Deeper Insight into Some of the Parables of Jesus

Image Credit: Latter-day Media Come Follow Christ YouTube Channel

I’ve loved digging into the meanings of some of the parables of Jesus, the ones found in Matthew 13, in my Bible reading this week. This video below by Rhonda and Farrell Pickering show many deep levels of meaning that I never knew about. I hope you enjoy them!

Here are some questions that relate to Matthew 13 and the video below:

1 – 1:40 Which part of following the geography of Christ’s life and ministry intrigued you the most?

2 – 5:00 Ephesians 2:20 – Where in the Book of Mormon does it corraborate that 12 Apostles are the foundation of the Church of Jesus Christ?

3 – 9:20 What is at the core of the Chiasmus in Matt. 13:13-18 that relates to OUR day, and what is happening in our world regarding CLOSING THE EYES?

4- 12:40 Are Birds in the Parable of the seeds by the wayside (Matt. 13) good or not? Who did they represent in Jesus’ day, and who could they represent in our day?

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“Isn’t the Bible Enough?”

Wow, we’ve had snow since early this morning! I think this past winter makes up for the past five year’s lack of snow in Utah Valley. So although the calendar says it’s spring, it definitely still feels like winter. This year, it feels like the winters of my childhood, growing up in Utah. I would wait for the bus to go to school and feel the inside of my nose freezing.

It may feel like winter, but in my heart it’s spring because of all the new beginnings going on. I am about to enter a new season of life with my third son. I’m super excited because this son, who has been serving as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, comes home next week!

He has been telling the good people of Texas the past two years about the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ. This book brings a person closer to Christ than any other book.

I love this story about a man who heard about the Book of Mormon on an oil-drilling rig from a co-worker. The co-worker gave him the Book of Mormon to read.

Here’s an excerpt from the story, found here.

“But he said, ‘Isn’t the Bible enough? We don’t need any more Bible. We have the teachings of Jesus to his people in our Bible.’

“I then explained the principle of fasting and prayer and asked James if he would fast the next day. I told him that he should pray and ponder the questions he had in his heart until he felt he had received an answer.’

“As James retired to his room at the end of the day, he knelt in prayer to ask his Father in Heaven whether or not the Book of Mormon was necessary. He told our Heavenly Father that when he arose from prayer, he would open the Book of Mormon to find his answer. He knew that if it were true and necessary as holy scripture, the answer would come from it.

“When he arose from praying, he opened the Book of Mormon and placed his finger upon a passage. It read:

‘Thou fool, that shall say: A Bible, we have got a Bible, and we need no more Bible. Have ye obtained a Bible save it were by the Jews?

‘Know ye not that there are more nations than one? Know ye not that I, the Lord your God, have created all men, and that I remember those who are upon the isles of the sea; and that I rule in the heavens above and in the earth beneath; and I bring forth my word unto the children of men, yea, even upon all the nations of the earth?

‘Wherefore murmur ye, because that ye shall receive more of my word? Know ye not that the testimony of two nations is a witness unto you that I am God, that I remember one nation like unto another? Wherefore, I speak the same words unto one nation like unto another. And when the two nations shall run together the testimony of the two nations shall run together also.’ (2 Ne. 29:6–8.)

“As he read these words, he felt the thrilling warmth of the Holy Ghost. He fell again to his knees to give humble thanks to his Father in Heaven. He then made his way to my room and knocked on the door.”

Read the rest of the story here. You can get a free copy of the Book of Mormon here.

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The Story of an Italian Man and a Book With a Missing Cover

Photo Credit: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

For the next days of March, I’m going to be blogging about the Book of Mormon, in honor of its birthday on March 26th, which is coming up!

An Italian man named Vincenzo di Francesca found a book without a cover and title page on top of a barrel of ashes in an alley of New York City. Already a Christian, as a Protestant minister, he read the book and became even more converted to Jesus Christ because of it. After many years, he found out that the book was the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ. The photo above is his hand-written testimony of Jesus Christ and the book.

