About Lacy Hilbrich

I am a mom, a pastor and a full time volunteer in many roles that all point toward more love for the world.

“Defying Gravity” – Kristin Chenoweth & Idina Menzel

During the spring and summer, I walked most mornings. I got out of my bed and spent the first hour of the day wandering with the deer. Without many exceptions, each morning I would return home and start my shower to get ready. Immediately before stepping in this shower, this song was turned on. For the next 6 minutes I sang every word to this song. Everyday. Our shower is a about the size of phone booth and most days I would step in as Clark and come out as Superman, thanks to this song. I called it morning meditation.

Is there any better way to celebrate all that has been and is becoming than two witches, some flying monkeys and munchkins? I think not. If you have not seen Wicked, please start saving to go to the Gershwin. There is NOTHING like this show. Not one thing. Ever. And this is a gem. This song ends the first act. While I want to explain every detail of the how’s and why’s, just know…KNOW that if we were watching it together, this is when my tears would be flowing.

“Just say you’re sorry…you can still be with the wizard…”

“I know…but I don’t want it. No, I can’t want it anymore…”

I could (with full passionate typing) recall every word for you. But I need you to listen. Think about all that I have shared about this journey and you will get it. This is my flying song.

We would not have Dorothy or the ruby slippers without this moment. The 4:30 mark is the freedom cry. And there is no one that I want to hear this from more than a woman that doesn’t fit. Someone that has spent their life fighting her body and role and gifts. Someone that just needed to forge her own way. Even if it meant walking away from life that you have known.

“I’m through accepting limits, ‘cause someone says there so. Some things I cannot change, but until I try I’ll never know…”

When this song comes on, I have faces that sing me Glinda’s part. But Elphaba is all mine. Every green ounce of her. With her pointy hat and black dress. She is smart. She is wise. She is misunderstood. And she claims it all. For herself.

In January of 2020, my oldest turned 18 and I took her to New York. Seeing Wicked was a must. Do we think that there is any coincidence that one of the last “normal” things I did before the world went whack-a-do was to be in this theatre? Nope.

A few weeks ago I let a friend see what this song does to me. My family has seen…heard…been tortured for so long. For all the reasons, I don’t sing in front of people. Much less perform. But we were cooking and listening to music and I was using my best curious thinking and decided that I wanted to share this song. So I didn’t just turn the music on. I SAAANG IT. Well, I actually performed it. Shortly after my debut, Lucas walked in and the tale was recounted. As he tried not to chuckle, he looked at me, smirked and said, “I’m so sorry” to my friend. And we all 3 laughed. So hard.

You can’t contain a song like this. And that sums up my Christmas wish today. For myself and for those that are brave enough, do it. Sing it. Dance it. Pretend that you are Idina with Adam Lambert in the company. (Because he was.) And if your supporting team has that kind of sass behind you (and some badass monkeys) what is not possible? I didn’t say it would be easy. I actually know it won’t. But that moment. The second that your feet leave the ground and you know that flying is what you were created for, you will get it. Just throw you arms wide open. To all my fellow green girls, I’ll see you in the western sky. Defy. Everyone deserves the chance to fly.

Merry Christmas, all.

“Something in the Orange” – Zach Bryan

This journey would not be complete without one last moment of country genius. There was no question in my mind which song would be Christmas Eve. This one was set from the beginning of this project. There is only one song that takes all of the big and the quiet and the mulling and the processing and wraps all of those stories into the literal image of hope.

Every night I walk to my window to watch the sunset. If there is anything in the sky that is picture worthy, it gets snapped. Almost every one of the cover images for this series were pictures that I have taken of sunsets. Sunsets are the antibiotic ointment on the nasty open wounds of my life. They are my Mupirosin. If I am driving, I have a hard time not focusing on the sky. If I’m somewhere other than my porch, there is a good chance that I’m more interested in watching the sunset than I am the activity. BUT. If you find me a porch at a restaurant where I can watch the sunset while we share a meal, well. You win my whole heart.

