Sustainable Joy?!

Artesian Well

Is it possible…to sustain JOY? Jesus came that your joy might be complete. (John 15:11) You might paraphrase that to read, Jesus came that your joy-tank might be full! And it behooves us to cooperate with the Lord—to do what is our responsibility to do to keep that joy tank full.

We believe that it is possible to sustain joy. In fact, joy can be characteristic of us. The image of the face lighting up followed by a big smile should be what comes to mind as you think of each other.

Joy is not happiness; it is important to not confuse the two. Happiness is much more surface and susceptible to fluctuating circumstances. A snarky remark can burst your happy bubble, but joy is deeper and made of more durable stuff. You can build a foundation of joy through relationship with Jesus first of all so that joy is your bottom line as well as your highest expression! Joy can be your beginning and end, your top and bottom.

You can have JOY in the midst of the fear of a tornado overhead (but probably not happiness!). You are definitely glad to have your family with you in that situation. And Joy is “someone glad to be with me.” You can have joy in the midst of an explosive hurtful discussion. Joy keeps you working to resolve the problem rather than imploding in disappointment. Joy is the bottom that holds you from falling into a pit of depression. It is the strength that sustains you through the trial of grief.

As I was meditating on Nehemiah 8:10 that says, “The joy of the Lord is your strength,” I thought to ask my Hebrew friend about the language. Is it God’s joy in me or is it my joy in response to God’s presence in me. Her response was, “it is the joy, happiness, overflow gaiety of God that is my fortress, for I can hide in it. God is the origin of JOY.  Thus, when He is in me, joy is in me. And it is that joy that is my fortress and I can hide in it. In it I feel protected.”

Then the Lord showed me my “inner landscape”. I saw what I can only call a “zone;” a place on my inner landscape that was illuminated. I “knew,” without words, that this was my safety zone. This was the place where I could come to find living water, peace, direction, safety; everything I need—this was Joy’s Place.

I “knew” that I needed to learn how to make this my home as well. This place is my “high tower, my refuge, my fortress. I have to learn how to live in joy, to approach life from the place of joy, from within the joy zone. I need to learn what causes me to lose my way, and what dulls my senses so I cannot perceive joy. And most importantly, I need to learn how to find my way back here when I am lost, confused, fearful or overwhelmed.

Again, God communicated without words that my presence in the “Joy Zone” increases God’s  joy, or“overflowing gaiety!” The zone will become larger and larger as I spend more time there until my entire inner landscape will become saturated with JOY that has overflowed from God being happy that I choose to live where He lives! This is not to turn inward away from life, but to do life from the place of joy.

Like the well in the picture above, joy flows constantly and overflows the area around it. It saturates the landscape. A wonderful benefit from being fully saturated with joy is that when people, troubles and the pains of life crash into you, you will splash joy on those who hurt you rather than spewing acid, venom and hatred!

The $64,000.00 question is “so…how do you sustain joy; how do you begin?” Two answers come to mind. 1) Personal time hanging out with Jesus, learning His ways, His heart, His thoughts–not facts about Him, but knowing Him. A by-product of hanging out with Him is joy. 2) Come to Thrive Training or join a Connexus class to learn relational brain skills and relational joy. It carries over into your relationship with Jesus.

Note that in both answers you learn relational brain skills from someone who already knows how to grow joy and sustain it—someone with greater capacity than you. Relational joy with Jesus overflows into relationships with others and relational joy with others overflows into relationship with Jesus. They build on each other. And that is how you sustain your joy!

Our last Thrive Training for 2014 is just around the corner!

Date: July 14th – 18th, 2014
Location: 
Holiday Inn, East Peoria, IL. USA
Registration: Is now open! 
Click here to register.
Find Out More

May your joy be full,

Chris & Carol,

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

Twitter – @coursey_chris

Carol Brown, Author of The Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity and Highly Sensitive                            www.fromgodsheart.com Carol’s email — godsheart@comcast.net

 

CONNEXUS Confusion? (What is it, exactly?)

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Some of you have taken the Restarting, Forming and Belonging classes in part, or all of them under the name of Thriving: Recover Your Life. Generally the feedback is that it was a wonderful experience for you and most do not want the classes to end. So, when we talk about CONNEXUS, ears perk up and you hope this is a continuation of the “good stuff”! Because of some confusion as to what CONNEXUS is, we thought it best to spell it all out!

A Bit of HistoryFor those who have taken some or all of the classes, you were part of the development of the CONNEXUS curriculum. CONNEXUS is the name we are using to package these three courses.

The Lord gave the idea, Dr. Wilder and team created Restarting. The material was tweaked and edited but another module was needed. We all need to belong, so they developed Belonging. But another piece was needed for Belonging to work as it should.

