A Secret, 3x Faster Way to Search the Web on iOS

I’m always looking for faster and easier ways to do things.

One of those things is searching the web for a person or term I come across but I’m not familiar with on iOS.

iphone search

If you want to look something up without using Siri1 , which, is handy but in general quite shameful in public place, you have a couple of options.

Let’s say you’re reading an article in an app that isn’t Safari–Reeder, Pocket, Instapaper, any news app–and you want to look up a person the article mentions. There are three options. And one that you’re probably not using takes the cake for fastest, but it’s a bit hidden. Continue reading

  1. That is, not telling Siri, “Search the web for …”


Why to Journal and How to Start

Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

I’ve never been a faithful journaler.

For a season, I did a good job of writing down prayer requests, what I was learning, and the occasional event. That season was short lived.


pencil and paper

But for nearly the last month, I’ve written down something in the form of a journal every single day.

Not bad for an unfaithful journaler. Here’s why and how I picked journaing back up.

Why Should We Journal?

The benefits abound, and it’s amazing how journaling can benefit us in relation to the past, present, and future.

To Pause and Reflect (The Present)

It’s easy to live each day, keeping your head down, doing the things you need to, punching in and punching out for work, making dinner, taking care of the kids, and then you look up one day and your kids are going to college, your 20 pounds overweight, you haven’t read the Bible or prayed in weeks. You don’t recognize yourself any more.

The daily grind can keep us from reflecting on how we’re doing and what’s really going on.

Journaling is an opportunity to pause, reflect, and correct course as necessary.

In a busy, constantly connected world, it’s hard to take a moment to ourselves, move beyond just treading water, and see how we’re really doing.

Journaling is that quiet opportunity to have a meeting with yourself and make a few observations.

To Learn and Prepare (The Future)

Once we take the time to observe, we have an opportunity to learn.

It’s hard to judge our progress if we don’t measure it.

You know the old “measure twice, cut once” rule of woodworking?1 It applies in life and journaling too.

One bad day doesn’t mean our life is falling apart, and one good day doesn’t mean we’re on track to do all we hoped.

Consistent journaling allows us to compile a history of the ebbs and flows of life. How we’re doing, what we’re thining about, struggling with, and looking forward to.

It’s an opportunity to learn from our mistakes, build on our successes, and continue down the path of becoming the people we want to be.

To Look Back and Remember (The Past)

The faintest pencil is better than the strongest memory.

Humans are a forgetful breed. At times, I can hardly remember why I walked into another room.

Journaling allows us to look back and remember laughing with our spouse, kind things people said, and, most importantly, the goodness and providence of God.

Memories are meant to be cherished. Forgotten memories are impossible to relish.

Everyone has something in their life to look back and be grateful for. Journaling helps surface that gratitude more frequently.

Why Don’t We Journal? (and How Do We Fix It?)

Ok, so maybe you’re sold on journaling. But why do most people have the good intentions of keeping a journal yet fail to follow through?

It Takes Time

Like every activity in the world, journaling takes time. The problem is, it’s the natural resource most of us (claim) we are most acutely lacking.

Thinking about filling up a whole journal is daunting.

But what if we started with just writing down a single line? That seems doable.

We’re an ambitious bunch, and most people, when trying to form new habits, go way overboard.

You want to lose weight so you buy a gym pass, work out for 2 hours, and never go back again because you can’t walk right the next morning.

With journaling, start small. A sentence or two is a great start. At the end of a month, you have 30 more sentences than you did last month, and at the end of the year, you could have lines and lines filled.

Solution: Start small.

Write one line each day, and if you have an extra minute here and there, jot an extra line.

A sentence from every day of your year beats the socks off one mega paragraph from that one day. You’ll have a greater scope and view of your life and year if you jot it down bit by bit.

It Takes Effort

But what will you journal about? After deciding you’ll be committed to actually keeping a journal, knowing what you’ll write about is the next most difficult task.

This is an easy fix: have a set list of questions you can easily respond to in a moment that helps you evaluate your day, see where you can improve, go to bed grateful.

Solution: Create a list of questions

I recently mentioned a few questions I use to evaluate my day in my evening routine. I’ve since added one more. Here are the questions I answer at the end of each day. The first is about the past, the second concerns the present, the third helps me for the future, and the fourth is about preparing for the next day.

  1. What did you accomplish today that was important?
  2. What are two things you’re thankful for in your life right now?
  3. What’s one thing you wish you did differently today that you can improve on in the future?
  4. What is the one thing I could do tomorrow to make it a successful day?

It Takes Consistency

Journaling is only valuable if you do it consistently. For me, I need a reminder or I won’t do it, and I need it to be easy or I won’t follow through.

Solution: Set a reminder and have your questions pop-up

I’ve been using Day One to record my daily responses to my four questions. There’s an option to set a reminder so I get an alert at the end of my day to fill out my journal. Every day at 9:10pm, Day One tells me to do what I said I would do.

This little timer has helped me stay consistent and accountable to myself. Getting into the habit of keeping your journal at the same time each day makes faithfulness to your goal even easier.

I hop into Day One, type my Text Expander snippet which generates my four questions, and I take 60 seconds to fill out my mini-journal. That’s it. This is still a young habit for me, and I don’t want to do it. Four questions can improve my perspective and still give me something significant to look back on.

