A Vision of Lucy by Margaret Brownley

A Vision of Lucy


by Margaret Brownley

Lucy is a woman ahead of her time!  She lives and breaths photography and wants to make it her profession. Not an easy task for a woman in 1882, but she is determined because photography is her art.  Unfortunately Lucy is prone to trouble and just keeps landing in hot water over and over again.  When she literally drops in on a stage robbery her life is forever changed.  She meets David Wolf, a man who lives between two worlds and has a haunted past that he is trying to catch up with.  Will Lucy be able to help David see beyond the scars of his past?  Will David see Lucy for who she really is? 

This book started out slow for me.  I just couldn’t get into it but kept going because I don’t like to leave a book unfinished.  I’m glad I persevered.  This turned out to be such an interesting read!  I learned some very interesting things about early photography that make me treasure my beloved point and shoot and genuinely appreciate the difficulty of what Lucy aspires to be.  The plot was interesting and after the initial lag it kept me interested.  The characters were believable and their struggles real and poignant.  I also appreciated the way that the characters worked through their relationships with God as they moved through life. 

Overall this was an intriguing book.  I recommend it if you are interested in early photography or if you just want a decent story to keep you company and get you thinking.

Challenge #1 for The_Koffee_Klatch

For those of you that followed me years ago you know that I was a member of a blogring called Kween_Of_The_Queens.  I loved writing there and in fact the woman who moderated it was a good friend of mine.  She handed over her throne to another a few years back and I slowly lost interest in the blogring and quietly left… 

SHE’S BACK!  My Kween started a brand new blogring The_Koffee_Klatch and I’m happy to present to her my attempt to complete the first challenge by royal decree!

The challenge is presented thus;

What have you been doing for the past 2 to 4 years?

I know that most of us more or less abandoned our blogging at least 2 years ago, and some longer…so, what has been going on in the past few years w/ you all? As long as we’re all coming back together, we might as well do some catching up!
Write it anyway you want….include pictures if you are able, let us in on your joys, sorrows, accomplishments….just get us all up to speed!


On April 11th 2009 my blogging life became something less than what it had been…  It has evolved greatly since the day I joined xanga so many years ago, things have ebbed and changed with my lifestyles and interests.  I used to write long blogs that wound with my thoughts… these slowly gave way to posts full of stories and pictures as Ryan and I moved to The Land of Fairy Tales in 2006…


In 2009 when we moved home to the states and then on to Texas I found that my life no longer held much I wanted to talk about…


I didn’t like the town I lived in, I don’t make friends quickly, life was changing and for the first time in a long time I didn’t know quite how to change with it.  The adjustment from living in Arizona for my whole life to living in a foreign country was hard but exciting… the adjustment of going from fairytales behind every rock to small town America almost broke me.  And so blogging became something perfunctory a duty that I didn’t want to do… 

When life in it’s ever changing way became blog worthy once more I was out of the habit and life was busy…

In the fall of 2009 my husband and I got the unexpected news that we were expecting. 


We had been trying to have a baby for 9 years at that point and it was our fourth pregnancy.  Our joy was unimaginable as we watched the pregnancy progress and began to understand that we would be parents after all of these years.  I was stunned and busy dreaming and planning…


And then he came!

Isaac Orion Laube was born on May 9th of 2010, Mother’s day!


He consumed me… in a good way!  Just when life began to slow down and I thought that maybe I would come back we found out that Gandalf (my Newfi mix baby boy) was sick.  In just a few weeks time we said goodbye to my soul’s best friend… I came here and I wrote for him and then I couldn’t come back for a while… and life went on. 


Three short months later we lost Yoda (Our 13 year old Schnauzer) to a broken heart… He just couldn’t live without Gandalf. 


It took me longer to get here and write for him…  and I just didn’t have the heart to come back…

I came and wrote entries for Thanksgiving and Christmas… a cute face here a short trip there… first foods… first smile…  Nothing with depth…  but a few great pictures!


In January of this year I lost my mind and we adopted a new furry face into our family…

Meet Spock


I love him… he’s a lot of work and my heart still aches for my boys but I can tell that Spock was a perfect choice for our little family.

