Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am. Phil 4:13 (The Message).
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by Hayne Steen, MAMFT 

"Optimism and hope are radically different attitudes. Optimism is the expectation that things---the weather, human relationship, the economy, the political situation, and so on---will get better. Hope is trust that God will fulfil God’s promises to us in a way that leads us to true freedom. 

The optimist speaks about concrete changes in the future. The person of hope lives in the moment with the knowledge and trust that all of life is in good hands.

All the great spiritual leaders in history were people of hope. Abraham, Moses, Ruth, Mary, Jesus, Rumi, Gandhi, and Dorothy Day all lived with a promise in their hearts that guided them toward the future without the need to know exactly what it would look likeLet’s live with hope."

-Henri Nouwen, Bread for the Journey (1997)

Over the Christmas holiday our family spent some wonderfully long days in PJ's watching some of our favorite classic movies. Through all of the hilarity and laughter, I noticed a consistent theme in each one. There was always some person, group or situation that seemed destined or determined to ruin Christmas. AND in every storyline there seemed to be at least one primary character who is faithfully hanging on to hope.

  • In Christmas Vacation, Clark Griswold overcomes his odd and arrogant neighbors, a houseful of ungrateful and critical family members and a greedy boss holding out on his Christmas bonus .
  • In Home Alone I and II, Kevin's parents forget him both at home or at the airport and he is left to fend for himself against the "sticky bandits" and the "wet bandits."
  • In Elf, Buddy is faced with the traumatic news that he in fact is not a real elf. So heads off to the big city to find his dad, who so happens to be on the "naughty list" for being so mean and cruel. No one but Buddy seems to really believe that they can recover the Christmas spirit in order to power Santa's sleigh. 
  • In A Christmas Story, Ralphie is committed to the idea of getting that beloved Red Rider BB Gun. He overcomes negative feedback from teachers and even his own parents who all said, "You'll shoot your eye out!" 
  • In It's a Wonderful Life, George Bailey is faced with his own death and gets a troubling glimpse of what the world would be like if he had never existed. Just when all seems lost, his family and his community all rally around him with an outpouring of love. Hope is restored.

Christmas is the "season of hope"...right? As soon as the season begins, it seems it is already ending. Let's take a closer look. 

By the time you read this;

  • Christmas cards will be have been designed, mailed, received and (dare we say) thrown away.
  • Christmas trees will have delivered, dawned, decorated, dismantled and possibly destroyed. 
  • Gifts will have been purchased, wrapped, unwrapped, enjoyed, returned or re-gifted.
  • Families will have traveled, gathered, eaten and returned home. 
  • Holiday decor will have been pulled down out of the attic, placed throughout the home, taken down, and returned to the attic.
  • New Year's resolutions will have been pondered, recorded and possibly already broken. 
What is it about the Christmas and New Year's holidays that create both the sweetest of memories while simultaneously triggering many of those sick and sore spots within us and in those relationships that matter the most to us? 

When we place our trust in a season, a holiday, a tradition, or even another person we always bring a host of both healthy and unhealthy expectations that are bound to go unmet. None of these can satisfy what our hearts long for. We all long for a fresh start with a clean slate. Many depend hope that the New Year will produce the inspiration for change that seems unlikely or out of range.

Our Hope, however, is not found in any holiday or gift apart from the One who was born wrapped in a 1st century manger just over 2000 years ago. Jesus is not just "holding onto hope." He is, in fact, the very Hope of the world. When we are holding onto Him, we ARE holding onto Hope. In all and through all. 

May your New Year be marked by Hope. 


Every guy needs a TRIBE. That's why Greg Seymour and I will begin offering 4 unique process groups for guys called TRIBE on Monday and Tuesday evenings.

TRIBE is a brand new group therapy environment at Elbow Tree that emerged from our growing awareness of the current limitation of offerings like this dedicated specifically to guys in the greater Chattanooga area.

TRIBE is extremely affordable at just $50 per session. *Individual therapy with Greg or Hayne is also available at normal practice rates.



Target | Middle School guys in 6-8th grade

Timing | Every MONDAY from 6:00-7:15pm beginning January 12, 2015.

Theme | Middle school can be especially brutal. Any given day can be marked by meer survival (emotionally, socially, spirtually). It can seem near impossible to find a safe confidential place to make real good sense of overwhelming feelings like anxiety, anger, loneliness, hurt, shame or guilt. Traveling through this dynamic season alone only makes the experience even more painful and isolating. 


Target | High School guys in 9-12th grade

Timing | Every TUESDAY from 6:00-7:15pm beginning January 13, 2015.