I snapped this one this week.
Gosh I love this moment of the day.

If I’m honest, by the time I made it to writing this song’s story, I did not feel the Christmas cheer like I hoped. Here’s the thing about my curious dreaming. Now that I engage in it, I have to be ready for the disappointment. Even with all of the best planning and idea banks. Even with all of the best intentions. We still find the orange. Life is full of it. There will always be the things that tear out our soul.

I spent so many years with a solution in this moment. I gave it to Jesus. On Tuesdays and Sundays and especially on Christmas Eve. The path to contentment and hope was in a 8 pound 6 ounce Baby Jesus. And yes, that’s a Talledega Nights joke. My sense of humor is not gone. But it also really, really hurts. The answers are not easy. It’s as messy as this line:

“these things eat at your bones and drive your young mind crazy”

The complicated heavy of this song is the truest musical story of my year. Most days have felt more like this song than “Never Gonna Not Dance Again.” And the craziest part? Where is the driving bass in this song? It’s as low key as it gets. Sure, it’s there. But there is no pushing drive. There is no wild. There is not even a crescendo of a huge bridge. Instead, it’s the pressing pain of the lyrics and the dependable strum on that acoustic guitar that makes me feel the orange.

Another part of this song that is defining for me is the solo journey. There is a longing for people because the painful places are lonely. We miss being connected. We miss knowing our place in the world. In the hard moments of the orange, we have to sit alone and face reality. And when that reality is filled with memories of a world that is no longer, the orange is sad. And so very hard.

This guy is my constant buddy in the hard.
He loves his orange too. 🔥

Those of you that have followed me on this journey may be siting in this moment thinking, this is how you wrap this up? In the hard of the orange? Nope. There is one more. But to fully understand tomorrow, you have to sit in the orange. You don’t get to skip the orange. Even if the answers for tomorrow are not as neatly packed as I would like them to be. Even if they feel too big and crazy and my insides want a quick fix. There are many moments that I wish that I could just go to church tonight and make it all ok. But that’s why we have the orange. We need to wrestle around a bit before tomorrow.

If 2022 has taught me anything, it’s that the road out and through is always going to include the hard work of something that will need more. And we have more tomorrow. We have a musical Christmas gift that literally helps me fly out of the most orange-y of orange moments. At the very same time, it allows me to be there when I need to. It’s the one. The one that literally sings me into the hardest moments.

And just because the orange includes remembering the fun and the hard, a Christmas throwback. This was the year that the youngest was a professional elf. She dressed in costume for multiple events including Christmas Eve. She is still the best elf.
Except I’m the only one wearing costumes today.

My Christmas Eve today is really different than those of the past. So many things have changed in the many orange seasons of the last two years. My ability to grow and not die in this process has been possible in the orange. Which is where I find myself today. And that’s ok. It’s not what I planned or pictured. It’s not what I even wanted. But there are streaks of the sun in that orange that I need. Without the orange, I don’t know how to depend on the green. Or fly…

“Never Gonna Not Dance Again” – P!nk

If you thought we were finished with my girl, you were so wrong. There is no better place for a song that was released with a video including a grocery store, roller skates, fishnets and a leather corset than curiosity week. I don’t care if it only came out in November. It’s still one of the greatest curious moments of 2022. The number of times that this song has been performed in my bathroom- not just sung – is, well, just ask my youngest. She LOVES this song. (Insert mom smirk.)

Most of the music of P!nk that filled me through this year were the deeper cuts. The ones that allow me to feel like I could roll back the bad ass for a bit. In July, she released a song that I had been craving and didn’t know how to curiously explore this discontent. The song is “Irrelevant” and I needed it. It’s pissy. It’s hard. And the quiet moments of the song are painful. There is so much truth in these lyrics from the last years of my life. This song was the perfect bridge from tender to wanting my life to be a Whitney Houston song. On November 4th (also the birthday of one of my favorite creative thinking humans…coincidence?) this freaking song dropped.

