Up Close and Personal with Kathie Lee Gifford and Friends


Ask Kathie Lee Gifford about her career or her latest book and immediately she steers away from those topics and speaks about her deepest passion, knowing Jesus who she lovingly calls by His Jewish name “Yeshua.”  She met Jesus at age 12 watching a movie produced by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

She knew then the Lord would use her to reach others in the entertainment industry and other far-reaching places. Jesus’ love, “the perfection of all creation,” is the driving force in all Kathie Lee says and does. It is with this understanding and knowledge that she has been able to reach out and forge relationships with people all over the world and now shares some of their conversations about “different encounters with this same Jesus.”  

As Kathie Lee explains it, everyone has their own encounter, their own experience with Jesus and none is the same as the other. The one constant is that Jesus is always the same in His love, purity, holiness and desire for us. God is not confined in creativity but reaches us in our individual spaces in the way that He knows will touch our hearts.  

Her book is centered around conversations with friends, their experience with Jesus and the different stages they are walking in their own journey. She is “continually surprised by people I had no idea believed in Jesus.” Some years ago, she was going through a difficult time and Kevin Costner reached out to her quoting 1 John 4:4 (NKJV), “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.” Kevin admitted he was raised in the church and went on to encourage her and to keep moving forward.  

We are all at different stages in our faith, according to Kathie Lee and we struggle, we have issues to overcome, brokenness to be healed from and she has discovered that sitting with people and having honest conversations asking, “What does Jesus look like to you right now?” opens the avenue of genuine and meaningful answers that may be quite different than what we have experienced but no less the truth of Him.  Not everyone Kathie Lee talked with believes that Jesus is the prophesied Messiah from the Hebrew Scriptures, and she graciously and lovingly hears and shares their stories representing the love of Jesus.                                                     



When Pattie was 18, she became pregnant with the future Grammy Award-winning Canadian pop star we now know as Justin Bieber. Just six months before she had given her life to Christ but in her zeal to reach her unsaved friends, Pattie found herself falling back into her old patterns of getting drunk and it was during that time she became pregnant. She decided to return to church and fought feeling very ashamed of herself, but the members of that church taught her through their love, “about the mercy of God and the forgiveness of Jesus.” The church not only showed her unconditional love but encouraged her to be strong in her faith and not give up, keep moving forward and continue do the best in her situation with God’s help. 

Pattie shares that God will use everything we experience that the enemy has meant for evil, and He faithfully turns it around for good.  She says the proof of that statement is shown through her son Justin, who was born healthy. “He made him gifted in every imaginable way.  Justin was perfect and beautiful……”   Through the years after the birth of Justin, Pattie continued to grow in her walk with God, and has always pushed through the hard times and by surrendering her life and allowing the Lord to do His work in her.  She entrusted Justin to God and raised him accordingly.   Even through her son’s toughest moments and watching his public shame, her faith and trust have always been with God.   Jesus continues to be her all in all. 


Chynna is the daughter of the John and Michelle Phillips, the founding members of band, the Mamas and the Papas. She grew up around drugs and alcohol and eventually her parents divorced. Wanting to leave public school because of being bullied, she was enrolled in a Christian school. Her life began to change after an incident when she stole chocolate milk. Several girls saw her and approached Chynna, not to condemn her but to ask if they could pray for her. There in the girl’s bathroom as they prayed, she became a new person feeling the presence of the Holy Spirit in her body and in that moment knowing that Jesus is real.  

Her home life remained the same with ashtrays filled with the remains of marijuana. She had an absentee father and a mother who was always busy.  Chynna turned to drugs, alcohol and becoming promiscuous.  n 1995 she married the famous Billy Baldwin. She refers to her “second coming” when Steven Baldwin, Billy’s brother, who is saved, was at her house praying for a family that had been experiencing troubles. The Lord told her to go in the room and ask to be prayed for. When they began to pray for her, she had the same sense of the Lord’s presence as when she first accepted Jesus and said, “That’s it, Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior, and I will dedicate the rest of my life to serving Him and furthering His Kingdom. I’m sold out for Jesus.”  

