Posts Tagged ‘Blogging’
When you get old like me, you begin to think about your legacy. A good legacy is a life well remembered by loved ones and friends. In the old days, you wrote a book containing lots of good things that helped you, printed copies and handed them out to people you wanted to remember you. In today’s world, books are on their way out. Everything is in digital electronic format.
I’ve written a lot of good essays and placed them online for public viewing. I’d like to make sure they are still available long after I’m gone. That’s a difficult proposition unless you hire someone to make sure payments are made to all the right people involved in your digital identity. It’s not that I am vain; I just hope that someday I might have descendants that will treasure my words.
I wondered if it’s possible to set things up so that they will always be available without making payments. So I got to thinking about it and did a little research. Depending on how complex your online identity has become, you may not have as many concerns as I do. My blog is a bit more involved. Here are the components of what I have created and would like to keep going:
I have original copies on my local hard drive, backed up onto a second hard drive, with copies occasionally burned onto CDs or DVDs and even copies on a couple of flash drives. Of course, I also have printed copies over the years but have neglected to put them all in a single notebook. That might be a good project for a rainy weekend when I have lots of time and ink.
I started posting my essays on Blogger in 2007, then switched to WordPress hosted on Dotster in 2009 and have just recently switched to WordPress.com after Dotster suffered an extended server failure. I also decided to go back and import all my WordPress essays back into Blogger. So now I have 290 essays in two online repositories, some with synced comments and many that are not.
The comments are an important part of my essays. I wrote many of my posts in a controversial way on purpose because I wanted the comments. Reading other’s viewpoints helps me to learn and grow. I am a very orthodox conservative Mormon and greatly appreciate those who do not see things the same way. I learn so much from those who share my religion but not my views.
I own 3tcm.net and latterdaycommentary.com, both registered and hosted with Dotster. I can’t think of any way to keep a domain name going without payments after you’re dead and gone. The longest you can register a domain name right now is for ten years. So while it’s nice to have my own domain name today, a private domain name is not the best choice in the long run.
That’s why I decided to keep my essays in two major public blogging sites. In theory, as long as there is electricity, Google and the Internet, my blog will always be there on blogspot. I’m not so sure about WordPress.com but much prefer it as a blogging platform. Of course it’s a bit more complex with the MySQL and PHP admin requirements but offers so much more than Blogger.
Besides my work email, I have my two private email accounts, email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org. I like the private domain address which I have had for over ten years. I thought I would use the Gmail account in signing up for stuff on the Internet so I didn’t have to wade through so much spam on my 3tcm account, but ended up forwarding most of it anyway.
Of course I won’t need email when I’m gone, but for now it’s a concern because so much of what we do these days is via email. I have enjoyed hundreds of extended dialogs from readers of my essays who wanted to know more but didn’t want to share that in the public comments. I was shocked when Dotster killed my email recently. I asked them to only cancel my website hosting.
For most people, this is more complicated than they want to know. Up until last week I used Dotster DNS, but when they proved to be unreliable with the loss of my websites and blog, I went with FreeDNS. That way I can control my MX record, which still points to Dotster where I host my email, while I forward my domains to wherever I decide to host them.
I will keep Doster as a registrar for now. In my opinion one is as good as any other. They all have their horror stories. When I first started ten years ago, Dotster was the best. It has declined over the years in both the number of domains registered and the number of sites hosted. But I will no longer use their hosting services – DNS or website. Their tech support was atrocious.
And that brings me to the last piece of my puzzle. I can host my website on my home network and have done so in the past but decided I didn’t want to have to deal with the extra traffic and security concerns. When Dotster failed me I started looking for alternatives. I am impressed with Bluehost, HostGator and DreamHost, but am also looking at free sites.
I chose a free site called host-ed.net but so far am not impressed. They apparently require that you use their DNS servers to make your domain name resolve properly. I don’t want that. I want to use my own DNS server – FreeDNS. Host-ed is located in Germany. I think I would prefer a site that is in the United States. I also don’t want a site that forces me to run their advertising.
I miss having the control of WordPress plugins and third-party themes that WordPress.com doesn’t offer. I had my blog finely tuned with comment filters that kept me from having to wade through all the crap. I also had XML SEO plugins that brought my essays to the front page of Google searches. I can see the difference already. My traffic has decreased considerably lately.
Free Website Hosting
I’m an IT professional so I think I understand how to do a Google search, but I have yet to find a good objective review of free hosting websites. I have a friend who writes reviews of hosting services but he gets paid $50 every time someone signs up with a service he recommends. He has multiple domains, hosted with different hosts and gets paid for recommending them both.
I think I’m going to give Google Sites a go. It’s free and obviously with a well-known company. Some of the free sites I researched look like they may not be in business tomorrow. Besides, it looks like you can redirect your domain name to the site you create. If any of my readers are using Google Sites, I would be interested in knowing about your experience with the service.
I’m already on Google Plus so it seems like an easy integration with new essay announcements. I rely on Google Plus, Twitter, Facebook and a few specialized blog aggregators to get the word out when I post something new. I am especially pleased with the results I have received over the years with ldsblogs.org, mormonblogs.org and nothingwavering.org. Thanks for the traffic.
