The Salt Shaker ~ March 2023

Praises – Springtime, safety from storms, church family, driveway and RV sites progress

Prayers – Renters; HVAC a/c repairs; tornado damages in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Mississippi; cheap appliances

[Then] you will call to the Lord, and he will answer you.  You will cry out to him, and he will say, “Here I am.” . . . The Lord will always lead you and satisfy your needs in dry lands.  He will give strength to your bones.  You will be like a garden that has plenty of water, like a spring that never goes dry.  Isaiah 58:9, 11 Easy-to-Read Version (ESR)

Hello to our family, friends, and followers:

With lots of hours (275) of property work this month, the majority were spent with paint brushes and rollers.  We finally reached the point of buying paint – Kilz and Bulls Eye for priming lots of paneling, spackling, and ceiling spots; ceiling and trim paint; and finally ending with wall paint!  Lots of exercise as well from crawling on the floor to climbing the ladder – artist brush for corner blocks and skinny door frames to trim brushes and rollers and extended roller handles to reach the ceiling.  Many trips back and forth and lots of lunches packed, including some creative sandwich containers. 

Our house tenants (former owners) were officially moved out by mid-month.  We arrived one morning to find their water meter locked off (surprise!) and a few days later we had confirmation that whatever they left was ours to dispose of.  Now, when we need a break, we can stroll over there and start sorting Goodwill from junk, pulling nails from the walls, and remodel planning.  Exciting and depressing at the same time!

Connie tried to stay one step ahead researching paint products, water heaters, appliances (needed soon) along with getting the ceiling lights hanging down (and finding some broken bulbs to remove) and the walls and trim prepped for painting.  The window blinds are back up as well as the ceiling fan blades.  She also found a local locksmith for master keying our locks and found out what to do with various large junk items.

We work well together as a team and were finally able to figure out how to get the old furniture out of the trailer to the curb where it disappeared over the weekend; there is so much space now!  We were able to move the chop saw into the dining room of the house, the broken water heater off the porch and the old window air conditioners to the carport along with miscellaneous deck boards and stacked wood from the yard.  The lattice is back up on one side of the porch, outlets are being cleaned up, the bathroom linoleum is cut and fit, and a few boxes of things from the house have made it to Goodwill.  It felt good to be outdoors one afternoon moving leaves and debris (raking and digging) to open up a culvert. 

John still had other jobs as well including:  caulking trim and gaps, removing the toilet to repair the floor, patching the sewer line under the trailer, repairing the entry threshold (sill is nice and firm now), patching trailer skirting behind the air conditioner unit, adding a hasp and padlock to the storage shed, adding brackets to the kitchen counter, removing yard junk, rebuilding the tub wall for access to plumbing, and repairing leaks to the shower.  He also crawled under the house (a much smaller space with old pipes, cables, and hanging wires) to locate the water line for our RV site.

It was another crazy month for weather – dripping faucets and cabinet doors open two nights for freezing temperatures to the opposite extreme finding out our new air conditioning doesn’t work in the trailer (up to 88 degrees a few afternoons with humidity)!  There were several beautiful days sitting on the house back porch looking beyond the trash to see the beauty of woodland trails someday, playing with kittens, and John able to practice guitar and mandolin under our RV awning.  We also had days of gusty winds, thunderstorms with long ground-shaking thunder, a few short power outages, and getting through three tornado watches (one with sirens, another that kept getting extended until morning).  We are so thankful for no damage directly around us.

Spring has arrived to northeast Mississippi!  Our first tree (pear?) blossomed out in the front followed by an old plum tree in the back slated for removal for driveway space – it was so beautiful that we changed the layout a bit to allow it to remain.  There were a few flowers blooming and rose bushes starting to leaf out.  Other trees are getting leaves in various stages, an unknown tree in the front circle had white flowers, and the really old apple tree in the back blossomed out in pink and white the end of the month.  How wonderful to see God’s beauty unfold revealing things we didn’t even know we have (physically and in our spiritual lives). 

