Quick update!

I just wanted to update you on Chris’s condition. The shot for pain has been having the desired effect! It has reduced the pain and make it possible for more benefit from the chiropractic treatments and the physical therapy. The combination of therapies is having a synergistic effect. The doctor says that he can have a total of four shots…two closer together to sort of front load and then maybe a third six months later.

Courseys are encouraged! Thank you for your prayers…please continue to pull down from heaven the reality of restored health and vitality! Praise and glory to God!

Gleanings from The Round Table:

Be encouraged if at first your introduction of the joy materials is not met with resounding success! That bit about not despising small beginnings…yeah, that one!

The process of having a small group go through Joy Starts Here — may have to be repeated 2-3 times to build a pool of people ready and wanting to take the Connexus course.

A couple times through the course and you will have made a T-Zone (transformation zone) of joy in your church! And it is contagious!

These results were common to the folks who shared their experiences. It may take more time than you are comfortable with, but God knows about time so rest assured that He will complete what He starts!

Blessings, Chris & Carol

Chris Coursey, MA Theology – Author, Speaker and Thrive Trainer,  www.thrivetoday.org

Twitter – @coursey_chris

Carol A. Brown, Author of The Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity and Highly Sensitive         www.fromgodsheart.com

Carol’s email – godsheart@comcast.net

Crisis…what can you do?

Crisis is alwaysDepression3.png difficult, but crisis during holidays leaves a deeper and more significant mark that can haunt you for a long time. For some, grief slides into depression and from depression to hopeless despair. The holiday becomes a trigger that releases restraints. Pain becomes intolerable and the enemy whispers, “Torment will never stop, so… go ahead. You can end it.” And a suicide attempt is made.

What do loved ones do? What can they do? This question was presented at one of our Round Table discussions and we thought we should share Dr. Wilder’s answer.

If you are trained in hopeless despair, then join them in that emotion. The lie is that no one wants to be with them in their hopelessness. The truth is that Jesus always wants to be with us—even in our hopelessness! Truth is that Jesus in you can and does love them through you. But words are not much good. They need you to be with them—to be Jesus with skin on for them.

By “trained” we mean that you need to know who you are, what it is like you to be in this emotion, who Jesus is, who you are in Him and remember who you are, even in hopeless despair. Knowing (not just in your head) what it is like you to be in this emotion, who Jesus is and what it is like Jesus to be, and who you are in Him will keep you from slipping into despair yourself. Hopeless despair will not be able to entwine itself in your emotions and drag you down.

A word of caution:

If you are in crisis now (or your family member is) find a mature counselor near you right now. Crisis is no time to train. When the crisis is past and you want to train yourself to deal with hopeless despair then contact us for training. Contacting Chris Coursey would be good. The Connexus training is not set up to deal with hopeless despair enough to be considered a training program. It is more for getting people on the joy track and keeping them there. 

Once the crisis has passed, two relational skills you can practice with this person are quieting (skill 2) and appreciation (skill 4).  Skills 2 & 4 build a person’s capacity for joy, which in a crisis is at low ebb.

Skill 2 – Quieting


Relationships require a rhythm of joy and rest. You rest then cycle back to joy. You build joy and return to rest. This moment by moment interaction leaves you satisfied. Short moments of rest provide strength and stamina for more joy. You see this in infants who reflexively look away from interactions once they reach a peak of joy. They quickly return for more face-to-face joy, and the dance continues.

When synchronized, energy levels mutually climb and drop. Your brain knows these patterns and the fun feels natural. Lack of rest makes you feel overwhelmed. Alternating joy with rest prevents relational casualties. Quieting is the rest period between the high joy times. Quieting releases serotonin on an “as needed” basis to recharge your relational battery. Serotonin leaves you content and peaceful.

Skill 4 – Appreciation

Skill4.pdfAppreciation, when shared, activates your relational circuits, resettles your nervous system, and releases a cocktail of bonding hormones so you feel connected and peaceful. You are in your best form when Skill Four permeates your interactions. The student of Scripture will discover frequent reminders to remember, appreciate, enjoy, and meditate on the good stuff. “Be thankful” in good times and bad.

Thanks to dopamine, learning something new builds memories, strengthens long-term memories, and helps you grow closer with people. In order to become a usable brain skill, appreciation must be practiced, enjoyed, and shared on a daily basis. Thankfully, you can use appreciation on your own. Appreciation keeps you focused on what is important to keep you free from regrets and guilt. You restore appreciation when you ask, “What am I thankful for today?” You share appreciation when you express appreciation. Start and end your day with appreciation and you will notice more energy, a more positive outlook and an increase in stamina to navigate hardship. Your health and relationships will thank you. For example:

3-3-3- Appreciation Exercise can easily be incorporated into family functions like at the supper table. Name 3 things about each other, 3 things about your family, and 3 things about God that you appreciate.

Resources for Skills Two and Four:

  • Joy Starts Here: The Transformation Zone
  • JoyQ Assessment
  • 30 Days of Joy for Busy Married Couples
  • Jesus In Mind: Talks on Kingdom Life
  • THRIVE Skill Guides—52 Weeks Of Training Exercises

Mastering Joy and Rest

Mastering Returning to Joy

Mastering Applied Strategy

Training Opportunities: For More Information Click Here then click on the “training tab”

  • Connexus
  • THRIVE 5-day Training
  • 2015 in Austin, TX and
  • July in Grand Rapids, MI
  • Joy Rekindled Marriage Retreats

If you have further questions regarding crisis response,

May your joy be full,

Chris & Carol

Chris Coursey, MA Theology – Author, Speaker and Thrive Trainer,  www.thrivetoday.org

Twitter – @coursey_chris

Carol A. Brown, Author of The Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity and Highly Sensitive         www.fromgodsheart.com

Carol’s email – godsheart@comcast.net

P.S. Update on Chris’s back. He will be receiving an epideral for pain control and we will see how that goes. Chris and I have decided while he is receiving treatment, to shelve  the writing of the book for pastors because of the non-stop pain. He needs to focus his limited energy on basics and family during his small window of functionality. Because of that we are pointing everyone to the Joy Starts Here blog–http://www.joystartshere.com/blog// This blog will be put on hold until Chris is back to himself!


