Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Awaiting Adventures

I am settling back into life here in very hot, sunny California! I have had an amazing summer, with the opportunity to spend a lot of time with my family, church family back in Iowa and many friends. It has been such a blessing and time of refreshing.

I started my Summer, as you know, training with a missions organization called World Indigenous Missions (WIM) out of New Braunfels, Tx. WIM’s mission is “Discipling the Nations to reach the world.” They are a small missions organization and really are a big family. While I am officially a WIM missionary I will continue to do my pre-field training for them throughout the year including taking the perspectives course online. When I am done with pre-field training I will look for a place to do my on-field training with an already established missionary. When that is done and I feel released to do so I will be off to language school.

I have a long-term goal of working in the Middle East. While I don’t know the exact timing of that, or what I will be doing, exactly, it is where my heart is and it is a place that is desperately in need of light. It is my belief that the Middle East’s best days are in front of her and I will do whatever I can to help fulfill the great commission in that region of the world.  As you look all over scriptures, you see that the Lord will be known and exalted all over the earth and I am thankful for the part that I get to play in that.

Myself and the 5 others that trained with WIM this year. They will serve in Africa, Palestine/Israel and Central America.

This year I will continue to help Jim and Brenda VanWinkle with their ministry Bespoken International; which works primarily in leadership training and ministry in Ireland as well as the fact that Brenda is an author. I help them with some office needs as well as ministering when we travel. Brenda and I are actually travelling to Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland 2 weeks from tomorrow! This is primarily why I wrote today. We will be in the Belfast September 4-8 attending and participating in a conference that is for all the Celtic Nations. (The Gathering of the Clans) We then will travel to the Republic September 8-15 to meet and minister with several groups of people and individuals.  Please keep us in your prayers as we prepare to go and as we travel. Also, please pray that all costs will be taken care of on this trip.

Upon return from Ireland I will be jumping straight into my 3rd year at Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry. I will be interning this year with one of my pastors, Paul Manwaring. I don’t know what that will all entail yet but I know that God has good things in store. I have opportunities to travel with him, as well, this year and am praying about which trips to pursue.

This year is filled with opportunities and I am so thankful for everything that God has put in front of me. While I know I have a lot of hard choices to make, I am excited about the adventure. Thank you for being a part of my story and my life. God is up to so many good things in the world, and what an honor that we get to be a part.

In Him,

To give through WIM:
Make checks payable to:
World Indigenous Missions (or WIM)
PO Box 310627
New Braunfels, Tx 78131-0627
I am Missionary #276 (put in memo line or on a note with the check. DO NOT put my name on the check)
(I have envelopes available)
Or give online at:

There are several ways you can keep up with me this year as I adventure. 
-Email me:
-Read my Blog:

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Twenty Six and Time for a New Level

If there is one thing that I know, it's that trust certainly is a journey. No matter how confident we become in our relationship with the Lord He is constantly drawing us deeper and further in. As I like to put it, He longs for there to be absolutely no space between us. He wants to be as close as possible in every aspect of our lives. We all know that He's done His part, that's why Jesus came and why He left us the most precious gift ever given in the Holy Spirit. But, we as humans are bombarded with things; choices, circumstance, illness, the news; all of which can distract us.. And if we are not in the practice of renewing our minds, consciously being aware of His presence in every moment and not allowing ourselves to get too busy we unfortunately allow distance to come in-between us and the most important relationship that we have. I'm certainly guilty of this.

In different seasons of our lives, trust will certainly look different and as we grow stronger in faith more is demanded of us. Not demanded in a harsh, dictator sort of way but because if our relationship is healthy, we will long to give God more and to not withhold anything from Him. We will want to make decisions with Him, as He would make them. That's the way love works, is it not? If you totally trust someone, aren't you willing, out of that love, to do anything to protect, value and strengthen that relationship? We don't grow in trust because we have to perform for His love, but rather, we grow in trust because no matter what we do, the Lord is constantly proven trustworthy. He is always proven faithful. Who wouldn't want to eliminate the space that exists with someone who is love Himself and has proven Himself over and over?

And yet, it's a journey. It's a constant choosing, often against every emotion in our body to say 'yes' and to trust against every circumstance, every emotion and often times the doubts of those closest to us. I want my life to sing a constant and consistent 'yes' to Him. I have for the past 3 years asked myself, "What can He do through someone who is simply willing?" I think I have yet to see most of the answer to that question, but I do know this: groundwork is being laid in my life that I know cannot be shifted easily by circumstances. No lack of money or resources can withhold me from trusting a most trustworthy Father. And despite any fear or doubt...I am certain that because I am pursuing Him, ground is constantly being taken for the kingdom.