Life went on with a bit more pee than before… but it zoomed by all the same…

And then suddenly… Isaac was one!


In the blink of an eye two years have passed since I was really here… since I worked at maintaining the relationships so crucial to my military lifestyle…

I don’t know what happened but one day I woke up and realized that I wanted to be here again.  That I wanted to share my life with you who have been with me for so long… and with those who are new… that I wanted my life to shine as a beacon of hope for those that have empty arms… as a light in the darkness for those seeking fulfillment and peace… I wanted to stop hiding in my anonymity. 

So here I am…

My life is about to change again drastically…  My husband is about to deploy to Afghanistan followed by a year without us in Turkey.  Isaac and I are moving home to be with family in Arizona and we are a few short months away from learning where we will go once we’re all back together again…

My life is like a breath held… and all the while my world keeps spinning… my son keeps growing… and my joy is overflowing…

I would be honored if you would join me on this new journey… and I’m looking forward to learning about yours!

Ryan & Courtney-35


Eleven years together…

Today, June 24th 2011, Ryan and I celebrate our 11th anniversary. 

We walked down the aisle at 19 and 21.  We had great dreams and plans for our lives… We were young and in love and completely clueless…


Now we stand hand in hand at 30 and 32.  We’ve lived a lot of life in our 11 years together.  Our great dreams and plans didn’t work out as we had hoped but the reality is so much better… 

We are older and wiser… and hotter!  😀

Ryan & Courtney-24

We are not as young as we were back then but we are more in love. 

This man is my best friend, my confidant, he makes me laugh, he knows my heart…

We have our own language, we have a thousand inside jokes, we can have whole conversations with a look…

Our life together is a whirlwind of excitement and newness but with him by my side I feel like an Island in the storm…  Though life may rage around us we are ever steady ever solid…

“I know what it is to live entirely for and with what I love best on earth.  I hold myself supremely blessed, blessed beyond what language can express; because I am my husband’s life as fully as he is mine.  No woman was ever nearer to her mate than I am; ever more absolutely bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh.”

Ryan & Courtney-44

If 11 years can be like this I CAN NOT WAIT for the rest of our lives together…



The other shoe has dropped…

Where to begin?

I have been staring at this blank screen for over an hour… and an hour of Isaac’s sleeping time is precious!  So much is happening… so much needs to be said… the words are so crowded in my head that I’m not sure where to begin!

First comes first…  Ryan is getting ready to leave for his deployment to Afghanistan.  I can’t tell you when he leaves, I can’t tell you where he’s going, I won’t even be able to tell you once he’s gone.  I’ll have to stay silent until he reaches his final destination.  What I can say is that by the time you have all recovered from celebrating our country’s Independence day… I’ll be a very different kind of independent.

On top of that sometime in the end of July my mom and dad will be coming for a visit and Isaac and I will be heading back to Phoenix to stay for the duration.  I had originally intended to only be there for the holidays but honestly, why stay in Del Rio?  So we’re going home…

As you can imagine there is a lot to be done… there is a lot going on… there is a lot of stress and a lot of emotion…

As if this wasn’t all bad enough!

At 13:30 CST today Ryan got an email stating that we had been selected for a permanent change of station assignment.  The only other information in that original email was that the selected location was Turkey.

And then information started to trickle in… 

It was a short tour at Izmir Air Base on the Mediterranean Sea.

We would be expected to be there directly after Ryan returns from his deployment.

And then the big blow…

It is a one year unaccompanied tour. 

That’s right folks…  Ryan will return from Afghanistan… we’ll have a few weeks together to get everything in order and close out our life here in Del Rio, TX  and then he will move to Turkey and we will move to Arizona.  As it stands right now the Air Force will move us home for the duration. 

So in a short amount of time Isaac and I will kiss Ryan goodbye and at the same time say goodbye to life as a family for roughly the next 21 months.

Because of Ryan’s career field we don’t qualify for your classic base of preference follow on.  We owe an overseas tour and so will probably move overseas upon his return from Turkey.  The next few years are going to be a CRAZY ride! 