Attachments – Life’s Connections (part 5 of 5)


 In grade school, I, Chris, used to love watching my peers play jump rope.  Two girls held each end of a long rope then quickly flung the rope around.  A brave volunteer would leap into the middle and pace with the rope, quickly jumping up and down.

Those with good timing succeeded, those who did not have good timing got tangled up.  The rhythmic pace would dance along smoothly, as long as they were all synchronized in unison.  When one fell out of rhythm, the rope would get caught and quickly stop.

Attachments build and develop based on good timing, shared signals, and synchronized interaction.

You become skilled at jumping rope through practice, good timing, and keeping rhythm with the rope and your teammates.  You bond to your important people in a similar fashion.  Together, you keep your rhythms synchronized, internally and externally, while keeping your timing balanced and signals attuned.  You become tangled up when someone gets out of step with your natural synchronized progression of interaction.

To review, we previously studied ambivalent/distracted attachments.  We learned how

  • Insecure attachment develops by mother’s mental state being imposed onto her child.
  • Children who develop ambivalent/distracted attachments feel responsible to take care of mom (or dad); what attachment literature calls a “parentified child”.  In inner healing language this is parental inversion.

Interaction between an ambivalent mother and her child may look healthy and secure to the untrained eye, but a close examination between mother and child interaction reveals mom is desynchronized to the child.  The parent fails to respond properly to the child’s attachment light.  In other words, mom does not synchronize with child’s needs; rather mom pushes the child to synchronize to her needs.

Toddler or a baby child playing with puzzle in a nursery.

(Photo credit © Pavla Zakova – Fotolia.com)

Take for an example where a child plays alone…  The child’s attention focuses on his/her toys (attachment light off) but the insecure mother wants someone to bond with (attachment light on).  She looks at her child, who seems distracted and busily playing.  Mom comes over and joyfully picks up her child, interrupting child’s focus and behavior.  Mom plays, tickles, and interacts with the child.

The interaction looks good, sounds good, and may even be enjoyable to watch.  For the infant, however the effect is toxic and leads to an insecure attachment known as ambivalent/distracted.  Mom failed to stay sensitive to her child’s signals.  If she would have given her child a few seconds, or minutes until the child looked up to her, (attachment light on), then mom could have picked up the child and played.


Disorganized attachment is the last attachment disorder.  An individual with this attachment disorder has the highest percentage of risk for a mental disorder later in life. [1]

Disorganized attachments occur when a parent becomes a source of terror as well as love and affection.

Disorganized attachments are found in more mental and posttraumatic stress disorder cases than the previous two insecure attachments. Desire to attach and bond becomes a double bind because a child cannot decipher whether bonding will be safe or scary.

Threat of being hurt, scared or abused overlaps the desire to approach, causing a guessing game with high stakes.  When a child has his/her attachment light on, it creates panic due to the lack of predictability created by the caregiver or parent.

For example, when a child wants to bond with mom, the child’s attachment light comes on.  Mom’s attachment light is stuck in unpredictable patterns of (on/off/on/off, etc.)  Mom leaves the child stuck in a state of confusion and fear, not knowing where mom will be or how she will respond when the times comes to bond.

Studies show the disorganized child’s response to parental recognition.  The parent walks into a room with his/her disorganized child already in the room playing.  The child then responds by walking or crawling backwards, towards the parent, not wanting to see mom or dad’s face. A child may trance out, freeze, or even crawl on the floor banging his or her head. [2] Not all cases of disorganized attachment involve abuse.

Surprisingly, the most common cause of disorganized attachment is not an angry parent. It may involve a “victim parent”, a parent who is constantly afraid.  A child who shares an identity with a fear mapped brain means sharing an identity with someone who is scared and fear bonded.  Everything in the whole world becomes scary and frightening.

mother ans son

A healthy parent gives assurance and comfort for a frightened child but a disorganized child receives fear and worry in return. A large source of fear in children develops from parents who are fearful.

According to Jim Wilder’s groundbreaking book titled, The Complete Guide to Living With Men, he states, “three things can make a baby boy frightened of his own attachment light, when his attachment signals:

1)   Sometimes make mom angry

2)   Leads to being overwhelmed at times

3)   When the baby can pick up how scared mom is.


Under these three conditions when baby’s attachment light comes on he fears pain and terror, desires closeness and comfort – but what will happen this time?” [3]

This pattern leaves the child in a disorganized state.  A disorganized child will have a painful life ahead with challenges in relationships and personal well-being.

Healing begins with authentic, honest, and consistent relationships that provide safety, predictability, and security for the disorganized child.

In summary, we have examined the significance of life’s invaluable connections – attachments and bonds.

