Before even moving in.

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The A/C felt cool against my skin. The West Texas heat has a way of creeping in and settling on every surface. My ford pick-up was heading east down a long two-lane highway. My favorite music playing in the background, but I wasn’t truly focused on the lyrics. They sat and talked, one in the front seat, the other in the back, and although they were close in proximity, miles of space separated us. I felt as though I was trapped in my own thoughts, consumed with an overwhelming feeling of fear, anticipation, excitement, and nerves. I felt as though my stomach would betray me. Landscape after landscape, mile after mile passed by and as I passed a green highway sign that said, “Throckmorton County.” I opened my mouth and said, “Here goes nothing.”

Mom and Melissa laughed, but I knew that they both felt the tension that had enveloped me. I was trying to joke, be a goof, avoid the conflicting thoughts that were flying. The final question of, “Am I really doing this?” echoed in my mind as I pulled up beside the beautiful courthouse and stepped out of my pickup. Melissa met me with a soft smile and a warm hug. I sighed.

So this is really it?

The anticipation of meeting the other fellows was somewhat silenced as Melissa and I made conversation heading to the cabins we would be staying in. The gorgeous pastureland flew by us, surprisingly greener than I had expected. Rain can change a landscape so much. We finally pulled up to the cabin and as I unloaded my grey, overly large, and almost inconveniently sized suitcases, I was greeted by John. A large smile and an even larger hug eased my anxious heart.

I waited only thirty minutes before the other fellows pulled up, and the nerves returned. Will they like me? Will I be able to make friends? Such junior high, school girl questions rattled in my mind as the introductions began. After a day on the lake, settling down at supper and beginning to get to know each other I felt a sudden reassurance that, I am home.

Not home in the physical sense. Not a structure. Home had evolved into the state of which my heart and mind were in, and the people that surrounded me. Home needed to evolve for me. I needed to know that no matter if I was in Throckmorton, Texas or in Ghana, West Africa, that I could feel steady, stable, and full of life. I had a support system around me that was present the minute we were all in the same room. I knew, at that point, that this journey would change my life, more so than I would change lives. And now, as I sit and think about that… I am completely okay with that. Often we try and take new experiences and moments of vulnerability and find ways to extract those feelings to other people, and avoid our own. But as I sat around seven people who have beautiful hearts, I think to myself, “We are about to embark on a journey of a lifetime… but we have made a way to make it home, before even moving in.”

-Hope Sorrells

Mastering the Art of Chaco’s.


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I don’t know about you, but when I bought my first pair of Chaco’s I was slightly concerned.

I looked at the variety of styles. From different colored straps, to different amounts of straps to even the type of Chaco. I couldn’t help but think, “I didn’t know there would be so many options!” I picked a pair that were a red color and begin to put them on.

SO many straps. Awkwardly uncomfortable. Not my style.

I walked around like I had bricks on my feet. They weren’t necessarily the most comfortable foot attire I have ever worn, nor were they the most flattering. My naturally long, skinny feet looked even longer and skinnier. Trying to get them tight enough to fit my feet was another obstacle. After 15 minutes of pulling, tugging, maneuvering, I finally   felt like I had accomplished a huge task. For 3 weeks, I have worn them almost everyday, just trying to get used to the unfamiliar item that will soon be as familiar as an old friend.


But as I sit and think I can’t help but relate that experience and those shoes to life.

Sometimes life throws you a very familiar experience in a somewhat familiar facade.

[[Even in sandals that aren’t like most sandals.]]

You are handed an opportunity that will completely take you out of a comfort zone or put you in a situation you have never experienced. You begin to weigh all options. Pros, cons, likes, dislikes. The exact thing that will change you as a person and help you to test your limits. After much decisions, internal conflicts, and closing your eyes and saying, “Let’s do this.” You finally decide.

Then, comes the next move, actually prepping for that experience. It may look wrong or off. You will be standing on your own feet that are in a new place. You begin to describe to your friends and family your decision and sometimes, the support, isn’t always there. It is difficult to embrace the unusually or the unfamiliar, especially when your foundation is slightly shaky and unsure.

But, with each day, you take another step, you hit a new stride. You begin to feel stronger and more comfortable in your own skin. You know that no matter how ‘tight’ life gets or even how unsure and ‘loose,’ there is a strong and steady piece, that keeps you pushing forward. You know that not everyday will look as good as you would like nor will it have the same new feeling as before but the unfamiliar slowly becomes the familiar. The old friend that you can forever lean on or in this instance, a pair of sandals, that aren’t like any other sandal, that will be faithful and true as you venture out on a new adventure.