What you need to know is that I asked for roller skates for Christmas because of this song. That’s how much this song makes my insides come to life. This song is a Album of the Year for a curious human. Especially the video. I want to have a fit on the floor with a crying child. I want to be the crazy old lady with the cart. I want to follow her around in that parking lot and dance my heart out. In addition to the fun factor, did you listen to the words?

If someone told me that the world would end tonight, you could take all that I got for once I wouldn’t start a fight (yeah right)…we’ve already wasted enough time…I’m never gonna not dance again.

I need more of this fun in life. I’ve chosen people in my inner circle that remind about this. They give me space to figure out what part of my dance MUST continue. They have helped me laugh at myself. They have allowed me the space to find my favorite songs so that I can always access the dance I need. They have insisted that no idea was too crazy to entertain. And they have literally stood by me while I do the curious new things. Gosh, I love these humans. Here a few moments that will be in my video if I get my roller skates. I have plans. And I still think the fam thinks I’m gonna break my neck. Whatevs.

This one is the chief encourager of my curious. ♥️
Need I say more?
We have to laugh.
And I love that laughing is a WE activity.
Flowers are curious fun for me.
I’ll never forget this day. And when your people know how you feel joy, that’s fun. So much fun.

I’m grinning so big. That’s what these pictures and this song (and a lot of grace with myself as I redefine what makes me come alive today) have done for my life. The one thing that I refuse to give up is the dance of curiosity. It’s the most rewarding, life giving ride ever. This song and day and the feelings behind it are the reason I chose my word of the year for 2023. I usually share it on New Year’s, but let’s live curiously. The word is BLOOM. I spent weeks mulling what I thought was the perfect representation of where I long to be. And then I thought about what is ahead in the coming year. I’m launching my last kiddo. I’m moving back in with my hubs after 2 1/2 years apart. I mean, just a few things. It’s from this curious new place that I’m not afraid today. I can’t let this growth stagnate. I can’t wait to learn new dances. In new places. On new adventures. With new people. Even if my family thinks I’m too old to do it on roller skates. 🛼♥️

P.S. if I rent a grocery store for my birthday party you think P!nk would bring her skates? I have some curious ideas brewing…

“I Won’t Back Down” – Tom Petty

I’m gonna need you to stop and listen to this miracle story. Really listen. This song is the rhythmic witness to growth. Of course it comes from a great. Tom is on the sacred middle of musical life. In all the people with all of the preferences, I have rarely met someone who does not have at least a baseline appreciation for Mr. Petty. How could you not? He’s one of the greats. He is a teacher. He is also a musical mystic, so I just want to hang in his presence. It’s rich.

As I finished the list of songs for the week of curiosity, this one just kept hanging around the edges. And I didn’t shoo it away, but I tried to make it fit in self-love and it just didn’t. There are a few songs from Tom that have held me on this journey. “Free Fallin’” will never be played without the world seeing the strain of my attempt to sing like Tom. Add in “Wildflowers” and you get the impact of hurt and heart swoon. He is a good, good life witness. All of that to say, Tom earned the spot on the top 29, but it wasn’t until I made peace with my outline for curiosity week that I understood why.

I don’t need an attack anthem today.

While the joy of the walk out song is so fun, this is the kind of song that curiosity has assured me is truth. As I thought about all of the many gifts of my curious wanderings, I have been assured that I’m strong. I’m here. I don’t have to defend my ground. I can stand right on the whole of this story and own it. I’ve lived it. I can have a great steady bass line and a lead guitar like no other. I don’t NEED a full dance squad or even a flame throwing stage show today. (But they are there if I want them.) It’s my choice how I stand my ground today.

The version of Lacy that is 2022 has all of the bigness of the musical dramatics. But it also has a wise, old-soul feel of Tom and others like him that are just as happy sitting by a fire and settling in for the stories of truth. Like the times when I don’t have to yell it, I just know it.

