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Rabbit Room Christmas 2014

Assignments have been sent! It's time once again for the Rabbit Room Christmas Exchange. Click through for full details. Assignments have been sent. Check your email and have fun. If you expected an assignment and did not receive one, please email me at [email protected]

Colony House Live

In Nashville, on July 22nd, Andrew and I celebrated the conclusion of our journey creating The Warden and the Wolf King. That same night, another group of young men celebrated the launch of a new journey. Colony House, a rock band made up of brothers Caleb and Will Chapman and friend Scott Mills, threw a party for the release of their first album, When I Was Younger. I could tell it pained Andrew that he wasn't able to attend their release party. The next morning when Gina and I left the Peterson's to return to Ohio, Andrew gave me some parting gifts, and among them was Colony House's new album. It took me only two listens to realize that I had just been handed one of the finest albums I've heard in a decade. Fine from start to finish. Each track unique yet cohesive and tied together with common threads of longing, heartache, hope, and the understanding that the only real control we have is in letting go. As I listened, I wondered how well they could perform such heartfelt music in a live setting, and this past Wednesday evening, Gina and I were afforded the opportunity to experience just that. It was the final night of the band's two-month, nationwide tour with indie-pop rockers, Knox Hamilton.

A Mother’s Repentance

Before my oldest son was born, I had a miscarriage at twelve weeks gestation. It was a messy, terrifying experience; and for years after it was over, I struggled with fear that the loss had been my fault. I was afraid that I had traveled too much in the first trimester, or that I had been too stressed about the ministry we were trying to begin. Maybe the electricity from the waterbed my husband and I were sleeping on had caused the baby to die somehow, or maybe I shouldn’t have lifted the flower pots by the front step. The one thing I knew for sure was that I had been too casual about motherhood. Our pregnancy was unexpected, and my emotions hadn’t had time to catch up. I was supposed to have nine months to adjust to the idea of a baby; I didn’t know life and death could change places overnight. When I woke up from the D&C, I was groggy. I remember asking the nurse two things: first, if they could tell the child’s gender, and second, if I could somehow bury my child. She told me “no” to the first, and to the second, that the hospital had already “taken care of” the baby’s remains. It was a quiet, empty ride home. Community was not much comfort. The same Christians who would have been horrified if I had aborted a child smoothed over the loss with platitudes: “You can have an other one,” or, “God doesn’t make mistakes!” or “Sometimes these things happen.” They were trying to help, but I felt a lot of pressure to be okay, even though I wasn’t.

October

The light looks different this time of year. Shafts of gold pierce trees transient, darkening. The earth goes to bed a little earlier each night because she knows she’s getting older, fighting gravity, remembering carefree green and dancing in the rain, remembering emotional thunder and flashing lightning. But now, she’s only wiser and knows sleep makes all things rested, beautiful. And tomorrow she’ll wake early, dress in fire-red and bands of gold because she can with no one left to impress and never more alive.

One Minute Review: Fury

"Are you saved?" "I was baptized." "That’s not what he asked."
The new old-school war movie, Fury, addresses salvation. What is it, how does one get it, and why do some people not get it. Most importantly, what’s our role? Do the questions get answered? Watch the One Minute Review for more. Also, check out www.OneMinuteReview.com for all the reviews you may have missed. One Minute Review: FURY from Thomas McKenzie on Vimeo.

The Top Eleventy Reasons You Should Back The Green Ember

OK, eleventy would be too many, so let me just admit up front that the headline was designed to suck you in. Welcome to Downworthy dot com. I'm going with a gimmick that involves what Math "People" call "Numerical Collisioning." You'll see at the end. Like charismatic church services, these follow no particular order. [Winking emoticon goes here.] Spurgeon's General Warning: Thinly-disguised bragging follows and bragging cometh of pride, which is deadly.  Why should you back The Green Ember on Kickstarter? 1. We made a cool video. It’s a little long, yes, attention spans on-line being what they are (or aren’t). But it’s a good video, I think, and I’m pleased with it. It has a cool part you’ll want to stay tuned for. I won’t ruin it, but two hints: 1) #RabbitsWithSwords 2) Dubstep My dear friend Brian Patton made it and he’s the man. I love his vision. The video is below!

