This month’s book review consists of a read by Emily Watts and a “listen” by S. Michael Wilcox.

When the Lord Asks the Impossible

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This is the subtitle to Michael Wilcox’s newest talk on CD, Walking on Water.  What a nice change it was to listen rather than read something for review.  I folded laundry and did a few exercises.  Whatever you do, wherever you are, you will find Wilcox renewing and delightful. 

Walking on Water
was recorded in front of a live audience and reflects perfectly Wilcox’s intimate and centered teaching style.  He stays riveted upon the Savior in all his analyses and commentary.  He helps us feel of the Lord’s personality, His love and confidence in us.  He does this by centering our thoughts upon Christ, who can strengthen us to do all things. 

Do you feel the Lord has asked the impossible of you?  Forgive the unforgivable, overcome a crippling habit, fulfill an unwanted calling, love the unlovable, maintain faith in the face of extreme trial, trust a God who allows terrible suffering, endure crushing disappointment or betrayal, rise from an abusive environment, mend a wounded relationship, sacrifice something most precious?

The impossible does seem to loom ahead of us at times.  We want to do what the Lord has asked, but we can be deterred by feelings of self-doubt or fear.  Wilcox teaches that if the Lord asks us to do anything, it is because He believes we can.  He says simply, “If God asks me to do it, I can do it – even though it may appear to be impossible.” 

Wilcox uses Peter’s walk upon the Sea of Galilee as a prime example.  He describes Peter’s attitude as striking.  Peter says to the Savior, “If it be thou, bid me come unto thee” (Matthew 14:28).  The Savior must have been so pleased at Peter’s desire – “If my Master can do this, I want to do it too.”  All Peter needed to know is that it was indeed Jesus, not a spirit on the water.  If it was, he wanted to follow.  Peter then did what no man on earth had done before – even the impossible – he walked on water.

We can pull numerous phrases out of the scriptures that seem impossible.  Wilcox gives the following examples, “garnish thy thoughts with virtue unceasingly;” “resist every temptation;” “be thou perfect.”  These too seem impossible, but the Lord will always prepare a way for us to do what He has asked.  He doesn’t ask without believing, even expecting, we can accomplish that thing.

Look unto me in every thought” (DC 6:36).  “Learn of me and listen to my words” (DC 19:23).  These are Wilcox’s “Three L’s” – three phrases to remember when we must do something that seems impossible.  He discusses these phrases in detail with personal narratives and anecdotes, beautifully teaching each concept and its application.

Wilcox also offers a caution.  Occasionally we want to walk on water of our own making.  These desires, as well meaning as they may be, might just be impossible.  Maybe we want to restore life, create a testimony, take away someone’s pain, fix a marriage or create one for someone, give a child to a man and woman who long to be a parents.  We want so badly to bring a blessing to someone else – some happiness into their life.  But we must stop and ask ourselves, are we trying to do something the Lord hasn’t asked us to do, something we can’t do?

Even then, we can still do something.  Wilcox quotes Peter speaking to the lame man in front of the temple who asked for alms, “Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have, give I thee…rise up and walk” (Acts 3:6).  We give what we can – what we have.

Walking on Water was just the thing for me on a quiet Saturday – just the message I needed to hear.  If you feel the impossible seems too difficult to attain or accomplish, even with the Lord on your side, this “listen” is for you.

Confessions of an Unbalanced Woman

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Moms – this little read by Emily Watts is a great escape for an evening after the children have gone to bed.  It can be read in less than an hour and is only 58 pages.  This was my first time reading anything by Watts.  To be sure, I will pick her up again.  I found her breathlessly articulate, funny, and extremely human.  You will laugh and you will cry. Truly.

What woman doesn’t feel that her life is out of balance?  Is this not the eternal, perpetual struggle?  The battle to maintain sanity, get everything done, without feeling wilted and pulled apart, strung to your very limits because of your commitments?  If only there was an easy solution.

Watts doesn’t really give you a solution to balance – instead she steers you away from the idea of balance to something more important.  She helps you see the necessity of seeking what is needful first.  And what is needful?  The Lord, His gospel, and His love. 

“Seek ye first the Kingdom of God… and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:38).  “Love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you” (Moroni 10:32).  “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?… Nay in all these things we are more than conqueror through him that loved us” (Romans 8:35).

Watts successfully explores these ideas, delving into their meaning and accessibility.  Things we know and believe, but if reminded of at the right time, help to secure perspective, refocus priorities and upright responsibilities that have been overturned for the waving attention of worldly matters.

This is invaluable, but it is Watts’ unadorned confessions that make the book so enjoyable.  Absent of pride and self-concern, her confessions will connect her to any reader.  I laughed out loud in the very first chapter.  From a child’s science project, to burnt toast, dinosaur earrings, and matching men’s socks – Watts makes laughter good medicine and sometimes we just need more of it.

Here is one anecdote:

You know these days [when everything falls apart].  A child comes home from school on the verge of tears.  He finally manages to confess that he has a science project due – tomorrow…he got the assignment outline weeks ago.  It has resided in the bottom of his backpack since that day.  All right, there will be time for discussion and recriminations and regrets later on.  For now, we must rally to the cause…

The assignment is to make a model of a cell… the child retires to the computer to type up labels for cell parts, and I fire up the glue gun.

  If OSHA made home inspections, I am convinced I would be forbidden to use a glue gun.  I have no skill in this arena.  Just about all I can do with hot glue is string it in long strands all over the work area and burn my fingers.  But there is no other way that I know of to adhere a split pea to a Styrofoam surface, so I make the sacrifice” (7-10).  You get the idea – and it gets better.  Not much can top the dinosaur earring story.

Thank you, Emily, for your Confessions of an Unbalanced Woman.  All mothers will relate, most of us will still struggle, but your insights and perspective will help make our journeys a little brighter, a little more humorous, and a little more focused.