Alyssa Sellers


Ready to Write

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When I was leaving full-time professional ministry for the second time I read Fahrenheit 451 for the first time. A speech given at the end of the novel pretty much summed up what I felt about my existence at that moment (I’d say spoilers but it’s on you, this bad boy’s been around for decades):

“Now, let’s get on upstream,” said Granger. “And hold onto one thought: You’re not important. You’re not anything. Someday the load we’re carrying with us may help someone. But even when we had the books on hand, a long time ago, we didn’t use what we got out of them. We went right on insulting the dead. We went right on spiting in the graves of all the poor ones who died before us. We’re going to meet a lot of lonely people in the next week and the next month and the next year. And when they ask us what we’re doing you can say, we’re remembering. That’s where we’ll win out in the long run. And someday we’ll remember so much that we’ll build the biggest goddamn steamshovel in history and dig the biggest grave of all time and shove war in and cover it up. Come on now, we’re going to go build a mirror factory first and put out nothing but mirrors for the next year and take a long look in them.”*

I’d written a memoir about surviving physical and emotional hurricanes and had secured representation by a reputable Christian literary agency and hoped that it would only be a matter of time before my manuscript was published.   Continue reading


Knowing I Don’t Have to Know

Joy Ride New OrleansThere I was, ugly crying on the cypress wood floor in my uncle’s home in New Orleans. It was the summer of 2002 and, after watching a seemingly innocuous movie, I was an emotional wreck.

Not just because in “Life as a House” an adorable young Anakin Skywalker stood in the pouring rain and fervently cried out for Alyssa, the witty and wise girl-next-door, who happened to share my name as well as some of my pretty fabulous character traits. (Yes, yes, I know. Hayden Christensen was acting in the role of an entirely different character named Sam, but to me he was still the promising young padawan – you know, before he goes all dark side of the force – only NOW with bonus blue hair. Swoon.) No, I was sobbing because Anakin/Sam and the other characters in the film were ultimately searching for redemption, love, and an understanding one’s self, all the things I had journeyed to New Orleans to find.

And because I was failing miserably in my search.

My movie postmortem didn’t start with me lying in a puddle of tears on the floor. It started with me sitting upright on the step at the top of a staircase, looking out through a giant window at a warm summer sunset, and holding a pen and yellow paper tablet in my hands prepared to write a veritable masterpiece of emotion inspired by the movie I had just experienced.

As you may have surmised, that didn’t happen. Continue reading


Cookies and Sadness Spirals

COOKIES2Let’s talk about sadness spirals, shall we.

It starts out innocently enough; click on a job search page and up pops a dialogue box about cookies. The web based ones of course, but now all I can think about is buttery, floury, gooey goodness of edible cookies. With incredible persistence, I move on and search for jobs but only after tweeting about it.

Then after a couple of applications are in the bag, or recruiters’ in-boxes as the case may be, I start searching for cookie recipes. Thanks to the kindness of a good friend I have a jar of green M&Ms that are desperate to be in cookies and ultimately in MY BELLY.

*scanning online recipe*

Flour  – check
Brown sugar – check
Eggs – check
All ingredients – shockingly – check Continue reading

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Yelling with Strangers: The Magic of New Year’s Eve

New Year's EveI guess I could have stayed home last year/night and welcomed the New Year in solitude and contemplation; but that probably wouldn’t have been what happened.

I would have either A. fallen asleep before midnight because I worked nine hours at the USPS or B. watched the New Year’s Eve celebrations on TV and lamented my singleness. You know, because television and movies tell us something magical should happen on New Year’s Eve.

Instead I contacted my friend Jessica, we put on cute festive dresses and we went out; first to dinner at Zeus Cafe where my friend Lori was serving for the evening and then to the Boiler Room for Karaoke. And that’s when it got weird. Not the normal partying with Teletubbies, Care Bears, Elvis Impersonators and Nearly Nudes Portland weird, (which I’ve done and can totally handle) but frat party karaoke weird.

I’ve done a decent bit of karaoke in this town and never encountered a crowd such as this. I’ve also never been hit on with such frequent ferociousness, either. Continue reading

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Promising Possibilities


In John’s first letter to the new followers of Jesus he writes, “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known.”

How promising is this?! Oh, the possibilities! I am fairly certain we don’t ever fully grasp what an absolutely incredible promise this is. Most probably because we don’t fully grasp who God is.

God created everything.

God has the power to control everything.

God knows everything.

God, like an good parent, wants the best for his children.

