Alyssa Sellers


USPS: The First Five Months

I’ve worked for over five months as a Letter Carrier for the United States Postal Service.

I seriously never thought I’d see the day. People, delivering the mail is HARD. Way harder than you think. Well, at least harder that I thought, I really can’t speak for y’all as a whole, but I digress. What I can speak to is that I am much stronger physically, mentally and emotionally than I was on September 7.

For starters, I spent the week before Thanksgiving until the week after Christmas walking 13 miles in a hilly neighborhood carrying 20 to 40 pounds of holiday parcels and paper in snow, sleet, hail and 20 degree temperatures.

I spent the fall learning to parallel-park a right-side drive vehicle like a BOSS.

I have delivered mail on almost 40 different routes out of nine different stations in the Portland Metro and counting.  A few of those were on those super scary windy roads I was concerned about. I hit nothing and no one died, WIN! Continue reading

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Just Call Me Ms.McFeely – Speedy Delivery*

First US Post OfficeIt’s not in my nature to wake up at 5 AM.

It’s also not in my nature to willingly take on something that I’m not absolutely positive that I’ll be fairly exceptional.

This might sound a tad braggy, but really it’s more about my fear of failure and rejection.  And maybe it is about my pride. I’m sure it is.

It’s all wrapped up together really: fear of failure and pride.

Because what am I afraid of? That people will judge me and not think I’m awesome? Because mostly I’m not talking about life or death stuff, I’m talking about everyday life stuff and more specifically my post -ministry employment choices.

I started work with the United States Postal Service on Saturday. Continue reading

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Learning To Live By Letting Go

Somewhere in the Carolinas ~ October 2011

Sometimes pivotal thoughts occur to you while you are in the middle of an epic adventure, like traveling the lower half of the lower 48 states in a month with one of your best friends.

Sometimes you find yourself with no music, windows rolled down, staring out at the Appalachian Mountains just before peak fall foliage craving divine direction and thinking:

“Somehow we begin to believe the lie that this now, our current present, is the best there is, was, or ever will be. We forget that this current present, good or bad, is only for now. I’m currently on a 4 week road trip across America and “for now” is as vivid as the colors on the leaves outside my passenger side window. The leaves are changing and so am I.”

Sometimes, you hear God speak a week later, in a friend’s living room with strangers singing along to a guy playing the guitar. I write:

I hold too tightly to this smallness in my hand. “But it’s what I know,” I cry as I stomp and flail about.

“But it’s not what’s best,” God calmly replies.

“Is best ever gonna come?”

“If you let go, Alyssa, you have to let go. My best is too big for you to grasp with your fists grabbing so tightly to the smallness you continually try to hold. Please, let go. You can trust me. I know you, I want my best for you. My word is good. I am good. Let go.”

(One year ago today, my good friend Christy and I set out from Oregon on a four week road-trip to Philadelphia and back. This post is a result of that trip.)

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Let The Sun Shine In

Portland, Oregon ~ May 2012

The truth is there were things I did know. But they were scary un-finished ideas:

I knew I had committed to raising my own support to work full time with my church to share God’s love with students at Portland State and the people of the Portland Downtown neighborhood.

I knew that I needed to continue to live downtown to do this, even though apartment costs are outrageous.

I knew I had already created my own plan to make this happen and I knew it had already failed.

When I wrote the previous entry I no longer knew what to do. 

Funny thing is God did. I ended up in the apartment I live in now. If I had every downtown apartment to choose from, I wouldn’t have chosen this one, that’s for sure. The first time I visited, the smell in the lobby – a mixture of old coffee and yakisoba from the restaurant next door, made me want to vomit. The doors on the apartments were a teal green reminiscent of 1992, a year of which I am not fond. The floor molding is industrial plastic and the Formica counter tops leave much to be desired. 

BUT…the apartment God chose has a lovely view of the Park Blocks and Downtown; a location that has been pivotal in wonderful new friendships. It has a steamed cleaned carpet with questionable stains, so it won’t matter what I accidentally spill on it and a purple door, which, if I may be permitted a church-nerd moment, reminds me of Lydia, the business woman who gathered the first believers who would later become the church in Philippi whom Paul spoke of with great joy.

Yeah, I still don’t know where exactly the money is going to come from to pay my rent each month as I live out this walk of faith, but I do know that through the Oregon Trail card, wonderful taxpayers will continue to help feed me for the next six. 

