I don't quite remember when I fell in love with tea but I do remember the most special moments of me drinking tea. I was eighteen years old and I went to live with my biological mother for four months. I had just met her months earlier and it was awkward for both of us. She and her ex-husband lived a very quiet life in Boulder, Colorado. He was a professor at one of the universities and she was a housewife. After years of drug addiction and being in and out of jail, she deserved the break. I was homeless so she and her husband agreed to let me come live with them. Each evening my mother and I would find a spot in the living room with a cup of tea and a book.

Now, years later, I'm a self proclaimed tea expert. I start each day with a wonderful English Breakfast tea to get me going. As the day progresses, who knows what wonderful tea I will crown queen. But for sure, I have at least three cups of tea a day. And yes, when I can, I have tea everyday at about 3:00 P. M. I love to invite my friends over for tea and cupcakes and so far everyone thinks it’s a delightful experience. I am always in search of the best blend of tea. Yes, I’m a tea snob, I prefer loose tea but I do like some bags also. I have learned not to judge a book by it’s cover. Some bags can be quite nice. And yes again, any Diva knows, what you drink your tea out of is very important.

Tea for me is a way of life. It's wellness for the mind body and spirit. Here, I will explore every expect of tea possible, with a high concentration on wellness. I will review the best teas, the best places to have tea, the best ways to brew tea, the best tea accessories, what tea goes best with what foods, and the list goes on and on. I plan to share my passion for tea with you. And I've been told, nothing I do is ever boring so be prepared to go on this tea journey with me.

RLT Collection Tea Ball Frosted Clear Beads!

Mint Medley by The Persimmon Tree Tea Company

About This Tea:

Until recently I had never drank Peppermint Tea made with loose leaves. And Honestly, I will probably never go back. The freshness of loose Peppermint Tea cannot be denied. When I open the can of Mint Medley, From The Persimmon Tree Tea Company, I feel as if I stepped into a garden of peppermint leaves. It is a perfect blend of organic peppermint and spearmint leaves grown in the US.

Mint Medley has become a favorite and I find myself reaching for this tea tin almost everyday. It is great for on-going nausea. The health benefits and endless. It relieves muscle aches, headaches, migraines, stress. And now that it feels like someone is sitting on my chest and I have a mean cough, I'm sure it will help to relieve some of this congestion in my chest. Mint Medley has been in my tea cup more than any tea as of late. It has really helped with my winter cough, congestion related to this bout of pneumonia. You can read my full review on The Persimmon Tree Tea Company Mint Teas.

RLT Collection AIDS Awareness Tea Ball!

Welcome to my world of books! As an pre-teen books changed my world. I fell in love with the writers of the Harlem Renaissance period and the more I read the more I wanted to read. The fiction of this period was powerful and empowering all at the same time. It spoke to my own degradation and gave me hope for a better tomorrow. It gave me purpose for my own life and the courage to fight the good fight and never surrender.

I love to read! Inside a book I escape into someone else's life. There is something wonderful about turning to the next page of a wonderful story. Something intoxicating about the smell of the book and the story it brings to life. Reading brings me joy, and these days with my health in the balance, I find solace in my books.

I spent hours in my bedroom sequestered with the door closed reading the classics from the Harlem Renaissance, Hughes, Larsen, Hurston, Wright and Baldwin. Books became my escape and my salvation. The fiction of this period was powerful and empowering all at the same time. It gave me purpose for my own life and the courage to fight the good fight and never surrender.

Reading is the one thing that the pain of my life could never take away from me. It was the thing that helped to make it better. And even today, living with AIDS, books continue to be the safest place for me. It’s the one thing that belongs to me that AIDS cannot take away from me.The RLTReads book club will be books that I choose. It’s me sharing a part of me with you that has nothing to do with AIDS. It’s actually in spite of AIDS.

