leigh Ann what it meant to be truly generous. Through a trip to Africa and new challenges that came with buying a business, God taught Leigh Ann how to be a steward of what we think is our own.

Do you think your money is your own? Leigh Ann gave us a litmus test. She said, "If  you feel guilty about the money you have - you think it's yours. It isn't. You're a steward."

For Leigh Ann, it was giving that taught her how to rely on God in ways she never had. It was in giving that she came to know the truth: Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. - Luke 6:38

About Leigh Ann Horton:

Leigh Ann is the CEO for AIT Life Safety and Trinity Advisory Services.  She is also currently serving on the board and acting as treasurer for Summit Church and Grace Medical Home.  She is also active on the board of the Orlando Country Club, the Orlando Chamber of Commerce, Florida Fellowship Foundation and the Orlando National Christian Foundation.  She has served as Admissions Chair at the Country Club of Orlando for the past three years.  Leigh Ann has formally served on the Board of Directors of Second Harvest Food Bank, the Foundation for Foster Children and J4 Leaders.  She was also in Leadership Orlando Class 68 and Lifework Leadership 2003.  She was named an Up and Comer by the Orlando Business Journal in 2002 and named 40 under 40 in 2006.  She also received an Outstanding Young Alumnus award from University of Florida in 2006.  In 2015, AIT was named part of the inaugural class of Gator 100, the fastest growing Gator alumni companies. 

She began her career in New York with IBM as an accounting intern; later joining KPMG Peat Marwick in the Mutual Fund Tax Practice in New York and transferring to Orlando in 1996.  In 1998 Leigh Ann joined Hard Rock Cafe International as the international tax manager. In 2000 Leigh Ann became a partner at CFO Strategic Partners, offering a wealth of experience for small to mid-size companies. In September of 2009 Leigh Ann left CFO to buy AIT Life Safety with her husband. In 2015, Leigh Ann opened Trinity Advisory Services with her partner Sean Tobin.

Leigh Ann is a longtime resident of Winter Park and College Park and is an alumnus of the University of Florida where she got her Masters in Tax.  She is married to Vince and enjoys spending time with her children Anna Kate and Chase.