For nearly five years my body reluctantly rolled out of bed between 3:15 & 3:45, depending on how important I thought bathing was for the day. That’s what you do when you host a morning show. Guess I’m kind of an oddball because I liked being up early, driving into work in the pitch black feeling as if I was the only one in the world who was awake. My favorite time to cruise the empty streets was when serenity blanketed our Colorado town with newly fallen snow.
One morning, however, as I exited the house to head to the radio station my heart seized with fear. I saw out of the corner of my eye what appeared to be an apparition. It was eerily large, white, and flowing. Sheer, sudden fright prevented my head from turning directly toward what I presumed was visiting me from the netherworld.
As I stood paralyzed and alone in the driveway my mind tried to make sense of what was there. “There’s a logical explanation for this. It’s not what you think. Be brave,” I assured myself, while the electricity that shot up my spine into my skull began to dissipate. I slowly forced my inert body toward and into the car, then quickly shut and locked the door. With the car started, I finally mustered the courage to turn my head in the direction of what I sensed was still there…and it was. My sleepy eyes strained to focus on what turned out to be toilet paper hanging from our neighbors' trees. Someone had TPd their house overnight!
Talk about some good fodder for the radio show that morning! We opened our first break with the X-Files theme song as I shared my “ghostly encounter” and had a good laugh.
It’s funny how today I repeatedly have that same pep talk with myself that I had those many years ago frozen on the pavement. Whenever there’s a strange sensation in my head, or I experience shortness of breath, have a dull ache in my remaining breast, unexplained leg pain, etc… I wonder if cancer has spread and tell myself, “Kim, there’s a logical explanation for this. It’s not what you think. Be brave.”
Four days from now will be my 1-year anniversary, denoting when my surgeon called with biopsy results indicating my breast cancer diagnosis. I plan to mark the special occasion with a mammogram and maybe some cake. Because nothing says let's celebrate cancer like a mammogram and a pretty bakery cake. Frankly, anytime you have a mammogram it should be followed up with cake. Cake makes all things better. It's the grown-up Band-Aid.
As the anniversary approaches, strange physical symptoms pop up throughout my body like pinball machine lights. Honestly, I don’t worry…but I do wonder…repeating to myself, “There’s a logical explanation for this. It’s not what you think. Be brave.” It’s in these times of pondering that I’m especially thankful for the strength I derive from Christ and Sacred Scripture.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Truthfully, moments exist when I wish I could return to my carefree past when the scariest thing I confronted was toilet paper blowing in the wind. But then I consider how far I’ve come. To turn back the hands of time would be to lose what I’ve gained through real life experience… which is knowing God is God, that He is with me, and that He is for me. I need not fear.
Don’t let what goes “bump in the night” steal your hope or joy, but trust in the Lord and be brave.
Families from around the world are familiar with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, which offers hope every year to thousands of children battling cancer. I’m compelled to share some of the history behind the hospital and what we know of St. Jude Thaddeus because today, October 28, is his feast day.
Before proceeding, if you’re wondering what a feast day is, it’s not an occasion to hang pinatas and play pin-the-tail on the donkey. Feast days are typically days on the liturgical calendar that commemorate a saint’s death, if the date is known. That person, often a martyr for the Christian faith, is remembered with special prayers and possibly scripture readings. (Some saints have tasty recipes associated with them that the faithful create then post to Pinterest.)
Very little is known about St. Jude from the Bible, other than he was one of the 12 Apostles of Jesus, a brother of St. James, and a relative of Jesus. The only words of Judas recorded in the Bible are found in the book of John when the 12 are gathered with Jesus in the upper room for the last supper:
“Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, "But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?" ~ John 14:22
In retrospect, I bet Judas (not Judas Iscariot) was thankful some writer made that important distinction. Would you forever want to be confused with the man who betrayed Jesus? I think not. Maybe that’s why he started going by Jude (or is that an English invention?) I can just see him meeting an acquaintance now, “Hi, you can call me Thaddeus, or you can call me Jude, just don’t call me Judas or late for supper!”