Slow

The most beautiful and lovely things always have been, and always will be, slow. Almost anything moving fast is naturally appealing. Where I live there is a kind of zoo called the San Diego Safari Park. Essentially the Safari Park is 1,800 acres of Africa relocated to north San Diego county. (By comparison, the more famous San Diego Zoo is 100 acres.) At the Safari Park there is a lot of land for animals to cover if they get motivated to take off running. Sometimes there is motivation. It is just awesome to watch a gazelle trucking across the savannah. Or there is this bighorn sheep exhibit that is basically a hundred-foot sheer rocky cliff. Occasionally you get lucky and see one of these beasts leaping up (or down!) the cliff like a bullet. Fast is beautiful. When my daughters were younger I often traveled for business. Returning home from a trip, Leanne would bring the family to pick me up from the airport. I would get through security and make eye contact with my daughters. The older ones smiled but played it cool and waited for me. The younger one took off running. Trying to look like an adorable dad getting home from a long trip, I stopped walking, swatted down, and spread out my arms for a big hug. And waited. My kneecaps began to swell. Lactic acid stabbed like switchblades into my butt cheeks. All smiles and big eyes, she had wobbled half the distance and I was growing faint. Slow is more beautiful.

A Month by the Sea: Creating Silence

“The present state of the world, the whole of life, is diseased. If I were a doctor and were asked for my advice, I would reply, “Create silence! Bring men to silence. The Word of God cannot be heard in the noisy world of today. Create silence.” ---Soren Kierkegaard My husband and my Lord, in company with the kindest of house-sitters, have conspired to give me an inestimable gift: a month on my beloved jewel of an island. A whole month to write and read and work and dream; to recover a bit from an intense season and recalibrate my inner compass. A month of quiet. We’re ensconced in our Silver Girl under a canopy of moss-clad trees, a brisk little bike ride from our favorite beach on earth. The bookshelf is crammed with carefully selected titles (both new friends and old loves), the galley is stuffed with comestibles, and my dear Brown Betty teapot is on constant duty. We both have clearly marked goals for this time, Philip and I, ambitions towards which want to point this arrow of golden hours. And when the day’s work is done (or when one needs an occasional day-dreamy pause), there are inexhaustible beauties upon which to feast the eyes and the soul: vistas of endless marshland, ever a-teem with the changing life of the tides; sunsets that spill over this green land like an upturned cup of golden wine; long, grey colonnades of live oaks, whose ancient boughs bear the graveclothes of Spanish moss and the mystic, living parable of resurrection fern. And, of course, and always---the sea.

Jonny Jimison Presents: Martin and Marco

I've always been a storyteller, because I've always needed stories. Facts, arguments, charts, and diagrams---they're all a bit lost on me. But wrap your discussion in a story and I'll dive into its narrative without a second thought. Living inside the story makes things specific and personal, and suddenly everything clicks---the abstract thought that once made me shrug becomes real when encountered through the experience of a story. As far back as I can remember, I made up elaborate stories to explain anything I didn't understand---which was plenty! One of those stories was The Hidden Lantern, which I set to paper in May of 2004. Here's an excerpt:

