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Life starts with what you believe


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‘Ihahamuka’ – Why I’m Selling Chocolates This Christmas

Only 17 years ago, while my toddlers were safely playing in our back yard, approximately 1 million Rwandan’s fell victim to one of the most brutal acts of murder ever committed. During the three months of killing, it is estimated that up to 500 thousand women were traumatized by rape, 67% of whom were infected with HIV AIDS and 20 thousand babies were later born as a result of these rapes.   Additionally, 50 thousand women became widows and 75 thousand children were completely orphaned.1

Since, the psychological disturbance Ihahamuka has emerged as an unwanted part of their daily existence.

Ihahamuka, is a Rwandan term that literally means ‘without lungs’.  It refers to acute shortness of breath triggered by fear, flashbacks and chronic traumatic grief.  (Nearly all of the survivors of the genocide did not have the opportunity to bury their loved ones, nor perform mourning ceremonies. As a result they have not been able to fully process their grief. To this day tens of thousands of Rwandan’s continue to struggle with Ihahamuka.)

So what does this have to do with selling chocolates at Christmas?

For the past three years I have worked closely with a ministry team that seeks to bring healing to victims of abuse (physical, sexual, emotional and verbal), the orphaned (through divorce, death, emotional trauma and estrangement) offering freedom from guilt and shame, and encouraging participants to re-embrace lost hopes and dreams.  Our team has been invited to Rwanda, next May. 

The plan is to offer a week of seminars and workshops to hundreds of national church leaders, then provide them with the tools to take what they have experienced to their local communities across the nation.  Many will come from remote locations to attend.  As a team, our goal is to invite as many leaders as possible to participate with no additional financial pressure or stress to their families.  My heart is to help the orphans and widows be free from the debilitating affects of Ihahamuka.

That’s why I’m selling ‘Annie’s Chocolate’s2 this Christmas! 

Mint, dark, white, milk and cherry chocolates, bars, smoothies, fudge and popcorn.  A great stocking stuffer, hostess gift, secret Santa or teacher gift or a wonderful idea for your employer, co-worker or hairdresser.  Chocolate selections come in $5 or $15 sizes.  Available through Gateway Church over the next few weekends, or send me a message to place an order.

I hope you enjoy some of Annie’s delicious chocolate this Christmas, you won’t be disappointed!

If you ‘like’ this page, please click on Facebook icon below to share with your friends.  

2  A local chocolate shop in Arva, Ontario. Founders Burt and Annie have partnered with us, as they too have a generous heart for missions!


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Get Your Act(ions) Together

Months before my daughters ever reached the ripe old age of one, they were already taking direction from me. I remember being amazed at the possibility. How could they so clearly understand what I was communicating without any knowledge of the English language? 

This is possible because more than 90% of communication is accomplished non-verbally. My eyes, my hand gestures and the tone of my voice were sending signals to my daughters with greater impact than the words that left my lips. They were learning and following my instructions through their senses.

Throughout the teenage years and now into early adulthood, what I say to my daughters continues to be less significant than what I do. It’s called modeling; actions speaking louder than words.

Dr. Phil says this, “for better or worse, they observe, listen, learn and imitate your behaviors, your actions, your values, your beliefs and even your expressions. They watch what happens to you when you succeed or fail and those experiences become part of their reference files for how they live their own lives.”

So, as your child’s most influential role model, what are you modeling?  You might want to ask yourself these questions.

  • Am I modeling a life of passion and purpose?
  • Is my approach to conflict resolution calm and reasonable or do I use anger to get what I want?
  • Am I modeling high moral standards with my choice of entertainment, conversation or spare time?
  • Do I model self-worth through excellent character qualities and internal strength or is my worth defined by social status, wealth or fame?
  • Am I an example of someone who nurtures loving, supportive, genuine relationships or am I hypocritical, judgmental and critical of people behind their backs?
  • Do I follow through on promises made and carry out my responsibilities diligently?

When it comes to parenting, the “do as I say, not as I do” approach never works. I encourage you, for the sake of those watching, get your act(ions) together.


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In Pursuit of Happiness (coping with and recovering from depression)

Life is not a journey free of sadness, ups and downs, disappointments or setbacks.   Feeling low from time to time happens; it’s a normal part of life.   However, when ‘the blues’ have turned to feelings of emptiness or despair that simply will not go away, it could be that depression has set in.

Depression goes deeper than sadness.  Some people describe it as feeling lifeless, apathetic, worthless and hopeless.  Like living in a black hole.

‘Experts believe that depression is caused by a combination of biological, psychological, and social factors. In other words, your lifestyle choices, relationships, and coping skills matter just as much—if not more so—than genetics.’ 1  These factors could include loneliness, recent stressful life events, financial strain, unemployment, lack of social support, a history of depression in the family, substance abuse, health concerns or childhood trauma’s.

While depression is more prevalent in women than in men, (due to hormonal factors), teenagers, the elderly, and even children can experience times of depression.  And just to set the record straight, being a Christian, doesn’t mean you will never face this intense and unrelenting obstacle!   (Although your faith will be a tremendous asset to your recovery.)

How do you know if you’re depressed?  The following symptoms are often present when struggling with depression.

  • tearfulness
  • inability to sleep or sleeping too much
  • feelings of hopelessness, low-self worth or inadequacy
  • guilt and shame
  • change in eating habits
  • inability to cope
  • lack of motivation
  • withdrawal from friends and family
  • irritability, frustration, aggression
  • thoughts of suicide

Although developing a plan for coping and recovering from depression is unique to every individual, in most cases, best practices include lifestyle changes, support from friends, family and often professionals as well as building new emotional skills.   To start the pursuit of happiness, be honest with yourself.  By asking yourself , ‘How am I really doing?’ the door to getting help and making the changes necessary for recovery opens.

For further help on this topic, I am presenting at North Park Community Church http://www.northpark.ca , Wed., November 23rd, 9:15am.  This event is free.  Please register by Nov 20th (by Nov 13th if you require childcare) to ann.wiebe@northpark.ca

1 http://helpguide.org/mental/depression_signs_types_diagnosis_treatment.htm