Alyssa Sellers


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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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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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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


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Living is Hard: Podcast on Traversing Transition, Climbing Mount St. Helens and Loving People.

Mount Adams

Normally, I would have written out a blog post about my climbing Mt. St. Helens and it applications to EVERY ASPECT OF MY LIFE, instead, thanks to technology and friends who wield it, I am sharing this story audibly.

To listen, click here: The Groves – August 25th, 2013 

This podcast also includes some additional thoughts about God and love and life that I was given the opportunity to share with my friends at The Groves.


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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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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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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.