Kathie Lee Gifford: Thank you for having me today.

Zibby Owens: Thanks for coming on. I’m so excited to talk to you about your many exciting projects you have going on starting with Hello, Little Dreamer which I read out loud to my two littlest kids. They just loved it. Thank you for that entertainment for my family.

Kathie Lee: I am so happy to hear that. It’s been a long time since I had little ones, but I’m still a little kid at heart. I’m grateful to hear that from you because that’s the whole point. We wait too long with our children to instill extraordinarily important values, the most important things, the most important truths. We wait too long. Frank and I rarely fought over things. The one thing we disagreed on was how long we should wait for our little ones to learn how to say please and thank you and I love you and I’m sorry and all those things that you’re going to need in life many times. He’d say, “Kathie, he’s only two. Cody’s two.” I’d say, “Yeah, and pretty soon he’ll be twelve and it’ll be too late.”

Zibby: I know. That’s the thing.

Kathie Lee: Now I have the most polite children. Cassidy was terrible because she just took it so to heart. I’d say to both of them, “You say please or you do not get it. You say thank you or I take it back. Then we start all over again.” They believed me. Cass was better at it. Cody was really good. In the middle of the night when he would go potty, I didn’t care if he hit the toilet or not. I just wanted him to say thank you after I got back with him. He’d wake up and he’d go, “Mommy, potty peas. Potty peas.” Potty please. I’d go, “Yes, I gotcha.” Then I’d put him back to sleep. He’d go, “Thank you. Thank you.” Frank came to believe that it was true, but Cassidy took it way further than that. We’d be a restaurant or something. She’d give her order. She’d go, “Thank you.” The waitress wouldn’t respond, or the waiter. Cassidy would go, “Thank you.” She’d just be yelling it until finally the waiter or waitress, they’d go, “You’re welcome, kid. Geesh.” Or they’d walk away and Cassidy would look at me and go, “They didn’t say you’re welcome.” She was insane about it. I guess I did go a little overboard.

Zibby: No, at least you did your job well. Check-plus on that.

Kathie Lee: I was raised that way. Little brats grow into bratty adults. They just do if nobody takes them aside and teaches them what’s right. I’m not saying how to vote and how to believe in your whatever. I’m just talking about the basic decency courtesy things. Kids today just have not been taught them from what I see. Some have. It’s so rare that I go, gee, somebody raised you right. It’s been lost in our culture like so many other things.

Zibby: It takes a relentless focus on it. You can’t just say, all right, say please and thank you. It’s every single interaction. When they say it, you have to catch it and say, thanks for saying please, or whatever. Then you have to catch it when they don’t. It’s constant.

Kathie Lee: That’s right. You’ve got to reinforce it. Reinforcement, I call it resent-less.

Zibby: I love that.

Kathie Lee: Because they’re going to resent you, but you got to be relentless about it.

Zibby: Oh, my gosh, I’m coming to you for all my parenting advice from now on. When I’m feeling all my reinforcement is making no difference, I’ll remember that it actually works over time.

Kathie Lee: It totally will. It’s a guarantee. The Bible says raise up your children in the way they should go. When they’re older, they will not depart from it. I’ve seen that with my children. One of them’s thirty. One’s twenty-seven now. My son’s getting married in two weeks. My daughter got married two months ago. It’s a whole new world. If they don’t teach their children these common courtesies, grandma will. Glam-ma, I want to be called. Glam-ma will teach them gladly.

Zibby: That’s exciting to have so many huge milestones happening in your life all at the same time. That’s great. Congratulations.

Kathie Lee: Thank you. I think people tend to believe that because of the COVID the world has come to a standstill. That’s not true at all. Certain things have, of course. God’s spirit has never stopped moving. The Holy Spirit’s never stopped moving in our own lives. There’s lots of good stuff to be seen and to be experienced if we have our spiritual antenna out for it. God is doing great and mighty things in spite of it all just as he has through all of time. He never changes. It’s the world that changes and people that change, but never, never God himself.

