Can I Accept That God Loves This Hot Mess? With Jo Dee Messina [Part 2] [Episode 160]

Accept God Loves Hot Mess Jo Dee Messina

We’re picking up where we left off last week with Jo Dee Messina. It was the first part of a two-part conversation that continues right now!

If you missed it, don’t worry! You can go back and listen to it here.

Last week, I talked to Jo Dee about her life’s journey through country music and coming to faith in Christ. Now, we’re talking about songs and song writing.

You may have heard some of the songs we discuss, like “Bigger Than This,” “Reckless Love,” “Heaven Was Needing a Hero,” and a duet she sang with Tim McGraw. But music isn’t all we talk about! Jo Dee also shares the best piece of advice that she’s ever received and now gives, as well as her definition of success.

I gave Jo Dee a proper introduction last week, but if you’re just now tuning in, let me tell you about this fun and spunky woman who I know you’re going to love.

Jo Dee has had nine No. 1 hits, sixteen Top 40 songs, sold over five million albums, and was honored by the American Country Music Association, the Country Music Association, and the GRAMMY Awards. She was the first female in country music history to celebrate three consecutive multi-week, chart-topping songs. She’s also a speaker and author, and her work is fueled by her faith in Christ.

Let me just say that I love this woman. She’s so full of passion and energy, and it’s inspiring. I felt like I was trying to set up a lawn chair in the middle of a tornado—you just get caught up!

Her journey is such a testimony to who Jesus is, and I hope her story ministers directly to your heart. So, buckle up and get ready for another practical and hope-filled episode of the 4:13 Podcast.

[Listen to the podcast using the player above, or read the transcript below.]

BONUS: Jo Dee Messina joins me at Fresh Grounded Faith

Hey, 4:13ers! If you enjoyed listening to Jo Dee on this podcast, here’s a little something extra! Jo Dee was my guest at Fresh Grounded Faith in Springfield, Missouri, and she was so fun to be with! Check out the highlights of our time together.

Related Resources

Books & Bible Studies by Jennifer Rothschild

More from Jo Dee Messina

Links Mentioned in This Episode

Stay Connected

Episode Transcript


4:13 Podcast: Can I Accept That God Loves This Hot Mess? With Jo Dee Messina [Part 2] [Episode 160]

Jo Dee Messina: Because I remember being a little girl, and I would say -- we're talking a little, little girl, like, seven, eight, nine -- I want to become famous so that I can save the world.

Jennifer Rothschild: Oh, really?

Jo Dee Messina: It was -- and then I became famous and I can't save anybody, so...

Jennifer Rothschild: No, but God --

Jo Dee Messina: That's what I learned.

Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah.

Jo Dee Messina: I mean, that was kind of my thing. I didn't know what fame was. It isn't what it is today, it was -- I thought it was reality. It's not. And it's all portrayal and marketing and how you paint the story and -- but, you know, all of that, I didn't know. I just thought once I become famous and once I have money and once I have that, then I'm all set.

Jennifer Rothschild: Hey, 413ers, we are picking up where we left off last week with Jo Dee Messina. Last week we got to talk about her life's journey through country music and coming to faith in Christ. Now I'm talking songs and songwriting. We cover songs like "Bigger Than This," "Reckless Love," "Heaven Was Needing a Hero," and a duet that she sang with Tim McGraw. This is so good. And she even shares the best piece of advice she ever got and her definition of success. I'm just saying, just like last week, this is so good. So let's get right to it.

K. C. Wright: Welcome to the 4:13 Podcast, where practical encouragement and Biblical wisdom set you up to have and live the "I Can" life, because you can truly do all things, all things through Christ who strengthens you. Now your host, a woman whose superpower is truly encouragement, Jennifer Rothschild.

Jennifer Rothschild: Well, hey. Welcome, our people. I'm Jennifer, here to help you be and do more than you feel capable of as you live this "I Can" life of Philippians 4:13. And I will say, if my superpower is encouragement, then my kryptonite is twofold: Jesus and coffee. We were talking last week when we finished, K.C., about that coffee I made for you, Bulletproof.