  • Secure attachments are foundational for emotional and mental well-being and interpersonal interaction.
  • How we grow and mature is based on our bonds.
  • Synchronization between mother and infant build strong bonds and healthy attachments.
  • Mom synchronizes with her child by building joy and resting, as her child needs.
  • Synchronization involves reciprocate rhythms, matched mental states, energy levels, and alternating between periods of arousal and rest.
  • Healthy mothers synchronize to baby, while unhealthy mothers attempt to get baby to synchronize with her, based out of need.

If you identified with one of these painful attachment modes, it can be remedied—that’s the beautiful thing about your brain. It can learn and change.


Remediation:  Attend Thrive Training. It is the fast track to reducing attachment pain. However, if you cannot take time off work in addition to the tuition, call Deni (our webinar coordinator) insert link and ask for a Joy Starts Here or Connexus group in your area. While talking with Deni ask for information on how to bring Connexus to your church. We have learned that attending a Connexus class is a good way to prepare to facilitate the group in your own church.

Thrive Training Reminder

Feb. 23-27, in Austin, Texas

July 26-31, 2015 in Grand Rapids, Michigan 

Registration Information here.

 May your joy be full,

Chris & Carol

Chris Coursey, MA Theology – Author, Speaker and Thrive Trainer,  www.thrivetoday.org

Twitter – @coursey_chris

Carol A. Brown, Author of The Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity and Highly Sensitive         www.fromgodsheart.com

Carol’s email – godsheart@comcast.net

[1] Developing Mind, Daniel Siegel, pg. 119

[2] Developing Mind, Daniel Siegle. 74ff

[3] Wilder, Jim The Complete Guide to Living With Men, pg. 40

Attachments — Life’s Connections (Part 4 of 5)


No, that’s not Rudholf’s red nose. It is your attachment light. Previously we explored what happens when a bond becomes fear based, known as an avoidant/dismissive attachment.

  • Unlike secure bonds, which develop when attachment signals are shared in a timely fashion, insecure bonds develop through bad timing and missed signals.  You will develop an avoidant/dismissive attachment when mom or caregiver fails to respond correctly to your attachment light (cues and signals).
  • Pain arises and you feel you are about to die when your attachment light fails to provoke a response.  Lonely and afraid, you suffer tremendous pain that resounds throughout your body, telling you you are going to die when your signals are not met and shared.
  • A child whose signals are not reciprocated learns to mask attachment pain by hiding attachment cues and signals.  A child’s light comes on; the parent’s light is off.  When a child’s light goes off, parent’s light is still off, so the child wants to avoid anything that will set off the resulting painful outcome.  He will wear a mask that reveals no particular need or desire to bond. He is “just fine.”
  • Dismissive parents produce dismissive children, who grow up and rear dismissive children.  You hurt when your familiar face fails to synchronize and respond with you.

Ambivalent/Distracted Attachment is another form of insecure attachment. Ambivalent/distracted attachments develop through mom imposing her mental state onto her child’s state.  On the surface, the interaction looks healthy and secure.  Careful observation reveals a failure to synchronize.  In other words, mom does not synchronize to child’s needs, rather mom pushes child to synchronize with her needs.

Toddler or a baby child playing with puzzle in a nursery.

Photo credit © Pavla Zakova – Fotolia.com

For example:  Child may be playing with toys (attachment light off) and insecure mother wants someone to bond with (attachment light on).  She looks at her child, who seems distracted and busily playing.  Mom comes over and joyfully picks up her child.  This move interrupts the child’s behavior.  Mom plays, tickles, and interacts with child.  The interaction looks good, sounds good, and may even be enjoyable to watch.  For the infant, however the effects are harmful.

A distorted existence develops for the child because mom failed to attune to her child.  Mom’s intrusion pushed her mental state onto child’s mental state, thus producing disarray for her child’s attachment center.  Failure to match attachment lights with her child results in confusion and attachment pain for her child.


As a result, the child’s attachment light will always be ready, and stay on, resulting in an ambivalent/distracted attachment.  Ambivalent children take care of parents’ feelings rather than parents taking care of children’s feelings.  Children feel responsible and must always be available and on guard for mom and dad. (Photo courtesy of Microsoft Images)

Time to bond becomes uncertain, signals are not synchronized, and the child never knows when signals will be met on time, so his/her light stays on.  Developing from this unhealthy dynamic is a “parentified child”—one who feels responsible for parents, and never knows time to quiet from time to play.

This child becomes vigilant.  Not wanting to miss an opportunity, child prepares to bond at any given moment.  An inconsistent parent produces a confused child.  The child’s attachment center never knows when parent’s light will be on or off and will leave his/her light on just in case parent responds.

Junge, Kind, Schulkind, erschrocken

Research studies with 18 month-old infants show most intrusions by a parent are positive in nature.  Positive in the sense that parent wants to play or interact positively – according to parental need, not child.  Untimely interaction produces clingy children who beg for mom’s attention, and are not easily soothed when upset.


(Photo credit – © Christine Wulf – Fotolia.com

These children are confused and have to guess when mom or dad will be prepared to bond and connect again.  Not wanting to miss out on something good becomes the child’s primary motivation.  A child is stuck unable to discern time to bond from time to rest.  This produces highly sensitive and over vigilant children.

The solution, of course, is for the parent(s) to learn how to relate to the child in a way that produces secure bonds. Parents must learn to synchronize to their child’s needs rather than their own.

You can talk, research and learn a head full of knowledge but it will only make minimal difference. The benefit of learning (left hemisphere function) is that you understand the need for brain training (right hemisphere function.) The bonding styles are housed in the right hemisphere of the brain and are learned through modeling. Your brain needs to SEE how it is done. Your brain needs a model to copy. To change your relational style you need to imitate someone who knows how to have and make secure bonds.


