Can I do this?

couragequotes


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

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Rodeo Way.

rodeo


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

When the rain finally fell.

rain

 


And the heavens opened up and the rain fell.

The fires roared, the land was charred or left barren, animals were lost, livelihoods were shattered, yet that small glimmer of tomorrow being a new day helped many press on.

Numerous people have been begging, praying, screaming, trying to make deals in order for the rain to fall. The same moment that Christ had, while hanging on the cross, of, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” has been on the lips of many and on the hearts of all. While donations of hay, feed, water, and fencing supplies are coming in; the rebuilding time has officially began, and also the threat of more fires. Fires restarted again, in the Texas Panhandle, Oklahoma, and Kansas, and, first responders were able to extinguish those. But that threat is still ever present, lingering within the land and the people.

But, a new sound is being heard… not the rage of a fire and the cackling of grasslands being taken over, but the soft pitter-patter that refreshes the soul and the mind. Rain is falling. The land is still damaged, hearts are still weary, but the promise of a new day and new tomorrow is felt in every drop and heard in every patter.

The land, the livestock, the livelihoods, and the people have needed this refreshing moment, and now it finally has arrived. Some would say too late, but others would say, right on time.

The reminder that all is well, all will be well, and all will continue to be well. As the rain falls, you can’t help but sit still for a moment and thank God, thank all who has been a part of this journey. Both near and far, young and old, able hands and bodies, have come together and united to provide some form of hope. The rising out of the ashes is being followed by the downpour of love and courage, strength and motivation.

Ranch rodeos in honor of the ones who lost their lives during the fires have been held and are underway, giving many the opportunity to laugh, cry, and get rowdy; a time to repair their weary and worn hearts. To let the ashes of the pain extinguish out and the dust settle. New births of calves are being seen and the bottle calves who may not have had a fighting chance on their own, are now happy and healthy, surely thankful for the patient hands that helped them to press on.

This rain is a reminder that we are not the ones who hold tomorrow, we are the ones that care for the land and the livestock and are blessed each day by that wonderful job. We are all a part of a greater plan, more glorious than any could comprehend. The joys of tomorrow are being heard across the Texas panhandle, Oklahoma, and Kansas, today, because as our hearts are being rejuvenated by the refreshing noise of rain is being heard.

So, we will press on and always remember what it felt like when the rain finally fell.

 

                                                                                                            -Hope Sorrells

 

 

out of the ashes, We Rise.

sunset


“I have lost everything.”

“Out of the 812 head of cows, they had to put down 725 of them.”

“Calves are burned up on one side, and just fine on the other.”

“I have already found 15 more animals to put down this morning. I am tired of killing.”

“As I was fighting the fire, I knew the direction it had turned to. My house, my property.”

“My family runs 6 generations deep on this land.”

“Only 6 steers and a few heifers were spared.”

The reality of the fires that hit Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Colorado. Ranchers finally, finding time and energy to assess the damage that had been done. Within minutes and hours, ranches were scorched, livestock, pets, and wildlife had no where to go, and the dynamics of the ranching communities were forever changed.

But, within a matter of minutes and hours, communities, neighbors, friends, regions, areas, states, and even a nation began to come together; to unite. Drop off points in the Texas Panhandle are overflowing with mountains of bottles of water, and loads after loads of hay. Donations that were selflessly given, time and effort spent, humbly, to provide care for livestock and ranchers, alike.

“A drop of 80 squares bales of alfalfa just came.”

“If we get anymore bottles of water, we are going to be able to fill water trucks to water livestock!”

“Every bit of these donations are going to be used.”

“I have a semi and a load of hay, where do I need to take it?”

“Hi, I am from Vermont, and want to help! Where and what do people need the most?”

Thousands of people and dollars coming together to help to rebuild the foundation that America is built off of. A delicate culture that will need more cultivation, now, than ever before. 

The ranching lifestyle is a more romantic profession. Not the love kind of romance. But more of, an ebb and flow of give and takes, life and death, good and bad days, the promise of tomorrow, but living in today because tomorrow is not always promised. It is the memories on the walls of the first homestead of a ranch, the whispers off of sorting pens that your great-great granddad built. It is the the first stand of a newborn calf, the bawl of a momma who has lost her baby, the creek of a saddle room door. The thought of “if these walls could talk”, the cultivation of the land so that it continues to provide for the animals that the Lord has chosen you to take care of. And, it is the moments of major destruction and devastation that the ranching lifestyle becomes the most romantic.