Future of Latter-day Commentary
Sure hope I got my Feedburner feed changed or nobody is going to see this. I’m working on another essay about what various online LDS personalities have to say about how the modern LDS church members feel about evil and unclean spirits. I’ve got a lot of ideas for future posts that I think will be exciting, perhaps even “edgy,” but very interesting. Stayed tuned as I get the bugs worked out.
I wrote an essay several years ago on my old blog that still gets a lot of hits even though I retired that blog and transferred everything over here. I’m glad I kept the old blog up because occasionally I get a comment there that inspires me to write something profound. Well, I think it’s at least inspired and uplifting. I felt impressed to share it here. It starts with the comment from Samantha:
I recently started meeting with my Bishop to repent for other sins that I had committed. I was almost ready to get my Temple Recommend when Satan came at me with full-force. I began to engage in watching pornography and masturbation.
My Bishop is a wonderful man, but I am far too scared to tell him of the addiction that I am faced with. It is not a daily habit, but it is still a problem. I have prayed, and I have come to realize I cannot overcome this on my own.
I feel so awful and depressed after engaging in these behaviors. I want to be clean; I want to go to the temple.
Is there anything else that I can do that would be sufficient for the repentance process? I don’t want to tell my bishop, at all. I do want to overcome this addiction immediately though. Or at least be able to refrain from such atrocities.
And my response:
Much love your way. Thanks for reading and adding your comment. I commend you for your desire to increase your self-mastery. That’s a big deal. Some people are not bothered by viewing porn or masturbating. “It’s normal,” they say. In fact, we’re looked upon as being weird because we want to adhere to a higher moral standard commanded by the Lord and his servants.
I recommend visiting the sites I linked to at the end of the original essay. There is a lot of good advice to be found in those pages. Most of the comments I have added here over the years are intended to give hope and encouragement. I want to continue that in responding to your plea for help. I think I wrote this previously but I’ll share it again. This trial can bring you to the Lord.
I feel impressed to share something that may or may not be applicable to you. Perhaps it will be helpful to future readers. It has to do with responsibility and accountability. Going to the temple is a big deal. The temple is a place of revelation. When I go there I always come away knowing more about myself, what I really want out of life and what I want to do with my free time.
I’ll bet like most people who have written me about this problem, you’re fine as long as you keep yourself busy. If you’ve got a regular schedule of work or school or both, you do well in that structure. The difficulty usually comes when there are no pressing demands on your time and nobody waiting for you to do something for them – a teacher, a co-worker or a family member.
That’s usually when your thoughts turn to yourself and what you want. Those are the defining moments of life. Satan knows that, which is why temptation seems to strike hardest when you are pondering something like going to the temple. We grow and advance in our lives when we go to the temple. We come closer to fulfilling our purpose in life as we attend the temple regularly.
The best advice I can offer is to partake of the sacrament and ponder the promises found in the sacramental prayers. The key phrases are “always remember him” and “have his spirit to be with them.” I know you’ve probably heard this in every public prayer and perhaps you offer it your own private prayers – to have his spirit. But do we focus as much on “always remember him?”
There’s something special and wonderful in the Sacrament that even after more than fifty years I still don’t fully understand. No, it’s not magic. We don’t believe in that. But it is powerful and it is real. I feel hopeful after partaking of the sacrament with real intent. I want it to work in my life and because I want that, believe that it can, it does. My power is strengthened by the Sacrament.
At the end of every Sabbath day I feel empowered, partly through offering service but mostly because I have partaken of the sacrament and have pondered how I can better remember the Savior during the week. I think ahead to the moments when I know I will have down time and think what I can do to show the Lord that I do remember him and want his spirit to be with me.
For me, there is something of a miracle that takes place in those quiet moments. Because I have asked, the Lord reveals to me what I will be doing during those quiet moments during the week. I can see myself working on some writing project or some other activity that will be helpful to me and to others. No, it’s not guaranteed that I will do exactly that, but it’s clear that it can be so.
My desire to do good things and be good is strengthened. I am in a partnership with the Lord to make something special out of my life. It is in the quiet moments that my life really develops. But it doesn’t work unless I make the effort to remember the Lord. Every time I do, he gives me special sacred feelings that encourage me and help me feel like I can do all I’m asked to do.
I hope this helps. There is no easy answer. It’s not like you can turn off a switch. Sorry. You’ve got hormones and that’s a good thing. Without them you’ve have no drive or ambition in life. Well, I’m speaking from a man’s point of view. For a woman I suppose that without hormones you would have no desire to nurture and strengthen relationships. I thank God for the sex drive.
Please don’t be so hard on yourself. I have a theory about why we feel depressed or hopeless when participating in pornography or masturbation. I’ve shared it elsewhere. It has to do with the influence of unclean spirits – those who have no hope or light of Christ in their lives. It’s just a natural result of allowing them to use you, even for just a moment. You feel what they feel.
Of course if you don’t believe in the existence of evil or unclean spirits you’re going to think this is crazy. That’s OK. As I wrote at the beginning of my essay, I’m not writing this to those who are unbelievers. My experience in life has settled the question for me. They are real and I know of their existence through experiences too sacred to share. But let’s not dwell on that aspect.