The last year of my life has been a wild one. This day last year feels like a moment ago, a blink of time and yet as I process my 25th year I see that it has grown me in ways that I hadn't anticipated. I have done so much when the temptation all year I felt was the belief that I was doing so little. I have travelled more than a lot of people do in 5 years; ministering to people I never dreamed I could, I have completed my 2nd year of ministry school. I survived working 25-35 hours a week while doing school. I have joined a mission organization. I quit my job. I've made a lot of life decisions that should have been very hard, and yet...they really weren't. It's amazing how decisions that could rattle us don't any longer when we understand where our lives are, which is in the palm of His almighty, trustworthy, faithful hand.

But this is my journey, and your journey is going to look different. The Lord probably isn't asking you to quit your job, or give your life to minister to others, though He might be. He might be asking you to raise your family, to work and gain resources and favor. He might be asking you to take a risk and talk to your neighbors, to influence the school systems, to be faithful where you are. No matter where you are, He is asking you to trust Him in a deeper way, and in a deeper capacity. It's time we go to another level, all of us. Not because we have to, but because He's inviting us to an even greater place in relationship. As I look to start my 26th year of life I challenge you, and myself to pursue an even greater level of trust understanding that it will be another journey. A journey that will surely take us closer to His heart....

In every moment, let us resolve to trust Him...at times warring against the fear we feel and any doubt. Is He not faithful? Will He not do exceedingly more than we can ask or imagine? Is He not worthy of our trust? Let's look at life square on in full confidence that He is who He says He is. Let us pursue Him with the knowledge that we are completely loved, completely valued and completely believed in. Let's do this.

Let's show the world what people who trust the Lord unreservedly look like.


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

"Just" a song.

So I had posted this on July 23rd...or so I thought. My apologies for anyone who had tried to read it but couldn't. Now here it is! 

This song. 

I just can't stop singing it. I know it's not perfect. I know my voice is less than amazing and impressive. I know I use the same chord structure over and over. I know I have recording equipment that is...well, an ipad. But, goodness...it's just where I am. I can't stop singing it. I won't ever stop singing it.

I'm so glad that God makes beauty out of ugly. That He makes clean and pure out of dirt. He is so, ridiculously good to us. His grace really is sufficient for us. And His grace is completely scandelous. It makes me love Him more, it makes me want to live pure and holy...set apart unto Him. It gives me courage and hope to live in a way that may not make sense to anyone else...a life that I know pleases Him. 

In weeks where I feel like I've failed, or in times when I feel like my life isn't moving forward or like I have nothing to 'show' or 'prove' my worth, or my successes; I am reminded that Jesus is the one that gives me all of that. Kingdoms may come and go, but He never passes away. And as I told my church this week; I, in myself have absolutely nothing to offer. I cannot give you anything, but I have the one who has everything. I know the one who knows all things...I can offer you that-and that is the most beautiful gift anyone could offer. 

This song. I cannot stop singing it. And I pray I never do. No matter the wisdom I gain. No matter the awards. No matter the spotlight. No matter all of my accomplishments, or lack thereof:

I lean not on my own understanding, my life is in the hands of the maker of heaven.
I give it all to you God, trusting that you'll make something beautiful out of me.
I will climb this mountain with my hands wide open.
There's nothing I hold onto.
My heart is wide open to you.

(click this if you want to hear it)

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Another Book Altogether.

Tomorrow I get on an airplane. For those of you that know me well, you know how excited I am. Anything that could be classified as 'out of the ordinary' or 'adventure' makes my heart sing. I've always joked about how I could live out of a suitcase because it means that I'm doing something that includes adventure and this Summer I get to do just that...though it doesn't necessarily look like 'adventure' on the outside, I'm gearing up for what doesn't just feel like a new chapter in my life, but rather, an entirely different book altogether.

Tomorrow I get on an airplane. First I fly to Texas to do what I feel like is perhaps the craziest thing I've ever done. No, I know Iowa mamas, flying to the Middle East is much crazier than flying to Texas. And yes, speaking to strangers, including Turkish Gipsies by the Mediteranean that want to read my palms is odd, but tomorrow I fly to Texas to begin training as a missionary. Even still mentioning it makes me get those nervous, sweaty palms you get...you know the ones I'm talking about? The ones you get as you step up to the free throw line at a critical point of a basketball game. Or the ones you get before you grab the microphone to speak. It's like pure anticipation and excitement mixed with terror and the fleeting thought of, 'what the heck am i doing?' 

