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,

Twitter – @coursey_chris

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

Carol’s email –

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– 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 –

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,

Twitter – @coursey_chris

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

Carol’s email –

[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 –

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 –

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,

Twitter – @coursey_chris

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

Carol’s email –



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










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,

Twitter – @coursey_chris

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

Carol’s email –


[1] Developing Mind, pg 92

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



(Photo credit © wittybear –

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,

Twitter – @coursey_chris

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

Carol’s email –

[1] Developing Mind, pg. 85

[2] Developing Mind, pg 86

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





What it looks like—

Sitting home alone in your living room… suddenly you hear an urgent warning on the television. A ferociously large tornado is rapidly heading toward your city. A twinge of fear passes through you. I thought the forecast said it was going to be sunny today, you think. You glance out the front window and notice the sky turning dark. Swirling clouds form before your eyes. Branches on your trees begin shaking violently. Fear grows but so does your sense of helplessness. You have nowhere to go. Your house has no basement.  You search the room, almost expecting an answer to fall from heaven. You hear your neighborhood alarm sounding. Your fear grows and your heart races. You breathe rapidly, palms become sweaty and your mind floods with pictures of tornados and their devastation. You try to think of what to do next but nothing comes. You feel helpless.  Your stomach squeezes into a knot, you swallow hard.  Memories of past tornado devastation flash through your mind.



Suddenly the phone rings, jerking you from your trance and disrupting your mind. Your body is energized and shaky. You quickly leap to answer the phone before the second ring. You recognize your neighbor yelling and screaming jumbled words about a tornado approaching your house. Suddenly the phone goes dead. Time is running out. You can’t reach help. You can’t escape. A sense of hopeless despair floods in converting your terror into DREAD. You throw the phone down and clutch your head. Panic overwhelms you. Terror surges! You want to call your loved ones and warn them what is happening but you can’t. Hopelessness surges. You want them to pray. There is no basement to run to, or shelter to hide in. This feels hopeless. Time is not on your side. Hopeless despair grows. You feel frozen. The door shakes, the windows make a cracking sound and you hear what sounds like thunder getting louder and louder. Terror rushes through your veins. Like water slipping away down the drain, the sense of imminent danger (terror) and seeing no way out (hopeless despair) locks you up in dread. It paralyzes you.

Though this scenario is fictional, you can easily picture and imagine your words, actions, and responses. You visualize the events and anticipate your decisions. You think about your options, how you would act under such a stressful situation. You estimate how you would respond. Most recognize this familiar pain and feel despair and fear, even as you ponder the above situation. You cringe as you imagine feeling this way for an extended period of time. The internal agony of so much turmoil leaves you bewildered and disoriented.

What dread is and what it does to you—

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Dread is a combination of terror and hopeless despair. Though you may not recognize dread when it hits, you may be familiar with its horrible sensations. Dread intrudes upon your thoughts and disrupts your peace. Dread envelops your outlook and easily transforms your perspective. Dread takes a toll on your health, work, family, and relationships. Dread leaves you weary, restless, and irritable.

Unless you grew up with plenty of practice returning to joy from terror and hopeless despair, you will not fare well with dread and would rather avoid the feeling altogether. It is a suffocating cloak, easy to put on and hard to remove.

A deer caught in the headlights


This toxic combination causes a deer caught in the headlights physical response. It is similar to the engine of a car that has the accelerator and brake pressed at the same time. The consequence, if not immediate, will be wear and tear on your nervous system.

Terror, a sympathetic response, energizes you. It produces a decrease in serotonin and raises your dopamine levels. The means your ability to self-quiet and calm diminishes. Your state becomes attentive and watchful. A steady flow of adrenaline into your bloodstream gives you energy. Your heart races; you breathe short, quick breaths, your pupils dilate and you begin to problem solve.

Hopeless despair, the parasympathetic response, drains you of energy. is You lack hope and lose motivation. You want to hide, shrink and sleep. Depression sucks the life out of you. Dopamine levels drop and serotonin levels rise. A constant release of adrenaline and cortisol without a change in your environment or a release by your body causes trouble. Hopeless despair is your inability to see a way out of a situation or circumstance. Even the thought of a dreadful scenario, which replays in your mind, can produce a physical reaction, as if it were happening at that moment. Psychological distress generates body signals, urgent warnings of problems and disturbances.

How much damage does an engine sustain when you press the accelerator and brake?  Imagine if the above tornado illustration was going to happen the next week, and then the following week, week after week! Would you be able to rest, be still, and have peace knowing you are a few days away from another disaster? How would you cope? Hopefully, you would have plenty of practice and training to be yourselves and suffer well rather than become traumatized. Hopefully you would rely on a large God for such a large problem. Unless you practice, train and utilize your resources distressing situations prove challenging and debilitating.

