A Beautifully Designed Review


“What does it mean to be a man? What does it mean to be a woman?”

These words greet you as you open Matt Chandler’s A Beautiful Design. These questions linger in our lives, in our culture, and have been very present over the centuries regardless of location or religion.

I found myself throughout this study, coming back to Chandler’s initial question through the lens of God’s Word and who He says we are and the definition presented in Scripture.

Chandler’s study allows you to wade into fairly deep waters over a 9 week study, where you look at the Creation story of man and woman, how we are in His image created, and then diving into the separate examinations and study of both men and women. While I was a bit leery of being a single woman doing this study, after having completed it, I would recommend every single and married do this study in the church. Chandler has also adapted this study for teens and I do encourage that as well.

There are parts of the weekly sessions, where you are to be in a group setting watching the accompanying videos (not included in review) and completing the fill in the blank guide. The three part studies following that session are deep in their content and supplement the sessions topics from the larger setting. It allows for conversational insights between couples as well as family applications within the home each week. As a single, that can be adapted, and one I found myself doing with friends as I worked through this study.

As a woman, I appreciated the insight on the design for manhood, and the look into womanhood deeper than the go-to many dwell on in teaching of “submissiveness.” As a believer, it challenged me in some meaningful ways to look at who God created me to be, how the fall has marred that, and how redemption has brought my story back to His crafting.

I have recommended this study over and over again even while I was in the midst of reviewing it to so many. It’s timely, it’s relevant and it is much needed within the dynamics of the church for us to understand what womanhood and manhood truly are in relation to God’s design.

Interested in more from the Chandler’s? Read my review of Lauren Chandler’s book A Steadfast Love.

Reviewer’s Note: This study was provided for free in exchange for a review.

Steadfast Love: Review and Giveaway!

Confession time around these parts…

I love books.

You all probably knew that by now, but I seriously get anxiety over all the great books I have yet to read. I keep a shelf in my bedroom of books I read each year, and those I plan to read. I got the idea a couple of years ago from my friend Jon Acuff. It was this whole “empty shelf” challenge, and one I have kept to for the last three years. My goal each year is to match the number of books I read with the age I will be turning. That’s the only stipulation. So I read professional development, fiction and Christian living books. Every once in a while I share those on here with you all, as you’ve seen from Choose Joy, Fervent and Dancing Through Life.

This month I got a jump on my book challenge with the new release from Lauren Chandler called Steadfast Love (You can pick it up at your local LifeWay which now does price matching!). You may or may not be familiar with Lauren or her family. I have been what you’d call a “follower fan” of Matt Chandler for a while, as he pastors in Texas. Several years ago Matt fell ill and captivated alot of Christians for how he and his family navigated the diagnosis and subsequent journey under the “new normal.”

Let me say I started this book off slow, as I was finding it hard to get into personally. But I had to deal with that as this book is beautifully written on a Psalm which is personal to Lauren, but is one to be learned from by us all.

We deep dive into Psalm 107 section by section, verse by verse throughout this book. She pinpoints anchors we choose to use, instead of the the everlasting, eternal one in Christ. One such quote found in the early pages digs right at the heart of where we need to start when seeking/living in steadfast love:

What we choose to use as our anchor determines how well we will weather the seasons of life. (pg 19)

God’s steadfast love is our anchor, in the midst of any storm or seas of life, when we need rest, to enjoy the perspective, or when we need refuge.

Lauren walks you through each of those areas, from the heavy and hard to the folly of our own hands. You see her worship of Psalm 107 and it ignites within you the desire to look at the steadfast love in your own life, the anchors you fashion out of your own hands, and begin to examine the Psalm with eyes on Him. She gets to the crux of her book with the synopsis of “Sometimes he wrings the worship from our hearts.”

In truth, He does. We get wrung out through praise, but it has to be from a heart filled with steadfast love in Him from Him.

As we enter the month of love awareness (I’ll save you all my soap box on that), I wanted to encourage you to check out this book from Lauren Chandler and examine the Psalm a bit deeper as we look at steadfast love in a time where love seems to be bought and traded far too cheaply. See how His steadfast love grabbed Lauren to prepare her for a time when she needed the anchor which holds stronger than any one she could’ve fashioned for herself.

To celebrate Lauren’s release and to get this book into the hand of a reader, I am giving away a copy of Steadfast Love RIGHT HERE! All you have to do is tell us what Psalm you love in the comments and a winner will be picked at random. Deadline to enter is Tuesday, February 2nd!

A Dinner to Remember…

As you might’ve gleaned if you’ve been reading very long on my blog, I am a foodie nerd. Last year my good friend Stacey and I took a trip to Chicago and the whole trip was centered around getting reservations at Girl and the Goat. I have posted several times about foodie dreams and dinners. You get the picture.

