“Ok Google” Commands

It’s becoming more and more common to own a smart phone (I’ll leave it to you to decide if it’s something you need) so I thought I’d share an infographic for my Android-owning friends that summarizes many of the “OK Google” commands you can ask your phone. Sorry iPhone friends…but here’s a link to some Siri commands should you need them!
Credit to: Google Now voice commands by trendblog.net

Coffee Break Bible Study: 1 Peter 3-5; 2 Peter 1-2 #bgbg2

Read [biblegateway passage=”1 Peter 3.”]

What verses in this chapter most speak to your family situation?


Is there someone you are having trouble living in harmony with? Pray for that person today, and do something to serve them.


Read  [biblegateway passage=”1 Peter 4″].

What does it mean to be “clear-minded?”


Should we expect to suffer as Christians?


Read [biblegateway passage=”1 Peter 5″].

What does Peter tell the elders?


Take a moment to ponder verse 7. Write on a piece of paper something that is worrying you (use code if you have to.) Then crumple it up and throw it away, symbolizing “casting your care.”


Read [biblegateway passage=”2 Peter 1″].

Where do we get everything that we truly need?


What do you learn about Scripture in this chapter?


Read [biblegateway passage=”2 Peter 2″].


What warnings does Peter give here?


Think about your relationships. Are there any that are unhealthy or destructive? How is God leading you to deal with them?



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How to Reassign–or Revamp–a Project Graciously

Brad assigned Susan the project of overhauling the supply room. Susan always seemed interested in organization, so Brad thought she would be a great candidate for the job.

Several weeks went by, and Brad only saw small progress in the room. While he was glad to see some action, he could tell that Susan wasn’t handling the task with the enthusiasm he had hoped. A quality inspection team was coming in one month and Brad needed to do something. Here’s what he did:

He talked to Susan privately.  There was no need to embarrass Susan in front of the rest of the team. She was a good worker…just not making progress on this project.

He asked questions. Brad called Susan in, and instead of making an critical statements, asked her questions such as, “Are you enjoying the project?” “What is your plan for completion?” “Is there anything you need?”

He listened. Susan shared how overwhelmed she felt by being in charge of the entire room. She knew staff members had preferences about how things were kept and didn’t feel it was right that she would be in charge of her peers in this area.

He considered Susan’s personality. Susan loved to work in the background and was usually good at doing her work. In this case though, Brad had put her in an awkward position of having to be create solutions when she would have done better with executing someone else’s creative direction.

He made modifications, with Susan’s help. Brad called the team together and presented a new direction, mentioning Susan’s suggestions that a leader type create the solution, and she and a few others would come in on a Saturday and knock the entire project out in one day. Sally, a natural leader, volunteered to come up with a new layout for the furniture and equipment in the room, and create a list of organizational supplies. Susan and some coworkers would then do the rearranging, sorting and stocking.

As a leader, Brad learned from this experience and became better at matching his team members to tasks they would love to do. Is there something you are asking a team member to do that won’t draw on his or her best strengths?

[Tweet “Sometimes a person we think would be great for the job…isn’t.”]

Coffee Break Bible Study: 2 Peter 3; 1 John 1-4 #bgbg2

Read [biblegateway passage=”2 Peter 3″].

Why did Peter write his letters?


Ponder verse 8 in light of something you are waiting for.


Read [biblegateway passage=”1 John 1″].

What symbol/analogy about God is used here?


Write out verse 7.


Read [biblegateway passage=”1 John 2″].

What admonishments from this chapter stand out to you or convict you personally?


What does it mean to love the world?


Read [biblegateway passage=”1 John 3″].

Take a moment to praise God for His great love for you.


Think of someone in your life that is unlovable. How can you reach out to him or her today?


Read [biblegateway passage=”1 John 4″].

Why is it important to “test the spirit” and not just accept everything you are told?


Again, there is a focus on love. What about this passage stands out to you?

10 Lessons Learned as a Social Media Race Reporter

In October of 2014, I had a wonderful opportunity to act as a social media race reporter for 5Hour Energy and Michael Waltrip Racing. I had entered a contest earlier in the year, and was selected to enjoy several privileges including behind-the-scenes tours and information and having my name on the #15 car driven by Clint Bowyer. (Take a look at my slide show above for a photo essay of the four days.)

