"The reason for the title is because this award should make you reflect on five bloggers who have been an encouragement, a source of love, impacted you in some way, and have been a Godly example to you. Five Bloggers who when you reflect on them you get a sense of pride and joy... of knowing them and being blessed by them."
That's how this award works. Kim at The Upward Call gave me this award and I must say I was touched by the nice things she said about me. I didn't even pay her or anything, to say any of them. I couldn't view the graphic that is supposed to go with this award, so I've included a shot of the sunset that painted the sky outside my window as I composed this.
Naming five bloggers that fit this criteria isn't as easy as it might seem at first. Say what you will about the vast amount of nonsense fluff-blogs (and there are plenty of them out there, we all know that) but there are also some dedicated, Godly people blogging their hearts out that really have a big influence on me. Some for many years now, and some long before blogging was ever heard of. I'm almost a bit reluctant to do this because sometimes I think I might be too complimentary toward the people that bless me. Almost as if I'm kissing up, or something. I'm certainly not, but I'm just so grateful for these folks. So... here we go:
For no other reason than they deserve it, I'm going to break the rules. I'm going to list five... women, and then five men. Ladies first:
1. Kim Shay. I first met Kim through blogging, and from the very first post of hers that I read, I was a daily reader. I went back through her archives to read more of her writing and the more I read the more at home I felt. We live pretty close to each other so two summers ago (I can't believe it's been that long already) we decided to meet one day for coffee and spent hours and hours just gabbing away about everything under the sun. It's like that every time we get together, including today. We never run out of things to talk about, laugh about, and pray about.
2. Rebecca Stark. When I first started reading blogs, long before I ever started my own (3 yrs ago this month, I can't believe it's been 3 years already), Rebecca's blog was one of the first I ever came across. Like Kim's, I knew from my first read that Rebecca was someone that I wanted to read daily. A fellow sister in the Lord that wasn't afraid of the deep theological discussion? Are you kidding me, how rare that truly is! In one of my very first posts at my very first blog, I said that when my blog grows up, it wants to be Rebecca's blog. That hasn't changed.
3. Marla Swoffer. Some of you will remember Marla and remember her well. Marla is no longer blogging, but her blog was always a source of wit, practical Christian instruction, and Marla was not afraid to take on the hot topics and do it with grace and truth. She simply rocked as a blogger and even though she put away the blogging game nearly a year and a half ago, I still miss having her to read every day.
4. Like Kim, I have to go outside the rules here again and name a sister who isn't a blogger but the wife of one: Darlene Johnson. Darlene and I "met" through her husband's blogging (you may have heard of him, he's a rather obscure blogger) and she has been nothing but a joy, inspiration, Godly example and a true and dear friend in so many ways that if I started listing them all it would only embarass her.
5. Last but certainly not least for the ladies is Jen Elslager. I met Jen through a challies "a la carte" link once upon a time where he mentioned something about her posting about her cat, Toby. Actually I think it was Toby that was doing the blogging. I went on over and was so struck with her sense of humor and love for the Word that she became an instant daily read. I love it when bloggers can not only dig deep into theology but also show their sense of humor, and Jen does both. Plus, Toby is one very doctrinally sound cat. That's a combination that's hard to beat.
And now for the men...
1. Dr. James White, aka Doc, or DrO, or DrOakley, or DrOAloha or one of his other nicks he uses when he's in the channel at #prosapologian. I call him Doc, although when we did meet in person last fall I called him James - which he says most people that meet him from the channel, don't do. I'm a rebel - I can't address someone in person by their online nick, I feel like a gooner doing that. In any case, I discovered his writing back in 1998 through a little book on John 6. I read it and was so impressed I looked him up on the web (long before doing such a thing was so easy) and discovered his website and eventually his irc chat channel. I'm absolutely blessed to know him, be able to read his works, listen to his web broadcast twice weekly and learn from him. I'm currently reading Scripture Alone that he wrote in 2004, and it's just an excellent "beginner" sort of treatment on the subject of Sola Scriptura. I thought I was pretty well educated on this topic but he goes places I never even thought of, and I've already learned quite a bit. I always learn something from him, and that - to me - is just very cool.
