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Of Mess and Moxie: Wrangling Delight Out of This Wild and Glorious Life Hardcover – August 8, 2017
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From the Publisher
What readers think about "For the Love" by Jen Hatmaker
"If Jimmy Fallon and Ann Voskamp birthed a literary love child, they'd have to name it For the Love." - Danielle Brower, wife, mom, lover of love, orphan advocate
"In the midst of my uncontrollable laugher I saw the ever-present grace and mercy and hope of Jesus shining through. This is a book for the 'every woman.'" - Krista Wilbur, blogger, Netflix aficionado, dog lover
"Don't be surprised if you get to the end and want to immediately start all over again." - April Lakata Cao, military wife, mom of four extraordinary kids, writer
What readers think about "Of Mess & Moxie" by Jen Hatmaker
"I see myself so clearly in Jen's stories that I feel spied on." - Allison Picket, mom of four wild ones.
"Never have I read a book that spoke to so many of my own fears or anxieties about being a wife, a daughter, or a believer." - Jacey R. Nordmeyer.
"The perfect blend of hilarious and touching. Jen Hatmaker's poignant insights are a breath of fresh air for every woman trying to navigate the Christian life in this age of impossible expectations." - Barbar Seidle.
About the Author
Jen Hatmaker is the author of the New York Times bestseller Of Mess and Moxie (plus twelve other books) and the host of the For the Love! with Jen Hatmaker podcast. She and her husband, Brandon, founded the Legacy Collective and also starred in the popular series My Big Family Renovation on HGTV. Jen is a mom to five, a sought-after speaker, and a delighted resident of Austin, Texas, where she and her family are helping keep Austin weird.
Top customer reviews
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However, with that being said, I just couldn't let go of the book's description. I didn't want to like the author, or the book, but I really, REALLY wanted to read it.
And now with the book finished, I'm just so intensely glad I did. I'm so glad I took a chance. No, her life is absolutely nothing like mine, but every chapter ... every last one ... was filled with humor, honesty, and realism. Every chapter pulled me out of my world, and away from my pain, and they all made me think that everything is going to be ok. Life is messy for everyone, but it won't be that way forever. Reality hurts, but it can be faced and overcome. Nobody is perfect, and that's not only normal, but just fine.
As I read I felt less lonely. More loved. More understood. Based off a review I read on one of Mrs Hatmaker's previous books, I was skeptical that she'd be able to connect with me at all, but she did. The book is filled with uplifting humor, candid honesty, and messages about God and love. I'd recommend it to any woman, literally ANY one, in need of support, laughter, and sisterhood.
And, though I have never included lines from books before in reviews, I just can't help it here. Mrs Hatmaker's "How To" chapters were my absolute favorites, and this is an excerpt from her instructions on "How to Get Uninvited Back to a Home Decor Store"
3) Hear gasp from a bystander, and look up to see your son's bare behind and a hearty stream of urine trailing from the cart into a $48 decorative basket. You don't understand why he had to drop his underpants to his ankles, but in addition to soiling the home goods, he has now displayed his bits and bobbles for all to witness.
4) Panic as you realize step 1.
5) Watch the tee-tee run down the shelving unit and soak the towels below before pooling in a delightful puddle at the end of isle 7.
6) Calculate your expenditures to around ninety-five dollars of urine-soaked home items that now belong to you.
7) Congratulations. You can now show back up to this store in five years.
Take a chance on this book. It warmed my heart, and lifted my soul, and I think it can do the same for others.
First, a little about me to give this review some context: I’m squarely of the Jen Hatmaker tribe. I’m a Married Mom - progressive Christian married to another Christian who was into Gospel-motivated social justice way long before _Interrupted_ (because: Jesus). I loved Jen from “go”. I have zero qualms about Jen’s “theology” though I do love to read the pearl clutching reviews from Those With the Qualms, and when you quote Scripture in KING JAMES in your review? Well, I just about fall over. Thanks for giving me life.
Anyway, I never pre-order books, but I preordered _For the Love_ when it first came out, (because: Jen). I subscribe to Jen’s church’s sermon podcast and I mostly love it, especially when she preaches. I’ve listened to many of her For the Love podcasts. I follow Jen on Instagram and Twitter. Jen’s Facebook page is one of my “See Firsts” in my feed. You get the idea. I’m down with my girl Jen.