I learned several things on this trip that can apply to real-life. Here they are in no particular order.

Professional sports are very competitive and consuming.

This opportunity to be in the garage area, watch from pit boxes, and get a shop tour revealed to me how consuming racing is. There are many demands on drivers, crew and support personnel and it isn’t an easy or glamorous life.  I’m sure it’s the same with many other sports. There is pressure to perform well because sponsors want to be seen, employees need to be paid, and fans want to see action and wins. If one is not careful, it can become addictive and all-consuming.  The season is basically year-round, with races starting in February and going through just before Thanksgiving. Off season is continual prep for the next year. Crews often leave on Thursday and don’t return until Sunday night, spending much of their time at the track. It’s not for the faint at heart!

There’s a lot of preparation before every race.

Some don’t think racing is a true sport. But go behind the scenes and you’ll see there’s a lot more to it than jumping in a car, and turning left for 400 miles. Strategy, engineering, science, teamwork—they all lead to wins or losses. Cars are being prepped with precision weeks in advance. Food has to be purchased and prepared. Flights have to be arranged. Winners of contests have to be entertained. 🙂

It takes a team.

The driver often gets a lot of media attention, but the crew also does a ton of work. They work out, they practice…it’s like training for the Olympics to save tenths of seconds off a pit stop. Everyone has their job, but sometimes there is crossover. For example, the hauler driver may also shop for groceries and keep the truck stocked. For MWR, his wife and son also travel with him and cater meals for the team at the track. A crew member may also help in the marketing department. It certainly is a team sport.

You don’t have to be star struck.

For the days we were behind the scenes, it wasn’t unusual for someone “famous” to cross our path. Jack Rousch. Joe Gibbs. Darryl Waltrip. Reporters. Drivers and crew members. Wives and girlfriends of stars. Sometimes I’d ask to get a photo, sometimes I’d just be amazed at how close they were. I didn’t bother trying to get autographs (except we automatically got one from Clint.) I can easily get star struck, but I’ve been learning through the years that an autograph or photo doesn’t change whether I saw or got to briefly talk with a well-known person. We all feel special when granted access others don’t have, but it’s wise to be enjoy that in moderation. They are no more special in God’s eyes than you or I are. They just may be recognized more.

It’s wise to be flexible.

Most of our trip went off without a hitch. But there was a downpour on Saturday and we had to be ready for a possible delay. Our planned meeting of Michael Waltrip was unable to happen because of his involvement with Dancing with the Stars, but that couldn’t have been foreseen months before. It was a little confusing to find our way at the track sometimes. “Go with the flow” had to become the rule of the trip and it was a great way to see how teams have to deal with ups, downs and changes in plans on a normal weekend.

Don’t let disappointment ruin your whole day or trip.

Clint’s car unfortunately blew an engine at lap 100, reducing the amount of time we could watch on the pit box. It was very disappointing to walk away from the pit box, knowing I may never have that opportunity again. However, we headed to the top of Turn 2 and enjoyed the amenities of the 5Hour Energy hospitality bus, and felt the rush of wind and rubber as over 40 cars sped past us on a turn. Shaking off disappointment led to absorbing more of the whole experience from yet another angle not normally enjoyed.

It can be a challenge to embrace an experience and report on it at the same time.

My responsibility on the trip was to share it on social media. I was given a lot of flexibility…they weren’t demanding. But I wanted to do a good job, so as you can see from the slide show, I took a lot of photos and wrote captions, much of which was done in real time. I had to view the experience as one sharing it with others. Many of us do this routinely with daily activities on social media, but I wonder about what we are missing when we share in real time? We start looking at experiences through a camera lens rather than fully experiencing it.  We are concerned about the location of our phone, whether it is charged, and what updates we may be missing. While I enjoyed sharing along the way, it did take time and energy.  There are times it is worthwhile to do so, but other times it may be more refreshing to really just go “off the grid” and not report anything at all, or at least wait until you get back.

Keep your work area neat.