Focus on the Savior. Focus on building hope. Believe that you can eventually master yourself. Be happy that you even want to. God bless you in your efforts. Nobody can do this for you. In the temple we learn all ordinances are personal, performed one at a time for each individual. No answer fits everyone, but I have found this plan has met with success time after time in others.
Good luck and God bless. You can do it.
If you are a new visitor to my blog, you may want to take a few minutes to browse through some of my top essays. These are ranked by page views over the past two years. I have a different list of some of my favorites but these are the most viewed. I hope this gives you a flavor for the kind of material I like to cover in my essays - current LDS topics.
1. General Authority Training – Advanced Subjects
2. How Americans View Mormonism
3. About Tim
4. There is no middle ground
5. It Came From Behind the Sun
6. Elder Packer Was Right about Bearing Testimony
7. My Interview with Mormon.org
8. What they don’t tell you about Bishopric Meetings
9. The Plural Wives of Joseph Smith
10. The Mormon Corporate Empire
11. Getting past prejudices with Rent – the Musical
12. An Evening with Richard Bushman
13. The Endowment is more than the ordinances
14. When Prophets need to know
15. Divine Manifestations must have a purpose
16. Come Unto Christ – my Christmas talk
17. A different kind of knowledge
18. Rachel Esplin video continues to be a hit
19. Shades of grey and relative truth
20. Walt Whitman – the great American poet
21. Mormon visitors from outer space
22. A website for the average Mormon
23. Thoughtful discussion of controversial topics
24. 2012 the movie
25. Revelation and emotional response
26. Add your profile to Mormon.org
27. The attitude of mocking
28. Objections to the Book of Abraham
29. A letter to a reader – burning of the bosom
30. The ambush – a fictional background story
31. Spiritual experiences as a foundation for faith
32. Seer stone in a hat – book of Mormon translation
33. When a prophet gets Alzheimer’s disease
34. The personal power of Hester Prynne
35. Red Sky – an early version of my novel
36. Unique Religion of Benjamin Franklin
37. God even loves computer geeks like me
38. Moving toward gospel promises
39. Sandinistas - missionaries in Nicaragua
40. Mormon mommy blogs are the traffic queens
41. Multiple versions of the first vision
42. And the stars shall fall from heaven
43. Miracles and angels – a car wreck in Oklahoma
44. The government of the United States will collapse
45. Just where exactly are the lost ten tribes?
46. Mormon Church is not the fastest growing
47. Just what was Portnoy’s Complaint?
48. Changes to the Book of Mormon
49. Changing requirements of perfection
50. Public rebuke from an apostle
On this Pioneer day, I decided to answer all the personal questions that you are asked when you fill out the profile on Mormon.org. There are a whole lot more under the FAQ section (about 80) but that will have to wait for another day when I have more time. I thoroughly enjoyed the process of answering these questions and felt like I was being interviewed, thus the title of this blog post.
01. Please explain the part prayer plays in your life?
Having grown up with daily prayer, I can’t imagine a day go by in which I don’t communicate with my Heavenly Father in prayer. We start the day in prayer as a family asking for the Lord’s blessing upon us as we work. We end the day in prayer the same way, usually kneeling by the bed, reporting our activities to God and thanking him for his help. We give thanks for the food we eat at mealtimes and participate in public prayers in our weekly worship service. It is through prayer and reading scriptures that I feel close to God and directed in my life.
02. Which of the Savior’s teachings have influenced you in your life?
The most powerful admonition of the Lord that has helped me find happiness in this life is his commandment that we love one another. I remember this whenever I feel that I have been misunderstood or hurt by someone else, either intentionally or not. It is so easy to take offense in this world but the end result is that we only hurt ourselves when we do that. To love others is to trust in the Lord that he will help make everything all right, even if it doesn’t appear that way at first. He also requires us to forgive others since we all make mistakes and errors in judgment. We show our love by forgiving.
03. Please share your feelings/testimony of the Restoration of the Gospel.
Even though I grew up hearing the Joseph Smith story I am still amazed as an adult to realize just how powerful his history really is. Think about it! Angels, gold plates, visits from God, Jesus Christ and ancient apostles and prophets – these are all miraculous events that we just don’t hear about everyday. It is truly a marvelous thing to learn all that the Lord did through Joseph Smith, the Prophet of God. I am especially grateful for revealed doctrines that clarified and corrected the errors of man in the many religions of the world.
04. Please share your feelings/testimony of Joseph Smith.
I have read at least a dozen biographies of the life of Joseph Smith, and continue to be amazed that the Lord was able to accomplish so much through this one man. He was a prophet in every sense of the word in that the Lord revealed his will for us through him and continues to do so through the prophets that have followed. But it was Joseph who paid so dearly with his life even though he did what the Lord told him to do in bringing forth the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. I hold Joseph Smith in high regard and look forward to meeting him in the world to come. I want to thank him for his faithfulness in translating the Book of Mormon.
05. Why do Mormons go on missions?
I went on a mission because I watched a video of the prophet asking all worthy young men to serve the Lord as missionaries. As he shared his vision of how the gospel would go to all the world, I deeply felt a desire stirring within my soul to be a part of that great army of missionaries. It was a major sacrifice for me to leave my studies and spend two years in Central America seeking out those who would respond to the Lord’s invitation to come unto him through baptism. I loved my mission experience and found joy in testifying to the world that Jesus is the Christ, that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God and that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. We go on missions because we are commanded to share the gospel and feel the desire to seek out and bring the message of the truth to all who will receive it.
