Wednesday, May 13, 2015

My Crazy Beautiful Life: a.k.a the Longest Life Update Ever.

My life is beautiful, full and just a bit on the crazy side.

So sorry for the radio silence (again). I've been trying so hard to become more disciplined again with blogging but anyone who has been finishing up school themselves these last few months can attest to the absolute craziness that ensues as you reach the end of a school year.

At the end of March I had the amazing honor of traveling to the sweet country of Mozambique which is in the South East of Africa along the Indian Ocean. We travelled to visit and help at the Iris Global base in Pemba. To say that I came back changed is a massive understatement as I feel in many ways my eyes were opened or reopened to the passions that lay within my heart. I won't go into a ton of details as I can forward you my newsletter if you haven't received it but some of most precious things I learned there was:
-There is power released when we meet practical needs.
    I have always had a heart for meeting practical needs. Something I'm always struck by is that it's probably hard to get people to care about the message of Jesus if their stomachs are empty. More on this later...as the practicality of Jesus' miracles are something I'm diving into more. God loves to see His power move through meeting practical needs. I'm convinced of it.
-Peace, Joy and Hope are powerful forces in the Kingdom...and they are substances that can move, no BOWL over things standing in their way.
     In countries where there is no difference between the natural and unseen world (because the people grow up aware of both) you recognize and see just how powerful the forces of the Kingdom are over darkness.
-Latreens are nasty
      Speaks for itself
-God loves orphans, the disenfranchised, the hungry and broken.
      Of course He loves all of us, but His heart is MASSIVE for these people and I believe it is the highest honor to serve them.

Upon my return I was asked if I would be interested in working here at the church. I saw this as a direct answer to my prayers. Since about February I have been feeling like my time here in Redding is not supposed to be done. I don't really know how to explain but the last 3 years of my life have been full on and intense. Working almost full-time, doing school and having my life completely rewired. Feeling the call to missions and actually what I'm alive to do, starting that journey, beginning to fall in love with a people group and discovering gifts within myself that I've never actually given myself space to discover. I feel like a completely new person and I am, in all honesty, tired.

So to think about running off to the mission field where inevitably I would be dealing with learning a new language, culture shock and trying to build a ministry straight out of that felt unwise. As I processed with the Lord before heading to Mozambique I told the Lord, "Ok, but if you want me to stay here I want a great job and I want it to be easy to get, in fact I don't even want to ask for it." And of course, in true God fashion, I didn't have to.

Last week I graduated from my 3rd and final year at BSSM. It was by far the best year yet as I got to marry a lot of what I've been learning with real, practical work. I also got to see my administrative gifting flourish as I actually gave myself permission to use it for the first time in my life. I now see that my love for details, improving and building is not critical but is actually a really valued gift in the Kingdom. God loves details and He loves to see His children come into the fullness of what they're created for and I see now that I get to partner with this part of His heart.

2 weeks ago I started my position at work. I will be helping with the Administration for the Leadership Development Programs that Global Legacy offers. Global Legacy is a ministry of Bethel Church and is a way for revival leaders from all over the earth to connect and be encouraged. You can check it out/create a profile at globallegacy.com I will also be working for Paul who was my mentor this past year.

My hope and plan in staying here for now is several things:
-Working will help me reach my goal of being debt-free before I go to the missions field.
-I will be able to actually save this year (as the last 4 years in Redding have not enabled me to do this) for future costs which include my on field training with W.I.M. and language school potentially in Jordan.
-Be able to attend several workshops about the specific people I want to work with in the future.
-Attend Disaster Relief seminars as this is something practical I was wanting to get trained in as well.
-Build further connections and strengthen other connections with people from the Middle East who are currently in or come through Redding.
-Become more firmly established in my relationships here. It is really important for me to feel and to be a 'sent one' and that happens through relationship.
-I have heard the Lord saying that I will need what I am going to learn doing this job. I know that I will have an organization in the future and the skills that I will learn will be invaluable.
-I will have time to just be and wait on the Lord. I've known that I'm not supposed to rush into anything and that His timing is perfect and I do not want to run into something and a place that would deflate what He's so meticulously been building within me.
-Potential Ministry trips.