Learning to quiet one’s self and develop secure, joyful bonds is what happens in Track One of Thrive Training. You also learn this in the Connexus classes. We cannot think of anything more helpful in “the equipping of the saints”[1] than shoring up these kinds of “breaches” in relational skills and strengthening God’s people.

[1] Ephesians 4:12–Prepare/Equip/Mend

12 to equip (G2677) his people (perfecting of the saints-KJV) for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up-NIV

[1] The greek word καταρτισμός (G2677) translated as “equip” in NIV and “perfecting” in KJV is a masculine noun from a greek verb καταρτίζω (G2675).

The noun means literally “complete furnishing”.  Looking at its parent verb, we see more of the essence of how people are to be equipped or furnished.

This parent or root word means[1];

1. to render, i.e. to fit, sound, complete, to mend (what has been broken or rent), to repair, to complete, to fit out, equip, put in order, arrange, adjust to fit or frame for one’s self, prepare ethically: to strengthen, perfect, complete, make one what he ought to be

This same word is what the fisherman were doing with the nets.

Mt 4:21 Going on from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John. They were in a boat with their father Zebedee, preparing (mending-KJV)(G2675) their nets. Jesus called them, NIVMk 1:19 When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing (mending-KJV) their nets. NIV
This helps us understand that when the Lord gave us “11 … apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service”,  this equipping people for works of service is the same as the fishermen “mending” their nets.  Church leadership is to mend what was broken or torn, to repair, to complete, to equip, to make fit, strengthen, complete, prepare us to be what we ought to be.

Thrive Registration Reminder 

Feb. 23-27, in Austin, Texas

July 26-31, 2015 in Grand Rapids, Michigan 

Registration Information here.

 As we once again celebrate the coming of our Savior, may your joy be full,

Chris & Carol

Chris Coursey, MA Theology – Author, Speaker and Thrive Trainer,  www.thrivetoday.org

Twitter – @coursey_chris

Carol A. Brown, Author of The Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity and Highly Sensitive         www.fromgodsheart.com

Carol’s email – godsheart@comcast.net



Attachments – Life’s Connections (part 3 of 5)

In the last article we examined the significance of strong bonds and healthy attachments.  To review

  • Secure attachments form when mom synchronizes with her child.  A strong bond develops when mom is sensitive to her child’s signals.  Mom synchronizes with child as she builds joy and allows rest as her child requires.
  • Synchronization involves reciprocated rhythms.  Synchronization between mother and child match mental states, energy levels, and alternate between periods of arousal and rest.  Healthy mothers synchronize to baby, while unhealthy mothers attempt to get baby to synchronize with mother’s need.

Attachment Disorders — Problems arise when mom fails to respond correctly to her child’s attachment light (cues and signals).  These problems are called attachment disorders.  They produce attachment pain.  A bond that fails to grow in love and security becomes an insecure attachment, or a fear bond.

Dismissive Attachment — The insecure attachment we are going to look at is called a dismissive attachment.  You feel like you are going to die when someone fails to respond to you at a moment you are primed and ready to bond.  Your heart races, thoughts become confused and you hurt.  You sink into an abyss of turmoil and anguish when you want to be with someone and your signals are not reciprocated.

An avoidant or dismissive attachment describes pain resulting from failure of your familiar face to respond and synchronize to you.  Children fall prey to a dismissive attachment when the parent or caregiver has not properly responded (if at all) with good timing.

The child does not recover well and learns to mask attachment pain by hiding his/her own attachment cues and signals.  When the child’s light comes on; the parent’s light is off.  When a child’s light goes off, parent’s light is still off which produces an avoidant outcome.

Dismissive Attachment Cycle–Dismissive parents produce dismissive children, who grow up and rear dismissive children.  Dismissive attachments develop into a vicious cycle.

  •  Children realize their attachment light has a mind of its own, beyond their control, so they disconnect upper levels and lower levels of their mind from working together.  We call this a desynchronized mind.
  • Keeping a split control center brings temporary relief and avoidance of attachment pain.  Up until age 12 children are not good at doing this disconnection so they exhibit dissociative symptoms when they experience attachment pain.
  • After 12 years of age the brain will run two systems of their control center separately, avoiding pain.  Attachment pain will be masked under a variety of coping mechanisms.
  • Recognition must be learned.  It takes practice to recognize the feeling “I am going to die if I don’t get this…”
  • Addictions and compulsions develop from failures to correctly attune with relational rhythms.

Research shows dismissive children have similar internal reactions as a secure attached child.  In both cases, heart rate leaps by an internal positive reaction upon recognition by a familiar face – yet dismissive attached children show no external visible reactions of interest. [1] They have learned to hide their attachment light and desire to bond. Sadly, dismissive children learn to play alone and oftentimes are labeled “mature” and “well behaved” in boarding schools and other child behavior programs.

Another way to describe this inner conflict is “to not get your hopes up.” As the Thanksgiving/Christmas season is upon us, we first give thanks for the blessings God has given us. But  for some, realizing what is not there or might not be there…you never know for sure…Just imagining it squeezes my heart.

Praise God, there is a remedy. You can remediate and bring healing to this wound. I am so grateful for the years of study and ministry that went into sorting out these relational brain skills. I would encourage anyone who recognized your own experience to not despair or think you are a lost cause.

Anna Hill shared her experience of learning these skills as an adult. You can view her testimony in an older blog here.

You can find out if there is a Connexus class in your area by going Deni Huttula at deni@lifemodelworks.org.










You will also find information on how to start classes in your church here.

