The Salt Shaker – November/December 2022

The Lord provides everything we need – please remove falsehood and lies, give us neither poverty or riches, feed us with food that is needful for us (physically, mentally, and spiritually) and help us to be satisfied with everything You supply’  Journal God Lesson, December 2022

Praises – New property for time off between projects; safe travels; lots to do but no time clock

Prayers – Reimbursements settled for truck repairs; repairs and fixes needed to rent property; continued health and energy  

Hello to our family, followers, and friends:

Something different for this update – it is two months and we are inserting some of Connie’s journal “God Lessons” throughout.  With all that has been going on we just haven’t had the inspiration and focus to collect our thoughts.  As a friend pointed out “sometimes it is difficult to write about things when you are not emotionally settled yourself” – how true!
Jesus – He embodied truth, He didn’t embellish the truth

Thanksgiving came and went; we were invited along with a few others to dinner and Connie was grumbling about southern cornbread dressing but to her surprise it was bread dressing almost like Great Grandma’s!  A Christmas present arrived from our youngest son, our first in years, with great homemade goodies, what a surprise.  We put up our Christmas wreath and lights on a timer and enjoyed them in the evening and again as we got up in the dark mornings.  The Academy President had a Christmas Open House with a beautifully decorated home and great food; we arrived with our big truck parking close to the carport and were blocked in by a Daihatsu mini-truck maintenance vehicle!  Our last Sunday we attended the Presbyterian Church and were surprised with a potluck Christmas lunch and “free” food to bring home as they cleared the cooler for Christmas break. 

John continued to work at the new counseling center with electrical and CAT5 wiring, fixtures, wall and ceiling insulation, some small wall builds, and the last window installed.  The guys also finished up the cabinet drawers and doors in a dorm (lots of fussing to get drawers to slide and look straight), assembly of new cabinets, a drop ceiling in a High School classroom, and some demolition work in another building – lots of climbing up and down ladders!

Connie continued staining as weather permitted, serving lunch at the Dining Hall, and helped with the French Camp Christmas bread mailing (the main reason she came).   A storm right before mail date brought disruption to computer services and several days of delays and IT work, meaning nothing for the ladies to do.  Finally, the day came when 1500+ loaves were “taped” and on their way.  More waiting then the second wave came and Connie loaded the USPS bins.

With three days left of our December volunteer work, John came home at lunch to stretch on the floor, not an unusual practice.  This time, however, he didn’t get up. He slowly improved over the next week, going from ‘ape-like’ movements leaning on anything nearby to standing straight and able to walk more normal.  By the weekend he was slowly able to put his tools away and start preparations to move north to a RV Park in Iuka, MS about 20 minutes from our property. 

After our October real estate day of adventure, we received a call from our realtor friend in Corinth with some new land parcels for sale.  November 9, we travelled again and did lots of hiking around several parcels and through some rented dwellings; lots of money, repairs with everything, as well as fleas in one mobile home.  John found one listing online with a “pending inspection” offer accepted.  We toured the 6 acres with a house and mobile home mid-afternoon, and made a full price offer.  On the way back we prayed that whatever the outcome, God would be in control.  The inspection was not favorable (but nothing we couldn’t handle with our SOWER skills over the years), the other party backed out, we countered at a lower price (the figure we originally wanted) and by the 19th had a verbal acceptance along with 2 free inspection reports!  On December 9th we became property owners again, took care of all the things that come with purchasing property, stayed overnight at a hotel with each enjoying a long hot soaking bath – our first “bath” in many years!
The Sunday prior to closing the worship included “Waymaker” leading Connie into complete assurance and peace (with lots of tears).  That evening we had a text with the preliminary closing statement!  Plus, the evening devotion had some names of Jesus (Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace) to which we added Waymaker, Miracle Worker, Promise Keeper, and Light in the Darkness.

The next afternoon the up-and-down game began.  We scheduled a driveway contractor to meet us at noon, he was delayed, we ate our lunch in the truck, the rain started, he arrived and John braved the weather to discuss a possible circle drive around the back with RV pad(s).  We found the mobile home had not been emptied.  The HVAC people were not responding, finally getting an answer that we had to go with “mobile home” service people.  With 5 days of below freezing weather coming (very non-typical of Mississippi) we shut off the water, drained lines, and used space heaters inside to keep it above freezing – which worked except one heater didn’t turn back on after a “rolling blackout.”  On the “up” side, only 1 dead mouse, we do have most of the tools in the mobile home now, it is almost empty, the electric panel is labeled (one of the things in the inspection report), it was a beautiful day when we insulated the mobile home water pipes, and we really enjoyed hiking the paths and day-dreaming of the days we can spend here between our travels.
It is hard to let go of our expectations – God is saying slow down, in My time

With lots of unplanned days off Connie was able to make phone calls to contractors and clearing up some ongoing frustrations.  After 5 months of lengthy conversations, the fraud charges were cleared on one of our credit cards.  After 14 months and involvement of the FCC, our “free phones” when we switched carriers have been refunded!  Now, all that is left is working with the Chevy dealer for a refund of parts and labor.  Connie also had some time to do a few crochet items – another hot pad (now being used as a doily), a back wash cloth (it works very well), a hat for the chilly morning walks (not used, weather warmed up), and preparing to finish up a granny square blanket with squares done by her Mom and Grandma many years ago.  So far that’s been research, layout planning, tying in yarn ends, and correcting mistakes.
Don’t be led astray, trust God to give you wisdom, be faithful, be alert and pray – focus on the overall plan: salvation in Christ and His return.

