One stereotypical spiritual profile is a person who is somber and serious. Christian Author Billy Coffey breaks that mold, weaving stories of humor and spiritual insights, with both feet on the ground.
Welcome to Faith Barista’s first Signature Blend Interview!
If you look carefully, there are Faith Baristas all around you. People who walk by faith in everyday life, trusting God. Watch out, ‘cuz these people will they turn around and serve up shots of faith.
Our first Signature Blend guest, Billy Coffey, is one of those guys. Billy looks at everyday life and finds magic. Billy just happens to be a writer, but what makes him special are his eyes.
Have I actually met Billy in person? No. I’m talking about the spiritual eyes inside his heart, that Billy uses to view his everyday life. I was first snagged into Billy’s faith world, by a post titled The Fruit Salad, with a school picture of a sandy-browned hair boy from the Seventies. That post blew me away. If anyone can make a fruit salad looks spiritual, it was this guy.
So, when I sat down with Billy for our 1-1 digital interview, I knew I was in for a treat.
Join us, will ya’?
Hi Billy. Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule of life with your wife, two kids, blogging and working on your upcoming book. I know there are a lot of inquiring minds out there who want to know the man behind the thoughtful and addicting posts you write at your blog, What I Learned Today.
So, I am super excited for the chance to get a 1-1 seat across from you in our digital Faith Barista interview.
As you know, I’ve recently stumbled on your writing and found them both creatively funny, full of spiritual insights. One stereotypical spiritual profile is someone who has their head in the clouds, a bit somber and serious. You break that mold.
What do you attribute this mix of humor and spirituality to?
Honestly, my family. My father’s side is pure rural redneck, and if any of them are capable of carrying on a serious conversation, I’ve never seen it. They didn’t have much growing up and had to make do with the little they had, but from that they’ve all gained a tremendous outlook and an undying joy for life.
My mother’s side of the family is Amish/Mennonite. Spirituality to them is a way of life, and they see God’s presence in everything. Their faith permeates every aspect of their daily experience.
So put the rural redneck and the Amish/Mennonite together, and you have me. The jury’s still out on whether that’s a good thing or not.
LOL! That explains a lot! …No, seriously. You’ve got a special faith lineage there.
It’s obvious from reading a few posts that you see life through the practical and also the inspirational. I’m a bit partial to everyday people who look for God in the daily grind. We might be on our toes for God when we’re in a foreign country on a missions trip, but to be dependent on God when we we’re surrounded by the familiar, now that is whole ‘nother glorious ballgame!
What keeps your relationship with God close and personal in the throws of everyday life?
It’s so easy to get caught up in the day to day stress of my life and not forget that God is there, but misplace Him. One day a few years ago I decided to try and do everything as if it were a silent prayer to God. If I were listening to someone, I’d listen as if that act was my prayer. If I was doing something at work, I’d make my work my prayer. I’ve kept that up since, and it helps me to find a holiness in the everyday.
Ooo, I like that. Very cool. A modern day Brother Lawrence.
I’m curious how you’d describe your relationship with God.
If you were to compare it to something in everyday life, what would it be?
Probably like my relationship with my children. I’ve read that children form most of their opinions about their heavenly Father from their earthly father. I agree with that, but I also think that fathers learn a lot about God’s love for them through their love for their kids. My son and daughter misbehave, want what’s bad for them, and don’t listen to what I say. Which is pretty much what I do to God on a daily basis. But I forgive them, love them unconditionally, and will always be there when they need me. Just like God is for me.
I’m with you there. I’ve found myself daring to trust more in God’s love since becoming a parent, too.
Which one of the following facets of God do you relate with most easily and why?
[ ] God the Father
[ ] God the All-Powerful
[ ] Jesus, Your Savior
[ ] Jesus, Your Shepherd
[ ] God/Jesus, Your Friend
[ ] Fill in the blank ___________
God/Jesus, Your friend. I believe the rest of those choices without a doubt, but that one really does bring me the most comfort. I know the main reason Christ came to this world was to die for our sins and allow us to enjoy an eternity of peace and bliss.
But I also think [Jesus] came here to experience life as we live it. He wanted to truly be able to identify with us.
Jesus was tired. Hungry. Lonely. He probably got sick and had a sore throat.
It’s tough taking a problem to a friend knowing he or she could never identify with it. One of the reasons that Christianity is so wonderful is that we can talk to God about our struggles and He can answer, “I know how you feel.”