And yet, as I prepare, as I've been packed already for 2 days, I can't help knowing in the deepest part of me that this is exactly what I'm supposed to be doing and that I am FINALLY beginning to do what I was made for. I am at my best when I am living for others. Most of my life I've felt like a round peg trying to find my slot, all of which I tried ended up being a little square. They were all similar; same color, same feel, but just not exactly the right fit. I don't apologize for taking this long to figure out what I was made for, each ministry I've been a part of, each life experience, each moment of school has been necessary in getting me here. God truely does waste absolutely nothing.

But here I am, getting ready to adventure and explore what it means and looks like to do missions as a vocation. I have been looking for something and someone to give my life to and for...I am so thankful and so grateful that I have finally found it. I know that we never 'arrive' at an ultimate platform, but I feel like I've been climbing a long time, and perhaps I'm due for a little respite. I know that I will spend the rest of my life becomming fully what I'm called to, but I know that it really begins here, with this step. My heart could burst and there's those sweaty palms again. 

I love the Middle East. I love her people and I love the potential there. I love how God loves that region and I am so outrageously honored that I would be a part of what He wants to do there in her future. I love Ireland and am thankful for the coninued role I get to have there partnered with some beautiful people to me-whatever that looks like. I won't be able to explain to you how I know that this is the call on my life, neither do I feel like I have to explain it anymore. I just know that these regions have so much promise and I want to give my life to being a part of it. I want to live and be Isaiah 42 and 49 to these people.

And as I ponder getting on a plane tomorrow I think of my parents, of all of the people who have made it possible for me to be where I am today, and the person I am today. I am overwhelmed with thankfulness, knowing that there are some victories that do not belong to me, but those who have laid down so much for me. Their sacrifices will ring into eternity and into the Middle East forever. This is just the beginning of becoming alive in a totally different way. The level of vulnerability I'm feeling right now, as I begin exploring this part of my heart that I've never explored before fully is astounding...hence the sweaty palms. But you know, the anticipation makes me thankful for every moment of preparing...makes me grateful for every experience I've had. And instead of dreading or being afraid, I know I will get on that plane with a smile, knowing that it's not only exactly where I'm supposed to be, but exactly where I want to be. 

Let the new book begin.

Just some practicals of my Summer/life:
I will be training with an organization called World Indigenous Missions for the next week. You can read more about them at: http://www.worldim.com 
After that I will fly to L.A. to spend some time with a dear friend there and then I will be flying back to Iowa to be with friends and family and working until the beginning of August. I will then be flying back to Redding to do my 3rd year Internship at Ministry school here. 


Friday, May 23, 2014

"For those in the Hallways"

"When one door closes, another one opens." I wonder how many times we've heard that saying. 

It's interesting how many times we as Christians find our selves in the hallway standing just outside of the door that has just shut in front of us. As we look up and down the hallway we can clearly see the door that has shut in front of us, but way on the other end of the hall, what seems like 5 light years away we see not a door, but a veil. We know in our hearts that there is a door behind that veil, a door with far more than the one we just came out of, but in our heads it makes no logical sense as to why we couldn't have stayed in the previous room with it's air conditioned climate and cushioned couches. While we know that our best days are in front of us, and while we know that it was clearly The Lord that drew us out of our comfort and out of what has been known in the past, there is a part of us that has a hard time trusting that there is more for us and there is an even larger part of us that doesn't want to go through the dreaded 'process,' to get to that 'more'. 

But what if we had a different application of the word hope? What if we, every day, worked hard to remind ourselves of the promises and of the words that The Lord spoke to us in secret that got us out here in the hallway to begin with? I was talking to a friend yesterday about hope, about how I don't want to just feel hope. I long to get to a place where hope dictates all that I do because if I am completely overwhelmed by the joyful anticipation that something good is going to happen, I will constantly be moving towards seeing every promise I've gotten from The Lord fulfilled, won't I? 

Let me give you an example: I start training in a few weeks with a missions organization. I am passionate about the nations coming to know the fulness and the glory of The Lord and The Lord has given me several promises about my role. I believe the biggest way I will minister overseas and just in my life in general is through family. Family is one of my biggest passions and I believe that is is the most profound and impactful way to show the world the kingdom and our Heavenly Father. If I just felt hope for my future I would be tempted to sit at home, waiting for God to come to me, waiting for Him to open all of the doors, and consequently, drag me down the hallway so I could get to the doors to begin with. While feeling hope is great it doesn't really get us to act upon the promises that God has given us. 

