Posted by: megan isaacson | April 17, 2012

Song Story: “You Had Me At Hello”

** You can listen to and/or purchase “You Had Me At Hello” and other songs I’ve written on iTunes or at www.meganisaacson.com.

Ahh, this one is a throwback – one of my favorites on my first album from 2005!

This song was inspired by a challenge from my manager at Starbucks when I was a barista. We were throwing goofy movie quotes around during a quiet shift and one of us, in the most convincing mellow-dramatic voice we could muster, busted out that iconic line from “Jerry Maguire”: “You had me at hello.” I think I said something about how that line would make a great song (not knowing of course that someone else in country music had already written one) and my manager, who knew I was a songwriter, said, “Why don’t you write one?”

Fast-forward to a week or two later. I was in my apartment resting as best I could with a painful pulled muscle between my ribs when, in a stroke of brilliance, I decided it was as good a time as any to write that song. So that afternoon, slightly under the influence of pain killers and with the faces of all my dear 5-o’clock-in-the-morning Starbucks customers in my mind, I wrote “You Had Me At Hello,” the Starbucks song. A couple days later I brought my guitar with me to work and serenaded my co-workers and customers with it. It’s been one of my most requested songs ever since!

The night Dave Beegle and I recorded it for the “Close” record, we had already tracked a couple other songs that day so by the time we got to “You Had Me At Hello”, it was late and I was tired. We were recording this one “live” (recording both the vocal and guitar at the same time) and I remember wondering if my fingers were bleeding during our third take… But we made it through and one of those takes made it on the CD, along with a couple awkward moments that reveal my state of mind that night!

Over the years of sharing this song at various events, I’ve had people approach my table after a particularly heart-felt sharing of my testimony or some deep God-truth I’ve learned and ask: “Is that coffee song on this CD?!”

And, of course, it is – in all its glory. To me, the funniest thing about this song is that I have never liked coffee.

Posted by: megan isaacson | March 7, 2012

Bonjou! From Haiti!

In February, I got to return to Haiti for a week to teach on worship leading! Here are some stories and photos. For those of you who are skimmers, there are plenty of photos and highlights. For you readers, I just about wrote you a novel. Enjoy!

This trip, like the last one, was with Christian World Outreach, an organization that’s been serving Haiti for 34 years. Almost annually the leadership at eight churches associated with CWO, mostly in northeast Haiti, gather together for training and support at a leadership training conference. This year, they invited me to come and teach on worship leading at the conference! So I joined my friend Greg Yoder, our fearless leader from CWO, and Pastor Harlan Betz from Castle Rock, CO and headed to Haiti.

Jason, Greg, Me and Pastor Harlan

Port au Prince:
We spent two nights in Port au Prince, one on our way to Pignon and one on our way back to the States. It was wonderful to see familiar faces in Port au Prince!

We stayed in the same guest house I had stayed in before, run by a warm, hospitable, funny man named Jude. The rooms were just as well-kept and the food just as good. In fact, I credit Jude with serving me the first cup of black coffee I have ever enjoyed! We had time to catch up with him over a couple meals and laughed a lot, especially when he told us about the time he went snow-shoeing with a friend in Canada. Just the thought of a Haitian man freezing to death walking on “rackets”, as he called them, is enough to bring a chuckle, but it was the reenactment that just about brought me to tears. And Jude laughed hardest of all.

While we were in town we also stopped by the CWO facility where my team worked in September. School was in session at the Feminine Training Center and we got to peek in on several classes including sewing, cooking and cosmetology. I ran into a couple teachers I had met before who asked about several of my former team mates by name! I also got to see my friend Sadrackson, who pulled out his iPod to show me who he was listening to: Megan Isaacson! We had just a few minutes to play some music together, so he grabbed the guitar I left for the school last time and we sang and played “Hungry (Grangou)” and “Everlasting God (Bondye Eténél)” with a couple other guys.

Jamming with the guys at the CWO building!

Pignon:
On Friday morning we met our 4th team member Jason (a missionary in Port au Prince) at the airport where we piled into a tiny MAF (Missionary Aviation Fellowship) plane and flew to Pignon. First observation about our flight: our pilot was wearing a helmet. Yep. And he was the only one wearing a helmet. I’m still not quite sure what to make of that. Seeing Haiti from above was wonderful. I could see many new housing developments in Port au Prince built since the earthquake. Once clear of the city, we saw lots of mountainside farmland where people grow crops on the steep slopes, and the tiny white footpaths they take over the mountain ridges to the market or the river or wherever they need to go. Twenty-five minutes later, we landed on the runway (field) in Pignon.