06. Why do Mormons do family history or genealogy work?
Besides being a commandment to seek out our ancestors, we do family history research because we feel a desire to know and appreciate the story of those to whom we are indebted for our very lives. I am a product of all those who came before me. My parents were influenced by their parents and they were who they were because of their parents and so on back as far as we can discover. Once we have the basic facts of their lives such as names and dates, we are privileged to go to the temple and perform proxy ordinances for them so that they too may meet the commandments of the Lord to be baptized and enter into covenants of exaltation. We do family history work so we can be saviors on Mt Zion (Obadiah 1:21).
07. How has attending Church services helped you?
One of the highlights of my week is to attend church services each Sunday. I serve in a leadership capacity in my church, and attend a few more meetings besides the regular three-hour block of Sacrament, Sunday school and Priesthood meetings. I love the interaction with others who believe as I do and feel as I do about trying to follow the teachings of the Savior. I say try because nobody is perfect and we all make mistakes each week. That’s another reason why I love to go to church each Sunday – I get to renew my baptism covenants by taking the Sacrament each week. I learn more of the gospel of Jesus Christ in these church services and feel a unity with God and with my fellow saints as we worship God and Jesus Christ together.
08. What has helped develop greater harmony in your home?
Like everyone else, I have experienced moments of argument and disharmony in my home which leave me feeling frustrated, resentful, hurt or angry. I do not like such feelings, especially in my home where I want to relax and feel happy, safe and secure. So over the years, I have made a greater effort each day to promote harmony and unity by not arguing and not finding fault with my family members. I was not very good at this as a youth and so I appreciate the blessings that have come to me as an adult as I try to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ to love others, especially members of my own family, who need and deserve my love the most. We can have a harmonious home by practicing kindness and forgiveness.
09. What have you done successfully to shield your family from unwanted influences?
Of all the teachings of the church about family, this idea of keeping out the world has been the most difficult but the most rewarding. Television and the Internet are two of the most challenging types of media to monitor and control. We believe in freedom so we encourage each other to seek after virtuous and uplifting material. So the shield we put into place is not anything controlling such as “thou shalt not!” It is more of making sure that we understand the differences that certain material, music or entertainment can produce, compared to the results of worthy content. We seek out and support worthy entertainment and uplifting media content and pray constantly that we will each desire such material over the worldly offerings.
10. Could you talk about your baptism?
I was eight years old when I was baptized and for me, that is a long time ago. My father, who was a recent convert, had to work the evening of my baptism, so he was unable to perform the ordinance. I was baptized by a young man who was preparing to serve a mission. My father was able to confirm me a member of the church the next day and I remember the special feelings that came to me as he conferred upon me the gift of the Holy Ghost. I remember my primary teacher was there and gave me a picture of the Savior mounted on a small piece of wood. I still treasure that memento and the words of encouragement that she penned on the back. I’m sure I did not understand all the implications of the covenants I was making at eight years old, but I have come to appreciate the blessings of this ordinance more and more each Sunday as I take the Sacrament and remember what the Savior miraculously did for me in taking upon himself the effects of my sins upon conditions of repentance. It is baptism that makes my repentance possible.
11. Why/How do you share the gospel with your friends?
I am not a very outgoing person so I believe that the best way I can share the gospel with others is through providing a good example of following the teachings of the Savior. I have been amazed over the years as I see the influence that my behavior has on others. I feel it brings respect and a kind of trust that can come in no other way. I am sometimes surprised that people, including co-workers, will unsolicited confide in me details of problems they are working out and seek my advice and opinion. I am then able to share my beliefs that following the teachings of Jesus Christ can and does help me deal with problems and that it can help them too. Because I am shy, I find great comfort in sharing my feelings about the gospel online and am an active LDS blogger. I also use modern technology like Facebook and Twitter to share my life. The gospel comes up in the natural course of sharing things online and results in online dialogs in non-threatening and informative way.
12. How does making right choices help us make more right choices?
When we choose the right even when it is hard to do, we strengthen our character and develop integrity. Deciding to do the right thing one time makes it easier to do the right thing the next time. Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have the added advantage of the gift of the Holy Ghost. This gift helps us understand what the right thing to do is in difficult situations. When we decide to follow the impressions of the Holy Ghost in making life’s choices, we show God that we value and appreciate this gift. The impressions of the spirit will then become stronger or easier to recognize and we can grow in always making right choices. Of course, being mortal, we will all make mistakes. The Holy Ghost can also help us repent and make better choices in the future.
13. In what ways have your prayers been answered?
There are so many countless examples over the years that it is hard to share just one or two. Perhaps the most dramatic for me was on the day that I proposed to my wife. After I returned home from my mission, I had been praying for quite some time to find a woman who believed as I did and with whom I could be happy. I was dating my wife’s best friend but the chemistry was just not there. One day my wife invited me to a ball game and I told her about my troubles getting her friend to like me. I could see that her feelings were hurt. The next day I visited her in her home and had a long conversation about life and marriage and family. I had some very powerful spiritual feelings as I was talking to her that I knew were an answer to my prayers. I proposed on the spot and we were married a few months later. The Lord helped me with one of the most important decisions of my life.
