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


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This post was featured at TRAFFIC JAM WEEKEND LINK PARTY


There’s enough strife and tension in our world today. My prayer is that I be a peacemaker. I don’t desire to be known for my political stand, but my identity as a follower of Jesus and my stand for His Kingdom! Keith Wheeler

On February 10, 2020 Keith Wheeler left Tulsa Oklahoma for Tuvalu, a nation of Pacific islands just south of the equator. Lying halfway between Hawaii and Australia it is one of the most remote and least visited places on earth. But that is exactly the kind of place Keith likes to visit.

Keith on the airport runway in Tuvalu

For 37 years he has walked more than 26,000 miles, visited every continent and over 200 countries for one reason- to love people and share God’s love, carrying a 90 pound cross over his shoulder. Keith uses the cross to get people’s attention and show how much God loves them.

But when Keith returned to the US in March 2020, the world had changed. On March 12, the director of the World Health Organization declared the new COVID-19 infection a pandemic, and President Trump declared a national emergency for theUnited States. Travel, especially international travel, was curtailed drastically.

Keith would not leave the country again for almost a year, but he did not waste the time resting. He just changed the way he reached people. He continued walking in Oklahoma and nearby states and shared videos on his social media, writing

“Maybe some of those stories and the perspective gained can be an encouragement. I love the fact that even in these times of isolation we can stay connected through all our technology.”

In three previous posts I told you about my interview with Keith December of 2021 and a sermon he preached in Tulsa in February 2022. In this post I’m drawing from Keith’s social media posts and an interview with BURN podcaster Reese Black.

(I have edited some of Keith’s statements for clarity and conciseness. I have added scripture references when he did not.)

Back home in Tulsa, on March 28, 2020 Keith wrote,

“In the midst of all the fear, disruption, uncertainty, and confusion that’s going on in our world, we can be sure that our Father goes before us and walks together with us into the unknown.

Easter Sunday, April 10, 2020 churches were closed due to COVID. Keith was on the street to carry the cross- in his own home city Tulsa Oklahoma.

Keith carries the cross on Lewis Avenue, walking by the Praying Hands statue at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa Oklahoma
On that day he wrote on Facebook,

May the God of Hope deliver the gift of hope;

May the Prince of Peace guard hearts and minds with His perfect peace that passes all understanding;

May the Spirit of Comfort comfort & encourage hearts and

May the Savior of the World rescue and redeem lost and broken lives!

May 25, 2020

And then our country erupted into chaos, confusion, and confrontation.

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