About rlynncreative

Rachel is an adjunct professor for Liberty University Online as well as a writer and photographer. She is fluent in two languages: English and sarcasm. She is a lover of delicious food, good books, and laughing until her sides hurt. When she isn't traveling the world, you will find her spending time with her beautiful niece and handsome nephews, or scouring the local flea markets for hidden treasures. She is also frequently found in the kitchen channeling her inner Betty Crocker . . . and on the trails running off all of those heavenly calories.

Living a Life of Thanksgiving

As I sit and write this blog post I am in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The day I arrived I contracted a bacterial strain of pink eye that I am quite confident is one part sickness and three parts pure evil.

The strain is an intense one that is accompanied by flu-like symptoms and that spreads rapidly.  The pink eye moved from one eye into the other in less than 24 hours and left a popped blood vessel and a black eye in its wake. Since that time the bacteria has also moved into my right ear, causing an ear infection and temporary loss of hearing.

I’ve been bed-ridden for most of my trip thus far due to the illness and, as a result, have had ample time to sit and reflect. In my reflection I realized…I live quite the pampered life here.

For starters, I have the ability to travel and see first-hand things that many only read about . . . or never even learn of. I’ve been to five countries in the last four weeks and have the blessing of being reunited with friends that live on the other side of the world.

Additionally, I am staying in a safe home, protected by a locked gate. The walls are thick and sturdy, unlike the sticks that many of the homes in the Cambodian provinces are constructed from. The floors are also finished, offering a cleaner living environment than the traditional dirt floor allows.

As I lay here (on a hard, but clean mattress), a fan is blowing on me to provide relief from the sweltering heat. That’s right . . . I also have the blessing of electricity . . . a luxury that many in third world countries have never experienced in their homes.

I am able to wash dishes and brush my teeth from the sink in the kitchen because it has a built-in double water filtration system that makes the water safe. Yes, this may be the only sink in the house where that is the case, but still, in the kitchen there is no need to boil my water and manually filter it before cooking or washing.

And speaking of cooking . . . I have the blessing of a stove here! The gas burners may only offer two settings (high and higher . . . no low or medium setting exists) but the convenience of having multiple burners that turn on with the flip of a switch far outweighs the challenges of cooking over a small fire outside.

Not only can I cook indoors, but I also have the ability to shower indoors. Sure, there is no hot water or actual bathtub so the water is like ice and gets the entire bathroom floor wet, but at least there is a drain in my fully finished floor!

And, when I need to go to the local market the tuk-tuk driver comes directly to my door so that I don’t have to walk the muddy street out to the main road. He even helps me carry my purchases. Such service!

As I prepare to celebrate Thanksgiving halfway around the world from my family this year, some of these blessings that would otherwise be easily overlooked are at the forefront of my mind. I am learning what it means to live with a heart of thankfulness and praise. (I’m even learning to be thankful for sickness that forces me to slow down and that helps to remind me of the many blessings that God has given me.)

I pray that this holiday season (and every day) you will learn to do the same . . . minus the pink eye, because, let’s be honest, I would never wish that on anyone! 🙂

“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness: come before him with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.” –Psalm 100 

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Through the Storm

“When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what the storm is all about.” –Haruki Murakami

I saw the storm coming from miles away. Bolts of lightning danced in the distance, a stark contrast against the blackened sky.

I was several days into my roadtrip across the country, having just entered into Colorado after a long, grueling day driving through flat, dull Kansas. The mountains ahead were a welcomed change of scenery, but to get to them I knew that I would be driving directly into rain.

In order to avoid the tempest that loomed ahead of me I thought about turning around . . . but nothing was behind me except for miles and miles of corn. And let’s be honest, there was no way I was going to willingly subject myself to that torture again.

No, my destination lay ahead . . . through the storm.

With each passing mile the ominous clouds got closer. The lightning continued to put on a show, joined now by claps of thunder so loud that they shook my car.

And then the rain came.

It started sporadically at first, just a few drops at a time. Within seconds the skies opened up and I found myself in the midst of a complete downpour.  My vision was limited and it was all that I could do to see enough of what was in front of me so that I didn’t run off the road.

But almost as quickly as it came, the storm dissipated. The skies opened up and the sun reappeared. And directly in front of me was a double rainbow.

After about 15 references to this Youtube video played through my mind, I smiled. What a beautiful reminder of God’s promises. Not only His promise that He will never flood the earth again (Genesis 9:11), but His promise that He goes before us and is with us (Deut. 31:8), that He is our hiding place (Psalm 32:7), and that His anger lasts only for a moment, but His favor lasts a lifetime (Psalm 30:5).

As I thought about the storms I have faced in my own life, I saw evidence of each of these promises. And I realized that although God allowed storms in my life to help me better know myself and become shaped into the woman He wants me to be, I also believe that He allowed storms to help me to better know HIM and to see firsthand His promises in my own life.

I pulled over onto the side of the road to snap a picture, not so much to capture the beauty of the rainbow itself, but rather to have a reminder of the truth that God had impressed upon my heart in that moment.

I came out of the storm that day different than when I entered it. But then again, isn’t that what the storm is all about?

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I am an Elephant

I saw an advertisement the other day for a circus. There was a picture of an elephant chained to a small stake in the ground beside a circus tent, with information about the event and a number you could call to purchase tickets.

I’ve never been much of a fan of the circus (due, in part, to my overwhelming fear of mimes), but I stood there for quite a while staring at the flyer.

I couldn’t help but wonder how that MASSIVE elephant with ENORMOUS muscles was restrained by such a small chain.  Why didn’t it just pull the stake out of the ground and march on out of there? Didn’t it know its own strength?

Being the information-glutton that I am, I went home and looked up the answer.

Apparently, circus elephants are first restrained when they are small . . . too small to actually break free from the chains.(Yes, I know this is cruel. But please stick with me and wait to call PETA until after you have finished reading this post.)

Try as they might, the baby elephants can’t break free from the stake.

And this is where my mind was blown:

Since elephants have such good memories, each time they are restrained by the chain they remember that they weren’t able to break out in the past . . . so they accept their bondage without even putting up a fight!

elephant-chain

Despite their massive strength as an adult, they continue to remain in bondage to the same chains that restrained them as babies.

. . . And then I realized

. . . I am an elephant.

You see, I wasn’t always like this. I used to be confident, out-going, and carefree. I used to be bold, laugh without hesitation, and actively engage with others.

And then I turned seven.

Okay, so maybe there wasn’t a dramatic overnight change in me.  But slowly, as I began to grow up, I started to become chained to the messages around me: you’re ugly, you’re fat, you’re awkward, you’re crazy, you’re too much, you’re not enough, etc.

The list went on and on.

I slowly began to believe these messages and started to carry myself as if they were true. Every time I entered a new situation, I kept hearing those same messages whispered in my ear and I found myself allowing them to constrain me.

Day in and day out.

To make matters worse, whenever someone came into my life and tried to say or do anything to negate those messages, I freaked out. I pushed them away or tried to prove them wrong. I did everything in my power to show them that I really was ugly, fat, awkward, crazy, too much, and not enough.

And then, when they had finally had enough and decided to leave, I used their rejection to drive the stake even further into the ground.

But the fact of the matter is, I am not ugly, fat, awkward, crazy, too much, or not enough.

In all actuality, I’m pretty damn cool.            

. . . And it’s about time I started living like it.

So this is me acknowledging my own strength, pulling that stake out of the ground, and marching on out of here.

Who’s with me?