I have the most steady determination to live these words. Like something I have never known. I have a willingness to stay out of the fight today because I know I don’t have to defend at every turn. It just is. In some ways, this side of me is scarier for those around me. It’s a very weird…peace? It’s almost like these words are the motivation and the backbone. So…

I won’t back down.

This is another ACL moment. I take pictures to remember feelings as a part of my reclamation. At this exact moment I was done. I was sitting alone trying to find some space. I’ve learned I can do that today. I get to be P!nk AND Tom. It all fits in Lacy.
And I won’t back down.

“I Got You” – Michael Franti & Spearhead

This song is my musical deep breath.

I got you.

That may be the best line ever. Especially if when someone says it to you, they look deep at your wounds. If when these words are coming out, they have a kick, get ready. I got you, and you are gold. AND if you have friends that don’t just say them, but then follow them up with the things that actually make you feel got…oh…that’s love. To this jaded heart, having someone that knows how bad things REALLY are still say these words…just get out. That’s all I need.

On the days when it’s all too much, I have embraced a form of self-care that I call sorting. Not packing. Sorting. I am a master of boxing. The kind that takes place when one takes the hard things and buries them deep in the storage boxes of the internal attic. Under the mice poo and insulation. That is about as in tune as my coping skills sang until recently.

Large boxes of untouched emotional unrest and life questions should not be packed away and ignored. Go ahead, I know. I’m so wise. Unfortunately, doing this work is far from easy. Practicing the healthy work of excavation has taught me that I don’t want to have storage boxes of old, rotting bones. What I need is clear plastic storage containers. Containers labeled with the truth of the stories. They are there. They are not going anywhere. But, they are also not ignored. They are accurately identified boxes that I can take down whenever I need to do some work in that area. And then I can put it right back on the shelf.

One of the single greatest gifts of curiosity is that I get to approach life in new ways. With permission to mess it up. When the weight of unpacking generations of believed truth proved too heavy, I learned an important and vital lesson for an all in thinker. I can choose not to ignore something and still not dig around in the hurting of it on the daily. For so long I believed that if you “did the hard work” of getting to the bottom of the ick it was done. The boxes got taped up and taken to storage. No need to keep that old stuff down in sight. But the thing is, taped storage boxes only contribute to dust allergy. Old boxes equate to ignoring the things that are a part of your story, no matter how you tell it. Storage containers give me the ability to see it, label it, dust it off and clean out that box anytime it causes my insides to notice.

This song is my clear storage container for the hard. It’s the reminder that through a new and curious (and far less managed) approach, not ignoring, and at the same time demanding me to dance my wiggles out. When the things are piling. When the stress to cover all the things is real. When the hurt just feels like it will break you in two, we can simultaneously feel broken and trust those 3 words ring true. I can been crushed, acknowledge it, and still know my back is worth covering.

Also? This song has the best little dancing beat. So when it sucks. When it hurts too much to play Tracy or Brett, there is a place where I can store my big musical feelings. It’s artist with this playful spirit that have taught me that I don’t have to ignore the hard to have moments of lightness. I just need the ability to not always be on. Songs like this make it possible to find the both/and. I can still have really hard hards and the people in my life will have my back. Also, it is ok to dance and laugh and even mess up.

I got you.

We are closing in on Christmas. We are in the final push. Creative thinking is fun, just like this song. If it’s been a while since you not just said this, but reminded your people and yourself what it means to say I GOT YOU, you should. This might be the greatest gift you could give someone. Be it in your presence, words or care, let’s live this today. I got you.

“Dirty Dirty” – Charlotte Cardin

You remember that little thing called ACL? Well, there was one other person that I had to see. Deeper on the list of performers was a Canadian woman that I had recently been introduced to. She has a few songs that I love, but this one is special. As I dug further into the entirety of the lineup, I sent this text to Lucas:

The single sexiest female voice maybe ever is Charolette Cardin. Who is there. She is sex in melody.