And I know why I live like this. I live like this because God asked me to. I live like this because I remember who I was and know I am better when I believe and trust in God. I live like this because even though most everything in my life is decidedly the most uncertain it has ever been, God isn’t. And for the first time in a long time I know what peace is. I live like this because God’s gifts are not just for me. I live like this because God wants me to live generously with my life, because this is how God has asked me, Alyssa Sellers, to be salt and light. This is how God has asked me to walk in love.

I have bad days; I have moments when all hope feels gone. But there are many more days and many more moments when I know I am not forgotten and I know that I am loved with an immeasurable love. Today is one of those days.

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Hazy Shade Of Winter

Apartment View~ Portland, OR~ January 2012

(Because life isn’t all sunshine and roses, I am posting something I wrote a few days after the New Year. In a couple of days, I will post the post script to this story.)

When I was in Louisiana over Christmas I walked to my parents’ church as the sun was setting at 6 PM. It was beautiful. Six PM! How novel! The sun sets at 4:40PM in Portland in December. It’s pretty brutal. Needless to say, it’s winter and my hibernation has begun. I find myself not wanting to walk the five or so blocks in the dark to see my friends up the street. I blame the darkness, but part of it is the uncertainty. I don’t have any answers to any of the questions people ask me and it overwhelms me.

When is your lease up on your apartment? January 31.

Do you know where you are going to move to? Nope.

What are you looking for? I don’t know.

How much do you want to spend? I don’t know.

Who is going to support you as you do full time ministry? I don’t know.

What are you going to say to people to encourage them to support you? I don’t know.

I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know!

And what I really want to say is that if you can’t honestly reply with something that is actually helpful and constructive then DON’T ASK!

I don’t want to hear it. I don’t need your added disapproval heaped upon my personal feelings of failure and worthlessness. Trust that I do a pretty marvelous job of judging me. That position has been filled.

So I avoid situations with multiple people. Because what is worse than being asked all those questions; being asked all those questions in front of multiple people.

I feel old today. Old and tired and worn out. Like a toy on the shelf at Goodwill. Goodwill’s better than the alley, right?


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The Shot Heard ‘Round the World

Yorktown Battlefield ~ October 4, 2011
Sometimes I deny my inner history nerd. Then, one day while traveling across the country, I find myself totally engrossed with every little thing the tiny village of Yorktown has to offer and I realize I LOVE HISTORY. Well, really, I love a good story and that pretty much is what history is. It is a little over a month since I took a National Parks tour of the Yorktown Battlefield and I find myself on the Library of Congress website reading a few of General George Washington’s letters.
I blame it on the entertaining and informative National Park Ranger who told us that six months before the United States’ victory at the Battle of Yorktown, George Washington declared in a letter that, …we are at the end of our tether, and that now or never our deliverance must come.

Now, having read a few of Washington’s letters it appears that the man could be quite the Debbie Downer. After five years of writing about this brutal war, I imagine him hunched over his desk trying to find a new way to describe the state of bad he was currently in and choosing “end of our tether.” It is quite the dire description when you think about it.

I never realized how overwhelming it must have been for Washington and the men of the revolution. They were in the middle of something where, for the most part, the outcome was not in their favor and, by many accounts, was fairly foolhardy. They had absolutely no guarantee of success.

Nonetheless, Washington and his men tenaciously held on to that tether and six months later saw the tide turn in their favor when on October 19, 1781 General Lord Cornwallis of the British Army surrendered in Yorktown. With this victory United States independence was secured and the course of world history was changed significantly. Two years later the war officially ended and Washington became the first president of this baby nation.

So, I’m in the middle, or maybe more accurately in the second third, of my history and, Mr. First President of the United States of America, you inspire me to hold on. I wonder if you also inspired the ladies of Wilson Phillips.

PS: Veteran’s Day is Friday. You should thank one.

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Sometimes, when the clouds and fog are just thick enough to blur the tree lines but not enough to block the sun, I believe I am in a fairy tale. I’m at the beginning of a good one – one that is brimming with possibility, I just know it.

This optimistic attitude is rather new for me. I’ve lived much of my life believing the lie that this now, my current present, is the best there is, was, or ever will be. I recently met a bunch of folks across the United States many of whom also feel the pressure of this lie. Sometimes, we forget that this current present, whether good or bad, is only for now. We forget that tomorrow, or even our next moment, is full of possibility. Driving through the Appalachian Mountains in Virginia during my recent four week road trip across the U.S. the concept of “for now” became as vivid as the leaves I viewed from my passenger side window. The leaves were changing and so was I.

I began 2011 with the goal of living in joyful anticipation, an idea based on Romans 8. After many months of my typical ridiculous anxiety, I think I am finally living an adventurously expectant God filled life full of joyful anticipation.