A Year in the Life of A Traveling Music Missionary Family

Wow, we just completed our second year on the road as full-time music missionaries! The Lord has provided, kept us safe, and given us many adventures.

This post compiles the adventures of 2013 into one summary, linking to most of the posts from the year. It provides an overview of some of our adventures as well as a few glimpses into our lives.

Let’s get this party started!

A Year in the Life of a Traveling Music Missionary Family


We packed up the house we designed and built with our own sweat and blood, put our piano, scrapbooks, and Legos in storage, and said goodbye to a foundation for good. There were tears, but the five-inch centipede that ran through the family room the final night made parting with desert life a little easier.


On your left is our old house, on the right is our home. Look closely if you have a small computer.


Top January Posts:


Christy hit the big 4-0 in Arizona where we met some terrific people and played at some great churches. We explored Sedona…


and had a leeeeeeeeeeeetle run-in with the law.


Arizona is a stunning place to visit. We saw ruins we didn’t ruin–we’re always happy to see broken things that we had nothing to do with. We ate our first authentic tamales, explored Boot Hill, learned about cacti, and enjoyed the beautiful sunsets our west is known for.


Ironically, we skedaddled out of Tombstone with a blizzard nipping at our heels. We then hit what has become one of our favorite exploring places on the planet—White Sands, New Mexico. Wow!


Finally, we descended into the bowels of the earth for our second visit to Carlsbad Caverns for some spelunking.

Top February Posts:


We had always wanted to explore Texas a little deeper, and this was our month to do it! We met more terrific people, and don’t get me started on the food, y’all!


We made our second trip to the Alamo, hit the San Antonio River Walk and enjoyed a Mexican serenade from a mariachi band. We were invited to an A&M baseball game and the Blue Bell Ice Cream Factory. Supposedly Blue Bell makes the best ice cream in the country. The great thing about our lives is that everywhere we go, we are told to try such-and-such, the best such-and-such in the country. There are other great things about our lives, but the tasty such-and-suches rank pretty high.


The month wouldn’t be complete without some sort of rig repair,like picking up the part of the trailer that ripped off on the highway and reattaching it. Mr. Renaissance Man handled it with style, as always! The trailer enjoyed a good cleaning, thanks to what has unaffectionately become known as “The Flood of 2013.”


We spent Easter and Emily’s birthday at Corpus Christi on the gulf coast where Jedi fulfilled his lifelong ambition to discover what a Portuguese Man o’ War tastes like. Nobody was permanently injured, but the dog didn’t do any more critter tasting.


Top March Posts


Texas fed us well! That’s worth a post in itself, don’t you think? That’s a donut.


We enjoyed more that Texas had to offer, such as a remarkable tour of the USS Lexington, an aircraft carrier.


We also volunteered for a week at Camp Shiloh and got good and stuck in the mud farther down the road.


Eventually we headed northward away from the Texas food and back to our own cooking. We had only one potential weather-related mishap in Oklahoma before landing in Wisconsin. Steve, Hannah, and Marissa flew back to Nevada, pulled a few things out of storage, and drove the truck back, hitting Arches National Park along the way. We sold the truck—no more land, no more truck.

April Posts


The highlight of the month was helping Christy’s mom plant a vineyard…in the snow.


I’m sure we enjoyed other adventures in May, but the fact that we were planting a vineyard in a snowstorm clouds out everything else. After living in the desert for 14 years, snow in May seems…crazy.


Eventually, we headed south to Nashville where Steve spoke at a convention for his record label. He is his label’s most booked musician, thanks to you! Thank you!

May Posts


We headed back up to Wisconsin where we toured for the month. Touring in Wisconsin is fun because occasionally family and friends show up at concerts and worship services. When you’re strangers almost everywhere you go, it’s heartwarming to see a familiar face. The kids had a fabulous time helping with and being enrolled in Vacation Bible School in Jackson.


Of course, Elijah went with a brand spankin’ new haircut from Emily.


We used the profits from the truck sale and the money we had been saving to buy a new-to-us travel trailer to live in. We then sold the old one. Three additional feet, an extra bunk, and a little more counter space make a huge difference for a full-time traveling family of nine. “Ten!” says Jedi.

