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.



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 –

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,

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 –




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
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,

Twitter – @coursey_chris

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


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
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,

Twitter – @coursey_chris

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

Pondering Joy and Its Place In The Scheme of Things

The blood moons are not the only interesting phenomenon happening these days. We have bible prophecy, present day prophets and social forecasters agreeing—a miracle! Of course what they infer from the same common elements varies greatly! The consensus seems to be that things are bad and getting worse…something big is coming down the pike.

I’m not a bible scholar but clearly the Bible shows an increasingly dire situation until the Lord returns. Nor am I surveyor who can figure out an unknown location by using the two points he is sure of, but I can usually find my way out of the woods by checking where the sun is, and which side of the tree the moss grows on. You have to stop the panic, get your bearings, figure out which way you need to go.

When the children of Israel were slaves in Egypt their situation was about as bleak as it could be! God brought them through the wilderness and out of it. I believe God has a way through this current and approaching wilderness and out of it into our promised land just as the children of Israel came into theirs.

In navigating our wilderness the Bible is our guidebook. We don’t need to panic—stop, calm, refer to our guide and set off in the direction He indicates. From our guidebook we can learn how to respond in testing. We can learn of God’s character and how He wants us to develop ours. We can learn God’s ways and values; about choices and consequences. And we have the assistance of the Holy Spirit to keep us on course toward our promised land at some “unknown location.”

So where does joy fit in with all this turmoil?

I believe the knowledge of the 19 relational brain skills and the ability to grow joy in relationship with Jesus and other people will be what keeps us grounded. I believe joy is the antidote for fear. Psalm 91:7 says “A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.” Joy can keep you level headed when people all around are going off the rails. Joy in relationship with Jesus and others will give you the strength to keep your values in the face of temptation to compromise.

It was the JOY that was set before Jesus that made it possible for Him to endure the cross. JOY is the source of our strength also. JOY fills us with the light of God and that light in us will be a light on our path. JOY will be our light when the world is in darkness. It will shine out of us and draw others to Him. JOY’s sister is Peace.

If you would like to shore up your relational skills, the next skills training will be this coming July.

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

Hope to see you there.

Blessings, Chris & Carol,

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

Twitter – @coursey_chris

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


Can You Recognize Overwhelm…before it happens?

AAaaagh! Stop! Just. stop.

Have you been there? Of course you have; me too. That moment when you are overwhelmed with…whatever overwhelms you. For me, Carol, sensory input can sneak up on me. I become so engage in what is being said that I can overload sometimes before I am aware it is approaching. When overwhelm occurs I tend to be less gracious. If I’m honest, I’d have to say that I can be downright cutting—that’s not my heart value. I do not value ripping someone up; I’d much rather be helpful.

The only way Chris or I have found to stay in a loving, relational spot is to recognize the cues that we are approaching overwhelmed and disengage. This one is especially sneaky for me. My husband and I can be enjoying an animated conversation when I suddenly realize that I understood each individual word he said but when they were put together into the sentence he just made I had no idea what he was talking about. That is my overwhelmed signal. I have to say something right then before I throw a relational circuit breaker.

Maybe it was too many words. Maybe I was physically tired. Maybe my spirit was busy picking up pain around us…or the Lord had called me to intercession and my mind missed the call but my spirit didn’t. It was busy interceding while my mind was trying to listen to my husband—aaagh! Too much! Overload! And I throw that relational circuit breaker.

The overwhelmed feeling could be caused by any combination of things but the important thing is to recognize it BEFORE the relational circuit is blown. At this point you use relational brain skill #9 and take a breather—a time out. The lack of comprehension  is my cue to disengage.

When you have had time to catch your breath and the “go away” signals have subsided then it is time to activate skill #15 and practice being quietly interactive. Given the breather, the mental stimulation subsides and I can re-engage at a lower intensity and comprehend once again.

As parents you do this intuitively with your children. When their signals of approaching overwhelm were ignored or not recognized, they throw a tantrum to bring it to your attention. You know talking is not going to help; their thinking brain is offline! You wait, and as emotion subsides you can cuddle; praying silently you gently rock and begin to talk. They can hear you now—this is being quietly interactive.

You learn these and other skills at Thrive Training. You will learn not only your own overwhelm cues, but those of your bonded partner. You will learn the ways in which you overwhelm others and what to do to back down the intensity, the emotional, mental and spiritual stimulation without throwing that relational circuit breaker.

They call this “training” for a special reason. When you learn you pack facts and concepts into your head. Sometimes those facts find their way to your heart and influence your actions. But training is practice and practice to develop reflexes that you don’t have to think about. For a pianist or a runner it is called developing muscle memory. Reflexes are those automatic knee jerk reactions. You can train your brain to respond to little cues that can be easily missed.

Imagine how helpful it would be in your marriage and family as well as your ministry to know when you or others are approaching the “blow mark!” The rewards of training in the ability to recognize the cues are joy in relationship and effective leadership in ministry. If you would like to learn all 19 relational brain skills or fill in the ones you’ve missed and transform you life, marriage, family and ministry come to Thrive Training.

5-day Training (Tracks I-III)

Date: July 14th – 18th, 2014                                                     Date: March 24th – 28th, 2014
Holiday Inn, East Peoria, IL. USA
Registration: Is now open!
Click here to register.                      Find Out More

Hope to see you there!

Chris & Carol,

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

Twitter – @coursey_chris

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