Alyssa Sellers


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Ready to Write

2014 Rose Fest and  more 116

When I was leaving full-time professional ministry for the second time I read Fahrenheit 451 for the first time. A speech given at the end of the novel pretty much summed up what I felt about my existence at that moment (I’d say spoilers but it’s on you, this bad boy’s been around for decades):

“Now, let’s get on upstream,” said Granger. “And hold onto one thought: You’re not important. You’re not anything. Someday the load we’re carrying with us may help someone. But even when we had the books on hand, a long time ago, we didn’t use what we got out of them. We went right on insulting the dead. We went right on spiting in the graves of all the poor ones who died before us. We’re going to meet a lot of lonely people in the next week and the next month and the next year. And when they ask us what we’re doing you can say, we’re remembering. That’s where we’ll win out in the long run. And someday we’ll remember so much that we’ll build the biggest goddamn steamshovel in history and dig the biggest grave of all time and shove war in and cover it up. Come on now, we’re going to go build a mirror factory first and put out nothing but mirrors for the next year and take a long look in them.”*

I’d written a memoir about surviving physical and emotional hurricanes and had secured representation by a reputable Christian literary agency and hoped that it would only be a matter of time before my manuscript was published.   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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Out Onto the Water

2014 River facing North BRIGHTFrustrated with the lack of productivity on a rare day-off, I walked down to the Willamette River, past the South Waterfront Garden and sat on a bench that jutted out over the river bank looking north toward the Hawthorne, Morison and Steele Bridges.

Looking out on the water, I recalled what I’d read earlier in a book about Peter walking on water to Jesus. In Rob Bell’s Velvet Elvis, Bell writes that when Peter started sinking below the waves, Peter lost faith in himself.  Jesus, on the other hand, never lost faith in Peter. Continue reading


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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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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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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.