K. C. Wright: Oh, wow.

Jennifer Rothschild: I know there's some keto Christians out there who know what Bulletproof coffee is. But it's, like, got coconut milk -- no. Coconut oil and butter. I'll tell you this, we were in church the other day -- and I had been trying keto a little bit, you know, so I was watching my carbs. And wouldn't you know, it was the Sunday that we celebrated Communion, the Lord's Supper. And I was like, oh, no, crisis for the keto Christian. What do you do when you know that little wafer and juice has a carb in it? Of course, I'm just kidding. But I just heard from a friend of yours, David, about this coffee he just tried.

K. C. Wright: Really?

Jennifer Rothschild: Yes. He was in Walmart, perusing the coffee shelves, and he tried a coffee called Death Wish.

K. C. Wright: Oh, wow.

Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah. He said it's got a skull and crossbones on it. And he was saying it's got, like, twice as much caffeine as regular coffee.

K. C. Wright: Oh, yeah. No thanks.

Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah. My heart would be racing. I don't know. If you live to tell about it, we would love to hear what you think, if you've ever tried Death Wish coffee. It just sounds like it should have a soundtrack with it, you know.

K. C. Wright: Until then, I'll have your keto cinnamon latte.

Jennifer Rothschild: You'll have my -- yes, because I put a little cinnamon, my friends, in my Bulletproof coffee. But I was laughing when we started recording last week, you and I were flying through it, man.

K. C. Wright: Yeah.

Jennifer Rothschild: And I was like, the Bulletproof worked. It worked. Well, I'll tell you this, y'all. There is someone who I have met on this podcast who is naturally caffeinated, and that is Jo Dee Messina. And I know how much you loved hearing from her last week, just how inspired you were. I felt the same way, so did K.C. So I think we should just get right to Jo Dee today.

K. C. Wright: Yeah. You know this woman if you heard her from last week's episode. And I gave her a proper intro last week. But just in case you just tuned in, welcome, and let me brag on our new friend all the more just one more time. Jo Dee Messina has had nine number one hits, nine; 16 Top 40 songs; sold over 5 million albums; and was honored by the American Country Music Association-- that's a big deal -- the Country Music Association; and the Grammy Awards.

Jennifer Rothschild: And that's a big deal.

K. C. Wright: Yeah. Huge. She was the first female in country music history to celebrate three consecutive multi-week chart-topping songs. She's funny, relatable, and loves Jesus with all her heart. And did I mention also, she's an amazing singer and songwriter? So settle in, or should I say buckle up, Buttercup. Here's Jo Dee and Jennifer for part two of this incredible conversation.

Jennifer Rothschild: Well, it's a beautiful journey, and really your story does reveal just -- well, it reveals the truth of one of the songs that I have had Alexa playing over and over. I'll be sitting at my desk working and I'll say, "Alexa play 'Reckless Love' by Jo Dee Messina," because I love your version -- arrangement of "Reckless Love." I just think it's beautiful. And I'm curious, when you recorded that -- okay, based on what you just told us, you might have been in the middle of the failing marriage and the cancer treatments when you recorded "Reckless Love." Tell me when all that occurred. When did you record it?

Jo Dee Messina: That just happened -- oh, man. I wrote a song called "Bigger Than This" right in the midst of everything. I walked in and I was like, I need to write this, because I was coming to the realization of God is bigger than this. Now, that can have several meanings. It could mean God can overcome this. Yes, he can. But God's mosaic is much bigger than my life, my wants, my desires, you know, me going, Oh, I want this. Oh, this would be perfect. He is bigger than all of that. And in the back of my head is the question: Am I serving him or am I serving me? So I wrote a song called "Bigger Than This," and I just at the end had to start every promise. Like, I had to start just speaking out promises. He is the truth, He is the life. He's the way, He's the -- you know, He is the --everything. I can't even remember the song. But anyways, I was like, this is what it has to be, and I just started listing off all of that. So the song has, like, three segments to it. So that's the song that I wrote in the middle of all of the cancer treatment and the divorce proceedings. And me and my boys, we didn't have a place to live at the time. We had to find a new place to live and so we're moving into this new house while getting treatment. All this stuff is going on. That's when I wrote "Bigger Than This." "Reckless Love" was recorded after that.

Jennifer Rothschild: Okay.

