Kathie Lee Gifford Keeps Faith in New Project Release

``I was devastated -- emotionally and spiritually in every way. I had never stopped loving God, but I did wonder if he had stopped loving me. That was a hard place to be.''
( [email protected] ) Jun 07, 2004 04:57 PM EDT

Former co-host Kathie Lee of the show ``Live With Regis and Kathie Lee" continues on in keeping her faith as she releases a new devotional CD. The 50-year-old entertainer left the show four years ago and this marks her re-entry into Christian music for her past 25 years ever since going into the Regis show.

Kathie was born in France and raised in the States in Maryland. Her first decision to committ herself to Christ, following her mother and sister, was at the age of 12 when she saw the Billy Graham movie, ``The Restless Ones.''

Gifford had played as guest host on many shows such as ``Good Morning America,'' sung on the 1970's game show ``Name That Tune,'' and played Nurse Callahan on the soap opera ``Days of Our Lives.''

In her college career, Gifford appeared on television where she was chosen to sing on the self-proclaimed faith healer's show. After producing 3 projects, Gifford left the Christian music industry.

``I never felt completely comfortable with it,'' she said. ``Back then there was an attitude of cookie-cutter Christianity in Christian music. You had to believe, look and act a certain way to be a Christian. I innately rebelled against that.''

``She defies the pious stereotypes of Christians,'' said Leslie Anderson, 46, of Everman, Texas, who has visited Gifford's Internet chat room (kathieleegifford.com) every day for more than three years. ``She laughs, she cries, she shows her flaws and talks about her need for grace. She's the real deal.''

According to Gifford, even though her focus in music changed, her morales did not.

Despite magazine reviews and criticism, Gifford said she left because her marriage and her children needed her attention. Over and over, fans at Wal-Mart thanked her for ``standing up for Christian values.'' For Kathie, there were family hardships, such as handling with her husband's infidelity and coping with her Jewish father, Aaron ``Eppie'' Epstein, who was dying.

``No one ever taught me more about how to live a godly life,'' Gifford wrote in the acknowledgment to her book, also titled ``Gentle Grace.'' Leaving the show was a relief that ended much attacks and criticisms.

``In the public eye, you get criticism and abuse piled on,'' said her brother, David Epstein, 53, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Manhattan. ``She was open about her faith and that made her a target.''

"You fall apart sometimes,'' she said. ``For too long many of us Christians have tried to look like we have perfect lives.

``I was devastated -- emotionally and spiritually in every way. I had never stopped loving God, but I did wonder if he had stopped loving me. That was a hard place to be.''

These days, Gifford settles in her her Connecticut home where she is mostly working in her recording studio. She has many aspirations for Broadway, having written two musicals, for example on the life of the early 20th-century evangelist, Aimee Semple McPherson.

In her album, "Gentle Grace," Kathie co-wrote seven songs with lyrics assuring the helpful hand of God guiding people in the storms of their lives. Her lyrics also go to show her insights upon worldly careers, singing ``It's easy to be blinded by the riches of this earth."