14. What are you doing to help strengthen your family and make it successful?
My role in the family is to provide security and stability – both financial and spiritual. I enjoy my responsibility to work and earn the money that we need to have a home, food, clothing and other necessities of life. But more importantly, I enjoy my responsibility to provide spiritual direction for my family. We are strengthened by attending church together, by praying and reading the scriptures together and by pursuing worthwhile family goals. For example, my wife and I take classes at the local community college in the evenings in an effort to improve ourselves and keep our minds active. We are strengthened as we work together as a family to accomplish good things with our lives and to provide service in our church and our community. The gospel of Jesus Christ helps us in this endeavor.
15. How has your knowledge of the Plan of Happiness changed/benefited your life?
Sometimes this life can be a drag on the spirit because of all the disappointments and setbacks that come as a natural part of living in this world. Understanding the Plan of Happiness helps me to realize that such setbacks are temporary. I remain convinced that the Lord is very involved in my life and wants to help me through my journey until I am ready to return to his presence in the life to come. Knowing that I lived before I came to this world to experience mortality helps me to have a bigger picture of things. Knowing that I will live in the world to come and that I will someday be resurrected with a glorious and eternal body give me hope that goes beyond the drudgery and dullness that this life can sometimes be. The Plan of Happiness is just that – a plan for me to find and achieve happiness through faith in Jesus Christ, repentance and enduring to the end of mortality true to what I know.
16. What is hope and what do you hope for?
Hope is the belief and conviction that there is purpose and meaning to this life. Hope is the understanding that even though we pass through trials and troubles, we can have the assurance that our experiences are for our good and will cause us to grow. I hope for a glorious resurrection. I know that this is dependant upon my personal righteousness and my works of faith in this life. Yes, the resurrection is a free gift to all men, but we believe that the quality of our lives in the hereafter is very much dependant on our actions here. This life is a time of testing and proving and we can hope that our efforts in struggling against opposition in this world will be rewarded by a just and merciful God who wants to bless and help us through it.
17. How has the Book of Mormon helped you understand the purpose of life?
In the Book of Mormon we read that “men are that they might have joy” (2 Nephi 2:25). I can’t think of any more concise and explicit scriptural reference that helps us understand the purpose of life. Of course, the Book of Mormon provides a lot more insight into how we go about finding that joy and even helps us to understand what true joy is. One of my favorite stories in the Book of Mormon is the prophet Lehi’s dream about the Tree of Life (1 Nephi 8). In his dream he partakes of the fruit of the tree which is desirable to make one happy and is sweet above all that he had ever before tasted. Eating of the fruit fills our soul with exceedingly great joy. The fruit of course is the love of God and we obtain it by holding fast to the Word of God that is represented by the Rod of Iron in Lehi’s dream. What a great story!
18. How has the Holy Ghost helped you?
I consider the Gift of the Holy Ghost one of the greatest blessings in my life. There have been so many instances in which I have been helped by the Holy Ghost that it is hard to imagine getting through this life without this wonderful gift. The Holy Ghost inspires me and encourages me to do things that are hard to do but that result in happiness for me and for others in my life. The Holy Ghost has warned me of danger many times, prompting me to stay away from certain things and places. The Holy Ghost has helped me by prompting me to a certain course of action that I otherwise might not have considered. The Holy Ghost has been my constant companion in my work, helping me to remember things that, if forgotten, could have been the cause of much distress or pain. The Holy Ghost has comforted me in times of sorrow and distress, helping me to feel the love of my Heavenly Father and my Savior even when I do not feel worthy of their love.
19. What blessings have come through your faith in Jesus Christ?
It is because of my faith in Jesus Christ that I am able to get through some of the more difficult aspects of my life. For example, it is hard for me to do things in a public setting. But I have been taught and believe that it will be for my good. The Lord has promised me through the scriptures that he will help me through these difficult circumstances as I exercise faith in him. And like everyone in this world, I am no stranger to making mistakes and poor choices, even when I know better. It is through my faith in Jesus Christ that I put into practice one of my favorite little sayings that helps me keep going: “Success is not in never falling, but in getting up each and every time we fall.” I know that I can be a better person than my fallen human nature would dictate, and it is through faith in Jesus Christ that I am willing to make greater effort each day to be the man that I know he would have me be.
20. How can we develop greater harmony in our homes?
One of the best ways I know of to live in harmony as a family is to do all within our power to avoid criticism, cutting remarks or any attempt to make another family member feel less than loved. We do this by sharing the same ideals and goals – to seek happiness in living the gospel of Jesus Christ. Where some family members may not have fully accepted the vision of the gospel, we can provide an example of tolerance and patience with them, just as our Heavenly Father and our Savior do with us. Fighting, arguing, bickering and contemptuous behavior toward any family member is not the way to have peace and harmony in our homes. Thus, we pray each day that such undesirable activities are mitigated by expressing love and kindness in all that we do. We are each at differing levels of maturity in our understanding of this concept, so it is up to those who do, to live it better each day.
