Alyssa Sellers


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Trust in Transition

Trust In Transition

 

Two years ago I decided to actually fully trust Jesus with my WHOLE life. Like for real.

I mean, I’ve been a follower of Jesus since I was a wee lass. And that choice was real and life altering and such, but as I grew up, so did our relationship. We had some rocky times in college (who doesn’t) and then just about 10 years ago I moved 3,000 miles from everything I had ever known and I thought “Jesus, I totally trust you. You’ve got this.”

But what I realized a little bit over two years ago is that I didn’t really believe that. Or to put it more precisely, the aforementioned “this” was a small portion of my tiny life. Things happened in my formative years that made me believe that no one, not my family and certainly not God, would ever be able to TRULY protect me or take care of me, so young 6ish Alyssa set out in life to take care of herself. And super independent Alyssa did a fairly kick-ass job, if I do say so myself. By most measures, I was indeed successful.

But then, just about the time I turned 30, Jesus and I decided it was time I learned some lessons in dependency. God revealed to me this HUGE section of my life that I hadn’t handed over. Like pretty much my entire lively hood. I didn’t trust him to provide for me, to take care of me, to feed and clothe and shelter me. You know all the things a decent parent does. Continue reading


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Lessons of Love: Start with a Smile

Smiling

 

Downtown Portland is filled with people who want something from you.

They want your name on a petition, they want you to buy their new product, they want you to sign-up to support an international child or an environmental cause, they want your money for a Tri-Met pass, dog food, beer, weed, human food, a hostel, etc., or they want you to repent and follow their Jesus who hates a long list of people groups they have proudly printed on their sandwich boards and canvas signs.

Residents of this economically diverse neighborhood will encounter at minimum three requests a day for something from them. Consequently, residents of this neighborhood don’t look up. They don’t make eye contact. They don’t engage with one another. Continue reading


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From Creepy to Etsy: Some Thoughts on Revelation

b499c-etsynamehangerThe book of Revelation use to seriously freak me out.

A. The imagery can be sorta creepy.
B. I really don’t understand what is happening in parts of it. And I’m not so sure I want to.

However, there are some parts I can really get behind. Like the section where Jesus introduces himself to each church. It is unique and personal to each community as if he is saying, “This is how YOU know me, this is your UNIQUE relationship with me.” And he does know them; he calls them out on the specifics of what each is doing right and on what each is doing wrong. Continue reading


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Promising Possibilities

c7296-aflockofposiblities

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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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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When Love Looks Ridiculous

Finals Survival Kits

There are elements of the ridiculous about you…” ~ Mark Darcy in Bridget Jones’s Diary

On an open suitcase filled with 40 brown paper bags hangs a hastily handmade sign stating, “Finals Survival Kits” in the hallway outside a meeting room in a hotel in downtown Portland. My life is a little ridiculous. Hours of work and a surprising amount of struggle have resulted in this strange tableau.

Once a term we collect donations from members of The Groves Community to create these kits, these small brown paper sacks filled with exam supplies, pencils, candy, granola bars and cracker and fruit snacks. After I purchase the supplies based on revenue collected, we gather to assemble the kits. Students pick them up on the following Sunday to hand out to their friends during class the week before finals. This is our tangible way to share God’s love with the students in our neighborhood of downtown Portland. Well, this time 40 out of the 30,000 students.

And now, as I stand in a worship service singing about the sacrifice Jesus made for me, I think of how tiny and ridiculous this offering in the hallway outside is in comparison. Continue reading


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Jesus: Lonely Like Me

Salt Lake

In Still: Notes on a Mid-faith Crisis, Lauren F. Winner talks about her faith being somewhere in the middle; not in the excitement of her conversion but in the numb monotony of the middle. In one section she is reading her Bible in an art museum and she writes what she thought at that time:

“The story ends with Luke’s telling us that Jesus often withdrew to lonely places to pray. ‘A little like escaping to the quiet of a museum,’ I think. What can it mean for a place to be lonely?
‘A place, lonely like Jesus? Lonely like me?
Maybe I can make my loneliness into an invitation – to Jesus – that he might withdraw into me and pray.’” (page 141)

I have been thinking a good deal about Jesus’ loneliness. About how often he was misunderstood, even by his best friends. Continue reading


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Remembering That I Forget

My Christmas Tree ~ Portland, Oregon 2012

I live in that magical land where Christmas trees grow. Oregon is the nation’s biggest producer of Christmas trees and harvested over 6 million in 2011 and , sadly, I did not purchase one of them. Last year, I thought I was broke and would be gone too long in December to purchase a tree. This year I have a whole new appreciation for broke-ness and will be away from my home for a week but I am not letting this deter me.  My friend Belinda, a graduate student at Portland State, offered to drive me to a Christmas tree farm just outside the city to pick up a tree and to celebrate the completion of her finals.

As soon as I stepped out of the vehicle and onto the parking lot, I knew I made the right decision. The smell of Fir trees enveloped me and I shouted, “I LOVE CHRISTMAS TREES!” Thankfully it was a rainy Tuesday afternoon and no one else was around.

Belinda and I set out in search of this year’s perfect tree. When I first saw my tree, I impulsively burst into, “O Tannenbaum!” However, not wanting to make a hasty choice, I tied a bright red bag to a branch and walked on. Eventually after much deliberation, I chose the tree that inspired my song.