The great and proud country of Arsendol to the west of Linoriath was far from the terror of Tor Danosh and therefore did not fear what they had not seen. But the great kingdom of Ramish west of the desert was near to the southernmost mountains of the country where the enemy lay, and their northern borders had already been assailed, so they soon offered to help the Nandor.
Yikes. Can you tell I was reading The Silmarillion? I've kept The Hidden Lantern hidden for years---for obvious reasons. When Tolkien writes like that, it's brilliant. When I do, it's pretentious at best. But while I kept the story hidden, it stayed alive---and over time it began to change. Tolkien's horse lords and Witch-Kings---drawn from his background in classic English literature---were replaced by swashbucklers and bandits drawn from my background in classic adventure films. The overwrought Middle English dialect was gradually replaced by snappy banter and silly puns. I began speaking a language that I knew. As a child, I spent most of my time in worlds drawn by Peanuts creator Charles Schultz, Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson, and Uncle Scrooge creator Carl Barks. My taste in comics has expanded and diversified over the years, but those three men still define my style, because absorbing their work taught me the language of comics. It was thrilling---and eye-opening---to read newer comic works like Kazu Kibuishi's Amulet, Jeff Smith's Bone, and Ben Hatke's Zita the Space Girl and see the whimsy, humor, and carefree adventure of my favorite childhood comics being put to work in service of epic, ambitious, and often thought-provoking fantasy stories. That's when I pulled out The Hidden Lantern and changed the name to Martin and Marco. Suddenly, the characters began observing pratfalls instead of delivering soliloquies. The cursed object that Marco acquires was no longer a wooden box but a child's backpack with a goofy grin stitched onto it. The story thrived when I brought it into my own unique imagination and began to create out of what I knew rather than what I thought I should be. Authenticity paid off! And once Martin and Marco got started, there was no stopping them. Three years of planning the story, scripting, thumbnailing, designing characters, reconceiving scenes and sometimes entire storylines---it's all lead to a five-volume series of graphic novels called The Dragon Lord Saga. And at long last, the first volume, Martin and Marco, is ready for print and up on Kickstarter! Happily, the bones of the story held up as I changed the skin. At its heart, this is a story about adventurers---characters on an unpredictable and dangerous journey. Dragons loom on the horizon, hoarding gold and power. But dragons also loom within, hoarding secrets and desires. This is a story I'm living. To those who believe in this project, who have backed the Kickstarter, who have spread the word---it means the world to me that you're sharing this vision. If you haven't met Martin and Marco yet---I'd love to introduce you. Visit them on Kickstarter (the campaign ends soon!) and at my website. I hope you'll be a part of the story and join the adventure! (Click the image below to view full size.) pages

Julie Lee & Friends @ North Wind Manor

Here's a little taste of what might be going on at North Wind Manor this Saturday night during our Julie Lee & Friends (Sarah Masen Dark, Corrie Covell, and Ron Block) house concert. The first is Julie and Ron Block playing "Battlefield" at Nashville's own Belcourt Theater. The second, from Under the Radar, is Sarah Masen singing "The Human Scale" backed by Julie Lee and Corrie Covell. There are just a few tickets left and they are available here.

After All These Years: Preorder now!

On November 10th (in a mere three weeks!) my newest album, After All These Years: A Collection, will be released into the wild, so we're commencing with preorders.What is this collection, you ask? It's a total of eighteen songs spanning the last fifteen years or so of music---and that track list includes four (FOUR!) new ones and eight (EIGHT!) brand-spanking-new recordings of older songs (SONGS!). The new recordings of old songs were made in two days with some great friends and great musicians who I've had the honor of working with over the years: Ben Shive, Andy Gullahorn, Ken Lewis, Matt Pierson, Joe Causey, and Jill Phillips. Re-recording those old songs was strange and wonderful, especially since we reimagined some of them, which sort of gave them some new clothes to wear---clothes that fit better now than they did fifteen years ago. I can't wait for you to hear them. Here's the quick highlight reel of the new songs: "After All These Years" was written right after my 40th birthday this year, as a deliberate exercise in gratitude. It felt appropriate to write a song that would be a sort of Ebenezer stone in the wilderness---a song of thanksgiving to God for his abiding love over the last four decades, and one that I would have to sing every night for the next few years. A lot has changed in my life in a short amount of time, and I'm prone to some boneheaded grumbling these days. This song (and this record, for that matter) is my way of stacking stones, a cairn on the hilltop that I'll be able to see from the valley floor in the days and years to come. "To All the Poets" was co-written with Gloria Gaither, and is an ode to the many poets, songwriters, and storytellers who have carried the fire and given us all words to pray when we had none of our own. (I'm looking at you, Rich Mullins and C. S. Lewis.) "Romans 11 (Doxology)" was written right after we recorded Love & Thunder, but it never made it to an official album. I included the demo of it on Appendix A and then forgot about it, more or less. Then I met a guy named Charlie, a song leader from Michigan, who told me that he had been using it for years as the closing doxology at the retreat center where he works. When I sang it at the show that night I was overwhelmed by the sound of the congregation singing it back to me and decided to include it on this collection. Thanks, Charlie. "Everybody's Got a Song" was finished backstage at the Ryman Auditorium right before the Behold the Lamb of God show in 2012. It's a love song to Nashville, my family and friends here, and to the coming Kingdom. This one features Nate Dugger on lap steel and the great Stuart Duncan on fiddle. This link will whoosh you to the Rabbit Room Store, where you will not only be able to preview the tracks, you'll be presented with three (THREE!) irresistible offers. 1) Preorder the download of all 20 songs for a mere $10. 2) Preorder the disc (which would only fit 18 of the songs). 3) Preorder the download of all 20 songs AND the physical copy (which includes a pretty extensive booklet featuring an essay by Mark Geil). All three of these options helps me pay the mortgage, so we Petersons give you a hearty thanks. I hope these songs are a blessing to you and yours. AP

