Monthly Archives: September 2020

The Thrival Code

I’m obsessing about resilience.

If you’ve been reading this blog, you have seen Dr. Tim Elmore’s survival and thrival list:

  1. Resilience
  2. Resourcefulness
  3. Respect

To which I added:

  1. Responsibility

Observing our emotional, physical, spiritual, vocational, business atmosphere, resilience is a prime need.

Our long-time friend, David Mitchell now in South Carolina, is a student counselor. He appreciates Tim Elmore’s work, so he sent me a webinar link about building resilience. He said,

“I’m not always a huge fan of webinars, but this one has a lot of practical and useful information for ALL teachers—especially for those teaching virtually.”


Link to the webinar is below.

The resilience need is not just for students. Resilience skills are needed for all of us these days. The webinar instructor gives 5 components to build resilience:

  1. Connection
  2. Security
  3. Achievement
  4. Autonomy
  5. Fulfillment

Are those not components of a Jesus Follower? They are also what is under attack in the Pandemic and rioting, attack on the justice system and our personal well-being. A public figure was described as having a “healthy inner life.” Remembering our research on attacking anxiety and stress-management, these were chapter titles. I question whether we can maintain a healthy inner life unless we pay attention to these five. Any family disruption shakes or shatters the foundation of our resilience. If we heal from disruption or dissolution, we will have re-established or reinforced the five building blocks of personal wholeness.

David guides us in reference to the presentation:

“If you’d like to watch the whole thing, skip to 5:40 to get past the intros, etc. The best part is a 17 min window between 28:00 and 45:15 on restoring resilience in our students. Three concepts to know if you start at 28:00:

  1. Due to COVID, it has changed from MANY students are impacted by trauma to NEARLY ALL students are impacted by trauma.
  2. The goal is to move from being trauma-informed and trauma-sensitive to being trauma-skilled. 3. They liken trauma to a brick wall for students. We often can’t take it away or knock it down, but we can help them learn ways around or over it.”

The seventeen minutes were helpful. I invite you to invest 17. Thanks

The link will ask for email address. David says, “If you aren’t an edWeb member, feel free to use my email address to be able to view it.”  <   

D. Dean Benton    Wonderer, Writer, Worker on resilience

Apples & Wisdom

Chris Stirewalt says, “…its possibilities look about as good as the chances of apple bobbing while wearing a corona mask.”

I’m not math bright nor am I a gambler, but I sure like to know what the chance and probabilities are. Maybe Johnny Mathis sowed the question—“Chances Are….” Are what? I want to know how to evaluate possibilities. Jesus gave us the equation.

By their fruit you will recognize them (Matthew 7).

It seems to me—at least this week—the determining skills and characteristics and most the most important elements to teach self and others are:

  • Resilience
  • Resourcefulness
  • Respect
  • Responsibility

If a person has that package of emotional, mental and spiritual strengths, they are most likely to survive, and perhaps thrive, during economic and social upheavals.

The reasoning for this is the fruit question. What will the outcome—the fruit—be if I follow this behavior, plan of action or decision to the logical conclusion? What will this line of thinking produce? From what orchard did the present conditions come?

Let’s look at this from the other side. What fruit do you want? If the above four skills and habits (R4) is what we desire, then what growing season and what activities and lessons are required? How is resilience developed? What teaches resourcefulness? How does respect for the soil, other people’s property and other people grow? How do we acquire the ability to take responsibility for our own actions and life?

R4 do not come to us fully developed, they are grown. The principle applies to everything. Chances are increased if first we ask, “What will result if I follow this action?” That demands self-awareness and personal discipline to routinely ask and discern the best answer.

What fruit will rioting bear? Listen to the rhetoric and platform of a political candidate and ask, “If the nation (county, village or me personally) follows this plan, where will it lead? What is the inevitable fruit? How does this decision-making pattern affect business decisions and personal decisions?

We were given a peck of apples. Carole made an apple pie. She said it was the first pie she had ever baked. What? How is that possible? I love pie. And her pie was fantastic. I come from a heritage of pie-bakers, so I feel qualified to judge. It was great! As good as Mom’s, if not better.

Since I peeled the apples, worm holes and rotting sections caught my attention. Checking the fruit demands we ask about worms in the apple.

