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, July 30, 2012

Monday Reflection: Saved, Single and Sex

I was invited to be a part of a Twitter Chat hosted by author Sophia Nelson last night on being saved, single and sex. She began with the simple question, "Is it possible in a world driven by sex and shaken up to NOT have sex despite being saved?'

My initial response was this, "Yes, but the issue is larger than the sex itself. We are so husband driven that we sacrifice our faith walk for the love of a man." I'll come back to this in a moment.

Now, it was a good, thought provoking and lively discussion amongst Christian women. But I have to be honest,  I'm real irritated by the, "Super Saved" women whose only answer is the Bible.  Life is too complex to just throw the Bible at people.

Knowing God's word and living God's word are two different things and they often come at different stages in one's life. That's the real world we live in and truth be told, that was the real world in the Bible. There are countless examples when the knowing and living didn't work out the way God wanted the people to.

 People are shaped by their life's journey and that journey typically informs our thinking and way of life; for the good and even for the worst. It even informs every decision we make. How we see life typically determines how we live life from the day we come from our mother's womb. This is an undeniable fact! With this in mind, people's spiritual journey is also shaped by their larger journey.

Take me for example, I have never been a drinker, druggie nor smoked cigarettes. It was easy for me because I made a decision in my life early. I knew my parents were heroin addicts for as long as I remember that I could talk. As a result, I hated drugs with a passion. I felt they had cheated me out of a real family. I never knew my father, he was killed when I was 3 and I didn't meet my mother until I was 18. I determined at a young age that drugs were BAD! My step-grandmother who raised me, the woman I call Mama, was a functional alcoholic and an avid smoker and I was turned off from both. Let me pause to say, I beat those odds, addiction runs in the family.

Ummmm, but did I really beat those odds? I over shopped for clothes, jewelry and also for someone to love me and they both were shaped by my young life. Now let me pause again to say; I accepted Christ as my Savior at age 7. I've been in the church all my life. Mama didn't go to church, but her mother did and Grandmama decided that her grand-baby wasn't going to hell like her daughter.

 While I grew up in the church and understood that fornication and over indulging were both a sin, I had a HARD time with the two. First off, I was taught from a young age to touch. It became a way of life for me, so by the time I was an adolescent,  sex was a natural thing for me. By the time I was a young woman, sex was a natural part of my relationships.

Yes, I was doing what I should, so I thought, looking for a husband to share my life with. But how can you find love, if you don't have sex?  My sexuality was ignited in me at such a young age, I knew touching before I knew God's word. There were no answers to those questions. So for me sex was a normal part of a relationship. I didn't even know what healthy was. I have NEVER heard a pastor preach about sexual abuse when there are examples of it in the Bible. Tamar, David's daughter was raped by her brother Amon and David dismissed the issue because Amon was his first born and he loved him.

How powerful would it have been for me as a young girl to be told by my pastor that sexual abuse was also a sin against God? I wonder if it would have made a difference? I wonder if I would have sought help? I didn't even know what my uncle and big brother were doing to me was wrong. I just saw it as special attention and as I got older, I could only see it as fornication. That is, until I was 29 years old.

Change of my behavior was a slow process. The older I got, I used to think something was wrong with me. Grandmama used to say, "When you get Jesus a change comes about. You get a new walk and a new talk." Someone even tweeted that to me last night. I wanted to say, "Gurlllll who you lying to, yourself?" Change takes time!

 In my twenties, I thought I was deformed or something. How could I love the Lord as much as I did, see God moving in my life and still sin? I done laid on the altar a many a day. I would pray and pray and pray to be changed but my wounds were deep and needed to heal from within.  To no avail I couldn't get that Christian living right. Even becoming infected with HIV didn't stop me from having sex.

I didn't understand that I had to learn to love myself as much as I love God and God's word. I needed to first understand that my induction into sex was not love but a total violation of my young self.  Then I had to learn what was normal, and then I had to apply the normal to my abnormal life. Change is hard and takes lots of work. And at 50 years of age, I'm still a work in progress!

