Friday, January 29, 2010

Faith's Shadow

From Naked Pastor's Dave Hayward:

Something about this felt profound . . .

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Thoughts On The Apple iPad

Yesterday my friend Keith asked me for my thoughts on the recently announced Apple iPad. If you haven't heard about it yet, here is a promo video for it:

Essentially it is a portable internet tablet that Apple is releasing in two months, starting at $499 USD. Apple is of course saying it is magic and is very excited about it. Yet most of the reviewers I have heard are disappointed at the least and think it's not impressive at the worst. My thoughts?

I too was disappointed. And it's not just the, ahem, unfortunate name. The rumor mill was going wild and I think that I was expecting more. Built in phone, camera, GPS, etc. Essentially it is just a bigger iPod touch with a slick new operating system. I have seen Apple make a few blunders before and although rare, it's possible that this is also one. But I think it will be at least modestly successful. What makes me think that? It's because there is room to grow.

Once this tablet has:
-a camera or video camera
-built in phone capabilities
-a lower price

then I think Apple will sell a lot of them. Right now everyone is complaining but once the price lowers it will be much more compelling. It's not for everyone but it will be right for some. And so I think it will do at least OK commercially and possibly (in an updated and more price aggressive form) do very well. It may also evolve into something else, something with a more tasteful name. So there you go, there's my predictions. What yours?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Book Review: Last Child In The Woods

Book Review: Last Child In The Woods - Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder
by Richard Louv

Have you ever read a book that answered a whole lot of questions that you didn't even know you were asking? That's the experience I had reading Last Child In The Woods. So many feelings and thoughts about my life, nature, my exposure to technology, and my kids were like unfinished sentences . . . and this book helped to finish them.

Last Child In The Woods is mixture of romance, research, and resistance. Louv is a national leader and voice in the growing movement to "leave no child inside." He methodically charts all of the different reasons why children need to get back outside . . . and the destructive results to their health (and the Earth's) if we don't. He talks passionately about how fear and time constraints, mixed with a new emphasis on indirect experience (TV, movies, internet, video games), as well as over regulation and fear of litigation has made it less likely and less likely that children will experience the reality of nature. A few interesting facts from the book:

-Study after study shows that spending time in nature has a strong effect on managing stress, aids in grieving, sharpens focus, increases creativity, combats depression. In short, experience of nature is extremely good for one's emotional health.
-In one study, prison inmates who were in a hospital recovered 24% faster if their outside window faced a meadow instead of the asphalt prison courtyard.
-National Park visits in the U.S. have dropped by over 25% in the last decade. The average road trip has dropped from 3.5 days to 2.5 days.
-More children then ever are involved in organized sports yet more children then ever are obese.
-Less exposure to nature and an increase in indirect experience has dramatically increased the amount of kids with ADD and ADHD. At the same time, unstructured time in nature is being effectively used to combat this - much more effectively then drugs or behavior therapy.
-Studies show that countries where schools encourage unstructured outdoor play in natural surroundings have healthier, more focused, and better performing students. School's whose curriculum integrate nature report more retention and better test scores.

This book has way too much to sum up in a few paragraphs but let me say it felt like essential reading. Thinking about my current moving from direct to indirect experience over the past few years scares me. I was just talking the other day with my friend Jason about this. We were driving somewhere and as I watched him adjust his radio, mp3 player, search the web on his iPod touch, and check his email on his Blackberry - all while driving - I asked him "Do you ever think we are too overconnected?" The idea of indirect experience versus direct experience hit me hard. Not that TV, the internet, or movies are bad - but they are not a substitute for the direct experience of nature. The book inspired me to get outside and to get my kids outside. It's also making me think about how to reduce my indirect experience and increase my direct ones (touching, smelling, feeling, listening) not just to nature but to people. I rate this book 4.9 ninja stars out of 5.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010


We recently surprised our kids (last Friday) and instead of going to school, we went on a road trip to the Mall of America. We had a lot of fun but the thing that kept going through my head was "excess." The Mall itself is somewhat overwhelming in it's hugeness and it's repetitiveness (seriously, the same store three times in one mall?). It seems that everything is big in the States - at least compared to Canada.