It’s amazing how clean the shops are for these race teams. I’ve seen three now and all of them look like you could almost eat off the floor. The hauler holds so much that it can’t work well without being organized. That way they can avoid losing things, and pack up quickly. I should have asked how long it takes to pack a hauler–that would have been an interesting fact to share. With doing it every week, and being so organized, I bet it takes a lot less time that you think. This is inspiring for daily life and workspaces. What clutter is draining you?

Cheer on, build up and encourage others.

I was impressed that MWR teams wear logos for all sponsors of MWR, not just the driver they are on crew for. For example, 5Hour Energy is primarily focused on Clint Bowyer (#15), but team shirts for Brian Vickers (#55) also have 5Hour Energy logos on them It’s a company practice to honor sponsors in this way and create a culture of teamwork. There’s also help to smaller teams. We got to be at the pits of a smaller team because of an MWR employee helping with the pits that night. I really like that sense of teamwork, crew development, and give and take. Of course not everything is shared with a bunch of other teams, but there is a spirit of cooperation to build racing in general.

Another way all the teams are encouraged is through a ministry called Motor Racing Outreach. They provide prayer, chapel services, children’s ministries and more to those at the track. I think that is awesome, especially since the schedule is so demanding that it’s highly unlikely people make time for formal church services. I also like that the sport begins their event with prayer.

Don’t contribute to stereotypes.

I think some are surprised that I’m into NASCAR. Some don’t think it’s a valid sport, or don’t respect what goes into it. They have their own impression of how fans behave and attitudes that are prevalent. Sure, there’s always some of that (in every sport) but you don’t have to avoid enjoying a sport or hobby just because there may be a stereotypical fan that doesn’t match who you are. Be who God made you in the best way you can to honor Him, and don’t worry about what others think. Run your race!

I’m so thankful for the delightful experience I had at this race and all the things I learned.


Disclaimer: I am very thankful to Michael Waltrip Racing and 5Hour Energy for allowing me to be their social media reporter. The thoughts I share are my own and may not reflect those of these companies. I was not required to personally endorse any product or team while I enjoyed my experience.



Coffee Break Bible Study: James 3-5; 1 Peter 1-2 #bgbg2

Read [biblegateway passage=”James 3″].


Why should one be careful about wanting to teach?


What is hard to tame? What struggle do you have with your tongue?


Read [biblegateway passage=”James 4″].


Which of these exhortations most convict you today?


With what perspective should we make our plans?


Read [biblegateway passage=”James 5″].


Why is it sometimes a challenge to be rich?


What do you learn about prayer in this chapter?


Read [biblegateway passage=”1 Peter 1″].


Where does our hope lie?


How does verse 13 challenge you?


Read [biblegateway passage=”1 Peter 2″].


Out of this list of attitudes, which one do you feel you most need to release today?


How does verse 9 make you feel?


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Kitchen Sink Smoothies for Before Work

It’s smoothie week at Williams-Sonoma and their focus is on ‘Not Your Average Smoothie.’ I was invited to blog for them this week so time for a confession:

I’m not a conventional smoothie maker.

I don’t follow smoothie recipes (usually.)

I drink a smoothie almost every day, but I don’t make one every day.

My methods may be unconventional, but they allow me to enjoy a powerful, nutritious, efficient breakfast most mornings of the week before I begin work.

Earlier this year, I wrote a blog post about my 7 Layer Smoothie Method, where I build a smoothie using liquid, thickener, fruit, vegetables, protein powder, nuts/seeds, and spices/sweeteners as the layers. I make enough to fill three pint jars, and refrigerate them, consuming one each morning. It’s a quick “first breakfast” and packs a lot of nutrients into one drink.

Now, I’m going to elaborate a bit by adding the concept of a “Kitchen Sink” smoothie, which helps you experiment with a variety of healthy elements and also give you an opportunity to sometimes use up leftovers. This makes for some unique, but no less healthy ingredients. And I admit, you may consider some of these things an “acquired” taste. But the more I eat and develop my tastes for whole foods, the more that I can enjoy my “kitchen sink” smoothies.

Here are some key concepts to making a “Kitchen Sink” smoothie:

Don’t limit yourself to including only “sweet” ingredients.

However, do have enough sweetness to balance out items that may have a bland, bitter or strong flavor (i.e. be willing to add some local honey).

