Professor Rienstra began her higher education at Calvin College before transferring to the University of Michigan, where she received her bachelor of arts in English literature in 1987 with Highest Honors and Highest Distinction. She began graduate studies at Rutgers University, receiving an MA in English literature in 1991 and a PhD in literatures in English in 1995. She joined the Calvin College English department in 1996.
She and her husband, Ron Rienstra, collaborated on a book, Worship Words: Discipling Language for Faithful Worship, released by Baker Academic in 2009. Other books include So Much More: An Invititation to Christian Spirituality (2005), which won an Award of Merit from Christianity Today in the apologetics category, and Great With Child (2002), which was named a Best Book of 2002 by Publisher's Weekly. Professor Rienstra frequently speaks on topics related to worship.
Professor Rienstra was the 2008 Calvin faculty lecturer at the The January Series at Calvin College, with a talk titled, "Words Wear Out: How Writers Help Us Renew Religious Language."
- Worship Words Too Important to Neglect, Vital Worship Stories, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship
- Words Wear Out: How Writers Help Us Renew Religious Language, the January Series at Calvin College
- Finding Thin Places, The Banner
- Going Out, a poem in The Other Journal
- Poetic Language and the Calling of Motherhood: An interview with featured poet Debra Rienstra, The Other Journal
- Professor Rienstra blogs bi-monthly at website
- Early modern British literature
- Creative writing (poetry and non-fiction)
- Mary Sidney and early modern women poets
- The religious lyric
- Language in worship
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