With that intro, you know this story is going to be good. We got to ACL on Day 1 and Charlotte was the first act that anyone in our group wanted to see. As opposed to P!nk, getting to the front for Charlotte was easy. See attached.

Having a spot at the gate was not a hard task, but dealing with the people that I was standing next to was another thing entirely. As I patiently waited for her, a group of 3-4 “official” looking people with badges stood next to me. Almost immediately, another badged up dude brought a man and a woman to join the group. It was in their introduction that I discovered that Charlotte’s team (including her sister) were the group next to me.

Charlotte is younger than I am. She is unique and fun. You can feel her energy in the music. The couple that joined the group were around my age. In the first 2 minutes I was informed of all the ways they had access to all the cool kid places at ACL. The dude wouldn’t shut up. Eventually, he looked at Charlotte’s sister and said with what – in case you missed my hint – was the most arrogant tone, “So what kind of sound does your sister have?”

She tried to come up with something to say and had a clearly annoyed and embarrassed tone, “she is mainly pop, but she has some deep roots in blues…blah blah…” and again. He wouldn’t stop. And he kept introducing her sister to all these new women that keep appearing. It was one of the most irritating and pretentious scenes I’ve witnessed in a long time. The last thing this poor girl wanted to do as her sister was preparing to take the stage was chat with this self-labeled VIP.

After all the introductions, he came back to her sound and he would not stop. I was in protect mode. I wanted him to go away, but I also wanted to let this fool know that true fans did not appreciate the crazy need for you to label her music. Leave her sister alone! I just couldn’t take it anymore so I turn around and looked him in the eye with my don’t fuck with me (or her) look and said, “Her sound is just pure sexy. She is just soul sexy.” And I turned around. He didn’t know what to say.

I’m still big me. And, for the record, he stopped talking.

Her set was not long. She played her most popular ones and I was worried that she might not have time for this one. Everyone seemed to be enjoying her music. Even the guy. As she transitioned to the next song, she said, “This is an older one, I hope someone might know it.”

And then the raspy whisper. I started whooo hoooing like I was watching a boy band. And she smiled at me and I just melted. She finished the chorus and chatty boy look at me and said, “You nailed it. Exactly right. She is sexy.”

And her sister just laughed.

Charlotte is a perfect picture of my favorite teachers in this arena. These are my friends in their 30’s. This year I have sat at the feet of some of the bravest, wisest, most articulate CURIOUS humans. They have broken from the stories they were handed by their cultures. They have refused to settle for just enough. In every important curious movement this year, I have had a younger human as a Sherpa. As a teacher. And Charlotte is one of them. This song is a reminder that my brave younger friends are not afraid to feel songs like this. They have been the bridge to taking my awkward newness less seriously. They are wildly unafraid of things that I have always treated as taboo. They have helped me reorder my thinking. Most importantly, they have taught me that sex is not the enemy. Not then. Not now. The only way through this part of the joinery has been judgment free curiosity. And, more Charlotte.

“I see the way. I see the way, the way you want her…”

“Holy Water” – Brett Eldredge

It’s taken us until the last last week to get to this one – for a few reasons – but the main one being that it was curiosity that opened the door to this project. This was the song that started it all. It was a lonely September night and I sent this song to a friend with this caption:

“If Jesus music and 90s country had a baby, this would be it. And I love it. Because this is my comfort food.”

And so began the weeks long “discussion” about why all the music I like sounds religious. I’m ok with it today. I resisted it so hard for a bit. That’s my normal posture. Me and my big prickly walls have to live with the idea for a bit. Only if it settles on my skin more like fuzzy socks rather than anxiety skin does it get to stay today. This one stayed.

The mellow intro. The raspy vocals. And the harmony of the many. This song is like good homemade chili. Or your favorite Christmas candy. I want to slow dance and have a spiritual experience all while getting ready for the big ending because when it hits, we GO TO CHURCH. That last part requires a hand in the air and a foot stomp. Because.

