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So many Mormon blogs

Today as I was looking through the recent search phrases people used to find my site, I found the following, which made me chuckle.

“Is having a blog a Mormon thing?”

I can answer that.  The fact is that it didn’t used to be.  But recently an apostle, Elder M. Russell Ballard gave a speech, an excerpt of which was later published in one of our official church magazines “The Ensign”, wherein he made the suggestion that those who are able, should start engaging in new media, speaking up about Mormonism, and adding their voice to the growing online conversation.

“We cannot stand on the sidelines while others, including our critics, attempt to define what the church teaches.  While some conversations have audiences in the thousands or even millions, most are much, much smaller. But all conversations have an impact on those who participate in them. Perceptions of the Church are established one conversation at a time.”   (See the full article here).

See, Mormons believe in same structure that existed in Christ’s Primitive church, including living prophets and apostles (I explain more here).  These men have been called of God, just as in times of old, and as such, receive ongoing revelation and instruction from the Lord.  They, in turn (and just as in times of old), then endeavor to instruct, counsel, and advise the church.  We take their counsel to be of divine origin, which is to say we take it very seriously (or should).

So, to stumble upon someone out there who has made the astute observation that there sure are a lot of Mormon blogs sprouting up is just plain awesome.  We belong to a church led by inspiration and revelation, and we work together to prepare the way for the coming of Christ.

Something tells me that the momentum of Mormon’s blogging is just getting started.

Rusty

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WordPress problems, missing posts

There was a problem tonight with WordPress, where many WordPress users, using the system during a certain period of time, had all of their custom sidebar code dissapear.  Unfortunately, I was a beneficiary of that bug.

I’ll work to restore that code as quickly as possible, since it is what granted access to all my past posts.

The post links will be there, but the categories are going to be messed up, and it won’t look pretty.  But I was intending to switch to TypePad anyway, but dreaded the ammout of work I’d have to do.  I guess the silver lining in this is that it gives me a good reason to just make that move now, instead of later.

Rusty

UPDATE:  Okay, it’s now 2:00 a.m. and I think I’ve restored links to all my posts in the same categories they were in before (although not necessarily in the same order, or location).  If you find missing links, please let me know by commenting here on this post.  Otherwise, I’ll get started moving and redesigning.

I look forward to much more discussion today!

Rusty

Recent Comments, Active Posts

To help facilitate those who try to keep up on the most active discussions going and posts throughout my blog, I’ve now included on the left side (under Recent Posts) two new sections.

  1. Recent Comments – This will show you the most recent comments on any post throughout the blog, and should help you keep up with conversations by showing you where they’re happening.
  2. Active Posts – This will show you which posts are receiveing the highest current activity, both posts and traffic.

Additionally, because there are so many posts now, I’ll be making further refinements to navigation and organization of posts, hopefully to make it easier for you to find things. 

If you have suggestions, comments, or ideas on how to better organize things, please comment here.

And thank you for reading!

Rusty

There is beauty all around

I woke up this morning, hearing my almost two-year old in the next room calling out in his soft, toddler voice “Daaaaaadddd”.  This is how he lets me know he is awake.  I crawl out of bed, stumble into his room, scoop up his warm body and carry him into the living room where we lay on the couch and “talk” while we watch the sun seep in through the blinds.  This is how I generally start my day.

Soon, he got tired of snuggling and starts to play cars while I get up and go about getting ready for the day.  Not long after, the rest of our kids join us upstairs and their conversations, so full of enthusiasm and passion fill the house.

After morning prayers, I kissed them all goodbye and headed outside.

The sky was a clear, powder blue, with billowing cumulous clouds reaching towards the sun, which was rising leisurely above them, and creating a beautiful highlight to their topmost curves.

The tips of the Rocky Mountains which surround the valley were etched with snow, brilliantly reflecting the sunlight as they clung to the memory of winter.

The grass is that lush, deep, spring-time green, and every lawn I pass seems to be peppered with color as the flowers soak in the glory of the morning sun.

There are these huge billowing broad-leaf trees that line the road to work.  They look like something from a Pixar movie as the sun creates an astounding cascade of color as its rays dissipate along its outer leaves.  It was 68 degrees outside, so I drove with the windows down, basking in the glory of the moment, the wind in my face, and John Denver singing “Country Roads” over my car speakers.

If it’s been a while since you stopped and took notice of the beauty which so abundantly surrounds you, you’re missing out on one of the most important purposes of life – joy.  Tomorrow, try starting your day in awe, and see what a difference it makes in how you treat people, and how you look at things.

Rusty

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Straining toward achievement

I’ve moved this post to my new Life-Engineering blog, dedicated to motivating people to achieve their goals and change their futures by taking control of their lives.

You can now find this post here:

http://life-engineering.com/straining-toward-achievement/

The power of packaging

I’ve moved this post to my new Life-Engineering blog, dedicated to motivating people to achieve their goals and change their futures by taking control of their lives.