The premise of Belonging is that transformation happens when the weak and strong are together and there are tender responses to weakness. The problem is that the weak are drawn to what they see in the strong—they “want” it. The need/desire is intense and in their intensity they come close—close to the point of unknowingly invading the comfort zone of the strong.

The strong back away; the weak pursue, and you have the scenario of one backing up and the other coming forward, chasing each other around the room. The alternative scenario is two separate camps, neither one really trusting the other.

Simply putting the strong and the weak in a room together does not work. The strong feel their personal space invaded and the weak feel let down, as if a promise was unfulfilled. The Forming class was the answer.

In the Restarting class the weak learn to quiet their intensity (one of the 19 skills) and in the Forming class the strong become sensitive to the Lord’s compassion for weakness (heart-sight, another skill). By having the two classes run concurrently at the end of the classes both groups are more tolerant of each other and able to be together in ways that are transforming.

The Joy Starts Here book with the exercises helps people understand their personal joy levels. (And the exercises are more important than reading the text. If you don’t have time for both; if you must choose one or the other, go with the exercises!) During the study, people with low joy (fewer of the brain skills) can see that they would benefit most from the learning and training in Restarting.

The strong, those with more or most of the brain skills, can see that they would benefit most from the Forming class. During the course of the Joy Starts Here studies students begin to sort themselves out. No one needs to be directive dividing people up with “you go here and you go there.” They self-identify using the joyQ we’ve developed online. (joyq.joystartshere.com)

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Now that we have all the pieces needed for transformation we packaged it together as one curriculum—one transformative set of materials and called it CONNEXUS…because joy connects us. Up until now you were helping give feedback to the developers so they could make the material the best it could be. For that we are grateful.

The good news is that the modules work. Lives are transformed. The bad news is the modules work…so well that you want more, you want to continue building joy. CONNEXUS is not additional new material. We know that often people travel to another city or church to take the classes and then when they conclude, there is no one to continue to practice joy with. : (

Continuing the Joy — The genius of CONNEXUS is that you can run these classes in your local church and/or home group. When classes are done you will have someone locally to practice with.

Another way to keep growing joy is to invite a friend to the classes and volunteer to go through with them. You support your friend and benefit from another round of joy! You can even incorporate some of the exercises into your small groups as one of the things you do each week and continue building joy indefinitely.

CONNEXUS is not just for recovery classes; it is for all of us who “miss the mark”.

Bringing CONNEXUS to the local church makes it more affordable than attending THRIVE. You don’t have to take off work for a week, have motel expenses plus tuition. Having it locally makes it available to more people.

You do not need expensive and extensive training to lead a group. Training for facilitators is available online, and since our license allows you to charge participants, your group can essentially pay for your training! You receive training for a chapter and then you lead it.

To begin, you simply need a copy of Joy Starts Here, three or more people and you are good to go. If need be, go through the book a couple times to build up a larger number of people for a base group…we recommend somewhere in the neighborhood of 20-30 to begin the CONNEXUS material.

The long range goal is to have CONNEXUS become a church sponsored opportunity such as part of a “new members class” or as an ongoing small group which would feed trained people into other small groups to spread joy throughout the whole body.

If you are interested in forming a Joy Starts Here group with the goal of becoming a licensed trainer, you will find information you need here

Hopefully this has clarified the confusion around CONNEXUS. However, if you still have questions, click here for a FAQ PDF. If you still have questions, be sure to ask them in the comments or register to join us on the Round Table Talks.

Blessings, Chris & Carol

Chris Coursey, MA Theology — Author, Speaker and  Director at Life Model Works www.lifemodelworks.org

Twitter – @coursey_chris

Carol Brown, Author of The Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity and Highly Sensitive                            www.fromgodsheart.com Carol’s email — godsheart@comcast.net

P.S. The last Thrive Training for 2014 is fast approaching. If you have not signed up and want to, you will need to do so very soon!

Date: July 14th – 18th, 2014
Location: 
Holiday Inn, East Peoria, IL. USA
Registration: Is now open! 
Click here to register.
Find Out More

P.S.S.- If you were a previous license holder of Restarting, Forming or Belonging, you can get 50% off our new online training purchased in 2014! Contact Deni to receive your coupon code! deni@lifemodelworks.org

Starting A Transformation Zone

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In our post on April 7 we shared from the Round Table Talks about starting a transformation zone in your family, church and community.

As we have been encouraging each other in our efforts to be self-propagating joy starters let’s add to the list of things that you can do:

Be a Joy Starter! This may very well be the single most powerful element in the transformation process. You.

Go fly a kite! Literally! You will see faces light up and smiles on faces. People may strike up conversations with you. And you will benefit—relax, and your spirit can soar with the kite. This can be a time when you connect with God and feel renewed.

