Late Night Anyone?

So…I was kind of being a jerk last night…well…not kind of…I was.  But, my wife loves me and we can’t stay mad…oooeyyy goooeeeyyy mushy stuff. I think we’ve all been there?

About 11:30 this came out. I love it when a song comes quickly. Not a finished product at all…but here it is so far. Check it out and let me know what you think.

Still – By Jesse Peterson (If the audio player isn’t working)

Audio Player –

Recorded it this afternoon using the onboard mic on my IMac. Quick and dirty…no retakes. Added a little synth but thats all. Took about 30 minutes so forgive any pitch or timing mistakes. I wasn’t looking to make anything professional.

Lyrics below. Peace.


This pain I feel
I know its real
it’s growing deep inside
A dull drumbeat
Of hearts asleep
I cannot clock its time
The words cut deep
to my soul
But…still I love you
Still I love you
Still I love you…
The words I speak
Feel harsh and bleek
I say them anyways
With draining pow’r
I mark this hour
As one I will regret
My words cut deep
To your soul
We say words that
Make no sense
Act in ways that
Breed intense…ly
broken memories

Oh no…what did I do?

Did I really just announce to all of you that I will run a marathon in March? Ugh…documentaries…you know?

It has been awesome to hear the response from all of you about my decision to run this stupid distance…er…I mean…marathon. Really, your encouragement has meant a lot to me. It already seems a bit daunting but since I have already announced to all of you my reasons for doing so…there is no backing out.

One thing that has been interesting has been to see how many of you are thinking about getting back into running as well. All different ages and experiences…you go!

Because some of you might join me on this crazy journey, I thought I would start my first running post out with some thoughts about training for this distance. I have run 2 half marathons and learned a lot from the preparation and running of them both.

My first half marathon was in Disneyland. The night before the race, my wife and I attended a wedding in Arizona. We had already made plans to run but the wedding was short notice so we decided to do both. The wedding was great and at the reception…there was an open bar and some dudes were having a cigar. Ugh. Of course, I partook with a beer…well…two…and had the cigar. I know…not great race prep…but it was a great cigar! (don’t worry…I can definitively say that I still love Jesus after having beer and a cigar)

We arrived in Southern California at midnight the night before the race and did not get to sleep in our hotel room until 2am. Alarm goes off at 4:30am and I hated life. I put on the shoes I had been training in and a cotton shirt and gym shorts. All bad ideas. I finished the race in 2:28 and I had sweat so much that my shoes were making a “squish” noise when I walked and I looked as if I had stood in the shower for ten minutes. Gross. But, I finished.

The second half was in Sacramento. The night before, we met with friends over a pasta dinner…no beer…and went back to our hotel room which was a five minute drive from the race site. Drank a Gatorade and ate a banana…and fell asleep at 10pm. I woke up ready and alive. I put on my new shoes, (I had broken them in for 2 weeks) my actual running shorts and a running shirt from Nike. I finished the race at 1:58 and felt amazing afterwards. I was tired…but not soaked.

You learn things along the way that help you feel more comfortable out there and I hope you learn a little along our journey together through this blog. Below as promised are a few things to consider when beginning your training for any sort of distance.

1. Your weight. You may be thinking…I want to run to take off some of this weight…and it will work. But, if you have some more serious weight issues…its best if you focus on losing some weight first and leave yourself time to train after. Imagine carrying a 40lb bag of dog food around while running…think your joints will love you? Get your body used to moving by taking long walks (longer than 30 minutes) and reduce your calories. Your body will thank you.

2. Make a plan. Don’t just go out there and run for 30 minutes…out of breath and hurting. Do a walk run. Four minutes of jogging and two minutes of walking. Do this for thirty minutes 4 times a week (for two weeks) and see how you feel. Find a running plan online and try to stick to it.