There are some very good aspects to this situation.  The money is going to be amazing.  It will literally change our lives and open up so many opportunities.  The affect this will have on Ryan’s career is phenominal and will end up being worth the time apart…  Ryan has to do a short tour during his career and if he has to leave us for a year Isaac is the right age for it now! 

It is the best timing, the most logical choice, the best financial decision, the absolute best thing for our family…

It’s going to be HARD.

It’s going to take some time to process this… I might be absent a bit in coming days as we prepare to say goodbye as a family… We’re going to be fine… we’ll come through this stronger than ever… it’s what we do… it’s what we signed up for… this is our life… 

They are asking nothing less of us than we have already volunteered to give.

Pray for us?

Ryan & Courtney-5


One Picture of Myself!

The time has come to post the very last part of this challenge.  I have to say that I have thoroughly enjoyed doing this, oh how I have missed blogging!


One picture of me?  Are you kidding?  I’m a narcissist for Pete’s sake!  Oh, probably should have gone in my 10 secrets post…  Kidding kidding…

Without further ado… one picture of me!

 Ryan & Courtney-73sep

I have to tell you the story that goes with this picture!

I was in Phoenix during the Royal Wedding event.  The day before it took place my mother and I were in Burlington Coat Factory which happens to have a fantastic selection of hats.  We walked by the hat section to find two women trying on every oversized, silly, feather, beribboned hat in the place!  We stood and gawked at the display and were appalled when we were caught.  One of the women turned in a blue concoction and instead of glaring at us for staring she struck a pose and asked us how she looked! We were a bit taken aback but gave our opinion politely…  She then giggled and asked us if we were attending the Royal Wedding party?

Oh!  That explains it! 

So we got in on the fun and started trying on hats too.  There were silly hats and beautiful hats… satin and straw… ribbons and lace…  You name it and it was there!  We had a wonderful time… 

Then I turned and I saw this hat.

It practically called my name from the top shelf and I just had to try it on.  I don’t know what it is about it that calls to me… but it does!

They told me that it was the perfect hat… I peeked at the price tag and reluctantly replaced it on it’s tippy top shelf.

Later that night Ryan and I had to stop by Burlington to buy something for Isaac and it seemed like fate… because I had not stopped thinking about the hat all day!  I asked Ryan if he wanted to see it and he was game.  Imagine our surprise when we stopped at the edge of the hat section to see a sea of women trying on hats!  There had to be at least 20 women trying on every hat in the place all giggling and posing and outright guffawing!  We plunged into the maelstrom and I frantically searched for my hat! 

I was convinced that it was gone when a small pile toppled and revealed my hat… still sitting where I had left it…  I ran over with a small cry and plucked it from the shelf… put it on my head and turned to face my husband.

What happened next was nothing short of massive peer pressure!

Easily half of the women let out little gasps and cries. 

“Oh honey that is YOUR hat!” 

“Sweetheart you must have that for your own!” 

“Darlin’ that hat was made for you!”

and so on until my whole body was blushing… One elderly lady came up to me and said,

“Honey you need to buy that hat… you look like you should be walking the streets of 1940’s Paris with a movie star dress on and a dandy on your arm.  It’s fantastic and it just captures your spirit.” 

I was so taken aback and she and I plunged into talk of our travels… She lived in England way back when and we talked of Europe and travel of love and of the romance of places.  Then she squeezed my arm and said,

“Are you going to buy the hat honey?  Because I have to tell you that my best friend took a fancy to that hat last week and after much debate she left it here… I would love to let her know that a young woman who’s heart lives in Paris bought her hat!”

What could I say?

I am now the proud owner of a champagne satin hat that cost me a steeply discounted $40. 

Do you know why I chose this picture?  Because it’s me to the core…  There I am… a modern day 30 year old mother who lives with one foot in America and one foot in other places who will own a hat that I’ll probably never wear because one old lady was right… It captures my spirit…

Ryan & Courtney-73sep


Here we go again…

A few months ago I wrote about having some blood work done.  The results are in and the verdict is…

Perhaps I should give you a little back story first. 