Be engaging. We have heard “don’t talk to strangers” so much that we avoid eye contact are filled with fear. But we know that perfect love casts out fear! And joy is shared quickly through the eyes.

Take walks. Appreciate nature. Do some beach combing—God may surprise you with a divine appointment! Expect God…

Ask for highlights. Ask people what the highlight of the day, week, etc. was. This elicits appreciation stories or glory stories without any “special language” that might turn people off.

Laugh. Don’t be afraid to laugh out loud! Laughter is infectious; it lifts people’s moods and can change the atmosphere. It has the effect of sunbeams through rain clouds. It is good medicine!

As you walk around you emit a “zone of joy” that attracts others. People want to be around you because you lift their hearts. Joy is the source of strength—their burdens feel less heavy when you are around. You are not lifting their burdens nor are you absorbing them into your own being and becoming weighed down! You simply emit joy, that you are glad to be with them.

People are curious. They will want to know what makes you tick. They will want what you have because of the way you make them feel. Then you can begin to gather a group together and “share your secrets.” That’s when you begin to do the things listed in that previous post.

That’s the latest tidbit from the Round Tables. Let us know what is working for you as you begin the transformation in your corner of the world so we can share what works or what does not work!

May your joy be full,

Chris & Carol,

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

Twitter – @coursey_chris

Carol Brown, Author of The Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity and Highly Sensitive                            www.fromgodsheart.com Carol’s email — godsheart@comcast.net

p.s. The last Thrive Training for 2014 is fast approaching. If you have not signed up and want to, you will need to do so very soon!

Date: July 14th – 18th, 2014
Location: 
Holiday Inn, East Peoria, IL. USA
Registration: Is now open! Click here to register.
Find Out More

 

The Lifeboat In Your Brain–Part II

 …19 Relational Skills that revolutionize your life, revitalize your marriage and reshape the world.

The process of learning the nineteen skills takes human interaction and time. When learned, the nineteen skills keep you engaged so your problems do not outgrow your relationships. You remain flexible during stress. You regulate your emotions while interacting in personal, meaningful ways. You tell stories that share your thoughts and feelings. People feel seen and valued. When learned, the nineteen form a resilient identity that gracefully endures under stress, fatigue and pain. You begin to see joyful character that shines and suffers well during strain and distress. Without these essential skills, something is missing in life.

I met a man in an airport who was missing something. The problem for him was he lacked the answer. His escalating emotions were spilling out, and spreading toxic material on bystanders. I share this story in the new book, Joy Starts Here: The Transformation Zone:

We were standing in line to board an airplane when the announcement was made that our plane was full. Because this was the last flight, I knew we faced an overnight stay. One passenger in line suddenly lost it. In a rage he threw his bags and spewed profanities. His raging voice echoed in the terminal. Passengers scattered. This guy was no longer in relational mode. As I made my way over to the ticket desk, he walked around the terminal screaming at anyone in uniform. I could see his red face and his intense emotions were scaring people. By this time his eyes were bulging and he was sweating profusely. As he neared the ticket desk, I felt compelled to reach out to him. I knew this man was drowning. He needed some serious help returning to joy so I took a deep breath and walked up to him. For a moment I wondered if he would knock me out.

“You are really having a bad day, aren’t you?” I asked affirmingly. “You are __ __ right I am having a bad day!” he fired back. We locked eyes for a few moments then I said, “Well, I am a pastor, a follower of Jesus and I would be honored if I could pray with you.” I was pleasantly relieved when he muttered, “Ok, yeah, sure.” Standing in the middle of the terminal we bowed our heads. I put my hand on his shoulder, we took a moment of quiet (skill two). Then, I invited Immanuel to share our distress and bring some vision (skill thirteen).

I noticed tears running down his face. “You see,” he explained, “I have been traveling for medical help because I was recently diagnosed with serious cancer. This flight cancellation takes away my precious, limited time with my wife and daughters.” For a few moments we shared sadness then he said, “Wait! I have to do something.” He retraced his steps and apologized to every single airline employee he offended. After several minutes he returned. “I have been feeling like I need to get right with God,” he told me. “I wonder if this whole ordeal is God speaking?” A sparkle of joy appeared in his eyes as his face muscles relaxed. The next morning I saw him boarding the flight with a smile and a brand new Bible under his arm.

Because of my learned relational skills I stayed anchored long enough to toss him a life preserver. He needed a lifeboat in the form of a trained brain that could stay connected with him even in the midst of intense emotions. His right hemisphere required another person, a mirror, to show him the way to Skill 2, “Simple Quiet”. All of us are taking in water. Some are used to the water while others are ready for change. Which one are you?