Zibby: My mother-in-law right now — I know this will air later when who knows what will have happened, but my mother-in-law is in the ICU with COVID and has been suffering for a while.

Kathie Lee: I’m sorry.

Zibby: Thank you. She’s only sixty-three and all the rest.

Kathie Lee: That’s too young.

Zibby: I have been asking so many people to pray and to reach out. It doesn’t matter what religion and whatever. When I was reading Hello, Little Dreamer and on your Instagram and your whole faith and even in the book how your neighbor sold you the house because they just felt it from God, anyway, I was like, there’s a reason why I’m talking to Kathie Lee Gifford today when I have so much God in my life at the moment.

Kathie Lee: I’m sitting on that same porch right now. I was talking to her yesterday because she’s just now moving into the home that they recently built. They could’ve moved in April, but the COVID kept them at their lake place. A great friendship came from that. I’m literally five feet from the spot where she yelled out to me on my little balcony across the way. I didn’t put this in the book because it was too much, but really what happened, as soon as I bought the house from them, I was walking home to my brownstone to call my real estate guy to say I’ve got to put mine on the market now when my dear friend Angie, whom you’ve read that book obviously, said, “Kathie, don’t call your real estate agent.” I said, “Why?” She says, “I think I have a buyer for yours.” I went, “I just bought the other one five seconds ago.” She goes, “No, no, no. Can they come buy this afternoon?” I went, “Yeah.” These people came by and bought it immediately for a hundred thousand dollars more than I had bought it the six months before. God knows it’s a miracle. Nobody would believe that. I don’t want to make people feel bad like their prayers aren’t answered or something. I thought it was enough of a miracle that these people sold me their home just because God said sell it, sell it to Kathie Lee. The blessing it has been since, it’s just extraordinary.

When I’m tempted to have a pity party, which we all are in this world, I just look around and I go, really, Kathie Lee? You’re going to have a pity party? Are you forgetting all of God’s faithfulness to you through sixty-seven years of life, really, so you can have a pity party right now? No, Lord, I’m not going to do that. Look at the Israelites. They weren’t the Israelites then. They were the Hebrews. Then no sooner had the miracle of the parting the Red Sea — then they get across. Pharaoh’s chariots are deep in the water. They’ve been redeemed from slavery. They want to go back. They want the food they miss. I go, Lord, I’m no different from them. I want my husband back. I want my youth back. I want stuff back. I want all these things back. God goes, are you not going to finish this race with me? Are you not going to go forward Kathie? I don’t go backwards. I go forward. You going with me or not? I feel so ashamed of myself at times, not condemned, but just reminded, no, I am the God of forward. He is with us presently. He’s always leading us forward by his council. He leads us ultimately to the glory, the word says. I don’t want to go back, really. It’s just at times when we’re weak. We never stop being weak at times. That never ever happens.

As we perish outwardly in our bodies and our world decays and everything else, we are being renewed on a daily basis for eternity’s sake. It’s just easy to forget that, especially when everybody’s facing so many hard times today. They really are. That’s the other thing the Lord reminds me of, Zibby, all the time, that, Kathie, some people are truly suffering. Let’s remember them. Cry out for them. I see you. I see your needs. I know them without you speaking them. Trust me with those, as you have in the past, and really lift up those who are desperate for my help. I’ve got more friends right now, I don’t know if it’s because of my age, but more friends that are on life support or needing an operation or going into chemo. I think it’s the most at one time. I’ve got the longest prayer list of people that truly need healing. There’s always one or two in our lives that are facing those things, but it’s a much longer list now. A lot of it is because of COVID. Although, I have not lost a friend to it yet. I praise God for that. I know people who have been lost to it, but none of my dear friends have been lost to it. I’m grateful for that. I’m sorry for your — it’s your mother-in-law, you said? Is she going to be all right?

Zibby: I don’t know. I hope so. I pray that she will, but we’ll see. I’m sorry to have — you’re right. So many people are suffering. I’m sorry your list is so long on your prayer list right now. I know that there’s so many people.

Kathie Lee: That’s okay. God is there for them.