It also requires a long hard look at what is holy and what is saving me today. As I have peeled back the truth of relationships and connection, I’ve discovered how vital my human connections are in my healing. The challenge to this reality comes in discovering that loving and being freed to love without my known rules feels dangerous and more overwhelming than I ever dreamed.

This truth is, I have spent most of my life hearing a song like this and immediately switching the human intended target of a upbeat love song to the understanding that I had for Jesus. Had this song come out in 2001, there is a very real possibility that I would have listened to the track, not thinking of human love, and immediately tried to weave the holy water into a Sunday school lesson. All Brett wanted was for us to have a feel good heart song. I couldn’t just love a human. I had to make it a holy sacrifice.

Wrongly, I assumed for years that relationships without roots in a religious belief system could not last. What I have discovered, instead, is that unregulated grace in the name of love has defined my hardest relationships. Allowing people to have holy places in my life and not have the power of deities has been the trickiest of the rebuilding work. The instructions that I have always followed no longer fit. But my insides are wise when they are acknowledged. I just tend to blast through the wisdom of my own stored knowledge. It’s in there. I have the experience and insight. I just have not had a lens that was helpful to understand the whole of human connection.

If there is one thing that I know for sure today about my curious wanderings in new holy water, it’s that I am working on more REAL connection than ever. Some days that is hard because to redefine trusting people, my circle to test market the new feelings has been very small. Learning that quality connection over quantity touches is my desired outcome has felt wrong. My mission has changed this year. I was sent back to do some remedial relationship work. As I have redefined and reestablished, I have found new holy water. Both with humans and myself.

“Didn’t know I need you, now I do…”

T-R-O-U-B-L-E – Travis Tritt

I told you trouble was around the corner. Welcome to CURIOSITY. This is the word that renewed and invigorated and propelled me from stuck to living. This word is the sweet spot of rediscovery. It is filled with all of the mess that you would expect from someone that knows not one ounce of chill. If I’m going exploring, I’m going. Big. Is there any fun in doing anything small? I think not…

Travis and I have been caught up in a true, big energy wrestling match that goes all the way back to the days of good ol’ 90s country fun. When I think about the defining country voices from my past, this is a master class. The number of times that I have used his advice to throw a quarter and encourage someone to phone a new friend is countless. There is just something that makes my big energy jump out of the speaker with Mr. Tritt. I love you Clay. Clint and JMM will always be near the top. But Travis meets the big me. And there is no song that can remind me that I’m here for the discovery like “T-R-O-U-B-L-E.”

One of the most confusing and complicated parts of my reconstruction has been making peace with my body. There is nothing that can wreck your self-image, sexuality, relationship to food, desire to exercise and even clothing choices like years and years of purity culture bullshit. It has ruined my ability to look in the mirror and see beauty. I’ve spent so many years feeling like my body was sinful. Initially, it was the need to not cause my brothers to stumble. I then swallowed the lie that my body belonged to someone else. I’ve spent years and years turning off what I now know are healthy, normal and very fun feelings of curiosity.

This song is a reminder of 1992- the height of me trying to put a quick run of curiosity right back into the youth group approved level of acceptable behavior. And the right clothing. And a hair cut and not too much makeup. It all mattered. Make yourself beautiful for a man, but not too pretty that you are tempting. Dress “cute” but not for attention. Make sure you don’t show cleavage or a collar bone. Those pesky collar bones…

Just play the intro to this song. And turn that baby up. Because this song has helped me curiously find new space. I LOOOOVE the reckless, untamed sound of this song. I can imagine the boot sliding and amazing dancing of those that know how to want a good dancing lead’s hands all over their Roper pocketless jeans.

I love to dance. Notice I didn’t say I was good at dancing, but I love it. One of the reasons that I have not fully embraced all that I’m now finding is that a freed body is not allowed in the world I lived in. Sure, dance in your kitchen. Dance with your husband. But don’t look trashy. And don’t let him touch you like THAT…

This song is the gasoline on my need to take my body back. It’s the ‘I don’t care what you think if I walk in the bar (or store or airport or living room) in my painted on jeans and long hair attitude to match the mood’ middle finger to all the times that I’ve felt that I couldn’t physically bring all of me to the table. It’s a new kind of something. And I like it.