There is no day off to mourn, except for the ones who lost their lives during the fires, there  is no day off to be down on the fact that land and livestock and lives were taken. No. These men and women, woke up, prepped their hearts and minds and set off to rescue the ones that made it through the blaze. The ones, surrounded by ash, that were able to make it through. They went on scavenging their property for animals, and save-able pieces of fencing, barns, maybe even a halter or two. Calves that were orphaned are now being bottle fed, cows without their calves are having to be milked to release the pressure off their bags. Horses are being doctored, wildlife is being fed off of people’s back porches. Life and death, the good and bad, come with tired eyes, giving hearts, and strong, calloused hands.

“This is a pretty harsh world we live in. And Mother Nature can sure be relentless more times than not. And that’s why I would say I’m drawn to our culture. Our lifestyle. No matter what this old world puts on us or tries to take from us we overcome it time and time again. This is proved throughout our history. From the livestock lost to lives of loved ones, before and in my time, that have been cut short. I know these times will come to pass and we will dust off and keep going. Never forgetting these times.”

The heritage that was lost during the fires will continue to live on through the men and women. The generation of cattle blood line that were taken, the thousands of acres of pastures that were consumed, the homesteads that had been on the property long before cars and cell phones, now just a past piece of history that stays in the minds of the ranchers, cowboys, and cowgirls. The rebuilding process will be long and hard, days of bad will intercept some of the days of good. But the hope and faith that has and will continue to be provided will give the strength to look forward to the days to come because…

Out of the ashes, we rise.

–Hope Sorrells

The Stock Show Look.

stockshow


For many of us, stock show was a part of our lives for many years. The road trips, the long hours in line, and finally show day. This process is long, starting with the day you decide what animal species you are going to show to, finally, the long walk back to the truck after your final show and animal. Since the process is long: Ag Teachers, County Agents, parents, and stock show-ers all go through certain stock show “looks” that fluctuate as often as the seconds, minutes, and hours devoted to stock shows. The BEST looks you get are during the actual stock show. They go something like this…

Number One. Early Morning Sleepies: This look consist of girls with no make-up, and guys with messed up hair. They have a weird lost look that appears around 15 seconds after exiting the truck to begin the long walk to the grounds. They appear lost, with mouths gapping open, just a tad bit. Yawns come in frequent spurts and they are constantly rubbing their eyes while trying to feed, walk in steers, or un-muzzle their lambs. Amid this look, the stock show-er cannot hear what their Ag teacher/Agent/parent are saying. Their ears have yet to wake up, and the noises that they hear range from Charlie Brown’s teacher to being underwater. The look is accessorized with an array of bagging shirts, wash pants, and most likely comfy shoes. The hair is messy and fluffy and there is still early morning sleepies in the corner of the eye.

Number Two. Getting Ready Action: This look is one that you will never miss. There is a frantic, panicky look plastered to the face of the show-er and adult. They are quickly changing shirts, wiping down pigs, pulling steers away from the stalls. There is last minute water sprays, clip movements, and the smell of every show product because your perfume. Eyes are wide, mouth is in a straight line, and focus creeps up. Eyebrows set in, and stock show mode has started. Ag teachers and County agents have this same look, but they are on the side lines. They watched, arms crossed, eyes like laser beams between the judge and their student. Nothing can usually break their concentration.

Number Three. Awkward Sleepy Judgement: This look comes after the show-er has made their way through the first two looks. It is the third look that occurs during stock show. This happens while sitting at their pens or sitting in the stands. It comes with furrowed eyebrows and an intense side gaze with a crinkled lip or nose. They are judging anything from the color of someone’s shoes, to the corn dog being eaten next to them to the pigs getting to eat before they do. They usually follow the item or person they are judging and make it so noticeable that everyone around them can pretty much read their mind… but they have no idea they are doing it. It is an awkward sleepy motion that is out of sheer reflex. There is no back thoughts, rhyme or reason. It just kind of shows up and stays plastered to their faces.