21. Can you think of a specific challenge in your family that Gospel Principles helped overcome?
Like most families, we have experienced our share of challenges that have tested our faith and caused us to lean deeply on our understanding of the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ to overcome. For example, my wife and I have both lost parents to death, have had our share of serious health problems, including cancer, and have suffered through multiple seasons of financial stress due to unexpected unemployment. In addition, we have been pained as not all family members have accepted our faith in the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. But it is because of the teachings of Christ that we are encouraged to be patient, that we are comforted when discouraged, that we are inspired when distressed and that we are given strength when we feel weak. We go on and we press forward, believing that it will all work out for our good, either in this life or in the life to come. We meet those challenges with strength knowing that we are not alone and that God has promised to help us through them if we will but exercise our faith in Jesus Christ and remain true and faithful to him.
22. How can your talents and gifts bless others?
In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we believe that God gives gifts to each member for the purpose of blessing and supporting each other in this life. Some of those gifts and talents are more obvious, such as singing, musical ability, acting, performing or even a talent to be able to speak with confidence in front of the congregation (trust me, not all members have this talent). But the scriptures teach that God gives some gift or talent to every member. Perhaps one is blessed with the ability to be a good listener, another to share heart-felt testimony of how they know the church to be true, others with the gift of teaching children or even just the talent of being able to live peacefully among their neighbors. When we share our talents and gifts with others, God blesses us and we are “magnified” or made more effective so that others can receive the same benefits that we enjoy.
23. Think about your everyday activities. What are things you act upon each day where you cannot see the end results? How does faith move you to action?
A very simple everyday activity for me that is an act of faith is prayer. I have never seen an angel or heard a voice in response to my prayers, but I continue to pray each day, believing that God does hear and answer my prayers. And indeed he has – by sending the comforting feelings of the Holy Ghost to bless and confirm to me that he loves me and wants me to know the truth for myself. My faith in God and my trust in the words of his prophets as found in the scriptures causes me to continue to pray both as an individual, with my family, in my congregation and in the homes of other members of the church that I visit. The end results of my prayers are not always evident right way but are just as certain as if I had seen the effects at the time of the prayer. I am confident; yes I can say that I know, that God hears and answers our prayers that are offered in faith and with real intent.
24. How has the Book of Mormon brought you closer to God?
I first read the Book of Mormon when I was very young – probably 5 or 6 years old. I read it out loud with my mother, who was a schoolteacher. Our family had recently joined the Mormon Church so this was also my mother’s first time reading the Book of Mormon. I remember the special feelings I had as we read it together. I felt a warm and comforting spirit as I read. I have read the Book of Mormon many times in the many years since I first read it. In fact, there is not a year that goes by in which we do not read from it either individually or as a family. No matter how many times we read the same passages, we always seem to learn something new or have our faith in the truthfulness of the book reaffirmed. The same warm feelings always return. But it is by following the principles of the gospel that are written in the Book of Mormon that we draw closer to God. It is in the pages of the Book of Mormon that we learn more about the purpose of life and God’s plan of happiness for us. The Book of Mormon teaches us to study things out and to pray about them that we may know of their truthfulness for ourselves.
25. Can you talk about the missions of the Church and your participation in them?
Up until recently, we as members of church recited the mission of the church as follows: to preach the gospel, redeem the dead and to perfect the saints. Within the past year, a fourth mission has been added: to care for the poor and the needy. We now call these four areas of focus simply the purposes of the church. In my life, I have participated in each of these areas by serving a mission and continuing to share the gospel, by doing family history or genealogy work and by magnifying my callings to serve in the church as a teacher, leader or whatever I’m asked to do. I’m grateful to be able to assist in caring for the poor and the needy by contributing money to the fast offering funds of the church and by volunteering to serve food at the local homeless shelter on a regular basis. These missions or purposes of the church help me as an individual member focus on what is really important to our Heavenly Father – to save his children, both temporally and spiritually.
I haven’t been this excited about something the church has done in a long time. Don’t get me wrong. I love the blessings of being involved in church activity each week, especially as I watch the young single adults grow and develop (I serve in the Bishopric of a YSA ward). But for me, this is probably the single most exciting development I have seen come from Salt Lake City in many years.
I’m talking about the new Mormon.org, a complete redesign of the companion website to lds.org, the two main websites of the Mormon church. Since I make a living with computers in IT support, I have been watching the church embrace and use technology for my entire adult life. In the early nineties I wondered for a long time when the church would finally get a website. When they did, it took me a while to not think that it was just a little bit behind the times even when it was new. I felt the same way when Mormon.org first came out. But with release 4.0 of the site, I confess that I am just blown away. Why? Because of the interactive element.
The church has embraced social media in a big way. I confess that I am a little shocked at the amount of openness and trust that is exhibited in allowing members of the church to create their own profiles on the site. It’s especially progressive that links to FaceBook, Twitter and blogs are not only allowed but encouraged. The Brethren are putting a lot of faith in the members of the church to show the world who Mormons really are. The profile and links are reviewed but they are left totally up to the members to maintain – warts and all. It is an awesome way to share the gospel.
If you haven’t already done so, I encourage you to add your profile to the new Mormon.org. It’s a simple process and takes just a few minutes. All you need is an account on LDS Account. Most members of the church have already done that as they participate in the new Family Search or access their ward and stake websites. I can’t think of a better way to share our beliefs with the world and help dispel all the misconceptions that are still out there, especially on the Internet.