-And lastly and most importantly I will have time to do my pre-field training, and do it well. To actually read the books and get what I need to out of them. I also will have more time to write, do music and connect with people who want to partner with what the Lord is doing in the Middle East and what He wants to do through me there.

I know that taking a job might seem like a contradiction to where I know that the Lord is taking me but I just don't see it like that. I see this as a step just as much and I feel the Lord on it. I haven't had a job where I feel this empowered in who I am. Where I can pursue what I love but that also do my job well and where the 2 come together. I am so very excited for all that will come and for the connections that are going to happen. I have a feeling it's going to be a wild ride and that someday the Middle East will benefit from this as much as I will.

If you have questions, would like to know how you can partner with what the Lord's doing or just want to say hi my email is larahochstetler@gmail.com Thanks for walking this journey with me and for caring about what the Lord is doing. It means a lot! I don't pretend to understand the Lord's timing or what He's piecing together but I do know that it is something beautiful to Him.

Oh, and did I mention that I moving Friday, too?

Why not change everything all at once?

Friday, April 10, 2015

"Your Thoughts Define Me."

I know, I know, I should be writing about my trip...but I'm not. Last week when I got back into the states I had the sudden realization that it was Easter week. For the last 3 years now I've either been traveling home from, or have just gotten back from traveling on Easter week. This year was no different.  Good Friday came and I worked an 11.5 hour shift on a jet lagged brain. Not incredibly enjoyable or meaningful.

Sunday. Sunday I was captured by a lyric of one of the songs we sang in church. "Your thoughts define me. You're inside me. You're my reality."

It's true that His thoughts define us. It doesn't matter how we feel about ourselves or what other people think of us...it's His thoughts about us that not only matter but are the truth. That's why taking our thoughts captive is so vital as a believer, so incredibly important. My Pastor often says: "We cannot afford to have one thought about ourselves that He doesn't have."

My question that day to the Lord was this, "When you were going to the cross for us, what were you thinking? Were we worth it? Was I worth it?" Because ultimately...at that moment that's what was important, and that's what defined the gospel. He answer of course to if we were worth it was a resounding, "YES!"

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:2)

For the JOY set before Him, He endured the cross. He chose to go to the cross, He wasn't forced. He made a decision for us, so that we could be restored to full right-standing with Father God. How incredibly beautiful! I would like to think that as Christ went to the cross He was consumed with the picture of the joy that the Father would have as He got His kids back in the fullness we were designed to have. That we would be restored as joint heirs, powerful and free, a people that would be not only able to give love but also be able to fully receive the love that God had longed for generations to give us, but that sin had prevented us from having.

I hope that wherever you are today, and whatever circumstances you are consumed with today that you will stop and let the resounding "Yes" of the Lord wash over you. His thoughts define who you are, and in the moments of His darkest hour before His death He decided that you were worth it all. Stop. Remember and allow His extravagant love and "yes" wash over you afresh today.

Much Love,
Lara

Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Song of Identity

So many people that I know, myself included, are walking through a season where God is working on their identities. While it's beautiful and wonderful it can feel as if all that we know is shaking. For myself, it's been a needed process. It's hard to realize that there are things in my life that have been keeping me from the fullness He has. In many ways it can feel like failure because while I know I've come so far, I'm now made aware of how far I have to go in specific areas. It can feel like He's uncovering us and exposing us and if we're not careful it can feel overwhelming. It can leave us feeling vulnerable and if you're like myself, like we have failed Him in some ways. 

But the reality is that we are so safe. He is completely trustworthy and He holds our hearts so carefully. He knows what we can handle and He also knows how much He longs for there to be nothing blocking our connection not only with Him but with those around us. As I've been processing through this journey there have been moments where I've been tempted to stay in fear, to stay in pride and to stay where I am. I would encourage you to read the following if you find yourself in a similar position. Remind your heart, your mind and your spirit that He is so trustworthy. I pray that our identities become even more firmly established in who He is. Knowing we have nothing to prove and nothing to hide. He is good and even when we are not, He is pursuing after us. May He melt away our fear, silence our pride and comfort our hearts.

