Alyssa Sellers


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Coming Out of the Clarkson Closet

closetI was a closet Kelly Clarkson fan.

American Idol premiered my senior year of college. I saw pieces of a few episodes and saw enough to know I hated it and everything it stood for. My friend Dee, on the other hand, was a huge fan, so I heard Kelly beat out Justin via the TV in Dee’s Mom’s minivan while we were stuck in traffic moving out her college stuff.

Dee, of course, bought her first CD and I rolled my eyes every time we listened to it that summer. But by album number two, Kelly was winning me over. And I found myself, a few years later, one slow Friday afternoon admitting to my cubemate, Casey, that there was that one Kelly Clarkson song I kinda liked. He, in turn, begrudgingly admitted to digging one of her tunes, too.

Casey and I are both music snobs and so this mutual admission was sorta a big deal. And the follow up online search to figure out which two songs we actual liked was on the side of scandalous. So much so, that when a team manager walked in and ask us what we were doing, we both averted our eyes and turned brilliant shades of red.

I came out of the Clarkson Closet in 2011.

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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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Making Peace with Psalm 23

greenpasturesandstillwaters

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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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


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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.


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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.)