Where do you see dread in the bible?

How about when Saul and his army stood in battle array before the Philistines? Unexpectedly a huge, powerful giant-man named Goliath appears sporting a hefty shield, sword, and spear. He arrogantly confronts and mocks the Israelites. This overwhelmingly adversary triggers enormous panic among the army of Israel. They frantically problem solve and flee.1 Next, the soldiers regroup and strategize. You almost feel their alarm and fright upon Goliath’s appearance, then their gloom and despair at the bleak circumstances. The army struggles with despair. What will happen next?

Imagine their racing thoughts, “Who will go out and face this giant? Who is the brave soul to fix and put an end to this mess?” Dread consumes them and they wait. Thankfully one young shepherd named David had some experience (and faith) in this area. David, acting like himself, quickly volunteered and overcame with the help of Israel’s God. David had plenty of experience fighting lions and bears.2 We hypothesize that David had much training tackling his terror, overcoming his hopeless despair, and returning to joy. God’s faithfulness brings about a victory through David as he conquers the giant and returns Israel to joy.

You can handle dread like a winner when you practice and train with those who are experienced. You triumph over dread when you grow up with parents who know who they are and act like themselves when they feel afraid or hopeless. Capable trainers are those who stay relational while they experience the specific emotion. You learn to avoid emotions when mom and dad forget who they are when afraid or hopeless. Possibly you will sidetrack to other emotions. This occurs when you jump to another emotion rather than stay in the specific emotion of terror or despair. Men usually experience intense anger and rage when afraid while women may experience sadness. If you can’t handle one emotion, surely two of them simultaneously disable you at the most and hinder you at the least. You hit your desired target when you return to joy from dread.

What you can do about it–

You resolve the dread dilemma when you find an experienced partner. A qualified companion is one who is available to spend time with and teach you how to act like yourself amidst distress. Practice and training allows you to become a capable “sufferer” who can handle fear and despair among other emotions and not be traumatized. You find hope and relief when dread no longer consumes you. This means you do not panic and fret when a tornado approaches or a giant stands before you. Rather, you find yourself actively on your knees praying or putting stones in your pouch rather than reacting. You find liberation when you stay relational during distress and act like yourself. You may even hear God speak, as He spoke to a man named Job out from the whirlwind!

1 – 1 Samuel 17:24

2 – 1 Samuel 17:34 +

Get the next available training—

Holiday Inn, 6000 Middle Fiskville Rd., Austin, TX 78752.
(512) 451-5757.

 Accommodations available on site.

Click Here For Registration Details

Full payment must accompany your registration
unless you make credit card or payment plan arrangements with Jen Coursey at 309-367-4020.

In case of cancellation by  Thrive: all payments will be refunded after February 4th, 2015. Hope to see you there!

May your JOY be full,

Chris & Carol

Chris Coursey, MA Theology – Author, Speaker and Thrive Trainer,

Twitter – @coursey_chris

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

Carol’s email –



Gleanings From The Round Table

I’m sharing today another picture of how to begin building joy in your life, family, school and community (which includes your church). Most people have not thought about the presence or absence of joy in their lives, nor do they have awareness of the consequences of low joy. You will probably be stretching paradigms and pressing people’s comfort zones so it is important to be wise in how you go about introducing new concepts. Never hurts to hear a thing more than once!

Know The Material


It is important that you can answer questions people may have about the components of the Connexus materials and how the classes run.

Joy Starts Here is a 9 week book study and brings a person who knows nothing about brain skills and/or joy building up to speed about joy levels and how the affect our lives. Practical exercises in each chapter begin training the right brain and building joyful community. You are encouraged to begin building joy in wherever arena you think it would be the easiest—family, school, community. This material can be used in your family, small groups, as evening classes or you can meet a friend at Starbucks to go through Joy Starts Here.

Each chapter has an assessment you can take online (if you want feedback) or in the book to help you develop a picture of your joy levels in various areas of life – As people begin to get a picture of their joy levels, they self sort into which class to take next.

Connexus Classes for Two 12 week sessions — Restarting & Forming run concurrently or you can begin with Restarting, go to Forming and conclude with Belonging.

Formingis for those comfortable in their comfort zone. People choose Forming to learn a more intimate relationship with Jesus and more of His compassion rubs off on them.

