Thursday, May 10, 2012

Such an Inspiration: Meet Taylor

Last year, God introduced me to a precious miracle girl named Taylor.   I shared Taylor with you here on this blog last year, and I’d like to share the continuation of her story with you again this year.  First of all, Taylor is a MAJOR inspiration.  God has done many amazing things in Taylor’s life, including many miracles.  Taylor is currently a highly successful, intelligent, lovely college student with a huge heart for Jesus, but most people wouldn’t know upon first meeting Taylor, that she really shouldn’t be alive, much less succeeding excelling in college, speaking three languages, and traveling the world as a part-time missionary.

Taylor was born prematurely, weighing only 1 pound 12 ounces.  She has hydrocephalus and Cerebral Palsy, she’s survived a brain tumor (and its removal), and she’s overcome so many hurdles and obstacles in her life.  In Taylor’s 19 years of living, she’s had 15 surgeries, but she has persevered through many trials and tribulations, bringing God radiant glory through the testimony he’s building in Taylor.

God has used Taylor to bring me such encouragement, especially because our Selah has hydrocephalus, and when God delivered Selah to us, no one was sure that she would survive.  Taylor’s miraculous and inspiring testimony brought such peace to my spirit when she shared her story with me.  God has used Taylor as an instrument of sharing His peace, His love, His grace, His miracles, His mercy, and His sovereignty to many people, as she loves to travel and share Jesus with whomever God places in her path.

Taylor is currently fundraising for her upcoming medical mission trip to Israel.  Would you pretty please with a cherry on top PRAY for Taylor?  Pray for God to raise up the funds she needs, to keep her safe, to use her mightily, and to keep her healthy and well.  Taylor has a great fundraiser giveaway on her blog right now.  Please donate to help send Taylor to Israel to share Jesus with heart patients and their families who are in desperate need of the Truth and Hope of Jesus Christ.  Be sure to leave Taylor an encouraging comment to let her know you’re praying for her.

I pray you are encouraged, inspired, and blessed beyond measure by Miss Taylor.  Read her story below to see how God connected us and where He’s taking her on His journey, as recorded by Taylor:

On April 19, 2010, I stumbled across a blog where a precious little girl (with a beautiful smile) who been adopted from Serbia was undergoing massive open-heart surgery.

At the same time, I was making preparations to travel to Israel on a month-long medical mission with Shevet Achim, a Christian organization in Israel that provides life-saving heart surgery to Iraqi and Palestinian children.

The children come from crowded refugee camps in Gaza, the war-torn cities of southern Iraq, and the rural mountain villages of Kurdish territory in northern Iraq. They come to the "land of their enemy" on a mission of mercy, to receive treatment for their heart defects from some of the world's best cardiac surgeons. Shevet Achim staff bring the children and their mothers to Israel, coordinate the details of their medical care with hospital staff in Tel Aviv, and care for them at the guest house in Jerusalem. Staff and volunteers live alongside the families in the house, share meals and living space with them, support them through the frightening process of evaluation, surgery, and recovery in the hospitals, and share the love and hope of Jesus Christ with them through our words and actions.

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A Jewish Israeli paramedic escorting a Muslim Palestinian mother and her baby to the hospital.

On May 9, 2010, I stepped off of an elevator and onto the cardiac floor of a children's hospital in Tel Aviv, Israel. This was the beginning of one month that would change my life.

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A group of Israeli soldiers playing with children from Iraq and Gaza in the hospital.

I learned to navigate the winding labyrinth of hospital hallways, and spent long days in the main children's ward, Intensive Care, and surgical care units. With my Arabic language skills and the help of a Kurdish translator, I explained to the frightened kids that the unfamiliar hospital medical equipment and procedures were nothing to be afraid of; they would help the doctors heal their hearts and make them whole and healthy. I made balloon animals, colored with crayons, transformed boxes and bags into obstacle courses for tricycles and Hot Wheels cars, and frequently brought a toy doctor's kit from my backpack for the kids to play with. I held hands and offered hugs to weeping mothers as they handed their children over to medical staff in the operating room, and prayed for and with them during the long hours of waiting during surgery. We rejoiced, lifting our hands in praise and thanking God, when the doctors delivered good reports of a successful heart repair. "Al-hamdulillah!" "Spas bo Xua!" "Praise God!"
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Me spending some time in the ICU with a baby from Gaza.

In the evenings, as I updated the children's patient blogs with photos and stories of their progress, I checked Lorraine's blog for news of Chrissie's condition. I shared the miracle of Chrissie's "Boss Your Heart" day with the mothers in the Shevet house in my mixture of English, Arabic, and broken Kurdish. Wide-eyed, they smiled and exclaimed, "Xua gawre! Xua zor bash!" ("God is so big! He is good!") As they prayed for their own children, they also prayed for Chrissie.
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Hana riding a tricycle in the children's ward hallways. (Her pigtails and that grin remind me of Chrissie!)

On May 14, 2010, we said goodbye to a five-year-old boy named Ahmed as he went to be with Jesus. Just five days later, on May 19, Chrissie joined him in Heaven. As I shared this news with the already heartbroken mothers, we all cried. Women from Iraq and Gaza prayed with a college student from Missouri, praying for and grieving with two families from Wimberley, Texas, and As-Sulaymaniyah, Kurdistan.

Ahmed's mother crying over her son as she said goodbye.

My time in Israel changed my life. It was one of the most challenging and yet most rewarding experiences I have ever had. Through it all, God reminded me of Chrissie's courage in "bossing her heart." I followed her example and "bossed my heart" too, as I witnessed situations and did things that I never could have imagined.

Two years later, God has called me back to Israel. These two years have been filled with ups and downs, confusion and changing plans, but now God has made His will clear.
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Me playing with five-year-old Hiba in the hospital playroom.

On July 10, 2012, I will be returning to Israel, stepping out in faith as I answer God's call again and travel to Jerusalem to heal broken hearts and share Jesus with the families who I will meet.
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Yousif showing me a model of what his heart looked like before and after surgery.

I know that there is a reason for all of the delays and complications that I have had up to this point, and I can't wait to find out what He has in store for me to learn.

This is where God has called me to be at this time in my life, but I can't get there on my own. So, I'm asking for your help!

I have two fundraisers available on my blog, one involving a play script and the other involving puzzles! You can find out more about those HERE. I am also currently running a giveaway; an MP3 player and a NOOK Color e-reader tablet are available to be given away! The giveaway ends on Friday, June 1. Check out the details HERE.

Will you consider supporting me, either financially or in prayer? Any help that you can give, by donating to the cost of my mission, spreading the word via Facebook, blogs, etc., and praying for me and the people who I will be working with, is GREATLY appreciated!
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Me playing with Mohammed.

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