But this book, yall? Sigh. Not so much. I still got love for Jen, but I think this is my last Jen book for a long minute. Two specific issues with this book: 1) It was too random to be truly worth my time (I know. I’m not trying to be mean, just honest, and I can’t find a better way to say it) and 2) It left me hurting. I’m still struggling with this, and I’m not entirely sure why or that it’s Jen’s fault or anything, but I’ll share in case someone else feels the same.
Unpacking those two things:
#1) I felt like the chapters were so disjointed as to offer little beyond what I can get from Jen by just reading her Facebook posts. The book was not a sustained meditation such that it really warranted a book. I love Jen’s Facebook posts, but I don’t need to spend my money or hours of my time reading them. Instead of buying her next book, I think I’ll stick with Facebook and her blog.
#2) I’m so struggling with this. Perhaps I just don’t understand. What was the goal of the book? I suppose that it’s supposed to be kind of like hanging out on your big sister or your girlfriend’s porch listening to her muse about her life so that you could connect, laugh, relate, and be shored up and encouraged? The book starts off with a gorgeous Introduction about setting the table for ALL women. But goodness did it fall short, IMO. The entire book assumes a shared narrative of The Married Christian Mom. Even though I am the (millennial) Married Christian Mom, totally of the Tribe, this whole book felt like a dinner party that I could (sort-of) attend but to which I couldn’t invite my single, never-married, divorced or childless friends. Honestly, I’m of the perspective that you can’t be all things to all people - at least not all of the time and maybe not all in one book, but to set such a beautiful, inclusive vision (as the Intro did) then to fail (so badly) to really achieve that vision was just so disappointing. People do not attend dinner parties or read books to simply observe your life, to admire you. They do so to connect, to belong. This book honestly felt like an invitation to come, sit and Jen’s table (or on her porch) and just observe her life and agree about how great it is, and by extension how great she is, how favored among women.
I loved the more universal parts of the book about forgiveness and vision-casting for church and what a wide table we can set in love and how to love our people who are suffering, but at the conclusion of the book, it was difficult to not feel like all of those good things were rooted more in how well-loved Jen has been her whole life, by her parents, her husband, her friends; indeed it seemed those good things were less rooted in the transforming power and impossible grace of Jesus. For many of my friends and I, the chasm between our experiences and Jen's are vast and painful. What then is the Hope for those of us who want to build beautiful, connected lives that are shot through with love like Jen's? It's Jesus, yes? As such, it would have helped me if the book talked about Jesus more, and Jen less.
At the conclusion of the book, she writes, “Sure, these are some of my stories, but really, they are all our stories” Except...not really. And she gets that these stories aren’t shared by many (so many) of us as she continues in the same paragraph, “Some of you didn’t have healthy parents, and the love note to mine was painful to read”. Ok, so she gets it. But it still begs the question: “Why?” Truly, how many people in your life have the kind of family, marriage, and friend group that Jen does? Or even close? So if you know that, and you know that witnessing your published PDA to your family is straight up painful, then why publish this? Why not just type it out in an email or print it out and share it with your family? I mean this honestly: what was the point? Was it meant to inspire? It kind of did. Was it meant to be a how-to achieve this same sort of family bliss? If you read between the lines, there’s certainly some of that there. But goodness, it just struck me as an opportunity to trot out all that is great about your life. Sigh.
If I dig deep, I’m able to be genuinely happy for Jen that she’s been so well-loved. I can even begin to grapple with the painful fact that God has, somehow, for some reason(s) allowed many of my friends and I to not have that same kind of love, that firm foundation of friends, family, Bonus-Moms and such. I can even be inspired by the fact that such a kind of life exists, even if it’s not mine. I long and plan and pray and pursue these things for my kids. But I’m still left with the question: what was the point? Honestly, what was the goal of this book? It mostly just hurt, and even the good parts weren’t much beyond what I could get from Jen’s Facebook page.
Lastly, a note for those of us who have not been as well-loved as Jen Hatmaker: Perhaps this means that there is a hole in this space that we need to rise up and fill. Those of us who have been so neglected and abused that it’s a (straight up) miracle that we’re still here, that we have the tiniest bit of faith in the love of Jesus, despite not having tasted it in friends and family like Jen has - perhaps it’s time for us to start writing our stories to set a wider table than that which was set in _Of Mess and Moxie_? I think so. Let’s rise and do it.