But I long to be overwhelmed by hope, making it my lifestyle...where I am so sure of what He's said to me and I live in such anticipation of it, that in spite of being single and certain circumstances that say otherwise I am always moving towards my promises-joyfully anticipating that God will break in in the process. My friend put it like this, "It's (hope) as if you are walking around every unknown corner, not in fear, but in full anticipation that The Lord has good surprises for you as you turn. What will it be? What will it mean for my life?" 

I am gloriously terrified of becoming a missionary and beginning this part of my life 'by myself.' But I know that God's promises for me are good, so I joyfully move towards the fulness of what He has for me, knowing that He has good just beyond the veil. What will it look like? What will it sound like, feel like in the new room? I have no idea. But I am obsessed with this hope, with this anticipation that while it will take a different level of faith and trust to come into the room, that every moment of the process will be worth it.

So here we are, in a hallway. Will we choose joy and anticipation? Or fear and regret? Will we look back at what has felt familiar and shy away, or run with glorious terror at our futures, unknown and unseen just beyond the veil? 

It is my prayer that we would see that He is totally, completely and utterly trustworthy. There is absolutely no shadow of turning in Him, no thought in His mind to betray us, tease us or set us up for failure. It is my prayer that in this season we would run towards the unknown, holding our promises in front of us so that we don't forget what He's said about us. It is my prayer that we look beyond the veil, to the next door he has placed in front of us. And it is my prayer that hope would overtake us, causing us to move towards the promises we have on our lives, for the sake of the nations. 

Friday, January 31, 2014

The Art of (re) Finding Myself

This blog begins with a girl in search of who she is. I've been pondering so much the last few days. So much has happened in the last few years, especially since I moved to Redding. While so much of it has been good, and much more than I ever could have expected, I'm realizing how much of it has been so very hard. Along with this move came an unexpected twist of going back to school.

On many fronts, this has been the single most life-changing experience ever. The teaching I get on a day-to-day basis is enough to make even the most intelligent mind spin. Because of school I've been given space with Him to hear in a way that I haven't ever before. Because of school I was able to really see what I was truely made for, and to travel to that place in order to forever fall in love. 

But along with the sacrifice that school has been economically, it has been a massive sacrifice on the front of time and self. This year it has not been rare for me to work 30-35 hours, very early in the morning, then turn around and go to school 5 days a week. In the midst of that I've been trying, often unsuccessfully, to cultivate the few relationships that I do have and the other hours of the day I am usually sleeping or exhausted. 

I realized the last few days, that in the midst of that, I have, in a way lost myself...and not in a good way. I read back over the early days of when I was first really falling in love with Jesus. The things I wrote, the songs I sang, they were profound and are definitely the reason I am sitting here, 1900 miles away from anything I saw as normal before. 

Since Christmas I've been in a funk. There are many reasons why, but I think that this has a massive reason to do with it as well. Somewhere, in the midst of the crazy, the good and the bad...I lost myself. It wasn't that I was being mean to myself, or purposefully neglecting...but I forgot to give myself permission to just be me. To write for hours, to go on an adventure, to draw, to create just for the sake of creating. 

And sadly so, I allowed what other people said and did affect what I decided to say or do. I stopped writing because it wasn't 'profound.' I stopped singing because it wasn't my 'call.' I stopped adventuring because I had a list of 15 other seemingly more important things to do. I stopped loving because it wasn't the best form of love I knew I could give. 

It's fascinating and sad how different we function when we aren't just fully who He's made us to be. I don't write to impress someone else, I write because of Him. I don't sing because others can hear, I sing because I love Him and I want to let Him know. I don't paint or cook or love because I want a pat on the back, I do it because it's within me and it is a pure expression of Him in and through me.
We owe the world an encounter. We owe them a taste of His goodness, of His love, of His extravagance. But the truth is, though, that we cannot possibly give the world anything unless we have fully come to terms with who we are and when we decide to love that. 

I may never write anything profound in my life. I may never travel, or cook another meal. But one thing is for sure; I am done worrying or thinking about what people think. I want to be who God made me to be, and I want to take time and make space to express that. When I love who He's made me to be, that's when the world gets their encounter. True and authentic expression will release the kingdom everywhere I go. 

