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Kathie Lee Gifford has been a notable entertainer for almost three decades. She was the co-host of the popular morning show Live with Regis and Kathie Lee from 1985 to July 2000. She left the show so she could spend more time with her children. According to Kathie Lee, when she left the show, people thought she had elaborate plans for what she was going to do next. The truth was, she really didn't know what she was going to do. All she knew was God would counsel and guide her on what to do next.
She began to do musical theater. Although she continued to make TV and public appearances, Kathie Lee enjoyed being able to stay home and have dinner with her family, tuck her kids in bed at night, and even write and record songs in her home studio.
Kathie Lee admits, "I never dreamed I'd love getting up in the morning and sitting down with a cup of coffee. Now, I'm getting to enjoy just sitting by a fire writing for the first time in a long time, and I love it. After so many years of being in front of people, it's the simple things like not wearing pantyhose or putting on makeup every day that I love."
She released two albums in 2000, Heart of a Woman, a pop album, and Born for You, a collection of love songs. Despite the controversy in 1996 about child labor in Honduras for her products, Kathie Lee continued to have her product line of clothing and home furnishings for Wal-Mart, and she did TV ads for Carnival Cruise Lines. She also had a skincare line, Natural Advantage, that she sold on QVC.
Nearly four years after appearing on Live , Kathie Lee has been able to reflect on her faith and life. She has compiled these thoughts into her new book, Gentle Grace, and into songs on the album by the same name. The focus of both the book and the album is God's faithfulness.
"I believe there are no crumbs on God's table," she says. "Instead, I believe that He's always preparing us. All of these years I've been singing other people's songs, but I believe this time is so similar to the calling Mel Gibson feels. As he said at a recent screening of The Passion of The Christ - [with which she has been intimately involved] 'Every movie I've ever made was so that I could make The Passion.' It's how I feel about this record, this devotional book and this very moment in my life."
Kathie Lee also states, "I believe life is a journey and God is not so concerned with the Oscars or Emmys or anything else we get along the way, but it's what we do with what we've been given by God, and our expressions of Him throughout every part of our life, that matters."
She really wasn't looking to make a Christian/worship album when the opportunity to record Gentle Grace presented itself. At the time, she was very involved in finishing an album of Broadway songs. Her father died at the end of 2002 after battling a terminal illness for several years. She could not face finishing the album. She felt she needed to concentrate on more important things and the album could come out anytime. Then Maranatha talked to her about doing a worship project. Kathie Lee ended up writing seven of the album's thirteen songs. She and album producer Phil Sillas were able to sit down and write most of the album in just one weekend. They felt there was an anoiting on the project from day one.
One of the first songs written for the album was the title track, "Gentle Grace." Kathie Lee explains, "When I write for Broadway, I have to follow certain rules. But when I write worship songs, it's much different. Look at the Psalms. They are either a moment of joy or sheer pain. Gentle Grace was one of those moments of joy."
Other songs on the album were the result of seeing God's faithfulness in the midst of very difficult places. "Our family has gone through several trials on a very public scale in the past few years. Through those experiences we've all come to know the Lord in much deeper ways," Kathie Lee shares. "Many of those experiences are certainly not what I would have chosen, but there's an authority that comes with it. People know my story, and when they hear me sing about God's grace in a song like 'We Can Depend On His Word,' they know that it's from my own personal experience, and from deep within my heart."
Still Going Strong
Along with her new devotional and album, Kathie Lee plans to finish work on two Broadway musicals debuting later this year. One is based on the life of Aimee Semple McPherson, the Four Square church founder. The other is based on The Family Under the Bridge, the 1958 Newberry Award winner, which has received interest from Hollywood.
Kathie Lee says she still feels connected to show business. "I've been able to make a stand for Christ with what I do, to make a wonderful living and to impact so many lives," she explains. As Christians she believes we're called to make a difference in the world, and that's what she hopes her work does.
In addition to show business and writing, she is involved with causes dear to her heart. Proceeds from Gentle Grace will go to Cassidy's Place, a home named for Kathie Lee's daughter that houses HIV infected and crack addicted children and offers family support services, like day care and adoption centers. Cassidy's Place also helps the homeless build their job skills in a bakery setting to help get them off the streets.
Though she enjoys the change in pace, Kathie Lee also knows God has a plan for her that doesn't involve slowing down very much. "Our culture tells women that at a certain point in their lives, that there's nothing left for them. When you know the Lord, I think He says to us, 'This can be your richest time in Me if you just let Me use you.' I'm sharing things I never could have when I was younger, and I am blessed and humbled by the Lord to be able to do so at this special time in my life."
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