That is where Mastering the Art of Chaco’s become something greater than a simple sandal for a simple person. It is a complex life change, that begins with one decision, one try, and one step. Why not, begin… now.

-Hope Sorrells

Old Fashioned Romance in a New Fashion World.

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“If you’re a bird, then I’m a bird.” 

–The Notebook

“I knew, even then, how rare that kind of love is. Only the luckiest people get to experience it at all.”

–The Best of Me


There is always a since of wonder and jealousy that takes over when watching a classic love story. The passion, and heart of an old fashioned romance begins to intertwine within your own heart. The idea that someone could love you that deeply, and become intrigued by your mind and soul is thrilling. You begin to sit back and wonder, “where is this romance? Why haven’t I experienced? What happened to the love that our grandparents talked about?”

Then, you slowly begin to reflect on society. The norms, the common actions of today’s world. There isn’t any courting, because that means going out in public as an “item”, which will begin to raise suspension and you have to begin to verify that you two are “just talking.” And “just talking” gives way that you are still scoping out other people. There isn’t any concrete items until it becomes “official.”

Phone calls once a day or even a few times a week are definitely completely extinct. Immediate responses happen, every day, almost constantly. Sometimes there is some delay depending on work or school or something of that nature, but for the most part, you and your significant other are in constant contact.

No time to breath. No time to miss them. No time to build a trust.

That old fashioned romance has evolved into a new fashion, immediate sense of urgency.

So change that mindset. Slow down.

Develop into the idea that being able to text them all day is fabulous, but try to begin to pull away from that. Limit your talk to a phone call or even two over the course of the day. You will begin to truly miss that person, and you develop a conversation basis besides the usual filler of “wryd?” every 5 minutes when you run out of things to talk about. Enjoy your day and then relive it over the phone or in person. Bask in the idea that you can build a trust that is stronger than most in this day in age.

Take the time to truly learn someone. Go on adventures. Try not to stick to a schedule. Find time to have an intimate moment with them, not even a physical one, but a time to pick their brain, understand their heart. Forgive quickly and often and limit assumption. Old fashion love took time, and patience. A trust and belief that is was developed and that is something that has been lost and skewed over time. Learn to love in a different way, scope out the person that makes your heart and mind grow, makes you yearn for a tomorrow with them, gives you the desire to show them off every single day, and makes you miss them four times over every time you say “good night.” Find someone who makes you want to feel and be in love, not just stand awkwardly in the presence of it.

Go and grab hold of an old fashioned romance in a new fashion world.

–Hope Sorrells

Find Her.

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Find the one that makes you question everything you have ever known.

Find her, you know, the one at first glance steals your entire attention. The one that makes you do everything in you being to get her attention and steal her affection.

Find the one that turns you into your grandad; writing love letters back and forth like you are in a faraway place during the Great War. The one that makes you look at love stories in a new way.

Find her. The one that drives you absolutely insane but calms every nerve in your body. Th one that pulls out an old fashioned romance that the world so desperately wants to cover up. The one where dates are frequent and being kissed good night at the door is a known.

Find the girl that has the most beautiful look about her when she has messy hair and sleepy eyes, or is wearing an old ball cap and your ragged t-shirt because that is her favorite outfit. The one that, when she laughs, the whole world stops and stares. The one that makes you want to go on any adventure when you look into her sparkling, mischievous eyes.

The one that sets your soul on fire with the brush of her hand against yours.

Find the one that is a mystery and makes your heart skip beats and the very sight of her makes you re-gain those nervous butterflies that you try to control. The one that makes you desire intellectual and emotional attraction far before physical. The girl that makes you lust after her, but not for her body, but for her thoughts.

Find the girl that buries her heart into her passions so deeply that you begin to fall in love with her beautiful and complicated self.

Find her, and do not lose her.

Fight for her. Seek her. 

For there is an old fashioned romance out there for each and every one of you. But it isn’t one that is mediocre by nature. No. It is hard work, but once you find her, you will experience love that you have only heard about in stories.

“She wasn’t created for everybody, her heart wasn’t made for everyone. Her love won’t be enough for just any man.” –Pierre Jeanty

 

-Hope Sorrells

Thank you isn’t enough.

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Memorial Day- is a federal holiday in the United States for remembering the people who died while serving in the country’s armed forces.