Me in the back of our tiny plane

Coming in for a landing in Pignon. Can you see the runway?

We were the first ones at the camp where the pastors conference would be held, so we settled into our rooms, did a little exploring and made friends with a couple kids on the grounds. Soon people started to trickle in, some walking or riding bikes, one on a horse, one with a donkey, several in cars and a bunch of people crammed into a huge truck. That night we had our opening session with everyone together – around 160 people!

The entrance to the camp where the conference was held

Welcome to the pastors conference!

Everyone was split up into three general groups for the teaching sessions for the week: pastors (taught by Pastor Harlan), children’s ministers (taught by Greg and Pastor Cantor from Port au Prince) and worship leaders (taught by yours truly and Pastor Rigaud from Port au Prince). Everyone came ready to learn and from what I heard and saw, each group received not only encouragement and affirmation in their ministry roles, but also many solid, practical tools to help them in their ongoing ministries!

Pastor Harlan’s session

Greg getting the children’s ministers involved in the story of David and Goliath!

I was pretty nervous about my teaching sessions for the week. After all, I’m not normally in a teaching role, unless of course it comes in two-minute chunks between songs in a worship set… But these were 90-minute sessions! Despite my nerves, I followed the advice of several very wise friends: Relax, share your heart and trust God to do the rest. I’m so glad I did! My sessions were great. With the help of my rock-star translator Amos, I shared a little about my story, talked about the importance of pursuing being a true worshipper and not just a great worship leader, shared stories from Scripture about the importance of our role as worship leaders, and shared some practical ways to help people worship that I’ve learned along the way. I also came armed with 9 worship songs in English and Creole, so we also sang a LOT in my sessions! By the end of the week, they had most of the songs DOWN, in both languages!! I, on the other hand… Well, I asked the worship leaders to teach me one of their songs part-way through the week. I asked for a specific tune I had heard them sing in worship – the melody was beautiful and I’d had it in my head ever since I heard it! In seconds, my friend and co-worship leader Edeline put the lyrics in front of me and that’s when I realized: it’s in French. I took a deep breath and tried my best to sing with everyone, fumbling through the unfamiliar sounds and pronunciations. After a few times, Edeline turned the page to reveal the rest of the song – it was about three times longer than I thought it was! I gasped and said, “Oh wow.” That made the entire room burst out laughing! So while they learned 5 or 6 new songs in two languages, I’ve got one chorus in French. 🙂

Me and all the worship leaders!

Talking about worship with Amos translating

Me with my worship leader friends from Port au Prince

It was wonderful to watch the Lord encourage, affirm and equip everyone through the different sessions, games, worship times and relationships. I feel incredibly honored to have been a part of it.

I’ll wrap up with one more story: the guitar. In the whirlwind that was the couple weeks before the trip, I forgot to find a guitar that I could take with me and leave in Haiti. So 5 or so days before we were to leave I was praying! A couple days later a friend of mine walked up to me after a worship service and out of the blue asked, “Do you need a guitar for your trip to Haiti?” I love it when the Lord answers prayers like that. When I met her to pick up the guitar, we prayed together that God would get it into the hands of someone who needed it and that it would be used to bring Him glory. During the conference in Pignon, I learned one of the smaller country churches there had a specific need for musical instruments in their church. So at the end of the week I had the honor of giving the guitar to them and telling them it came “with lots of love from brothers and sisters in the U.S.” They were blown away and very, very grateful.


The Lord is at work in Haiti! Thanks for reading. 🙂 Pita! (Later!)

Pastor Rigaud double-fisting the mics for me during a general session!

My sweet little friend watching herself on video.

Posted by: megan isaacson | January 25, 2012

Song Story: “Unfailing Love”

** You can listen to and/or purchase “Unfailing Love” and other songs I’ve written on iTunes or at www.meganisaacson.com.

I have always loved the Psalms. I love the honesty of the writers and how relentlessly they cling to the knowledge that God is good and God is sovereign. I especially love reading King David’s psalms and connecting them with what I know of his life. It’s like reading his story in a history text book and then comparing it with his diary, where he unreservedly reveals his strongest convictions and deepest fears. Which, surprisingly, look a lot like mine. I may not have had a boss who tried to kill me and chase me all over the countryside or a son who tried to take over my throne, but I know what it’s like to feel inadequate, alone, forgotten and afraid, wondering if God sees or cares.