Jo Dee Messina: If you look at the timing of when that song was released -- now, Cory Asbury, fantastic, love it, love it. Played it in church, people knew it. If you went to church, if you listen to Christian radio, you knew the song. Who didn't know the song is the people who need to hear it.

Jennifer Rothschild: Who needed it, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Jo Dee Messina: So that's when I was like, Okay, God, this is the deal, I'm just going to record it. I'm just going to put it out there, and whoever needs to hear, may they hear it.

Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah.

Jo Dee Messina: It's not, yes, this is the number one song, I'm going to remake it for the country format and let's see if we can have a number one record there. That's not the route that I took. I'm like, People need to know.

Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah, they do need to know.

Jo Dee Messina: People need to know that when we have a love -- the only love we know is a love that is deserved and that is worked for, and I love you because you do this, I love you because you provide this, I love you because you're so nice, I love you because God just loves you. We can't begin to grasp that in our human mind, because if someone doesn't like you, then you don't like them. Do you know what I mean?

Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah, yeah.

Jo Dee Messina: It's beyond our human practice, it's beyond our human comprehension. And so I'm like, Okay, God, I need for you to just -- whoever needs this song, let them hear it. If it does nothing else but plant the seed or gives the Spirit room to work, then so be it. So that's why that song was recorded.

Jennifer Rothschild: Well, and, Jo Dee, in that song, you know, it repeats the phrase over and over how God leaves the 99, and he comes after us. Right? And he chases after us and he comes for just the one. So I just want to know from your heart, what does that say about God, that he would leave the 99 just to find a Jo Dee Messina, who's sitting alone on her front porch? What does that say about God?

Jo Dee Messina: Well, it's very person -- I mean, it's personal. I remember someone saying the last name on his lips on the cross was yours. And I just remember being like, oh, I'm doing this for you.

Jennifer Rothschild: Wow.

Jo Dee Messina: I'm doing this for you. Jennifer, this is -- this is for you. I love you this much because I don't ever want to be away from you. I don't ever want you separated from me ever, and so all this is for you --

Jennifer Rothschild: He's not willing --

Jo Dee Messina: -- you know?

Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah, he's not wanting any to perish.

Jo Dee Messina: So it is that. And I have a shirt that I wear that said, "To leave the 99 sounds crazy until you're the one." But I love it --

Jennifer Rothschild: That's great.

Jo Dee Messina: -- because it's like then you can jump up and down. It's like, look, I wasn't raised in a church. I wasn't taught the Bible, I wasn't taught how to act. I wasn't -- you know, I am not proper. I'll go into a -- bless his heart, David Jeremiah. I went up there and I was leading worship, and I was just, "Yeah!" And David Jeremiah's like, Okay. Well, she's got the jumping up and down thing happening, you know. I don't know. I don't know. And I'm not trained in a religion and -- I just know Jesus.

Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah.

Jo Dee Messina: The name on the door is not what matters. It's the name on your heart that matters.

Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah.

Jo Dee Messina: And so -- wow, I just came up with that. That was good stuff.

Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah, that's good. We need to Tweet that.

Jo Dee Messina: No, but it's true.

Jennifer Rothschild: Ooh, Girl. Okay. This is so inspiring, Jo Dee, it really is. I'm just so thankful that you've just opened up your life and so candid. There's so much here that I want -- and by the way, I will have this in the show notes for the listeners, because there's so much here. But I want to take us through, just as we end up, a few questions. We're just going to call this the random speed round.

Jo Dee Messina: Oh, Lord, have mercy. Okay.

Jennifer Rothschild: So I'm going to -- I mean, this is going to -- I'm going to pull from stuff that is going to be very random. Okay?

Jo Dee Messina: Okay.

Jennifer Rothschild: So we're just going to start and see what happens. Your song "Me" -- okay? -- tell us what that's about. Because when I heard it, I could so relate to it.

Jo Dee Messina: It's me. The song is about me. But I went back -- I am not kidding, two weeks ago I went back and listened to that song, and I was like, oh, man, you can hear she's about to crack. That was right before that song was written, right -- because if you listen to it, I'm trying to sustain. I'm somebody's daughter, I'm somebody's friend, shoulder to lean on. I'm somebody's teacher when they don't understand, I got a seat in the bleachers on the -- I'm doing this. I'm trying to sustain everything that I am all on my own, and it was right after that that Jesus walked in --

Jennifer Rothschild: Thank you, Lord.