It Takes Organization

If you wrote your journal on scrap pieces of paper that you didn’t hold onto or organize, you’d be awfully frustrated when you wanted to go back and reference your notes from previous days.

A paper journal is the most classic way to keep a journal, but I don’t think it’s the easiest.

That’s why I suggest the aforementioned Day One.

Solution: Use Day One

Day One is absolutely gorgeous. The app is well-designed, available for Mac and iOS, has the ability to set reminders, use tags for simpler searching, favorite certain posts, add pictures, and add entries into the past.

day one stack

Honestly, I’ve started using Day One in the way I used to use Evernote because it’s simpler to navigate and I’m more likely to actually go back and look through Day One. It syncs perfectly across devices, allows you to see the days you actually wrote something at a glance, and even imports location, time, and weather data if you’d like.

Day One is well worth the $5 on iOS and $10 for the Mac.

You can’t put a price on remembering your memories. If you could, I think it’d be for than $15.

Wrapping Up

Starting a journal is something you’ll never regret. You can start now or start 10 years from now and wish you’ve been doing it your entire life.

Start small, answer a few of the same questions every day, stay consistent by setting an alert, and use a beautiful app or journal to make the process more enjoyable.

You won’t regret it.

  1. If you don’t, you are likely a pretty frustrated woodworker.


How a Great Woman Changes Your Life

I’ll never be a great woman. Fortunately I’m married to one, so my first-hand experience is enough to know what it takes.

I can’t tell my wife often enough how much better (and better off) I am because of her influence on my life.

Niki and Raegan

Today she’s celebrating 27 years of living on this planet, and I wanted to share the significant lessons she’s helped me learn and ways she’s still helping me grow.

Acting Wisely

At times I have the sinful urge to give someone a piece of my mind (GSAPOMM), which, if it was a spiritual gift, I would be gladly exercising regularly.

Unfortunately, GSAPOMM isn’t exactly a loving or encouraging thing to do. So instead I just tell Niki I would like to GSAPOMM and she says something wise like,

“Is that a loving thing to do?” or “Do you think Jesus would give that person a piece of his mind?”

Sometimes I say, “I think in this situation Jesus just might do that,” but since I can’t be sure, I default to keeping that comment to myself.

Her helping me act wisely extends beyond stopping me from being an unloving jerk. She helps me make wise financial decisions, health decisions, and overall increases my wise decisions tenfold.  Continue reading


Crying for the Father’s Help

Estimated Reading Time: 1 minute

After a mere three weeks, I’m already going to the well of fatherhood for spiritual analogies.

Our daughter has made the transition to parenthood incredibly easy for us–she only cries when something is wrong–90% of the time it means her diaper is dirty or she’s hungry, which are also the only times I cry.


The thing is, as she’s crying and one of us is holding her and getting ready to alleviate her hunger or discomfort, she often starts sobbing uncontrollably. We’re ready to meet her needs, we know what’s wrong, but she doesn’t have the awareness yet to understand she just needs to wait a few more seconds.

“I know, sweetie. I know what you need. Your crying can’t speed up the process any more and your flailing is actually making this more difficult than it needs to be. Just trust me, I’m working on it. I’m here.”

I say those things (sometimes not so patiently, and many times, surely, she doesn’t hear me at all over her wailing) but it doesn’t help yet.

One day it will. One day she’ll have a better understanding, a greater and deeper trust. She’ll realize that she doesn’t need to cry harder or longer or louder. She just needs to trust her father and let him do what he can but she can’t at that moment.

The Father is in control. He knows what he is doing. We may cry and scream and say we can’t take it any more, but we’re in His hands and He has not left us. His job is caring for us, our job is trusting Him to care for us.

If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!
–Matthew 7:11

We who are evil still know how to love and care for our children. We want to give them good things, and at the very least we want to ease their pain and comfort them. How much more does the Father in heaven desire to do that for us!

Cry, sure. Make your need known. He asks us to do that. But losing control because our need hasn’t been met yet and flailing about thinking that will make it better won’t fix it.

Present the need. Call to the Father. Ask for His help. And then let Him do what only He can do.


Using Alfred: Becoming a Mac Keyboard Wizard

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

There’s a classic 60s song by The Who called Pinball Wizard about a blind kid who “sure plays a mean pinball.” I like to think of Alfred as channeling that kid and unleashing him on your Mac instead of some movie-adapted, silver-ball bouncing, quarter eater.

Alfred icon - 1400px

I’ve mentioned Alfred before in my list of tools, but I haven’t gone on to explain why it’s such an amazing app.

If you’re a Mac user, perhaps you’ve used Spotlight (which you can open by clicking Command – Space). It’s a basically engine for your computer.

Spotlight has some great additional features too–beyond just searching for files–like currency conversion, contact lookup, launching applications, and more. But it can’t hang with Alfred, which is a super-charged launcher that does everything from searching specific websites to saving all the things you’ve recently copied.

You can try out Alfred for free, but to really get to the next level you’ll need the Powerpack for 17£ (~$27). Here are my favorite Alfred features and workflows. Continue reading