You shall know them—people by their fruit. Negative results can be traced to causes—sometimes. There is an inevitable crop—not always, but worth asking “Where did that come from?” If you lock down business, lock up people in a small space, lock out gatherings of worship, forbid hugging and proclaim that mask wearing solves problems, what is most apt to happen? Unemployment, mental/emotional illness, growing anxiety and depression, agitation and frayed nerves. (There has been a growing number of inquiries about divorce especially among the newly married. No joke.) Keep kids away from routine, interaction, intentional education and the fruit is predictable.

There is an inevitable harvest. A lot of energy has been wasted on blaming. Shouldn’t we instead respond with plans? You shall know what to do if you see what the fruit is going to look like. Part of the dilemma we are living in is that of uncertainty and the unknown. Only a few futurists and godly prophets saw what September 15 would look like from the view of February 1.  The American Indians and Aborigines from Australia could have told us about wild fires. If their wisdom would have been sought and trusted. We do know what December 31 will look like if we neglect resilience, resourcefulness, respect and personal responsibility.

I don’t know if governments can be taught how to “test the spirits,” or “check the fruit.” I know the “fruit” of Resilience, Resourcefulness, Respect and Responsibility in your life and mine is worth the investment. The fruit of R4 is wisdom and insight. We need a ton of that.

Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding” (Proverbs 4:7 KJV).

©2020 D. Dean Benton,   Writer,  Wonderer,  Wisdom seeker

Feet First


Going to get me some. But then, maybe not. The ad didn’t list a price. Could be we’ve been going at this stress and pressure thing upside down. We should try it feet first.

Reading Ezekiel 34. God is speaking to pastors. An Old Testament era pastor was not limited to preacher-types or the New Testament office of pastor. Pastoring was anyone responsible for caring for people. Mayors, governors, parents, religious leaders. Ezekiel and Yahweh got my attention and alerted my spirit. Given all I’m hearing futurists and prophets/teachers saying, I wonder if my pastoral heart is on track to talk about what my segment—sheep fold, tribe, digital parish—of God’s people is needing to hear.

“If I have my way, there are always plenty of great books to read and a good collection of classical and other instrumental music to comb the tangles from our stressed-out psyches and provide food for the soul.”  Gloria Gaither

I like that line—“to comb the tangles from our stressed-out psyches….” We watched a youTube clip about a young woman combing out her dreadlocks after six years. The comb-out took two or three people 5-6 days. It is obvious that “tangles in our stressed-out psyches” will take time to bring healing and installation of new life approach.

I’m sure you’ve noticed the widely-used words—scarcity-thinking. This permeates the world as if we are in a sum-zero closed system. That is one of the “absolutes” that pushes the protesters (not rioters) and fuels our fears. It contradicts what a reasoned reading of the Bible tells us about God and His creation. God’s favorite words (my current guess) are Abundance, Creativity, Redemption and Stewardship.

Over the past three-four months, I have been driven to tears by the revelations and teaching of two writers/teachers: Joel Salatin talking about agriculture and livestock. I was reading The Marvelous Pigness of Pigs in the car on a big-box store parking lot and felt tears on my cheeks. I felt the closeness of Jesus and the need to repent of mankind’s bad use of land and the open future if we can get this right—I caught a small glimpse of what “I’ll heal your land” might look like.

The other is Dr. Tim Elmore’s brand-new book, The Pandemic Population—Eight Strategies to help Generation Z Rediscover hope after Coronavirus.

Elmore is a student of students and generations. He sees big similarities between Gen Z and the Silent Generation also known as Builders born 1929-1945. This includes me! I have seen Builders as the earlier generation going through the Great Depression and World War II, with the Silent Generation following. The Builders became Tom Brokaw’s Greatest Generation. Most of the great mission programs and non-profit organization were built by this group. I identify with the Silent Generation and our parents being the Builders. I sure don’t feel that I fit into the Builder’s profile.

Dr. Elmore says

“…although there are similarities in the hardships faced between the Silent/Builder Generation and Generation Z, there are remarkable differences in the outcomes. The deciding factor in this change…is the narrative with which each generation engaged the challenges they faced. When the Builder/Silent Generation faced hardship, they were encouraged to be resilient, resourceful, and respectful. When Gen Z faced similar hardships, they were encouraged to be savvy, cynical, and stoic. If we want to change the outcome, we’ve got to change how we lead Generation Z through the challenges they face.”