Restartingis for those who need to learn how to quiet so they are not so overwhelming and not so hard or outlandish, not quite as different. Some of the hard shell loosens up a bit. Then at the end of those two concurrent but separate 12 week classes, we bring the two together for…

Belongingis the opportunity to be together in useful, meaningful ways—not to create animosity or indifference, but to create community together. This curriculum allows the “weak” and the “strong” to be together as community. It doesn’t leave anyone out.

The Strong & The Weak Together

commands of grace

One of the problems in churches is that, if the primary outreach or ministry is to hurting people, soon the church itself can become toxic. If all you are doing is pulling in more and more people who are in pain, unless you have a structured way for them to connect with the mainstream of the church, you perpetuate an “us” and “them.” Belonging teaches people from very different places how to form community and learn how to be glad to be with each other.

It’s not unusual for the weak and strong to be together in the same church; what is unusual is for them to interact with tender regard for weakness and be glad to be together!

In the Belonging class small groups are formed ½ from Restarting and ½ from Forming and they do all their joy building and interaction and brain training exercises with each other. They actually learn how to create a joyful place for each other to belong. That is what is so unique about this training. We are actually teaching those two groups how to create community together that is based in joy.

The issue of the strong and the weak together in community is far bigger than most of us realize. This is clearly the most challenging aspect of the curriculum. The weak cannot stay in their comfort zone; so if you offer them any kind of solution they are quite willing to adopt it. The strong, however, are quite insistent about their comfort zone and if you present any kind of threat to it there will be resistance!

The Joy Starts Here book helps clarify this strong & weak issue for folks. If you have done Restarting and Belonging without having taken your group through Joy Start Here, it would be good to now do that. That whole issue is woven throughout the entire book and it will give them a much better idea of why the strong need the weak.

We have much better results emphasizing how to be glad to be together and learning joy as a basis for relationships rather than emphasizing “Hey you guys are different but you need each other anyway.” The more you tell them they are different and need each other, the more reluctant they are to be together. Creating joyful belonging together is a lot more fun!

The strong are the ones who tend to drop out if the Forming class is omitted because they will not see what is in it for them. So this is why we have introduced Joy Starts Here as the starting point and let people sort themselves out. The strong will be attracted to the Forming class as they see they can benefit. So if you have a small church that  is full of strong people, you might want to begin with Forming.

Having taken the classes once, people may feel at a loss for someone with whom to continue to build joy. Encourage them to find a friend who has not had the training and go through the classes again with them as a support person. Then upon completion they both have a partner to continue the joy building!

Build Relationships with Influencers


The consensus of those who have experience with introducing these concepts into the church is that the best way to begin is to build relationship with influencers. This does not mean the pastor necessarily. It could be an influential leader like a Sunday School teacher, beloved deacon or other person who has access to and credibility with the pastor. At some point the pastor does need to become one of your relationships, just not necessarily the first.

If a leader becomes excited and goes to the pastor, he/she may carry more weight with the pastor and be listened to more quickly. Invite people over for dinner and plan to insert some joy building exercises into your evening so they begin to experience what you are talking about. Since this material is about building relational joy skills; relationships are the key!

Pray and Practice Patience

Sometimes we just click in a relationship. Other times it can take a year or more to build! Trust that the Lord is guiding you and He will bring it into being. Thank Him for what He is doing.

Upcoming Events

Joy Rekindled Marriage Weekend.     September 19th – 20th, 2014.

Location: New Life Christian Church, 401 Edgewood Court, Morton, IL.

$250 per couple, cost includes lunch on Saturday. 12:30pm to 6:00pm Friday then     9am to 5pm Saturday.

For those traveling from out of town, a block of rooms is reserved at Quality Inn 309-266-8310.

Registration closes September 4th. Register.

Joy Starts Here in Edmonton, AB Canada. October 3rd-4th, 2014.

Speakers are Dr. Jim Wilder and Chris Coursey. Cost and registration here.

Feel free to contact us with your questions or if you have a testimony of how this training is being beneficial or would like to tell us what is working for you.

May your joy be full,

Chris & Carol

Chris Coursey, MA Theology – Author, Speaker and Thrive Trainer,

Twitter – @coursey_chris  

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

Carol’s email –

p.s. The update on Chris is that he is awaiting further tests. Surgery has been recommended but in the interim we are pressing Jesus for intervention!

Collateral Damage

Have you noticed how something always happens when you make spiritual progress? The enemy sneaks in and hits you in your weak spot. For Chris, his weak spot is his back. And wouldn’t you know, it gave out on him just as Thrive Training approached! Or, if satan can’t hit you, he hits one of your family members or friends.

