Alyssa Sellers


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I Marched Because I Love

img_0614-3Even though Dressember^ ended last month, yesterday I donned a special dress, Lady Liberty’s, and marched for the 20 to 30 million people, mostly women, who are today enslaved. January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month and I was honored to march for women across the globe who were not free or able. I marched for women who are sold for $90. I’ve bought pairs of shoes for that price. I am sure many of you have, too. I marched for humans with no choice or voice. I marched because I love.

As a follower of Jesus, I am Jesus flippin’ tables outraged by Christian women and men who demeaned the march of me and my sisters.

Sisters like Tiffany who marched for “every woman who has ever been a victim of sexual, emotional, verbal or spiritual abuse. It is never OK. I refuse to let it be normalized.” Sisters like Rhonda who wrote “Today I marched for the marginalized. Today I marched for Hispanic Americans. I marched for the under-represented. I marched for their honor, respect, dignity, and rights.” Continue reading


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Let Us Acknowledge

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Citizens of Earth, let us acknowledge that
We are all human.
We were all born.
We will all die.
We are all capable of emotion.
We all have mothers and fathers.
Some of us have brothers and sisters and aunts and uncles and cousins, too.
We were all born with the same instruction manual, that is, without one.
We are all attempting to figure out this thing called life.

Citizens of Earth, let us acknowledge that
We went to different schools.
Grew up in different
Hemispheres.
Climates.
Elevations.
Cultures.
Countries.
Neighborhoods.
Streets.

For some of us our toilets flush the opposite way.
For some of us we don’t have toilets. Continue reading


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Single in the Summer is the Worst

single in the summer squareBeing single in the summer is the worst.

Sure, the Christmas/New Year combo could vie for the title of Worst Season to be Single. What with the constant barrage of songs telling you that Christmas just ain’t Christmas without the one you love and all the parties you have to attend solo with the faces of other happy families reminding you that you are a family of one.

Stealthy summer wins because of its tricky sneak-attack of sadness.

At first, the physical freedom from outerwear mixed with extended hours of daylight provides a certain kind of euphoria. Soon, however, you discover you have a tad too much time.

In the dead of winter, it’s dark all the time and you have no place you need to go so you feel no guilt staying in on a Saturday night watching an entire season of some show on Netflix. But in the summer, the sunny outside world beckons with promises of road trips, camping adventures, ball games of all sorts, hikes to majestic views, naps in lush meadows, seaside rambles, and so forth, you know what I’m talking about, you feel me. Continue reading


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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


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To Love or to Fear

Winter in the City 029I was crossing the Hawthorne Bridge, beginning a long walk along the Willamette River, when I passed an older man carrying an over-sized pack on his back and a large bible in the crook of his arm. I smiled and said, “Hello.” As he passed me he replied, “You’re beautiful.”  As the distance between us increased, I called out thank you. Then I began to cry.

It had been a VERY long time since anyone has said that to me. I hadn’t realized how much my heart needed to hear it.

This past December I wore a dress every day as a way to raise awareness and support to end human trafficking. To do this, I took pictures of myself in said dresses and posted them on social media. This activity, along with figuring out new ensembles, forced me to look at myself FAR MORE frequently than I was accustomed to and lead to an amount of emotional distress for which I was completely unprepared.

I did not believe I was beautiful. Continue reading


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Peace, Piercings & Food: Jesus Speaks to Freaked-Out Disciples

fish food 2Last week a devotional I was reading pointed to a verse in Luke 24 as an example of the supernatural greatness of Jesus. In it, a very much alive Jesus appears to the disciples, after his death and resurrection and says, “Peace be with you.”

I read farther and discovered that the disciples petty much freak-out and think Jesus is a ghost. So he tries to calm them down by showing them the holes in his body, I guess like someone shows off his new piercings. And then Jesus says, “Do you have anything to eat here?”

Just when I thought I couldn’t love Jesus anymore, he says this. He just saved the past, present and future world then follows that up by appearing to women at his tomb, some dudes walking on the road out of town and then in a house where the disciples are hanging out. What does he do after all of this? Jesus starts rummaging around for some grub. Jesus is so my kind of people. Continue reading


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Blessed?

blessedA few months ago I looked around the room at my church and I saw a group of hurting people. Some of us had obvious physical ailments, others carried emotional wounds and a precious few limped around with both. I thought for such a small group, around 50, we sure do have a ton of pain happening at the moment.

And then I thought about who Jesus named as blessed:

The poor in spirit
Those who mourn
The meek
Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness
The merciful
The pure in heart
The peacemakers
Those persecuted because of righteousness

I venture to say that many of us don’t aspire to be the people on this list because, when we stop and really examine it, most of this list is just plain HARD.

It’s a wonder that at our most human, when it is impossible to do it all on our own, we are blessed.

 

For a fantastic essay on the misuse of the word blessed, check out Scott Dannemiller’s, The One Thing Christians Should Stop Saying: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/scott-dannemiller/christians-should-stop-saying_b_4868963.html


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Because Even in a Group You Can Feel Totally Alone

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Alone.

I was in the middle of a three-day camping trip with 50 other people from my church whom I know and love and I felt alone.

It was Saturday; the second morning of our camping adventure and a new wave of friends joined us during the night. I arrived on Thursday afternoon along with three families with kids and one other singleton. Now, in addition, there were married couples without kids, couples at various stages of their dating relationships and a smattering of singles.

I was sharing an old-school canvas tent that I nicknamed Big Top, with a rotating cast of single ladies because most could stay one night but not another. When I woke up on that second morning I walked down the hill passing the tents containing the 50 some odd members of our group, out of the camp site and down the road to the day use picnic area. Continue reading


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Translating Thanks

TranslationWe don’t have enough words to express gratitude in the English language.

About five weeks ago I severely sprained my right shoulder and have been unable to use that arm effectively since. This means I have been in pain, out of work and, consequently, pay.

As a single woman, this could be an overwhelmingly frightening experience.

However, during this time I have experienced an incredible amount of generosity. A wonderful menagerie of friends have taken me to visit urgent care, physical therapy, and the emergency room, provided me with lunch, dinner and brunch, washed my dishes, swept my floors, vacuumed my rugs, listened to my rambles, taken me on random low-key adventures, and occasionally allowed me to convalesce in their air conditioned abodes. These people have extended kindness and love in beautiful, practical, and necessary ways and I am immensely grateful.

I have struggled to express my gratitude accurately; saying thank you doesn’t seem like enough. Continue reading


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Desert Jesus and the Cranky Girl

DesertI had forgotten how much chronic pain makes me cranky.

Almost 10 years ago I broke my upper right arm completely in half and had to get a titanium rod and screws placed into the brokenness. I was cranky for months. I thought it was the pain medicine.  I realize now, it was more the miserableness I constantly felt.

I realize now, because I did something awful to my right shoulder and I’ve been in constant pain for 3 weeks. It hurts to type this. It hurts to wash my hair. It hurts to lie on the couch watching Netflix. It hurts. It’s annoying. It makes me cranky.

And then I opened up my bathroom cabinet and something springs out and falls to the floor. “You think I’m picking you up!? Nope, you’re gonna stay there and take this time to think about what you’ve done.”

I’m cranky.

Continue reading