Please feel free to ask questions or share your experiences.

Have a blessed holiday and may your joy be full!

Chris & Carol

Chris Coursey, MA Theology – Author, Speaker and Thrive Trainer,  www.thrivetoday.org

Twitter – @coursey_chris

Carol A. Brown, Author of The Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity and Highly Sensitive         www.fromgodsheart.com

Carol’s email – godsheart@comcast.net


[1] Developing Mind, pg 92

Attachments – Life’s Connections (part 2 of 5)



(Photo credit © wittybear – Fotolia.com)

In the first of this series you learned that the basics of why attachments are significant.

  • Attachments are the necessary building blocks for our lives
  • Attachments are the foundation for emotional and mental well-being
  • Attachments are foundational to interpersonal interaction

How you grow and mature is based on the quality of your bonds.  Without an attachment foundation built on consistent, healthy interaction, your emotional well-being and mental health will suffer.

According to Dr. Daniel Siegel, for the infant and young child, attachment relationships are the major environmental factors that shape the development of the brain during its period of maximal growth.


Attachments are essential in helping an infant brain develop and function. Secure bonding and attachments enable these processes to properly take place:

  • Develop relationships
  • Establish the relational circuit within the brain
  • Build an internal interpreter to tell you what things mean
  • Gain capacity to synchronize with others
  • Allow for repair of broken attachments

Bonding —

Healthy bonds and attachments establish the foundation for your relationships.  It is impossible to have healthy, meaningful relationships without mutual bonds between people.  A relationship is based on attuning and communicating with one another verbally and nonverbally in a dance of shared signals.

Bonding involves a specific sensitivity to signals between mother and child.  For the infant brain, there is a time to play and a time to rest.  Disruption of these cycles has negative consequences.

A mother’s role in bonding with her child is to synchronize with the child’s various states, depending on what the child needs at a given time.

A child who wakes up from a nap will need mom to be sensitive to his/her mental state and energy level.  A healthy mother will be quiet, gentle, and soothing in her voice, until baby has lightened up the senses and is ready to play.

The mother who is not sensitive to the child’s condition may overwhelm and upset the child by reflecting her condition uponthe child.

Insecure Attachment

When mom fails to recognize her child’s attachment light is on, the child experiences rejection.  This misalignment creates immense distress in the child.  Subsequently, this awful experience, a “death” feeling, will be avoided.  Sadly, the “death” state corresponds with “rest states”, so the child avoids rest.



 The insecure attachment feeling will haunt the child until the individual is healthy and secure enough to work through attachment pain years later.  In the meantime, attachment pain goes unchecked and anything that resembles rest is avoided.  Agonizing attachment pain is often covered up (think addictions), medicated, and disregarded as much as possible—(“ignore it and it will go away” or “run to keep ahead of pain”).

The mother who desynchronizes with her child produces serious damage to her child’s attachment circuit.

hepfulhintsBEEPS 6

Insecure attachments form when parents and children fail to synchronize.  Insecure attachments are associated with a higher incidence of psychiatric disorders, including anxiety and mood disorders. [2]

Secure Attachment

Anna Hill 5

A secure attachment forms through plenty of synchronized interaction between mother and child.  This strong bond grows when mom responds to her child’s signals in timely fashion.  Mom synchronizes with the child, builds joy, and provides rest at the appropriate times.  Mom downloads her brain structure and mental state as well as enhances baby’s emotional regulation ability through shared attunement. Shared attunement is the alignment of states of mind between mother and child.  Attunement is expressed through facial expressions, tone of voice, body gestures, and eye contact. [3]

Joy Building — Joy is produced when mom’s face lights up, expressing I am delighted to be with you!  Joyful exchanges establish a secure bond with baby that will travel a lifetime.  As the child reaches full capacity of joy, she will look away, or gaze avert.  Breaking eye contact stops right hemispheric communication and says, ‘let’s rest!’

Healthy mothering understands this need for rest, and will respect the need.  Unhealthy mothering results when mom fails to recognize her child’s need for rest and continues pushing her state onto the baby.  This happens if mother feels rejected by baby’s action so she pushes even harder to keep baby’s attention.  The continued pushing overwhelms baby’s attachment circuits and can lead to dissociation at worst, or a painful disconnection at the least.  Mom’s capacity surpasses that of her infant.  Trying to compete with mom’s high energy levels only creates overwhelm and an internal crisis.

Secure bonds provide an infant with a solid foundation to build joy and experience intense emotions.  Both are important for the infant to practice.  A secure bond with mom provides needed strength and safety to experience bonds with others.

As the child grows older, dad becomes a prime candidate for the baby to synchronize with.  Dad helps expand the child’s capacity to synchronize with others beside mom.  However, in the beginning mom is essential to provide a foundation and framework the child requires throughout life.

Shared attunement develops a secure foundation for interpersonal relationships and emotional health.

Synchronizing builds strong bonds, a house that can withstand life’s storms and turbulence.

We know that it is possible to fill in the gaps that happen to us as we acquire these essential relational brain skills. If you feel yourself resonating with some of this and sense that there is more to to life and relationships than you have experienced; if you want to explore this area of attachment, you can learn the skills of quieting inner fear and panic in Track One of Thrive Training.

Thrive Training Reminder…

Feb. 23-27, in Austin, Texas

July 26-31, 2015 in Grand Rapids, Michigan 

Registration Information here.