Ma’am, I hate to be the one to inform you, your son will not be coming home.” “Sir, your wife, she battled hard, and saved many lives. She will be remembered.” “This was in his stuff, I thought you would want this back. He had your proposal all planned out.” 

. . . . .

Small sniffles, a mournful cry. 21 gun salute. A lone trumpet plays ‘Taps’. Folding of a flag. The hand off to the family. The casket lowered. A young son salutes his fallen hero who he calls, “Dad”. A wife clings to the flag that was placed in her hands. All is quiet.

Memorial Day, a time of remembrance, of reflection for the chosen ones who went home to meet their maker far sooner then some wish. Men and women who are the definition of sacrifice, freedom, and bravery. They give up much to keep us safe on home soil while they head off to foreign lands to live, fight, and keep the mindset that they will make it home. But there are some, who although their fight is mighty and their heart is brave, do not ever make it home. Some will be returning home under the cover of our beloved Old Glory, others will remain on that very foreign soil, that they so desperately fight on to come home.

As this Memorial Day comes and goes, one thing is for certain, thank you isn’t enough. There are no words to describe how a heart feels when they watch a wife mourn her husband or a mom her son, but it’s even harder to describe knowing that that death was a sacrifice for the safety of their family, and for all of us Americans. Thank you isn’t enough for the men and women who watch their friends lose their lives right beside them, knowing that some, wish it could have been them instead. Thank you isn’t enough for the ones who became a POW, who were trapped by the enemy and although knew God could move mountains, they knew that they wouldn’t be coming home. So thank you isn’t enough. Thank you isn’t enough for the restless hearts of families whose loved ones were M.I.A. And even after 40 years, they still take a hopeful glance up and every holiday gathering to see if a familiar and loving face comes walking up to the front porch. Thank you isn’t enough to the families who have to step out of a room when the lone trumphet starts to play a familiar, sad tune. Thank you isn’t enough.

There is a time for memories to be summoned up from the depths of our souls. Memories of loved ones, gone far to early, memories of the men and women who lost their lives so that you could wake up, once again, free.

Today is about cherishing the ones who came home, but also for remembering the ones who never made it home to embrace in that first emotional hug after a long deployment.

We know, you all are watching over us, everyday because as they saying goes, “the flag doesn’t fly because of the wind, but flies from every last breath of a fallen soldier,” and so I say,

Thank you, even though, thank you isn’t enough.

In loving memory of, Melvin Douglas Seagraves, M.I.A., 1972, Gulf of Tonkin, USS Tripoli. Love you Uncle Doug and will see you again.

                                                   -Hope Sorrells

Can I do this?

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Can I do this?

This question has constantly been crossing my mind and my heart since, about March. March 6th to be exact. March 6th at 1:20pm to be even more exact. It was the moment that I heard, “Whom shall I send and who will go for me?” and I said, “Here I am. Send me.”

Now, when I first gave that bold statement, I was in… well… shock. My heart uttered the words, my brain and my mouth were definitely trying to catch up. I had accepted a position with AgriCorps, a non-profit organization, that will allow me to pursue my love of teaching and agriculture in a very un-conventional classroom.

I will be heading off to Ghana, West Africa in early August. 

I have always had a passion for loving people, travel, agriculture, and teaching. I found all four of those loves in the middle of a Honduran village in March of 2012. {(Does anyone else see the re-occuring theme of March being the game changer?)} I had the opportunity to be a part of the Readership Ambassador program at West Texas A&M University where myself, along with 18 of my peers ventured off to an adventure of a lifetime. In the Honduran village, they had just recently built a one-room school house and I saw children ECSTATIC to be coming to school and learning.

After that experience, I knew that I would be heading off to another country to teach Ag. But in the midst of my big dreams, I had a little smaller accomplishments happening. I survived student teaching, an experience that I loved, accepted a Graduate Assistant position back at WTAMU, and walked the stage with my Bachelors of Science in Agricultural Education. I didn’t forget about the global teaching, but it wasn’t a priority, at least not in those moments in my life. Until November of 2016. I was introduced to AgriCorps by another grad student and I, out of curiosity, went to their website and began reading the blogs. My heart instantly swelled, I had tears rolling, and I heard my first small whisper of, “Whom shall I send? Who will go for me?”