The weather these last two months has been another up-and-down stressor.  November brought some nights where Connie was awake waiting for storms to pass through and wind rattling the trailer, including one suppertime trip to the basement level of the high school for a tornado warning.  She has found that putting her head at the foot of the bed helps because the slide cover rattling isn’t as loud, this is not very easy to do in the middle of the night so there was another night she slept the whole night that way.  December 1 was the first day Connie went without socks again for a while. There were many just below freezing nights and a few days with the A/C on in the afternoon.  On those ‘chilled-to-the-bone’ days we always looked forward to a nice hot shower to end the day.

In November we had another truck DEF issue.  The ‘Low DEF’ light came on (on our way to a music event), we added about 2 gallons of fluid, surprised that it was full already.  Two days later the warning appeared again and it went back to the shop; a “no charge” unknown glitch, ok now fix.  In December we managed to lock ourselves out of the truck at our property with no cell service!  Thankfully our house tenants were home and graciously let us use their phone and stay warm inside while we waited.  We now double check before the last one leaves the truck for keys – it was supposed to be a 15-minute stop to start a second heater in the mobile home. 
Never stop waiting on God—no matter our age—with great expectations. 

We were able to share some music during November, both were jam sessions with 10-20 people, after a luncheon with fellow SOWERs and after a very special Birthday Party.  December brought an opportunity to share after a church ladies’ luncheon (with husbands for Christmas), another small group due to a funeral that day.  It was harder this time since we weren’t practiced up and our ‘playing together’ skills haven’t been used for a while.  We will definitely have to make this a priority!
God’s Way – a time of waiting is also an opportunity to prepare.

We can thankfully call ourselves seasoned travelers now after making it through the Christmas cold, what they are calling ‘once in a generation’ Mississippi weather.  We disconnected our water hose and put the RV pump and tank heaters on; ran the fireplace, gas furnace, and two space heaters; and prayed a lot for the start of 5 days of below freezing weather.  The water pump quit early morning of night 1 (4 degrees outside) so we started using our backup plan with water jugs and rationing water use (we could refill them outside after the 2nd day).  Our second night was chilly and we found our outside door was open slightly letting in very cold air in the middle of the night.  We also experienced our first ‘rolling power outage’ about 10 minutes after John read about it.  With most of our comfort coming from electric sources it was a blessing it only happened once for about 15 minutes; we lost 3 degrees inside temperature during that short time.  Christmas Day was spent inside with a high of 32 degrees and a wonderful dinner.  We missed a white Christmas by one day – it started snowing the 26th about 9am and continued until 4pm, perhaps an inch total, reminding us why we started traveling south in the winter.
Would you not open a Christmas gift!  God has an unearned, undeserved gift for everyone. 

Our water pump resumed working the last day of the deep freeze, we unloaded the RV “basement” and checked for leaks, PRAISE GOD, we had hot running water again and it was great using the sink and hot soapy water for dishes.  We waited another day before hooking up the hose and it was wonderful to take nice hot showers!  Our property mobile home didn’t freeze inside, even though one of the heaters remained off after a rolling blackout.  We are waiting for a warmer, dryer, sunny day to turn the water back on and check for leaks there.

Traveling for so many years now we realize how important community is:  our long-distance friends and family for advice and prayer; our real estate friend for many of the unknowns of Mississippi, providing contacts, and dinner conversation; our SOWER neighbor in packing up our microwave when neither of us could lift it along with a free heater turning out to be so much needed; our new property neighbor providing a fair trade for a free survey line (we lost 0.34 acre to accommodate his driveway), and many more.  Be thankful for those people you can turn to when life gets hard, and be aware and gracious to those needing our help. 
“. . . lead (bring) us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one . . .” – maturity means moving from our independence to our dependence on Him.

May each of you and your families have a blessed and wonderful New Year!

A fool multiplies words.  Man doesn’t know what will be; and that which will be after him, who can tell him?  Ecclesiastes 10:14 NIV ~ Trusting our future to God

John and Connie Nicholas
Salty Strings Music Ministry

Contact Information:
Mail:  John & Connie Nicholas
Salty Strings Music Ministry
3916 N. Potsdam Ave. #3962
Sioux Falls, SD  57104

Phone – John 909-336-8910 or Connie 909-336-8912
Email –
Facebook – Salty Strings Music Ministry
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January/February/March – Huckleberry Hill RV, Iuka, MS – property repairs, rental
March/April/May – French Camp SOWER project (another bread mailing perhaps)
April/May – Our property Hwy 367 east of Jacinto, MS hopeful house renovation/rental
June – north central Illinois (Carlinville, Clinton) family and volunteer work
July – Illinois/Wisconsin (Clinton, IL – Portage, WI) family, volunteer, music