“Unfailing Love” is more or less a hodgepodge of some of my favorite psalms including Psalms 3, 4, 13, 27, 73 and 91.  I wrote it to help myself remember what’s true, especially in those moments when I’m tempted to let myself be carried away by my fears.

Below are some of the passages at the heart of this song. If you find yourself struggling with believing God’s goodness or his ability or desire to meet your needs, I hope you let them speak into your fears and put your heart at rest. Truly, only “with the Lord is unfailing love” (Psalm 130:7).

Psalm 3:1-6 (NIV)
O LORD, how many are my foes!                                                                                                                      How many rise up against me!
Many are saying of me, “God will not deliver him.” Selah
But you are a shield around me, O LORD;  you bestow glory on me and lift up my head.
To the LORD I cry aloud, 
and he answers me from his holy hill. Selah
I lie down and sleep; 
I wake again, because the LORD sustains me.
I will not fear the tens of thousands 
drawn up against me on every side.

Psalm 13:1-6 (NIV)
How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? 
                                                                                      How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts 
and every day have sorrow in my heart? 
                    How long will my enemy triumph over me?
Look on me and answer, O LORD my God. 
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death; 
              my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,” 
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
But I trust in your unfailing love; 
my heart rejoices in your salvation.                                                     
I will sing to the LORD, 
for he has been good to me.

Psalm 27:13-14 (NIV)
I am still confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living.
Wait for the LORD;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the LORD.

Psalm 73:23-26 (NIV)
Yet I am always with you;
you hold me by my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will take me into glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.

Psalm 91:1-2, 14-16 (NIV)
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
“Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
He will call upon me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life will I satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”

Posted by: megan isaacson | December 23, 2011

Song Story: “Our God is With Us”

Last year, around October-ish, my good friend Craig Smith asked me if I would be interested in putting on a night of Christmas music in December with him and our friend Danny Oertli. I jumped at the idea – these guys are two of my favorite people and great musicians and songwriters. Any opportunity to play with these guys is something I don’t want to miss! Plus, Christmas music? What could be better? In my excitement, I said, “Heck yes,” and in the same breath suggested each of us write a new Christmas song for the occasion. As soon as the words came out of my mouth, a little voice in my head went, What?! But I thought, These guys are super busy – what are the chances they’ll take me up on this? Well, the chances were better than I thought, because Craig emailed me a few days later. Danny loved the idea. It was on.

That’s when a little bit of panic set in. I’ve never written a Christmas song. It’s one thing writing about this or that topic, but writing about something that’s inspired hundreds if not thousands of songs, paintings, poems, you name it – that’s quite the challenge. Is there anything about Christmas that hasn’t already been said?

Instead of facing this thing head on, I procrastinated. All the way up to the weekend before our Tuesday event. On Saturday I tossed some ideas around, but they didn’t seem to be going anywhere. Sunday, same story. It dawned on me Sunday evening that Mondays are my rest days – I try to protect them as a sort of Sabbath or my the-world-doesn’t-stop-turning-when-I-stop-working-because-God-is-God-and-I-am-not day. I was beginning to stress out, but the more I prayed about taking my rest day to hammer out this song, the more I felt like God wanted me keep Monday a day of rest. So I figured either He was planning on letting a song fall from the sky and onto my page on Tuesday morning OR He was going to teach me about the consequences of procrastination. Yikes.

After honoring my rest day, I spent some incredible moments with God in Isaiah 40 and Isaiah 9 on Tuesday morning. It was one of those times with Him when the words leap off the page, like He’s speaking them right to me – just what I need to hear, when I need to hear it. My heart was full and as soon as He and I wrapped up our time together, I felt very distinctly there was a song on my heart that needed a voice.

“Our God is With Us” is special to me because of how it came about, but also because it’s full of things I need to hear. We are not alone because we have this hope: our God IS with us.

** You can listen to and/or purchase “Our God is With Us” and other songs I’ve written on iTunes or at www.meganisaacson.com.

Posted by: megan isaacson | September 23, 2011

A Week in Haiti


Bonjou! I am back from Haiti! It was an amazing trip. The team and I experienced so much, from walking among the wreckage that still remains from the earthquake in 2010, to teaching some tent city women how to sew and bead (using charades), to feeding the cutest kids ever, to joining our Haitian brothers and sisters in songs of praise in English AND Creole… We saw God do some amazing things and I think I speak for all of us when I say we will never be the same.

I think these photos can tell the stories better than words alone… Enjoy!


We arrived in Haiti Saturday evening, rode in what looked like a cattle-truck/paddy-wagon to the guest house and got settled in. Jude, our host, made sure all us ladies were nice and comfy!