The Catholic in me did cartwheels when I discovered the story behind the founding of St. Jude Children’s Hospital in Memphis, TN. You may do them too, even if you’re not Catholic, once you hear the story.
The following is copied, in part, from St. Jude’s official website:
More than 70 years ago, Danny Thomas, then a struggling young entertainer with a baby on the way, visited a Detroit church and was so moved during the Mass, he placed his last $7 in the collection box. When he realized what he’d done, Danny prayed for a way to pay the looming hospital bills. The next day, he was offered a small part that would pay 10 times the amount he’d given to the church. Danny had experienced the power of prayer.
Two years later, Danny had achieved moderate acting success in Detroit, but he was struggling to take his career to the next level. Once again, he turned to the church. Praying to St. Jude Thaddeus, the patron saint of hopeless causes, Danny asked the saint to “help me find my way in life, and I will build you a shrine.”
His career took a turn for the better, and soon he moved his family to Chicago to pursue career offers. A few years later, at another turning point in his life, Danny visited a church and remembered his pledge to St. Jude. Again he prayed to St. Jude and repeated his pledge to build a shrine to the saint if he would show him the way.
In the years that followed, Danny's career flourished through films and television, and he became an internationally known entertainer. He remembered his pledge to build a shrine to St. Jude.
In the early 1950s, Danny began discussing with friends what concrete form his vow might take. Gradually, the idea of a children’s hospital, possibly in Memphis, Tennessee, took shape. In 1955, Danny Thomas and a group of Memphis businessmen who had agreed to help support his dream seized on the idea of creating a unique research hospital devoted to curing catastrophic diseases in children. More than just a treatment facility, this would be a research center for the children of the world.
Danny started raising money for his vision of St. Jude in the early 1950s. By 1955, the local business leaders who had joined his cause began area fundraising efforts, supplementing Danny's benefit shows that brought scores of major entertainment stars to Memphis. Often accompanied by his wife, Rose Marie, Danny crisscrossed the United States by car, sharing his dream and raising funds at meetings and benefits. The pace was so hectic that Danny Thomas and his wife once visited 28 cities in 32 days.
Through striking improvements in the care of pediatric leukemias and numerous forms of solid tumors, St. Jude—which now has a daily operating cost of $2 million—has brought about improved health care for children all over the world. St. Jude’s physicians and scientists have pioneered treatments that have helped push the overall survival rates for childhood cancers from less than 20 percent when the hospital opened in 1962 to 80 percent today.
If you didn’t join me with the cartwheels after reading the story, it may be because you were too busy rolling your eyes. And it’s hard to do a cartwheel if your eyeballs are rolling around in your head. Trust me, I haven’t always been Catholic but I’ve been one long enough to know what gets under my Protestant friends’ skin. If you’re not Catholic and you read the whole story I commend you, even if you were grumbling aloud Why did Danny Thomas and all those Catholics pray to dead people? They can’t hear us! Where do Catholics get the notion to call anyone a saint who isn’t living on earth? Why have a so-called feast day? That’s a little macabre. None of this is in the Bible.
There are so many misconceptions about the Catholic Church that I like to build bridges of understanding whenever possible. I don’t mind eye-rolling, honestly, so long as it’s educated eye-rolling. So, in the name of Christian friendship and unity, allow me to tackle some of these Catholic-y questions to the best of my ability.
I’ll quickly cover 1) Why Catholics pray to the dead 2) Why Catholics call some dead folks “saints” and 3) Why we have feast days.