Blessings,
Lara
When I look into your eyes,
I see what you think about me.
When I search your heart,
I discover how you feel towards me.

So of course I feel free.
Free to be who you've made me to be;
Reflecting your nature,
Reflecting your glory.
Redeemed. 
Annointed.
Free.
So lock me in firmly.
Solidify my identity.
Hold me close and don't let me go.
Tuck me up under the shadow of your wing and draw me to you.

And as you remain with me:
Melt away my insecurities,
Soften my hard edges.

And sing to me, once again.
Sing the song of my salvation,
The song of my deliverance,
The song that is the source of my strength.

Friday, January 9, 2015

The fight for 2015

2015. The New Year came and went seemingly unexciting. Generally before a New year I've gotten a new anticipation of new experiences and encounters that are to come so to crack into a new year without the expected hope and joy was a little concerning.

New rule #1: never, EVER leave your family on the very first day of the new year. Especially when you already do not look forward to your return 'home' and if you have no plans for when you are going to see said family next. It's not a good plan. It sends you into a tailspin of frustration and grumpiness that I am embarrassed to have been fighting the last week.

2015 has not necessarily greeted me on the most friendly of terms. I am absolutely in love with everything that I'm doing. I love my internship. I love my missions training. I love my friends. I love how beautiful and warm it is here. I love that I attend such a crazy church that enables me to meet and know people from all over the world. I love the fact that I am pursuing what I love and finally believe that God will provide enough for me to do it with all of my heart.

But there are a few things...feelings of being stuck. Feelings of frustration. Feelings of just needing a whole lot of new. Feelings of anger. Resentment. Feelings that have made me feel, at times, like this year was out to get my happiness. That, in combination with being dizzy and slightly nauseous this whole first week back have made me want to curl up in a ball a good majority of the week.

Going into a new year it's extremely common for me to have spent a day dreaming about what God can do. To set not expectations, but anticipations of His goodness. 4 days in I still hadn't even thought about it. I was walking around aimlessly and hoping things would change. But around day 4 after sitting down with a very good friend and processing both on paper and out loud I finally felt like I had gotten my head around the fact that it was a new year and that it was time to take it by force.

I felt ready to fight for all that I know that God has for me. I started writing declarations of things that I wanted to see. I started fighting because suddenly I became very aware that God wanted me to. This year has such promise but I feel like it's going to take a level of determination, grit and even aggressiveness that we have not had to tap into before. 2014 was a year of rest. 2015 is the year we come into our Promised Land. It's time to fight. It's time to stand against anything that does not line up with the word of God and all that blocks all that we have access to as children.

Please don't hear me saying that the time for 'rest' is over. Rest is vital to the life of a believer. But rest is, and never will be the lack of activity. When we truly know how to rest we are empowered and equipped to do more than we think is possible. It's in rest that we are (in the words of my mentor) re-created so that we can then live out all we are created to do.

So, what does He have for you in 2015? What is the Promised Land you are about to walk into? What do you need to say 'no' to so that you can say 'yes' to what He's saying? What are the distractions you need to walk away from so that you can walk into His fullness? What part of your life do you need to 'get aggressive' in so that you can see His fullness in? It's time to focus in and take 2015 to get all that He's placed in it for you.

Like me, I pray that He gives you declarations for the year that empower and equip you to receive the blessings 2015 is carrying for you and yours. I pray that you stand boldly and fight out of the deep awareness that you are His child and all you have access to. Some of you are going to need to change location. Change jobs. Walk away from things. I pray there's grace enough to say 'yes' knowing that you are walking into something different. Something greater. Something Kingdom.

2015 is mine. 2015 is yours. 2015 belongs to the Kingdom.

With Love,
Lara


This song has become my declaration as emotions have been trying to steal my hope and anticipation.
Diamonds
by Johnnyswim
In the wake of every heartache, in the depth of every fear
There were diamonds, diamonds 
Waiting to break out of here.

Don’t you think I hear the whispers

Those subtle lies, those angry pleas
They're just demons, demons
Wishing they were free like me.