So, He’d pass me a cough drop, huh?
It’s been fun meeting you, another Faith Barista, someone who practices the walk of faith.
Can you share how your faith began and how do you practice your craft of keeping it hot and fresh now?
My religion began as a child. My grandparents babysat me every day, so God was pretty much drilled into my head. But it wasn’t until I was seventeen that I found faith.
Keeping that faith hot and fresh to me just means paying attention.
I truly believe that every person and every situation I meet has a lesson God wants me to learn, and learning that lesson always strengthens my faith.
God bless those grandparents of yours!
We often learn our greatest lessons of faith in the valleys.
Would you mind sharing one of those times in when life was low? What was going on and what advice would you give to someone down in it?
I was a pretty good baseball player in high school, good enough to have pretty high expectations that it would become a career. But during my senior year I tore my rotator cuff, and all those dreams just vanished. It’s tough having your future melt away right in front of your eyes when you’re seventeen.
I decided that the best option I had was to drive up into the mountains and put an end to my misery. It was there that night when I had my come to Jesus moment (Click here to read what happened to Billy that night).
Life doesn’t always turn out the way we expect it to. Those dark nights of the soul can seem endless, but they’re not. All we need to do is just hang on. The dawn always comes, and brighter than we can imagine.
Wow. I could feel your sadness, Billy. Life was a huge loss in that moment. Thanks for sharing. Amazing story in your faith defining ledge.
Our faith also goes bonkers when we are blessed beyond our expectations.
Can you share some high points that really blew up a “faith storm” in Coffey’s life?
Getting an agent like Rachelle Gardner has certainly done a lot for my faith as far as writing is concerned. My blog has really become a faith storm, too. I’ve met some amazing people through there, people I have great affection for, and it’s led to some amazing things.
Amazing! Praise God!
Getting back to your writing, I see you’ve paid your writer’s dues as a feature columnist in your local newspaper.
What influenced you to pursue Christian writing over writing creative stories in general?
Everything I write has a spiritual element to it, even if it’s hidden beneath the surface. I really don’t think I could write any other way. Even my newspaper columns have faith and the spiritual side of life front and center. I think God’s given me both a gift and the opportunity to use it, not for His own ends and not mine. Writing from a Christian standpoint is my way of honoring those ends and saying thank you.
That’s great encouragement for us to do our jobs from a Christian standpoint, whatever it is.
You have reached a major breakthrough in your eight year search for an agent who you can partner with and represent your dream to publishers.
What kept you going when you got rejected again and again?
I really didn’t know if I would ever be published or not, but I knew I couldn’t stop trying.
There were times when I desperately wanted to quit writing all together, but those times didn’t last more than a few weeks. It takes more than a simple passing interest to be a writer. It has to be in your bones, as much a part of who you are as the beliefs you have or the heart that beats inside you.
The only way to survive the process of finding an agent or a publisher is to know that quitting just isn’t an option, that you can’t not write.
Yeah. When you hit your stride, working out your calling, it’s in your (spiritual) blood. It’s like breathing. Can’t stop.
Finally, I can’t leave this interview without saying how pumped up I am about your upcoming book debut, Snow Day. Of course, since I have you here, I’m gonna ask for a signed copy for moi. Yes?
Absolutely, Bonnie. My pleasure.
Whet our appetites now and give us a teaser. You say Snow Day is the book “you can’t not write”.
What is it about this book that made it “just write itself”? When do you think it’ll be out?
Snow Day is about a day in December of 2006 when a snowstorm hit our small town and I learned I could be laid off at work because of the economy. I took the day off and planned on moping around the house, but in the end I spent most of it mingling with townspeople and trying to find out what God was trying to do in my life. In the end, I found that losing much often reveals what means more, and that with faith the worst days of our lives may become our best. It was a magical day for me, and I still remember every detail, every person, every story. That clarity made it seem more like I was transcribing rather than writing.
As for when it’ll be out. Well, just stay tuned…
Well, there you have it folks. Your Signature Blend Interview: Billy Coffey. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did!
Be sure head on over to Billy’s blog, What I Learned Today, to pour yourself an extra cup of faith-filled Coffey!
If you enjoyed today’s Special Blend Interview, don’t miss out on the next one! SUBSCRIBE NOW to get updates from FaithBarista hot and fresh directly in your mailbox via email (click here) or RSS (click here) news reader.