Happy Now: Let Playfulness Lift Your Load and Renew Your Spirit (August 1, 2021, Rose Publishing).
Foreword by Marlena Graves.Happy Now: Let the Power of Play Lift Your Load and Renew Your Spirit is a rollicking, investigative, and thoughtful invitation to open ourselves to the joy and freedom of play all over again. It is designed to invite readers to let go of their most serious selves, grant them permission to engage in curiosity and wonder of all kinds, and delight in the release of its transformative effects: creativity, innovation, delight, rest, and—above all—a more trusting relationship with Jesus.
Preorder Happy Now: Let Playfulness Lift Your Load and Renew Your Spirit anywhere books are sold, including Amazon, Tyndale House, Barnes and Noble, Christian Book, Walmart, Books-a-Million, Indiebound, or Hendrickson Rose.
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
My wife Maile and I are always talking about how important whimsy and playfulness are when it comes to writing and creativity, so when I saw the subtitle of Ellis’s book, I couldn’t help but smile: ‘Let playfulness lift your load and and renew your spirit’? Yes, please. As a firstborn child who holds seriousness in high regard, I need the freeing and joyful message, and playful applications, this book has to offer. But don’t we all? Seriousness has taken over our lives in the form of somber religion, stern politics, and pessimistic outlooks. Ellis’s book arrives at just the right time, and her kind and easygoing voice make this book a joy to read, the first step on the road to a more creative, whimsical, and playful life.
– Shawn Smucker, author of The Weight of Memory
I’m afraid that serious, humorless grown-ups like me won’t immediately think they need this book. But they would be wrong. This book breathes fresh air into stale, windowless lives ever committed to hustle and hard work. With warm and witty storytelling, Courtney Ellis leads us into the good news of the kingdom—that it’s a playful, joyful place. What a gift her words are, especially for dark and difficult days.
—Jen Pollock Michel, award-winning author of Surprised by Paradox and A Habit Called Faith.
This isn’t a book to read for mere intellectual satisfaction. It is a book whose principles I plan to further incorporate into my own life and into the life of my family. Let us follow in Courtney’s footsteps as she follows in Jesus’s footsteps.
–Marlena Graves, author of The Way Up is Down: Becoming Yourself by Forgetting Yourself
Happy Now offers a much-needed deep breath of fresh air and light. Whatever extraordinary challenges you have faced in the past two years–illness or financial crisis, loss of a loved one or a clinical anxiety diagnosis–introducing playfulness into your life is bound to be soul medicine of the best, most accessible kind. Let Courtney coach you into a life space punctuated by moments of joy rather than stress and exhaustion, inspired by the playful God who created us in his own image. In order to thrive in our overly serious culture, creating a lifestyle of playfulness is not just a nicety–it’s a requirement.
—Harmony Harkema, Writer, Editor, Speaker & Writing Coach
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, licensed professional counselor and 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
With Happy Now, Courtney Ellis demonstrates that taking God seriously means embracing the possibility for delight—and sheer fun—he placed in our hearts. Absorbing this wonderful book, I kept asking how the church might look and live if we believed Ellis’ words. What if they knew we were Christians by our play? Read on and catch the vision.
—Aarik Danielsen, Fathom Magazine columnist
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
A witty and wise guide, Courtney Ellis urges us to consider the positive influence of play on our mental, emotional, and spiritual health. With self-deprecating humor, she 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
Courtney has the gift of taking subjects in which I don’t naturally excel (motherhood, uncluttering, playing) and showing me how to do them both on purpose and with purpose. 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. God wants us to enjoy our lives, and Courtney gives us a thoughtful exploration of how to do so.
-Rebecca Cochran, co-host of The Woven Podcast
Courtney has done it again! In her third book, she returns with her combination of humor and humility, to share with her readers a personal struggle, how she overcame it with God’s help while at the same time making a very personal struggle relatable to everyone whether they are in her same boat or not. 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 through play.
–Rebecca Peet, Co-Host of the Woven Podcast, Certified Enneagram Coach
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 Invitations to Abundance
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
With humor and grace Courtney Ellis reminds us in Happy Now that God uses playfulness in our lives to enrich our faith in Christ and deepen our relationships with others.
–Kristine Aragon Bruce, Associate Pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Grand Haven
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
Once again, Courtney Ellis has yanked back the curtain we so often erect between the sacred and mundane. With a spirit of whimsy, she beckons the reader to join her on an adventure of playfulness, insisting that God is present in the giggles and gaffes. 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
Almost Holy Mama: Life-Giving Spiritual Practices for Weary Parents (June 3, 2019, Rose Publishing).
With the honesty of a close friend, the hilarity of a late-night comic, and the humility of a mom up to her eyeballs in diapers and dishes, Courtney Ellis invites us on a journey to draw closer God amidst the joyful, mundane, exhausting days of young parenthood. Probing ancient Christian practices for renewal, Almost Holy Mama chronicles one mom’s quest to discover an answer to her most pressing question: can God use the crucible of parenthood to grow us in virtue?