Now, we as humans are certainly not the best gauges of what is best. Sometimes we even fail at being good gauges of what is adequate. Continue reading

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The Office: Finding Comedy In the Midst of Tragedy

theoffice6This week a natural disaster devastated a community. I know what that feels like. It feels absolutely horrible. This week I was going to write an entry about what The Office meant to me during my long recovery from Hurricane Rita. When I saw the devastation in Oklahoma, I reconsidered.

Then scrolling through twitter I saw a tweet from Patton Oswalt, presumably in response to someone telling him he was being insensitive:

So after seeing this I thought, “I will indeed write about The Office because in tragedy we need comedy. Otherwise, why go on?” So here I go: Continue reading


Making Peace with Psalm 23


Where I grew up most, kids learned the 23rd Psalm. I think they had to in catechism. Where I grew up, all the school buses altered their routes to include a stop at the Catholic Church on Mondays for catechism classes. Because of where I grew up, I heard that Psalm recited as rote and therefore I didn’t much care for that Psalm. Also it talked about valleys of death and rods and staffs, and hearing that over and over and over again sorta creeped me out.

Where I live now, I do full time ministry through my church by encouraging and supporting university students and other transients of my downtown Portland neighborhood in a variety of ways. To do this work, I raise my own support. I sorta suck at this aspect, but that’s another story for another time. And now I have an agent for my book so I’m retooling my book proposal which means an enormous amount of research and writing and editing and feelings of inadequacy. Again, another story for another time. And I also have a life full of relationships with people not connected to anything mentioned above that I try to maintain. I guess you could say I’ve got some stuff going on. Continue reading

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I’m Scared of the Nothing

I use to get crazy anxiety when I came to the end of a plan. Mostly because I didn’t know what was going to happen next. I like plans. I used to be kind of obsessed with them, actually. Emotionally, I don’t do super well with the nothing. I feel like I’m shouting along with the Empress in The NeverEnding Story when she is about to get swallowed up by the nothing, “Say my name, Sebastian! SAY MY NAME!”

I’m scared of the nothing.

It’s kinda like when a new born baby endures her first bath. That baby has no idea what she’s getting into and, frankly, it’s scary. I mean she’s just recently gone through some fairly traumatic stuff so understandably she kicks and screams and cries. This is the unknown, this is the nothing. Soon she learns that she will survive this ordeal. Going forward, each bath time gets a little less scary. Sometimes when the air is cold and she has to get marker scrubbed off her arm she cries a bit more than usual, she may not know why this has to happen, but she knows she will survive.

She believes she will survive because she is becoming dependent. She is learning to trust.

I went to the Faith & Culture Writers Conference a month ago and heard William Paul Young, the author of The Shack speak. A good deal of what he said resonated with me, but in particular he said that God is healing us so we can be children.

Healthy, safe, and well cared for children aren’t obsessed with plans. They are unaware of the nothing.

When I live my life in fear of the nothing, I make some really desperate choices that are not for the best. So, I am choosing to live my life as a child of God, as a child of love, not of fear.  I am learning to trust. I am becoming dependent. I will survive.

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Different but Equal

39e1a-differentbutequalvertYou and I are different. That’s for certain.

We grew up in different places. We watch different TV shows. We listen to different music. But we are equal. We are equal because each of us has made poor choices and in doing so has failed at loving God, other people, and ourselves well.

I am sassy and stubborn and I seriously struggle with dependence on God alone. I make poor choices. My poor choices hurt people, they hurt me. Your poor choices do the same. Our choices are different but our need to be forgiven makes us equal.

Not a single one of us has it all together. And we never will. We will still be human, no matter our age. Continue reading

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Waiting isn’t for the Weak

Pink Tree of Portland

Today is the 30th Birthday of one of my favorites. She is handling it way better than I did.  Today, she posted on Facebook: “I’ve been looking forward to 30 since 25 so I’m über-excited about this particular birthday.”

I, on the other hand, went a little, “Oh-my-pants-I’m-turning-30-and-I’ve-failed-at-life,” kind of crazy. I went for a walk on the waterfront along the Willamette River and admitted to God that I felt like I had failed because I didn’t have an awesome career or a fabulous marriage/family. In fact, I was nowhere close to either of those realities and I was a week away from 30 – unemployed and severely single.

God gently replied, just on the north side of the Morrison Bridge, near the pink tree where I often hear God’s responses;
 “You’re wrong. Failing, for you, would be already having those things. You are waiting for a reason. For something better. For me.” Continue reading