 May your joy be full,

Chris & Carol

Chris Coursey, MA Theology – Author, Speaker and Thrive Trainer,  www.thrivetoday.org

Twitter – @coursey_chris

Carol A. Brown, Author of The Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity and Highly Sensitive         www.fromgodsheart.com

Carol’s email – godsheart@comcast.net

[1] Developing Mind, pg. 85

[2] Developing Mind, pg 86

[3] Developing Mind, Daniel Siegel, p 85, 86, 88.



Holidays and Attachments…(what’s the connection?)

Attachments Are Life’s Connections 


As we approach the holiday season it is a time of great pain for many people. Some are very clear about the source of the pain they feel, while for others the holidays evoke a deep pain that seems to have no clear source. Life hurts. The music, decorations, and pictures of family love and joy are stark reminders of what they don’t have. It takes them on a downward spiral into a holiday depression. Your attachments, or lack thereof, to primary people are a key to understanding your holiday funk. (Photo courtesy of Meilee Anderson)


(Photo credit © wittybear – Fotolia.com

The Foundation –Many people these days build homes. There are essential steps in putting up a house.  The contractor must be very careful to have a foundation that is level and secure.  If there is a faulty foundation, the house will be unstable, not sound.  Ground must be level, smooth, and solid.  Even a small problem with the base will directly effect the rest of the building.  A competent, trustworthy contractor is very cautious in this beginning phase, being aware of the slightest detail. The owner of a house with an improper foundation will be in for a lot of work, worry, and expense.  Similarly, when our bonds are not secure we are in for a lot of pain and distress.

What is Attachment–According to Daniel Siegel, attachment is an inborn system in the brain that evolves in ways that influence and organize motivational, emotional, and memory processes with respect to significant caregiversThe attachment system motivates an infant to seek closeness to parents and to establish communication with them. [1]

Attachments are imperative for a child to seek out mom and dad for comfort, love, joy, and result in strong emotional/mental health when formed.  Attachments are foundational for organizing a healthy internal state of mind and for joyful, fulfilling relationships.

Secure attachment is one where parents attune, or are sensitive to the child’s needs.

clip_image009.jpg Insecure attachment is when the parents fail to remain sensitive at meeting needs.

Attachments are selective; only certain people will do when the infant seeks to bond.

Bonds form security for the infant that will be needed as he/she grows older and develops an independent and group identity.


By eighteen months, a child develops “evocative memory”.  This is a form of remembering through the image of faces, voice tone, smell, taste, and touch. [2]  Evocative memory is an internalized image in the memory, which brings comfort and security for the child if mom is unavailable.  Life giving interaction takes a healthy mom who can be sensitive to the child’s needs when it is time to build joy and when it is time to rest.  Early years are a fragile time for the infant.  If mom pushes joy building when the infant needs to rest, the experience becomes overwhelming and traumatizing.  Mom needs to be sensitive to what the baby desires, and what the baby does not need.  The ability to differentiate the two energy states strengthens the child’s mind, builds, and equips the emotional center.  The right hemispheric control center needs to be strong for all the roads an individual will travel, and emotions the child will confront.  The more practice, the better the child will be at regulating emotions and staying relational in distress.

Depressed 3

There will be no greater pain for a child than a parent who is distracted and unresponsive to the child’s needs and fails to respond when the child requires connecting.   Neglect, the absence of a connection, is experienced as a “death”, and the child will probably spend the rest of his/her life trying to avoid, mask, or numb the pain.  This child may experience relationships as anything but fun, exciting and enjoyable.  People may become a means to an end, objects of pain/pleasure, or bristles on a fragile wound.

Attachment pain can be the cause for addictions, compulsions, disorders, and a number of other symptoms and problems.  Attachment pain can instigate affairs, divorces, drug/alcohol abuse, sexual abuse, physical abuse, and many other disastrous situations.  Oftentimes attachment pain goes unnoticed, unrecognized, or mis-diagnosed.










 (Photo courtesy of Meilee Anderson)

Attachment pain can be intensified during holidays by pictures of delighted children opening gifts, happy families gathered around groaning tables of food, scenes of happy shoppers, and the ever present joyful Christmas music.

This is the first in a series of five on attachment pain. If you have a short story about low joy and the holidays that you could share, please do. It may help someone who struggles emotionally this time of year.(Photo courtesy of Meilee Anderson)

[1] Developing Mind, by Daniel Siegel, pg. 67

[2] Developing Mind, pg. 71

Thrive Training Reminder…

Feb. 23-27, in Austin, Texas

July 26-31, 2015 in Grand Rapids, Michigan

Registration Information here.

May your joy be full,

Chris & Carol

Chris Coursey, MA Theology – Author, Speaker and Thrive Trainer,  www.thrivetoday.org

Twitter – @coursey_chris

Carol A. Brown, Author of The Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity and Highly Sensitive         www.fromgodsheart.com

Carol’s email – godsheart@comcast.net


Sin & Not Acting Like Yourself!

It is so easy to become so consumed with Thanks- giving and Christmas activities at church, school and home that you lose track of who you are and what it is like to be you. Sunday School dinners, class plays, decorating, shopping and holiday baking, gift making and wrapping …you become driven by your list until your spouse asks who you are and what you’ve done with the real you!

Miserly, greedy christmas man possessive of money

(Photo courtesy of Fotolia)

The book of Proverbs says that a deceitful heart keeps people from finding and doing good. (Proverbs 17:20) Someone not synchronized with God becomes vulnerable for perversion, deceit, and distortedness. All of these characteristics obviously are unhealthy and do not promote life. Paul helps us understand more on keeping an open connection to God and acting the way you are designed.