I have been anemic for as long as I’ve been getting blood tests… I have never been able to donate blood no matter how often I have tried.  No one has ever cared to test farther… it is always chalked up to not enough red meat, being a girl, and a thousand other little things… but the fact remains that it has been a running theme throughout my life. 

Fast forward to 2004 when I had my Ruen-Y Gastric bypass.  I was, of course, anemic when the surgery was done buy hey I probably just had low energy from the liquid diet of the two previous weeks.  I was told that because my surgery was a malabsorption surgery I would have low energy for the rest of my life.  When I weighed the thought of being dead by the time I was 30 against being a low energy person for the rest of my life there really was no contest.

Then I got pregnant in 2007.  I HIT THE DECK.  I couldn’t stay awake more than a few hours at a time.  I couldn’t function…  When I lost the baby it took me 6 weeks to recover enough to leave the house.  I thought it was a mental thing… (though I didn’t feel depressed, just sad) now I’m not so sure.  I couldn’t leave the house because I was SO TIRED! 

Then I got pregnant with Isaac and it started all over again… It was that way for my entire pregnancy… I was sick and absolutely exhausted.  About 3 months into the pregnancy I got a call from my doctor’s office telling me that I was severely anemic.  They put me on a super duper strong Iron supplement, pretty much the most potent you can take and sent me on my way.  I was not checked again.  The pregnancy progressed normally and Isaac was born a full month early on May 09, 2010.  It was months before I was back up to about half energy again and I just chalked that up to lack of sleep.

When Isaac was six months old it started getting worse.  By the time he was ten months old I could barely function and felt like I needed about 15 hours of sleep a day and he was sleeping through the night.  So I finally went in… 

Months of blood work and going back and forth to the lab and the verdict is FINALLY in.  I have a severe case of Iron Deficiency Anemia.  It’s something that is fairly common as in 20% of woman have this during pregnancy ect.  The only problem is that mine is complicated by my surgery.  Usually if you have this the only thing it affects it that your body won’t store any iron but you’ll have functional iron (the iron you absorb through your diet) to take care of your body’s needs.  I don’t absorb any.  They said there is virtually no iron in my blood…  So

Feeling cold all the time
Muscle weakness
Failure to develop muscle tone (this one has made carrying my increasingly heavy child quite painful!)
Shortness of breath
Muscle aches and spasms
… and a dozen other things…


Because of my specific issues the only course of action since, supplements do not work for me (read that I took that supplement for almost two years with no effect and it’s the strongest you can take) is to have IV Iron infusions once a week for six weeks.  Then they will retest me and decide on a further course of action. 

So I will now have a lifelong relationship with a Hematologist/Oncologist. YIPPEE! 

The good news is that this should fix me.  I should feel normal for the first time in my life.  I can’t imagine what it will be like to actually WANT to exercise… or walk… or run… 

So I’m off this morning for my first treatment… I’ll keep you updated!

All my love,


2 Songs

Yes, this challenge, as I have said in every entry, has been difficult… some parts of it more so than others.  However this request, to pick two songs, is IMPOSSIBLE!!! 

Music is so intertwined in our lives… it colors memories, evokes feelings, is wrapped around our lives from birth to death.  It opens the floodgates of heaven, stirs the soul, breaks your heart, brings healing, gives courage, it changes you from the inside out. 

How do I pick TWO?! 

That’s is very like asking me to pick a favorite day of my life!  Do I choose the day Ryan and I fell in love?  The day I got saved? Our first kiss?  The day Ryan proposed?  My wedding day? The day I found out that I was pregnant with Isaac?  The day my son was born?  The day my son said my name for the very first time?

They all have a song… how do I choose two?


1. If I must choose… I’ll begin with my favorite worship song… for now. 

Revelation Song” by Kari Jobe.  This song breaks down to my very soul… I can’t help but sing along and lift my praises to God…

“Filled with wonder, awestruck wonder
at the mention of your name
Jesus your name is power
Breath, and living water
Such a marvelous mystery

Holy, holy, holy
Is the Lord God Almighty
Who was, and is, and is to come
With all creation I sing
Praise to the King of Kings
You are my everything
And I will adore you.”

