Sunday, August 21, 2016

Recovery For A Weary Soul

I am back to blogging!  I feel like I have been gone forever.  I took a few months off to try to regroup.
My soul and body were weary.  Over the last couple of months I have come to realize that stress is real. Stress and an over-loaded calendar can cause spiritual and physical issues.

Over the previous twenty-four months I had opened a family practice, as a new nurse practitioner, built and opened a boarding kennel, cared for my youngest son through two tough surgeries and a life altering illness, along with my husband having two knee replacements and my father, who has dementia moving in with us.  All of this, while trying to stay active doing God's work.  Being mom to 14 rescue dogs, volunteering to take in emergency foster animals, running a free health clinic (two nights a month), and chairing the mission's committee at church.

Some days I woke up and did not have a clue what day of the week it was or where I was supposed to begin.  I gained 10 lbs and lost muscle tone and flexibility.  I let friendships go and found diversion from my responsibilities in social media.

Now,  I am making smarter choices about how to spend my time. I am saying no to things I can live without and yes to things God has spoken to me about.

Over the next few weeks, I will share with you some of the information I have gained from the books I have read, the podcast I have listened to, and the ways I have found to find happiness and peace for my weary soul.  The happiness that God wants us to                                                                have.

If you are looking for the happiness God wants us to experience check out this awesome group read at In-Courage Happiness Dare Book Club

Peace be with you,
~ Connie Kay A ~

Friday, April 29, 2016

Using Imagination in a Crisis

Have you ever been in the middle of something bad happening, that while it was happening felt horrible, but in the end you realized the bad was really good?
My home was the victim of a water leak…one of those pesky leaks that had been secretly seeping under floors and providing water for the sheetrock.
In the midst of furniture being stored, floors being removed, sheetrock being cut out, while working 60 hours a week and trying to keep some sense of normal for my 88 year old father who lives with us and had dementia, I realized that yes the leak was an issue, but I had an opportunity to create the home of my dreams (well, maybe not the whole house, but three rooms).
Imagination is powerful. Our lives are not determined by what happens to us, but by the choices we make. Imagination allows us to break down borders, to move beyond our circumstances, to create and constantly progress. 
As I was driving home after work, late one night, I realized, I had always imagined a large room with overstuffed furniture, light walls, and bold accent colors. The word imagine means: to form a picture or idea in your mind of something that is not real or present.   Our old room had tan walls, laminate flooring, large overstuffed dark furniture and black accent tables. It was a comfortable room, but not the room of my dreams.
Ok, so I had a picture in my head, but I found myself being indecisive. What if I choose the wrong flooring? What if light colored walls looked horrible? What if no one liked what I designed?  What if bold accent colors were over powering?  Should I also redecorate the foyer, it does lead into the den???  When I start down the road of “what ifs” I become paralyzed with indecision.  Fear keeps my imagination from becoming reality.

As an educator at heart, I love books.  I often find myself turning to books, when I do not have an answer.
Years ago I had read Myquillyn Smith’s book, “The Nesting Place, It Doesn’t Have to Be Perfect to Be Beautiful”. Knowing I needed inspiration I pulled Myquillyn’s book out and purchased Melissa Michaels “The Inspired Room: Simple Ideas to Love the Home You Have” 
Now I am still living in chaos, but my imagination is running wild. I can see that the pesky water leak, as a blessing.  I have the ability and tools to design and build the room of my dreams. Oh and why stop at one room, my imagination could just run wild with making my home the home of my dreams.

What do you imagine for your home?

Friday, April 08, 2016

Celebrate the Flavors of spring in Northeast Arkansas

Celebrate the Flavors of spring in Northeast Arkansas
In Northeast Arkansas spring is a time for being outside, enjoying the warmth of the sun and the freshness in the air. 

In Blytheville, AR. spring means it is time for the Farmer’s Market.  Several years ago Blytheville started looking for ways to draw people to Main Street.  A once thriving place, where most of the city’s businesses resided, was then sparsely lined with business among empty buildings and the sidewalks were empty.
Sitting on the west end of Main Street is a blue building prominently displaying a vertical sign with lighted letters, identifying the building as the Grey Hound Bus Station.  The city and Main Street Blytheville organization has diligent worked to restore the building to its original grander.  The building is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it is believed to be only one of three of a kind still in existence. Built in 1939, the building houses the local tourist information center, headquarters for Main Street Blytheville, and now Saturday morning Farmer's Market.
Not as large as some Farmer’s Market, Main Street Farmer’s Market in Blytheville is a taste of small town Northeast Arkansas. You can buy fresh vegetables, locally baked goods, and craft items.  On almost any Saturday morning, there will be coffee and homemade tamales available.  

I love to go and buy fresh vegetables. This time of year, fresh green spinach is available.
Being a vegetarian in a family of carnivores, I often try to cook recipes that will bring my meat eating family members over to the Vegetarian side.  One of my family's favorite recipes is fried spinach artichoke balls.  My boys never make fun of my vegetables served up southern fried.

Fried Spinach Artichoke Balls.
9 ounces fresh green spinach, sautéed with a pinch of salt and pepper
1 (6.7 ounce) jar artichoke hearts (drain and pat dry)
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 loves minced garlic
1 cup plain panko crispy bread crumbs
2 eggs, beaten
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 lemon, cut into slices
1 pinch coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
4 cups vegetable oil


Sautee the green spinach in a skillet lightly coated in vegetable oil add a pinch of salt and pepper cook till wilted.  Drain well on a paper towel.

In a large bowl, combine the spinach, artichoke hearts, mozzarella, Parmesan, mayonnaise, garlic, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Place bowl in the freezer for 10 minutes to firm.