Rich Mullins Cover Night @ The Local Show

We're super excited about tonight's Local Show for a couple of reasons. First, it's the first Local Show to feature a theme---something we hope to see more of as the show evolves. And second, it's going to be an entire night of Rich Mullins songs as a slew of artists pay homage to the man who inspired so many of us. We hope you'll join us tonight for this special show. It's going to be a ton of fun. To give you just a taste of what might happen, here's a video of Jill Phillips, Andy Gullahorn, Jeremy Casella, and Andy Osenga covering "Calling Out Your Name" at a show a last month. Get your tickets here.

The Local Show - "Calling Out Your Name" from The Rabbit Room on Vimeo.

Listening to the Right Voices

Eleven years ago I knew exactly what kind of parent I was going to be. I had decided what books my daughters would read, what songs they would love to sing and how I would handle difficult situations. It turns out that life cares little for my theories. The challenges facing our children seem to grow on a daily basis and the truth is that some days I go to bed feeling like every choice I made turned out to be the wrong one. It feels like the future is approaching at an ever-increasing pace, relentlessly mocking my naïve arrogance and tempting me to give in to the fear that I have not adequately prepared my daughters for what lies ahead. For me, one of the most sobering moments in the entire Old Testament narrative is when the children of Israel discover that the land they are ready to conquer is inhabited by giants. Crippled by fear for the future of their children, the Israelites turn back and head for the wilderness. Every time I read it I wonder whether I would have acted any differently in their shoes. Honestly, I doubt it. Sometimes, when I look at the world around me, the temptation to retreat can be almost overwhelming. It strikes me that the thing which swayed the Israelites more than any other was the voice they chose to listen to. All twelve of the spies saw the same thing when they looked at Canaan. Giants. Strongholds. Danger. The facts were inescapable.

Live at North Wind Manor: Julie Lee & Friends

Next Saturday night we're hosting a house concert for Julie Lee at North Wind Manor. We told you last week that Julie would be joined by Corrie Covell and Sarah Masen Dark, and this week were happy to announce that Ron Block will be joining in as well. We can't wait to have you over for the evening. Bring a snack and enjoy the music (and the company). There are only about 20 tickets remaining and they're available here. Unfamiliar with Julie's music? Check out this video of her performing the title track from her most recent album, Till & Mule. And don't forget about Rich Mullins Cover Night at next week's Local Show. Tickets here.

Pre-order now: Mortar & Stone

Jill Phillips premiered the songs from her forthcoming album, Mortar & Stone, at Hutchmoot last week, and those who were there even got the chance to buy advanced copies of the CD. The official release day isn't until November 18th, but today we're happy to announce that pre-orders are open to the rest of the world. When you pre-order, you'll be able to instantly download two tracks from the album: "Mortar & Stone" and "Bear With You." Click here to pre-order. If you picked up a copy of the record at the show, let the rest of our readers know what you think. Here's one of the tracks you'll be able to download when you pre-order: "Bear With You" by Jill Phillips from the album Mortar & Stone [audio:Bearwith.mp3]