Personal, Theatre

You Will Be Found

Words cannot truly express my thoughts and feelings for Dear Evan Hansen. This musical means so much to me for reasons that I can’t even begin to explain. It has such an important message in all of the music; it just impacts me in a way that a show never has before. 

“Have you ever felt like nobody was there? Have you ever felt forgotten, in the middle of nowhere? Have you ever felt like you could disappear? Like you could fall and no one would hear? 
Well, let that lonely feeling wash away. Maybe there’s a reason to believe you’ll be okay. ‘Cause when you don’t feel strong enough to stand, you can reach, reach out your hand.” 

These words resonate with me because as someone who struggles with depression and anxiety, it is like a truth that is sometimes hard to accept. That you are not alone and that you will be found. This show has an interesting story that shows how depression, anxiety, and suicide effects everyone from the person suffering, their families, and their friends. It is a very real interpretation of what it is like to live with anxiety. 

I recommend this show to anyone that wants to understand or anyone who just wants an amazing soundtrack to listen to. 

I know that no one involved in this show will ever probably read this, but I want to tell them thank you. Whenever I have a dark day and I feel like everything is hopeless, I can listen to a few songs from this show and I have some hope. It honestly means more to me than I can explain. 

Thank you. 


A Freeway Celebration

Today I attended a barbecue of great measures. It was an interesting event to say the least, but the reason we were gathered had the utmost importance in my heart. First, Memorial Day to of course remember those who have died fighting for this country. Secondly, to celebrate John and Sharla Stroup. These two people have been monumental in creating a community and family that my life would be completely different without. Freeway is a ministry in Springfield Missouri, Omaha Nebraska, and Marshfield Missouri, and now global in Africa. Their most recent motto is “out of darkness and into light,” as their mission is to help people who struggle with drug addiction or involvement in drugs. The people you see at Freeway are anything but you’re normal church going folk. Saturday nights in a gymnasium in North Springfield, hundreds of people from all walks of life gather for a hot meal, worship, and preaching by John Stroup. These people are typically covered in tattoos and sometimes an unfriendly look on their faces, but as you walk around getting introductions and meeting new people faces melt into smiles and laughter. Freeway is the place to really understand that you can’t judge any single book by its cover. 

My mom discovered Freeway what seems like a lifetime ago, even though in reality it’s only been a year and half since this program came into our lives. My mom was in a rehabilitation center, getting help for years of suffering with a drug addiction. The place where she was allowed the residents to go to church and luckily Saturday night Freeway was an option. My mom went and her journey started. She met some amazing people who were serving and learned everything she could. Soon enough, my mom was getting out of rehab. She didn’t know where to go and hope seemed as if it was fleeting, but Freeway pulled through again and she landed herself a spot in the Freeway Women’s House. The next eight months were a whirl of Freeway, women’s studies, and just general busyness for my mom. I was there to watch her change from a person who I thought I was already looking up to, to someone that I know is a role model to me and many others. My family is in debt to Freeway. While I have trouble showing my gratefulness in person, I can use my words to describe how completely and full my heart is, all because of Freeway. John, because his preaching reached into my own mom’s soul and pulled something out that she needed to experience and feel. Sharla, because she was like a second mom to my mom when she lived in the house. She was a monumental reason why my mom’s life changed so dramatically. 

That’s why they mean so much to me and my family. Freeway is an amazing ministry. They are constantly expanding, moving, and most of all: changing more lives every day. 

This barbecue today was a gathering of the Freeway family. To appreciate John and Sharla and to gather as one giant family. There were dogs, good food, and lots of fun. At one point, even a impromptu dance party. 

What became overwhelming at some points was the realization that this group of people had overcome so much. Emotionally, psychically, and spiritually. These people are some of the most dedicated to loving Christ that I had ever met. They did a full 360 on their lives and they had one another, their own personal strength, and God to thank for that. At one point, not long after we arrived, I overheard Sharla talking to someone and she said through completely happy tears, “look at our family.” Now Sharla had the right idea with dark sunglasses to cover her eyes that were swollen from tears, but the rest of us were not so lucky. 

Today made me realize that we have so much to be grateful for. We have such incredible and full lives to live. Mine would be so different if I didn’t have Freeway, because without this ministry my mom might not even be standing by me today. 

So thank you Freeway. Thank you John and Sharla for being keystones in this amazing ministry that helps so many. And thank you mom, for making the change in your life and for sticking with Freeway even when the going gets tough. I know that I am walking my own pathway when it comes to God and religion in general, but you guys still welcome me in with open arms and I get to be apart of this family. 

I am forever grateful. 

1st- a few girls on a tree swing today, they were laughing and they’re happiness made my day. 2nd- a panoramic photo of the barbecue. I couldn’t fit the whole thing in one normal photo.


An Introduction

The first entry on a blog is monumental. It determines who you are, what you are here to tell people, and why you’re here to do it. There’s not a lot you need to know about me, but in time you will learn my stories, hardships, opinions, and everything in between. I’ll hope you’ll all stay along for the ride. 

I’ve always wanted to share my thoughts and words with people. I’ve always had something to say, but didn’t know how to say it. So here I am, writing an introduction to a brand new blog. It’s exciting to try new things, but I’m also a bit nervous. 

Tune in for a little bit of everything. From stories about my past, to any crazy dreams I might have, advice I have to share, and little tidbits I can use to make someone happy. It’ll be fun, so welcome to Willow for a Living. I’m happy to have you. 

A peek into my life: a photo of me, my mom, and my two sisters at the St. Louis Zoo. Many more insights to come.