It never fails to lift me out of where I am and transport me to the throne room… who can ask for more in a song?


2. My second song would have to be “Storybook Love” by Mark Knopfler

Yes my second favorite song in all the world is the theme song from The Princess Bride… lame, I know. 

This song is part joke and part all seriousness.  Ryan and I are preschool sweethearts… our love was destiny… it was a dance for years and years and in the end… I get to lay down every night beside the boy that captured my heart at seven years of age.  So…

“He said, “Don’t you know, I love you, oh, so much
And lay my heart at the foot of your dress?”
She said, “Don’t you know that storybook loves
Always have a happy ending?”
Then he swooped her up just like in the books
And on his stallion they rode away

My love is like a storybook story
But it’s as real as the feelings I feel
My love is like a storybook story.”


I can’t say I’m happy to leave it here… but that after all is the challenge…


3 Movies

As with every other part of this challenge so far this was difficult for me.  I suppose I should just say that the entire 10 day challenge has been… well… challenging!  To pick only three movies is asking a lot from a child of the movie generation!  Add to that fact that Ryan and I are ardent collectors and lovers of film and you have asked the impossible of me!  We collect everything; old black and white films such as Fred Astair and Ginger Rodgers movies, John Wayne westerns, comedies, dramas, romantic comedies, B movies, horror films, name it and we probably have it… 

So here we go… THREE MOVIES!  Uhg…


My all time favorite movie is a toss up so numbers one and two are a tie for first place… as strange as it will seem.

1. Pride and Prejudice. 

Any version of this movie will work in a pinch but if we are talking favorites it simply MUST be A&E’s excellent version with Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth.  I love it.. it has been an all time favorite of mine since I saw it for the first time in 1997.  I had just suffered my very first broken heart and spent many nights laying awake wallowing in my misery.  One night I was flipping channels and a beautiful dance scene full of dresses caught my attention and I just kept watching.  Six hours later the movie was over, my eyes were gritty with lack of sleep and I was in love with Mr. Darcy A whole new facet of beauty had been added to my world and I quickly purchased the film for my very own.  Mr. Darcy went a long way over the next six months towards healing my broken heart and for that he will ever have a spot there. 


2. Princess Bride

I have loved this movie for as long as I can remember.  I love the silly romance, I love the tongue-in-cheek witticisms, I love the silly story, I love the swordfighting, I love the piracy on the high seas… I LOVE IT ALL!  I am privileged beyond words to be living this movie in my own life… in a way.  I thought all my life that I wanted to marry the classic tall dark handsome brooding poetic man…  As a teenager I would have gladly married Mr. Darcy, and though he still makes my heart pitter patter, in reality Wesley is more my type.  Ryan and I have a perfect marriage… for us!  I love our silly romance, I love our tounge-in-cheek witticisms, I love our silly story, I love our life and this movie is like a lovely inside joke of a photo album for it.  Though you’ll never here either of us say “As you wish!”


3. Star Trek.  Any of them will do… I love them all.

You think I’m joking?  I named my dog Spock, do you need farther proof?  I grew up watching the original series with James T. Kirk, Spock, Bones, Uhura, Scotty, and Chekov at my father’s knee.  All my childhood imagination is tied up in them… and in their adventures.  I still love watching every movie… though the original cast will never be replaced for me.    


There are so many more… John Wayne movies that are near and dear to my heart, Star Wars, P.S. I Love You (which is my I-need-to-ugly-cry movie) and oh so many more…

Until the next impossible task.


4 Books

This was an impossible challenge and I am not at all satisfied with the results.  I AM A MAJOR BOOKHOUND.  I’ve read thousands over my lifetime… perhaps tens of thousands.  There is no way to pick four… I did my very best.


1. My number one favorite book has to be the Bible.  It is the only book ever written that lives… It can comfort me in any situation, it is relevant in every part of my life.  No matter how many times I’ve read through it, it has something new to say.  I always find solace, help, comfort, healing in the word.  I am never disappointed if I truly make the effort to listen.