Zibby: One of the things I found with your book It’s Never Too Late and even Hello, Little Dreamer is all of your emphasis on what’s coming next. It’s Never Too Late, it’s perfect. You left the fourth hour of Today Show to pursue your dreams now. It’s so inspiring. You want to go off in a whole different direction. Tell me a little bit about why it’s never too late to dream and how much life is left, your whole theory on life. Tell me a little more about it.

Kathie Lee: Life is left until we run out of it. If I wake up in the morning and I have a pulse, that means I still have a purpose that God wants me to fulfil. I think a lot of people give up on life when they think that nobody needs them anymore. There is no reason to get up in the morning or they don’t have the energy for it anymore. I was just praying to the Lord the other day. I said, Lord, if you’re done with me, then take me home. I’m ready. I get very exhausted from things and discouraged and disappointed like everyone does. Even if somebody looks at my life and it looks like it’s full and it’s vibrant, and it often, often, is, I still have those moments where I just go, okay, I’m done, Lord. I’m done. Take me home. I’m ready. I have a beautiful home. I’ve been blessed with beautiful homes for a long, long time, but this is not my ultimate home. I’m a widow now. There’s always that ever-present gnawing at your soul that you’re alone and that I’m not alone. It’s a constant, yes, you are; no, I’m not. Which little voice are you going to listen to? I could look around and say, my husband is not here with me. My children have moved on to their lives. But I’m not alone. I have the Holy Spirit present within me. I have his presence all around me in my friends and in my work.

I’m doing more important work now, I believe, than I’ve ever done in life with the encouragement I’m trying to be to others in terms of especially the word of God with the books that I’m writing, The Rock, Road, and Rabbi series. We’re signed for two more of those. That is meeting a deep hunger in the world. Nobody’s more surprised than I am. I thought there was complete, not complete, but almost complete total illiteracy about the scriptures and that people just weren’t interested in growing in their faith. That book has been a surprise super best seller much to my delight because it shows that people are hungry for the word of God. You can’t fly to Israel anymore, but right before COVID it was the most-purchased and most-read book on all the planes going into Israel. People of every faith, they were reading it in anticipation of going to the Holy Land and studying, which just is such a blessing. My faith was lukewarm for many years because I wasn’t being fed either in church or through the word of God. Why wasn’t I? Because I wasn’t reading the true word of God because I was reading bad translations and I was going to churches where they weren’t preaching the true word of God. It’s just so simple. Go to the source. The source is what’s going to refresh you. The source is what’s going to empower you. The source is the Old Testament in the Hebrew and the New Testament in the Greek. If you’re not learning that and not memorizing that and not quoting that and not building your life on that, you’re building it on sinking sand your whole life. I need a solid rock under my feet because I will go astray without it. I will. I’m just like anybody else that’s human. The fire that that lit in me when I started studying rabbinically was profound.

I wrote the first oratorio “The God Who Sees” with my friend, the beautiful and talented Nicole C. Mullen. That led to three more oratorios which I’m now about to start filming next week. I film the first new scenes from the new oratorios. We hope to have them done by the end of the year. That will be one and a half hours of symphonic oratorios, they’re called “The Way,” that we hope to give as a gift to the world next Easter. That’ll be two years, basically, after I left The Today Show. I’ve got two more books, I told you, that we’re signing for, the two books coming out. My movie that I did with Craig Ferguson, Then Came You, is finally coming out in a month from now in theaters. If theaters are open, it’ll be in theaters. If they aren’t open, it’ll be being streamed. That’s been in my rearview mirror for too long. It’s been two years since we wrapped it. Finding the right distributor, especially in the world of COVID, has been challenging. That’s happening. I almost feel like I was singing “On the First Day of Christmas” because it’s like, four duh-duh-duh, three duh-duh-duh, two duh-duh-duh, and a partridge in a pear tree. It’s overwhelming. I woke up this morning. I said, okay, I know I have three interviews today. What are they for? What are they for, Lord? Remind me which project. It’s fun.

