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, December 10, 2012

Monday Reflection: God Will Make Room For Your Gifts...

I spent 9 months in my mothers womb, sucking on an umbilical cord that was laced in heroine. I came into this world prematurely and broken, but God had already crafted a plan for my life the moment my daddy's sperm met my mothers egg. I was born to heroine addicts, and that was the only role they had in my existence; providing the vehicle for my life. For sure God shaped this journey for me out of the make-up of my existence.

People always want to know how I did this or that. How did I get on the cover of magazines, or on Oprah and Nightline? And I've never been confused, this is not of my doing, but God's! I was simply obedient to the call, purpose and mission for my life and God did the rest.

God knows the end from the beginning. God knew that I would make the choices that I made based on what I knew and understood about life. What people fail to realize is that we are all shaped by own social location; meaning, ones journey and all that it encompasses, from who our mother is, to the neighborhood we grow up in. It's interesting, research shows that adult children of alcoholic's tend to be either underachievers or overachievers, both shaped by living with an alcoholic. For sure that has been my case. I'm an overachiever to the extreme.

Even my understanding of sex and love was shaped out of an abusive family. Sexually violated before I really understood what sex was. It shaped me and made me the woman that I am, for the good, the bad and the indifferent. HIV/AIDS was my destination based on my understanding of life and how I use the free will that God blesses each of us with.

So here I am, honest, transparent and candid with no filter. I say in my book, The Politics of Respectably, that I am a stray dog with a designer bow on her head. For Real..

But what's so wonderful about God is that God can, will and does use everything and everybody. The Bible says, "The Rejected Stone became the Corner Stone." This is my testimony, that God saw in me what no one else could see. My step-grandmother, the one who raised me from age 6, the one that I called Mama and depended on for food, shelter and love told me and I quote her, "You ain't never gonna be shit," but God made her words a lie unto herself that she couldn't face, not even at death.

Everyone won't see your life through the same lenses as God. They can only see them through their understanding of life. That is why my membership as an Honorary member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. was rescinded. They could only see me through the lenses of their understanding of womanhood. My tweets about how I felt I was being treated were deemed "vulgar" and that in and of itself made me no longer "acceptable" for their sisterhood. I find it interesting that they wanted the part of me that was on the cover of magazines as a renown AIDS Activist. One who could further their HIV/AIDS agenda when they were actively pursuing one. But I'm the same person, on the cover of magazines, with all the name recognition and work around HIV/AIDS that I was the day that I tweeted that I felt like Rose McKinney, the executive director of Delta was talking to me like a, "Bitch on the street," and if I had been another Honorary member like Ruby Dee, she would have had an entirely different tone.

Rev. Clay Evans
In my wholeness, you can not have one without the other. I found this dilemma also after I accepted my call to preach the Gospel. My father in ministry the Reverend Dr. Clay Evans got it. He didn't think twice that God had called me to ministry and he made sure that he licensed me and made himself clear to the entire church body! I was his daughter in ministry, the end!

I remember my interview with the Dean at McCormick Theological Seminary, she said to me, absolutely we would love to be the place that help you develop in ministry and they offered me a merit scholarship.

But by the time I graduated from seminary Rev. Evans had retired and my new Pastor at Fellowship M. B. Church wasn't sure about me. I can't speak for him, only what he said to me and how I interpreted it.

 Well, at first he said he would ordain me after I gradated from seminary. Then after 2 reschedules he told me that I wasn't ready. Other ministers had offered to ordain me from day one, but I had no reason to believe that my Pastor would not do what he said he would do. And honestly, out of my love and loyalty to Rev. Evans and Fellowship I stayed and tried to work it through. But after 4 years of what I deem bullshit, I left. I had it! I remember once, I was asked to speak at a church of one of my Pastor's friends and when he got word, he called me to discuss it and at the end of the conversation, he said, "Don't embarrass me up their." That spoke volumes and told me what he truly thought of my work. I shook it off. But over time, I couldn't allow myself to stay in a space that didn't see my value or worth.