If you are a regular reader of this blog, come be my friend on Facebook. That’s where I do most of my online social interaction these days. It’s just so much quicker to share my life with family and friends there. I’m glad that I spent several years writing essays on Latter-day Commentary because I wanted a place to explain in depth how I feel about the church and the powerful doctrine. But you may have noticed that my essays have become few and far between. Social media is not just for the young. I have reconnected on Facebook with 500 friends from school, work, church and life.
What an amazing thing that the church has done. I think we’re going to hear a lot more about this. Now go create your profile on the new Mormon.org.
A long time ago, I compiled a list of the LDS blog aggregators and made sure that I got listed on as many of them as I possibly could. The effort paid off. Although Google searches are still my number one source for bringing in new readers, being listed with the LDS blog aggregators has brought in a respectable number. In fact, I get roughly eighteen percent of my traffic in this way.
Meta-list for Mormon Mommy blogs
My fellow blogger Megan from Hall Pass announced on Facebook a couple of days ago that she was a guest poster on Mormon Mommy blogs. It got me to thinking about all the MM blogs I’ve seen spring up over the past few years. I wondered just how much traffic they were bringing in. I also wondered if there was a blog aggregator especially for Mormon Mommy bloggers. Yep!
So I ran some Alexa comparison numbers and was shocked to discover just where all the LDS blogging traffic was really going. The aggregator site called Mormon Mommy blogs was ranked higher in Alexa than any of the other LDS blog aggregators out there. Now you may argue with me that it is not a real aggregator, but you might want to take a second look. They are indeed!
LDS blog aggregators
Take a look at the chart I compiled of LDS blog aggregators sorted by Alexa rankings. There are two MM blog aggregators on the list, one right at the top of the list. You are probably familiar with all the others. If not, you ought to be and you should make every effort to get your blog listed in them. They can do wonders for driving traffic to your blog and getting you new readers.
Except for the two MM link-lists, I get referrals from almost all of them except the two from the More Good Foundation. My blog is fed to Mormon Bloggers while LDS Blogs is really more of a hosting site. I suppose they probably don’t really qualify as an aggregator but I do get some traffic from blogs found there. I am pleased to see that Nothing Wavering ranks high on the list.
An amazing contribution
So congratulations to Mormon Mommy blogs, both the aggregator site and to all the MM blogs that are listed in there. You are the queens of LDS blog traffic, at least according to Alexa. If you have never visited their site, go take a look at all the blogs in the different categories. You will be amazed at the diversity and thoughtfulness there as well as many that are just plain fun.
You’ll find book blogs, hair blogs, beauty and fashion blogs, adoption blogs and even some blogs about crunchy moms! There are blogs about homeschooling, infertility, blended families, military life, singles, parenting, spirituality, photography, music, art, self-help, special needs and just about every other helpful topic. What an amazing contribution these women have made!
Sometimes you’ve just got to laugh at Mormon culture. Bishop Mike T. Young of the Spanish Fork 401st ward does a great job of pointing out some of the insane things that we do because of our unique culture. Love it or hate it, I just had to laugh. He’s been in his “calling” for a few months now and has been magnifying it admirably.
In the spirit of Seriously So Blessed, which pokes fun at Mormon mommy blogs and My Religious blog, which is absolutely hilarious, the Spanish Fork 401st ward joins the ranks of What Mormons like and Overheard in the Ward. If you are offended by Mormons poking fun at themselves, don’t go to any of these blogs.
Here’s a sample offering from a recent post containing items from the suggestion box:
- Mini-refrigerator stocked with cold Mt. Dew for Elder’s Quorum
- A better selection of table cloths and flower arrangements for Relief Society
- A, ‘preferred,’ calling spreadsheet where members can prioritize the callings that they’d like the Bishop to feel inspired to call them to
- Home Teaching Hall-of-Shame list on the bulletin board for dead-beat HT’ers
- Nose hair clipper to pass around HP Group meetings on Sunday
Go add your own suggestions and enjoy the other delicious treats to be found there.
I’ve been writing on Blogger for quite some time and have long wished for greater control of the blog. I like the ease of use of Blogger but it does not offer customization features that I have read are available with WordPress. All the old Blogger essays transferred to WordPress without any problems. The links still point back to Blogger but that’s OK.
I’m not sure that I’ll be able to get all the same widgets in WordPress that I had in Blogger but I probably needed to get rid of some of them as it was beginning to look cluttered. I wish there was a way to transfer my blogroll but it looks like that may be a manual process. I also changed the theme to one that promotes the writing and not the design. I like the simple header. It speeds up mobile loading.
Update: three days later
The move is complete. I may still add some widgets but overall, I like the look and functionality of the new site. The biggest hurdle was transferring all my subscribers without having to ask them to subscribe to a new feed. I simply had to break the old feed from Blogger and redirect it from here. Easy, I know, but it took me hours to get it right.
Now I know why I waited until the three-day weekend to attempt this. The learning curve for WordPress was not too steep, but there still were some gotchas. The whole process was rather time-consuming but fun. I’m ready now to do some serious SEO and to get back to writing new essays. Oh, and respond to some of the recent comments.
