A Patriotic Thought for July (paraphrased from a devotion we read)
“Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations.” (Deuteronomy 7:9)
It’s been 243 years since the Declaration of Independence was signed. Since then, ten generations of Americans have enjoyed the multitude of freedoms the United States has to offer . . . And just as God kept His promise to the Israelites, He will keep His promise to you. . .God will be faithful “to a thousand generations” – 100 times longer than the United States’ existence! God has no intention of giving up on you. Thank Him for his faithfulness. Pray that He would guide you as you walk through life.
Praises – We were able to be with Connie’s family and some of our kids throughout the month; lots of repairs, cleaning, sorting, and items sold covering our expenses; fall/winter plans made for projects; wonderful music programs!
Prayers – Comfort, peace, and direction for John and his family in the passing of his mother; Family Camp worship music (8/30-9/1); protection and travel mercies as we venture into new areas in September; music ministry opportunities looking forward to fall projects.
Greetings to our families, friends, and followers:
July 1 (Monday) found us packed up and on the road to rural Shirland, IL, a very small community almost at the Wisconsin border. We planned on stopping for lunch in Galesburg, IL where we found our “new” restaurant to be closed! Phones are so wonderful now days; we parked in an abandoned mall lot and searched for places to eat where we would have enough room to maneuver with our van and trailer. Back on the road we crossed the Rock River 5 times before arriving! This was a familiar route also from our travels from Wisconsin to John’s family in Bushnell so it was great passing landmarks. Along the way there were still many overflowing creeks and rivers, water in fields, and patches of little growth in the farm fields.
We arrived at Sugar Shores Campground on the banks of the Sugar River, which we lived on further north in a galaxy far, far away (1980’s). It was very hot and the parking was tight, but John got the trailer backed in on the first try! We didn’t spend very much time at our trailer but did enjoy the swimming pool a few times and the mini-golf course once before we left. Our phone signal was 1 tiny bar most of the time, and wifi was not available so there were numerous hours spent at McDonald’s connecting to the internet and making phone calls.
Our music ministry flourished this month. We had one scheduled “vacation” job in Osseo, WI where we shared last year and picked up two other programs as we visited and met with friends. We traveled to Osseo leaving at 1pm to avoid the north-bound interstate traffic on a Friday (it was still very busy and backed up in places). Our van was packed for music and spending a few nights away from home where the church pastor had his trailer set up outside the church for our two-night stay. He and his wife invited us to dinner Friday night and drove us around as the clouds thickened and winds blew through, arriving back at the church before the rains started. There was lots of damage further north but the trailer barely moved. We were able to set up and practice throughout the day Saturday, enjoying our time off. Finding ourselves with an empty freezer we just had to purchase a quart of ice cream, meaning we had to eat it all before leaving (not our smartest decision, but good!). Sunday’s service was wonderful with the “sermon” from us on the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5) with lots of songs. There was fellowship time and a meal following the service, then we packed up and headed back home. We decided to get off the interstate and take back highways which led us through more memories – our first (and only) cross-country skiing and the “blessing of the tractors” in Black Earth with our church praise team!
One of our friends lives at Rock Bay Harbor in Beloit where we shared an hour of music including old favorites and hymns for the very thankful residents. We also were able to do a program for the residents at Suites at Beloit (Pioneer Court) where Connie’s mom lives. Both were wonderful times of sharing, being blessed, and being a blessing to residents as we talked with them afterwards. We haven’t had much opportunity for this ministry for quite a while.
Our primary goal for this month plus was to help clean, organize, sort, throw away, and sell some things from Connie’s mom’s house of 65 years. This meant an almost daily commute 30 minutes each way from Shirland to Beloit, WI. What memories, and what appreciation for all the things Mom was involved with. She canned, caned, refinished, refurbished, knit, crochet, collected, sewed, danced (square, barn, and line), cared for others, traveled, bowled, and the list goes on. Added to that was Connie’s Grandmother’s possessions including lots of photos, papers, salt & pepper shaker collections, sewing machines, etc. Each box opened was a surprise! After every trip we could look back and wonder where it all kept coming from. By the end of our six weeks things were looking hopeful for an end being in sight.
Connie was also kept busy with trips to track down paperwork, attorneys and accountants for her brother’s estate. Each trip was successful and the hard work is pretty well done, allowing for restful nights and being ready to travel south for the winter. John spent quite a bit of time being her chauffeur and patiently waiting with little to do.
It was a great six weeks, very hot most days, and lots of time spent with family reminiscing of things in the past. It was fairly easy for us (to not want to keep things) since our space is so limited in the trailer, but much harder for others. There are enough boxes of “things to go through” to last for a few years – photos, jewelry, spoon and plate collection(s), and of course the “what do we do with this?” boxes. Connie met her goal of cataloging and putting all the collectible plates into their proper series or collections. Last/final count – 275!
On deciding we were staying another week or two we found our spot was already reserved which meant a move. We chose another campground 3 miles closer and much cheaper for our additional time. We were able to have two Sunday night camp fires with friends coming over for a hot dog roast and supper. We found ourselves at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church just south of Rockton where we enjoyed great messages, music, and fellowship.
We added the sixth week knowing John’s mother was declining in health, thinking we could go to our next camp via Bushnell, IL to check up on her and the family. We received a call that she was in home hospice and left a day early (Tuesday 8/13) to park in a lot next to John’s cousins house for a few days. We were able to finish up the kitchen wallpaper removal and painting (left from our June visit) and it was a great blessing to be there and with family when she passed into heaven at 11:30 pm on Friday (August 16). Lots of tears and sadness along with the comfort of knowing she is in heaven and no longer in pain or suffering.
Thanks for traveling with us and supporting us with your thoughts and prayers!
“And may the God of peace himself make you holy in every way; and may your spirit and soul and body be free from all sin at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. God, by whom you have been marked out in his purpose, is unchanging and will make it complete. Brothers and sisters, keep us in mind in your prayers . . . The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:23-25, 28)
John and Connie Nicholas, Salty Strings Music Ministry
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John & Connie Nicholas ~ Salty Strings Music Ministry,
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TRAVEL PLANS AND UPCOMING LOCATIONS
- August 18-September 15 –Little Galilee Christian Camp, Clinton, IL
- September 16-18 – Lake Beauty Covenant Bible Camp – SOWER Reunion concert and devotion music (Long Prairie, MN)
- September 19-27 Stopover in South Dakota for licenses and vehicle titles; traveling
- September 27-November 20 – ALERT Academy (2 months) – Big Sandy, TX (northeast)
- November 21-December – Riverbend Retreat Center – Glen Rose, TX (north central)