Courtney Ellis headshot

Author. Speaker. Pastor. Host of “The Thing with Feathers Podcast.” Encourager, inspiration-giver, laugh-bringer. Displaced Wisconsinite soaking up the sun in California.

The Thing with Feathers Podcast (Facebook Cover) (1) copy

Check out the podcast, all about birds and hope, with a variety of special guests (this season includes guests from the Audubon Society, Birding magazine, Birds & Blooms mag, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and the Wilson Ornithological Society, as well as people of faith who bird like Fernando Ortega, Kay Warren, Susie Finkbeiner, and Patsy Clairmont.

Find it on Apple, Google, Anchor, Spotify, or Amazon music and subscribe today!

I’m the author of four books:

Present: The Gift of Being All In, Right Where You Are

Happy Now: Let Playfulness Lift Your Load and Renew Your Spirit

Almost Holy Mama: Life-Giving Spiritual Practices for Weary Parents

and Uncluttered: Free Your Space, Free Your Schedule, Free Your Soul. All four are from Tyndale House/Hendrickson Publishers. books by Courtney Ellis (1)

Encouraging a wide range of crowds is my jam, from speaking on podcasts and radio stations coast-to-coast, to bringing the faith-filled fun to high school getaways, to guiding leadership retreats for church professionals, college students, women’s groups, or retirees. If you want to laugh, be refreshed, and find inspiration, I’m your girl!

(And do I do virtual events? Yes, I do. And they’re awesome.)

My husband Daryl and I serve at Presbyterian Church of the Master in southern California, where we revel in joining Jesus at work.

Thanks for stopping by!


Screen Shot 2022-09-01 at 11.53.06 AM

Present is a story about the gift of stability, the grace of limits, and the joy of presence. In a transient world clamoring for more and bigger and better, how does God meet us at the ends of ourselves? After years of travel, cross-country moves, and climbing ladders, author Courtney Ellis discovers the call of God to something quieter, deeper, and far more lasting.

How can we receive the gift of being all in, right where we are?

Coming soon – February 2023 – with Tyndale House. Foreword by Aarik Danielsen. Preorder at Amazon, or anywhere books are sold.


Praise for Happy Now 

“Courtney Ellis offers a rare, timely combination of sound theology, personal transparency, accessible style, and sharp wit. The world needs more writers like Courtney, and readers need more books by her.”  –Karen Swallow Prior, author of On Reading Well: Finding the Good Life through Great Books 

“What if they knew we were Christians by our play? Read on and catch the vision.” —Aarik Danielsen, Fathom Magazine

“Jesus said that the way of faith is becoming like a child, and in Happy Now Courtney Ellis shows us how. Through honesty, wisdom, and humor, Ellis invites us to practice the healing, renewing posture of playfulness. Maybe faith actually was always meant to include fun.” —K.J. Ramsey, author of This Too Shall Last: Finding Grace When Suffering Lingers

This book is brilliant! Deep, light, entertaining and practical. It is truly an invitation into a more joyful and God-filled way of life. –Anna Woofenden, author of This is God’s Table

Can you imagine God playing? What about dancing, singing, and laughing–with you? During times of suffering, we need God’s smile more than ever. Faithful, encouraging, hilarious, and heartfelt, Happy Now reminds you that playfulness can be holiness . –Catherine McNiel, author of All Shall Be Well

With self-deprecating humor, Courtney Ellis artfully welcomes those of us paralyzed by seriousness to embrace whimsy and delight. –Leslie Verner, author of Invited: The Power of Hospitality in an Age of Loneliness

Happy Now is a field guide for the journey of learning to play, written by a funny friend who keeps it real while maintaining a pastor’s focus of what actually is real. –Rebecca Cochran, co-host of The Woven Podcast

Courtney has done it again! As someone who struggles with productivity over playfulness, I’m thankful for Courtney’s gentle encouragement and practical advice on how to renew my spirit. –Rebecca Peet, Co-Host of the Woven Podcast

Happy Now is a gorgeous, imaginative, and liberating reminder that God is not only concerned with our holiness but with our enjoyment of him and his good gifts. Courtney demonstrates how playfulness enriches us soul, mind, body, and spirit. — Alicia Akins, author of Come Feast

Courtney Ellis does it again! Happy Now: Let the Power of Playfulness Lift Your Load & Renew Your Spirit is equal parts hilarity, honesty and holy invitation. Her antics at a twenty-two dollar spin class will make you cringe and laugh out loud at the same time – after all, Ellis relishes in making real  the everyday messiness and joy of her life, while simultaneously daring the reader to join the God of playfulness in the greatest “yes …and” of all. –Cara Meredith, author of The Color of Life

Happy Now is a delightful exploration of the transformative power of playfulness. Courtney’s accessible invitations give permission to have fun, get silly, and enter into the abundant freedom God desires for you. –Stephanie Jenkins, Field Guides for the Way 

Courtney Ellis serves as a trusted guide on the road to happiness, accompanying the reader through the intersections of Scripture, psychology, and humor. If you are weary and worn, Happy Now will lead you to the One who restores and refreshes through the gift of play. — Stephanie Lobdell, author, Signs of Life: Resurrecting Hope out of Ordinary Losses

9781628627909-4200X_AlmostHoly cover_092118

Praise for Almost Holy 

“Courtney Ellis tells the truth about parenting–and believes that woven through the joys and the chaos is an opportunity for holiness.” –Catherine McNiel, author of Long Days of Small Things: Motherhood as a Spiritual Discipline

“Almost Holy Mama is what tired mamas like me have been looking for: how we find God in the lives we inhabit (not the ones we used to have or might have ten years from now). I can t wait to share this book.”  —Elizabeth Hagan, author of Birthed: Finding Grace through Infertility

“Courtney Ellis is a relatable guide to your Lego-strewn journey with Jesus through the challenging early years of parenting.” –Michelle Van Loon, author of Born to Wander

“What a gift this book is for parents, for families, and for the churches they belong to.” –Ryan Hamm, senior writer at Open Doors USA, former managing editor of RELEVANT magazine

“Ellis reminds us of two things simultaneously: that the spiritual disciplines are serious business, and that there’s no reason we can’t have a holy sense of humor about our occasionally stumbling attempts to practice them.” –Kevin McLenithan, film critic and cohost of the Seeing and Believing podcast

Uncluttered Courtney Ellis

Praise for Uncluttered

“Ellis offers us a winsome, challenging, instructive, and inspiring engagement for re-discovering the freer, fuller life that all of us are longing for.” –Tod Bolsinger, Vice President & Chief of Leadership Formation, Fuller Seminary

“Key to healthy, sustainable, contagious faith is our commitment to living simpler, quieter, more uncluttered lives.” –Brett McCracken, author of Uncomfortable: the Awkward and Essential Challenge of Christian Community

“Raw, relatable, and hilarious, all at the same time.” –Cara Meredith, author of The Color of Life: A Journey Toward Love and Racial Justice

Uncluttered is a practical and profound work, tailor-made for this era of noise and busyness.” –Dorcas Cheng-Tozun, author of Start, Love, Repeat

“In Uncluttered Courtney Ellis does what our time, image, and productivity obsessed culture tells us is impossible.” –Nicole Caldwell-Gross, pastor of Missions and Outreach at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church

Uncluttered is a funny, nonjudgmental, down-to-earth guide not just for clearing out junk, but for laying hold of freedom.” –Aubry G. Smith, author of Holy Labor