We’re the fire, from the sun

We’re the light when the day is done
We are the brave, the chosen ones
We’re the diamonds, diamonds
Rising above the dust.

Oh oh...rising above the dust


All your curses will surrender. Every damning word will kneel.

They’re just mountains, mountains who about to turn into fields.

We’re the fire, from the sun

We’re the light when the day is done
We are the brave, we’re the chosen ones
We’re the diamonds, diamonds
Rising above the dust.

Oh oh...rising out of the dust


You’ve taken down so many others

Oh but you’ll know my name when you see
That in these ashes I’m stronger still
You’ll learn to fear my pain, yeah you will.
You'll learn to feel my pain, yeah you will.

We’re the fire, from the sun

We’re the light when the day is done
We are the brave, we are the chosen ones
We’re the diamonds, diamonds
Rising above the dust.
Rising out of the dust.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Christmas and my Quest to Never Miss the "Seemingly Normal"

I confused a lot of people this past Sunday when I decided to put my Christmas decorations up and listen to Christmas music. Typically I am not an overhyped, Christmas fanatic and I definitely have been known to roll my eyes when people play Christmas music before Thanksgiving. Most of the time I'm just sick of it by the time Christmas actually comes and so I have been known to wait till the last minute to 'join' the Holiday fun. While I still hate commercial Christmas and the consumerism that has seemingly consumed people; I would be lying if I said that I haven't genuinely, myself, instigated Christmas early.

For the past 2 years I had the honor and the torture of working retail. I've seen people act more crazy than I thought was possible. I've been yelled at, sneered at and also, treated as a savior when helping people find gifts during this time. It is remarkable how close I was to just wanting to boycott Christmas altogether the last few years when thinking about Christmas being associated with the person who just walked away from me, having been so degraded simply because something was out of stock, which is totally out of my control.

And I literally almost cried when I found out that said retail store was opening at 6:00 pm on Thanksgiving day this year. I can't describe how sick this is. You see, when a store opens at this time, this means that most likely the people who unload and stock shelves will be there all night (we already were last year when we opened at 10pm) But then the people who have to set up all of the Black Friday (though now it's THURSDAY!) displays will most likely be working all of Thanksgiving day. So...no Thanksgiving for them. For me, this is a tragedy for Americans. We are teaching the next generation to devalue this day and the purpose of it. We are teaching them to replace being Thankful for all of the MANY blessings we've been given as a nation with consumerism, chaos, discontentment and displeasure. I've worked retail one Black Friday and it is literally the craziest thing I've ever encountered...and I've seen crazy things overseas.

Something is broken in our society. We are no longer teaching future generations the values of kindness, gentleness, thankfulness, patience, responsibility, etc. Sure, you might be within your home...but not society at-large. I don't mean to guilt anyone who goes out on Black Friday...that's not my intent. There are good deals. But think about what you're buying into, and think about how much you are encouraging these stores to just eat more and more into Thanksgiving. As I think about all of my co-workers who are still working retail, I just get sad. Sad that they will not have a Thanksgiving; many of them working just to get by and make ends meet for their families. More and more people are not getting holidays off simply to feed our consumeristic wants.

So, Christmas. I guess somewhere last year in the midnight shifts of retail I started losing the magic that Christmas brings. The wonder and the joy, the passion and the hope. Last year there were no decorations until December 8th. No presents bought, and no peppermint mochas until December 16th. I love giving gifts. I love dreaming about what I can do to bring someone joy and yet, I struggled last year just to get myself to a store. I guess this year I've just started to be determined to experience all that I know that God has for me in this very precious season. I don't want to miss the seemingly ordinary moments of beauty that He has set aside. I refuse to get caught up in all that Christmas shouldn't be (the consumerism)  and to focus in on the preciousness of what it is. A time to slow down, to celebrate deeply, to richly experience the preciousness of the gift that Jesus is to us.

When you think back to the birth of Christ...it was seemingly normal. He was born in a stable surrounded by animals to a probably poor family who was certainly disgraced because of Mary being pregnant outside of wedlock. Shepherds came. It was normal, if not a little pathetic. And yet, it was in this event that the very Savior of the world came to be with us. It was the most profoundly 'normal' moment that ever was.

