To know even one life breathed easier because you have lived–that is to have succeeded. -Ralph Waldo Emerson
Twenty-one, bright eyed and bushy tailed, ready to conquer the world, I headed to Southern California. I showed up excited and scared all in one breath. My new room in my house for the summer was filled with flowers. When I say filled I mean FILLED. Curtains, bedspread, wall paper, pillows…flowers everywhere. My new friend Dan said before we walked in the door, “Do you like flowers?” That was the beginning of a friendship and summer that would be forever etched in my heart and mind. And also me learning the awesome sense of humor of my friend. I spent three short months in Alyssa’s house and working with Dan at the church they both grew up in working across the hall from Alyssa and next to Dan. Dan and Alyssa are some of the most incredibly inclusive people I have ever met. They effortlessly brought me into their friend group and taught me how to keep and nurture old life long friends while building new friendship. They explained every inside joke with laughs that were contagious. They showed me around the city and took me to about a million coffee shops and band gigs. I was changed that summer. I loved loving people with these two. Alyssa headed to our University at the end of the summer and we all lived in Redding together for a couple years.
I have followed Alyssa and Dan through social media and infrequent catch ups. No matter how much time has passed it’s always the same, they welcome you in with huge hugs and offers of diet coke. I can remember driving an hour to see them when I was living in LA and utterly lost and confused with what I was doing with my life. They had just adopted their awesome kid Zeke and Alyssa and I sat on the couch crying with joy and then crying with sorrow at some things in my life. She wept with me in my hurt that day and listened to me ramble. It had been years since we had seen each other but that’s just how the Lance’s work. They love you easily and freely, no matter what.
I continued to follow them through blogs and social media. They inspired me to write more and dream more. I met up with them once or twice while I was living in LA and can remember an epic night of laughing so hard my stomach hurt at a random coffee shop in Azusa with the Dunlaps and them. My heart was filled and my sides hurt from listening to their incredible adventures.
I landed back in Redding for a short while and Dan and Alyssa happened to be living there again. One Sunday I snuck into the church where they worked hoping to hide. Dan spotted me and came over and ended up praying for some hurt that I had just come from and in that big brother way spoke hope and life to a situation that felt utterly hopeless. That’s just the Lance’s, they do that with ease and humility.
Dan and Alyssa are heroes on more levels and in more ways than I can count. Alyssa is raw and real and absolutely easy to be with because she is compassionate and loving and accepts you for where you are. Dan is full of life and dreams and is easy to talk to because he gets just as excited about your dreams as you do…maybe more. They love fearlessly and live even more fearlessly. The one word I can use to describe them is entrepreneur. Over the last sixteen years (can it really be sixteen years?!?! Yikes!) I have watched them with wisdom buy and sell houses, start new endeavours to see people’s dreams come true, make music where music needs to be made, travel around the world to adopt their precious girl, use their roles in churches to create space for others to thrive, build on what others have started and make it better and stronger and start an organisation that exists to see people’s dreams come true and bring hope to people simultaneously. The Rooster Party is one of their greatest accomplishments and for anyone that knows them it’s no surprise at all. From the time I met them both they have been talking about this endeavour it just didn’t have a name. They have created a space for creatives to excel and be seen and heard and a space for kids that might never have a fair shot at life to be loved and given opportunity to be who God created them to be. There is an artist/creative component and an adoption component. *sigh* It is one of the most beautiful marriages of a couples dreams and passions being interwoven all in one place. It doesn’t take long to see their heroic qualities. They exude heroism in all details of their life – the fact that they have left their family, some of their best friends, their dream home they built and a life they loved and are moving their family tonight to start their organisation in a new state. That is a lot of transition! New house (they haven’t seen), new schools, new doctors and grocery stores, new friends, new, new, new! Not to mention the loads of loss and grieving that comes with each transition. They are heroes who are leaving a legacy of hope, vision, fearlessness, extravagant love, faith, and laughter. They are a gift to humanity. In all their transition, loss, change and new they know why they do it. They can’t not do it. Yes I know, it’s a double negative, but you only have to hear their heart and vision once to realise they can only live a life that inspires and helps everyone, absolutely everyone, to hope.