And me, being the stubborn, sometimes too bullheaded, of a person ignored it. The words, “There is no way. I can’t do that. Sounds cool. But I can’t do it,” instantly filled up, what I thought was my heart, but was actually just my head. I continued to fight it, even as the recruiter kept trying to find a time to call and chat with me, I still fought the small “Whom shall I send? Who will go for me?”


Fast forward to February, I finally stopped all my emotions and listened to the mission about AgriCorps and I got off the phone, looked at my mom and said,

“I am doing this.”

But after, once you get into your own thoughts, slow down and really think; doubt quickly and quietly sets in. I began asking,

“Can I do this?” Can I leave for one year? Leave behind family, friends, the lifestyle I know, the teaching comforts I love? Can I really step out of that comfort zone of mine and venture to West Africa to Ghana and teach a discipline I so love and adore? Can I even gather my own thoughts enough to explain to people, who I know will look at me like I am quite crazy, and bear my transparency and show them my heart and my passion for this?


Often, this life gives us more opportunities then we actually accept, and I am no different. I am given moments that are small and seem insignificant but in the long run and in reality, they are game changers. Opportunities do not all look the same. Some come barging through a closed door, loud and forceful; others are more polite, they knock and simply wait. Yet others, the ones that will break you out of that comfort zone, make you question everything you know, are the ones that don’t knock or barge in. They wait, until you are ready to walk up to the door, turn the handle, open it up and invite them in. Those are the opportunities to look for and embrace. The opportunities that will turn your world completely upside down. Whether that is trying a new restaurant for the first time, traveling 2 hours away with best friends, leaving all that you know and love and packing up a years worth of items into four bags, or simply going out on your own for a vacation you desperately need.

Find those moments of “Can I do this?” and do them. Don’t let fear or doubt discourage you, fight through. Find your moment to test every status quo you have been taught, to find your boundaries and make them just a little bit bigger.

For me, it is changing my comfort zone from the shape of Texas to Honduras and now to Africa.

-Hope Sorrells

Rodeo Way.

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Stands filling up, quickly. The ‘pump up’ music playing. A bronc starts dancing in the chute. Fresh arena dirt and fresh livestock. 

The excitement is felt, seen and heard. An electricity that is circulating throughout the stock, contestants, and spectators. And then, the announcer begins to speak…

He doesn’t begin by giving the statistics of the riders, or rant about the stock contractors, no. The announcer begins with “This is the home of the free and the land of the brave and because of that we want to honor those who give up their freedom so we can enjoy ours. Every Marine, Sailor, Airman, First responder, please stand up.” Some slower than others, stand. Stand in remembrance of their fellow men and women, stand in remembrance of the commitment they made to this country. Stand to be honored. And as each one stands up, the electricity of the building, changes, ever so slightly, as everyone, begins clapping.

Then, the announcer says “Now, would everyone stand as we honor Old Glory.”

Everyone, stands.

And as Old Glory enters the arena, astride a horse the words are said “Before we honor Old Glory and all she stands for, we would like to give thanks and send a layer of protection over everyone tonight. Now, I know that this country is a home of the freedom of religion, and here in rodeo, we do not care who you give worship to or where your place of worship is. There is  no judgment to who you call lord. But as for me, and our rodeo, we would like to send up a prayer to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, so would everyone please bow their heads and go to the Lord in prayer with me.”

And just like that, every head was bowed, and every eye was closed.

That is the funny thing about rodeo, no matter if you are a contestant or a spectator, you, for that one performance, night or weekend, become apart of the rodeo family. No matter what religion you are, what country you are from, or what political views you have, all are united in that same place, under the same prayer to the Lord God, and under the same ideas that this country is the Home of the Free and the Land of the Brave because of the many men and women who sacrifice their life to allow that to happen.

The rodeo way is unique, regardless if it is a PRCA sanctioned event or a WRCA event; every single one of them begins by honoring the men and women who served, that glorious red, white and blue flag, and finally, God. Old Glory sits astride a horse, the animal that is so valued in the rodeo world.

It isn’t to be a part of a show, it a simple reminder, mostly, to the rodeo contestants, the stock contractors, the men and women who put on the event, that without our Military personnel and the Lord, they wouldn’t get to do what they love each and every day.

But it is also a reminder to all of us, that no matter where we sit, or our background, that you can celebrate, even just one night, that we are all blessed in this life, and that every day isn’t always promised.

We all become one, with an arena of dirt in front of us, an electricity circulating through us, and the start of a night of adrenaline, pure talent, and raw power…

that is The Rodeo Way.

-Hope Sorrells