We thought it important to share this prayer tool with you since the purpose of this blog is to share solutions, encouragement and tools that work! Here is a prayer we found that can invite God to shield your weak spot and the weak spots of anyone associated with you.

Prayer to prevent collateral damage-History

Legal grounds for a class action lawsuit

An example of collateral damage in war is when a target building is bombed, but then it falls or sets fire on the school next door that was not an intended target. We have seen a bit of this recently in the Middle East conflict. An example of collateral damage in spiritual warfare is when you do deliverance for one member of a family, then immediately another member of the family is hit in the same area that the first member was just delivered from.

Sometimes it is institutions. You cleanse one church or company in a cluster and it gets relief, but the symptoms then break out in another church or company in that cluster.

Covenant also needs to be understood. When one nation conquered another, they typically made an agreement, OK, we won’t wipe you out if you pay such and such tribute each year. Israel had times they required conquered nations to pay tribute and there were times they had been conquered and they had to pray tribute. Let’s say that one of the tribes of Israel decided they had had it, and was ready to fight for their freedom and so quit paying.

The nation that had been collecting tribute has to decide whether to let that go or fight the tribe trying to get free. They could either fight the tribe that was getting free or simply collect twice the tribute amount from their nearest tribe and let that tribe decide what to do about paying another tribe’s share in addition to their own. The conquering nation doesn’t care who suffers, just so they get all the money they decided they could squeeze out of the conquered nation.

This is why unity is so important, so be encouraged to pray in agreement with someone, like your spouse or a friend to cover ungodly agreements to prevent collateral damage.

Prayer to prevent collateral damage-Class Action Lawsuit

Father, in accordance with your great love[1], align us with Jesus who prayed,” Father forgive them”. God Most High, the Ancient of Days, forgive the sin of people, including me and my family line[2], for as Jesus said, we “do not know what we are doing[3]”.

Especially have mercy[4] on us and our neighbors and our family lines for ways we condemned the innocent[5] and withheld mercy, especially where we covenanted or agreed together to do evil[6]. Apply your blood to overrule these agreements and in your mercy apply your blood to the consequences of these agreements and to the consequences of renouncing and repenting of these agreements[7]. Also, God Almighty, forgive us for the times and ways we broke covenant with you or others, without regard for the honor of your name[8].

Father God, when we pray for salvation, healing and deliverance for people and healing and deliverance for a home, church, business or area of land, then by your great mercy and the supreme power of your son’s blood shed for mankind, stop evil from enforcing collateral damage[9]. Every time we are offended, may we pray mercy[10] and every time we pray, may your Holy Spirit bring us into unity with Jesus who forgave friend and foe alike. Forgive us our debts as we have forgiven our debtors, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one[11].

[1] Scriptures are from the NIV. Numbers 14:19 In accordance with your great love, forgive the sin of these people, just as you have pardoned them from the time they left Egypt until now.”

[2] Psalm 79:8 Do not hold against us the sins of the fathers; may your mercy come quickly to meet us…

[3] Luke 23:34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

[4] Matthew 15:22, 28 A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession.” … 28Then Jesus answered, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour.

[5] Matthew 12:7 If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent.

[6] Example, Genesis 37:27 Come, let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites and not lay our hands on him; after all, he is our brother, our own flesh and blood.” His brothers agreed.

[7] Isaiah 25:15, 18 You boast, “We have entered into a covenant with death, with the grave we have made an agreement. :18 Your covenant with death will be annulled; your agreement with the grave will not stand. When the overwhelming scourge sweeps by, you will be beaten down by it.

[8] Isaiah 24:5 The earth is defiled by its people; they have disobeyed the laws, violated the statutes and broken the everlasting covenant. Jeremiah 11:10, 14:7, Daniel 9:19, and Malachi 2:14,

[9] James 2:13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!

[10] Mark 11:25 And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” John 20:23 If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

[11] Matthew 6:12-13

Trusting this will be helpful.

May your joy be full,

Chris & Carol

Chris Coursey, MA Theology – Author, Speaker and Thrive Trainer,

Twitter – @coursey_chris  

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

Carol’s email –

Thrive Training 7/14-18, 2014

This week is the final Thrive Training event for 2014 and  with 92 participants this is the largest training ever! This is cause for great joy! Join us in praising God for what He will do as the attendees scatter across the country creating trails of joy.