Theme | Embracing Our Story - "We all have a story that needs to be told – whether it is a story of hope, love, and faith or a story of betrayal, powerlessness, and harm. But often, we are unable to face these stories. We know there are core experiences of pain from our past that unwittingly impact the story of the present and the story of our future. Many of these stories have remained unnamed and hidden in the shadows of our hearts, allowing them to wield unrecognized power and create structures of shame and contempt in our lives. These are the stories that keep us bound to unhealthy ways of relating to ourselves, to others, and to God." - Dan Allender 


Target | College age guys (ages 18-22)

Timing | Every MONDAY from 7:15-8:30pm beginning January 12, 2015.

Theme | Companioning - "We want to be self-sufficient. Find our own direction as we pursue our dreams. Know it all and never ask for help. Isn’t this how most guys approach manhood? On our own, pretending we are doing better than we really are? But sooner or later the thrill of independence gets lost in the fog of isolation. It’s time to take the pressure off. We were never meant to figure life out on our own. It is an invitation into a journey: either to be the son who receives fathering or the father who learns what must be spoken. Most important, these conversations speak to a searching generation: “You are not alone. Its not all up to you. You are going to find your way.” -John Eldridge 


Target | Men in the workforce (ages 23+)

Timing | Every TUESDAY from 7:15-8:30pm beginning January 13, 2015.

Theme | Keeping Heart - "You and I have eight primary feelings. We cannot live in fullness without knowing these feelings. The paradox is that if we choose fullness, we also choose to experience pain. The eight feelings are:, Hurt, Loneliness, Sadness, Anger, Fear, Shame, Guilt, and Gladness. These eight feelings are the voice of the heart. You and I are born knowing and expressing them. When you begin to recognize and listen to your heart again, it will recognize you and guide you to the place where you can start to live life in openness. This openness will take you to fuller, richer living through relationship. The voice of the heart is always communicating to us. When the feelings are not exposed truthfully to ourselves, others, and God, the expression that occurs is impaired." -Chip Dodd 



Bread for the Journey by Henri Nouwen

Hope Focused Marriage Counseling by Everett Worthington 

Reconcilable Differences by Andrew Christensen

Unmasking Male Depression by Archibald Hart

Getting Past Your Past by Francine Shapiro

Refer a Friend

Did you know that for every friend you refer to me (who shows up) I will offer you 1 FREE counseling session? 


Feel free to email me directly of you would like to reconnect at

Reserve Online

I now offer an option of registering as a client securely online. You can register and view my availability online by CLICKING HERE

Regional Voice

January 2015
He will be speaking and facilitating a second conversation at McCallie School for a local gathering of MOMMS (Mothers of McCallie Men) around teens at risk, warning signs focusing specifically on tangible suggestions on improving communication and relationship with our adolescent sons and daughters. 

March 2015
Hayne will be traveling to Winston Salem, North Carolina to facilitate a men's retreat for First Presbyterian Church through the theme of "The Listening Leader." 

Writing Projects

Currently Hayne is working on a handful of writing projects that bring him a great deal of life and will hopefully be of some encouragement to others. 

A book being designed to curate a contemplative conversation with parents raising their children in the digital age.

Being Rooted:
A book and a website in the making designed to provoke a holy curiosity for the painful places in your story.

Letters to Francine:
Letters to Francine is an unfolding weekly conversation between a seasoned spiritual director (Francine) and a soul care intern (Hutch), who are encountering a wide range of personalities seeking spiritual direction.


Do you know someone who could use some time away to rest and recovery from the throws of a busy schedule? Feel free to share about The SoulCare Project with them. 

Date: April 10-12, 2015
Theme: Divided - When the Head & Heart Don't Agree
Facilitator: Bill 
Venue: The Hiding Place

Date: May 1-3, 2015
Theme: Drawn In
Facilitator: Troy Bronsink

Venue: TBD

Date: June 8-11, 2015
Theme: Weary Educators
Facilitator: Dr. Don Graham

Venue: River home on Tennessee River

Date: October 2-4, 2015
Theme: Story, Song & Solitude
Facilitator: David Wilcox

Venue: The Inn at Evins Mill

November, 2015
A private SoulCare retreat for an intimate gathering of mainstream artists who are shaping culture globally. 

Previous Attendees:
Drew Shirley
Josh Garrells
Secret Sisters
The Last Bison
Paper Route
Amy Stroup
Matthew Perryman Jones
Paper Route
Tiffany Thompson
Army of Me



Are you looking for some reading suggestions that will help assist in your own work away from our time together? 


3069 Broad Street, Suite 7D
Chattanooga, TN 37408


Call Hayne directly 
at 423.517.7076

Copyright © 2015 Elbow Tree Christian Counseling, LLC, All rights reserved.
As a client of mine at Elbow Tree, may this monthly email bring you terrific encouragement.

Our mailing address is:
Elbow Tree Christian Counseling, LLC
38 South Dixie Highway
Saint Augustine, FL 32084

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