1) Catholics pray to the people they trust are in Heaven because we don’t view them as “dead” but as more alive in Christ than you or I on earth because they are in the presence of the Living God. We believe from Hebrews 12:1 that we’re surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses, holy people who are aware of what occurs on earth and are rooting us on as we continue our race to the finish. We ask the saints to pray for us as we would ask a dear friend in a Bible study group to pray for us. Interestingly, John saw in Revelation 5:8 the 24 elders holding bowls full of incense that were the prayers of the saints. Why did they collect all of those prayers? Hmmmm…
2) Catholics recognize that the Bible calls Christ-followers here on earth saints. We know from 1 Corinthians 1:2 “To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours.” We’re called to be saints together with ALL those who in EVERY PLACE call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. I’d strongly suggest that those in Heaven are calling on the name of the Lord, Jesus. So, do we stop being saints once we earn our heavenly reward? To be a saint is to be holy, set apart. True, the Catholic Church often refers to a select group in Heaven as canonized saints. If you want, I can explain further who they are, but since I said I’d “quickly cover” these topics, that will need to wait for another time…if you’re at all interested.
3) To understand why we have feast days, I borrowed the following from the Catholic website New Advent. “Feast Days, or Holy Days, are days which are celebrated in commemoration of the sacred mysteries and events recorded in the history of our redemption, in memory of the Virgin Mother of Christ, or of His apostles, martyrs, and saints, by special services and rest from work. A feast not only commemorates an event or person, but also serves to excite the spiritual life by reminding us of the event it commemorates. At certain hours Jesus Christ invites us to His vineyard (Matthew 20:1-15); He is born in our hearts at Christmas; on Good Friday we nail ourselves to the cross with Him; at Easter we rise from the tomb of sin; and at Pentecost we receive the gifts of the Holy Ghost. Every religion has its feasts, but none has such a rich and judiciously constructed system of festive seasons as the Catholic Church.” I couldn’t have stated that any better.
I genuinely enjoy learning about the saints of old and wish I had started learning about them sooner. Most served Christ courageously in life and serve as wonderful Christian role models for us today, if we’d take the time to learn about them.
It's believed that after the death and resurrection of Jesus, St. Jude traveled throughout Mesopotamia, Libya, and Persia with St. Simon preaching and building up the foundations of the early Church. St. Jude died a martyr’s death for his unwavering faith. His body was later brought to Rome and placed in a crypt under St. Peter's Basilica.
Hopefully you appreciated learning a little about St. Jude, the children’s hospital that bears his name, and why we Catholics do a few of the things we do. If you’d like to know more about St. Jude, like how he became associated with desperate situations…then click HERE for a quick top 10 list.
Happy Feast Day!
We’ve all heard of Frankincense oil, right? As kids our Sunday school teachers taught - if we were listening - that Frankincense was one of the several gifts the magi (a.k.a. astrologers) took to the royal baby Jesus.
“And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshiped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. ~ Matthew 2:11
On the surface those seem like strange gifts for a child. I mean, why not a rocking horse? We’ll explore the significance of the costly gifts later. First, why don’t we get a quick overview of this valuable oil then discover why Frankincense might be of interest to someone with breast cancer, or practically any cancer for that matter. Capice?
Straight from Wikipedia, Frankincense is an aromatic resin used in incense and perfumes, obtained from trees of the genus Boswellia, which thrive in arid, cool areas of the Arabian Peninsula, East Africa and India. The finest and most aromatic of this species is Boswellia sacra, a small tree that grows in Somalia, Oman and Yemen.
Workers painstakingly harvest the Frankincense by hand. First they scrape the bark of the tree with a small axe, which releases a liquid that hardens once exposed to air. The resin crystallizes over a week-long period, then workers return to remove the resin from the bark, which is then pulverized into powder, placed in an oil bath, and steam distilled. This process can only be done twice a year making Frankincense worth its weight in gold, or in palladium (have you seen the cost of that lately?)
The word Frankincense derives from Old French "franc encens" which means high quality incense. If you’re ever on Jeopardy and the topic of Frankincense arises you’ll be thankful you read this post.
NOW…the moment we’ve all been waiting for. How could Frankincense benefit breast cancer patients?
Surprisingly, the medical community has conducted research on the use of Frankincense oil in cultured human breast cancer cells. One study in 2011, which you can read HERE if you’re unopposed to extensive medical jargon, discovered that essential oil originating from the Boswellia sacra induces breast cancer cell-specific cytotoxicity, that’s to say the oil is toxic to cancer cells. Researchers concluded that oil from the Boswellia sacra may be effective in fighting advanced breast cancer. A similar study in 2009 suggested that Frankincense oil injected into the bladder could kill bladder cancer cells (don’t try that at home).