Sunday morning we headed to church. I sang “Hungry” by Kathryn Scott in Creole, praying I got all the pronunciations right! Apparently the message came across (yay!) and at the request of the worship team, I spent some time after the service teaching the song to them! Before I knew it, we had 3-part harmony and a band backing us up – amazing!! I took out the other songs in Creole I brought with me and it turns out they already knew them. So apparently the Lord lead me to sing “Grangou” (Hungry) in church that morning, which turned out to be the only song I had in Creole that they didn’t already know. Wow!



That night, I had the privilege of leading our team in one of the most powerful Seek and Soaks I’ve been involved in. We read Scripture on God’s strength and power and sang our thanks to Him as He washed us with His Word. It was so good to let go of our anxiety about the coming week and rest in His presence. One theme that came out loud and clear to us from His Word that night was this: Haiti belongs to Him. And while we are weak and powerless in the face of such need and darkness, it is HE who works in and through us to do wonderful things!

Monday we began working with the women at the Christian World Outreach center in Port au Prince. The women are enrolled in a three month program at the Feminine Training Center, where they learn cooking, cosmetology, sewing and other skills to help support themselves. Our team, armed with enough material to clothe a very flowery, brightly-colored army, showed the ladies how to create beautiful bags, decorate flip flops, assemble bead bracelets and make lemon cookies! Several of us also took turns leading devotions through a translator at the beginning of each day, sharing the Good News about Jesus with the ladies.

These women live in the tent cities along with hundreds of thousands who are still homeless because of the earthquake. Many of these women are hungry. Some have turned to prostitution to provide for themselves. Most of them have small children; many of them are single mothers and many of them are still children themselves. Rape is a huge problem in the tent cities, where there is very little security. Apparently there are some areas the police won’t even go because of the dangerous, narrow, maze-like paths between tents. It was hard not to become overwhelmed by the tremendous need and the apparent hopelessness of the life these women face every day. After spending the week with us, one of the women even asked a couple ladies on our team if they would take her baby boy back to the States with them.



Because of the language barrier (in Haiti, most people speak Creole, some speak French and very few speak English), we decided early on to begin our days with the ladies by singing for them the Creole worship tunes we had practiced. I think this really helped build a rapport with them (it’s probably not every day they get serenaded by a bunch of white chicks singing in their language). I also had the opportunity to share a couple songs with them, which was very well-received! So I was able to assist the team by being a bridge-builder of sorts, using the gift of music! Toward the end of the week, one of the girls ran up to me, threw her arms around my neck, kissed my cheek and said, “You sing beautifully!”

(Notice I had to improvise, since I forgot to bring a guitar strap with me…)

Throughout the week, on foot and from between the bars of our “paddy-wagon” we were able to see the still-very-apparent effects of the earthquake in January of 2010. Below are photos of some of the damage, including the president’s house and a huge, beautiful Catholic church in ruins.

Playing with and feeding the kiddos was certainly one of the highlights of the trip…


The guitar I brought with me was sent by my friend Brad Richardson with Mercy Music International to be given to the music school at the Christian World Outreach center. So at the end of the week, some of the students gathered for a special night of music with yours truly and before we got started, we officially presented the guitar to my friend Sadrackson, who helps lead worship there and teaches the music students. I wish I could have captured his reaction on camera – he was blown away!! He helped me teach “Grangou” (Hungry) to the students that night. When I asked him for the guitar to play the song, he held it away from me and said, “Alright. I will LEND it to you!”


To end our time at the center, we put on an honest-to-goodness, authentic English tea to honor and encourage the instructors that teach at the Feminine Training Center. We sipped tea, ate cucumber sandwiches and drew pictures for each other of our families. Barb, our female fearless leader, put to good use the French she learned as a long-term missionary in France and gave a message of encouragement from 1 Timothy and I served as the musical entertainment for the morning. We presented a bag to each teacher, lovingly handmade by Lisa from our team and filled with lots of goodies!

Some random moments…

When I wasn’t playing guitar or pretending I knew how to sew, I was usually trying to get my feet above my heart… Thanks a lot, cankles.

Jude, our host at the guest house, spoiled us with oatmeal made with genuine, pure Haitian vanilla, cane sugar and cinnamon…

…and the best coffee I’ve ever tasted, roasted by Jude and Barbara (our cook) right at the the guesthouse every afternoon.

Jude and Barbara. With some extra team funds and Jude’s help, we all decided to treat Barbara to a cooking course at the Feminine Training Center for her birthday.