Can you hear “how to deal with scarcity” in those words?

Elmore uses the research of developmental psychologist Emmy Werner on children’s resilience. Ms. Werner was a child in Europe during World War II. She didn’t study or write from the cheap seats! As an adult, Werner studied the letters, journal entries, and diaries of 200 hundred child witnesses, then interviewed the survivors to learn about their experiences. Dr. Elmore says, “In her book Through the Eyes of Innocents, she writes that many of the kids became adults who held ‘an extraordinary affirmation of life.’”

When I read those words, I was stunned. Isn’t that what we desire and pray that our young will experience and attain through this cultural upheaval and Pandemic? What are the chances? How will they shed the cynicism, hopelessness, nihilism, ignorance of history and doubt that they have a reason to view their future with excitement? I hear in this study words for all generations: Resilience, Resourcefulness, Respect.

Since this is Suicide Awareness Week, this feels urgent and healing and strategies scream for listeners. Four takeaways Ms. Werner found that made a difference:

  1. EXPOSURE—Limited

Werner found that kids exposed to much calamity for many hours fared worse; the ones who had a limited amount early on, fared better. Elmore advises to put boundaries on the amount of news the kids watch. Not just kids!

Do you know the phrase, Fear of missing out—FoMO? It is a pervasive apprehension of being absent or missing important bulletins. This fear turns on an alert switch—a desire to stay continually connected. We are news junkies. We have become tuned in to all the prophets and futurists. We want to know what they are hearing from God, the latest gossip among the angels and any and every instruction from Holy Spirit. FoMO! The prophet’s latest word—which I want to hear—can lead to adrenal overload.

  1. CAREGIVERS—Loving

“A caring adult offering support was a game changer for how the kids in this research turned out as adults. These kids had adults who led them intentionally, encouraged them, and offered emotional guidance. The good news is—the adult doesn’t have to be a parent. The key is a trusted adult was present to offer guidance and support. Today, the same is true. We must offer clear guidance, emotional support, and encouragement.” (The Pandemic Population, Page 29).


“When uncertainty or danger strikes, children are ‘wired’ to look to their caregivers to interpret how safe they should feel. When the threat system is on too long without relief, physical and mental health problems can result.” (Werner)

“The key is for the kids to have an adult who continues normal routines that provide security and order amidst what may feel like chaos…the presence of a calm adult can even reduce levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, in a child’s body. This means that you as their leader must practice self-care so you are ready to offer calm leadership in a time of uncertainty.” (Elmore)

We are interacting with more than “what may feel like chaos.” There are invading revolutionaries on the streets and a pandemic in the air. Whatever we formerly thought of as up is now deemed down and all that once was right is being called wrong. Invaders are intent and active in destroying every value and virtue that gives us guardrails and handrails. It is not what feels like chaos, it is chaos. Leaders are at a loss as much as the children. It seems to me that a good question is, “What the hell is going on?” When anarchists scream outside a hospital “I hope they die,” that is witchcraft in action. They are calling upon satan and evil to take control. That is why observers called their behavior “demonic,” and the look on the rioter’s faces, evil.

Calm leadership is not an appeal for pretending that all is well or there is no reason for concern. Andy Stanley says we cannot promise certainty. We can pledge clarity and authenticity. Leaders can be transparent about their own fears when appropriate and be clear about actions being taken to fortify the gates. Age-appropriate transparency is always a good thing. Jeremiah, Isaiah, Nehemiah were prophets that clearly announced what they were hearing with a vision of the future. I like Jeremiah’s EQ. He prefaced his pronouncements with, “I really hate to tell you this….” And he cried when the news was “Pack, we’re moving.”

A pastor—parent, preacher—all responsible for giving care—do so by asking teens…

  • How is this affecting you?
  • What are you feeling?
  • What do you see as a worse-case scenario?
  • How would you want this to turn out?

The thinking about teens voting is that since they are going to be affected by what we decide, they should have a voice. My thinking is since they are wearing a mask, listen to the news and have an opinion, they should have a safe place to say, “I’m scared and this sucks! I think we should….”

Ever wonder what a “bejeebers” is? Just so you know—

“To shock or frighten one very suddenly or severely.”