Let's not miss any 'seemingly normal' moments in this Christmas season. Let's work to prepare our hearts for however He would want to encounter us in this time. Of course we work to do that in all seasons; but especially in this season let's take some time to just reflect on what it's about apart from the consumerism, apart from the business. Let's celebrate life. Not just His, but our own. If you have kids, take time to marvel in their little (or grown up) lives. If you have a job take the time to be thankful for what that's adding to your life. Let's not miss anything in this season...allowing ourselves to celebrate down to the last strand of tacky tinsel.

That's why my Christmas decorations are up. I'm working to rediscover the wonder, the joy and the delight we ought to feel as God's kids. I'm trying to slow down and to allow myself to be encountered by the reality that I am thankful for every seemingly normal and mundane moment. I'm thankful for my family, for the life I get to live. I'm thankful that I get to encounter Christ every day. I'm thankful for Christmas, and the rediscovering of it's beauty.

So as I sit drinking coffee, listening to Christmas music, staring out into the California "cold" I'm praying that this would be the most blessed Christmas season of your life. I pray that you would rediscover the wonder and the joy. The hope and the passion. I pray that you would be overwhelmed by God's goodness in every moment. And that you would truly be able to encounter His presence in the 'seemingly ordinary.'

Joy to the world! The Lord is come
Let earth receive her King!
Let every heart prepare Him room
And heaven and nature sing
And heaven and nature sing
And heaven, and heaven and nature sing

Joy to the world! the Savior reigns
Let men their songs employ
While fields and floods
Rocks, hills and plains
Repeat the sounding joy
Repeat the sounding joy
Repeat, repeat the sound joy

No more let sins and sorrows grow
Nor thorns infest the ground
He comes to make
His blessings flow
Far as the curse is found
Far as the curse is found
Far as, far as the curse is found

He rules the world with truth and grace
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness
And wonders of His love
And wonders of His love
And wonders and wonders of His love

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

"Responsibility. What's that?"

It's Tuesday. I'm sitting on my couch, in sweat pants and the work that I'm supposed to be doing is sitting besides me in a nice, neat stack. This morning I've been successful in washing my sheets and blankets, cooking delicious food, updating my finances, writing a few emails, getting my winter clothes out and putting my summer clothes away (finally!!) and yet I feel like I've done absolutely nothing.

About an hour after eating lunch I started to feel the Lord wooing me to come away with Him, to read His word, and to just be before Him. I felt the urge to write because that tends to be one of the most powerful ways that I connect with Him. I am sick to admit it but my thought was, "Oh, but I need to be responsible and get my class work done. I have too much to do and it needs to get done. "In that moment, I heard the Lord ask, "But what are you responsible to?"

Ooo, dang. I wish that I could explain the conviction I felt at that moment. I am all about responsibility. It's actually a strength of mine, to be 'responsible.' If I say that I'm going to do something, I do it. When I don't do something to the standard that I know I can do it, I feel it and it haunts me at times. But since when did it become ok for me to not be responsible to obedience? Since when did I become 'too busy' or 'too grown up' to be wooed away by God, Himself? Since when did my own agenda become more valuable or validated than His?

I know that I have a job that I do have to do, that I have classwork that has a deadline but doesn't God know that? And isn't coming into His presence and encountering Him the most important and valuable thing that we will ever do in our lifetime and for all of eternity? It grieves me so much to say it, but in the midst of life I have to schedule times for Him, and it could never be enough. I do know and recognize that His presence is with us wherever we are, that we can encounter and talk with Him in every activity. But are we so busy that we miss the small whisperings or the special moments where He wants to tuck us up under the shadow of His wings and love on us, and encounter us?

There is nothing more important that I will ever do on the face of this earth; nothing of more value than to hear Him, to recognize His voice, and to respond to it in obedience. So today, I slowed down. I'm sitting on my couch, encountering His presence and trying with all I have to hear His voice. My work is sitting beside me, right where it ought to be...2nd in line. I am responsible to respond; to His voice, to His wooing, to His romancing and the moments He has set aside for us.