And last, but not least, a frankly frightening moment, bravely filmed by yours truly:

Thank you so much for your prayers and support for this trip. The Lord is doing great things in Haiti! Please remember them in your prayers!

Posted by: megan isaacson | September 9, 2011

The Haiti ladies are off!

I finished packing for Haiti today, which is a good thing because I, along with twelve other ladies and one brave man, are leaving tomorrow for Port au Prince. This is my bag. I’m hoping it doesn’t explode. I realize I may be adventurous beyond reason by just taking one backpack to lug around my stuff, but hey – I guess I like things simple!

For the next week we’ll be working with women from the tent cities, teaching them some new, marketable skills and showing some love to the instructors who serve at the women’s vocational center. I think we’ll also be feeding some kids in the city. I’m bringing a guitar and some Creole worship tunes, too – I think I’ll have the opportunity to spend some time at a music school (where I’ll leave the guitar) and play in a church on Sunday morning! I’ve been learning several worship tunes in Creole for this trip… Here goes nothin’!

THANK YOU to all those who made it possible for me to go on this trip by giving financially. Your investment in the Kingdom will produce HUGE returns!! May the Lord use us to strengthen and help uphold the beacon of His light and truth in the darkness of Haiti!!

Please pray for protection, health, unity, humility and courage for our group. Please pray that the Lord accomplishes in and through us all that is on His heart!!

I hope to share photos and stories soon!

Peace and joy,

meg

Posted by: megan isaacson | August 20, 2011

“The Living Room” CD RELEASE!


The day has come!! I am super excited to announce the release of my newest album, “The Living Room” on August 27th!! To celebrate this momentous occasion, we’re going to get together for a night of worship. I’ll share my new songs and the stories behind them and we’ll spend some time welcoming and celebrating our God together! Here are the details:

When: Saturday, August 27th at 7pm

Where:

Northern Hills Christian Church (in the Garage)
5061 E 160th Ave.
Brighton, CO 80602
http://www.northernhills.cc

Cost: FREE!!

For those of you who have pre-ordered copies of “The Living Room” (formerly “Into the Open”), THANK YOU! We will have them ready for you to pick up that night. If you are not able to make it, please let me know and we’ll mail your CD(s) to you!

You can also order the album on http://www.meganisaacson.com and iTunes.

I hope to see you on the 27th!!

Peace and Joy,

Meg

Posted by: megan isaacson | October 2, 2010

THAT’S where the summer went…

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said (or heard), “Where in the world did the summer go??” As if it didn’t also seem to slip through our fingers last year. And the year before. Crazy how that happens! I was just browsing through my photos and thought I’d take a second to share some of my favorite stories and God-moments of the summer. Here, my friends, is where MY summer went…

TEXAS

I got to lead worship for team of middle school students from Austin, TX on a mission trip to Waco, TX. As you can see from the above photo, our group was fairly reserved and mild-mannered.

The week was jam-packed with activities and ministry opportunities, but first things first: I was freezing. Melissa and Cindy (of Passion Missions) got so tired of hearing my teeth chatter in the A/C that they insisted on the seemingly impossible: finding a sweatshirt in Waco in June. Here’s proof that with God, ALL things are possible!

Our group got to minister to the sweet people at an adult daycare center. Getting to meet and talk with Leola here was a special blessing for me – this lady loves Jesus.

We also partnered with a brand-new Hispanic church in Waco! This was so obviously a divinely orchestrated partnership – our team literally showed up on the doorstep of the church, unknowingly answering the prayer the church had been lifting up for some time. WOW. We teamed up to minister to their community through VBS and a BBQ in the park. Melissa and I stayed behind after the team headed home to speak and lead worship for a service at the church. I’ve never heard “I Could Sing of Your Love Forever” sound more beautiful than it did that day in English AND Spanish!

Speaking of divine appointments: After the week in Waco was over, I headed to Austin to lead worship at Fellowship Church Southwest. We had planned several weeks out that I would be the guest worship leader that weekend, but what we could not have foreseen was that their worship leader’s father would be hospitalized after suffering two strokes just days before I was scheduled to be there. Because I was leading that Sunday morning, Jeff, the worship leader, was able to spend that time with his family. What a gracious God!! I LOVE seeing Him move like that!

COLORADO MUSIC FESTIVALS

Night Vision Festival / Olathe, CO

I know it’s hard to see, but the green sign on the left says: Michael W. Smith. The green sign on the right lists several names, the first of which is Megan Isaacson. 🙂

I was the nerd musician who needed a music stand. One of the tech guys whipped this one up for me!

