Emily W. Jensen
Bloggers come together in online communities to post about important topics.

Some sites thrive on user-submitted contributions with community members coming together to both share stories and insights and learn from one another.

Here are two examples:

This One Time On My Mission describes its mission (ha!) this way: “A mission is a very sacred and memorable event in our lives, an epic time held dear to our hearts. It is the true trial of human spirit. It is the time for boys to become men. The experiences and relationships cultivated will be cherished forever. After coming home from our mission, we often find ourselves sitting around a table at a mission reunion holding our stomach, reeling with laughter. … These are the stories we want to collect. We would like to create a collection of stories that will help people understand the humorous side of spending time in The Lord’s service.” With a set of guidelines to help submitters stay within its bounds (i.e., “Should not implicate missionaries in breaking any mission rules”), this site includes both hilarious and uplifting stories from returned Mormon missionaries.

The story “How Beautiful Are the Feet” tells about the elder who, after a filthy day tracting in the Philippines, decided to clean his feet with rubbing alcohol to “to kill anything that might be dwelling there. He grabbed a small stool and sat in the middle of the cement floor. His flip-flops cradled his feet and the alcohol spilled over the lip of his sandals as he continually added more liquid to assure a good cleanse. He noticed off to the side, a small puddle of alcohol. Whether from fatigue or stupidity, he reached for a candle to light and burn off this excess liquid. At the precise moment Elder Bennion lit the puddle, a large, raging fire engulfed the middle of the room, including his own, alcohol-soaked feet. Leaping from his stupor, and from his chair, he screamed, ‘I’m going to die! I’m going to die!’ He spun around on the floor, frantically batting his blazing feet.” And on that exciting cliffhanger, you’ll jut have to click in to see the miracle that happens. Plus, peruse all the other fun stories (more than 50 already uploaded) or submit your own.

As a side note, I love how the stories are tagged via mission names. That makes it easy to find your own mission!

The LDS Scripture Insight site (ha!) “is designed to provide a forum for discussing practical, down-to-earth applications of gospel principles as found in LDS scriptures. … As Latter-day Saints, we generally appreciate the doctrinal value of our scriptures, but we still might underestimate how practical they can be in the here and now. … This site is intended to provide helpful advice, based on scripture, for anyone facing interpersonal relationship problems, emotional distress or mental health issues. The author will be adding regular posts, and all readers are encouraged to share their stories and insights as well. Do you have questions? Forward them. Do you have a story about how the scriptures have helped you in your life? Forward it. Do you have a unique insight regarding the practical meaning of a particular scripture? Forward it.”

Did you get that? Users' scripture insights are enthusiastically sought and welcomed. As an example of what you find on the site, consider this user-submitted guest testimony: “I am now in my old age. My husband passed away 12 years ago. He died on the morning of Christmas Eve. Since that time I have been very lonely, especially at Christmas time. A few years ago, as Christmas was approaching, I felt this deep sadness settle in, and with it the strong desire to go be with my husband and two daughters who had passed on. I knelt by my little kitchen table and poured out my heart to my Father in Heaven. I said, ‘How much longer, Father? I want to come home!’ I got up and opened my scriptures randomly. They opened to the Doctrine and Covenants Section 69. The first five verses did not apply to me, but as I read verses six through eight, my heart started to pound.” Yes, again I’m going to leave you on a cliffhanger to so that you click in to find out what those verses said and meant to this member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Now let’s see what other users contributed to the Bloggernacle:

Power pick: Just over 10 days ago, the bloggers behind Real Intent decided to take on a tough subject: mental illness. Titling their series “Peculiar Minds” they hoped to share “stories, resources and information to assist those who suffer and those who suffer with them.” Blogger jendoop explains the series’ impetus: “When I started the adventure of bringing together this series, my excitement was tempered by the enormity of our undertaking and the knowledge that while what we are doing is immensely beneficial, it is a subject that most conversations veer away from uncomfortably.” So find personal stories, researched posts, guest posts (more user-generated content, in fact) from bloggers such as Reese Dixon and Robison Wells, and much more. And as they explain, “There are burdens carried, by too many, which many of us could help to lift, if we knew better how to help.”

Techie tip: Julie MacDonald of LeeLou blogs asks: “Ready to change that blog background now that Valentine’s Day is officially over? We have eight brand spanking new designs that you can install in seconds. There are two new blog headers to choose from as well. Remember, we have tutorials that walk you through the installation process so no excuses folks. It couldn’t be any easier.” So click in to find these “8 new Free Blog Backgrounds” and see if you want freshen up your blog today!

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