You can now find this post here:

http://life-engineering.com/the-power-of-packaging

Celebrating 50,000 page views

Speaking of setting goals, in January of this year, inspired by a call by Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles, wherein he encouraged Mormons to take a more active role in building a voice online, I had set a goal to build a blog.

My first post was on Thursday, January 31st (Simple acts of kindness and caring).  It was short and simple, and not very original, but it was a start.

193 days later I have created 152 posts and 5 pages.

My first full month (February), my blog averaged 75 page views a day.  By the third month online, that average climbed from 75 all the way up to more than 350 page views a day. 

This month, the average is 508, and on Friday, we reached 50,000 total page views… and then blew right on by as Saturday we had almost 1,000, and Sunday we had almost 1,200 (1,190 to be exact).

What’s more, there have now been 987 comments.

That’s fantastic.  So, in celebration of reaching 50,000 page views, I wanted to pause and say thank you.  Thank you for helping to make it all possible.  Thank you for your interaction.  Thank you for the many marvelous discussions we have had.  Most of all, thank you for being interested in the gospel.

These numbers represent an ever-increasing consumption of religious views and discussions online, and I’m happy to play a part in that endeavor.  Most of all, I’m grateful for the opportunity, the medium, the time, and the ability to host and promote discussions centered around the gospel of Jesus Christ, and an effort to encourage people to live just a little better, and experience just a little more.

Now, that said, this is still just the start.  If we reached 50,000 page views in just over 6 months, I want to shoot for a total of 150,000 in the next 6.  You can help (find out how).  At the bottom of the blog there’s a little counter that tells you the current number.  I hope you’re here to watch with me as the exposure of these Christ-centered discussions continues to climb.  I hope you play a part.  And for the part you play, thank you.

Rusty

Marketing without a message

A while ago I posted “Every member a marketer“, wherein I describe that every member of the church, or any organization for that matter, is in a constant state of marketing their organization – especially when it comes to religion.  Wherever you go, whatever you do, you’re marketing.  People will judge your organization based on your words and actions, and often, that’s the only message they’ll get, and usually the strongest one at that (actions speak louder than words).

The point is to always be aware of who we are and what we stand for.  But we do have to be careful of marketing without a message.  When you market without a message, you’re basically passing along a communication without leaving a real message.

Let me provide a recent (ongoing) example.

Much of the traffic to my blog comes from search engines, and I peruse the phrases people use to find my site regularly (they’re often very interesting).  A couple months ago I began to find a lot of people searching for “why can’t Mormon’s swim”, or some similar phrase.  I did a post on it here – answering the question.

But just now as I was browsing through search phrases for the past few days I found:  “Why can’t Mormon’s swim on Sundays”, “Mormonism swimming”, “Do Mormons swim”, “Can Mormons have recreation on Sundays”, “Why can’t Mormons swim on the Sabbath”, “Why Mormons cannot swim on Sunday”, “Why Mormons don’t swim on Sundays”, “Can Mormons wear bathing suits”, “Why don’t Mormon Missionaries swim”, “Mormon Swimming”, and “Mormons and water, no swimming on Sunday”.

This is marketing without a message.  It’s very clear that we’re communicating something about swimming, and possibly about Sundays, but really the only thing that is standing out in their minds is that we don’t swim, which isn’t true.

The MESSAGE, that should follow the marketing is that we do swim, we love to swim (at least I do), but we don’t swim on Sundays, because we feel that Sunday is a holy day, a day of rest, a day for families, a day for emotional, spiritual, and physical recuperation.  That Missionaries don’t swim because they are required to work full time in teaching the gospel of Christ.  They do get one day a week to prepare for the rest of the week by cleaning, doing laundry, and even recreation, but that even then, swimming is not permitted for several reasons, not the least of which is modesty and the need to keep their minds single to their ministry.

But all too often when asked if we want to go swim, we simply reply no, rather than taking advantage of the opportunity to send a message.  Certainly sometimes it’s not appropriate, or the right setting, etc. for such communication, but whenever possible, we should actively seek the opportunity to explain WHY we do or don’t do certain things.  That’s marketing with a message.

So the next time someone invites you to swim on Sunday.  Don’t just say “Sorry, I can’t”, instead say “Sorry, I believe that Sunday’s are special, and don’t swim on Sunday”, or even go the extra mile and invite that person to do something more suitable to your belief.  Then you’re sending the message that you would like to be with them, but just shouldn’t spend that time swimming.

Either way, as you go about your life marketing, think about the message.

Rusty

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Cycle Time – the power of frequency

I’ve moved this post to my new Life-Engineering blog, dedicated to motivating people to achieve their goals and change their futures by taking control of their lives.

You can now find this post here:

http://life-engineering.com/cycle-time-the-power-of-frequency/