Another day, another year

It seems like each year goes faster. One day blends into the next, until suddenly you’re celebrating a new season with loved ones and setting fresh goals.

Friends, today is my birthday and I’m sure I’ll sound like a child when saying this, but 23 sounds like the real deal. Something about not being in a classroom and spending most of my days at one of my two jobs makes me feel really adult. And you know what, it feels good.

To know that I have worked hard and provided for myself gives a huge sense of accomplishment, but even more, it makes me look forward to this year. When I look back to this day one year ago, I see an anxious undergrad senior with no idea what was going on. If only I could go back in time and simply embrace the moment I was in.

As if I really have any idea what is going on now, it’s easier to see that everything will be okay. Goals may be accomplished, they may not. Either way, a new day will lead into the next and life will move on. That being said, I still believe in setting goals for the next year and this go around, it’s exciting to know I can actually make them happen.

With 23 finally here, I’ve had plenty of time to ponder how I want to grow and challenge myself. So here we are, friends. Here’s my list of 3 to-do’s this year. (I initially wanted to try to come up with 23, but I’d rather focus on fewer, more significant goals. These 3 themes encompass my original 23.)

– Build relationships //

I’m realizing the Lord has placed a yearning in my heart to build relationships. I used to think this meant I needed to know the most people, but my heart rests easier in the deeper company of few. INFJ comin’ at ya. I want my relationships to look different though; I need to find someone to pour into me directly, a mentor, who will help me pour into others, especially the younger generation. Serving others is on my list, whether that be at church or friendships. Finally, I want to pursue deeper intimacy with my family and the Lord by truly caring for those relationships. This takes daily work.

– Grow up //

It’s weird to look at myself and finally see somewhat of an adult (LOL because daily life is still a hot mess). But it’s time to strive to be the man the Lord calls me to be, practically. This looks like denying myself and saving for my future family, as well as continuing my education. I also want to dive headfirst into my heart’s passions, including people, culture, and writing. There’s a reason the Lord put these desires within me. It’s also time to start treating myself with respect, physically I mean, because as Socrates says, “It’s a shame for a man to grow old without seeing the beauty and strength of which his body is capable.” Say it louder for the people in the back (me), Socrates. Ultimately though, it’s time to accept who I am and rest in the peace that the Lord created me an awkwardly anxious dreamer. Who am I to allow my weaknesses to overcome my strengths? It’s time to find what the Lord has for me and not hold back.

– Explore the world //

Lastly, I want to make the most of every moment on this planet. One of my favorite writers out there, Jedidiah Jenkins (follow him here), abandoned his dream job to, “…do something radically different, something that scare[d] the crap out of him.” So he rode his bike from Oregon down to Patagonia. By no means am I saying I need to quit my job and hop on a bike, but he also claims that, “The routine is the enemy of time. It makes it fly by.” I don’t want to live a regular existence, I want to see the world. 22 held sweet adventures in Asia, so where will 23 take me? I know for sure New York City in January, but it’s incredible to budget and save for other opportunities (thinking Pacific Northwest in May and ICELAND in June). But it’s not about going to the other side of the country or world, it’s about opening your eyes. I want to get outside and experience all the world has to offer. I want to learn something new each day, whether it’s how to take good pictures, write moving poetry, or cook a killer meal. This world is beautiful; I don’t want to waste it.

23 seems like a new chapter; I feel differences in the future. Thanks for sticking with me this long and hey, I look forward to another year around the sun with you all. Let’s make this one the best yet!

PS – If failing over the next 365 days to do these, please slap me atop the head. Thanks.

 

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What’s going on?

As a part of my transitioning this platform from focusing on one season to everyday life, I thought it relevant to begin my lifestyle/travel/style/design/everything blog with an article focusing on just that, my lifestyle.

Correction, all of our lifestyles.

I’m not sure if I’m alone in this, but I think I spend at least half of everyday asking myself this exact question. What is going on? It’s easy to become overwhelmed in this thing called post-grad life, but in reality, this is life. And it’s time to grow up.

Sure, our 20’s are a time designed to experiment and find ourselves, but ultimately finding joy in the daily struggle of life is what each adult human being is doing, whether 22 and fresh out of college or 65 and fresh into retirement.

And you know what, it’s okay. It’s okay to be a little lost, to wonder if this is where you’re meant to be. To be curious is to find yourself. Even more so, to pursue and surpass the struggles of learning to pay rent, grocery shopping, applying for grad school, planning international trips on a budget, and investing in passions is finding yourself — especially when you laugh and look like a fool through it all.