Here is part of his testimony: He says this is what happened after he prayed to God, asking to know if the Book of Mormon is true:

“I felt my body become cold as the wind from the sea. Then my heart began to palpitate, and a feeling of gladness, as of finding something precious and extraordinary, bore consolation to my soul and left me with a joy that human language cannot find words to describe. I had received the assurance that God had answered my prayer and that the book was of greatest benefit to me and to all who would listen to its words.”

You can watch Vincenzo’s story below or read it here. That link has the paragraph I just copied plus much more. This is such a beautiful story!

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3/21/23 Tree of Life Mama’s Book of the Week for Moms: The Holy Week for Latter-day Saint Families: a Guide to Celebrating Easter by Wendee Rosborough

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For some of us it still feels like winter, and it’s hard to believe that Easter is less than three weeks away, but since yesterday was the vernal equinox, it’s time to talk about spring and Easter! I’m so excited!!!

So to celebrate spring and the coming of Easter, my book of the week for mamas is the above book, Holy Week for Latter-day Saint Families by Wendee Rosborough. This is such a beautiful book! It has a name for every day of the Holy Week: “Cleansing Monday,” “Parables Tuesday,” and “Last Supper Thursday,” are just some examples. These names help you and your family remember what happened on each day of the Holy Week. For each of these days the author has compiled the following features:

-a QR code and link to a video from the Bible Videos that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints created that tell the story of Jesus Christ’s life from that day.

-hymns and songs from the Children’s Songbook that go with that day

-a scripture to memorize

-crafts, games, and activities to do to help you and your children to remember what happened on that day

She incorporates many traditional Easter activities such as making hot cross buns, coloring Easter eggs, empty tomb rolls, and doing an Easter egg hunt. She also adds many new-to-me ideas for Easter such as Parable Charades, Hidden Talent Hidden Objects, Service Basket, an Easter Story Wreath, Crown of Thorns, Bouquet of Paper Lilies, Destroying Angels game, and much more!

I love this book! It has so many child-friendly ideas, even down to the toddler level. I love the author’s explanation of how coloring Easter eggs connects to Jesus. She suggests hollowing out an egg and painting it gold, and adding it to your Easter egg hunt to symbolize the empty tomb of Jesus and the golden future his Resurrection gives us. She also has special ideas for celebrating General Conference in the spring, which you can do, regardless of whether or not General Conference falls on Easter.

I just love this book! If you love the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and Easter, you will love it too!

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The Parable of the Soil Compared to Lehi’s Dream of the Tree of Life

Image Credit: Jared Halverson’s Unshaken YouTube Channel

This is so amazing! This week, for Come Follow Him (Jesus Christ), we are studying Matthew 13, Luke 8 and Luke 13. I love the Parable of the Soil, aka the Parable of the Sower, in Matthew 13. It harmonizes with the Law of the Soil, what some people call soil theory. I learned a new thing to go along with it, from Brother Jared Halverson, in the video below. He says you can line up the responses of the people going on the path to the Tree of Life in Lehi’s vision, with the types of soil in the parable of the soil. See chart above and watch the video below. I love this!

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Juicy Stuff About The Second Coming of Jesus Christ, Parallel History of Utah and the Holy Land, and More!

Photo Credit: Jennifer Kartchner’s YouTube Channel

This is an amazing presentation about the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. It’s not only about the Second Coming, as the presenter talks about ancient history, and the context of the plandemic. He shows lots of parallels and symbolism, drawing upon the history of Israel, Judah, Utah, and the U.S. presidents. It’s all soooo eye-opening and mind-blowing! He even interprets the name of Russell M. Nelson, the president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in a fascinating way. Warning: If you are easily offended, don’t watch this video!