I spent the better part of a day decorating this tree; mostly because I’m a perfectionist but also because I’m sentimental. As I unwrapped ornaments that had been unfairly confined for two years, vivid memories flooded my consciousness and I remembered the refrain from a song we sang during worship service on Sunday:

Though the world may see and soon forget
We will not forget who you are and what you’ve done for us.

But do we? Do we really remember? I believe that humanity as a whole is fairly forgetful and this is why God instructs us in all sorts of reminders like the celebration of Passover, hauling rocks from the dry bottom of the Jordan River to create an altar and participation in communion. These acts remind us of what God has done and reinforce for us the promises of what God will do.

This year, decorating my Christmas tree, was one of those reminders. As I hung up the lights, circled the tree with a garland made of old silver Mardi Gras beads and placed ornaments on branches, I could not help but to recall specific things God has done for me and as I remembered I began to feel joyful anticipation for all of the things God is going to do. This, my friends, is worshiping fully.


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Walk In Love

Red Square ~ Moscow, Russia ~ March 2008
I really love John’s second book. When I was at my lowest, this book helped me claw my way back up. Consequently I’ve probably read this book a good deal more than any other in the bible.

Back in 2010 I was in desperate need of divine direction, so I dove back into to it and was struck by the second half of verse six:

 “…his (Jesus) command is that you walk in love.”

So, yeah, that is easy, walk in love, right, right.  Yet, “Walk In Love” is a way more positive credo than “Meets – It’s Where It’s At” which is what I had taken out of 2008‘s closet and dusted off special for 2010.

This salute to the uninspired is rooted in the annual review structure at my first HR job. Getting a ‘meets’ meant you were doing just enough, you weren’t ‘exceptional,’ but you weren’t ‘needs improvement’ either. Meets was mediocrity at its best. I’ve lived most of my life in the exceptional range, but toward the end of 2007 I was questioning why and wondering where it had gotten me. I decided that maybe meets was where it was at. Less expectation meant less let down, less heartbreak and my young little heart felt it had had its share. I resolved that in 2008 I was going to lower my expectations and reap the mediocre benefits.

That year turned out to not be a “meets” kind of year so the salute didn’t get a lot of play. Therefore, I felt it was still pretty fresh and ready for a new release in 2010.

But then on that day in February in 2010, I decided, instead, to go with God and walk in love.

There is no promise of destination in this new credo. No direction other than to go and walk and while doing so, love. He is not asking me to perform a miracle or do anything extraordinary, but to obey him in love.

Oswald Chambers wrote, “It is inbred in us that we have to do exceptional things for God; but we have not. We have to be exceptional in the ordinary things, to be holy in mean streets, among mean people and this is not learned in 5 minutes.”

Compared with the billions that have inhabited the earth the Bible only highlights a few people’s stories. There are people we never read about who pleased God by doing this extraordinary thing of living by faith in him – day in and day out. They milked cows and delivered their product to people while praising God for sun and rain. They strung telegraph cable across the county loving everyone they met. They built subdivision and lived gracious lives. They sat at a desk and entered information into spreadsheets and let God’s light shine through them even when they sometimes struggled to breathe.

They didn’t slay giants, or build ships that saved the animals of the world. They loved God and moved as he wanted them to. And through loving him they loved others and God was proclaimed throughout their blocks, streets, neighborhoods, cities, towns, states, countries, continents, hemispheres – the world. They were generous with their lives because God was generous with his leading; prompting others to be generous too. I think we want some huge event, some grand adventure or reckoning. But on the whole, for billions of people it just isn’t that way. God asks that we be faithful in everyday things, everyday.

God asks that we walk in love. Since that day in February, I have; or at least, I try to.


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Heavy Burdened

Katmandu, Nepal ~ June 2011

I had this one day, four months ago, that was completely refreshing to my soul. I think it was because I didn’t move out of duty or obligation or what I thought was right or expected of me. I moved out of he unforced rhythms of God’s grace. I moved out of the core of who I am.

This day reminded me of the lesson I learned over a year ago in Nepal – don’t think, just do. I think too much. Perhaps my planning and calculation is worry disguised in pretty dress.  This seems to be the lesson I refuse to learn, and yet, God continues to present it to me.

Coming back onto campus back in January I didn’t really have a plan. I felt like Joshua in Jericho except I was walking around the South Park Blocks in prayer and waiting for the Lord. If there is one word I’ve gotten from God over the last two terms it is, “wait.”

“Pray and wait for me, Alyssa. Move where I move you. Let go and be free to be. Move with my current; it is safe and gentle for you. Watch and see what happens when you move freely in me.” This doesn’t look like other ministries I’ve seen. But that is OK, it’s more than OK, it’s God and God is good.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on Religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” ~Jesus in Matthew 11:28-30 The Message

Jesus didn’t have a strict business model. He moved where he was led by God and did what needed to be done at the time. As Enoch did many years before, Jesus walked with God.

The Voice version records this passage this way:
“Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Put My yoke upon your shoulders – it might appear heavy at first, but it is perfectly fitted to your curves. Learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble of heart. When you are yoked to Me, your weary souls will find rest. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.”

“…perfectly fitted to your curves.” How much do I LOVE this?!

I’m nothing but curves and it is incredible to think this task I’ve been given by Jesus is perfectly fitted for me.

Now if only my bras were.