Slow down.
Take some time to ask these questions for yourself. And with no shame involved answer honestly. I pray that these questions lead you into a deeper encounter with the one who loves you more than you could ever fathom. May He woo you away, today, and may you allow yourself to be loved by Him. He doesn't want you just surviving...rushing from one thing to the next. He wants you thriving, and fully alive in a love relationship with Him. He wants to hold you, to beckon you to a freedom you can only dream of. Oh to be free, and oh to be "response-able" to Him.

Am I responsible to obedience? 
Or am I content to just do my own thing? 
Am I ok with making my own way and not to being in tune with Him in every moment? 
What is the balance of being free and the recognition that I cannot and do not want to do anything apart from Him? 
How does He try to woo me, and how have I missed it?
What does responsibility even look like to you, Lord?
What can I lay down and what is not mine to carry or do, that I have made mine to carry?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Mozambique 2015

To Africa!
As you all know, I am in my 3rd and final year at the Bethel School of Ministry in Redding, Ca. One important part of our experience, and for me personally is the opportunity to go on missions trips with 1800 other students from all over the world. The heart and passion of the Bethel Mission Trips Department is to see the sons and daughters of God in all the nations awaken to His goodness and love. As children of Heaven, we have access to His Kingdom and demonstrate His love, glory, and power in all aspects of society. Our strategy is to raise up a generation of world changers in their own nations to begin to run with their God-given inheritance to bring heaven to earth and transform their nation. This trip, through Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry (BSSM), ultimately reflects the vision of the Bethel Mission Trips Department.

This year, I am excited and honored to announce that I will be traveling to Pemba, Mozambique to serve Iris Ministries. Iris is an amazing ministry with bases all over the world. Established by Rolland and Heidi Baker; they focus on serving the poorest of the poor, establishing churches and training and discipling leaders. Since around April I have felt the need and desire to go see how Iris functions at some point before I begin my own journey in missions. Through prayer and discussion with the leaders of this trip, I decided that now was the time to do so. I am so excited to continue my missions experience here and am blessed to continue to serve Iris in a different and deeper way. (last year in school I helped in their office on their U.S. base, which happens to be in Redding)  Check out Iris Global at: www.irisglobal.net

Below is a short description of the trip written by our leaders:
“Love must look like something”, Heidi Baker. We will join Iris Ministries in Northern Mozambique, to bring transformation to a nation, one child at a time. We will stay at the Pemba base, home to the children rescued from the streets. We will feed, hug and hold the children, love the widows, travel to the bush bush, invest in local Pastors and encourage and lift up the local missionaries. This trip is about becoming a tangible expression of the love of the Father to the people of this nation.
My trip will take place March 18-March 31, 2015. I ask that you please pray for my team as we begin to plan and prepare our hearts for this journey. There are 22 of us including my leaders and we are from all around the world. This will be like no other trip I've ever been on as we will be traveling to the remotest villages and will be living without most common amenities. I'm excited to join with Iris' vision in bringing love to the hearts.

I appreciate your prayers and interest in this part of my life. I will be experiencing a lot of new things with vaccinations, malaria pills and all that comes with traveling to Africa. If you would like to partner with me in any way, please let me know. I would love to hear from you!

For the glory of His name,
Lara Hochstetler
larahochstetler@gmail.com















Financial gifts can be made online at https://missiontrips.ibethel.org. If you wish your gift to be anonymous, please check the anonymous box. This will allow you to receive an end of year statement, but will not allow the student to see your name. This is a non-refundable donation to the Bethel Church Missions Department for the benefit of the trip specified. 

(If online payment is not an option, check donations can be made payable to Bethel Church and mailed to the following address: Bethel Mission Trips Department, 915 Twin View Blvd., Redding, CA 96003. Please include a note with the donation designating which student’s trip you are supporting.)

You can also send checks to World Indigenous Missions:
World Indigenous Missions 
P.O. Box 310627
New Braunfels, TX 78131-0627
Make checks payable to WIM and write “Missionary 276” in the memo or give online at
-If you give through WIM please let me know so that I know to use the funds specifically for this trip.