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Deseret News
A screenshot of my first Bloggernacle Back Bench

“Welcome to the Bloggernacle back bench: a comfortable place to observe, learn and discuss.”

That’s how I began this column, five years ago this coming Friday. And wow, have I ever observed, learned from, and discussed hundreds of blogs in the interim. And needless to say, a lot has changed. A lot has cycled through, both with people and ideas. A lot of technology has taken hold. Five years ago, Facebook and Twitter were only beginning to become popular. Pinterest and Reddit were nonsense words to most.

Five years ago, President Gordon B. Hinckley passed away. My first power pick included many sweet posts from bloggers marking this sad event including this one saying “Farewell President Hinckley.” And, as I highlighted yesterday, President Thomas S. Monson is also musing on his five years as president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, concluding, “As we now go forward, may we follow his example. He left his footprints in the sands of the seashore, but he left his teaching principles in the hearts and in the lives of all whom he taught. He instructed his disciples, and to us he speaks the same words, 'Follow thou me' (John 21:22). May we ever be found doing so.”

Also five years ago, in early February Mitt Romney was just ending his 2008 presidential race, the intense scrutiny of a Mormon Moment averted until last year. Today, we know that Mitt Romney has ended his presidential run with a loss to President Barak Obama and we go forward now with the Mormon Moment behind us — maybe.

Just more than five years ago, Elder M. Russell Ballard made some remarks about the importance of joining the online conversation on blogs and in other venues. I’ve witnessed how the LDS Church continues to recognize the power of the Internet and has been on the forefront of some exciting online initiatives. To mention a few, the Mormon.org project continues to introduce Mormons to people all over the United States and is even venturing to reach a more worldwide audience. Similarly, the LDS Church uses the ever-growing power of YouTube to beam out their Mormon Messages videos that range from spiritual counsel to youth-themed messages to the beautifully-produced Bible Videos, which can be shared with and used by any Christian denomination. And one absolutely historic blog moment occurred on Sept. 8, 2011, when President Monson posted his thoughts in blog format for the first time. The prophet could now add “blogger” to his many titles.

So, as I concluded five years ago: “Now enough of this intro, we have blogs to discover.” Or, as I would reword it for today: “Now enough of this looking back, we have even more blogs to discover.”

Power pick: Joshua Walker is doing “The Walk (of his) Life” as narrated in this blog by his mom. First read “Joshua’s Journey…..So Far” to get the background. Then read “Turning a Corner” for some recent good news. But the really powerful, tear-jerking post is the Christmas one about his Make-A-Wish wish. His mom sets it up: “ As many already know, Joshua's wish has been secretly in the works since late October. Keeping it a secret was one of the hardest parts of his wish. Keeping it a secret was also the best parts of his wish! His brothers and sister were SO surprised! Joshua's wish was to do Christmas for his brothers and sister — to be their Secret Santa!! It turned out to be everything Josh hoped it would be and LOTS more!” Oh my, reading about his joy in bringing joy to his siblings, as well as the bonus story about the Costco employees coming together for him, just wow. In all my five years finding blog posts, this is definitely among the favorites.

Techie tip: Finally, just for fun, five years ago, the lds.org site looked like this. Today it looks like this. Cool.

Emily Warburton Jensen loves searching through the LDS blog world for developments and testimonies that best capture the ever-evolving LDS online experience. Email: ejensen@desnews.com