Prayer Points–

  • that everyone will receive from the Lord all that God wants to give them
  • that the Lord’s protection and travel safety be over everyone attending—students and teachers alike and that the Lord restrain the enemy from taking collateral damage out on friends, family, businesses and so on
  • that the Lord sustain Jenn as she had to step in and help lead since Ed and Marisa Khouri who were scheduled to lead could not. Ed’s recovery from surgery is taking a bit longer than he would like. Jenn will also be leading the dance segment of the training.
  • Jen requests prayer that their joy remains high as she and Chris will go home to their boys each night…that little boys would do well with Grandma and that Grandma holds up! That Chris’s back be strengthened—all these details are in the Lord’s hands.

An Idea For Growing Joy–

This week a facebook friend sent the following video to show what is being done in schools in Israel to help mitigate the anxiety and fear children have during rocket attacks. I sent it to Dr. Wilder with the comment that I thought this would go toward preventing PTSD. He said it would do quite nicely! Take a look…

My suggestion is to use this as a model; incorporate the insights, for example affirming the physical symptoms you might feel during times of stress or an anxiety attack such as rapid heart rate or shaking, and add those insights to a Psalm such as Psalm 91 and sing it to the Lord during times of fear and stress.

Singing gives your brain something to do other than be overwhelmed by fear. It keeps your eyes focused heavenward rather than on the object of your fear. Your brain amplifies what you focus on. This could go a long way toward diffusing the traumatic power of an event when you cannot stop it from happening.

Footprints.pngAction Steps–

Sing your Psalms during personal times of fear and stress.

Share this with someone you know who struggles with PTSD.

The children of Israel went into battle led by the singers and dancers. Have your worship team set it to music and teach the whole congregation how to sing in the battle.

May your joy be full,

Chris & Carol

Chris Coursey, MA Theology – Author, Speaker and Thrive Trainer,                                   

Twitter – @coursey_chris   

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

Carol’s email –




Low Joy… (Now what?)


In the Joy Starters blog we have talked about the dangers of low joy and presented the relational brain skills as the antidote for low joy. There are times when there is not much you can do about the fact that you are experiencing low joy. On our July 1 Round Table Talk, Ed Khouri, one of the authors of the Joy Starts Here book commented that he was quite familiar with that particular flavor of low joy. He has had three major surgeries in the last 18 months and two of them related to the spine. Anything relating to the spine says P.A.I.N!

surgery_recovery-ggogleSurgery can sap all your body’s resources as it diverts everything to repair the wound. Adrenal fatigue and auto immune diseases are also conditions that make the task of growing joy overwhelming. Even being in the presence of high joy can be overwhelming.

What I am saying here is that there are times when you are in low joy and it is not because of a conscious choice to live a bad life style or willful sin, but a result of living in a fallen world where bad things happen to good people. Or, we could say, hard things happen (surgery) so our lives will improve and we will return to higher joy…it just takes time. But we seem to be impatient people, we don’t want to wait.

 American society as a whole tends not to have tender responses to weakness. We have been trained to take a dim view of weakness; so, we don’t like being weak. We don’t like or want to be around ourselves when we are weak even if it is no fault of our own. (Ask me how I know!) Consequently we are hard on ourselves; we do not have a tender response to our own weakness which depresses joy further. We blame ourselves and right behind blame is shame. These are “sticky” emotions and difficult to throw off.

If you are feeling blamed and shamed; if you find yourself in such a low joy state that just the thought of expending the effort to grow joy is painful…what can you do?

Look for something, anything to be grateful for and then express appreciation.

  • Thank the nurse who adjusts your bed or gives you ice.
  • Thank the candy striper who brings flowers.
  • Appreciate the friend or spouse who sat by you all those hours in ER and recovery, who would not go home until they knew you would be okay.
  • Thank the person who brings your meals, puts supper in the crock pot or does your laundry.
  • Appreciate the little things someone does without being asked…

You get the idea…find something to appreciate. It only takes one or two brain cells! : ) Our brains tend to amplify what we focus on…so use the thimble full of strength that you have to practice the brain skill of gratitude.

For those of you who are stronger, please read this to a friend who doesn’t have the strength to even read. Make a tender response to weakness!

May your joy be full,

Chris & Carol

Chris Coursey, MA Theology — Author, Speaker and Thrive Trainer,

Twitter – @coursey_chris

Carol A. Brown, Author of The Mystery of Spiritual Sensitivity and Highly Sensitive                   Carol’s email —

P.S. The Thrive Training begins July 14 in Peoria, IL. Please join us in prayer to cover this event. For last minute preparations to come together. For travel mercies for everyone. For protection for families, businesses and all the etc. of life. That the enemy be held in check and not allowed to take collateral damages out of friends and families. May the Lord’s kingdom come and His will be done in each and every life.