My girl Erica. Watch out, Western Slope – this woman is praying for you.

Heaven Fest / Longmont, CO

What a sweet time with the Lord. Thanks to everyone who came out and helped us lift the name of Jesus high!

The all-star band: Andrew Webb/electric, Eric Yochim/drums, Jared Greene/bass, Dakota Stoddard/BGVs, Mike Morter/mandolin

KTLF PraiseFest / Colorado Springs, CO

After my set a sweet woman came up to me with tears in her eyes and thanked me for playing the song ‘Ni Zan Je (I Will Go)’. She and her husband had had the privilege of working with some Nigerian people when they lived overseas and she was deeply blessed by the song.

DEVOTIONS AT FOCUS ON THE FAMILY

During what has been a difficult season in the life of the ministry, I was privileged to lead a worship time of “Seeking and Soaking” at Focus in June. We spent some time resting in the presence of the Lord as we let His Word wash over us. Our Scripture topic for the morning: JOY.

MOMENT TO BREATHE

Random day of rest for me in the mountains. So thankful I get to live in Colorado.

PENNSYLVANIA

I got to spend a week with these cool summer staff people at Spruce Lake Retreat Center in Canadensis, PA for family week!

Hanging with them, I felt just like family. Until I saw this photo. Thanks for letting me in on the pose, guys.

The mountains were gorgeous! I had some time to do a little exploring…

I found a plant that grows raisins, apparently.

What in the world IS this thing? Anybody??

Yes, I flew in and out of Scranton. Tee hee hee.

MY VOCAL COACH

My super-amazing vocal coach, Dr. L. Scott Martin at the Academy of the Arts in Denver! A wizard of vocal technique. I get to see him once a month to get whipped into proper vocal shape. Notice the scary sign on the wall.

The summer also saw the birth of a couple new songs (among others) that I’m pretty stoked about:”Surely This is Our God”, based on/inspired by Isaiah 25 and “You Must Be Beautiful”, a personal tribute to my most beautiful encounters with the invisible God. The new project is fast approaching, guys!!! In the words of my friend Kota: “Oh my monkeys, I’m SO excited!!”

Unfortunately, I don’t have photos to document so many of the other amazing worship-moments I got to share with people all over the state. But I do have a snapshot of a different kind to share in closing. Elsi Dodge, a woman I met at a worship event at Boulder Valley Christian Church shared this with me after a sweet night of worship and seeking the Lord a couple weeks ago. Please enjoy.

to worship You
my God and King
my Savior
my Friend
my crucified and risen Lord
to sing at the foot of Your throne
to see light reflecting
from the kingly gold
of Your stained cross of shame
to hear voices raised
harmonies and dissonance
love and praise
hands lifted
heads bowed
hearts prostrate before you
overwhelmed by Your love
Your love
You love me
You love us
You are here
accept my praise
my gratitude
my obedience
my distraction
my contrition
my tears

dark shadows, Lord
empty chairs
faces of strangers
guilt and sorrow
fear and isolation
shadows in the corners
around the walls
in the parking lot
shadows in my heart
my thoughts
my memories
and yet …
Your cross
Your Word
psalms and hymns and spiritual songs
and You draw me back
welcome me in
“Talitha,, kuom!” You say
and I rise to see Your face
take Your hand
rest on Your shoulder
and lift my voice in praise and worship
to You
to You
my living God

Elsi Dodge (http://elsidodge.com/blog)

Posted by: megan isaacson | May 6, 2010

With love from Nigeria. Again.

I didn’t want to leave Nigeria. I got to spend three weeks back in my favorite West African country (and the only one I’ve actually been to) in April and it was one of the most powerful experiences of my life.

You might be thinking, “Wasn’t she JUST in Nigeria?” I sure was, and it was during that first trip that I got connected with Hillcrest School in Jos, who asked me to return to lead worship for their spring Spiritual Emphasis Week! The first trip to Nigeria was all about taking it in – I was a sponge. The second was all about being present in the moments and being available for whatever God wanted to do. Turns out He wanted to do a LOT.

Below are some photos and stories – I hope you enjoy seeing Nigeria through my eyes! Also, click here to check out my video interview with Shepherd Project Ministries about my adventures in Nigeria!

I arrived in Nigeria with just enough time to toss my luggage into my room at the guest house, throw on a beautiful bridesmaid’s dress and book it to my friend Martha’s wedding! It was beautiful – what an honor to be a part of her day! I was guided through all the particulars of the ceremony by my fellow bridesmaids (above), who were very patient with me. Especially during the dancing part.