3. Avoid injury. Make sure you are stretching before and after your run. Keep a pace that would allow you to talk…no matter how slow. Don’t push yourself too hard the first month or you will get hurt. My wife hurt her knee training for our 2nd half and she stayed away from running for one week with ice on the knee every night. When she returned, she ran at a much slower pace and kept up the ice packs when we finished. After three weeks…she felt much better and avoided serious injury.

4. Get the right equipment. When running 2-4 miles, you can get away with wearing cotton clothing and older shoes. But…when you start to seriously train…you need actual running shoes…not just Nike’s. If your knees are hurting you when you run…go to a running store and ask them to evaluate what kind of shoe you really need.  You will eventually want some good shorts and shirts as well to avoid chaffing.

5. Know your heart. It may surprise you, but jogging for under thirty minutes does very little to help your cardio endurance. The heart has not had to settle into a rhythm and really get worked like a muscle needs. Anything under thirty minutes and you are working your muscles, burning calories and teaching your body to run…which are all necessary things…but that’s about it. At first…training for 30 minutes is great because it allows your body to get used to the pounding…but once you’re less sore…its time to get in the longer runs.

Blessings and have great runs!


Life changes…

I’m changing the focus of this site for awhile. It has been great to talk and share my thoughts about worship leading here…but I think I have shared enough…for now. Don’t worry…I am sure there will be plenty more to write about as time goes on. But life is changing…and I need a challenge that doesn’t involve weekly service planning meetings and practices.

I love leading worship. I love music and creativity and I feed off of those who are far better than I am at it.  I am by far not the best worship leader or musician out there but there is something that has eluded me out there I have not yet accomplished. It is a full marathon. I will be writing about running…if you can believe it 😉

I watched this documentary about marathons and tonight…it has pushed me over the edge. Sitting here overweight and a little bored…I find strength in the stories of these people who accomplished a full marathon in Chicago.

Right now, I am an unemployed…volunteer worship leader. I am trying to find my way. My definition. I am yearning for direction and significance. I do not believe I will become something different by running 26.2 miles.

But, I do believe that dedicating myself to something as strenuous as running for that long will change me. It will continue to create the story I began to write at the beginning of this year. I started this year unemployed and lost after my wife and I suffered a miscarriage. But life changes things.

She is pregnant now…with a boy…and he looks as healthy as ever. I love him already. He will be born in January…and that is not soon enough.

I have never run a race alone. My wife has been with me all the way…for a 5K and 2 half marathons…but this time…she cannot run with me. This one is for me…for the future of my family. I cannot rely on her speed or training partnership. I will be pushing this alone…sort of. I know she will be with me in spirit, and knowing my boy is right there with her…gives me strength.

So here is my plan. I am going to run the Big Sur half marathon in November. I will then run the full marathon in Napa in March 2011. My boy will be 1 ½  months old. I am already excited to see him at the finish line.

I know my family health history and I will do my best to help my boy stay away from the pitfalls of being a Peterson. Diabetes and being overweight runs rampant in my family line and I will do my best to pass on strength and a fighting ability on to my boy. I am not disappointed in my family line…but I aim to change its path. I will run for my own story and the stories of many Peterson’s to come.

Below is the link to the documentary that finally pushed me over the edge and some great lines from the movie:

Spirit of the Marathon on…awesome.

“People run the marathon to prove that there is still triumph and there is still possibility in their lives.”

“The marathon is the sort of the search for the Holy Grail that we’re all after. I think it’s a journey that we’re on.  It’s not necessarily a destination of just getting from the start line to the finish line. And I think that what people learn over the course of the training for the marathon is every bit as important as what they learn on the day of the race itself.”

One week to leading…READY GO!

You’ve got the tools. You know the music. You have struggled with the flow and dynamics of the service and all this time has gotten you ready to lead without having to focus on the details…so what else is left? Find your last clarity.

Understanding your feelings and negotiating them while leading can be a tricky thing. What I mean by “finding your last clarity,” is that you need to take a few moments to understand what’s going on inside…deal with it…admit it…and then submit those feelings to God. Essentially you are letting go of your control over those feelings.

