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Featured Book for October 2023

Our Lady of Hot Messes: Getting Real with God in Dive Bars and Confessionals

by Leticia Ochoa Adams

Leticia Ochoa Adams met Jesus in a dive bar when she was eighteen years old.

She didn’t actually meet Jesus, but it was there where she first witnessed holiness in action. The bar’s regulars taught her about the importance of community, being honest about who she is, not giving up on people, and how to laugh—even when awful things happen.

In Our Lady of Hot Messes, Ochoa Adams tells the ongoing story of her redemption. At times funny and heartbreaking, but always gritty and unflinchingly honest, her story shows that no matter what you’re dealing with, God wants you to trust in his love.

The Tejana daughter of a single mother—a cycle she would repeat in her own life—Ochoa Adams was sexually abused as a child. She married after a two-week courtship and, eight years later, divorced her husband who struggled with drug addiction. In between she suffered a late-term miscarriage and had three more children back-to-back.

She always thought a dream life meant having a big house, kids, lots of money, and new cars. Since she hadn’t yet cracked the code for the American dream, “I turned to the person that every American woman turns to when looking for a way to make a better life for herself: Oprah.”

Watching the daytime talk show queen helped Ochoa Adams put a name to what happened to her as a child. But she was still searching for something more. Ochoa Adams was baptized Catholic but attended a small-town Baptist church growing up. When she reverted to Catholicism at age thirty-three in order to marry her second husband, Ochoa Adams was convinced that Catholics had all of the answers to life’s toughest questions. But she quickly learned that becoming Catholic didn’t mean she could just erase her bad choices and difficult past. And just when she thought she was getting her life together, her son, Anthony, died by suicide.

God, therapy, and caring priests helped her face her pain and heal her brokenness. She wants you to see yourself in her mistakes, learn from them, and realize along with her that even when we’ve put our trust in God—even if it’s begrudgingly—we still have to do the tough work to become the person God wants us to be.

“I still make mistakes,” she says, “but I’m trying not to live as a hot mess even when things around me are messy.”

When ordering from Ave Maria Press directly use code ADAMS20 for 20% discount.

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Community Questions

Community Questions from Claudia Love Mair

Week 1

  1. What would you say a hot mess is?
  2. On page 7 Leticia wrote that Jesus is not fluffy. He's not the best friend kind of softy she thought he was. What's your response to this revelation?
  3. Leticia wrote about becoming a young mother and how that was rooted in her childhood trauma, which was rooted in her mother's trauma, all the way through generations since colonialism. p.33. How does trauma ripple down generations in your life?

Week 2

  1. Therapy was a huge part of Leticia's healing journey. p. 36 She writes about the courage it took to begin. Have you ever been in therapy? If not, and you could have possibly benefited from it, where did your resistance lie?
  2. Leticia says on page 50 that her view of Mary changed after her son Anthony's suicide. She begin to see her as a mother. What kind of losses have you endured that can connect you to Mary on a deeper level?
  3. On page 55 Leticia writes, "Our choices are our power, not our messes.Yes, Our Lady stands with us in the mess, but the whole time she is praying for us to start making choices that lead to cleaning them up." Who supports you when you need to clean up your messes?

Week 3

  1. Leticia talks about how a planner keeps her life together on page 57. Trauma brain is real! Many of us have endured some kind of trauma in our life. What are some tools you utilize to keep your life together?
  2. There are moments in the book that are very funny. On page 58 Leticia writes, "I love Oprah, and she advocates for manifestation, and to be really honest, I find it easier to disagree with God than with Oprah. I am only human." Do you agree with Oprah? What is the relationship between manifestation and action?
  3. On page 68 Leticia writes about discernment and social media. Answer the questions she suggests, and share what insights you gained from examining your use of social media.

Week 4

  1. Chapter 10 is about vulnerable, transparent writing. How do you as a reader respond to this kind of very honest sharing?
  2. In chapter 15 Leticia writes about finding holiness in dive bars, and how the people there taught her what community really means. Where have you found community in an unlikely place?
  3. Chapter 16 is called You Are Not a Machine. Leticia writes about the system of exploitation we live in today that places our value on our monetary worth. How do you resist the mindset that drives us to be productive at all cost?