My main event for the trip took place here, at Hillcrest School.

I got to worship with the students (K-12), share my story and remind them of God’s incredible promises! God did some heart surgery and healing among us throughout the week – His presence was evident! I had the opportunity to do some one-on-one counseling and pray for many of the students.

This is one of my favorites – I was ambushed by a bunch of 2nd graders on my way from the chapel. They wanted a photo, so I whipped out my camera and told them to squeeze in close. I thought they’d get BEHIND me… 🙂

On Friday, I bought my lunch from a vendor on campus: suya and masa. Yummy! Around my neck is the necklace the student body gave me earlier that day as a thank you for coming.

I got to see one of the first rains of the season. In Nigeria there are only two seasons: dry and rainy. Here, when the first rain of the season falls, the teachers stop class and all the students go play in the rain. By the way, all that rain was the result of only a 10-minute downpour!

The guest house where I stayed. Mine is the corner room, 2nd floor.

Friends: Laurel, Carole, Me, Mary and Christie who runs the guest house.

Cows in a truck. I have no idea how they squeeze them all in there. Behind is some of the wreckage from the last crisis in Bukuru, near Jos.

Someone’s home in Bukuru. In March, this neighborhood was attacked by a group of men who set these houses on fire in the middle of the night, then killed people as they fled their homes. Hundreds died.

A school.

Showing respect: don’t leave home without something to cover your head!!

Goodbye city, hello villages.

And hello enormous lizards (actually, they were in the city, too).

Sharing songs and worshiping with a little bush church! This was the same church that gave Holly and I the chicken – they were upset they didn’t know I was visiting again so soon and didn’t have time to prepare a welcome gift! Such sweet, generous people.

The younger kids sat at the back of the church. Aren’t they beautiful?

Trying to stay hydrated! Not an easy task (hint: I did NOT just climb out of a pool)! Eew.

That’s right: 106 degrees in the shade. Flat Stanley and Flat Stacy know what I’m talking about.

Another one of many seemingly impossible feats of balance witnessed on the road.

Encouraging the believers at a tiny bush church in a predominately Muslim village. In this village, like many others, the Christians are not allowed to live in the village – they are pushed out by their Muslim neighbors and live on the outskirts. These people sang “My Worship” with me, even though most of them don’t speak English! My friend Mustafa translated as I shared with them what the song meant, then they jumped right in!

This beautiful little girl sat on the bench right in front of us.

This woman, maybe the only English speaker at the church, pulled me aside after the service and said, “Please don’t forget us. We are small and we live among unbelievers. It is very hard. Please pray for us and don’t forget us.”

Saying goodbye. 🙂

Sharing stories from the Bible in another village – we played a cassette tape that told the story and I turned the page when I heard the chime. The kids stuck around for the whole story, creation to Jesus, with the chief and a crowd of men listening in.

I’m guessing some of these kids may have never met a white person before. Some of them mustered up their courage to give me a handshake while some of them just batted at my hand – they couldn’t resist touching me, as long as it involved as little actual physical contact as possible!

The man standing next to Frank here asked me to take this photo. They’re standing behind a hand-dug, 285-foot well that has become their only source of water while they wait for the rain. Their hands are uplifted to show that they are praying for rain.

They attach the rope to a team of cattle (behind this guy) to pull up the “bucket”.

Walking to see another well. Notice the parade. We were kind of a big deal.

Another well, this one operated by hand. The pulleys are taken from motorcycle wheels. These guys do this all day, everyday, waiting for rain.

Once the water is taken from the well, it’s poured into a plastic-lined bag and strapped to the back of a bike to be taken to the families in the village.

Such beautiful people.


Found on a door in a Muslim village.

My feet. I’ve lost my ankles and I can’t bend my toes. My Colorado feet aren’t used to the heat/humidity! Plus, maybe beef jerky wasn’t the best choice of snacks…

Back to Jos for a shopping trip! Can you tell what’s in the trees above our heads?

That’s right: gigantic fruit bats – hundreds of them.

This woman is a sweet Christian lady and an amazing artist! I bought a gorgeous table cloth from her like the one she’s holding. She hand dyes all her fabrics and makes the designs using wax. We got to pray for her and listen to her story of how the Lord protected her and her family during several crises – incredible.

Carole and I would have gone to great lengths for these mangos – the best I’ve ever tasted. Fortunately, we only had to flag down the dude with the wheelbarrow full of them in the market. Mmmm…

Unfortunately, for several reasons, I can’t share ALL my stories here, even though I’d love to. So until I can share the rest in person, these will have to do. 🙂

Just one more thing:

Psalm 138 (NIV)

Of David.