Now on the other-side of this coin, you take a woman who has also been taught that her life is not validated unless she gets her a husband and you have a similar dynamics.  In the 21st century I still see it in our families, no matter what a woman accomplishes in her life,  the question is always, "Girl when you gonna get married?"

The pressure to marry is overwhelming and it starts at a young age. Recently, I saw a tweet from a young girl that I know is just going into her freshman year of high school; she tweeted a picture of her dream wedding dress. We grow up knowing that one's life is not complete without a man. That's more pressure than God's word. God's word is in a book, but those looking, watching and judging me on being a woman are in my life every day. We get measured by how soon we can catch a man. I even get measured on my ability to still get a man with AIDS. For Real...

We throw God's word at women, but we give them no tools to live God's word. And what about Christian men? Is there a double standard? I see more beating up on single Christian Women than men. It takes two to tango. Lawd knows, I've fucked the shit out of my preacher boyfriend on Saturday night and sat in church with him on Sunday morning.

 The church is part of the problem. They want women to marry but give us no tools to manage healthy dating and quoting the Bible is not enough. There are so many wounded women out there looking for someone to love them. We need to help them heal in order for them to live whole. The focus should be on healing not fornication. When we help women to heal we won't even have to tell them to close their legs. They will want the best for themselves and they will work on that best.

We put a lot of emphasis on fornication but there are other issues that women face .We have some single and saved women who over eat and over shop.  I over shopped too... But it was a neutral part of my upbringing. Mama was hell on wheels, cussed, fussed and beat the shit out of me, but she bought me new clothes every two weeks when she got paid. The more she bought, the more I asked. Clothes became the only love that my mother gave to me. It filled a void for me that carried over until adulthood. I had to tackle one issue at a time.  Prayer, positive support and therapy. I said it last week, knowing better doesn't always mean doing better. We have to work through all the things that got us to this place in the first beginning. But first we have to understand that there is a problem.  

 We help to foster dysfunctionality in women with this one track Christianity.  We need to help women work on their wholeness and when you work on their wholeness, one by one all of their lifestyle will become in sync with what God wants for us not just of us.  We need to talk to women about sex in other ways than fornication. Women need to understand the emotional toll of  being in and out of relationships that looking for Mr. Right brings. And what about the mind body connection; in time the beat up spirit manifests in physical ways. How many times can you fall in and out of love and not be damaged? With this one track discussion, women are not free to have an honest discussion about their sexuality. 

We spend more time talking about being righteous, when women really need to be whole. Wholeness leads to righteous living, not just for your soul, but for your body and spirit.  The church sometimes becomes a band-aid of God's word. We have made this a religion of rules rather than one of grace. Women end up fuckin in the dark, and in darkness, you can't see the flaws or the condoms. I prefer a Saved woman to have sex in the light than to hide in the dark. Maybe in the light she can see herself and her relationships clearer. Change can come about in the light, but the dark allows you to live a lie. There's an African Proverb I quote often that says, "He who conceals his disease cannot expect to be cured" That's the truth 24/24. The dark allows a sore to fester than grow. In the light you can see how deep the wound really is. 

Now, I know there are a lot of ministers whose call is  solely to save souls.  Yes winning souls to Christ is important. But my call is to help saved souls become whole. 

The Bible says all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God. Grace came so that we might have life and live whole. I'm not trying to be Jesus, Jr., just a child of God. If I could be Jesus Jr., then there would have been no need for His death. Jesus came that we might have life more abundantly. I think we need to help people get to that abundance.

The other fact is, all we can really do is share Salvation with others. We don't, "Save," not one person, Salvation comes from God. And whether you want to accept it or not, Salvation that comes from God is sealed. When are we going to stop trying to, "Save," Saved people over and over again and start helping them live whole?

We must help women unpack the issues that block them from being a better them. This means tools and an environment to be open and transparent, free of judgments.  I bet half of the women sitting in church on Sunday morning wouldn't dare tell you that they did that thang the night before. 

I promise you, there is more to a woman's wholeness than how many times she opens her legs. I also promise you that how many times she opens her legs is connected to her searching and or her brokenness. Let's start at her searching and her brokenness and then work our way down to the end result, her sex. 

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