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Get used to my awkward poses and style, because that’s Jeremiah for you

It’s daily life that shows us for who we are and I’m excited to show you all exactly who I am. So stick with me as I dive into a new season of figuring myself out. I’ll be posting exactly what makes me, me. And hopefully, you’ll see some growth and gain some laughs through it all.

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Oh, and my grandpop mustache as well

 

I’ll highlight my quirky hipster style (no shame in defining it that way), first-apartment design tips, international (and domestic) adventures, and day-to-day snippets of knowledge that everyone besides myself probably already know, but I’m just figuring out.

This’ll be fun friends, welcome to the mess that is Jeremiah’s daily growth Man Shrugging on Apple iOS 10.3

Home sweet home

Hi friends, it’s been a while. Apologies for the delay; returning from a summer abroad calls for a few weeks of catching up on life and (trying) to snag as much sleep as possible. Goodbyes were said, stories have been told, and now it’s time to catch up on life.

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I’ve learned many lessons over this summer and even more it seems upon returning home. Never would I have believed that returning to my once “normal” existence would be the hardest part of this journey. Lord willing, I’d like to try to put it into words for you all.

You see, I’m pretty sure there’s a snazzy photo of my face plastered in the dictionary under the word planner. I’m one of those people who had it all planned out before I hit the halls of high school. History Education major in college, married by 22, kids soon after, throw in some spontaneous (but really not) travel, and a dog or two. I had it all figured out.

Well, 7 college majors later, a solid LOL at the thought of being married right now or even having kids (what are those creatures), 7 countries, and a now passion for all things feline, a lot has changed from my original plan.

While at the time these changes seemed drastic and horrifying, in hindsight I realize how silly I was being. This life has a funny way of throwing our plans away and giving us something so much better. But right now seems different.

I just spent the past three months living overseas, doing work that fulfilled me, meeting people who challenged me, and seeing the world I had only previously dreamed of. This summer was all that I could have ever imagined and more. And now, despite my love for the comfort of home and all things familiar, I almost feel guilty. Post-Asia depression, am I right?

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A smidge of my journaling this week; enjoy an ultra personal glance into my heart at this time

For some reason, my returning back to the states, working from the comfort of my own home and selling designer clothes part-time, and having spare time makes me smothered in guilt. All I want is to return to a place where I was so challenged so much; I long to go back to a season of growth and change.

But little did I realize I lost touch of the most significant lesson I learned in Asia. We’re all on separate journeys that lead us to who we become, whether they be a “low” or a “high” in our books. This awkward little transition between undergrad and graduate school wasn’t in my plan, but that’s okay because it was never my right to plan in the first place.

Who am I called to be in this moment? As I’m sitting at Panera across from one of my greatest friends (shoutout to Tiffany for the laughs on this Monday), I’m expected to be a light for those around me. I don’t have to be around the world, living a life so different from the so called “normal adult” life to make a difference.

 

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Perks of being home? Nephew time, AMIRIGHT?

 

I’m not in Asia anymore and you know what, that’s okay. This next phase right now includes choosing to be present each moment, committing to the relationships I’ve held dear for years, as well as those I am beginning, and most importantly, choosing joy. We are each called on different paths with the same significance in the eyes of the Father.

And hey, He knew you’d be here since the dawn of time. Rest in that comfort, friends.

 

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An ultra-cheesy photo to represent walking the path before me, you’re welcome

 

Jeremiah’s thoughts

I’m so thankful I was created with the notion to write down my thoughts while processing. Some people talk to themselves, others pray, I write. This allows me to remember exactly how I’m feeling in each moment.
I’m currently at a too-crowded wat (Cambodian temple) in Phnom Penh and it’s here that I am seeing families walking together, university students studying, and strangers enjoying lunch on a shady bench. This seems so American. I feel as if I’m in my past experiences, perhaps Central Park in New York City or Potsdam just outside of Berlin.

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But there’s a significant difference in this moment. While I feel at home in the center of this park, I am heavy. My body is literally heavy under the presence of these demons and spiritual warfare. Here in the middle of this beautiful city, I’m finding myself at home, yet spiritually depressed.

You see, whether while teaching at school, shopping at a night market, or visiting cultural sights with my group, I am constantly reminded by small spirit houses and meditating monks that my faith is a minority here, nearly nonexistent actually.

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I see so many dedicating their life to their gods. Some people are giving their literal last meal to their spirit houses while they and their children go hungry. A nation that is stricken with poverty is giving its greatest resources to building exquisite temples. It’s beautiful, yet equally heartbreaking.

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I’m heartbroken because my thought is this: if I was as dedicated to reading Scripture, praying to my Father, giving to others and the church, sharing the Gospel, and simply living out my faith daily, what change could I make? I see a society giving all they have to their gods in vain. Yet here I am, not giving enough simply because my God, the true God, doesn’t require it of me.