Writing to a group of believers, Paul says sin impedes your ability to act like yourself. He explains that everyone is capable of sinning, or failing to act like themselves–we all sin and fall short of God’s glory. Romans 3:23

  • You are not justified by your works or through your deeds.
  • You receive justification from a holy God through faith alone in the atonement of Jesus Christ.
  • You require and need atonement to pay for your sins.

However, a struggle still rages as you discover how to act like yourself and stay synchronized with God.

Paul’s struggle with not acting like himselfIn Romans chapter 7, he shares his discontentment and frustration with how sin caused him to do things he did not desire to do. Sin, the deadly gene passed down from Adam and Eve caused Paul to fail at acting like himself.

Paul concludes the problem is sin and the flesh. Who Paul really is desires to please and serve God. As a Christian you are no different than Paul. A battle still rages in your members as you wrestle with sin (death) and acting like yourself, which is life.

PowerPoint PresentationYou draw on right hemispheric experience when upset.  Left hemispheric activity–words, explanations and information–do little to help you when you undergo intense distress.

Your well-intentioned and prearranged strategies are not enough to enable you to act like yourself. You require practice with experienced people to be examples and models. You need people who remember who they are when upset and act like it.

When you remember who you are when upset you are motivated by love rather than fear.

Love and desire are motivations that result from the frontal centers of your brain.

Fear and problem solving activities result from the back of our brain.

Desire enables while fear disables your ability to act like yourself amidst distress.

The disciples learned the difference of operating from desire and from fear during their time with Jesus. All of them endured hands-on training and gained experience, especially during the distress of having their Teacher taken away.

For example, Peter experienced enough distress to interfere with his well-intentioned (desire driven) plans. In Mark 14:27a, Jesus prepares and informs His disciples about His impending death, Then Jesus said to them, “All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night…” 

Peter speaks up and professes his utmost devotion, desire, and loyalty to follow his Lord – even if the others leave Him. After Jesus prophesies his denial, Peter speaks up again, recorded in Mark 14:31, But he (Peter) spoke more vehemently, “If I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” And they all said likewise. You know what happens, and can speculate Peter’s fear overran his plans, desires and hopes to be able to stand firm next to his Savior to the very end.

Had Peter acted like himself while feeling terrified, he would have fulfilled his hope to not deny his Lord and possibly died. Thankfully, God had a plan full of redemption and reconciliation for Peter. After Jesus rose from the grave, He not only restored Peter but replaced Peter’s three denials with three commands – to feed His lambs, tend and feed His sheep.

All of these activities are desire driven functions that Peter would do throughout his ministry. However, the Lord informs Peter He would ultimately fulfill Peter’s pledge to join his Lord and prophesies about the type of death Peter will undergo. Church tradition holds a remarkable account that says Peter acted like himself all the way to his death. Supposedly, Peter went to his death still motivated by desire rather than fear. Peter, finding himself unworthy to die the same death as his Lord, asked to be crucified upside down.

Whether you feel shame, terror, hopeless despair, rage, sadness or disgust, you fare well when you remember who you are and act like it. You stay flexible and your ability to recover improves when you act like yourself.

If you would like to learn how to live from the front of your brain and be yourself in good times and bad, consider starting to prepare for Thrive Training or bring Connexus to your church.


Go here for information on Joy Starts Here groups, Thrive and Connexus.

Thrive Training Reminder…

Feb. 23-27, in Austin, Texas

July 26-31, 2015 in Grand Rapids, Michigan

Registration Information here.

May your Christmas joy be full,

Chris & Carol

Chris Coursey, MA Theology – Author, Speaker and Thrive Trainer,  www.thrivetoday.org

Twitter – @coursey_chris

Carol A. Brown, Author of The Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity and Highly Sensitive         www.fromgodsheart.com

Carol’s email – godsheart@comcast.net


Acting Like Yourself


“What is the matter with you? Behave. Act like yourself!”

Remember being told to “act like yourself” when you were a kid? It is not always easy to do. But you find relief and enjoy peace when you act like yourself. This means you stay relational throughout hardship and trials. Staying relational helps you:

  • Recover from distress
  • Avoid regret, disappointment and guilt.
  • Be flexible and recuperate from hardship rather than deteriorate and stay stuck.

Staying relational means you continue to interact with other people and remember who you are in the midst of distress. Whether you are cut off on the highway, stuck in long lines at the grocery store or trapped in an elevator you can remain yourself rather than crumble and say or do things you normally would not. You bless others who curse you, walk an extra mile and even turn the other cheek when you remain yourself.

Often, especially during distress, you forget who you are and how it is like you to act.

Some people act out:

  • Become angry, then curse and swear
  • Throw temper tantrums
  • Hurt other people.

Others, when they feel hopeless or ashamed, turn to coping mechanisms such as:

  • Alcohol
  • Drugs
  • Destructive and immoral behavior

You end up with regret, remorse, and disappointment when you do and say things that do not portray your heart. You become ensnared when you forget who you are and fail to act like yourself.

Return To Joy 

You have an infinite number of coping mechanisms to choose from when you fail to handle distress. Thankfully, there are only six basic emotions to conquer in order to return to joy. We thrive when we stay relational in each of the…

…two sympathetic emotions (rage and terror-action) and the

…four parasympathetic emotions (disgust, shame, hopeless despair and sadness-shutdown).

When you have no people or past experience to draw on, these emotions jolt you into a tailspin—which can easily happen during holiday busyness.

Good Works

You act like yourself when you stay relational, suffer well, perform good works, and synchronize with God and the people around you. Because you are created for good works in Jesus Christ, you fail when you lack performing the good works that result from who God made you to be. Ephesians 2:10 declares,

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” NKJV

These good works stem from who God made you to be. They result from knowing Him. Good works are not hoops to jump through or formulas to perform in order to be close to God.

