Book Review: I Still Believe

Title: I Still Believe

Author: Jeremy Camp


My Thoughts:

When Celeste and I were enduring our infertility issues — and especially after our adoption of Jaden fell through — my faith took a big hit. It was both hard and necessary to cling to a God who allowed so many difficult things to happen in our lives. Music was one of the things that kept my head and heart into the game, and I was quickly drawn to Jeremy Camp’s music. Through his lyrics, I could tell he had experienced some personal tragedy in his life, but I had no idea what it was.

I Still Believe is part autobiography and part telling Jeremy’s greatest heartache and how he came out of his deepest valley.  At the age of 23, Jeremy’s wife Melissa died of ovarian cancer, just months after they were married.  It was out of this despair, that he wrote one of his biggest songs “I Still Believe.” (See the video below.)  All through the book, I saw how prayer, studying Scripture, and interacting with godly people helped build a faith that withstood horrible situations and came out refined on the other side.

Personally, I could really connect with how he said that he actually didn’t want to sing that song about believing, because he didn’t feel like he did believe at the time. Yet, he chose to obey and sing songs of praise and tell his story over and over (and still does more than a dozen years later).  I really didn’t want to read this book and live his emotional roller coaster with him, but I’m glad I did.

If there was one thing I’ve learned through all the craziness of our lives (infertility, miscarriage, adoption woes, bizarre diseases) is that we all have crud in our lives. How we handle that crud will determine the strength of our character and who we become in life.  Whatever your crud is, this could be a great book to help you on your journey.  Just bring a box of tissues with you as well.



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Life to Her Years

Shortly after becoming a daddy, I stumbled upon a brand new blog called Life to Her Years, which is written specifically to dads with daughters. I loved the blog and immediately started following it.   The blog has cute pictures of dads and daughters with pithy pieces of advice.  Let’s face it.  Every girl needs a strong daddy figure to help her grow up with self-esteem and self-confidence.

Michael Mitchell, creator of the blog, has recently turned the blog into a book, which I just finished reading. While the pictures and captions would be familiar to any reader of the blog, seeing them all condensed into one place is just an amazing experience for any daddy.  And let’s face it… If can read the whole thing and not get a tear in your eye at least one time, I doubt you are a real man.

I’m thinking this would make a great Father’s Day gift for a dad who is raising some young ladies. Just follow the link below, buy it, and your Father’s Day shopping is over.


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Welcome Ellie to the Family!

Ever since we said good-bye to Mandy in August, we knew a new dog would be in our future.  The “when” was always a question mark, but the “what” was a definite — a black lab.  It’s been four years since Belle left us, but we loved her temperament and always knew we wanted to be black lab people. (I actually promised this to Belle at the vet in her last moments, but I’ve since come to realize that promises made to dogs on the death beds are not legally binding.)

At some point this fall, we were talking to our friend Melanie who told us about a black lab named Ellie, who lived with her sister, Emily.  Emily’s friend couldn’t keep Ellie and was going to take her to the pound, which didn’t sound like a good idea to Emily.  She took Ellie in, but couldn’t give her the attention she needed and wanted to give her away.  Enter the Dunlap Family.

There were really only two (OK, maybe three) problems.  One, Ellie wasn’t exactly living down the street.  Emily’s house sits not terribly far from the Indiana/Illinois border. Two, Celeste was entering the super busy time of year we call Christmas, but retail people call 4th Quarter. Three, the weather isn’t exactly the best this time of year. However, Ava helped us decide.  We dogsat Marshall (Melanie and family’s dog) over Thanksgiving.  Ava had a horrible time saying good-bye to Marshall and insisted Miss Melanie wanted us to keep Marshall forever.  We knew it was time to get our own dog again.

We left about 8:30 Sunday morning and made a stop in Indianapolis, about the halfway point of the trip.  We stopped at Jessica’s apartment (Melanie’s daughter and Emily’s niece) for an early lunch at her apartment and amazing dessert at the Flying Cupcake.  Then, the four of us drove the rest of the way to see Ellie.

We had been praying from the start that we would just know right away if Ellie was the perfect dog for our family, and the answer came almost immediately when Ellie greeted Ava with a kiss. It was official.  Ellie is a Dunlap!

We put Ellie in the back of the CR-V and started the long trek back to Kentucky.  We weren’t five miles down the road before Ellie was in the back seat of the CR-V.  It wasn’t 20 miles before Ellie was in the front seat of the CR-V.  Yes, Ellie was very happy to be with us…very close to us.

While joining Celeste and me in the front of the car, she succeeded in shifting the car into neutral as well as turning on the windshield wipers, rear defrost, and A/C. I was stressed, and Celeste had her hands full keeping Ellie in line.

At our last stop in Indy, we got out of the car, and Celeste sent me on a walk around the apartment complex with Ellie and Ava.  Here I am being dragged by a dog through the snow, grabbing Ava’s hand, dragging her along with me, while my right arm is getting yanked out of it’s socket.  At one point, I thought how wrong it was to have my four-year old daughter closest to moving cars, so I switched everything. Let’s just say my left arm isn’t nearly strong enough for Ellie.  Eventually, I just let Ava walk in the snow and prayed that she didn’t get her outfit wet… for the second time that day. (I asked Celeste what I did wrong to deserve that punishment and apologized for whatever it was.)

After a tasty Panera dinner we drove the rest of the way home without Jess.  Ellie was very well behaved for over an hour of the last leg, laying in the backseat next to Ava, but she was back at her antics again as soon as we got into Ohio.  She really wanted to sit on my lap.  Celeste eventually had to crawl into the backseat to keep Ellie behaved.

Nearly 8 hours of driving in 12 hours, and we returned with a very cute, very energetic, very strong doggie!

Today we took Ellie to (what we think is) her first vet visit.  We discovered that she is 73.4 pounds (I thought we were getting a puppy!) and is super healthy.  The vet gave us lots of good advice and couldn’t stop gushing over how all around awesome Ellie is.

Now, Ellie has lots of energy.  She’s been on a few walks today. Ava and I played with her in the backyard for a while. (I am happy to report that this retriever actually retrieves, unlike some dogs I used to have living in this house.)  Ellie is also a snuggler.  If you’re standing, she will stand up on her hind feet and give you hugs.  If you’re sitting, she’ll lay down ON you.  In fact, when I sat to type up this post, I had to literally push the dog off my lap so I could use the laptop.  We also discovered that Mandy’s Gentle Leader helps make walks much less painful.

Ellie is definitely the perfect dog for our family, and we are so glad she’s with us!

(And, I’m sure that by looking at the pictures, you’ll see that Ava’s only slightly excited to have Ellie too!)



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And, thanks to Jess for contributing some of these pictures!

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