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Not technically this wat I’m discussing but here’s just a glimpse of the Royal Palace

He knows my failures and mistakes, yet he continues to love me. I don’t have to build a temple or give my last meal to appease Him. All He asks is that I love and pursue Him. In a nation so opposed to this, I’m reminded each moment how good my Father is.

 

Always in my heart

To be honest with you all, I truly never wanted to go to Asia. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Europe has always been my dream continent to work full-term in. The culture of Western nations always fascinated me, but the culture of Eastern nations quickly stole my heart.

Upon arriving in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, our group made a quick turn around to Siem Reap in the north. My attitude about this was not good initially. Having just flown literally 40+ hours, I was ready to be home and in bed, not on a six hour bus ride. Boy, did my mind change quickly.

Sweet Surrender Siem Reap Bridge

Siem Reap stole my heart. Each day, another charming local reached out to me, showing me that I was important. In American culture, so often you walk unnoticed. Not here. Sometimes as a foreigner you are swarmed by market vendors, Tuk-Tuk drivers (essentially Cambodia taxis), and even children of need. While this was definitely stressful initially, learning “Ate Akhun” or “No thank you,” and “Akhun sheran!” or “Thank you so much,” helped simple communication become easy.

What I’m trying to say is this, I never imagined finding a home in Cambodia. Thankfully, the locals make it impossible to not find charm in the smallest of things.

Our team spent our first few days getting to know each other and this new city. This was done through language courses, culture orientation, and intentional walks. An overload of information is a good way to describe my first few days in Siem Reap, as well as culture shock.

Sweet Surrender Siem Reap Night Market

Feeling overwhelmed from the new culture, language, food, and friends, I quickly began wondering why I am here. I found myself questioning my abilities and doubting my skills. Thankfully, I was comforted in so many ways.

First, there was our hotel staff. These individuals made a strange land home in one day and for that, I am forever thankful. Second, our team is made up of individuals that complete each other so well. We all have a role and that helps so much.

Sweet Surrender Siem Reap Pub Street

Next, we had the opportunity to visit a school for the deaf and blind of Siem Reap. I was completely humbled when being lead through a dark room by a blind girl more joyful that I have ever been, despite her circumstances. We were also able to see more of the culture by visiting the Floating Village, a local silk farm, and finally Angkor Wat.

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Most exciting, I was placed on a team of teachers that taught young women who were recently rescued from a life of prostitution trade skills. We also taught the property staff English, something I found myself extremely passionate about.

All in all, Siem Reap quickly became my home away from home. Our group arrived in Phnom Penh for the next two weeks and while I’m excited to be in the classroom more, I will always long for the streets of Siem Reap (call me crazy, I know.)

Please pray for my team as my of us, including myself, are bogged down by intense sickness. I have a bacterial infection that has me bed-ridden and I’m hoping to be better before we dive into the classroom again.

Thank you for following along! I wish you all could see this place in person, as my words will never do Cambodia justice. This land is like no other.

Welcome home

Cambodia, the Kingdom of Wonder, definitely doesn’t disappoint. After traveling who knows how long (literally I don’t know what day it is), it’s amazing to see where I can call home for the next month or so.

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A lot of crazy things are happening in Phnom Penh, so our group is headed six hours north to Siem Reap in order to prepare for teaching in peace and safety.

This journey has taught me several things already, one of which is the beauty found in the life of Cambodia. Neighbors are seen bartering, a tire full of air for a tank of gas, as roosters and rat dogs scurry about their feet.

The Lord has blessed this land with a cool spell, along with rain outside of the monsoon season. I have hope that this trend will continue as this “cool” day is beyond warm and humid.

It’s hard to believe I’m actually here. Hearing just a small portion of what we will be doing here, from teaching girls who recently escaped a life of prostitution trade skills to showing children why their culture, and ours, is important, great things are going to happen here.

The beauty of the landscape is much different from what I expected. I’ve always been a Europe person, to be honest; Asia has always been distant in my mind, but boy was I wrong. Sprawling fields house water buffalo and palm trees as far as the eye can see. Drizzling rain is falling, making me feel a little cozier that I probably should being so far from all that I know.

It’s day one and these teammates have already brought me so much joy. I’ve realized how I can find friends anywhere, at any time. The only downfall is the brevity of this tour, but I know these friendships are meant to last.

So here’s to Cambodia, Hong Kong, and Laos. Follow along if you want to hear the way these students change and develop us, while hopefully we do the same to their English skills (mainly because I have no idea what they’re saying with their accents.)

Sincerely,

Jeremiah Halbert