Number Four. Walking Dead: This look. Oh this look, is the best to spot. It begins with the person slowly zoning out, and there is no warning. The zoning has no bias and can occur mid bite of a burger, mid-conversation, mid-life talk with the ag teacher or parent, mid-butt chewing from an angry momma. The eyes begin to glaze over, the mouth open, full concentration is on the nothingness that is currently going on in their brain. You can hardly snap them out of this; there is no way too. You must leave them be, let them be taken into the walking dead zombie look. Sugar, coffee, a corn dog, or a good slap to the back of the head may help, however, may the odds be ever in your favor.

Number Five. Victory Is Ours: Lastly, this look is a mixture of the previous four. You are rubbing sleepies out of your eyes, while a frantic, panic look is in the eyes, with the crinkle of the judgement nose, and an odd stare. All of that is followed by a grin that creeps up from the inner being of the soul. It starts small and then spreads across the face and lights up the whole body. This occurs when the show-er has won its class, or even breed. It gets even crazier if a Champion or Reserve Champion title is won. The is accompanied by jumping, screaming, shrieking like a dying witch, intense high fives, aggressive grunts and fist pumps, and then some petty, sleepy tears.

All of this happens, multiple times, over multiple shows, and it is a vicious cycle, over and over again. Sad thing is, it is like crack to anyone who loves the livestock industry. After the end of every stock show season, there is multiple conversations that all end in the same answer, “I will not do this next year,” and every year, an animal is bought, a truck is packed, and the saying “We are stock show bound” is posted on social media.

The vicious, yet glorious cycle of stock show, the ones that love it, and the looks that are always around.

Ya know, the stock show looks.

A Woman Not of This World.

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“If you belong to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” John 15:19.

Growing up in a Christian home, you always hear about being “not of this world” or the persecution that Christians will one day face. As a young child you think, “This is not true. All my friends care about me! No one is out to get me or hurt me. Doesn’t everyone love Jesus like I do?” But as you grow older, you face much more reality. Not everyone is kind and compassionate. Not everyone loves Jesus like you do.

In very recent events, a march that was for Women has began to turn heads, and frustrate and infuriate everyone, including women of God. There are signs that discuss feministic sayings, while sporting female reproductive organs as costumes, discussing the right of abortion, and even slandering the God Almighty that we all love and adore… but let me rewind and back track. What is all this commotion about? What does all of this boil down to? Is it really that we are second to men or have we completely forgotten why women were even created?

Just today, a post was on Facebook, and it was a photograph of two women, holding a hand made sign, at this march, that read:

“If Mary had had an abortion, we wouldn’t be in this mess.”


After seeing that, every Christian woman went through multiple emotions: anger, resentment, fury, unexplained hurt. My Lord and Savior, once again has been stripped down to nothing more than a man with a humanly mother. And apparently, that mother should have aborted him. What is this world that we are living in today?


As I watch and read everything going on, and as I try and control my own emotions, I can’t help but think that, “God still loves them.”

And then, I see another post and my emotions go wild, I hear a small voice that silences my worldly thoughts and views. That voice says, “My Child, I still love them, even if tears are falling. I still love them.”

Then, stopping dead in my emotions and thoughts, I think, “I have to be Christ-like. I must be Christ-like. I need to remember what our plan and purpose is on this earth.”

We have enough women who are tough, rude, course, full of fame and fortune, greed, vanity, and popularity. Why not, Women of Christ, Women Not of This World, why not be meek and mild, tender, soft-hearted, compassionate, ordinary, humble, and have virtue. We need more women to have a compassionate side, to embrace ones that are hurting. If we really want to make a change, love has to be the foundation. We are called to love everyone, just as Christ did. We are all the sinners, the soiled, so why are we passing blame and judgement on each other?

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no records of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8.

{Let that verse be your anthem, let it be your battle cry, and if you have to walk into battle, and least be clothed in as much love as you can possibly contain.}

Dear Women Not of this world,

Instead of slandering the march and the ones in the march. How about sending prayers their way. Instead of bashing abortion, why not send out a loving hand to a woman or girl who is having one or who had one. Instead of running in fear of women who are of other religions, why not invite them over for lunch. Instead of saying “well she deserved to be raped,” how about raise awareness amongst boys and girls alike on how to identify serious situations and how to remove yourself or someone else. How about just love. Love others with your whole heart so that Christ shines through constantly and so that satan cannot put out your light. And bless as many people as possible.

Bless the woman who had an abortion. Bless the Muslim woman. Bless the woman who loves another woman. Bless the woman with an outwardly opinion. Bless them all.