We stopped in Grand Forks on our way home so Jobina could go to a Super Target. There were less then 100 people in this massive store and again it was overwhelming. I couldn't help but feel like it was all so excessive. The worst though was the restaurant we ate in. It was called Golden Coral or something like that and it was an all you can eat buffet restaurant. For $7 you could literally eat as much as you want. Now buffets are nothing new for me but the sheer number of dishes was mindboggling. So much food! And yet there were less then 10 patrons in the entire place. Unless they were hit with a late night rush 98% of that food was going to be thrown out. Such waste seemed unethical. We tried to not overdo it yet we all felt like we had overdone it by the time we left. We all agreed - never again.

To me this kind of excess feels kind of unethical. It saddens me that so much food can be wasted, that so much money is spent for so little gain. All that food could probably have fed a small African village for a week. What a waste. It actually saddens me. Thinking about this made me think though - the people who eat here are desensitized to the excessiveness - but what sort of things am I desensitized to when it comes to excess? Or is excess simply relative?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Apple Anticipation

Ever since a fateful decision in the Fall of 1993, I have been a Mac guy. My first mac was an LCIII, affectionately known as "The pizzabox" it was ugly by today's standards but light years ahead of the 486 PC's that were it's competition. That was during the dark years for Apple but once I took the risk and made the jump I have never thought about going back. Mac people are zealots. And yes, it is a cult. During the dark years I was persecuted for my faith in Apple but I held strong. Now Apple, Inc. is successful, popular, and the most influential of electronics companies. Many of friends who mocked me are now happy mac owners themselves. I don't want to say "I told you so" but . . .

Anyway, Apple does things differently. For the past few years rumors have been swirling about a new portable computer, similar to the iPhone/iPod Touch but bigger. Dubbed the "iTablet" these rumors are so seriously discussed that even magazines like The Wall Street Journal write about them often and one magazine offered a $100,000 award for someone to leak the rumored device's specs. Apple products rumors are so sought after that there is virtual micro-industry dedicated at trying to ferret out Apple's secrets before they are announced officially. A few days ago, Apple sent out the following invitation to select media:

The event will be on Jan 27th at 10am Pacific Time. Certainly they will be introducing something new but what will it be? New iPhones? Touchscreen iMacs? New software? Or the mysterious tablet computer? This kind of coyness from Apple drives us Apple fans crazy with anticipation. These events happen once or twice a year. The actual events are usually cut off to the public but some websites such as Engadget liveblog from the events. I often schedule my day around these liveblogs and one time a year ago I almost didn't make it to my classes!

How can a company get such loyal (and some would say cult-like) devotion? I think it is their attention to detail, their focus on making great products, and a superstar CEO in Steve Jobs. All I know is that I am emotionally attached to the products I have from them and consider them to be works of art. Anyway, the countdown to Jan 27 is on!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Tax System, Explained in Beer

I thought I'd share something a bit different with you today, dear readers. I received it in an email newsletter from joint ventures expert Robin J. Elliot:

Suppose that every day, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to $100.

If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this:

The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing.
The fifth would pay $1.
The sixth would pay $3.
The seventh would pay $7.
The eighth would pay $12.
The ninth would pay $18.
The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59.

So, that’s what they decided to do.

The ten men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the owner threw them a curve ball.

“Since you are all such good customers,” he said, “I’m going to reduce the cost of your daily beer by $20.” Drinks for the ten now cost just $80.

The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes.

So the first four men were unaffected.

They would still drink for free. But what about the other six men? The paying customers?

How could they divide the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his fair share?’

They realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody’s share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his beer.

So, the bar owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man’s bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay.

And so the fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% savings)
The sixth now paid $2 instead of $3 (33% savings).
The seventh now paid $5 instead of $7 (28% savings).
The eighth now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% savings).
The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18 ( 22% savings).
The tenth now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% savings).

Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued to drink for free. But once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings.

“I only got a dollar out of the $20,” declared the sixth man.

He pointed to the tenth man,” but he got $10!”

“Yeah, that’s right,” exclaimed the fifth man. “I only saved a Dollar, too. It’s unfair that he got ten times more than I!”

“That’s true!!” shouted the seventh man. “Why should he get $10 back when I got only two? The wealthy get all the breaks!”

“Wait a minute,” yelled the first four men in unison. “We didn’t get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!”

The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.

The next night the tenth man didn’t show up for drinks, so the nine sat down and had beers without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important. They didn’t have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill!

And that, boys and girls, journalists and college professors, this is how our tax system works.

The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction.

Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up anymore.

In fact, they might start drinking overseas where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier.

-Author unknown

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Disquieting Effect

On Sunday evening Jobina and I picked up our kids from my parent's house (we occasionally drop them off there) and we were hanging out before making the long drive home. My Dad mentioned that the sermon in his church that morning was on contentment. As he started telling us about it, he mentioned that the pastor asked the church to answer the question "Are you content?" For some reason when my Dad said that, I noticed that it had a disquieting effect on me. Ever had that happen to you? Someone mentions something and internally it kind of throws you a bit. Maybe some discomfort. Or the hint of fear. Emotionally you react to it and the overall effect is somewhat unsettling. "Hmmm . . . that's interesting," I thought, trying to be the professional counselor and being self-aware of the effect it was having on me.

Then my Dad mentioned that the pastor said that it was up to us to "choose to be content." That's when the disquieting effect really kicked in. I found myself questioning this out loud. "How is that possible, " I asked, "and what does it look like?" My parents must have noticed the slightly different edge to my voice and looked at me curiously. Later on the ride home I told Jobina about my internal reaction to the conversation. I think that the idea of contentment is something that has always mystified me. How can you be content without being complacent? How can one be content in the moment yet still fervently pursue worthwhile accomplishments and vision? What is the secret to this. I think that I experience moments of contentment but my Dad's comments stirred something deeper in me, a knowledge that my desire to experience contentment is not being adequately met. I have been thinking about it for the past few days and the thinking has been good. Sometimes a disquieting effect is just what the doctor ordered. . .

Monday, January 18, 2010

Book Review: The Five Languages

I told someone the other day that I was reading this book and they said "But you're a marriage counselor, how could you not have read it." I know, I know. I've been meaning to for a couple of years now but just never got around to it. "It will always be there," I thought to myself. Finally this Christmas I ordered it from Amazon and read most of it my trip out west. Yesterday I finished the rest.

This book is exceptional. It is very easy to read with a very easy to understand concept. Gary Chapman says that we all have love languages (physical touch, quality time, words of affirmation, gifts, acts of service) that we use to show others we love them and to receive love ourselves. When a romantic relationship begins these needs being met is not so important since we are deep in the "in love" experience - a temporary high that lasts at the most two years. After that, if our spouse doesn't learn how to speak our language our love tanks can get depleted and we can get into serious marital distress. Chapman describes two people trying to love each other with different love languages as being like two people speaking different languages and trying to communicate with sign language and gutteral noises. The problem is that instead of trying to learn what the other person needs as shows of love we just give them what we want. Thus if you are a gifts person you give your mate gifts. Of course if they don't care about gifts and want acts of service you can see how deep frustration can build. I see this in couples therapy all the time.

I went to Chapman's website and profiled myself (check it out here). Jobina knew immediately what her love language was, but unusually I wasn't sure. After taking the profile I could see why, I don't have a really strong primary language. Here's my results:

Words of Service (10) was the highest , but words of affirmation (9) and quality time (7) were close behind. This feels fairly accurate.

I find the book useful, not just in it's treatment of love languages but on how the author stresses the importance of choosing to love. Anyone can love someone who is filling your love tank, what about those who deplete it? What if that person is your spouse? Chapman's ability to motivate a person to selflessness was to me even better then the love languages part. Hopefully I will be able to use this new knowledge in my own marriage and also in my counselling practice. Although Christian it could be recommended to anyone. I rate it 4.8 ninja stars out of 5.