The word curious has been so much harder to digest than self-discovery, excavation and quiet. It requires laying down the things I knew for the sake of meeting someone new. It requires me to be open to ideas that have been forbidden and scary. There is no curiosity without risk. Not when you have come from the world where the curious spirit is not celebrated. Creative? That’s the work of the Lord, but curious is a beast of danger. She is wild and does not censor her insides. She and I have dated for the last few years, but we decided to have a committed relationship this year. Let’s just say I’ve learned that there is more love in the land of the curious than I could have ever hoped for. So, let’s stay for the week and see what we find.

“Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken” – P!nk

Let’s get this party started. This is the lullaby to the quiet. It’s the cherry on the top of the work of learning to translate the inner voice that you no longer speak the language for. From my girl. This is a really important moment – you need to know the history to get this one. Just take it all in.

I’ve been here from the beginning. All the way back to M!ssundaztood. I’ll still dance my ass off to “Get the Party Started” like it is my job. It was this album that also has the total Lacy-of-all-ages anthem “Just Like a Pill.” Let’s pick up the story here…

It was October. ACL is this little music thing that my people attend. We live in the A of ACL. Austin. When the suggestion came to go as a family to ACL, I didn’t really have a good excuse. Last May, the group text discussion began. When I did not immediately jump with excitement at the thought of tickets, the children said, “Mom, have you seen the lineup?” They know. Because immediately upon opening the link that was previously untouched, I responded that I would be where she was. ACL, I’ll brave you for my woman.

I have seen P!nk live 3 previous times. Each time, at Toyota Center in Houston. But, this was not my first festival. I knew what I had to do. Alone. Because to be at the stage for P!nk, I would (I’m literally saving you here. You don’t want to know what I would have done to protect my spot 4 people back from the stage) have done almost anything. I lived through the crowd of Lil Nas X and didn’t back down. I was going to be close to her. Because there is nothing like being there with other huge fans of your music. You don’t stand for a place on the rail if you are not a fan. Back to the story…

The intro for “Just Like a Pill” started and NOT ONE HUMAN around me knew the words. But I did. And when I realized that I was the super fan, I LOST MY MIND. With every word there were tall girl limbs going insane. As the chorus built, she started down the runway right to me. Well, the cool kids all knew the chorus. So what? But then the second verse started. And I helped her. It was perfection. I LOOOVVE P!nk. “I haven’t moved from the spot where you left me…must have been a bad trip..”

If there is a single artist that makes me want to evolve with them, it’s P!nk. We share a similar default. Big. I loved her as a loud and irreverent 20-something, but I LOVE her as a mom of 2 with all the baddassery and the depth to hold the big hurty feelings in tender protected safety. The same woman that recorded “U + Ur Hand” and “Walk of Shame” also sings “Love Me Anyway (with Chris Stapleton)” and “Glitter in the Air.” She has fought the soul wars on singles like “Walk Me Home” and “I Am Here.” She is just…P!nk.

So how did a song from 2017 find its way to my 2022 advent? I am a fan of her art. I realize that I don’t know anything about P!nk personally. As someone who allows people peeks into truth, I remember this often. With that said, when she released Beautiful Trauma there was a shift. This came at a pivotal point in my own journey. What I was feeling inside was reflected in the multiple personalities of this album. And this one is on that album.

The quiet ends with this song. And in some way, it’s the only way it could end. With a promise to myself.

“I fight because I have to. I fight for us to know the truth…”

All good showdowns need a walk out song. Walking to the batter’s box…hype song. Running out of the tunnel…hype song and smoke. Getting dressed for work on a Wednesday…hyyyype. The people in my life know that my energy requires the force of Adam and Queen or a little 90’s Aerosmith and Dr. Dre to really give me the energy I seek. But there is a moment. It happens in the soul quiet before the first note of the big energy. When you know you are fighting for your life and you just need a hug. This is my hug. This is my ‘there is nothing in this world that can break you” Knowing song.