Instead of adding more tasks, Almost Holy Mama will help you integrate your spiritual practices into your daily life. From studying Scripture in the shower to listening in prayer at the foot of Laundry Mountain to being forced into the discipline of stillness by a rough pregnancy, Ellis finds that meeting God in sacred disciplines can breathe new life into one of life s most joy-filled and trying seasons.
Praise for Almost Holy
“Courtney Ellis reminds us that we are held in grace. I’m grateful for the reminder.” –Micha Boyett, author of Found: A Story of Questions, Grace, and Everyday Prayer
“Eavesdrop on Courtney Ellis’s year-long experiment with practicing the classic spiritual disciplines while driving, changing diapers, and managing bedtime, and you just might be inspired to do the same!” —Catherine McNiel, author of Long Days of Small Things: Motherhood as a Spiritual Discipline
“Almost Holy Mama is an encouraging guide for parents who want to draw close to Jesus during one of life’s busiest and most exhausting seasons. ” —Jana Alayra, singer, songwriter, and worship leader
“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
“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
“Almost Holy Mama is full of grace, humor, and a relentless desire to grow in holiness—not to prove ourselves to God but to learn again how to live as little children. It’s a message we all need.” —Ashley Hales, author of Finding Holy in the Suburbs
“Courtney Ellis gives us a graceful glimpse into how these Christian disciplines can find a place in our twenty-first-century, everyday lives. It’s a practical, rich, insightful guide.” —Shawn Smucker, author of Once We Were Strangers
“Combining good humor with deep, practical wisdom, Almost Holy Mama is a rare accomplishment. Courtney Ellis comes alongside us as both the mentor that we weary parents long for and the friend that we need.” —Chris Blumhofer, professor of New Testament, Fuller Seminary
“Courtney 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
“This book 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 with my congregation and mom friends.” —Elizabeth Hagan, author of Birthed: Finding Grace through Infertility
“In Almost Holy Mama, Courtney Ellis offers hope for the always overextended mom to forge a deeper relationship with God.” —Harmony Harkema, founder and editor, The Glorious Table
Uncluttered: Free Your Space, Free Your Schedule, Free Your Soul (February 2019, Rose Publishing).
Have you ever felt overwhelmed by the “too muchness” of it all? Realizing that piles of possessions, an overfilled calendar, and digital addictions threatened not only my happiness but my very soul, Uncluttered chronicles my pursuit of a radical idea: what if less really is more?
If you’ve ever desired a simpler life, one filled with love, laughter, friendship, and worship rather than overflowing closets and overfilled hours, look no further.
Praise for Uncluttered
“Peace. Less. Still. Enough. Simple. Clear. Rested. Read Uncluttered.” –John Ortberg, senior pastor of Menlo Church and author of I’d Like You More if You Were More Like Me
“The key to healthy, sustainable, contagious faith is our commitment to living simpler, quieter, more uncluttered lives. This is the urgent and soul-nourishing message of Uncluttered.” –Brett McCracken, senior editor at The Gospel Coalition
“With disarming candor, sly humor and the empathy of the pastor and spiritual counselor that she is, Courtney Ellis has given us a gift.” –Tod Bolsinger, Vice President & Chief of Leadership Formation, Fuller Seminary
“In Uncluttered Courtney Ellis does what our productivity-obsessed culture tells us is impossible: unplugs from the unnecessary demands of life and plugs in to God and relationships that matter.” –Nicole Caldwell-Gross, Pastor at St.Luke’s (UMC)
“A practical and profound work, tailor-made for this era of noise and busyness.” –Dorcas Cheng-Tozun, author of Start, Love, Repeat: How to Stay in Love with Your Entrepreneur
“Uncluttered is somehow raw, relatable and hilarious, all at the same time.” –Cara Meredith, author of The Color of Life: A White Woman’s Journey Toward Love and Justice
“True Love Waits to Regather.” – Christianity Today, 2021
How loving our neighbors by following public health guidelines can be an act of beautiful solidarity.
God’s gracious presence with us in our need.
Finding God along the road.
How having fun can build not just friendships but faithfulness.
Singles need married friends, but married friends are no less in need of singles.
What if Advent and Christmas didn’t have to be so separate?
Heartening lessons from the one who went before us.
It was her funeral, but was I more concerned with her propriety or my own?
How to feed the baby (in style!) without breaking the bank.
Finding the secret of contentment with a little help from The Greatest Showman.
Childbirth, pain, anguish, and strength.
Because working for the Lord is never a zero-sum game.
“The body of Christ, broken for you” never made as much sense to me as it did after childbirth.
I mean, seriously.
A little laughter never hurts.
Grief, mourning, and the particularities of lament.
Not everything needs to be hurried.
Top Blog Posts
What happens when a pastor leaves a church?
Standing on the rock in divisive times.
Because, come ON, people!
Remember the Thumper rule.
Please don’t tell me you like coffee.
They’re gonna eat some dirt. The sooner you make your peace with that, the better.
Because it isn’t all a honeymoon.
If you need me, I’ll be in my house with my books.
Apparently turning into a human fountain is part of the deal?