The RLTReads book club will be books that I choose. It’s me sharing a part of me with you that has nothing to do with AIDS. It’s actually in spite of AIDS. I have read hundreds of books from many different genres and I will pick the best of my reads over the years. I warn you, it will not be exclusively white or black, male or female, fiction or non fiction, it will be all of them.

I’m so excited and I’m grateful to everyone who wants to be a part of this venture. We already have 110 Book Club Members. You can email me @ RLTReads@raelewisthornton.com. The Twitter hashtag is #RLTReads. We can make this book club as wonderful as we want to make it. Who says that Oprah has to have the only ownership to a wonderful book club?

This Month We are Reading In My Fathers House by E Lynn Harris

Read along and join our discussion July 19th at 7 pm CST

For more Tea with Rae "Vlogs" Click here to visit her youtube channel

Monday, March 21, 2011

Monday Reflection: Remember!

Sometimes it feels like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders. I know you can relate. The hits just keep coming and coming, and you wonder if there is even a God up there.

Stop being all righteous! You know I'm telling the truth. Let me be clear, deep down you don't really question if there is a God, but you do wonder if His plan for your life is gonna get any better.

You know what I'm saying, we ask ourselves, "Am I ever gonna get a breakthrough?" Some of us are even bold enough to ask God, like me, "Hey Home Boy, I know you up there," is what I say, "But Lord, it sure don't feel like it right now."

Sometimes the pain is so heavy you can't help but to wonder, if joy does comes in the morning, like the Bible says, how many more mornings before that joy shows up with the sunlight? A couple of weeks ago I blogged about trying to make sense out of suffering. How we misquote the Bible as a way to find meaning and provide hope. How those sayings sometimes become our God. It's what people throw at us when they don't know what to say or can't make sense out of the suffering. But they only provide superficial comfort in the midst of a crisis. Here's the link.

The hurt is the hurt and telling me to think I'm better don't take away the hurt nor does it instantly make the pain go away. At the moment, what you are going through is concrete! Like right now, I have an opportunistic infection related to having AIDS. I have drug resistant herpes. You can read about it HERE.

My vulva is raw and red as if someone took pliers and pulled back my skin. And this week the infection started bleeding. My pain level is at a 10 all day and walking is so painful I don't even want to get out of bed. I started IV medication to treat it last week and the side effects of the IV medication and the medication that I have to take to protect my kidneys from the IV medication is kicking my tail. Nausea, dizziness, fatigue, and so on. This, of course, on the back of just getting over pneumonia and having to make the hard decision to sell some of my jewelry, handbags and designer shoes to keep food on my table. It's like, Damn! Can it get any worse, huh? Sometimes I want to give God a "side eye." But in the end, I keep it moving through it all.

I get asked often, how I do it. How do I take hit after hit and seem to keep it moving in spite of it all? How do I get out of bed when literally, the pain is almost unbearable. And let's not even talk about the emotional baggage around it all, knowing that years ago I could have made different choices that would have rendered me different outcomes for today.

So how do I get out of bed with the weight of the world on me and the pain is squeezing the joy out of me? Yes, I pray and I read the Bible for comfort, don't get me wrong there. My faith is the center of my strength.

The substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. We quote it often, I know, I know. But, it's hard when you don't seem to have a tangible. And just telling me joy comes in the morning don't make it so.

I Remember! I Remember my history with God. Just like the Children of Israel, I draw from my own experiences with God. We rarely think of ourselves in terms of having history with God, but just like Israel was living history, so are we. But typically we rely on the Bible stories to guide us, rather than our own history with God. But even in that sometimes it seems a little far fetched to take the stories we read in the Bible and translate it into a RIGHT NOW blessing. It's not that we don't believe, but gee, I know you wanta say, "Ain't nothing ever seem to happen that quickly for me."