 It doesn’t mean that you have to be happy and cheery on stage when you are not feeling well. If you have a heavy heart from the week, then you are going to have to deal with it somehow. Ignoring it does not work and faking it…is never worth it.  So, how do you do this? A few tips I use below…just before I go on stage to lead worship in a church service.

Turn Around – When you step onto a stage and face people…they assume you are ready to go. Take a moment and turn your back to them as if to say…I am not quite ready yet. Follow the next four steps and once you turn around…step out ready and clear.

BPM – BPM or beats per minute…usually refers to the speed of a song. In this case…it refers to the beating of your heart. When you get excited or when you get nervous, your heart rate increases. Take a second and attempt to slow it down. Take some deep breaths and silently listen to what is happening inside your body.

Breathe – Close your eyes for a few seconds and just breathe easy. Take a couple deep slow breaths and wash away any nerves or anxiety that might cloud your mind.

Prayer – As I am taking a moment to slow my heart and breathe deep…I typically exhale a breath prayer to God. It’s usually about this moment truly being about experiencing His presence and not about me or my music.

Smile – Just before I turn around…I look up at each of the band members/vocalists and smile…reassuring them each that I am thankful for what they are about to do.

After I do these things…my mind and heart are clear and I am focused and ready for what is to come. I am ready. I turn around…step to the mic and get the party started.

I pray that God continues to use you and mold you into the person that He has uniquely crafted you to be. I pray that you continue to desire His presence in worship. I pray for your heart to be ready…and your skills to be refined.

This is the end of my one week series on one week to leading…and I hope you have found it helpful. It’s my greatest hope that through this process, you have been challenged to become a better leader. Thanks so much for your love and thoughts throughout the process. There’s more to come, this journey surely isn’t over yet.

Peace. Jesse.

One week to leading…SERVICE FLOW

If you are a worship leader…then hopefully you are involved in the planning of church services. Check out the thoughts below…

At Disneyland California Adventure…there is a roller coaster. You step into the seat, lock down the levers and it slowly rolls you out to the start. Zero to sixty in no time and on to the loop…a time to catch your breath and then an awesome decline that pushes the drool to one side of your mouth. It’s a smooth ride that leaves you at the end wanting more…and so glad you stood in line for hours.

In Idaho…there is one of the world’s largest wooden roller coasters. You step in…strap on the cloth seat belts and it slowly…but aggressively pulls you up a huge incline. You can feel the chain grabbing the coaster underneath and you sense it might fall apart before you reach the top. Down a huge decline and you brace yourself for the quick turn. Up and down you go…shaking the entire way until you gladly reach the end. It was fun…but your physical body can only take so much abuse.

When planning a service…you want to focus on creating a service that resembles the Disneyland roller coaster and less like the wild wooden one that you need a massage after. By not thinking through the transitions…hand off’s (transitioning people on stage) and musical beats per minute…you may leave the church attendees feeling a bit beaten up when they leave.

I like to think of service flow outlined on a graph. I made a few examples of a typical church service below. The red line flowing through the service is supposed to represent the run time of a service from beginning to end. Below each graph are some thoughts.

1. This has a typical high energy start with smooth transitions bringing the song speed down to a more reflective mood into communion. Choosing a more medium paced song to play before or during offering can bring the energy back up so that the pastor can start his message more comfortably.

2. Why not start the service with a slow song? Bring the energy back up after the announcements and then slowly curtail it back down into communion. The rest of the service is like the first. I like to use this flow every once in a while to just throw people off and engage them differently. Be careful to go from slow song to crazy happy announcement person though 😉

3. The flow is similar to the first one but the transitions between songs are awkward and the hand off’s are clumsy. The flow is constantly disrupted and you will lose momentum. At the end of the service…you will probably be asking…what just happened? And so will your church.

CHECK IT – Your services may look drastically different than the ones I showed you but the principal is still the same. Create an environment for people to easily connect to God with little distraction. Think through your transitions and think ahead…trying to find areas in the service that might be awkward. When you are throwing out suggestions for the service…quickly jot down the flow on a piece of paper and see if it makes sense. Stay within your churches value system and enjoy the ride.