The left-behind animal situations are resolved after lots of prayers from many people.  We found a collar and leash for the little dog, moved his pen under the carport for shelter, and located a rescue group in Georgia that could pick him up about an hour away in Alabama.  John was able to fix up a door to a left behind pet carrier to use for his transport.  We love animals so it was a hard day but a relief to not worry about him.  Our local animal shelter has been full, but Connie found they had room for the mama cat and kittens at the end of the month.  The kittens have been a fun part of the days as we watched them grow, climb through the lattice gate, follow their mama to the trailer porch, and get bolder and more playful.  We rigged up a cat box with some old litter, fashioned a litter scoop (plastic commode pan with drilled holes), and mixed special treats (left behind cheese and sardines) with their food.  They had their last sardine enhanced meal Friday the 31st and went to the shelter Saturday; we miss their playfulness.  (The shelter is no-kill, so it wasn’t really their “last meal”.)

With complete access now we have started cleaning things up.  John cleared out the leaves and empty milk cartons from the still in good shape trampoline; a few screws stabilized the old wheel barrow (until the tire went flat again); a metal frame swing gained a screw and is now waiting research to get the chains hanging right; a skate board scooter was repurposed for a 4×8 panel board catcher; and larger pieces were removed and several bags were hauled to the street from the burn pile (the remains were buried by the heavy equipment).   

All work and no down time leads to a very frustrating life so we managed to eat out a few times, including two Friday night triple dates.  We joined two other couples from Cross Point Church for great evenings of food and fellowship, one was at Kokomo’s across the border in Tennessee, a small café full of 50’s memorabilia and juke box music.  There is always laundry to do so we travel into Iuka to the laundromat with good internet for research (but no workspace).  There are some interesting people (we’re included) and this “Mississippi Redneck” was probably a nice man but a bit scary.  Connie was also able to get away one evening for a Ladies Group meeting at church.

Good news – our RV driveway contractor finally arrived and had dry weather the last three days of the month.  Several times a day John walked around ‘overseeing’ their progress – we have an almost finished driveway, defined RV pads, driveway culverts in place, and double wide entrances/exits to the highway.  It was fun watching ‘experts’ maneuver heavy equipment shaping and compacting dirt and gravel.  Two trees came down quickly and were very precisely laid out for us to cut up.  Low overhanging branches were ground off and chipped up with a hydraulic carbide loggers’ cutter.  With a few weeks of dry weather, we should be ‘moving’ to our RV site by mid-April. 

John was blessed one Sunday morning at Sunday School – the topic was being generous in our giving, especially to God’s family.  The leader was sharing about a malfunctioning chain saw that he replaced and John said he could use a chain saw, intending to possibly purchase it.  Next thing we know we are the owners of an 18” easy start Stihl chain saw, tuned up and free of charge!  John fired it up and started cutting up tree branches; the second time was to cut up the trunk so the roots could be taken into the woods clearing the way for access to the RV water line.

We had more music opportunities this month including a Sunday night concert.  We continued playing with Cross Point Church worship on Sunday mornings, sharing twice with special music songs, and provided music for two SALT (Journey Church senior ministry) meetings.  The Journey Church invited us to do a concert for their evening 4th Sunday singing service.  Two couples from Cross Point came as well as our RV park owner and his wife to join with the church family.  We had a wonderful time of praise and sharing some of our songs and testimony.  The fellowship meal after (various soups, fixings, and desserts) was wonderful; we left full, encouraged, and very blessed.

For the beauty of the earth, for the beauty of the skies; for the love which from our birth over and around us lies.  For the beauty of each hour, of the day and of the night; hill and vale and tree and flower, sun and moon and stars of light.  For the joy of human love, brother, sister, parent, child; friends on earth and friends above, for all gentle thoughts and mild.  Lord of all to Thee we raise, this our hymn of grateful praise.  For the Beauty of the Earth, Folliott S. Pierpoint, 1835-1917

Tune in again next month for our progress and ministry update!

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
Web site –

ONLINE DONATIONS via PayPal through our web site


  • April to Mid-June – Our property Hwy 367 east of Jacinto, MS property work
  • May 19 – 3-day travels to Bushnell IL Memorial/Celebration of Life Service
  • June – north central Illinois (Carlinville, Clinton) family and volunteer work
  • July – Illinois/Wisconsin (Clinton, IL – Portage, WI) family, volunteer, music
  • August – unknown
  • September to November – likely back to property