Of Mess and Moxie is by turns hilarious and heartwarming. I both laughed out loud and teared up. It is all over the lot and swings from grocery store shopping and potty training to forgiveness and sanctuary.
Jen Hatmaker is a progressive evangelical from Austin, with a “women’s ministry,” particularly targeting “marrieds with children.” But the hallmark I most appreciate about her, is her heart for people “who color outside the lines,” which of course, includes me. She’s a feminist, LGBTQ embracing, Christian fundamentalist, who has adopted two black Ethiopian children, so she knows all about it, since she colors outside the lines herself. (She also wrote this book which I read a couple years ago and gave 5 stars.)
She is irreverent and shamelessly honest, wielding hysterical sarcasm and satire, without losing the important focus on love and acceptance. She is resolute about everyone being welcome at Christ’s table, and that unconditional love is the whole point of Jesus’ mission for mankind. Do that, and it is enough.
So while I don’t always agree with her theology (I don’t “pray to Jesus” for example), I mostly agree with and champion her heart, which is in the right place (with the possible exception of her misplaced love for football and all things Texan).
She is proof you can “do it differently” and thrive, regardless of bumps along the way, which is encouraging. She embraces all sorts of dichotomies gracefully, helping others to do so as well. She loves her children fiercely, but refuses to micro manage them. She crusades for social justice, while simultaneously touting the importance of frivolous things, like the ministry of a good haircut.
When discussing her rising fame in Christian circles, she encourages us to “go all fan girl” on the everyday heroes in our own lives, like school janitors for example, and not waste that energy and interest on celebrities. Celebrities are already “seen,” so instead, be a fan to those that would really appreciate being appreciated. Have wide and deep friendships, be close to family, give support and attention in your own community. Build up people you know.
And want to know how to ruin a toddler’s life? Give him 1/8 inch less in his milk glass than you gave to his brother.
I listened to this book on audio (downloaded onto my phone from Libros.FM, which supports my local independent bookstore instead of Amazon) and it is read by the author. This way, you can hear it in her own voice, with all its slang and colloquial turn of phrase. This is the best way to take in this generous (i.e. boisterous and over the top), intense (in mostly a good way), funny (while never quite snarky), good hearted author, who believes in us women. Listen to it, like I did, as you drive around.
You’ll come away feeling less alone, and that even though life is a mess, it sure is grand. And you’ll see a glimmer of hope that somehow a sisterhood that comes together and rises up on our common grounds of motherhood and marriage and food and daughterhood, can love enough to set the world right.
I give this rollercoaster of a book 4 stars. Her being so unabashedly her, makes room for you and me to be you and me, just as audaciously. This is a very good thing.