Holy Hot Mess
finding God in the details of this weird and wonderful life
by Mary Katherine Backstrom
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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.”
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.MK
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.
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.
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.
exploring the HEART of health in books
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