Friday, January 15, 2010

On The Way To The Bus This Morning...

On the way to the bus this morning:

Jobina: "And the last week of March you guys are going to have Spring Break - for a whole week."

Riker: "Oh no! Winter is slipping through our fingers like grains of sand!"

Where does he come up with this stuff?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Timing Is Everything...

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:

a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,

a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,

a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,

a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,

a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,

a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak,

a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.

I have always enjoyed this passage from Ecclesiastes. There is certainly a time for everything. I find it intriguing how a sense of good timing can benefit someone. You have heard of emotional and social intelligence? How about timing intelligence? Well, I'd say that one's "timing quotient" (T.Q. ?) ranks right up there. Often when I have couples in my office one of their big problems is a terrible sense of timing. They do the right things . . . but at the wrong time. It's incredible how often people can miss this as I have found in my own marriage. It took me several years to figure out that Jobina does not want to talk about anything serious late at night so I might as well not bother. And she has realized that if she tries talking to me about things that are important to her while I'm watching a TV show, reading, or on my computer that she is in for frustration and disappointment. Even our kids seem to understand that there is a good time and a bad time to ask for things - waiting til Mom is in a good mood gets better results.

Sometimes we get disappointed in a relationship when we make a reasonable request of someone but find it continually rebuffed. Instead of getting bitter and angry (blaming them for their selfishness) try changing when you ask the person. I think of couples where one spouse is continually hearing "no" when they request lovemaking from their partner. Often (not always of course, there can be many factors involved) it is simply that they ask at the wrong time of day or under the wrong circumstances. If they try asking at a better time they find their chances greatly improved. Sometimes timing really is everything. People with a high T.Q. wait for just the right moment. I know a guy on a board I serve on. Sometimes he'll wait 20 or 30 minutes into a discussion and then suddenly, voila, he says his opinion. Because of his timing (and patience to wait for the right moment) people listen and respond favorably to him. What a gift to know the right time for things!

Of course if you don't have a high sense of timing all is not lost. Just ask people - when would be a good time to talk to you? When would be a good time to ask for something? Under what circumstances is it a bad time to approach you? Timing Intelligence is a learned skill, if you are willing to put the time and effort into acquiring it. Good luck!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Wisdom From The Jackelope

This short film by Pixar has a good few lessons about rolling with life's punches. In case you haven't seen it, enjoy!

What do you need to rebound from? I know what it is for me . . .

Friday, January 8, 2010

Book Review: Velvet Elvis

Book Review: Velvet Elvis: Repainting The Christian Faith by Rob Bell

Velvet Elvis is the first book by Rob Bell, emergent church leader and founding pastor of Mars Hill, a 10000+ attender church in Grand Rapids. Written in a challenging yet gentle style the book is unlike anything I have read before. It is an invitation to think about faith in a new way. It is radical yet simple and easy to understand. Bell has the ability to take old concepts and make them new again, putting his unique slant on everything from missions to church growth to salvation. The book felt enjoyable to read but I found myself asking the same question "Is Rob Bell a heretic?" The reason is that there are some smart people people who say he is. The only close to heretical thing I found in the book was related to his understanding of forgiveness and how it applies to the unsaved. It annoys me how I could not fully drop the bias I received by hearing people's criticism ahead of reading his book.

Rarely have I found a book so difficult to review. I liked it very much yet also feel cautious? It's also difficult to categorize. Whether Bell is a heretic or not, I still benefited from reading the book and if anyone is looking for a jolt to their faith life, this book could be it. Could also be a great small group read. I rate it 4 ninja starts out of 5.

Thursday, January 7, 2010


Jobina and I recently gave some friends of ours a gift. It wasn't like a car or anything but it was something substantial. We wanted them to feel special, appreciated, and blessed. When the person came to thank me they were appreciative . . . but, they hesitated. I laughed sensing what would come next.