Good works are the by-product of salvation, not the other way around. “Good works” can have several implications, based on your perceptions, experience, or culture. So rather than speculate, let’s see what the words of Scripture meant to the people to whom they were addressed.

In Ephesians 2:10, good in Greek is agathos, a primary word for good, which means ‘benefit’, or ‘well’. Agathos derives its meaning from another Greek word, kalos. Kalos can mean properly, beautiful, but chiefly good, valuable, or virtuous, honest, and worthy.

Works derives its name from the Greek word ergon, which means toil, deed, doing, and labor. 1 In other words, we are new creations in Christ Jesus for honest, worthy, virtuous, and valuable deeds.

The result of your actions, behavior, thoughts, words and lives should reflect these qualities, because this is what you are fashioned to do. When you fail to accomplish this, you are not acting like yourself.

Kalos is the same Greek word Jesus uses in Matthew 5:16 to describe the kind of works we will do as good witnesses for Him. He explains as we let our light shine before others, people can see our good (kalos) works then glorify God. (Paraphrase mine)

Jesus used this term when rebuking the disciples for judging the woman who poured a flask of expensive oil on his head. Jesus said her action for Him was kalos. We can rest knowing good works flow from us when we stay connected to God and act like ourselves, the way He made us.

For help with learning to act like yourself, seriously consider attending Thrive or bring the local version (Connexus) to your church. Go here for information on how to do that.

We will continue this then next week. Look for “Sin and Not Acting Like Yourself!”

Thrive Training Reminder…

Feb. 23-27, in Austin, Texas

July 26-31, 2015 in Grand Rapids, Michigan

Registration Information here.

May your Christmas joy be full,

Chris & Carol

Chris Coursey, MA Theology – Author, Speaker and Thrive Trainer,  www.thrivetoday.org

Twitter – @coursey_chris

Carol A. Brown, Author of The Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity and Highly Sensitive         www.fromgodsheart.com

Carol’s email – godsheart@comcast.net





Joyful Christians, Joyful Churches–Transformed World

How do we get there?

Phase 1Joy Starts Here – A 9 week program


This is the beginning. It helps you understand the need for joy. Our brains work best in an environment of joy. Joy Starts Here is the beginning of where hard science and the hard truth meet in a non-threatening way. You will like the results! There is a bible study on each chapter’s topic to put it in a biblical perspective, an assessment of your joy in that area and exercises to build joy.

  • Individual study
  • Informal group study (2-3 friends)
  • Adult education classes at church


Joy building exercises will give you a taste of what is possible. They develop the right hemisphere of the brain, which does not happen when you simply read about it. It is like building muscle—you have to go to the gym and practice. You cannot build muscle by reading about it. The same is true for relational skills. By the time you finish the book you will know your next step. Purchase here.

To take a free joy assessment, go to: http://joyq.joystartshere.com/account/welcome.php

Phase 2Connexus classes


Excellent material for  developing resiliency and life skills.

Restarting and Forming (2 -12 week courses) run simultaneously. Facilitator led, DVDs and exercises in class and at home. This is for a larger group than the Joy Starts Here group but is done locally. 2 -12 week courses

Restarting is for those who realize they are low on joy and high on “pseudo-joy” (something that creates the similar brain chemistry as joyful relationships. They have cravings or addictions. They want to acquire or repair relational brain skills that were either missed or somehow damaged by the bumps and scrapes of life.

Forming is for those who were fortunate and have most of the brain skills. They are more interested in seeking more intimacy with God and being formed to be more like Jesus.

Belonging (12 weeks) is a class that combines people from Restarting and Forming. Here the two groups learn how to create belonging and build a thriving relational and joyful community. It breaks down the we/them that often happens when the “weak and strong interact” and creates belonging around you.

Phase 3 – Thrive Training 

Off site, Thrive Training is a large group and can be taken at any time but there are prerequisites. This is a three-week training taken one week at a time. It is a concentrated opportunity to learn the 19 relational brain skills in the ideal environment. Then you go home and practice for a year or 6 months. Then come back for another week and go home and practice for a year to 6 months, and again for the third week.

For more information about these three tracks click here:

Information on prerequisites click here: 

Everything at Thrive is geared to growing joy. It is actually the foundation that the other two pieces are built upon. When a church uses Connexus materials it is wise to make sure that 2-3 couples attend the Thrive Training. Bonded pairs attend Thrive. Parent/child is a bonded pair, also siblings or prayer partners.


Feb. 23-27, in Austin, Texas

July 26-31, 2015 in Grand Rapids, Michigan


Track 1
Bonded Pair: $1,375
Bonded Pair, DVDs & online course: $1,595
Track 2
Bonded Pair: $1,300
Bonded Pair, DVDs & online course: $1,550
Individual: $750
Track 3
Bonded Pair: $1,300
Bonded Pair, DVDs & online course: $1,550
Individual: $750

*Bring a new bonded pair to Thrive and receive a $75 discount off your registration price!


Look forward to seeing you in person at Thrive!  Blessings,

Chris & Carol

Chris Coursey, MA Theology – Author, Speaker and Thrive Trainer,  www.thrivetoday.org

Twitter – @coursey_chris

Carol A. Brown, Author of The Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity and Highly Sensitive         www.fromgodsheart.com

Carol’s email – godsheart@comcast.net

P. S. How did you grow joy in your community? We would love to hear from you.