I always like to know a little something about an author before I sit down and open up his or her book. Today, I’m excited to share about a Courtney Reissig’s new book, Glory in the Ordinary. Whatever your average day looks like, we all do work in the home. While tasks such as cooking meals, taking out the trash, cleaning out the garage, or fixing a leaking faucet may seem mundane, offered to God, these daily tasks have kingdom significance. Glory in the Ordinary is a refreshing reminder of the beauty and blessing of work within in the home.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I grew up in Dallas, so I consider myself a Texan, even though I now live in Little Rock, Arkansas. I’m a wife to Daniel and a mom to four sons, Luke and Zach (4-year-old twins), Seth (2), and Ben (newborn). I’m also a writer and an occasional speaker. Recently I have begun leading the women’s ministry in our church, which includes leading a Bible study and casting the vision for ministry among women. My husband also serves as one of the pastors.
When did you first start writing? What do you enjoy about it?
I started creating with words long before I had the capacity to write them down. I’ve always loved stories and the world stories allow you to inhabit. English classes came naturally to me in school, but it wasn’t until I was a freshman in college that I had a teacher tell me, “You should really consider writing.” I wish I could remember her name, because those words stayed with me and changed my entire trajectory in school.
At the time, I wasn’t a believer, so my writing aspirations were much different than what they became after God saved me. But her nudge to think about writing is why I’m still writing today. I majored in English in college and eventually went to seminary (at Southern Seminary) all with the hopes that I could write biblically sound, theologically robust content for women.
I love writing, because writing is how I process. The less time I have (because of my season of life) the more I realize that if I don’t write I can’t think clearly. I love the struggle to find the words that leads to resolution in a well-crafted sentence. I love the feeling of satisfaction that comes when I finally get my thoughts gathered on onto paper. It’s like I can finally see inside my own head once I get the words out there, and it’s only then that I can even talk about the thoughts with others.
Is writing ever difficult for you? How so?
In my season of life the greatest difficulty with writing comes in the form of rapidly decreasing time to write. I write relatively quickly once I know what I want to say. The hard part for me is finding a chunk of time to actually put the thoughts to paper. With the ages of my kids, those chunks of time are fewer and fewer and the Lord has been teaching me contentment with it all. I’m also extremely extroverted, but writing is a solitary exercise. This is difficult for someone who is energized by people. It’s a hard balance to strike, but it’s been a good exercise for me.
What led you to write Glory in the Ordinary?
The short answer is Bethany Jenkins, TGC’s director of Every Square Inch. But the longer answer is that the Lord had been working on my heart regarding the value of all work primarily because my husband felt called to stay in his profession (as a businessman) while serving as a lay pastor in our church. That was not the plan I had signed up for when I married him!
It began a journey of understanding how all work matters to God. A few months later I gave birth to twins and was hit with the ordinary days of caring for newborns. I’ve never excelled at the work of the home, but the Lord has used my quest to understand the value of all work to see that even ordinary, unpaid work is valuable to God because I bear his image. I’m a contributor to society because he created me to spread his glory in the world through my work. As I’ve ministered to women over the years, I’ve noticed that I’m not the only one who struggles with this, so I wrote the book to encourage anyone who struggles to see how their ordinary work in the home matters to God.
What’s the central message you hope readers will take away from your book?
My hope for the book is that those reading would see that their work matters to God, not because they get paid for it or accomplish something grand in the world’s eyes, but because their work images God and displays his glory and character to a watching world. Long before compensation was part of work, work mattered to God, because God is the one who worked first, and then created his image bearers to go and do likewise (Gen. 1:26-28). But I also hope my readers will see that the work they are doing matters because the people they have been called to serve matter. Whether it is your children, your spouse, your next-door neighbor, or your aging family member, your work is God’s way of loving the world, and it is pleasing to him.
How has writing this book affected your own life?
Some people write to tell you everything they know on a topic. I wrote this book because I needed it for my own soul. As I mentioned, I struggled for a long time to see how everyday work had value to God. I thought unless I was doing something ministry-related, it wasn’t important enough. But as I’ve worked through the helpful material out there on faith and work, I’ve grown to understand that work is valuable because God created us all to work. Some work is more visible, some work bears more fruit in the short run, but it’s all useful and part of God’s purposes in the world.
For a sneak peak, here are some quotes:
“We work when we buy groceries and feed our hungry families. We work when we put a new ceiling fan in, providing cool air in warm summer months. We work when we clean mold off a dirty shower curtain, making clean what was once filthy. . . . The people in our lives are loved and flourish by even the simplest of tasks that we do. God is glorified as we image him by bringing order of out chaos.” (31-32)
“Christians work differently, in every kind of work, because we work for the Lord (not others) and we work hopefully (for the future). Your work might be ordinary, but it’s filled with glory. Your work might be mundane, but it’s taking you somewhere. Your work might be born out of blood, sweat, and tears (literally), but it’s producing life in others for people who have eternity in front of them. It’s good work. It’s meaningful work. And it matters to God” (142).
Here’s what others are saying:
“Everyone needs encouragement in his and her work, and in Glory in the Ordinary, Courtney Reissig provides just that. Reissig shares honestly and humbly about the various temptations and struggles of at-home work, reminding us that our work—from cleaning dishes to wiping runny noses—is good and meaningful work, ultimately because it’s meaningful to God.”
—Trillia Newbell, author, Enjoy; Fear and Faith; and United
“Whether you are presently a stay-at-home mom or your workplace is outside the home, Glory in the Ordinary will help you better connect Sunday to Monday with a more integral, coherent, and seamless gospel faith. This is a book that needed to be written, one I have been waiting for. I highly recommend it.”
—Tom Nelson, author, Work Matters; Senior Pastor, Christ Community Church, Overland Park, Kansas; President, Made to Flourish
If you had an afternoon to do whatever you’d like, where would we find you?
I should say sleeping, but I tend to want to fill up a free afternoon with all the things I don’t normally get to do. I love to run, so a free afternoon would likely include a longer run than I normally have time for. I’d also use a free afternoon to hang out with my husband—maybe go to a movie, a walk, or out to eat. I’d also probably try to squeeze in some time to read as well.
Courtney Reissig is a wife, mom, writer, and occasional speaker. She is the author of The Accidental Feminist (Crossway, 2015) and Glory in the Ordinary (Crossway, 2017). Her writing has appeared in a variety of publications, including Christianity Today, The Gospel Coalition, and Desiring God. If she has a spare moment, she really enjoys running, reading, and spending time with friends. She lives in Little Rock, Arkansas, where she serves alongside her husband at Midtown Baptist Church. You can read more of her writing on her website or follow her on Twitter.