So, in the reality of all of this, how do I keep it altogether? I Remember! Yes, remember my history with God. I Remember what He has done for me to keep me grounded. He's capable, whether He does it or not. Each morning when my body is in pain and my spirit is hanging in the balance, I get out of bed because I Remember. I Remember that a year ago I prayed every day that God would bless me with a one bedroom apartment. Having downsized from a three bedroom three years ago, the studio I was living in was closing in on me.

My prayer was simple: Lord, I don't want to wake up in the morning and have to look at my bed for another year. Please bless me with a one bedroom so I can get up in the morning and go into my living room and have tea. I can't take looking at my bed another year. This is crushing my spirit. I need a change. It don't have to be in a fancy highrise, just clean, decent and affordable. 

In September, I moved into my one bedroom apartment. Nothing fancy, but I have made it my home! So when my spirit is crushing down, I Remember that God answered my prayer. So I crawl out of my bed and open my living room curtains, let the sun shine in and turn the tea kettle on. I dare not squander this gift, because I'm waiting on another gift!

I Remember! That God has brought me through time and time again. No, it's not always the way I expect it to be, but it was deliverance nonetheless. I Remember! Like when someone I have never met donates money to my Pay Pal or I get a check in the mail from a stranger when all I had in the bank was $10.00. No, it wasn't tons of dollars were I could go shopping and buy "shit" I didn't need anyway, but I could go to the grocery store.

I Remember! That He always makes a way!

As a side note, I remember the day when I would've gotten that money and made some stupid rationalization about how to spend it. "Well, it was a gift," I would say, "so I should get something special for me." Right, with no food in the fridge and bills still unpaid, and you still waiting on your breakthrough. Sorry to say, God blessed you, but umm, you squandered that gift. You could have been one step closer to deliverance if you had used that money for it's purpose. That's a demon that I had to WORK hard to destroy. 

But back to the point. I Remember, that He didn't cause my situation. We are quick to blame God for our own shit. I made choices that I must painfully live with. And the unfortunate part about consequences is that they sometimes remain a lifetime. Can't undo what's been done. So I have to suffer through this painful drug resistant herpes. It is what it is. I Remember! This situation I'm in is about choices I made!

I Remember! I made it through the last infection and the last treatment in one piece. Yes, it was painful, but I was stronger than the pain. I Remember my resilience!

In my chaos, I also Remember He creates clarity and purpose. I Remember! No, Remembering does not take away the pain in the right now. Some pain is what you have to experience. There is no life without pain; even Jesus hurt.

But Remembering provides clarity in dealing with the pain. I Remember that life is a precious gift from God and when I wake in the morning I'm still a part of God's earthly plan. And with this knowledge I dare not squander this gift. I keep working on the tangible things in my life. My Ministry! My Purpose! My Gifts and Talents that God has blessed me with, even when I hurt, even in the pain.

In this Lenten season, Remember that while on the Cross, even Jesus had clarity and purpose in the midst of His pain. Yes, He Hurt! He even lamented... My God, my God, why have they forsaken me?

But in the pain, He dared not squander the living for the dying. I'm still blown away when I think about how much goodness He did while on the cross dying. Some of us would have been so mad at both the world and God. Stuck in our misery. We wouldn't have given a damn about anyone else but what we felt at that moment.

Think about it. He conducted His ministry from the cross; He forgave the thief; He comforted Mary and John; He even forgave those who prosecuted Him; all while he had nails in His hands, nails in His feet, nails in His sides and a crown of thorns on His head, all while fulfilling His ultimate purpose. Now that's Keeping it Moving. #ForReal #ForReal.

And this is how I keep going. I Remember my own history with God in this world. I Remember that there is clarity and purpose for my life even in the chaos and pain. I find my strength in Remembering that God has been constant and ever present in my life whether it was expected or unexpected. And I dare not squander His presence in my life! I dare not squander my gifts and talents because of my pain. I dare not halt my ministry because life is hard and facing my demons even harder.

I Remember that life without fulfilled purpose is no life at all and I dare not fulfill my purpose because of the pain...

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