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, June 10, 2013

Monday Reflection: God Don't Always Give Neat Blessings!

"Your Misery is your Ministry," the young man Elijah said from the pulpit on Sunday. I shot straight up! "You better say that," I shouted at him. Elijah, the speaker for our youth day at my church is a member who has been living with Sickle Cell Anemia. Diagnosed at 2 months old, he walked us through his journey.  He has been in and out of the hospitals his entire life, but he never gave up.

Might I add, neither did his mother or grandmother. That's why children must have some God fearing, God loving, faithful adults in their life. Half of the problem I think today in the African-American community is that we are now creating generations of unchurched. I remember when grandmama, at least was going to make sure that child was covered in the blood. Today, we have some unchurched grandmothers, with young girls having babies younger and younger.

Elijah was surrounded by Christians and introduced to God right early. It was this foundation that undergirded his journey.  There were times when he was hospitalized two-three weeks at a time, home for a couple of weeks and then back in the hospital for another two-three weeks. His junior year he was hospitalized up to six weeks and still maintained a 3.1 GPA. Shoot, I was hospitalized for twenty-three days a few years back and I thought that I had lost my mind, if I thought at all. Study? Are you kidding me, with nurses waking you up all hours of the night.

He talked about how his life has been filled with misery and while he continues to persevere, he came to a place where he questioned God, "Why me? Why can't I be a normal child with a normal life?"

In time, he came to realize that his misery was indeed a blessing to others. His testimony could, would and did bless another person. He encouraged us to keep our faith!

You talking about setting me straight, I got right straight with my attitude, which has been some kinda funky. might I add in the last month. He reminded us that God doesn't always bless us in a neat package. Sometimes we live with misery and out of our faithfulness, God blesses us in our misery. I knew that all along, but Elijah certainly reminded me to move beyond myself and continue to be a blessing even when I feel like a mess, even when I am a mess. The bible says, "God's strength is made perfect in your weakness." Clearly young Elijah reminded me of just that on yesterday. 

He's headed to Morehouse College in the fall. In fact, he was accepted on early admissions and this was his first choice. He certainly has the spirit and demeanor of a Morehouse Man! I thought about him long and hard when I came home from church yesterday. That's why I'm up at 5:00 am, I couldn't sleep with this freshness that was given to me by this young man. He reminded me that God's history in our lives should be reassurance for our future. When I tell you I needed to hear this, I needed to hear this.

On Saturday I was at a funeral of a long time member of West Point, 68 years she was a member of our church. I sat there and for a moment I started to think about death, my death. I started to think about the hard work I'm putting into RLT Collection trying to make it a super success. For a tiny moment I asked myself these questions, Is it in vain? Will I die right on the edge of success? Will I see 55 and how much hardship will I continue to have on this journey? How much more can I take?

Elijah brought me right back to myself on Sunday! It doesn't matter when I die or how hard it is in my right now. Life is a gift from God! God has given us a life to live and flourish and thrive, not just for ourselves but for the life of others. Your suffering may be a gift to someone's else journey. It may be the thing that gives them reason to live. Someone tweeted me once, "A friend of mind said, that if you can go on so could she." That hit me hard. People watch for my tweets, wait for me to say that the tea kettle is on. If I can find a reason to live and go on so can they. I've been told that on many occasions. Sometimes I get stuck.

Well, on yesterday, young Elijah inspired me and I got unstuck. If he can go on to Morehouse and then to medical school as planned, with Sickle Cell that keeps him in and out of the hospital, I can also continue to go on. I'm getting back to my life. Thank you Elijah! Thank you for reminding me to remember my History with God. Surely no matter how difficult my days have been in the pass, God continues to hold me up. Even in my misery there has been some goodness.

I leave you with this. We expect God to bless us in a neat little package. But that's not how it works. Remember the three Hebrew Boys? We always talk about how God delivered them from the fiery furnace. But no one talks about the fact they they were in captive down in Babylon. You can search the Old Testament all day long and you will never find that they were delivered out of bondage. 

The bible says that God lifted them up in their bondage and made them leaders in that strange land. I think it is so awesome that in your weakness God can shine the brightest. You may not get a neat blessing; but for sure, if you remain faithful, God will give you everything you need to make it through your fire and if you get burned, God will give you an ointment to sooth the pain.

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