July was a busy month for our family. The Tyranny of the Urgent reigned supreme for several weeks, though none of us like living that way. Not everybody wins at such a breakneck pace. Somebody loses.
I finished five books for the month. It took some creative use of time to get that many in. Reading helped me pass the time while my children and grandchildren were riding roller coasters at Six Flags.
Our younger kids earned free tickets in the Six Flags Read-to-Succeed Program. I normally ride the roller coasters with them. But as my back’s been acting up this summer, I thought it prudent to sit out this time around.
Here’s the rundown of what we read in our scant spare time last month:
Pandamonium by Stuart Gibbs
Doug finished Pandamonium, the fourth installment in Stuart Gibbs’ Fun Jungle series. Twelve-year-old Teddy Fitzroy is back, working overtime to solve another mystery at the zoo where his parents work.
A Panda on loan from China is missing. Inexplicably, it disappears en route from the specially-made delivery truck tasked with transporting it.
The zoo’s CEO calls in the FBI to crack the case. They solve it quickly — perhaps a little too quickly. Do they have the real culprit in custody?
Amateur sleuth Teddy Fitzroy and his girlfriend Summer uncover clues the FBI agents missed — or willfully ignored.
Gibbs delivers another rollicking fun and informative read. He has a fifth book out now, Lion Down, which we’re all eager to read. Unfortunately, the paperbound version (which happens to match the other four volumes in our personal collection) won’t be released until February of 2020. I’ve pre=ordered it, but we’ll have to wait to find out what happens to our favorite zoo detective next!
Everybody Wins by Gary Chapman
Subtitled The Chapman Guide to Solving Conflicts without Arguing, Everybody Wins offers sage advice for married couples who need help learning to fight fairly.
In this slim volume, Chapman outlines the principles of conflict-resolution he teaches couples in his counseling practice. Ideally, both husband and wife should read the book and put these concepts into action. But even if only one of them does so, they’ll likely see a reduction in the amount of arguing that takes place at home.
Chapman stresses the importance of listening with a good attitude and the goal of understanding. Of asking smart questions to clarify what your partner is saying. And of working as a team to resolve conflicts in ways that are mutually agreeable and beneficial.
The author draws on a wealth of counseling experience. He cites stories of how clients who were formerly at an impasse were able to successfully find solutions through applying these simple guidelines.
The First Two Lives of Lukas Kasha by Lloyd Alexander
I managed to make it to adulthood without ever reading any Lloyd Alexander. Fortunately, I married one of Alexander’s biggest fans, and he introduced me to the brilliant tales this prolific American author spun.
The First Two Lives of Lukas Kasha was the first one my husband read aloud to our family some twenty-five years ago. We’ve read it together at least half a dozen times since. It remains one of my favorites among Alexander’s stand-alone works. (Another one-volume favorite is The Iron Ring. But if you have more time to commit, his Chronicles of Prydain series is the way to go.)
The thing I love most about Lukas Kasha is the character development. Through highly unlikely circumstances, the town scamp and chief mischief maker is suddenly and unexpectedly thrust into a different world. A world full of intrigue and nefarious political plots. A world in which Lukas, the newly named king, must contend with a court full of advisors who aren’t all as loyal to the throne as they pretend to be.
It is inspiring to watch as the scoundrel who has spent his entire life avoiding responsibility slowly metamorphoses into a person intent on using his power to right wrongs and lighten the load of others.
Liturgy of the Ordinary by Tish Harrison Warren
This beautifully written book is one ChristianAudio offered as their monthly, no-strings-attached freebie in June.
I listened to it while living out the liturgy of folding laundry, a task made lighter (if not downright enjoyable) by the author’s reminders that we can do even mundane chores “as unto the Lord.” And that we serve Him by doing them cheerfully and well.
Halfway through the book, I contacted every one of my daughters and daughters-in-law (and all my Facebook friends, as well) and encouraged them to download it, too. In a world that glamorizes some forms of Christian ministry and marginalizes others, it is vital that we recognize the hours and days and months and years we spend at home with our loved ones — preparing meals, combing tangles, washing clothes, engaging in conversation — for the important and indispensable Kingdom work it is.
In Liturgy of the Ordinary, Tish Harrison Warren discusses what she calls the sacred practices of everyday life. The chapters of the book follow the course of a run-of-the-mill day. From waking up, making the bed, and brushing teeth to losing keys, eating leftovers, and checking email, all the way to sitting in traffic, drinking tea, and falling back into bed to sleep at the close of the day. Each and every moment of each and every day is a new opportunity to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.
Tyranny of the Urgent by Charles E. Hummel
This title is really more of a pamphlet than a book, but it packs a powerful message and offers good strategies for combatting a common problem.
That problem stems from the fact that our time is often spent on responding to the most urgent needs rather than the most important ones. Looming project deadlines at work demand our attention right now. Connecting on a deep and authentic level with God, with spouse, or with children is something that can (at least, theoretically) wait until tomorrow.
The author suggests that the most important things we do in life are seldom the most urgent. They can be put off indefinitely — or at least until you wake up one day and realize you’ve missed your chance to do them entirely. Kids grow up and leave home. Marriages flounder. Our spiritual lives grow cold and distant. All while we are attending to more pressing, but far less significant, matters.
To keep this from happening, we must be intentional about how we invest our time. Make sure our daily activities and actions reflect our highest priorities. We can’t afford to keep putting off the important things for a time when we’re finally “caught up” on everything else. Otherwise, Satan will make certain that day never comes.
When we kick “the urgent” out of the driver’s seat and tend instead to the important, everybody wins!