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 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

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 –

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 —


CONNEXUS Confusion? (What is it, exactly?)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blessings, Chris & Carol

Chris Coursey, MA Theology — Author, Speaker and  Director at Life Model Works

Twitter – @coursey_chris

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

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

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

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

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                  


Identify Heart Values From Suffering? Um…how’s that?

Chris and I have run a couple blogs about the upcoming Thrive Conference March 24-28. But that was general information for registration for those who knew they wanted to attend. Now I want to share with you a specific skill you will learn when you attend Track 1 – The track for learning to “Quiet and Rest.” If you recall Anna Hill’s testimony, the skill of quieting was transformational for her and her family. Being able to identify heart values by looking at what causes you pain, relational brain skill #6, is equally transformational.


Skill 6 is about learning to identify your heart values from your main pain—your suffering. You can tell a lot about a person’s values by what hurts them. Your “main pain” points to the main characteristic of your heart. This is something the Lord placed in you; it is part of your design.

Since this is February, the “love” month, this would be an excellent heart conversation to have with your spouse or BFF. Be intentional about understanding each other’s heart values. It may shed light on mystifying behaviors and motivations! Just clear the schedule so you have uninterrupted time and see what God reveals.

Everyone has issues that particularly hurt or bother you and always have been the way you are likely to be hurt. Looking at these lifelong issues helps identify the core values for your unique identity. You hurt more the more deeply you care. Because of how much pain your deepest values have caused, most people see these characteristics as liabilities not treasures.

  • Write down the pain that seems to consistently show up in your relationships. Chris’s example:
    • I frequently feel let down by others.
    • I seem to work harder in my relationships than other people.
  • What does this pain say about you? What qualities did God place in you that are expressed in this type of pain?

Carol’s example:

Betrayal by a trusted friend is devastating to me. Consequently, I am slow to trust. I want to know you are not going to turn on me later. I try to avoid betrayal so I can appear to be distrustful or suspicious. Once I learn I can trust you, you have a loyal friend who will go through thick and thin with you. Trust and loyalty are very high values to me and that is why betrayal of trust cuts me so deeply and takes so long to recover from.

Another characteristic that God placed in me is high sensitivity. My central nervous system picks up more sensory data than most, which means I can be easily overwhelmed…by lights, sounds, activity, temperature, people, pain…easily overwhelmed. And it can be physically painful being bombarded by all of that!

That pain points to the ability to sense, know and understand what people feel. It means I am able to also sense God’s heart and how He wants to meet and help people. He designed me as an intercessor who can pray the prayers asking for what God wants to do for hurting ones.

I can hate the pain and the way I am designed; see it as a curse or thank God for the way He made me and learn how to use the gift and work with my design. Under all the pain I feel is the heart value of desiring to help those in pain. It is my heart value to help but I must learn how to help in a way that does not overwhelm others or myself.

My Heart Value clip_image004  My Main Pain

  • If God placed the heart value in you that you have identified, do you feel it is a weakness to despise, or a gift to embrace?
  • How would Jesus live with your heart values and main pain? What 2 responses come to mind about who Jesus would be under varying conditions?

FootprintsAction Step: Take these questions and have a discussion with your spouse or BFF and identify some your heart values. As my husband and I did this we found ourselves strategizing how we could support the other’s values. It also gave us insight into avoidance behaviors that caused us to question the other’s motivations. This is a very helpful little exercise. You will learn more about Skill #6 at Thrive as well as  additional skills.

If interested, 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                  

The Difference Thrive Makes!

Chris and I have said that learning the relational brain skills can change your life. Now we want you to hear what attendees have to say about the training.

                           Changing My Generation                               Thrive Training Will Change Your Family

“I would say THRIVE has changed my ENTIRE LIFE.”


-I have never experienced a conference like this before! I not only increased my helping skills but also improved my relationships and capacity for joy. THRIVE fully nurtured my body, soul and spirit! Thank you!

First time attendee

You may think that I can teach THRIVE brain skills because I have had them all my life but the truth is just the opposite. When I attended my first THRIVE in 2002 I was on disability for my emotional instability.