So I left and went to Fourth Presbyterian Church. It was the perfect place for me to just sit still and wait on God to give me direction. No one knew me at this predominantly white church on the Gold Coast, so I knew that there would be no gossip about me leaving Fellowship. I was still trying to stay respectful.

After about two years at Fourth Church I knew I needed to be somewhere. God had called me to be a minister of the Gospel and I was sitting on the pew. Not a good look to God and a waste of ones gifts. But I had no idea how to begin this journey so I did noting. I was paralyzed. doubting myself and my call.  Where could I go and not get caught up in church politics? Especially because of the old boys club of ministers in the city of Chicago.  So I stayed stuck. While I continued to do my public ministry, I knew that  God wanted me to go higher. But just the thought of being demoralized again, just because I beat to a different drum  kept me on that Pew at Fourth.
Then about the fourth year, God said enough is a enough and God intervened. I love how God shows up and shows out.

One day I was headed to the post office to mail RLT Collection orders and when I turned the corner on Oak Street Pastor L Bernard Jakes was standing right there. We talked for almost 1:30 minutes, about everything. He had been seeing my Facebook post about my health, on and off IV med's. He had heard about Delta rescinding my membership, at the time, it was still a fresh wound and everyone was talking. He had heard that I wasn't at Fellowship anymore and we talked and talked and talked about it all. Standing on Oak Street he became my Pastor. He ministered to me right in front of Prada and I hadn't even joined West Point Missionary Baptist Church, had never stepped through the doors of West Point.

When I walked away I knew in my heart that Pastor. J was my Pastor and that I would be cleaved to him. It was God's perfect timing. A month later I found myself in crisis and reached out to him, a week later I joined West Point and started preparing for my Ordination Exam.

Yesterday, Rev. Dr. L Bernard Jakes ordained me as a minister in the Gospel. The ordination sermon was perched by, Rev. Dr. Reginald Wade Williams, the Pastor of First Baptist Church of University Park, IL. My GOD this man preached!

He preached to my spirit. It felt like he had peeked into my life and crafted that sermon just for me.

He said God calls you and your uniqueness to do a specific work. He went on to say that some people may not understand your call but don't give up, don't change, don't conform. When you conform to what people want you to be, they become your God! That thing hit me in the gut!

I have remain true to my gifts and the call on my life. God crafted this specific work, shaped out of my journey. It may not be how some see ministry, but like David, I cannot wear Saul's armour, I can only use my five stones and a sling shot to tackle the modern day Goliath's.

God can see in you what a man cannot see, what an organization cannot see  or even what your mother cannot see.

But be clear, for sure, God will not have you to operate blindly. In Gods time, you will have an organic understanding of your life and it's purpose.

The key to your success is obedience and perseverance. Keep pressing toward the mark of high calling that God has on your life. God will make room for your gifts. They may not be the doors you think you should go through, or the "popular," or even the ones you want to go through, but they will be the doors you are suppose to go through for the work that God has for you to do.

Often times we spend more time worrying  about what people think of us, rather than using our gifts for God's purpose. I have chosen to be obedient! I understand my gifts. My candor, transparency and honesty is a gift. My ability to use my life in a way that it enriches the life of others is a gift. My ability to meet people where they are at, not where I want them to be is a gift. My ability to unpack life's issues is a gift. I dare NOT squander my gifts to meet the approval of others.

God will reward you for walking boldly in your gifts. It has taken me 12 years since I was license as a minster, to the time I was ordained with all rights as a member of the clergy. I get it today. God's time is not our time. The best thing I did was to sit still. For sure my life was suppose to intersect with L. Bernard Jakes and the West Point Family. The day you join West Point, the entire congregation shouts out to you, "Welcome Home!" Now that was the truth to the tenth power.

Don't give up... Don't give in... Don't conform... Walk proudly in the gifts God has blessed you with and God will make room for your gifts.

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