Zibby: It all just speaks to your whole point which is that there’s so much more to come in life. I just wanted to read this one little passage from your book because it’s so inspiring. You said, “If you’re my age or getting close, it’s probably been a long time since you last thought back to those days when you had dreams of what or who you wanted to be when you grew up. But it’s time, friend. It’s time to ask yourself, what would I do if I could? Toss out the phrases I can’t and I don’t know how, and start dreaming about the what-if that might get you off that couch and back into something you want to do. Maybe me sharing my story will give you some perspective and do that for you.” Then you say, “Are you ready? It’s never too late to dream.” It’s so awesome. I love it.

Kathie Lee: Thank you, but it’s because it’s true. When you study the scripture, you realize that dreams are an intricate part of your inner being. I believe that the scripture is flawless and God used people dreaming and their dreams all throughout history to impact culture and to impact lives, millions of lives. God has not stopped placing dreams in people’s hearts. As we said before, he doesn’t change. Women who are pregnant right now with their children, God is at work in that secret place the Bible talks about, in the darkness of the inner womb, which is a sacred place. I wish our culture and our world understand how sacred that is. God is, at the moment of conception, through — there’s a line in my new oratorio, “The God of the ,” when it says, oh Lord, you were there before the world began. You created everything, each woman, every man. You wrote their stories in their mother’s wombs, and then you carried them from their cradles to their tombs. It’s true. The God of creation, Jehovah Elohim, never stops creating. Every morning of every human being’s life, whether they are just being born or they’re dying, is an act of creation by Father God Jehovah Elohim, which in Hebrew means creator God.

If we can look at our lives with that perspective, it gives each moment purpose. Every moment has purpose because the great — think about it. The greatest day of a believer’s life is the day that God calls them home, the greatest day. It’s not a tragedy. It’s a triumph. That’s why I could hold my dead husband in my arms and cry tears of joy and rejoicing, not because I was glad my husband was dead. I was thrilled to know where my husband was now and who he was with. You can’t do anything but rejoice when you truly understand that scriptural truth. He will lead us on to glory. We either believe that or we don’t. Grief is an important thing, but I don’t allow myself to stay in grief. I allow myself to grieve appropriately. Then I make myself move on in the promise of the future. I have to because the evil one would keep us there. The evil one would love to keep us in grief because we’re paralyzed. He comes to steal and kill and destroy. Jesus came that we might have life, and life abundantly. The word in the Greek for that word, abundantly, is the word zoe, Z-O-E, which means beyond. It cannot be contained. It overflows. It cannot be withheld. That’s what I want for my life as long as I am alive, zoe. When it’s not there, it’s because I’ve moved away from God, not the other way around. My life is about God’s faithfulness to me, not my faithfulness to God because I have failed him way too many times. I’ll fail him today in one way or another, but I don’t stay there. I stay there in the promise of, yes, but that’s why you still need me, Kathie. You still need me. As Paul did, that in my weakness he is made strong. Even Paul was the greatest apostle ever. I think a close second would be Billy Graham in terms of the impact of one life on the world. There was Martin Luther. There are Billy Graham. There were those who truly changed the course of history. We could all change the course of somebody’s history. We can do it right now. Today is the day of salvation.

Zibby: Come back to the book for two seconds here. Let me just ask about writing for you. I wanted to know what the writing process was like. You write children’s books. You’ve written memoirs. You’ve done advice. You’ve done so many things. What’s your process like when you write? Then what advice would you have for aspiring authors?

Kathie Lee: I think everybody’s process is different. I wrote my first book when I was eighteen years old. I’d forgotten that I’d written it. It had been a best seller. That’s how much I didn’t think I was a writer. I’d remind myself. Oh, my gosh, that’s right, my first book was called The Quiet Riot and it had three printings. I forgot. I was so busy being an actress and a singer and pursuing those dreams. I literally forgot about it. Now that’s twenty books ago. Everybody’s got a book in them because everyone has a story. Whether they write it down or journal it, whatever, everyone’s story is precious to God. He wrote our stories in our mother’s wombs. Then he carries us from our cradles to our tombs. He never stops writing our story. My process is letting the Holy Spirit move and not trying to control it. I often wake up at two o’clock or three o’clock in the morning and the Holy Spirit speaks to me and says, get up. Go down and let the process begin. Be a channel. Be a channel for my creative energy and my creative juices to flow through you. I can’t do anything on my own, but I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. I sit down not knowing what the Lord has for me. Then I thrill to it.