Jo Dee Messina: -- right after that song. So you can hear me cracking in that song.

Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah.

Jo Dee Messina: And if you're that song, then you need to turn to Jesus.

Jennifer Rothschild: Amen. That is your invitation to Christ right there.

Jo Dee Messina: Yeah, there you go.

Jennifer Rothschild: Because we've all felt those sensations that you --

Jo Dee Messina: Especially women.

Jennifer Rothschild: Oh, my gosh, yes. Okay, another question. What is your best piece of advice that you've ever received?

Jo Dee Messina: I would always say this. Charlie Daniels said it's not how many times you get knocked down that matters, it's how many times you get back up. Like, that was a great piece of advice. And now it's the advice that I give. Don't sell yourself out to get it. Don't sell out who you are to achieve whatever it is that you're going after. Because as soon as you sell who you are, as soon as you sell that person out, you're no longer -- you're no longer walking in truth.

Jennifer Rothschild: Wow. Good advice. Good advice. Okay. So I think this is correct -- you correct me if I'm wrong -- that you were a student at King's University when you were diagnosed with cancer?

Jo Dee Messina: The King's University, yeah. We were between semesters.

Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah.

Jo Dee Messina: So I was diagnosed in July. Was it July? June, July, maybe May, May, June. Anyways, the summer. It was after the first semester had -- the first -- yeah, the year ended, and so, yeah, I had to -- I stopped attending because I didn't know when I could show up for class.

Jennifer Rothschild: Of course.

Jo Dee Messina: I flew down two days a week. I flew from Nashville to Southlake, Texas, twice a week for class --

Jennifer Rothschild: Wow.

Jo Dee Messina: -- and then the rest of my classes I took online, but I did -- yeah. And I took care of my kids at the same time.

Jennifer Rothschild: What were you studying?

Jo Dee Messina: Theology and ministry. I wanted to study theology because I want -- again, you know, when I first met Christ, I needed to know more, I wanted to know more. I wanted that intellectual knowledge of who is this, what is this? And it just --

Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah.

Jo Dee Messina: -- in the midst of -- yeah. One of those things -- one of those things that I was taught -- one of my first crushes was Christian doctrine. And it talks about all the different denominations and what the difference is, but, more importantly, what is the same.

Jennifer Rothschild: Amen to that. And it's Jesus. It's Jesus.

Jo Dee Messina: Yes, it is.

Jennifer Rothschild: All right, next question. All right. The song "Heaven Was Needing A Hero" -- I'm taking your way back -- "Heaven Was Needing A Hero" -- okay? -- my Hero Dad died about three years ago, and I listened to your song over and over. I mean, it was just this lovely gift, it really was. So thank you for that.

Jo Dee Messina: Oh, sure.

Jennifer Rothschild: And I'm curious, when you used to sing that -- and maybe you still do -- did you have anybody in particular on your mind when you sang it?

Jo Dee Messina: Well, it was always someone different. But the song originated from the first woman soldier killed in Iraq. She's from Montana. I watched the news crews just engulf her brother on the way to the funeral service or the memorial service, and they said, you know, hey, it -- you know, here's someone that's not trained to deal with the press or whatever. And they're like, you know, "Do you have a comment? Do you have a comment? What do you want to say about your sister?" You know, "What do you have to say? What do you think about" -- and they're just barreling questions at this guy, and he's on the way to the memorial for his sister. And he turned around and he looked at the camera and he says, "I really don't know how to answer your questions. I can just say that she will always be a hero to me."

Jennifer Rothschild: Wow.

Jo Dee Messina: And I remember I sat back and I was like, well, I guess heaven was needing a hero.

Jennifer Rothschild: Wow.

Jo Dee Messina: And then, boom, I just -- I just wrote it. It was one of those songs that just happened, like, instantly.

Jennifer Rothschild: It's beautiful.

Jo Dee Messina: Thank you.

Jennifer Rothschild: It's beautiful. It was a gift. All right, let's go to another song that you sang with Tim McGraw, "Bring On The Rain." Okay? To me, that song captures the Jo Dee attitude right there. Because one of your lines in there, you're like -- you know, everything's going wrong in the song, and you're like, but you know what, I'm thirsty, so bring on the rain. So I want to know, where did that bring-it-on tenacity come from? Because you got it. It's in your bloodstream.

