Sara Billups new book Orphaned Believers is coming out soon, but it has been in the works her entire life. Growing up in an evangelical family the 90s in Indiana didn’t quite prepare her for living in Seattle. It took time for her to figure out how to own her faith and be able to talk about it freely. That happened in 2016 as she watched fringe, nationalistic beliefs become mainstream in Trumpy evangelicalism. Since 2018 she’s been writing about Orphaned Believers, creating space for Christians who feel increasingly estranged from their churches and pastors who either outright put on the red hat, or did nothing at all.
We talk about how she found her voice, how a simple faith might be the medicine for our inflamed moment, and how finding other orphaned believers can be so hopeful and refreshing.
To be honest, I definitely underestimated how exposed putting these conversations into the world would make me feel. It’s one thing to sing these songs (which can be difficult at times), but it’s another thing entirely to talk about them in depth. Looking back, it’s obvious to see why it would be anxiety inducing, but underneath the anxiety is a genuine excitement - these conversations were really good and I’m excited to share them.
This week, to my relief, there is no anxiety, just excitement. Sara is such a wonderful person to talk to and has so much to offer the world. I’m so grateful to took the time to share her presence with all of us.
When I was 13, I had a cookie company. Joe’s Deluxe Chocolate Chip Cookies. My mom had taught me how to bake cookies, and hatched the idea that maybe instead of getting a real job, I could start a cookie business out of our kitchen. It worked. That summer I became the wealthiest 13-year-old I knew, spending most of my time baking cookies and playing golf. I lived the life of a Florida retiree at age 13 and let me tell you it was amazing!
Late that summer, over Labor Day weekend, one of the stores that carried my cookies kept selling out. I was on site replenishing the jar with fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies, when someone behind me tapped my shoulder:
“You work for Joe’s Deluxe Chocolate Chip Cookies?”
“Uhhhh…I am Joe.” (Super nervous teenage boy energy)
“YOU’RE Joe!? You’re in big trouble, mister.” My heart sank. Certain incarceration loomed. I didn’t know what I had done, but it must have been baaaaaaaaad. She continued, “I’ve had 6 of these in the last 24 hours.”
We had a good laugh, and I thanked her for being my best customer ever. My cookie company never reached national, or even regional fame, but it was interactions like this that were surprising and energizing.
Maybe this was a preview of how my music career would go? While I might only be big in Japan (I’m not), what I have grown to love the most about doing this is the conversations that grow up around the songs. And since the podcast and the Fear and Love EP dropped, a few of you have dropped a note to share what these works have meant to you. One person said “I am obsessed”, and it was the perfect “I’ve had 6 of these in the last 24 hours” that I needed - especially in the midst of all the anxiety. Thanks for that. I’m so grateful!
That’s it for this week. Next week’s episode is The Prayer of Saint Francis. Talk soon…