Her husband Billy was very aware there had been a shift in her, and that a serious change had occurred within Chynna.  Even though he has not been 100% “on board,” they do go to church together and through all their struggles of financial difficulties, the cancer of their son and being “polar opposites,” divorce has not been an alternative. Billy has always supported her. She turns to God every day to help work through their relationship.  

Chynna admits her struggle with feelings of abandonment still causes her to wrestle with the idea that God loves her. However, after 15- years of not being able to think of or speak of God as “Father,” today there is finally a feeling of “connection” when she calls Him “Father” and realizes that she is not alone in her life or circumstances.


Former longtime E! News host and red-carpet correspondent, Jason Kennedy and his model and fashion blogger wife Lauren Scruggs have been married for over six years. They met when she was interviewed by Giuliana Rancic a former host of E! to talk about the accident that caused Lauren to lose her left arm, left eye and suffer major brain injury, spinal injury, neck injury and jaw fracture when she exited a small plane.  

Jason was already interested in meeting Lauren after seeing her interview on Dateline NBC. Their relationship developed without pressure, starting with a hike the day after meeting and then keeping in touch continually afterwards. Lauren remembers one moment when Jason had flown to Dallas to see her, and she was having a hard day. His response was to sweetly say, “I love your hand, I love your eye, and I love you.”  Moments like that and others showed her that Jason really did love Jesus.
Jason grew up in a Southern Baptist church and visited the Presbyterian Church with his friends. The moment when he began to understand about the love of Jesus, grace and forgiveness started when he met his good friend Rich Wilkerson Jr. whose parents had an Assemblies of God church, that is when everything changed for him.  

When he moved to LA he spent the first year having fun but being away from family and friends made it a very lonely time. In the waiting for his chance of being on TV he said to the Lord, “All right God, You’ve got this plan and I’m waiting.” Not long after a pastor friend said the opportunity Jason was waiting for was not about if it would happen, but when it would happen. The next day, he received the news that would take him through the next 16 years hosting on E!. Today he has stepped away from that position and said there was a period of adjustment and “mourning” as he remembered all the memories, but things are moving forward in a good direction today.

Lauren’s background is Presbyterian, and she too had an amazing experience in her youth group. Her parents divorced when she was just four and they began their own personal journeys of faith which led them to eventually re-marry when Laure was 11 years old. Because her parents opened their door to couples coming over to discuss their walks through redemption, faith and leaning on the Lord, Lauren’s faith was deepened.

It was during one Christmas season she went on a friend’s small plane to look at Christmas lights. While on the plane she sensed something was wrong and said to the Lord that she trusted Him. Upon landing, Lauren still felt unsettled and fearful which was something she had not experienced before, being adventuresome person. When she exited the plane, which was still on, Lauren was hit by the propellor and sustained multiple and horrific injuries.  

According to Lauren she never felt angry at God, but that she “saw God more clearly through the accident than probably any other time in my life.” At the time of the accident Lauren was reporting on fashion week and working in retail. She realized that people might see and treat her differently and she had grieved through those thoughts, but her big take away was the understanding that identity does not lie in our physical looks and beauty. In all the hard moments Lauren continues to turn to the Lord.

At the writing of this chapter Lauren and Jason were pursuing pregnancy and it had been an uphill battle. On October 21, 2021, they revealed they are expecting their first baby that is due in the spring. Taken from a line People.com article, Jason said,” There is an overall sense of peace because of our faith in God….”

Kathie Lee has many more stories of others who are willing to talk about their experiences with Jesus. Her desire is for the reader, no matter who they are and where they are in life, to be willing to look at the question, “Who is the Jesus I know?”  Kathie Lee says, “Friends, let’s praise Him for bringing us to a deeper understanding of who Jesus is and what He is doing in the hearts and minds of people who are sometimes remarkably different from us! I hope this begins a beautiful new movement of the Holy Spirit in your own heart and mind…. begin to show greater mercy toward our neighbors…the others who look nothing like us at all.”


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