Jo Dee Messina: I think. you know, part of that is my upbringing, you know, is not having a lot of money, is not having parents around, having to figure out how to survive, how to make it, how to deal with the kids at school that weren't kind, how to get candy when, you know, your mom didn't have enough money, how to get school lunches. Hello. We used to charge lunch, and I don't think I ever paid that back. But anyway... But, I mean, how to figure everything out and just keep trying. And it was a matter of survival younger in life, and then it just became a way that -- you know, just tenacious and just relentless. And sometimes that's what -- sometimes that gets in my own way where it's like, let it go, Jo Dee. Let it go, let it go.

Jennifer Rothschild: All right, Girl, last question.

Jo Dee Messina: Okay.

Jennifer Rothschild: How does Jo Dee Messina define success?

Jo Dee Messina: I used to say, oh, it's funny. Well, as long as you can do what you love, you know, do what you love for a living. And that is in a way. I don't know that I know the answer to that right now. What is success? Success as far as the world is concerned or success as far as at the end of my life -- and I will say this. I mean, I don't know if any of you know Pastor Robert Morris. He's pastor at Gateway Church down in Southlake, Texas, and he almost died a couple of years ago. And in one of his sermons, he said -- like in the last year, he said, you know, I'm living -- like, the doctors and nurses were amazing. They have prolonged the inevitable. And I remember looking at my husband going, I'm living in the inevitable. What am I going to leave behind? Number one records that two generations from now no one's going to know the songs. I mean, if you ask a child, like five years old, to sing a song of Elvis Presley, chances are they're not going to know it. Michael Jackson, they don't know. Right? They don't -- and so that's not the legacy that I want to leave. The legacy I want to leave is a way, is Jesus is the way. I'm like, I'm living in the prolonging right now. I was diagnosed in 2017. Every day I'm living in the prolonging. What is my legacy? What am I leaving? What is it I'm doing for Christ? When can I -- 'cause, you know, we're all on that back side of life and we're going to -- you know, we're on the shorter side where if you're -- if you're above 30, you're on the back side.

Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah.

Jo Dee Messina: Right? So can you then look and say every minute was for you, every day was for you? I try -- and that's -- that's my success. So it all depends on what success is to you. But for me, my legacy is if someone can go, "She loved Jesus."

K. C. Wright: Again, just what I thought last week, amazing. She's amazing. She's just phenomenal.

Jennifer Rothschild: I know. I love her so much. And you know what? She is our sister, and we need to constantly pray for her. Just like we need to pray for each other, our 4:13ers. So if you want to read a transcript of this conversation or the one from last week, you know where to go. You go to the show notes at And I can also get you linked up right there to the Fresh Grounded Faith Conference where Jo Dee is going to be with us on November 5th and 6th, Fresh Grounded Faith in Springfield, Missouri. And Nicole C. Mullen will be there too and K.C. and I will both be there. And so we would love to meet you. So if you're even remotely close, come join us. Or make this part of your Christmas present. Buy a plane ticket, come join us in Springfield, Missouri, for Fresh Grounded Faith. You can find more about that at Or, of course, it's going to be on the show notes. But even if you can't come to Springfield, there is going to be a Fresh Grounded Faith conference somewhere near you across the country, and I would just love for you to come.

K. C. Wright: I remember the last time I was at a Fresh Grounded Faith conference, and I just remember having several moments during worship thinking to myself, this is a little touch of heaven on earth right here --

Jennifer Rothschild: Yeah.

K. C. Wright: -- hearing everybody sing and worship. And then, of course, the excellent teaching. But, man, there were some moments during our worship time where I was thinking whoo, we about to step over in Glory right now.

Jennifer Rothschild: Mm-hmm. Bring it on. Bring it on.

K. C. Wright: You don't want to miss out on a Fresh Grounded Faith conference, that's for sure. Absolutely life-changing. Until next week, my friend, remember that whatever you face, however you feel right now in this moment, you can truly do all things through Christ who gives you supernatural strength. I know I can.

Jennifer Rothschild: I can.

Jennifer and K.C.: And you can.


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