No blogroll on LDC
I decided not to add a detailed blogroll but will maintain several in separate web pages. The links are at the top left: A new LDS blog aggregators list, the top LDS group blogs, the top LDS solo blogs and a large list of LDS Message boards or forums. These were all previously posted but have recently proven to be very popular reference pages.
Thanks to all the aggregators and fellow bloggers who have linked to the old site over the years. I know some have already changed to the new site. Thanks for your links. A blog is fairly boring without readers and comments. Your links bring me new readers every day. I look forward to the continued dialog and hope my essays are worth reading.
I had a blast today updating my list of LDS group blogs. I confess that although I have visited and read all of these blogs in the past, I have been sporadic in following them lately. That’s not because they aren’t good reading. It’s just that I haven’t had the time. Who does? I know some people spend numerous hours each day reading and contributing to these LDS group blogs.
I had a blast laughing and being shocked by the wonderful banter that goes back and forth in these forums. And I learned more than a few things that I didn’t know before. It happens every time I go reading on the Bloggernacle. There are some great articles written and shared every day on these blogs, some profound, some historically significant, some touching and some sad.
LDS Group blogs are fun
But for the most part, these blogs are just plain fun. I don’t know how else to explain it. You can waste a whole day being entertained and adding to the conversation. But I’ve got to wonder how these people produce anything for their employers and contribute as much as they do. I just can’t do it and not feel guilty. Maybe they are self employed or independently wealthy.
Unlike the solo LDS bloggers list that I updated last week, the top LDS group blogs did not change much in position. I added over a dozen good ones that a felt were worth the visit. Of course this list reflects my own personal preferences and may include a few that are not strictly LDS. But for the most part it’s a good cross section of the Bloggernacle as it stands today.
I have included a few disclaimers on the list, but here they are again: 1. These rankings are based on current Alexa rankings 2. This is not a comprehensive list. It is an arbitrary list of some of my favorites 3. List does not include LDS solo blogs 4. Some blogs may not be strictly LDS 5. A group blog has two or more contributors 6. All 9′s indicates that I recently added it
I know that Alexa is an imperfect measuring stick. I have had that conversation with others several times. If you know of a better way to rank the popularity of LDS blogs then let me know. I am open to adding your LDS group blog to this list as long as you have an Alexa ranking. The same goes for the solo LDS blogger. Just leave a comment or send an email.
Which ones do you recommend?
I used to participate in the dialog on several of the top group blogs years ago. I doubt that anyone would remember me as I probably didn’t contribute anything profound. But if you’re a solo LDS blogger like me and want to get exposure for your blog, I highly recommend that you join the dialogs on at least a few of the top group blogs. I always add readers every time I do.
So just out of curiosity, here are a few questions for you denizens of the Bloggernacle: 1. How many of these blogs do you read regularly? 2. On how many do you regularly contribute? 3. Which ones are your favorites and why? 4. Have you ever been banned from one of these blogs? 5. Do you feel that you are contributing something positive to the dialog there?
At Connor’s encouragement, I updated the rankings list of the solo LDS Blogs I read on a regular basis. I now have 110 solo blogs in my Google reader and listed on my sidebar. That’s an increase of thirty solo blogs since I published the last rankings five-six months ago in November 2008. Click on the image of the screen print below to go to the page and view the list with the hotlinks.
Although I noted several disclaimers at the bottom of the published list, I will include them here as well: This is an arbitrary list of some of my favorite solo blogs. It does not include LDS group blogs. The rankings are based on current Alexa rankings. Some blogs may not be strictly LDS. The top 3 are skewed due to their hosting site. All 9′s indicates that I recently added it.
How blogs are ranked
Look for the updated group blog rankings later this week. I classify a group blog as any LDS-themed blog with more than one contributor. In the list above, I have tried to only include those that are maintained exclusively by one person. It is not always possible to determine this so some may be in the wrong list. I move them around as I discover where they belong.
The top three are hosted on blog sites that include a whole bunch of other blogs. Alexa is unable to split out the individual blogs from these sites – About.com, Beliefnet and BYU. That would make Seriously So Blessed the top LDS solo blog but I doubt that it really is just one person maintaining it and of course, it’s not a serious effort at sharing doctrine. But it sure is fun!
LDS Blog Aggregators
This is in no way a complete list. There are thousands of LDS or Mormon related blogs out there. You can find a lot of them listed at LDS Blogs, which is curiously found at the URL of Mormon-Blogs.com. A big Bloggernacle thanks to David Sundwall of A Soft Answer and Of Good Report who has been publishing this list as a service to LDS bloggers for many years.
You can find many more LDS blogs at Mormon Archipelago, also known as LDSBlogs.org, Mormon Blogosphere, compiled by Dr. B of Mormon Mission. There are several other aggregators, one I especially recommend: Nothing Wavering. Another good one is the Blogregate at MormonBlogs.org. LDS Rankings rounds out the list. LDS Select seems to have disappeared.
A final note
Again, this is just my own list of LDS blogs that I follow, ranked by Alexa rankings. If you want to be added to the list, just let me know. I’ll add you as long as I find your content interesting, current and ranked in Alexa. If you are just starting and aren’t ranked yet, just give it time. You can read more about how to promote your LDS blog at this essay I wrote last year.