June Posts


We took a week off to celebrate Christy’s mom’s birthday and Independence Day up in Door County, Wisconsin. Unlike last year, no giant storm blew in to cancel the festivities. Rebecca turned five in Wisconsin.


Then we hightailed it back out to the wild wild west. Well, actually, we went to Minnesota.

July Posts


August found us in Minnesota, North Dakota, and Montana.


We immersed ourselves in our nation’s westward expansion and native American history. We followed the Lewis and Clark trail, traced the footsteps of the warriors and soldiers at the Battle of Little Big Horn, explored Fort Lincoln, toured General Custer’s home, visited a buffalo museum, and hit every national park we could squeeze in. Some of our American history was pretty intense, and that really hit home as we visited these historical locations.


Of course, Yellowstone was a highlight.


I wonder why they call it Yellowstone.

August was a remarkable month.


August Posts


We visited Glacier National Park and Cascade National Park which are stunning, people! We also went to Mount Saint Helen’s and saw…fog. That wasn’t as stunning.


Hannah and Steve got up close and personal with the Seattle Children’s Hospital where Hannah had a short stay for a mild Crohn’s flare-up, managed strictly through diet—hooray! This is her homecoming:

Hannah coming home from the hospital

We then explored the Pacific northwest where Marissa turned 15. It was our first time in Washington and Oregon.


We crossed the four-mile bridge across the Columbia River Gorge in the wake of an off-shore typhoon. Interesting. Oregon soaked us through and through. When you’re that wet, why not get a little wetter and visit Multnomah Falls! So we did.Our navy-style showers don’t even get us that wet!

September Posts


We were psyched about having a few weeks off to explore the national parks of Oregon. Unfortunately, a little thing called the Government Shutdown put a kibosh on that plan. Still, we found an amazing RV park in central Oregon and had a wonderful time playing pickle ball and canoeing for a few days.


Then we headed to northern California and camped out at Steve’s mom’s place for a couple weeks. This month, Elisabeth joined the ranks of the teenagers. She handled it with grace.


October Posts


We started November out in Idaho—beautiful, friendly Idaho! A highlight was the Bruneau Sand Dunes–not your typical dunes, people!


We revisited Devil’s Tower in Wyoming.


Then we moved on over to South Dakota where we were stuck in a snowstorm. It was the first of many. We eventually thawed and headed onward to Wisconsin. There we cooked a big Thanksgiving spread for extended family and Eliana hit the terrific twos.

November Posts


We spent Christmas with Christy’s family in Wisconsin. It was rather like the line from the hymn In the Bleak Midwinter: “snow on snow on snow.” There was quite a bit of snow. We enjoyed it, except for commuting to concerts in snowstorms. A highlight was seeing Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker with all the girls in the family, thanks to Christy’s mom.


Another high point was the beautiful Christmas Eve we spent with Christy’s grandparents, uncles, and mother. We prepared a program for the evening, and ended with a carol sing. It was memorable and we loved it. Christmas morning was terrific at Christy’s mom’s house, too!


Marissa joined Steve on stage this month performing a Christmas song Steve wrote for them to sing. Have a listen to a practice session here:

December Posts

It was an amazing year. When we left our foundation and four walls behind for good, we didn’t know what was in store for us. We knew only that the Lord would provide and bless our music mission as long as He wanted us to continue serving Him in this fashion. He certainly has provided, and He has used many of you to do it.

Thank you to each one of you who has encouraged us, bought CDs, made donations, prayed for us, fed us, gotten us into places we could never afford, showed us what your state has to offer, included our family or children in your church and school activities, and befriended us. You are the hands of God!

From our family to yours, thank you!



  1. Tammie Novak

    This was such enjoyable reading…you are amazing and inspiring!! The pictures are so beautifully done and the story so compelling, I could see a book in the future! May God continue to bless you for sharing His Gospel in such a lovely way. I just know wherever you go with your dear family, His light is shining in each of their faces and hearts! 🙂

    1. Thank you, Tammie! We’re just regular people serving an amazing God. We sure appreciate your encouragement!

  2. Karen

    Awesome post from an awesome family! Our year in review would look pretty much the same every year except the kids would be a little taller. 😉

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