Purposeful living can be seen through you and me. It is not pursuing a life full of wealth but pursuing a God full of wisdom. It is not fearing the future but fearing a God who holds your future. While we may not always understand our purpose in the big picture, we are called to “be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and constant in prayer” (Romans 12:12).
We are called to trust in Jesus even when we are unsure of his plans for our lives because, like Esther and Ruth, the moment for which we have been created may be right before us.
With that said, Rhiannon Van Diest has humbly joined Colors of Hope as the new Professional Lead Equine Clinician. Rhiannon will oversee the duties and responsibilities set forth by the Colors of Hope Equine Restoration program. She will seek out each individual’s purpose and passion in order to select and certify clinicians and facilities throughout the world. As our Lead Clinician, Rhiannon will adhere to assessments, awareness, mindfulness, understanding, recognition, evaluations and reviews of each certified clinician working with victims to ensure they are fully restoring from their trauma at each selected facility.
Rhiannon brings over 30 years of extensive knowledge and experience in the equine industry to Colors of Hope. As a result, this allows her to recognize the day to day maintenance, functions and procedures which are required in order to endorse a working restoration equine facility.
Rhiannon grew up in rural Nebraska with her family where she began riding horses and competing in 4-H horse shows at the tender age of 8. Rhiannon advanced very quickly in her horsemanship skills which led her to stop competing in 4-H and focusing on competing in American Quarter Horse Association horse shows all throughout the United States. Throughout the course of her show career she has participated in Hunter under Saddle, Hunt Seat Equitation, Western Horsemanship, Western pleasure, Reining, Working Cowhorse, and Team Roping events. As a result, she has several All-around, Top Ten and World Championship belt buckles in both Western and English riding, Superior Performance Championships, Superior All-Around Championship in Hunter under Saddle, Superior Event Horse, Versatility Award, Register of Merit (ROM) achievements, and having the Year-End High-Point horse shown by her dad in the Amateur Heeling at AQHA shows throughout the nation.
She explains that she would not be the successful horsewoman she is today without the encouragement, strength and support of her parents above all. Additionally, she has been privileged to learn and work beside many professional trainers throughout the nation and during her show career on the principles and foundations of not only horsemanship but starting and training young horses as well.
With that being said, she firmly believes that God speaks to us through all parts of our lives. Through other people, the natural world, our animals, our relationships, and deep in the quiet of our own hearts. The key is learning the knack of hearing and seeing. Horses have their own particular wisdom to share and their own piece of a story. To Rhiannon, the essential joy of being with horses is that it brings her in contact with the rare elements of grace, beauty, spirit and fire.
Along with that, Rhiannon also brings over 10 years of education to the Colors of Hope organization. She not only has accomplished a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Justice Administration but also a Master of Science degree in Criminal Justice, Homeland Security and Terrorism. She not only has experience but knowledge in many different areas of the criminal justice system. During her 10 years of schooling she had the opportunity to work and apprentice with top District Attorneys and Prosecutors in the State of Oklahoma, which in return, allowed her to acquire knowledge and expertise from detectives, FBI agents, sergeants and investigators in numerous divisions. She became proficient in awareness of victims of crimes, research, statistics, and the proper way to handle any type of evidence while working with different divisions in the criminal justice system. Because of the time she spent working alongside District Attorney’s and prosecutors she was able to become more familiar with the Internet Crimes against Children Task Force, Sex Crimes Unit, Special Victims Unit, Homicide Division, Gang Unit Task Force, Drug Enforcement Agency, Victims Witness Center, Domestic Violence Unit, Child Abuse Network, Juvenile Bureau in Oklahoma and National Center for Missing and Exploited Children just to name a few.
Furthermore, she also has experience working for a Human Trafficking non-profit organization outside the Tulsa, Oklahoma area. During the course of her time at The Demand Project she was trained by two remarkable, God fearing, passion driven, Christian individuals on how to target the DEMAND (predator) side of sexual exploitation. The Demand Project’s mission believes in educating, equipping and empowering the community on how to stay safe against child predators who seek to harm children. With that said, she learned first-hand the importance of prevention, prosecution, rescue and restoration in order to eradicate sex trafficking and the sexual exploitation of men, women and children throughout the world.
Based on her experiences and knowledge not only with people in the criminal justice field, but people as a whole in society due to other jobs that required extensive travel, she is forever humbled in the fact that a bloated criminal justice system can rob people of hope. People robbed of hope are robbed of their basic human dignity; people robbed of their dignity are ultimately robbed of their humanity; and people robbed of their humanity make inhumane decisions involving themselves, their families and the communities in which they reside.
You see, Rhiannon has seen the worst of the worst in society and with people. But before the start of each day at the District Attorney’s office it was implanted that life is not a matter of places, things, or comfort; it actually concerns the basic rights of family, country, justice and human dignity. It was implanted on how to identify that human dignity is the basis to being a human. So, to undermine a person’s dignity is to demean their personhood. Above and beyond, every person is made in the image and likeness of God, so this means human beings visibly represent God to the rest of the world. Because of this, every person possesses constitutional value.
Rhiannon spent an ample amount of years working beside a District Attorney who was not only a man of God, but also a man of character, integrity, being ethical and doing what was right for the people and the State of Oklahoma. He taught me daily how to leave my pride behind and stay rooted in my dignity and integrity. He showed me how to not be selfish or let our pride be our guide. To remain humble and honor others more than ourselves. And to not be interested only in your own life, but how to care about the lives of others too (Philippians 2:3-4).
Furthermore, I had the privilege to witness first-hand the importance of being ethical, having integrity, dignity, and wisdom inside the courtroom and how good character improves every aspect of a person’s life throughout the criminal justice system.
Last but not least, purposeful living is being vulnerable. It is being open to criticism from others but confident in your gifts. It is having a mindset of being ok with not being a part of the crowd because you understand that you were created to be set apart for God. It is the selfless understanding that your life was never yours to begin with but it is a life used to be a vessel to help others.
Besides being outside working on the ranch and with her horses, Rhiannon also loves spending countless hours in her flower gardens, saving turtles, traveling, cooking, being active with her church and small groups, spending time with family and being the best Yaya to her 2 year old nephew.
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is-his good, pleasing and perfect will” – Romans 12:2