Holy Hot Mess: Finding God in the Details of this Weird and Wonderful Life-a book review

Throughout her book, Hot Holy Mess, Mary Katherine Backstrom uses weird and wonderful stories from her life to explain what she has learned about God’s grace, how it works in her life, and how that grace can work for all of us.

Holy Hot Mess

finding God in the details of this weird and wonderful life

by Mary Katherine Backstrom

note: This post uses affiliate links to sites which may pay a commission used to fund this blog. The photos used here are for illustration only and are not associated with the author or the book.

I read health and medical books for my own education and to review for this blog. Sometimes I choose some thing non-medical just for fun. So when I saw this book at the library, it seemed a good choice to escape the medical world for a few hours.

I became a little nervous on page 3 when the author mentioned in college she had dated a “shaggy haired soccer player named Ian, who was premed” but I kept going. The  next page she mentioned that he had “finished his training”.  I was suspicious but kept reading.

Finally the truth came out; this soccer player Ian guy grew up to be an emergency room physician and her husband. Next, she threw in CANCER and COVID. By then I realized I had picked another  holy hot mess health book; there was no turning back.

MK’s weird and wonderful life

Although I’m well past her stage of life, I found Mary Katherine’s book funny, touching, and engaging.  Mary Katherine, MK, had a rather ordinary upbringing, living with her single mother, two siblings and pets, cheerleading in high school, then off to college ( which she didn’t take seriously). She fell in love, got married, had two children, and lived happily ever after.

Well, not quite happily ever after. That’s why she calls this book HOT HOLY MESS; that’s what her life has been like, and still is. She often (and still does) felt like an outsider.

But she always managed to find soulmates that accept her for who she is. She also met Jesus who accepts her as she is and she wrote this book to tell us about Him.

A hot mess

When I picked up this book I assumed it was one of those books that she describes on page 210; those written by a

“woman who likes to poke fun at herself for her life being a hot mess. We find solidarity in owning up to our relatable rough edges. That’s why there are so many popular bloggers with mom buns and trashed out minivans. There’s a particular level of mess that plays well to the masses earning a badge of “realness”. God forbid your mess looks like a divorce, poverty, or severe depression.”

But, God

Mary Katherine hasn’t been divorced and she’s not in poverty although money was tight for her family after her father left. She admits to struggles with anxiety and depression as well as some other hot messes that I won’t spoil by revealing here.  Mary Katherine is as real to her readers as she is to her God.

My edges aren’t neat. And I don’t exceed any standards: societal, biblical, otherwise. I’m an impatient parent. An imperfect spouse. An inconsistent churchgoer. I’m a crash dieting, emotionally fragile wreck, who spends as much money on therapy as tithing. I have a very hard time loving myself. All I see is a hot mess Mary Katherine.

But, God. He views me through a different lens entirely.


Throughout her book, Hot Holy Mess, Mary Katherine Backstrom uses weird and wonderful stories from her life to explain what she has learned about God’s grace, how it works in her life, and how that grace can work for all of us.

Photo by Quang Nguyen Vinh on Pexels.com

Your life is the backdrop of God’s greatest miracles. Your mess is the clay in his hands.


Her previous book is

Mom Babble: The Messy Truth about Motherhood.

and her newest book is

Crazy Joy: Finding Wild Happiness in a World That’s Upside Down

MK and Dr. Backstrom on Facebook

I found her on Facebook at Mary Katherine Backstrom,where she promotes her books and shares her views on a lot of other stuff going on now.

You may not agree with everything MK says on her page, or in her book, but she will entertain you and may challenge you to confront the holy hot messes in your own life, with the same honesty, courage, and surrender to what God wants to do in your life.

Photo by Jonathan Borba on Pexels.com

She also shared her husband’s page, Dr. Backstrom

He has taken a “sabbatical” from clinical medicine, having lost the joy of practicing. I can relate, I have experienced that in my career. Medicine is a demanding profession, and sometimes the hardest demands come from within.

I’m going to follow along his journey, I hope he finds his way back to joy and satisfaction in the work he trained for. Here’s what he’s doing instead.

While I have beeen taking a sabbatical from clinical medicine, I have been spending a lot of time coaching at our local CrossFit gym. I know that fitness and CrossFit specifically sometimes get a bad rap as they are often associated with superficiality, body negativity, and unsafe movement.

In my experience this couldn’t be further from the truth. Fitness and specifically functional fitness (which CrossFit emphasizes) is medicine when delivered and practiced appropriately.

It rehabilitates our bodies, minds, and souls. It also allows for the discovery of deeper truths through the medium of competition and pushing the limits of our physical bodies.

Photo by Victor Freitas on Pexels.com

exploring the HEART of health in books

an open book with pages folded to make a heart

Dr Aletha

These books are also available at


Bookshop.org is an online bookstore with a mission to financially support local, independent bookstores. They believe bookstores are essential to a healthy culture and they are dedicated to the common good. Bookshop.org donates a portion of every sale to independent bookstores.

This post was featured at TRAFFIC JAM WEEKEND LINK PARTY

Author: Aletha Cress Oglesby, M.D.

As a family physician, I explore the HEART of HEALTH in my work, recreation, community, and through writing. My blog, Watercress Words, informs and inspires us to live in health. I believe we can turn our health challenges into healthy opportunities. When we do, we can share the HEART of health with our families, communities, and the world. Come explore and share with me.

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