HerStory: Hollie Tripp on faith, love and becoming a Canadian
Have you ever wanted to make a significant change in your life—a big move, a career change or even something as simple as chopping your hair off—but it seemed like the most frightening and intimidating circumstance you’ve ever faced? I think we’ve all been there, and today I am thrilled to share Hollie (Christian) Tripp’s story with you; it’s a story of love, family, adventure and faith, and it’s one that will move you to tears while simultaneously move you to take charge of your life and do something you’ve always wanted to do.
Hollie grew up in Checotah, Oklahoma. Yes, the Carrie Underwood Checotah. This small Oklahoma town is pretty much exactly as you’d imagine based on what you know from Carrie Underwood’s song—I’ve been there, and I can attest to that. Hollie told me there are now three stoplights in the town; there was just one stoplight when she was in high school. It’s an adorable little town, filled with that small-town charm you can’t help but love.
Hollie valued growing up in small, tight-knit community. Everyone knew each other, and she said there was something special about that. But she was ready for her own adventure. She said as much as she loves Checotah and the good people who live in that town, she always felt that she is independent, and she wanted to spread her wings and see the world. However, the world she had known her whole life was pretty sheltered, and she said she had an immense amount of learning and growing to do on her own in the years following high school—where she graduated with just 89 people.
Hollie went to Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, which actually felt pretty big to her. It was during those first few semesters on her own that she realized just how sheltered she truly was and how small her bubble had been her whole life. Hollie doesn’t feel any ill will toward her upbringing; she appreciates her sweet hometown and feels it prepared her for life when she was finally thrust into the world and forced to land on her own two feet. She especially loved the freedom she felt to explore her faith and her relationship with God when it was finally time to make her own decisions about what church she would attend and how she would seek a relationship with the Lord. That faith she continued to build in college would mold her into the woman she is today.
Fast forward four years, and Hollie has graduated from OSU and accepted a job teaching Agriculture in Newcastle, Oklahoma. She was single at the time, and one of her good friends decided to set her up on a date with a guy she thought would be a great fit for her: Holt Tripp.
Hollie knew Holt from college; they were both in the College of Agriculture at OSU. She didn’t know him personally, but she knew his name and always thought he was extremely good looking. Holt was busy with vet school, but at the end of the semester he gave Hollie a call. Not a text message. Not a Facebook message. A good, old-fashioned phone call. Hollie saw this as a good sign.
Holt and Hollie went on their first date shortly after that phone call. Holt took her to dinner and then planned on parking the car and walking around to look at Christmas lights, but it was raining, so he drove instead, and ended up getting lost. Hollie wasn’t fazed by this unanticipated change in plans; if anything, she fell for him even more. They ended their night with conversation and coffee at Starbucks, and the rest is history.
Holt and Hollie got married in June 2015, but before the big day, they had a decision to make. Holt had the opportunity to accept a job in Calgary, Canada. Checotah to Canada. Can you imagine that? Talk about a whole new world. Hollie said Holt was wonderful about including her in the decision-making process; he didn’t monopolize the decision because he knew it was their decision, and as hard as it was to contemplate a move that far away from family, friends and normalcy, Hollie knew this was the opportunity of a lifetime for both Holt and herself, and she was convinced they couldn’t pass it up. So, off to Canada they went.
Holt and Hollie got married on June 13, went on a weeklong honeymoon in Belize, and then came home and had three days to pack up all of their earthly possessions into a Uhaul, with Hollie’s car attached to the back and Hollie driving Holt’s truck behind the Uhaul. The excursion took them five days, but they made a mini vacation out of it, stopping at Yellowstone National Park and other fun places along the way, which Hollie said made the adventure and anticipation that much more exciting. She said other than a few holdups at the U.S. and Canadian border with bringing their vehicles into Canada, everything went smoothly and they made it to their new home safe and sound.
As independent as Hollie is, she knew there was one thing that would make this move difficult: if something happened with someone in her family. When Holt and Hollie were packing up their Uhaul in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, Hollie’s dad was right there to help the newlyweds load the truck. Hollie said she remembers her dad seemed healthy and strong at the time. Nothing was out of the ordinary. So, it was a shock to the entire family when they learned her dad was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) in October.
Life has been tough around the Christian household, but faith is not lost. Hollie’s dad needs assistance with simple daily activities, and the family has come together to help the man who has always supported them. Hollie said she is so thankful she lives in a time when flying is the norm and she can pack up and catch a flight to Oklahoma to be with her dad in an instant, and she is also extremely grateful for FaceTime so she can virtually be with her family when she can't be in Checotah physically. She doesn’t regret moving to Canada, though. She and Holt are sure they made the right decision.
I am amazed by Hollie’s strength and perseverance. I can only imagine how difficult it must be to balance all of the emotions and struggles that come with moving to a different country, learning your dad is sick, all while maintaining a positive outlook on your situation. And to add fuel to the fire, Hollie has been dealing with the strain that comes with not only attaining a work visa in Canada, but also obtaining her teaching certificate. She has paid close to $1,000 in fees, she had to get fingerprinted, and once her fingerprints are in she has to drive to the border to complete the process.
All of these obstacles would seem like barriers to following through with the adventure Holt and Hollie agreed upon, but they’ve followed through with their plan. As difficult as it is to be so far from home, especially while her dad is battling ALS, she doesn’t believe they made the wrong decision, and her parents have been extremely supportive of their move.
Hiking trips, days spent playing in the snow, quality time with their church small group, discovering new things about each other, learning new things about themselves – all of this and more have been constant reminders that they made the right decision. Hollie says it’s so important to not let fear reside in your heart and instead take advantage of the opportunity set in front of you. You can always go home. And even if times get hard, whether emotionally or financially, you can always reevaluate and readjust. Hollie just didn’t want to wonder, “what if?”
For more information on ALS and how you can support both financially and through your time, check out ALSA.org. If you have any questions on anything related to Hollie’s story, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’d be happy to connect you.
Simply put: “The world is a big place, and it’s good to see it."