They were having trouble receiving my gift!

First he wasn't sure if there was some agenda involved. A little paranoid he admitted. After that passed he felt like they didn't deserve such a gift. And so I could see this friend was struggling, can I really be OK with receiving this? We talked it through and I assured him gently that it wasn't about deserving it, but enjoying it. That's what gifts are for after all. No strings attached.

The ironic thing is that this person is extremely generous and benevolent. Sometimes the best gift givers are the worst gift receivers!

I thought about it and realized I'm not that great at giving, but I'm excellent at receiving. Maybe it's because when I give I try only to give with a generous heart (unfortunately this means my gift giving is not consistent - a problem). The other thing that helps me to receive well is that I try not to be guilt based. Guilt doesn't usually get traction with me so I don't mind at all if someone gives me a present. They have free will to give and I have free will to receive. In fact, I kind of feel like I do them a favor by receiving - I'm giving them an outlet and a face to give to! And since it is better to give then to receive, they are actually getting more out the encounter then I am. Why would I feel guilty about that?

It is rare that I will feel guilt about receiving a gift. Humbled, yes. Guilty no. Receiving is pretty easy for me. Now if I can just get cracking on becoming a better giver! So how about you. Do you find it easier to give or to receive?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Thou Dost Protest Muchly

Lately I've been reflecting on something. Kind of swishing it around in my brain. I have two children, ages 5 and 7 and sometimes they argue (OK, they argue quite a bit). I don't like to listen to it but lately I've heard the catchphrase "It's not fair!" repeated a lot. I felt this kind of "deja vu" feeling. Because I realized that I hear that phrase alot in my counselling office.

"It's not fair!" Whenever children (or adults start dropping this phrase), productive communication is just about done. The phrase drips with protest and a vague understanding of some universal but hidden (to the other person!) truth. When we suggest that something is not fair, what we are really meaning is "It's doesn't seem fair to me."

The problem is that fairness is totally subjective (subjectivity - judgment based on individual personal impressions and feelings and opinions rather than external facts ). By trying to label something as unfair, we attempt to show someone that the universal standard of "fair" has been broken and so we protest. But since fair is different for everyone, it almost never settles anything. We just argue over why my version of fair is truer then yours. Solutions rarely come out of such contests.

When we ask someone to submit themselves to our definition of fairness we are asking them to let go of their definition of fair and take on ours. That is why it is rarely successful (just come listen to my kids argue for awhile and you'll see this - or come listen to angry couples in therapy). And ven if we could all agree on what is fair, why must people act fairly? Or why must life be fair? Or even why must God be fair? Do you realize how crazy it is for us to expect other people/the world/God to be fair (by our unique definition)? It is madness, madness I say! People are flawed, so is the world, and God's definition of fairness is completely perfect and thus different then ours. Sure, it would be great if people/the world/God would treat us fairly (as we define it) but why must they? Is there a law written saying it ought to be so? Or were you promised such fairness at birth? I know I wasn't!

I think that we need to let go of using the word fair so easily. Like other unhelpful words ("must" and "should" come to mind) I am going to try pruning it from my vocabulary. I realize that the Bible does use the word fair a few times so I won't suggest getting rid of it completely, but few people seem to use it in a helpful way.

Here's a little test, the next time you hear someone fighting over something listen to hear if someone says "you're not being fair." And even if they don't say it out loud, they are probably thinking it. "You should be acting more fairly" (or something similar) is so often our silent argument that we ought to have it tattooed on our foreheads to save us time and energy! By focusing on how unfair things are, I have seen people become depressed, destroy their marriages, ruin their careers, and shipwreck their faith. This is very important: Life is not always fair. In fact, it can be very unfair. That's OK, with God's help and other's encouragement you can survive it. You can take it. And maybe, just maybe, even with all the unfairness you can still have a satisfying, enjoyable, and meaningful life. Go ahead, try and change what you can. But when you can't and life is unfair . . . accept your reality and move on.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

"Check please!"