Jen Coursey, THRIVE Coordinator

I found this conference life-changing. I now see explanations for my mental state and behaviors. THRIVE gave me tools to change my mind ‘patterns’ and return to joy. I met many great people.


I now embrace my salvation as I never have before. I began to see the restoration of the traumas Jesus allowed in my 62 years of life would become the heart that Jesus gave me. I praise God that I’m now thriving in areas I never thought I could. I will be forever indebted for the investment you have made in my life.


I wanted to share with you what has happened to me since the conference. The biggest grace I’ve noticed is that I have developed a habit of quieting myself daily. Quiet has always been a struggle for me, but NO MORE! I’m very excited and grateful to the Lord for that. I look forward to the next Edmonton THRIVE conference.

Track I attendee

Changing My Generation
Brain skill training changed my life

I enjoyed the discussion (the exercises) would evoke. Afterwards you could almost feel a change in your right brain.

Track I attendee

I enjoyed learning the skills not just in my head but also in my heart.

Minister, Counselor

-THRIVE has amazing value for changing the brain especially for the amount of money it costs. I am in the business world and over the last four years I have hired a mentor for three days that cost me over $20,000 along with a business coach that costs me $2000 per month. There are tons of very expensive self-help gurus which are excellent, but their material is primarily book smart and theory. Chris and Jen take the hands-on approach to the brain, by building joy, knowing how to quiet and more for essentially 1/10 the cost of regular coaching. Where in the world can you get an all day training course for roughly $100 a day? I never heard of it until I was introduced to THRIVE.


The exercises were hard, but very beneficial. It is so important for us all to practice synchronizing and story-telling.

THRIVE attendee

Changing My Generation
How the Life Model changed my professional life

-I am a professional counselor now for 33 years. I have trained thousands of professionals through my private practice as a consultant. However, I have never been impacted in the manner in which I was through the THRIVE Conference. It has changed my life forever.


The (brain) levels and solutions will truly benefit my approach to people…it already has.

Lay Minister

I enjoyed the opportunity to get help. I was stuck dealing with the fear that has debilitated me in the last year in a couple of pastoral crises. I needed resources. Very timely!


I learned so much at both left and right brain levels. I met many others (colleagues) which was essential for me right now.

THRIVE attendee

I continue to see God use me through Emmanuel prayer in amazing ways. I believe He has both gifted and called me to use Emmanuel prayer and to train others to use it. (Not to mention the great benefits I have personally received).

Pastor from Kansas

I feel confident that I will be sharing THRIVE principles and experiences in my religious community, my therapy work and likely as a speaker in our affiliated churches.


Relational brain skills really do make a difference–in your family, your church, your ministry, your community and your life. If you feel “something is missing” and you need/want “the more,” there is still time…you can register.

5-day Training (Tracks I-III)

Date: March 24th – 28th, 2014

Date: July 14th – 18th, 2014

Location: Holiday Inn, East Peoria, IL. USA
Registration: Is now open!
Click here to register.
Find Out

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                  

More About Thrive Training

If you have been thinking about attending the Thrive

Training, there is still  time to take advantage of

early registration savings!



Dr. Jim Wilder, author and developer of THRIVE Training

will be on site duringTHRIV E this March 24-28th to lead

God’s Hour sessions and more. Here is your opportunity

to interact and experience Dr. Wilder’s dream to see relational

skills restored for families and communities around the globe.

You will learn how to:

  • Grow Joy with Ed and Martiza Khouri in Track One.
  • Return to Joy with Kitty Wilder in Track Two.
  • Apply solutions for the 5 levels of pain with Chris Coursey in                  Track Three

The early registration deadline has been

extended to February 6, 2014 

for the March 2014 THRIVE Training!


Chris & Jen video

Hear how THRIVE changed everything

for Chris & Jen, THRIVE Trainers.

THRIVE starts

some serious joy!


Come join us: March 24th – 28th

or July 14th – 18th










3 interactive training tracks,

19 skills to change your life!


 “I now embrace salvation as I never have before!”

THRIVE Attendee



Can’t wait to get started?

THRIVE in 3 steps:RegisterPrepare

We can’t wait to see you there!

Chris & Jen Coursey

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

Twitter – @coursey_chris

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