According to Healthline.com, Frankincense oil has been linked to treatments for ovarian, breast, and skin cancers. It explains that findings from a study conducted two years ago “suggest that breast cancer cells may stop growing and die off when exposed to frankincense oil.” The brief post also states that studies are generally done in vitro, or on cells in a laboratory. No studies have been conducted on people living with cancer, but that’s probably about to change.
An article I found on the website Eureka Alert reveals cancer surgeon and researcher Nancy DeMore is currently leading a clinical trial at the Medical University of South Carolina using Frankincense to try to treat breast and colon cancer. DeMore, who has done extensive research on new treatments for breast cancer says, "A lot of herbs and alternative therapies haven't been studied scientifically, so it's really important to know, in a well-designed clinical trial, these natural products work." DeMore started her research into natural products with curcumin in the 1990s. Curcumin, a component of the spice turmeric, discourages blood vessel growth in tumors. According to the article slowing the growth of new blood vessels in tumors is a common approach to treating many cancers.
This all sounds promising.
You don’t have to wait for results from those in white lab coats who are studying the effectiveness of Frankincense oil in the war against cancer to reap some of its other known benefits. Frankincense relieves stress, heals wounds, tightens wrinkles, reduces the appearance of scars and is a natural anti-septic good for wiping out infections. Dr. Josh Axe, who is a certified doctor of natural medicine, has a great list of FO (can I just refer to Frankincense oil as FO from here on out?) benefits that you can access HERE. It’s an amazing essential oil to keep handy.
Do a quick search and you’ll find a gazillion testimonials all over the web from people who claim FO miraculously healed neuropathy, the flu, anxiety, skin conditions, and more. I have my own testimony. I had some strange crusty lesion on my forehead for months (I know, I should have gone to the dermatologist) and after a week of applying FO on cleansed skin at night, it vanished. It’s best to combine a few drops of an essential oil with a carrier oil, especially until you know if you have a sensitivity to it or not, but I admit I didn’t do that. You know the old adage, do as I say, not as I do!
You can diffuse FO, inhale it, apply it topically and some even ingest it. But most aromatherapists discourage doing that because it can be unsafe. So don't, unless someone with better attorneys than I have tells you it's o.k.
If you want to know more about essential oils, an excellent resource is The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy by Valerie Ann Worwood. It’s the essential oils bible.
And speaking of bible…So why the gifts of gold, Frankincense and Myrrh found in thee Bible?
Many scholars tell us that those valuable items would have been standard gifts to honor a king. Guessing that’s true. From a practical standpoint, I believe it was God’s way of financially providing for Joseph, Mary and Jesus when they fled to Egypt. Who knows how difficult it was for Joseph to begin working again as a carpenter in a foreign land? Plus, he probably had to buy more tools, build another house, more furniture, etc… Can we say ch-ching?
And lastly, from a spiritual perspective, perhaps the gifts pointed to Christ as Prophet, Priest and King. Gold, desired by kings for centuries, represented Christ as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. Frankincense, burned by priests on an altar during worship, pointed to Christ as our Chief Priest and ultimate sacrifice. And Myrrh, an expensive spice that was used in burials because of its fragrant properties, pointed to Jesus as Prophet, for He knew He came to earth to die.
Not sure if the magi – even though they were wise - would have made those connections as they selected the gifts for the infant Savior. But I believe God, who inspired the wise men to follow Bethlehem’s star, divinely influenced them to give the very best and most well-suited gifts to Jesus.
Suddenly, a rocking horse doesn’t sound all that grand.
[Chime In: What are some of your favorite EOs and why/how do you use them?]
Funny that the title "Author" appears above this description yet I have no idea what to share about myself in this space! How about my first name is Kim. My last name is Tisor. Tisor rhymes with miser, though I try not to be one.
For more information about me, please visit the author page.