In an ideal world you would have the nineteen character skills because your environment had people who used the skills. Sadly, this doesn’t always happen.

Joy is fundamental to the formation and expression of your character. Character is molded through ongoing interactions with people who either have or lack the nineteen relational skills. Joy is the foundation to learn new brain skills that transform relationships. Joy even puts a smile on your face. Joy refers to being glad to be together, being the sparkle in someone’s eyes. Joy is the wind in your relational sails. Learning new skills begins with joy.

Those who have the nineteen skills do not realize or remember how they gained the skills. Simply, the skills are used much like driving a car—you don’t think about it. For this reason it is easy to misunderstand why everyone else does not simply respond like you do when upset or overwhelmed. You may even assume people lack motivation, faith, and will-power or should stop making poor choices. You might think, “Get it together!” not realizing missing skills are at work.

Thanks to brain plasticity, you can learn the nineteen skills. Experience reorganizes neural pathways in the brain. Experiences, particularly joyful interactions with people who have the skills, propel you in mastering skills. Just think of someone you know who handles upset in a way that inspires you. What about a person who loses their cool at the drop of a hat? For too long, the nineteen skills have flown under the radar. There was no language, much less a training format to learn new skills. At Life Model Works we now have the language. We have the training structure. All we need is you.

Will we see you in Peoria, Ill in July? This will be the last opportunity in 2014 to pick up these skills in the 5-day format.

Date: July 14th – 18th, 2014
Location:
Holiday Inn, East Peoria, IL. USA
Registration: Is now open!
Click here to register.
Find Out More

May your joy be full,

Chris & Carol

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

Twitter – @coursey_chris

Carol Brown, Author of The Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity and Highly Sensitive                            www.fromgodsheart.com Carol’s email — godsheart@comcast.net

The Lifeboat in Your Brain–Part I

…19 Relational Skills that revolutionize your life, revitalize your marriage and reshape the world.

Imagine you are on a ship at sea when, suddenly, piercing sirens jolt you. A blaring voice over the loud speaker announces there is an emergency. Directions ensue: Passengers must quickly reach the deck for a life-saving exit strategy. Lifeboats are available to save you from the soon demise of the damaged vessel. Would you want a lifeboat?

Each of us has a lifeboat between our ears. The human brain is a three-pound, magnificent work of art that directs everything you say, think and do. In all its grandeur the brain dictates your decisions, runs relationships, and produces personal preferences. The brain tells you what to eat, when to go to bed and what to post on Facebook. Your brain is busily working at this very moment to keep you alive and interpret letters on this page.

When trained, the brain is a God-given instrument to sustain relationships, improve marriages, further friendships and create churches that change the world. Your brain is a personal lifeboat that works best with joyful relationships when people are glad to be together. This efficient little lifeboat relies on a select set of learned relational skills that enable you to respond to shifting, moment-by-moment circumstances in the best possible manner.

Life Model Works has identified nineteen relational brain skills that must be learned for optimal relational, personal, emotional, spiritual and mental health. Everyone, ideally, develops these skills by the age of 3 years.

When the nineteen are not fully mastered, you will feel inadequate. You cope with life in a painfully stunted sort of way. Something is missing. You may respond to people and circumstances rigidly. You make decisions out of fear and, deep down, believe there must be more out there, just beyond your reach. You feel comfortably numb or relentlessly pursue activities to make you feel better, calmer and more secure. You feel distracted and discontent. Relationships are confusing or worse, abrasive.

Who you are on the inside does not match your outside appearance. You do not express the life you dreamed was possible. You end up feeling empty, a shell of who you want to be.

At some point along the way your “relational ship” lost momentum, taking in water. For many, you believe your current conditions are about as good as it’s going to be. You have lost hope and live each day as though getting by is the best you can do.

There is hope. The lifeboat between your ears can transform you to a confident, brilliant cruiser that sails the high relational seas with efficiency, style and grace. Young or old, you can train your brain to learn the nineteen skills. Whether you need a tune up or a makeover, there is no better time to start than today.

Relational brain skills may be the best investment you make in your lifetime. If you are wondering about your joy levels, you can go to http://joyq.joystartshere.com/account/welcome.php and take the Joy-Q. This little test will not tell you which skills may need some repair but it can give you an idea of the current joy level in your life.

If you know that you are missing a skill (s) or some could use a tune up, the last 5-day Thrive Training of 2014 will be in Peoria, Ill this coming July.

Date: July 14th – 18th, 2014

Location: Holiday Inn, East Peoria, IL. USA

Registration: Is now open! Click here to register. Find Out More

Join us again next week for the conclusion of The Lifeboat.

May your joy be full,

Chris & CarolChris 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. We are working on  an explanation of the 19 Skills! Be watching for that.