Life can oftentimes feel like a roller coaster. Right when everything seems to be going against you, situations turn and you find yourself shooting up out of a valley to a mountain top. The key to not getting motion-sickness from life’s ups and downs is to always be willing to listen for God’s guidance and be vigilant to see Him moving in our circumstances. Vicki Garza has dealt with not having a family income to leading a nationally-recognized agency. She shares her story and advice with us today.
4word: Tell us about starting Garza Creative Group and the journey that has taken you on.
Vicki: The Lord always knows our needs even before we know we have a need. In early 1991, we were suddenly unemployed when my husband was laid off from his job as a Senior Creative Director at an ad agency in Rochester, New York. At that time, we had five children between the ages of 1 and 11 and no savings to fall back on! I had spent the previous three years homeschooling our three older children and couldn’t even imagine re-entering the workplace. I was a very content stay-at-home mom.
Even before the layoff, the Holy Spirit had prompted me to pray for one hour every morning during our young sons’ naptime. So when the news came, I was at peace. I knew He was leading us.
We returned to Dallas on my 35th birthday and started Garza Creative Group on April 4, 1991. The early years were such an intense struggle. So many times I wanted to give up and go home. My feet hurt and my legs ached from pounding the pavement to get our name out there. I am so glad I persevered.
What happened next was a miracle. One by one the clients started calling. Within five years, we were an agency of record for several Fortune 500 companies and had won prestigious national awards for radio and TV spots and even client and community awards. It truly was a dream come true. In less than ten years, we were at the pinnacle of our careers. When we should have been celebrating, we were languishing from the constant grind. Many weeks one of us worked 80 – 100 hours a week. I felt the Lord calling us to scale back our business and go virtual.
So we took a 1-year sabbatical to the New York State Finger Lakes in 2001 and reprioritized. Now we are enjoying a “lifestyle business” that allows us to travel, enjoy the moment and visit our children and our grandchildren. We are small by design and enjoying the balance of work and lifestyle.
4word: Did you have any mentors throughout your career that helped guide you to where you are today?
Vicki: I was never given the opportunity to have a mentor until 2010, when June Hunt invited me into a small group to study her materials from Hope for the Heart. That single year changed my life. Even though I had joined her organization as a Board Member a year before, I had no idea she (and her teachings) would impact my life in such a profound way.
I regret not having a mentor in business. I believe it would have saved me from many mistakes and the heartaches that accompanied them.
4word: Have you ever found it challenging to be a working mother of five?
Vicki: It’s interesting. Looking back, I don’t know how I did it. It was very challenging. At one point all five of our children were attending different schools and none of them had bus transportation. So I was the driver to and from school until our oldest daughter got her license.
I truly believe the Lord gave me His strength and the capacity to work and raise five children. Also, it helped that I was raised in a very chaotic home of five children with working parents who owned their own business. So I guess in many ways, it came naturally to me.
4word: Investing in your community is something you are obviously passionate about. Tell us about your roles with Hope For The Heart and U ARISE.
Vicki: It all started for me in January 2009 when I joined the Board of a local pregnancy center. We decided to start a different kind of center that focused on young professionals and university students who found themselves in unplanned pregnancies. I met June Hunt, founder of Hope for the Heart, at my first Board meeting and we took an instant liking to each other. A few months later she invited me to be on her Board. It was the best decision I ever made. I love June. She is the most authentic, loving woman I have ever known. Being near her has changed me deeply.
When I applied her Biblical principles to my life and saw genuine change in how I responded to situations, I wanted to create a way for university students to have access to people like June and her transforming materials.
When my 23-year-old niece Kate came to live with me for six months in 2011, she told me heart-wrenching stories about her three years as an RA at the University of Tampa.
Together with a recent graduate of Southern Methodist University, we created U ARISE in 2012. Today I am the CEO of U ARISE and am working closely with counseling professionals and RAs to create a model to take Biblically-based health and wellness resource materials into the colleges. Our goal is to see students transformed by these materials so they can help their peers in times of need. By raising up well-balanced college graduates who will become the parents and leaders of tomorrow, we are in effect changing the future of America.
4word: What advice do you have for professional Christian women who might want to get involved in their communities but aren’t sure where to start?
Vicki: If they start with prayer and obey the call, the work they do will be fulfilling and they will be passionate about their work in the community. It should be very personal.
While in persistent prayer, the Lord showed me my mission. From that point on, I hid His special word to me in my heart, assured that wherever I went He would go before me. And He has. He always makes a way – even when there doesn’t seem to be a way.
4word: How can 4word women help support U ARISE?
Vicki: Again, prayer support is a great need, because the spiritual warfare is so intense. The last thing the enemy wants is to see our young people set free in college. We have a prayer site with forty issues-based prayers in audio and text form: ariseandpray.org. If we all band together in prayer, I am confident we can change the world one student at a time.
We also rely on the financial support of donors. Every day is a huge challenge. We have a bodacious mission to reach every college campus in America. It will take money and manpower.
Finally, 4word women can adopt a campus and pray for those students. If they feel passionate about helping students on a specific college campus, they can start a U ARISE chapter to see those students transformed through our materials. Together we can do this!
Has your life followed a relatively uneventful road or have you dealt with all kinds of detours and surprises? God uses many avenues to get us to where He wants us. It’s all a matter of us learning to recognize His leadings and acting on them. As Vicki said, when you do the work that God has laid out for you, you will find yourself fulfilled.
How have you had to “adjust your course” for God? What was the outcome when you listened for His guidance?
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Vicki Garza is an avid reader and enjoys writing, presenting and public speaking.
In 2004, she published the miraculous story of her Christian journey. “Faith Adventures” is available through Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
Paco and Vicki Garza have five adult children and thirteen grandchildren. The Garzas have been happily married for 37 years and share many interests, including traveling, art and music. They reside in Dallas, Texas.
Vicki walks out her belief that one passionate person (fully committed to the one thing the Lord has purposed for their lives) can absolutely rock and change the world. Her life’s work includes helping others to find what the Lord has created them to be and do.