Consider “spicing up” your smoothies.

Many spices have great health benefits, and you can mask some of the flavors if you have other more tasty ingredients. Currently I make up a 7-spice mix to add to my smoothies (see photo above.) Spices can include:

  • cinnamon
  • tumeric
  • anise
  • rosemary
  • ginger
  • cayanne red pepper
  • nutmeg

For variety, I may decide to trade out one spice for a different one. For convenience, and because I like the number 7, I am doing 7 pinches at a time into little pill box container (see photo above) to make it easy to dump them into the blender.

Don’t rule out leftovers.

At the office where I work, we received a gift basket of fruit. Someone cut up the pineapple and put it in a container, but it didn’t get fully used up.  I took the remainder home and used it in my next smoothie blend.

Other leftovers that can work:

  • sweet potatoes
  • any produce that is starting to wilt, etc
  • cooked grains like quinoa, barley or farrow
  • leftover oatmeal or cereal
  • those little jars of gift jams and jellies that you receive and forget to use
  • lentils (yep, I just tried lentils in my smoothie and it wasn’t that overpowering…just don’t use a lot!)

Experiment with adding unique elements you may not have thought of before.smoothie 2

Some examples:

  • nutritional yeast
  • kombacha or other femented drink (I haven’t tried this one yet, but when I do it will be a small amount first)
  • kefir (for probiotics)
  • tomatoes
  • salsa
  • seaweed (small amounts; you may have to soak first)
  • coffee grounds
  • rolled oats
  • pureed homemade soups (i.e. squash, carrot)
  • lentils
  • small amounts of healthy oils

Start small when adding an ingredient you haven’t used before.

You don’t want it to overpower the taste, but a little could add some extra nutrition and keep you letting something go to waste. For example, today I used tahini, and it did give a bit of a different taste. I was glad I only used a spoonful but the smoothie was still edible (drinkable?)

Don’t be limited by recipes.

Recipes are a great guideline, but you can choose from lots of healthy foods to incorporate into your smoothies without following a rigid recipe.

Be aware of calories.

Smoothies are an efficient, simple way to get a lot of nutrients in a meal. Just be aware that the more elements you add, the more calories your smoothie may contain. That’s fine if it’s a meal replacement, but if you are trying to lose or maintain weight, you may want to keep a stricter track of how many calories your smoothie contains, particularly if you are fond of adding nuts, nut butters, or oils to them.

Make sure you have a decent blender to use.

If you start adding harder ingredients, you may need a more powerful motor. You’ll want a jar that fits well and doesn’t leak (I’m struggling with this right now to be honest.) Here’s a page that lists several powerful and well-reviewed blenders, to get you started on research.

Above all, have fun with it!

It’s no crime if one of your smoothies comes out tasting “eh.” I recently tried to make soup that quite frankly, turnsmoothie 2ed out awful. I discarded it, but I could actually have frozen it into ice cubes and worked one into my smoothies, probably covered the taste, and still benefitted from the nutrition in the ingredients. So don’t worry!


Disclaimer: I was invited by Williams Sonoma to participate in their “smoothie week” blog post collection. I am providing a link to their product page for those who would like to research blenders further. This is not a review or endorsement of any particular product. Readers should take responsibility for their own choice of foods to intake, taking into consideration their health needs, personal tastes, and potential allergies.

Coffee Break Bible Study: Hebrews 11-13; James 1-2 #bgbg2

Read [biblegateway passage=”Hebrews 11″].


Which member of this “Hall of Faith” inspires you most?


How does pondering verse 13 affect you?


Read [biblegateway passage=”Hebrews 12″].


How should you respond when the Lord may be disciplining you?


In reference to verse 14, how can you make an effort to live at peace with someone who is irritating?


Read [biblegateway passage=”Hebrews 13″].


Write out verse 1.


How can you “entertain a stranger” today? (Be safe!)


Read [biblegateway passage=”James 1″].


What attitude should we have toward trials?


Write out verse 19.


Read [biblegateway passage=”James 2″].


Do you have a tendency to favor one person over another?


What does it mean to you that “mercy triumphs over judgment!” ? (Verse 13.)


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