I'm reading "Velvet Elvis" by Rob Bell (my book of the week) and have been somewhat blown away by his very different way of seeing the world and faith. Very refreshing read.

One of his chapters was on the subject of grace and how difficult we find it to just accept that our sins have been paid for and that we don't need to think of ourselves as sinners anymore. He tells a personal story to illustrate:

I was having breakfast with my Dad and my younger son at the real food cafe on Eastern Avenue, just south of Alger in Grand Rapids. We were finishing our meal when I noticed that the waitress brought our check and then took it away and then brought it back again. She placed it on the table, smiled, and said, "Somebody in the restaurant payed for your meal. You're all set." And then she walked away.

I had the strangest feeling sitting there. The feeling was helplessness. There was nothing I could do. It had been taken care of. To insist on paying would have been pointless. All I could do was trust that what she said was true was actually true and then live in that. Which meant getting up and leaving the restaurant.

My acceptance of what she said gave me a choice: to live like it was true or to create my own reality in which the bill was not paid.
This is our invitation. To trust that we don't owe anything. To trust that something is already true about us, something has already been done, something has been there all along.

To trust that grace pays the bill.

How often I find myself not trusting that God has truly paid my "bill." And even when I do I struggle to know how to react to such knowledge. I want to accept the gift of grace and then live in it daily, getting up and living in grace instead of worrying that I still have something I need to do to earn God's grace. It's an easy mental trap to fall in.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Your Bamboo Story

One day a man planted a bamboo seedling. He cared deeply for it, so each day he watered it and tended to it, always making sure it had the proper sunlight to grow.

After a year’s time, the man saw that the plant had not grown at all, but he continued to water it, tend to it, and make sure it was nourished by proper sunlight.

Again, after the second year the plant had not grown. He watered and tended it through the third year and the fourth. Suddenly, as if by magic, in the fifth it began growing. In fact, it grew two and a half feet a day until in six weeks it was ninety feet tall.

Many of the things you start in your life – relationships, businesses, new endeavors, new projects, are all bamboo plants. Often those who succeed incredibly are not smarter than anyone else – they just kept on when all the others left.

Calvin Coolidge said, “Press on: nothing in the world can take the place of perseverance. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; un-rewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.”

In our instant gratification world, waiting and persevering are rare indeed. What will YOUR life look like in five years? Want to plant a bamboo plant today? Do it! Then steel yourself for the long haul and don't give up. Practice perseverance and reap the rewards. Good luck!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Guess My Favorite Holiday

"Do . . . or do not . . . there is no try."
- Yoda

Well I'm now officially back from vacation, in case you were wondering what had become of me. I decided that to fully recharge myself this Christmas that I would pull myself away from many of my usual things - including my blog. It was tough for the first few days and then . . . sweet freedom! I won't give you a play by play of my Christmas, but I had a wonderful holiday break. Ah, it is good to relax!

Speaking of the holidays, I've decided that my favorite holiday is New Year's. Not for the partying and excessive drinking involved (think about it though - hundreds of millions of people are all getting drunk at the same time - mind boggling!) but that is an opportunity to . . .

-reflect and refocus
-take stock
-check in on progress
-make goals

I love it! I actually look forward to New Years and play with ideas in mind for what my goals, dreams, etc will be for the next year. I'm going to make measurable goals in the following areas:

1. As a Christ follower
2. As a husband.
3. As a friend.
4. As an entrepreneur.
5. As a counselor.
6. As an adventurer.
7. As a physical being.

I don't have anything set in stone yet (although I will within a week or so) but I do have one goal that kind of encompasses all of them:

This year I will read a book a week for the entire year.

I find that I am at my best as a person when I'm reading and exploring new ideas. Books are the perfect medium for me as I read for fun anyway. I figure that I already read alot but if I cut out some internet and TV time that one book a week is a reasonable goal for me. So, 52 books, here I come. Of course I need some suggestions for really good books to read. If you have any ideas for some good reads, please feel free to comment. Thanks and Happy New Year! May God bless you in every way . . . and make you thankful.