Sometimes it’s a Broadway show. Sometimes it’s a lyric, just a lyric. I write a song or a half a song of the lyrics to thousands of songs. Or it’s part of a book. It becomes a book. I’ve written jingles for commercials. I write constantly. My friend gave me a placard in my office that says eighty percent of the words in my brain are lyrics. Life is a song. All of creation sings out to the creator. I’m just part of creation. I try to get out of God’s way. I truly do. There are many, many times, I can’t even count them, that I have written a lyric and I write it down and I can’t get it out fast enough. I stop. I look up. I go, you are unbelievable. It’s a perfect lyric. It’s a perfect rhyme. It’s a perfect lyric. It says perfectly what I need my character to say or I want to say in whatever I’m writing. I know a good song when I write one, but I know an anointed one when God writes one. More and more and more, I want the anointing. I want the anointing.

I’m writing with the finest writers in the world now down here in Nashville. It’s a tremendous privilege that they’ve embraced me the way they have because I certainly have never been known as a songwriter, but I’ve been writing songs since I was twenty years old. I just never did it in a professional way until I started writing for theater. My Broadway show, even though it was certainly not a hit by far, not at all — it was a disaster, basically, on Broadway. It was Tony nominated. I don’t know how to write Broadway shows. I don’t know how to write oratorios. I don’t know how to write books, but God knows how. If I just put myself in his hands, he uses me to do those things. I left college. I left college before I graduated. I sat there for three weeks and wrote my first book waiting on God to see where he would lead me. He led me straight to Hollywood right after I finished that book thinking that nobody would ever read it except my daughter if I was blessed to have one one day. Look at what the Lord has done in the ensuing years. That was in 1975.

Zibby: What would you tell someone else who’s just starting out? What would you tell an aspiring author?

Kathie Lee: I would say go back to your earliest memories and ask the Lord to show you what your dreams were if you’ve forgotten them. Show him. He’ll restore those. He will redeem it all. He wants to. He is the redeemer of all things. He wants to make all things fresh and new. He says, look what I do. Behold, do you not see what I’m doing? Open your eyes, basically. I am making a garden from the wastelands, streams in the desert. All of those things are still inside you no matter what the world has thrown at you. He says, I have overcome the world, take courage. The word for courage, what he says — let not your heart be troubled. Take courage. The word is , meaning Cana. That town of Cana is known as the place where Jesus performed his first miracle. He demonstrated his glory in a way that was profoundly human, to supply a human need for a glorious celebration of two people becoming one in God’s sight. God still celebrates. I’m celebrating two weddings right now in my children’s lives. We don’t have as many people at them, but we’re celebrating. We’re serving my wine now, my family wine. I have a line of wine. I just think, how glorious of the Lord. The dreams that I as a mother — as I was carrying these children to birth, God was doing a great and profound work of creation in my children’s inner beings that will continue long after I am gone. I praise God for that. I don’t worry about my children’s future because God holds their futures in his hands long after my hands have gone on to embrace him. My God will be there for my children and their future generations. That’s a promise straight from the word of God. I cling to his promises.

Zibby: Wow, this has been such an interesting conversation. I’ve loved hearing you talk about all your beliefs and passions and convictions and experiences. Thank you for sharing them with me and my listeners. I look forward to everything you have coming ahead. Thank you.

Kathie Lee: You’re a dear. Thank you so much. Bless those sweet little ones of yours in Jesus’ name.

Zibby: Thank you.

Kathie Lee: God bless, and your mother-in-law, sweetie, and your mother-in-law. Please, Lord, heal her.

Zibby: Thank you so much. Enjoy the weddings. Buh-bye.

Kathie Lee: Good talking with you. Buh-bye.