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, April 30, 2012

Monday Reflection: Use What You Got and Watch God!

Many of you know that I have been struggling with my critics and the idea that my approach to my work is not "appropriate." No matter what my blog is about for that day, I get people who post comments that have nothing to do with that post, but rather a comment that says that I need to get it together and be more "appropriate" for a Christian because my approach is not reflective of "Jesus."

On the other side of the coin, I've been struggling with the very very high volume to my blog monthly and the fact that I have not been able to find sponsors for this awesome work, while the fluff fluff blogs got all kind of ads on their blogs and the male gay sites have all kinds of HIV medication advertisements on them, when it's clear to me, that when people go to a dating site they are thinking about sex, not about how to live healthy.

While I know in my spirit that I am doing what God has called me to do, it still touches a cord. Still, I've been faithful and will continue to be faithful to my work. I believe that I made myself clear last week, critics get a life other than mine!!

Then, on yesterday I was just talking to Trey on his visit over about the blog issue and in the end we both concluded, that I  am doing God's work and that's the most important thing, just keep tweeting and blogging, God will bless me in God's time.

But lets be honest, its hard when you are trying to keep the lights on. Ummmm, now don't get me wrong, I do have food, but just like the Children of Israel in the Wilderness, we want to store all the manna we can, rather than trust God day to day. This day to day living is scary as hell. For Real!!!

 I am no different from  many of you, I moan and moan. I even moan about my bracelet business, RLT Collection. Yep, and then God reminds me in His own way to get it together. In my devotional time this morning, I opened the devotion that I should have read on yesterday, but didn't. I'm thinking now that I needed to have that conversation with Trey yesterday before I read it, just to allow it to marinate in my spirit. He and I concluded that we are who we are, and it's a natural just like our skin. We can't be nothing other than what we are. Anyhoo, I read this devotional from my church and it spoke VOLUMES to my spirit, so I'm sharing it with you unaltered at the bottom of this blog post.

Let me say this, don't get stuck with the way things should be done. Your gifts and talents belong to you for God to use for His glory and the goodness of others. Don't get stuck on why other people's projects are growing at a faster rate then yours. Don't get stuck on what your critics have to say. The Bible say's, God calls and God equips. And as sure as I will be 50 years old in 23 more days, the Bible says' God will make room for your gifts. " The doors and heart you are suppose to get through, you will.

I so needed this reminder this morning, David didn't try to be a fancy fighter, he used the tools that he was most familiar with, 5 stones and a sling shot. I'm sure those looking on started to mumble amongst themselves, "This boy most be mad." It was unconventional, actually it was unheard of, but God can use ANYTHING. In this text we never see where David had a ounce of fear or doubt. David, knew what he knew and  that was enough for him and in the end, God used what he knew.

We have to be willing to walk in our gifts and talents with assurance that God will use them. We put limits on God when we say it can only be done in one particular way. I serve a God that turned water into wine and raised the dead to life. Just continue to do what you know. Your gifts are yours and God will use you whether, Baker Man or Garbage Man. The Bible says, God will make room for your gift. Yep, this devotional was exactly what I need, it blessed me in so many ways.

Yep I have to get over myself. I keep whinning about my bracelet business. I say, "Some people get all of the breaks. When is it going to happen to me?"  The quality of my gemstones are far superior to much of what I see out there and I believe so are a lot of my designs.  I moan and moan. Get over it Rae, no the Basketball wives are not wearing my bracelets on TV, But yet, I get a new customer every single week. See, God will make room for your gifts and use what you got.

I think I came to a come to meeting with Jesus understanding this morning!! I'm done with compassions. It makes me no better than my critics that compare my work to the other Christians and or ministers. 

I'm done with complaining. I will continue to do the WORK and however God blesses me, I will accept it graciously. I think we cheat God when we complain about what we don't have, rather than celebrate what we do.

In the end, I think I will appreciate my accomplishments more, by getting it the old fashion way, hard work and determination. In the days of reality TV everybody wants everything quick and in a hurry.

But in the real world, growth takes a lot of hard work and time. So I re-invest over and over again in my bracelet line. I'm always at my bead board coming up with new designs to make the Collection the best.  I will continue to reinvest and keep it fresh. Yep, build RLT Collection, one bracelet at a time and one customer at a time. But be assured, before I die, RLT Collection will be a household name.

Yep, I will continue to speak, blog and tweet and at the end of the day, the testimonies I get via email ands tweets about how one of my tweets, my blog or hearing me speak touched a life, it's worth more then any amount of money.

At the end of the day, all you can do is use the gifts and talents you have. Don't be something you are not. When you are something you are not, then you are living a lie and God wants us to live as He intended for us to be. Your journey is your own, don't make it someone else's

Today, I'm even more convicted and dedicated in all that I do.  I GET IT!! My gifts are my own, whether it's speaking, tweeting, blogging or designing a bracelet.

And the Bible tells me,  if I continue to use what I have it is just enough for God to work with. Stop boxing God into what you think is right and the best way. Be like David, use what you got and watch God do the rest.

Today's Reading: 1 Samuel 16-17; Psalm 48

Text for this reflection: 1 Samuel 17:38-40

Then Saul dressed David in his own gear, putting a coat of armor on him and a bronze helmet on his head. David strapped his sword on over the armor, but he couldn't walk around well because he'd never tried it before. "I can't walk in this," David told Saul, "because I've never tried it before." So he took them off. He then grabbed his staff and chose five smooth stones from the streambed. He put them in the pocket of his shepherd's bag and with sling in hand went out to the Philistine.
(Common English Bible)

With good reason, the David and Goliath story is so well known that it has become a cultural trope. Who can resist the underdog--a boy who was able to defeat a foe most considered invincible? We cherish these types of stories because they defy all the odds. We want to know how such things could happen when our own experiences tell us otherwise.

David prevailed because God was on his side, of course, but this small excerpt shows David's success was due to more than just God's favor. David was successful because he stayed true to who he was. Rather than accept the armor and disguise himself behind someone else's idea of power, David boldly trusts his background as a shepherd to be enough.

The eighteenth-century rabbi Zusya once remarked, "In the world to come, God will not ask me why I was not more like Moses. God will ask me why I was not more like Zusya." We have each been uniquely gifted by God, but sometimes those gifts are disguised beneath the armor the world prescribes for us. Perhaps we should take a cue from David and let our true selves show--we just may find that who we are is exactly what is needed.

God, I give you thanks for creating me uniquely. Help me to resist the temptation to be something other than who you created me to be--to instead know that my gifts are exactly what is needed to make a difference in this world. Amen.

Written by Matthew J. Helms, Pastoral Resident
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