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Tree of Life Mama’s Date Night Movie of the Week: The Heart of Christmas

I know it’s not Christmastime, but this movie is still worth watching right now. I’ve long wished for a movie about married love. This is one of them! After finding a copy of this movie at my local public library, my husband and I watched it last weekend for our date night. It’s such a sweet story, and best of all it’s true! It’s based on the true story of mommy blogger Julie Locke and her son Dax. The movie is told as a story within a story. Candace Cameron plays the female lead of the frame story. In her story, she finds herself as a mom who is stretched to the limit, juggling her mothering and career responsibilities. Her children and husband aren’t happy with what she’s doing, but she doesn’t want to cut back on work. What happens to change her mind? That’s where the story of Julie and Dax comes in. I won’t give the rest away, just go watch it! It’s free in Amazon Prime. It’s wholesome and a tearjerker. After watching it, you will have a warm glow in your heart and a desire to spend more time with your loved ones.

The video below shows the real Julie and Dax Locke.

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3/9/23 Tree of Life Mama’s Book of the Week for Mothers: Memory Making Mom by Jessica Smartt

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It’s that time of year when life can be a bit…slow, bleh, and boring. The holidays have long been over, and unless you are rich and can go skiing a lot, winter is not fun and can seem to drag on and on. That is, unless you are intentional about cultivating a meaningful life, regardless of the calendar or weather. May I present to you this lovely book that helps you help your family create a wondrous and beautiful life, no matter the time or season of the year. I stumbled upon this book in (Go here to learn about It is so wonderful! It’s all about the why and how of making family traditions in your home.

This book is for every mom who:

-wants to bring more fun into her life without much more effort or money

-wants to make memories with her children

-wants to feel that there’s more to mothering than cleaning, cooking, shopping, and feeding

This book is so wonderful! The author has a down-to-earth approach. She gives you the “why” for making family traditions as well as the “how,” without spending much money or time. The first 200+ pages are full of the “why” and the “how.” She talks about the catalyst of what brought her to be super intentional about family traditions. Then she has whole chapters for each of these topics that relate to family traditions: the work involved, being spontaneously open to adventures, the beauty we can have for everyday, food, holidays, religion, service, relationships, fostering learning, and the Sabbath Day. Then after those first 200 pages or so, she has an appendix with a list of 200+ family traditions! She has them categorized by seasons and other topics, like work, marriage, school, and more. I love it all! If you are a Christian mom who is always looking for more ways to keep your family connected, you will love it too! I give this book 5 out of 5 stars!

Here are some videos with the author below.

If you want to read the book, you can get it in in both audio and text format. I love listening to this book in the evening as I brush my teeth, etc. getting ready for bed. You can sign up for a free 60 day trial of scribd here. Put an alarm on your phone to remind you in 45 days to evaluate how well you like it, then cancel if you don’t value it. Stay on as a subscriber if you do. I think you will love it! I can almost always find any book that someone recommends or assigns for our homeschooling life in scribd. (Disclosure: I receive a small compensation if you sign up, with that link, but your cost is the same, whether you sign up in my link or without it.)

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3/8/23 Tree of Life Mama’s Picture Book of the Week: The Gardener of Alcatraz by Emma Bland Smith

This is such a beautiful story of the power of falling in love with gardening. It’s a true story about Elliott Michener. He was a criminal charged with counterfeiting money. He was sent to Alcatraz, with every plan to somehow figure out how to escape. What happens instead is amazing! He gardened his way to freedom! For you LEMI project fans out there, I highly recommend this story to go along with the Georgics project. You can see more pages from the book over here at the site of the illustrator, Jenn Ely. Then if you go over here you can learn all about the real gardens of Alcatraz that he started.

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As Exciting As Having a New Baby! Missionary Homecomings and the Power of the Holy Ghost

We made it to March guys! Reaching March every year is always such a milestone for me, because winter is not my favorite time of year. I am loving it more, as I write here. It’s still winter, and boy does it ever definitely feel like it, as it snowed the past few days. But hey, it’s March! Yayyyy!