I was listening to politicians and news people talking about a possible scenario immediately after the 2020 election. It shook the bejeebers out of me! I’m wondering how to prepare. Do we buy fire arms? Stockpile survival food? Put iron bars on the windows? Move to a cave with two massive dogs named Bruno and Killer? If I’m feeling those things, I know people around me are also and Gen Z, Millennials have the same anxieties. Resilience is grow-able.


“…Werner’s research shows that adult leaders who embrace faith in a ‘higher power’ were able to guide kids into more resilient responses after a calamity. Ann Masten, professor at the Institute for Child Development at University of Minnesota, found ‘having a sense of purpose helps, too’” (Elmore, Page 30-31).

Gen X, Gen Z, Millenniels question what their lives are going to be. What about their calling, their desire to marry, have children, career? Some of my friends’ ministries have been shut down by the pandemic as if someone hit a kill switch. Paraphrasing, “What am I to do so I can get back to what I was created to do and do well?”

“…anxiety has replaced excitement about the future” (Tim Elmore).

I have no word from the Lord that we will ever return to what “it use to was.” So we look under the hood to ask if our talent, gift or loved activity is the primary thing. What if talent, gift or what we love to do is a tool? What do we want them to accomplish? After you have used your best in Holy Spirit anointing, what do you want to have happened? Someone learn something? Someone decide to follow Jesus? Healed? Delivered from a bondage-stronghold? Empowered? Equipped? Encouraged to give it a better shot? It is doubtful that those will ever be out of date—there is no “herd immunity” for those needs. Comfort—Equipped. Empowered, Encouraged.

“‘Comfort, comfort my people,’ says the Lord” (Isaiah 40:1).

Grow these:   Resilience, Resourcefulness, Respect

©2020 D. Dean Benton –writer, wonderer

An Apple & A Head Bruise

In 1665, a plague closed Cambridge. The school sent students home to hunker down. Isaac Newton used that time to continue his education—learning on his own. Isolation, home-bound, shut down. It was during those days that he experimented with light, math equations and thinking about falling apples. He returned to Cambridge in 1667 with theories in hand and in notebooks, a bruise on his head and some thoughts about gravity.

I am enjoying, learning and finding motivation in this “plague” as I read Dr. Tim Elmore’s brand-new book, The Pandemic Population, (Growing Leaders, Inc., ©2020). “Eight Strategies to Help Generation Z Rediscover Hope After Coronavirus.”  Elmore says,

“I am so grateful Isaac Newton had some spare time. What will we do with ours?”

“The key is going to be how we choose to look at this whole thing. And…the narrative we embrace, of course, will be derived from our perspective. How do we even perceive what’s happening to us? Are we mere victims of a horrible time in history? Or could this be an opportunity for us to progress to a far better place? I pose the question, Is COVID-19 an interruption or an introduction to something better?” (Page 46)

“Narrative” is a hot word these days. The defining proverb about stress is, “It is how we explain things to ourselves—the stories we tell ourselves that determine whether the event is positive or negative.” It is not what happens, but how we explain the event to ourselves and others.

Dr. Tim Elmore continues,

“So, with all the negative outcomes we see from today’s coronavirus, what if we looked at it differently? (We) can get mad or (we) can get busy.

“Past epidemics may just show us how to get busy:”

  • What if we let the adversity weed out what’s wrong and clarify what’s important?

  • What if we let the adversity catalyze wise decisions to improve conditions?

  • What if we let the adversity create an urgency about solving… problems?

We are not victims.

“But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.” Romans 8:37.

©2020 D. Dean Benton    Writer & Wonderer

No * on You Can Count On Me

Thanksgiving dinner is going to be less populated at the Trump family table. In the “might be-fiction” area of the bookstore this week is at least one addition. First Lady Melanie Trump’s former “best” friend’s has published, “Melanie and Me.” She probably shouldn’t expect an invitation for dinner. Nor should President Trump’s niece or sister, or John Bolton.

Goodreads says there are 291 tell-all books about Trump—that was before this week. Two more drop next week. Mary Trump’s book sold 1.3 million copies its first week. 

Much has been made about Donald Trump’s loyalty requirements. Do you blame him? Obviously, he has not done a very good job vetting those around him. I’m guessing that Barron has signed a non-disclosure agreement. (JOKE)

Nothing about the past four years of politics has been more nauseating to me than the leaking from people with access to the Oval Colander and the absolute betrayal by those who were trusted with state secrets and personal conversations. Observing this practice of spewing privileged information has been sitting like vomit in the back of my soul for three years. 