So a few months ago as I was reading some of my culinary go-to blogs and magazines, a new Nashville chef popped up in one of them. He was having these pop-up dinners each month, and planned to open a restaurant in Nashville. As any social media maven will tell you, I immediately started following him on Twitter to get the scoop on the food. Every time a pop up would happen I would have something else scheduled. It was ridiculous that every single one I had a conflict. But then, Mason’s opened. I knew my birthday was right around the corner, so I thought, why not have a big birthday dinner and make it special? Turning 32 isn’t anything special, but this next year will be drastically different than any before and I wanted to mark that.

Cue Wednesday evening…the entire Mason’s staff was incredibly gracious and kind. From the hostess Desiree (I apologize if I spell names wrong) who took such great care of the two of us, to Brian our waiter who suggested drinks from the amazing bar menu, I could not have asked for a better start to this dinner.

Then Chef Brandon Frohne came out with Chef Jonathan. We chatted briefly and talked about what we might have for dinner as we had both already checked out the menu far in advance (see, nerd alert). This doesn’t happen everywhere, or all the time. To have the chefs come out and talk with you is a big deal y’all, and I was practically bursting inside with giddy foodieness because of it. Conversations…about food. It doesn’t get much betterthan that for me. Then the food started coming out and I snapped a couple of quick photos (Stacey would die if she had been there cause I did that in Chicago too!) so I could share with y’all just how amazing Mason’s food is for diners.

I had already taken a bite of the last crab corn dog before I got a picture!
I had already taken a bite of the last crab corn dog before I got a picture!

The first course was three offerings: the Crab Corn Dogs with Mississippi comeback sauce, Deviled Eggs with bacon jam, and Fried Green Tomatoes. Y’all that know me, know I do not like tomatoes, despite growing up Southern, I just never have. I tried them, thanks to the Dude pushing me, and they were phenomenal! The Crab Corn Dogs were by far my favorite as they weren’t greasy, they had an amazing flavor, and the comeback sauce made you want to come back for a whole other plate. The Deviled Eggs had this sweetness to them that we figured out was the bacon jam, that coupled with the pickled okra as a garnish, was just flat out devouringly good.

Fried Green Tomato...beautiful presentation too!
Fried Green Tomato…beautiful presentation too!

I am typically not much of a starters or first course person. They tend to weigh heavy and fill you up prior to your main course…which is why you frequent a place. Not at Mason’s though. They are substantial and delicious without being weighty. I have to say I cannot stop thinking about those corn dogs though. They carry them on the Mason’s Bar menu as well, and you can pop in there during happy hour for a great after work place. They had the Red Sox on the ginormous screen so I was on cloud nine from across the hallway in the restaurant. Speaking of the bar, we both had adult beverages in honor of my big day. They have great beer on draft and then they have some of the best takes on the South’s cocktails. I enjoyed a French Sangria and the Sound Connection, while he imbibed in a Turtle IPA and the Peach Ol’ Fashioned. They have an extensive Bourbon list as well as wine and other libations. Definitely find a time to just enjoy the bars offerings.

Peach Arugula Salad
Peach Arugula Salad

Out came salads for the second course. And they were lovely to look at, if you enjoy food art. This was the peach arugula salad they offer. Let me tell you, it was inhaled at our table. INHALED. The fresh peaches were grilled and deliciously complement the prosciutto and blue cheese. The basil vinaigrette with the arugula itself was enough to do me in. It was light, and very summerish for the South. There was also enough time between courses that allowed us to digest and enjoy our cocktails without overloading our palettes.

Shrimp and Grits, along with the Jalapeno Cheese Bread
Shrimp and Grits, along with the Jalapeno Cheese Bread

And then y’all…came the main course. The Mason’s Burger (aka a farm burger) with truffle fries for The Dude and Shrimp and Grits for me, along with jalapeno cheese bread. I think Icould have bathed in the roux of the shrimp and grits. I don’t particularly care for grits as a whole (I know, I know…I promise I am Southern). Let me tell you that these grits were to die for…I’d go back right now just for those. Perfectly prepared and offered up in a cast iron skillet, still warm and delicious. To be quite honest, this is the best meal I have ever had from start to finish. The service, the details and the food were astonishingly superb. Mason’s cares about the diner and their experience. The quality of care they provide in all they do is leaps and bounds above any place I have been to before. I can tell you that Mason’s sets the bar high, and then keeps notching it up as you dine.

Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream Soda
Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream Soda

They offer breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner…as well as that bar menu. I will be headed back there soon, and often. The menu changes seasonally and you definitely want to get a taste of each menu. We got to try a “not on the menu” item as well at the end of dinner…the Goo-Goo Cluster Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream Soda. So good and a great treat to wrap up our meal.

Brandon Frohne and staff are excellent and innovative, while also staying true to the Southern-ness that is Mason’s cornerstone here in Nashville.