2. Phil Johnson, aka "rather obscure blogger" mentioned above in the ladies section, #4. I started reading Phil around the same time I started reading Doc, and I just cannot tell you in how many ways his ministry has impacted me over the years. The Lord has used Phil's ministry (and wit and wild sense of humor) to teach me a lot of things and think deeply about many other things. Just today I mentioned this to Kim while we were chatting away about different people. Phil is not afraid to say it like it is, and remember to temper his words with respect. This is SO rare, and something I appreciate so much, and that's exactly what we need more of. May his tribe drastically increase, and soon. I've never checked for sure, but I think in the three years of blogging (here and at the now closed ENo) I think I've probably linked to Phil more than anyone else. I don't even care if that sounds like fan-girl-speak, I just treasure this brother's ministry that much. (And yes I'm non-sinfully jealous that Kim got to meet him and Darlene in person, before I did!)
3. Steve Camp. I first heard Steve sing on the radio, like many others - back in 1994. I'll tell you all a little story now (that I recently told my 21 yr. old, that understandably didn't remember much about that day when she was a little girl), and it might make you cry or get lumpy-throated... so get tissues just in case:
Leaving the church that hot day in August 1995, after my late husband's memorial service, I put the girls in the van and got in myself. I reluctantly started the van as I realized "it" was all over. The cancer, the waiting, the pain, the anxiety, the fear, the crying, the saying goodbye for the last time, the funeral... all of it. OVER. It all hit me that it was over, and from that very second onward, everything in my life and in my home would be so different. I also knew that there would be 90 million people at my house when I got home. I knew there would be dishes of food and people trying to be brave for me and waiting to hug me and all that goes along with that scenario. I didn't want to go home, I didn't want my life to change, and I didn't want it the way it was. I wanted to delay that scene for as long as possible - to just stop time or even better, go backwards five years before he was ever diagnosed - but I knew I had to go home and take that next brutally painful step into a brand new chapter of life. I was a 29 year old widow and was absolutely terrified of what that next step and next chapter was supposed to look like. If ever there was a surreal moment, that one was it.
As I sat there in the van having all of these thoughts flash through my head, I turned on the local Christian radio station and started to back out of the parking place in the church parking lot when I heard these soulful words on the radio:
There's a hard, hard place nobody ever told me ofAll I ever heard about was peace and loveI was told that trouble couldn't touch a child of GodSo when the trials came furiouslyThey nearly sucked the life out of meUntil I prayedCarry me, through this worldLift me up, when I fallI am weakAnd You are strongAnd I'll be standing on my kneesFor only You, can carry me
With tears still streaming down my face (but trying so hard to be a rock for the girls) I immediately felt a sense of relief and assurance that indeed my strength was not my own, but coming straight from Heaven above. New tears of thankfulness mixed in with tears of such sadness. That song deeply touched me and since my house was less than 5 minutes from the church, I was pulling into my driveway just as the song was ending. I was still terribly grieving of course, but in a more prayerful mood and thankful to the Lord for His mercy, and for Steve's music ministry. Those words softened one of the worst days of my life (second only to the day Ben passed away, 3 days prior) and made all the difference at just the right moment in time, thanks to God's providence and mercy.
As you all know Steve started blogging a couple of years ago and I started reading from the beginning. Not only am I blessed by his ministry I'm blessed to have gotten to know him as a friend over the last couple of years, and to have been able to finally say thank you (and tell him this story) for what he does for the glory of God. (side note: Isn't it somewhat wild when you really think about it, how the vehicle of blogging has been providentially used to allow us to meet folks we'd never have met this side of Heaven, otherwise?)
4. Darrin Brooker. I don't recall where I first saw a link to Darrin's blog but like all the others that are my daily reads, Darrin became one from day one. I had a chance to meet him last fall after a Sola Scriptura conference in Toronto, but we really didn't have much opportunity talk. It was a big table and I think there were about 15 of us all sitting around the table, and he was a good distance away. Darrin doesn't even know how much his writing has impacted me, but I guess he will now, eh? :-)
5. Daniel at Duologos. Daniel's writing takes you right into the scene he's describing, and will either make you laugh outloud, think deeply, or cause a lump to well up in your throat as the tears pour down your cheeks. This is one gifted brother, and he never fails to say something that I don't still think about hours later. It happens often, and just happened again last night. If you are not a regular reader at Daniel's, you're really missing something that you don't really want to miss.
Now, if you get this award you're supposed to be a good little blogger and give it out to five others that likewise bless you. I don't want anyone to feel obligated to do that so I'm going to be a rebel again and just not include the rules for contuining this. If you really wanted to, you could just do what I just did and that'd work out real well.