Place the panko, eggs and flour in 3 small bowls.

Roll the spinach mixture into 1-inch balls. Lightly roll in the flour, shaking off any excess. Dip each ball in the egg wash, then lightly roll around in the panko breadcrumbs.

Fry in hot sunflower oil until golden brown, about 3 minutes total.

They are ready to serve.  

If you ever in Blytheville, Arkansas stop the Grey Hound Bus Station.  We would love to have you visit our little corner of Arkansas.  

~ Connie ~

Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Homless Dilemma

Life can be unpredictable in many ways.  This week I have been praying that God would lead me to do the right thing.  I listened carefully all week long, but I did not hear a voice tell me what to do, no shooting star with a message appeared, but my gut kept leading me back to Matthew 25:40 “The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'

I had found myself in a dilemma, a situation in which a difficult choice had to be made between two or more alternatives.  The dilemma: My son knows a young lady who has no family support, was recently laid off, lost her vehicle, and was evicted with a toddler.  The choice, do nothing, let her find her own way, try to help her maneuver through the homeless system or open our home to her till she can find her way.  

The Big Man and I several years ago opened our home to a young man, who was in a similar situation.  That young man turned out to be an awesome man.  He lived with us for several years and we have grown to call him our son.  So, do we open our home again for this young mother? The answer is yes. 

I can't imagine not having someone, anyone to fall back on when life gets messy.  I can't imagine how scary it must be to not know where you are going to sleep, how you are going to find a job or pay a babysitter. 

Our community has resources to assist when families find themselves in a messy life situation.  I tried several times last week to help this young mother access those resources, let me tell, accessing help is not as easy as it sounds. 

Here are some rules I learned this week:
To access government housing assistance be prepared to wait on a list for housing, it could be 12 to 24 months.

To access rapid housing, a grant program designed to keep people out of homeless shelters you must have a photo ID, an eviction noticed or be homeless (aka meaning you are already living on the street) and meet with the representative on their schedule (not when you have a ride, on your lunch break or after work).
To rent an apartment and some houses you must have references and a decent credit score.
To access food stamps you must have an address and utility bills.
To store what little furniture you have, after selling things to pay the rent and utilities, you must have cash and a vehicle to move your belongings.
I also learned the system sucks!  I have multiple college degrees and I was overwhelmed and frustrated trying to assist this young lady get help.  The system certainly isn't about giving hope, it is much more about taking hope from the homeless.

My family is blessed, the Lord works in mysterious ways, I never dreamed as a single mother of three to some day have a family of five, a man to love me unconditionally, the career of my dreams and the ability to make a difference in my community.

So for now, we have added a sweet young lady and her precious child to our clan. My promise to her is to help her become an independent strong young woman that will someday pay forward the blessings she receives.
I challenge you to look at the homeless in your community, not to judge them, but with open hearts.
Peace Be With You

Saturday, January 09, 2016

One Little Word - Ceate The Life of My Dreams in 2016

Hi Readers,
I have been MIA for a several weeks I had surgery and have been a little slower than expected getting back on my feet.  I hope everyone had a great holiday.

As the new year begins it is time to assess what we accomplished in 2015 and set new goals for 2016. 2015 was an exciting year for my family. We completed our first year with two new businesses  Bed and Biscuit Boarding and Connie's Family Practice.  We have worked hard and been blessed beyond our wildest imagination.
I love to think of the new year as a blank slate. Sine 2012 I have been choosing One Little Word to help me focus my busy life.
In 2012 my word was Balance
In 2013 my word was Time
In 2014 my word was Balance
In 2014 my word was Shalom

As we finish up the first week of 2016, I have been thinking about what I want 2016 to look like. I want 2016 to be the year I create the life of my dreams.   

My One Little Word for 2016
Life isn't about finding yourself
Life is about
Creating the life of my dreams will include:
Spending more time with my Family
Learning to eat healthy
Incorporating Exercise and/or Yoga in to my daily routine
Building my Family Practice
Crafting more
Reading more
Living more in the image of Christ
Blogging about all the I create
I am so excited about 2016 - What is your focus in 2016?
~ Connie ~

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Bad Labs calls for Healthy Diet

Life has been busy - I recently had my annual labs drawn and the results opened my eyes to how poorly I have been eating over the last six months.  Yes, I am a vegetarian but an unhealthy vegetarian.  According to my labs I am anemic and pre-diabetic.

Now the pre-diabetic stuff is the extra 10 pounds I have gained in six months and the 10 pounds I need to loose before the extra 10.

So I started looking at healthy recipes that I could make quickly.  I found this awesome recipe for
Turnip and Butternut Squash Soup.  I love turnips and butternut squash so I had to try it - but, I made my veggie style.

Turnip and Butternut Squash Soup
2c Turnips, cubed
2c Butternut squash, cubed
1 medium onion, diced
2 tbs olive oil
2 tbs butter
1 quart Vegetable broth or chicken broth
1 tbs honey
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat veggies with butter and olive oil over medium heat until browned and a little soft. About ten minutes. Add vegetable chicken broth and honey. Let simmer for about 20 mins until veggies are tender. Serve hot. Season to taste.
What is your favorite healthy soup?

Friday, October 02, 2015

Focusing on fall - Mums

Friday is football in the south. Tonight we drove to Jackson,MO. to watch our grand some play football. There is an awesome vegetable stand that sells gorgeous fall Mums.

The Big Man stopped today so I could just look, well just looking got me 6 mums for the front yard. 

Fall mums are a tradition. We had several that would come up every year. Last year. I had my grandson weed my flower bed and mums looked like weeds. 

Thanks to the Big Man we will be replacing the "weeds" with Fall Mums.
Do you grow Mums?