Peace. Jesse.

One week to leading…TONALITY

I love listening to modern worship albums. I love hearing the different tones they are using and the different dynamics they choose within the chart. It’s not that older worship albums are bad or useless…but I love progress.

As a worship leader, how do you get your band to understand the tones or dynamics of this new style of music? Quite often…we work with older musicians who grew up using specific guitar or piano patches. We have a drummer that can keep a beat…but we are trying to get something “more” from them.  How do you change the music…how do you create something with a more “modern” sound?

Here is an example of what I am trying to convey…first…an older live worship album…and next…a more modern sounding live album. I am not saying which way is right or wrong…but these are good examples of “tones” and “dynamics” that worship leaders are looking for in modern music. READ BELOW the videos for tips on bringing more modern tones out of 3 key instruments in your band.

Older Live Worship – Still good stuff but listen to the keys and drums.

Modern Live Worship – Great guitar tones and simple piano but @ 3:50 of the video…this thing takes off. Watch what the drummer does.

First – Make a compilation CD of songs that have the tones you want. Hand it out and set it as homework. Have them listen to their specific instruments and create a conversation about what’s different.

Electric Guitar – It’s time to ditch the ultra chorus or the distortion that screams early 90’s. Modern electric guitars are going old school. They are using analog pedals (or digital ones that mimic analog ones) and gain that sounds “glassy” with grit. It uses delay with 8th notes and tremolo that slowly moves the more intimate songs along.  Ask them who the best guitarists of all time are. What gear did they use? What kind of amps did they use? Eric, Jimmy, John…it’s the tone that matters. Find the gear that gets them there…they might already have it.

Keys – It’s time to leave the “electric” piano tones and seriously synthy strings in the past. Keys in modern worship lay the foundation to the tune. Classic organ sounds, deep synth pads and simple piano skills are all that’s needed for a keys player. Have the keys player simplify their playing. Less is more. Playing pads is not about hitting all the notes in the chord…it’s about picking the right notes. The same goes for when they play the piano. They can play all the notes they need with 4 or 5 fingers…it’s mostly rhythmic…not so leading.

Drums – Most drummers can keep decent time, but modern drummers steer almost all the dynamics of the tune. The key word here is dynamics. I find that older drummers have what I call a “Zero to Hero” approach. They are either completely soft…or fully in. Work with them on the building of the song, using the floor tom, kick and snare to create dynamics and not just rhythm. Have them listen to the newer songs…listening to how the drummer controls the dynamics…the rise and fall of the song.

Do you have any other thoughts on how to bring about more modern tones with your band? If so…I’d love to hear them.

Here’s to progress!

Peace. Jesse.

One week to leading…REST AND REFLECTION

It’s been a great long week for you. Practice, more practice, meetings, rehearsal, sound check and preparation.  

Two quick things you should remember and take hold of.

Rest – There is a reason God created a Sabbath day. Your brain, your heart and your spirit need the time. It doesn’t mean you need to take long naps and bathe in the sun all day…but taking a quiet walk might not hurt.

If you work at a church…take your day/s off very seriously. Hang with your family or find a hobby. Do some housework or pull some weeds (not too fast now J ). You need the reset button and time to find perspective in life. If all you ever do is work…you might miss the blessings God has for you that day.

Reflection – Once you have had a chance to rest…take a little bit to reflect on many things. How did you feel about the weekend or service? Was there something you could have done to be more prepared or something that just didn’t work? Take time to reflect on life and leadership…direction and possibilities ahead.

“Only when the clamor of the outside world is silenced will you be able to hear the deeper vibration. Listen carefully.” – Sarah Ban Breathnach

I can’t stress how important these two things are each week. Find time in your schedule.

After you have been able to gain some perspective and rest…you will be ready for the next week.

Peace and Love. Jesse