We make a hard left tomorrow. I promise all the curiously explored hype. But for today, I’m just letting the hardest softie on the planet sing me to a place of trusting truth. Even if parts of me have to die. Even if I’m afraid. Especially if I don’t want to.

There’s not enough rope to tie me down. There’s not enough tape to shut this mouth…the stones you throw can make me bleed but I won’t stop until we’re free….wild hearts can’t be broken.”

I dare you to sing the bridge. Dare you.

And don’t you freakin’ dare go soft. All the fierce fire of truth is hard earned. Sing the crap out of this. When I first explored sitting in the quiet, I thought it was for me to “receive” knowledge. Today, I’m sitting in my living room writing while listening to this song. It’s 6:23 in the morning and I just stuck my fist in the air and motioned for more. Bring it. What else you got, world? Because when I know I’m listening to my insides, I’m ready…for whatever may come my way. Helloooo, trouble.

If that’s not a genuine smile, I don’t know what is.

“Youth Group” – Semler

I was wrong.

There are few collections of words that make me want to recoil like these three. I’ve spent my entire life creating a system of living and believing so that I don’t have to ever say that phrase. But it’s time. I was wrong.

And this is not a one-off kind of wrongness. I’ve spent the last 3 years making list after list of the wrongs. Why admit it now? Well, I have already admitted it to myself. If the last few years have taught me anything, it’s that once I know something in my Knower, it doesn’t matter what others think or even what it feels like to say it out loud. Because when I finally know, I Know.

I have been out of full-time youth ministry for years. Most of the teenagers that I served are in their 30’s…some at the upper end of that decade. They have lives and families. They have joined churches (or not) for themselves. They have had real pain and struggle and many have lived to tell about it. But some have not. Because life is real and foundation rocking and gut punching. I spent my adulthood making “peace” with a very set pre-programmed path to hope. That is no longer the case for me. And on some days, I feel so very guilty. I regret the conversations, the advice and most of all the ways that I tried and failed to make it work together for good. That’s a package that I can’t open today.

Why is this in the week of quiet? Well, when you get quiet, things like this come right to the surface. And you have time to really decide for yourself what to do with all the feelings. I got sad. Really sad. And I started reaching out to a few trusted former students. One of the most gracious gifts of love in skin sent me a Marco Polo this year that I’ll never delete. I’ve watched it countless times. It’s a virtual reminder that I tried and loved from a place of longing. So as I sat with what was, I kept coming back to what I can do today? And then I was introduced to this song. Humans that are using art to tell their broken stories are my heroes. So I joined them.

I tried for years, but I can’t sell a path. What most of my former youth need today is a historically accurate and practical conversation about love and welcome. They need to be reminded that an assigned label (for any reason) is not diagnostic and it’s not healing. It’s anything but helpful. So let’s start here. Clean slate and a fresh tank of honesty. Let’s be ok to swing big, even when it hurts. Because is there is anything more freeing than just admitting when we miss? And I have.

So, former students, this is my confession to you:

I was wrong about sin.

I was wrong about sex.

I was wrong about prayer.

I was wrong about marriage.

I was wrong about friendships.

I was wrong about intimacy.

I was wrong about secrecy.

I was wrong about sex: again

I was wrong about motherhood.

I was wrong about the church.

And in the midst of the wrongs, I have not found the “rights.” But, I am finding myself. For the first time in my life. And that feels really, REALLY right. So, if you stuck with me this far, just know that I only have one thing I need you to know:


Learn your own voice and tune into the melody. And listen. Listen for the delicate crescendos and the rests. Listen for the rests. And honor yourself in the process.


P.S. Lock-ins…I mean…just listen. I tried so many things in the name of “reaching” students. And I’m sorry for so many of them. Especially lock-ins.

So sorry.