March means my missionary son, who is serving in TX, is coming home in less than one month! Hooray! The photos I’m showing here are from when we said goodbye to him outside the airport entrance, almost two years ago. He’s my third son to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is always a bittersweet time to say goodbye to a child about to serve a mission. These photos show our goodbyes, and in just a few weeks we get to reverse the process and say “Hello, Welcome Back!” If I had a extra time, I would spend a lot of it hanging out at airports witnessing missionaries coming home after being gone for two years. I would talk to the families and the missionaries and hear their stories of change. I’d compile all the stories and pictures in a book. It is just such an amazing thing! That’s because it’s the end of a Hero’s Journey. (More on the Hero’s Journey here.) I wish I could bottle all that splendid feeling and open it anytime I want a lift. Now that I think about it, I can feel that same energy by reading the story of Christ in the scriptures, as He is the Ultimate Hero with the Original Hero Story. All other hero stories are mere reflections of His.

Over twenty years ago, I lived next door to some neighbors, the Ogdens, who served as mission president and wife in Santiago Chile. I remember distinctly when they came home and reported on their mission at one of our Sunday meetings. Sister Ogden said that the whole three years that they served on their mission, they felt like spiritual midwives. She wasn’t talking about the book Spiritual Midwifery, which I read a lot from during my child-bearing years, LOL. She was talking about assisting with the process of spiritual birth that happens with becoming born again in Christ. She said it was so exciting and fulfilling to see young people serve a mission for the Church, inviting people to come unto Christ and make the covenant of baptism. As they did so, they experienced a spiritual birth, just as they watched other people experience a spiritual birth. So that’s why she felt that she and her husband were spiritual midwives. Jesus has told us that “Except a man be born of water and of the spirit, he can in nowise enter the kingdom of heaven.” (John 3:5)

This spiritual birth happens as we receive the gift of the Holy Ghost after baptism. The Holy Spirit refines a person and facilitates this birth. This birth involves water (baptism), spirit, (the Holy Spirit), and blood (the atoning blood of Christ), just as physical birth does. Water = amniotic fluid, blood= the blood of the mother, and spirit = the spirit of the child animating his or her body. This scripture from the Book of Mormon Another Testament of Jesus Christ describes how a person is changed, or spiritually begotten by Christ:

“For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.” (Mosiah 3:19)

As missionaries, or anyone live this scripture, after baptism, they become a new creature in Christ, as it says in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”

I am just as excited to see my son as a new creature in Christ as I was when I was pregnant, so eager to hold him and see him as a tiny new mortal creature. It is so wonderful to see that he has felt the power of the Holy Ghost on his mission, guiding him, refining him, and sanctifying him, to become this new creature in Christ.

Here is one example of the power of the Holy Ghost guiding him. He sent an email saying he is on fire with the power of family history research and temple work. Yayy!!! As I’ve blogged many times, I am such a huge fan of all that.

He told a story of meeting with a man who I will call Jack. Jack was thinking about getting baptized. My son and his companion had an appointment with him. Here is the rest of the story in his own words:

“I had one of my most powerful moments as a missionary and a person today. We had a lesson with Jack scheduled and had planned to teach about family history and show him how FamilySearch works. We were going to bring Brother Smith and have him lead in this, but he wasn’t available to come so he told us to do it without him. We forgot this and planned a different lesson about the sacrament and enduring to the end. As we were driving to Jack’s lesson, I looked at our notes to review the lesson plan, and had the prompting that we should still go over family history. A look at Brother Smith’s text reminded us that he wanted us to do this, so we quickly planned for it as we went. Providentially, we had our laptops with us (we usually don’t when we’re out and about), so we planned to show him the website and how adding names works. As we went in and sat down, we got everything set up and he told us how he had had a grueling day at work. I was impatient to get into it, but I had another prompting to teach more of the doctrine of the temple before showing how the system works. I had the words ‘behold I will send you Elijah the prophet’ come into my head, so I looked up the verse (Malachi 4:5-6) and we began by having him read it. We explained how the Lord’s work is to unite families for eternity and how the sealing power is what was spoken of in the verse. His eyes got big as understanding set in. I felt the Holy Spirit so strongly. Next, I had the thought to show how Elijah came to Joseph Smith to fulfill that prophecy and was led to the D&C 110:13-16 by the footnotes in Malachi 4. Melvin read it and the Holy Spirit came again. I had the thought that he needed to understand two things from the verse. First, that the sealing power had indeed been restored to us in modern day, and, second, that the coming of the Lord is near. Moments later, without any of us being able to get a word in, he said those exact things and the Holy Spirit bore witness of their truth. Then, we turned to Family Search and showed how the process of creating records and such works. He started to understand the magnitude of it all and made comments like ‘Wow, I guess I have a lot to do after I get baptized’ and ‘I need to begin by having these ordinances done for my parents, my son, my brother, etc.’ Again, the Spirit was so strong. Lastly, we closed by talking about how God made a covenant with Abraham and how that became the covenant for all Israel. I found myself tearing up as I testified that God’s work is the gathering of Israel and that it is what he is doing right now as he makes a covenant and prepares the way for his ancestors to do the same. I felt the Holy Spirit more powerfully than I ever have before tonight as we taught him and as I said that the gathering of Israel is the most important thing going on in the world today.”

That story just makes so happy on so many counts!

I love that the Holy Ghost inspired them to take their laptops, even though they don’t usually do that. I love that the Holy Ghost inspired my son with the words about sending Elijah. I love that the Holy Ghost was there in the room to testify that these words they read in the scriptures are true.

Here are four important points I draw from this story:

#1. Missionary work, that is, teaching about Jesus and His restored gospel, is more powerful when it’s tied to family history research and temple work.

#2. Jesus is real, He is the God of the Old Testament, Jehovah, who has spoken to prophets as he did with Malachi, Some of his words have been fulfilled as with Elijah’s coming to Joseph Smith, some of his words are yet to be fulfilled.

#3. Jesus loves us and wants us to be united as families in the temple, on both sides of the veil. 

#4.  Jesus, as God, and His Father, our Heavenly Father, are all knowing. As such They know the words we can share that we come to know thru the power of the Holy Spirit. Just as the Holy Spirit put those words about Elijah in my son’s mind, to teach Jack, and the words he put in Jack’s mind to speak out loud, the Holy Spirit has put words in my mind to share with people, or in others’ minds to speak to and bless me. You too can probably think of times when you felt words put in your head by the Holy Spirit.

I have prayed many times for help. Then often that very day or the next day an email, text, phone call or someone shows up on my doorstep to bless me with words and ideas. I feel evidence that God is putting words in someone’s mind to help me.

For example, almost a year ago I had something happen in my life that broke my heart. After this traumatizing event, I knelt in prayer, sobbing and crying to God, asking God to show me that He loved me that day. I felt the lowest I have felt in years, bereft of love. Several hours later, my ministering brother, a man in my Church congregation, showed up on my doorstep, asking if he could help with anything. He commiserated with me. I felt very blessed and noticed by God. I knew He cared about me and heard my prayer. 

I love knowing that we can tap into the knowledge of God when needed to get the words He wants us to give to bless us and those around us, through the Holy Spirit. It’s not something we can demand. It’s something that happens if we qualify for it and if God deems it needful to happen. It’s so exciting to think how our prayers will be answered each day as we see how His inspiration unfolds through all of us. 

Pres. Nelson said in the October 2022 General Conference that we have yet to see the greatest manifestations of Christ’s power in the coming years. It’s such a wonderful thing to ponder how this power will be manifest at the micro level in our individual lives as we minister to each other and gather Israel on both sides of the veil, then at the macro level with how Christ will affect global events. Bring it on!

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