It's a family affair.

I've been trying to write this blog for a couple of days now and it just keeps getting interrupted. So here we go again. 

In April, the family and I were on our way to Mountain View, AR to take part in a festival where I was teaching and performing. While there we stayed a few days afterward to have a little family vacation.  

It's been a long time, almost 18 years since we've been to AR. Donna and I moved to Russellville when we first got married to get to know each other and to possible play music with some friends. We ended up getting pregnant and moved back home after about 7 months to be with family.  

While we were there we bought our first hammered dulcimer in the little town of Mountain View. This seemed to be the beginning of something great. I didn't know years later I would win a national championship and go on to have a career in music with that little gift. 

We love taking family trips where we all pile into one van and drive until we can't see. :) The kids really do enjoy each others company and they've built some great friendships which I hope will last them for the rest of their days. We make up games and they make up new traditions. It's really quite fun. Charlie, the newest Yoder, came along and made many friends really fast. Here he's sticking his head out the window in the Walmart parking lot and barking at everything that moves. He calmed down a little after awhile. 

We had a very uneventful trip down and back. That's always a good thing since I travel so much. Lyssa was the only one who got a little sick. She didn't know what to do with all the twisting and turning of the mountain roads and hills. I understand, I would probably not be a good backseat traveler either. After being at the festival for a day she said, "Dad? Can we take a trip sometime when you don't have to work?" I laughed and then tried to remember when we'd ever taken a trip in the last 7 years where I wasn't working. She likes to have my undivided attention and I'm sure she feels like I'm always divided. She's a great soundboard for me because she has no filter. She just tells me like it is and that's priceless for me. I need those wake up calls. I promised we'd do that soon. Just the family. No work. Just fun.

We had the privilege of meeting some wonderful folks who now live and work in Mountain View. Chris and Shelley Smith. Chris I had known a bit through him listening to my music and quickly becoming a Ted Head. :) He initially offered to house me while there in Mt. View but when he found out there is 9 of us, he had to rescind. I totally understand, we're a big brood. 

Chris came up to the festival for one day of classes with me and offered to lend me a car while I was there. Short story is we spent some time together, met his wonderful wife Shelley and one of his boys, young master Smith (Morgan).

I'll just say this about the Smith's. They are full of grace and confidence in who God has made them to be. They've walk many roads to get to where they are and as I get older, I see in my immediate family and in those I meet on the road, the full grace of God who allows us to make so many mistakes. Thankfully he's in the business of redeeming and loving deeper than we can dredge the depths of.
This wonderful family is the personification of such depth of mercy and grace and it brings tears to my eyes as I recall our time with them. An evening of deep laughter and great pizza. Good friendships are hard to find sometimes and sometimes there's an instant depth to someone you just met. I'm honored to call the Smith's dear friends and would find it hard to not share more life together. Thank you Smith's for making our trip so meaningful. 

I even jammed!!!! For those of you who don't know much about me and festivals, I don't join in many jams. Truth is I don't know hardly any of the songs that folks jam to and so I've never really joined in. Here I'm jamming with Scott and Rita from NM. I hope to see them again in the near future. Really wonderful people. Rita shared he dulcimer with Lyssa when they started playing Old Joe Clark. That's one Lyssa knows how to play. 

And last but not least. We took a couple days up in the mountains hiking, swimming, and spelunking. This I think was the highlight for the kids. They love the outdoors, especially when they can do it with friends and family and pets. Oh and Donna found this really cool outdoor amphitheater where she wanted to shoot a video of me playing and singing but I didn't have my hammered dulcimer with me, Lyssa made sure of it, so I'll have to shoot that video next time I'm down there.

Well, I think that's about it. Thanks for reading, if you're still with me. Just trying to let you in on a little Yoder road tripping. 

Blessing to you all and I hope to see you on the road this year.