“A kind hearted woman gains respect…” Proverbs 11:16

Forgotten Classes.

books

Now, before there is a freak out from educators saying that every class in the school system is needed to succeed, I would have to agree. Math, Science, Social Studies, and English are all important. The thought process of algebra or being able to dissect a sentence have important use for every student, across the nation. But with a simple google search of “things I wish I had been taught in high school,” those lessons were not pulled up. The things that most wish they would have learned are things not written in a textbook or even taught on a projector. They are life lessons. Real life things.

These were some of the repeated items that were pulled from multiple blogs/websites when the line “things I wished I had been taught in high school”:

-How to deal with stress-How to change a tire-How to balance a checkbook-How to write a resume- Handy skills-Time Management-How to think for yourself-

Now, to the title of “Forgotten Classes,” slightly dramatic, yes, but not near as off the wall as many would think.

There is an eleven letter word that sums up all of the “I wish I had been taught” moments, this word is slightly deceiving based on the connotation that many have placed on it.

Agriculture.

Whaaaaaaaat? Agriculture. No way. That is where you learn about cows and farming, not checkbook or time management or dealing with stress…. Oh but it is.

Agriculture classes and the extra-curriculum that comes along with it FFA events and SAE projects all teach those moments. And here is how:

  1. Agriculture classes are based on real life experiences and have multiple teaching moments, both inside and outside of the classroom.

These teaching moments happen, even when the teachers were not meaning too. Road tripping to a stock show, a tire blows on the trailer, truck full of students, time to teach. Get them out and show them, in the moment, how to quickly and safely change a tire. Quick lessons. Along with that, agriculture classes teach that not everyone needs to go to college. WHAT. Pump the brakes. Rewind… what!? Yes. Not everyone is cut out for college, many learn, that they need to head to a trade school (which is nothing short of a remarkable education). They learn with their hands. These are the guys and girls that go on to become amazing horse trainers, welders of all trades, the plumbers, the electricians, the dog groomers. The jobs that many look down on as insignificant, but without them, life would become a mess… and pretty quickly.

2. There is more professional development involved than many would assume.

Those blue and gold jackets that FFA students wear every day not only symbolize the organization that the members are apart of, but they also teach how to be poised and polished in rain, snow, or extreme heat. Ask any member of the Texas FFA if corduroy is hot in the summer and cold in the winter, they will tell you a list of stories, but they always laugh and smile. They wear that because they know it is required of them, and it is a part of their job. Also, there are multiple times when, standing at a cattle show, you could strike up a conversation with the owner of a large breeding operation. Networking happens in the least likely places, but happens so quickly you never saw it coming. Resume building? No problem. There is a contest that is called, Job Interview. Yes you read that correctly. Job Interview. Students write a resume and cover letter, and also go through a mock phone and in person interview. They are then critiqued and judged based on that. HOW COULD YOU NOT WANT TO IMPROVE YOUR JOB INTERVIEWING SKILLS?!

3. Lastly, how to deal with stress and time management skills.

I know, every day there is a small part of stress that we all like to refer to as life. It happens. But in the agricultural classrooms around the country, stress is shown in different ways and ideas are found. These “stresses” are short lived because, usually there are many others involved. The stresses that happen are followed with quick reaction times and solutions to the problem. Along with time management skills. Most in agriculture programs have at least one or two projects whether those projects are animal or mechanics or something entirely different. They must balance core curriculum classes, then head to ag classes where they keep up to date on record books (pretty much a check book… holy heck they learn how to keep balances of that), then are handed a list of dates that they will be gone for contest or show or all of the above, oh wait, did I mention that most are highly involved other parts of the school! These can include but not limited to one act play, FCCLA, Student Council, Athletics, but then throw in outside activities like church youth group or rodeo and these students have a full list of items on their plate, constantly! But they learn time management, but they also learn a valuable lesson, when to say “Yes” to a task and when to know your limit and say “No, I am full, but I know someone who would be incredible at that job.”

 

So, for all of you saying that you missed out on those opportunities, hopefully you can share some light for future high school students. Agriculture classes are not just about cows, sows, and plows. These classes development your leadership skills, time management, learning the quality of life, friendships that last lifetimes, and most of all, your willingness to succeed in life… not just high school.

When curious about what classes develop you into an adult that can survive and strive in performance in the real world, remember those forgotten classes.