This blog ends with a girl relearning to truely love herself. With a girl that just simply wants to delight in the way that her daddy created her. It ends with a girl who wants to learn, as my dear friend Brenda would say, 'to love herself to life' and because she will be fully alive, love others to life as well. 


(check out Brenda's Blog @ http://www.bespokeninternational.com )


Saturday, November 16, 2013

update of a very full life...

This Update has been overdue for many, many months. To my friends, family and church specifically those in Iowa, I apologize for how concise this needs to be, but it is an update nonetheless. I remind you that you can email, call or text any time if you'd love to catch up! :) I will put you on my schedule!

Some "facts from Lara's Life" bullet points for you:
-I'm in my 2nd year at BSSM here in Redding, California. I am absolutely loving it and getting challenged to the core. This year is focused intensely on leadership training. 
-In January I will have been living in Redding for 2 years! Feels just like yesterday that my nervous little self got in my car and made the 29 hour journey over the mountains by myself. 
-I currently work 25-30 hours every week at Target. I'm in charge of the cosmetics department and really love the detail work that includes. (thankfully)
-My current schedule of life is 4:00am-11:15 work, then off to school until around 6:00pm. It's full, but I really do enjoy it. That is a HUGE change from last year and something I thank God for every day. While I would love to not keep this crazy schedule all year long, it's my honor to work and do school in this environment. 
-I help Brenda VanWinkle once a week because unfortunately that's all my schedule allows for currently. I would love to help her more as she continues to press in for Ireland.
-Every Monday night I take Arabic class through the church here in Redding. Such a beautiful language.
-I am currently filing paperwork to become a part of World Indigenous Missions. This way I will be under a covering, family-wise, prayer-wise, and financially-wise by the time I am ready to make missions and ministry my profession vocationally. They are an amazing organization and you should look them up! :)
-Next week my parents will be here in Redding for a visit! I'm SO very excited! :)
-I still love coffee (just seeing if you're still reading)
-The week after Thanksgiving I will be traveling to Texas with one of our pastors at the Church to be on their ministry team. It is a huge honor to be one of six picked for this trip. For those of you who gave towards my tuition, THANK YOU! This is part of our tuition this year, and I so appreciate that. It's going to be a blast!
-I'm not 100% sure I will be home for Christmas yet. Tickets are PRICEY! yikes. But if I was home I would squeeze all of your necks!
-In March of next year I plan on traveling to Turkey for a missions trip for 10 days. We will be serving in Izmir in an international church, serving them however we can. We will have the honor of coming alongside of some missionaries there and the people who minister to the Turkish people every day. We will also perhaps get to serve some Syrian Refugees in the area (which is what my heart beats for). This trip will cost $2200 for those of you asking that question.
-After falling in love with the Middle East even more last year in Lebanon, it is SUCH a joy to travel back to the area and to Turkey where so much of the New Testament occured. The leader of my trip is someone I consider an Apostle of the region and it is my honor to learn from her. 
-I have the honor of taking a class here next semester for long-term missions here at Bethel Church.
-Brenda will be traveling to Ireland next Spring for about 6 weeks. It is my hope to join her at some point in that 6 weeks to travel with her, and add support so she isn't by herself. The last time we went over plane tickets were about $1000 plus food and lodging, etc, for those of you asking that question again.
-If all goes as planned, I will be traveling to Texas after graduation to do my W.I.M. training at their head quarters. 
-I'm looking for someone who illustrates children's books, specifically birds. I'm trying to get one together before next Summer and have no idea how to do so. 
-I am so super honored to be serving Iris Ministries every week and have been learning so many powerful things and truths that I have been tucking away for the future. 
-I have begun the process of looking for a new vehicle. We've figured out that with as much as we've put into it, it's no longer the best investment, that being said, I'm a LONG way to being able to purchase a new(er) car and it's been in my heart a long time to be able to give this one away to someone I've had in mind for a long time. 
-Life is beautiful, I've never experienced the depths of His peace, and love and presence like I have in this season.
-Yes, I'm still single. ;) I know someone was asking or thinking it. 
-I am blessed with the most amazing family in the world: shout out to all of you. Mom, Dad, Jb, Carla, Noah, Mussie and Greta. Tim, Kim and Alena. Matt and Ilona. I really, absolutely couldn't do anything without them and their support.

Just as a reminder, my email is larahochstetler@gmail.com. If you mail me I'll get you my number, address or whatever else you need to stay in touch! I love you all and am so honored to know you. I hope this helps you feel more 'connected' with all that's going on in my life! Bethel Menno, an update is coming soon!

Peace and Many Blessings,