• Vanessa Schmidt

Cultivating Seeds of Wild Hope

Homeless, exhausted, depressed and heartbroken; this was the moment that God reignited the smallest of flames deep in my soul to not give up on whatever this dream with horses was.


It was 2014. I'd gone tent camping across the US ending up at Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary in South Dakota. With perhaps the only money to my name I bought a private tour and headed out in an old red pickup driven by an older gentle-cowboy across 11,000 acres of pure heaven on earth.

It was late Fall, so windy and cold, but the sun shone bright and the air felt crisp and fresh. As we wove our way through this piece of the Black Hills we saw a band of horses off to the left. Then another off to the right. A couple of horses came up and poked their heads in the windows - they associated the pickup truck with hay.

And then I saw them; 2 herds coming from different directions toward us. I jumped out of the truck and went and stood in the middle of the land and made a split second request of God; PLEAAAASSSSEEEE let them come over and connect with me.


Slowly, both herds continued in our direction. And then just one herd continued toward me. Little by little they broke off until two beauties came right up to me. I'd crouched down, took some deep breaths and longingly beckoned in my spirit for them to come close. And, they did! I began exchanging breaths with my new friends and that's when it happened. Both mustangs nuzzled me and began blowing warm air down my neck. I literally melted!

Tears streamed out of my eyes and in that moment I heard it, that still small voice that said "Don't give up"! It was truly the breath of God breathing new life into me.


I began to sob. One of the mustangs seemed to be comforting me by rubbing the tears off my cheek with his velvety nose. I felt a huge release in my spirit, a familiarity of being home, safe and cherished. It's the same feeling I felt when I was just a little girl many years earlier in Montana.

I was in the third grade and had already moved 6 times in my short life. I'd walk to/from school alone on this gravel road in this tiny town in the middle of nowhere. And in my path there were horses. I'd stop and talk with them and, that feeling, that absolute sense of safety and care, engulfed me.


Never could I have imagined that those talks with my equine friends as a little girl were the seeds that would one day grow into what is now The Wild Hope! Those seeds that stayed buried, undiscovered and seemingly nonexistent until nearly 40 years later. Those seeds that God was ever-so-gently tending to for me until I was able to begin seeing the garden of promise and purpose He'd planted within me. Those seeds that served as evidence of sorts, that He's had His eye on me this whole time.

And, maybe most profoundly, that He cared enough to keep those seeds alive in me as long as it took. Like waiting 40 years for someone to discover that special gift you put under the Christmas tree just for them.


And now, because of you and a caring community, those seeds have penetrated out of the ground into the sunlight and are tiny shoots of Wild Hope! Our Pilot Program serving survivors of sex trafficking is the first step in planting new seeds for others to water, tend to and eventually harvest so they can experience those same feelings of safety, belonging and of being cherished.


As we grow Phase II - Building The Team - I'm often told that our dream for a Survivor-led, Trauma-Informed Urban horse ranch here in the ATX is all but impossible. The level of training required of our therapy teams, the low number of appropriately trained trauma specialists, the price of land/property in Austin, the funding it will take to support our healing herd of horses, and the many challenges along the way. These are just a few of the reasons I'm told this vision is impossible.

But that's ok. Because I know it takes a Wild Hope to believe in our vast vision to provide healing and support for survivors of the worst of the worst forms of trauma; sexual abuse and assault, human trafficking, religious abuse, severe neglect, domestic violence, etc. And it's my job and that of our Board of Directors to hold onto that hope for others until they are able to grab ahold of it for themselves.


And it's ok because people who tell me it's impossible simply don't know where I've come from and where I've been. They don't know that I ,TOO was beyond hope. That living a productive life should have been impossible. That I'd even live to run a nonprofit was against all the odds. But I know. I understand living in "the impossible". I know that the most rewarding elements of my life come directly out of "the impossible". And I know that the vision behind The Wild Hope emanates beyond the nonprofit itself.


It's an opportunity to share with you, the community and the world that we each have a purpose and value. We each have been given dreams to pursue. And these dreams usually feel much too hard to accomplish. They ARE if we try to go it alone. But TOGETHER, WE CAN DO ANYTHING!


No matter what the "impossibility" you are facing today, be encouraged and know that:

1) you are not alone!

2) your value is NOT based on your performance or productivity.

3) the beauty is in the journey, not the end result; embrace your journey!


With Wild Hope,


Vanessa


"Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!"
Ephesians 3:20
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