I will praise you, O LORD, with all my heart;
before the “gods” I will sing your praise.

I will bow down toward your holy temple
and will praise your name
for your love and your faithfulness,
for you have exalted above all things
your name and your word.

When I called, you answered me;
you made me bold and stouthearted.

May all the kings of the earth praise you, O LORD,
when they hear the words of your mouth.

May they sing of the ways of the LORD,
for the glory of the LORD is great.

Though the LORD is on high, he looks upon the lowly,
but the proud he knows from afar.

Though I walk in the midst of trouble,
you preserve my life;
you stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes,
with your right hand you save me.

The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me;
your love, O LORD, endures forever—
do not abandon the works of your hands.

Two weeks before I left, God led me to this psalm. When I read it, my jaw hit the floor – here in this psalm were all the prayers I was lifting up for myself and the people in Nigeria. I adopted it for the trip and starting that day I hand-copied this passage on a daily basis, to get it into my head and my heart. Before long, I had it memorized. I carried it with me everywhere and watched in total amazement as God answered every prayer:

For me to worship God, no matter who is watching (vs 1)

For God’s name and Word to be exalted above all things (vs 2)

For boldness and strength (vs 3)

For the people of Nigeria to be moved to worship God when they hear His Word and see Him at work (vs 3-4)

For protection for me and the Nigerian people from Satan and those who would take advantage of them (vs 7)

For the Lord to continue moving mightily in Nigeria, showing his faithful love to those people and drawing them to Himself! (vs 8)

God answered each and every one of these prayers in ways  I can see and, I believe, in ways I can’t. What a faithful God. Thank you, Lord, for what you are doing in West Africa! Please do not forsake the work of Your hands.

meg

PS: Here is what happens when I make friends with an African Grey parrot…

Posted by: megan isaacson | April 15, 2010

Simon Says, “cankles” and Nigerian rain…

I am sitting on a couch in my room at the guest house. My feet are propped up on a couple pillows. It’s been a fantastic, full day and my feet are the size of footballs. My ankles have disappeared. Apparently salty foods and hot, humid weather don’t mix very well! I’m hoping my ankle bones will make an appearance again sometime before I head home. 🙂

Today it rained for the first time since I’ve been here and the third time since the beginning of the year. One moment it was completely dry and I looked up at the sky and wondered if it might rain. The next moment people were running for cover from the torrential downpour – one student was caught in the rain and, after finding shelter, couldn’t even find a piece of dry clothing to wipe her glasses on! In 10 minutes, it was over. It’s the end of the dry season here and the rain has been slow in coming. In fact, we’ve all been praying for the rains to begin to relieve us from the unusually hot, dry April weather! Thank you Lord.

For middle/high school chapel today we brought in a man to share his testimony with the students. We’ve been talking about our stories and how God reveals who He is to us in them. This man was a devout Muslim until he met Jesus. His family disowned him and even tried to have him killed, but God provided a place for him to stay and grow in his faith. He is now a pastor with his own church! We are praying God uses his story to impact the Muslim students at the school, especially.

I got to watch a rehearsal for Hillcrest’s school play – they’re doing Little Women, complete with the orchestra in the orchestra pit! They’ve done a fantastic job, and it was awesome to get to see them in action! I got to speak to the cast and encourage them before rehearsal today.

Tomorrow will be my last day at Hillcrest. I will be so sad to say goodbye to the students! I’ve had so much fun getting to know and hanging out with them this week. There’s something special about this school – you’d think that with so many kids from so many different cultural backgrounds that there’d be cliques and exclusion, but it’s almost the opposite here. At Hillcrest, even the most different kid is accepted as part of the group. I haven’t seen a single kid eating or hanging out by himself – all different colors, from all different countries, everybody hangs out together, even when they don’t have to! Makes me wonder why it’s so different in most American schools…

One last thought before I sign off: my biggest challenge this week has been figuring out what the heck to do for the elementary chapel, which I’ve had to handle pretty much on my own! Jr and Sr High students are one thing, but 60 1st – 5th graders are a WHOLE different ballgame! We played Simon Says, sang Father Abraham, learned about Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and somehow it all came out ok. I received this note from one of the elementary kids this morning:

Dear Megan,

I loved your songs. You are so very nice. My favorite verse is John 1-6. Love, Hannah.

PS. I’ll miss you as big as a whale is, also as big as the whole world.

‘Nuf said. 🙂

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