I am appalled by the video of Ms. Nancy Pelosi at the hair-dressers walking across the salon floor with wet hair. That is invasion of privacy to say the least and an indictment of the leakers and publishers.  It is not political, it is lack of humanity and character. 

The former daughter-in-law of a famous evangelist said the family Thanksgiving dinner ended with the famous man chewing a pack of Juicy Fruit gum. How was the reader supposed to react to that revelation? I erased her from my invite list.

Who is better after knowing these “secrets” or personal idiosyncrasies? Are people’s souls enriched? Are they smarter? Did their empathy grow or their IQ blossom? How about their emotional quotient? It feels like the land of the free is populated by hordes of voyeurs.

I’ve been slow-reading my way through Pulitzer Prize winning American Lion by Jon Meacham, the history of Andrew Jackson’s days in the White House. Jackson’s vice-president, John C. Calhoun attempted to publicly slander the president and fight him on almost every action. Then there was Henry Clay who devoted his life to winning the presidency; watching all this was John Quincy Adams who spoke publicly against Harvard’s decision to bestow an honorary doctorate on Jackson. All these men were in Jackson’s Cabinet. Trying to mend fences and pave his own path to the presidency, Mr. Calhoun went to visit Adams. This is the former president’s reaction:

“I meet Mr. Calhoun’s advances to a renewal of the intercourse of common civility because I cannot reject them. But once I had confidence in the qualities of his heart. It is not totally destroyed, but so impaired that it can never be restored.”

What is left when insurrection, usurping of position, insubordination or betrayal is obvious? Trust is gone. Credibility and trustworthiness is questioned. On his death bed, Jackson said he was sorry he didn’t hang Calhoun for treason. Reputation as a betrayer on one’s resume is not a plus.

The blood sport of politics cannot be teaching citizens, especially the young, the value of honoring and trustworthiness. In the day of shaming, the impact of betrayal should be glaringly evident for the betrayed and the betrayer. Is betrayal worth it—perhaps virtuous—just because dollars, position or social standing can be improved? Or book sales?

The psalmist said in Psalm 54:12-14,

…For it is not an enemy who insults me; that I could endure. It is not a foe who rises against me; from him I could hide. But it is you, a man like myself, my companion and close friend. We shared sweet fellowship together; 

It is betrayal by family and/or friends that is most brutal. Confidences leaked through gossip or prayer requests exposed without permission cuts the cable. The agony of that is cried out by King David who was betrayed by his son:

“The king was shaken. He went up to the room over the gateway and wept. As he went, he said: “O my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you—O Absalom, my son, my son!” 2 Samuel 18:33 (NIV)

Harry Hopkins has intrigued me. This paragraph describes him:

“During the years when Harry Hopkins lived as a guest in the White House, he was generally regarded as a sinister figure, a backstairs intriguer, an Iowan combination of Machiavelli, Svengali and Rasputin. Hostility toward him was by no means limited to those who hated Franklin Delano Roosevelt. There were many of Roosevelt’s most loyal friends and associates, in and out of the Cabinet, who disliked Hopkins intensely and resented the extraordinary position of influence and authority he held. He was unquestionably a political liability to Roosevelt, a convenient target for all manners of attacks directed at the President himself, and many people wondered why Roosevelt kept him around.” (Roosevelt and Hopkins, Robert E. Sherwood, Harper & Brothers, ©1948) Page 1.

Wendell Willkie asked FDR,

“Why do you keep Hopkins so close to you? You surely must realize that people distrust him and they resent his influence?”

Willkie quoted Roosevelt as replying:

“I can understand that you wonder why I need that half-man around me.” (The ‘half-man’ was an allusion to Hopkin’s extreme physical frailty.) “But—someday you may well be sitting here where I am now as President of the United States. And when you are, you’ll be looking at that door over there and knowing that practically everybody who walks through it wants something out of you. You’ll learn what a lonely job this is, and you’ll discover the need for somebody like Harry Hopkins who asks nothing except to serve you.”

Does fidelity seems sparse today? Loyalty cannot be a one-way commitment. It seems to me that honor, respect, fidelity, loyalty and trustworthiness are markable and remarkable personal traits.

General Jeb Stuart signed all his letters to Robert E. Lee…

Yours To Count On,   

©2020 D. Dean Benton