2. My second favorite book is Crocodile on the Sandbank by Elizabeth Peters.  In truth the entire 18 book book Amelia Peabody series is my favorite but as I’m only allowed to pick one book the first one will do.  This series is about a heroine named Amelia who is a proper Victorian English lady who travels to Egypt as a tourist and finds a life she never knew she wanted.  She becomes a detective, an archeologist, a wife, a mother…  and the next 17 books follow her life and the lives of her family.  In fact my email signature is a quote from Amelia.  Words to live by.

“It is much more sensible to be an optimist instead of a pessimist.  For if one is doomed to disappointment, why experience it in advance?”

3. My third favorite book would have to be Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin.  I have been in love with the story for all of my adult life (not to mention Mr. Darcy).  It fascinates and inspires me!

4.  I’m cheating for my fourth book.  I can’t pick one so I’m going to pick an author because in reality just pick one of her books and you’ll have a favorite of mine.  Colleen Coble.  I recently discovered her through Booksneeze.com and a free book given to me for review.  In the roughly two months since I have read EVERY SINGLE BOOK she’s written and I’m chomping at the bit for more.  I’ve hooked my mother and sister on her as well and have hopes to hook every single one of you!  🙂  She writes Christian fiction romance/mysteries.  I LOVE THEM!  She is a well versed and intelligent writer that keeps you guessing until the very end and just plain delivers.  I highly recommend you give her a try!

Okay that’s all I’m allowed for this round!


5 Foods

This challenge was HARD!  I love food… I have been so many places… Eaten the foods of a dozen countries… How do I pick five?


Five foods

1. Pizza.  I LOVE pizza.  The hardest thing I have ever had to do was give up cheese to nurse my son.  I love all things cheese, I’m a cheese snob, but there is nothing in all the world like dough covered in sauce and smothered in cheese!  NOTHING!  I like pretty much any pizza but if I could choose any it would be Sardella’s pepperoni.  Yep that’s the stuff dreams are made of right there!

2. A shredded beef and green chili chimichanga from Carlos O’Brien’s in Phoenix, Az.  There are two now so I’ll even specify that it really needs to be the one at 11th street and Northern.  I’ve been going to this restaurant since I was a little girl after church on Sundays with my grandparents.  As I grew up the visits were less frequent but we never stopped going all together.  Now it’s a place to go on special occasions and I haven’t gotten anything else off the menu since I was about 13.  Don’t mess with a good thing!

Time to take a trip back to Germany

3. Home made chicken noodle soup with pumpernickel bread. I spent my entire childhood and most of my adult life hating chicken noodle soup. It just never hit the spot for me! When we moved to Germany in 2006 and discovered The Landhaus Biehl all of that changed. Nichole begins every meal with a bowl of her chicken noodle soup and I’ve come to crave it when I’m sick or just needing some good old fashion comfort food. As I can’t afford to hop on a plane and go get a bowl whenever I have a hankerin’ I have learned to make my own and it’s fantastic! (If I do say so myself!)

4. Jagerschneitzel… Nichole style.  She takes a prime piece of pork, tenderizes it, breads it, fries it and then covers it in the Jagger gravy and sauteed mushrooms…  There are no words to describe just how wonderful this stuff is… it is an instant comfort food that forever holds a place in my heart… err… stomach.  Unfortunately it’s another thing I can’t get easily and not something I can replicate.

 Now it’s time to travel just a short hop skip and a jump west into the city of Paris.

5. Doner Kebab mit fritas on the banks of the River Seine.  This is wrap consisting of slow cooked chicken, pork, or lamb shaved thin and wrapped in a turkish pizza along with a salad of cabbage, tomatoes, and onions, tzatziki sauce and french fries.  It was one of the best things I ever ate.  Maybe walking the streets of Paris for hours made it taste better or maybe it was just made of pure awesome… Whatever the case I NEED to have one again someday!

That took me two hours.  I’m serious… It was so hard to only pick five!