KATHIE LEE GIFFORD TALKS HER NEW BOOK, EMBRACING FAITH AND FINDING JOY (EXCLUSIVE)

With her ever-present smile and obvious zest for living, Kathie Lee Gifford embraces every facet of her busy life, whether it's writing a new book or doting on her three adorable grandchildren.

"The key to happiness at any stage in your life is joy," says Kathie Lee Gifford, the covergirl of the latest issue of Woman's World (available to buy here).

Woman's World

"There are a lot of circumstances that we can't do anything about, that's why our life is supposed to be a prayer," Kathie Lee says. "Thessalonians talks about praying without ceasing. How do we do that? Our life is a prayer to God and it's the only thing that makes sense. I've been doing it since I was 12 years old and the only times I've gotten really screwed up is when I stopped doing it."

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The Emmy award-winning TV personality's faith anchors her life and is a constant source of inspiration for new projects. Her latest book, Herod and Mary: The True Story of the Tyrant King and the Mother of the Risen Savior, which will be released in print and audiobook editions on July 16, is a thriller that illuminates the lives of King Herod and Jesus's mother Mary and the first installment in her Ancient Evil, Living Hope series.

"My fascination with Herod goes back my first rabbinical trip," she says of visiting the Holy Land. "We believe that Jesus' story is the greatest ever told. Well, Herod is the greatest story never told, unless you are some sort of a scholar," she explains. "My son, Cody, found this fantastic co-author for me [Brian M. Litfin, PhD], and Cody suggested a series of different books called Ancient Evil, Living Hope. The next one, I think, will be Nero and Paul. There's always been evil, but there's always been God's presence in the world as well."

"I'm hoping people are going to be fascinated and get caught up in the story, because nobody knows it," she says of illuminating the little-known life of King Herod in her new book.

"I must give my co-author Brian so much credit, because he's written books of his own," Gifford adds. "Cody steered us, ‘Keep it a thriller, keep the narrative going, don't get too lost in the minutiae.' That's the key. Keep the story thrilling. It's a page-turner."

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Kathie Lee Gifford in 2024

@kathielgifford/Instagram

A devoted grandma

After an illustrious career as a beloved Today co-host with her pal Hoda Kotb, Gifford left her high-profile gig and moved to Franklin, Tennessee, just south of Nashville, where she has continued to maintain a busy life writing, producing and developing projects.

She recently joined her daughter, Cassidy, and longtime friend, Roma Downey, on the TV series The Baxters, and she's hosting an upcoming TV show about miracles on the Angel Network.

These days, Gifford's favorite role is being grandma, or Bubbe, as she prefers to be called by her three grandchildren. She tries to visit her grandchildren every month, and says, "I like to make songs up for my grandchildren. I get them laughing every time. I sing ‘poopy' songs to my grandsons!"

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Kathie Lee Gifford with one of her grandchildren in 2024

@kathielgifford/Instagram

Kathie Lee Gifford reflects on the stages of her life

Kathie Lee Gifford's life has been a rollercoaster, from the joys of hosting Live! with Regis and Kathie Lee with her dear, departed friend Regis Philbin to the death of her beloved husband, former NFL player and sportscaster Frank Gifford, in 2015.

Over the years, Gifford has been an actress, singer, author, mother, wife and television personality. "I had my turn at a lot of things," she says. "I like to keep an attitude of gratitude, and know that each day is full of surprises."

Gifford's faith informs every aspect of her life, even how she views her body as she ages. "Everybody is at a different stage in their life," she says. "I look at old pictures of myself and I had such a bikini bod - and I thought I was fat back then. Now I look at those pictures and I go, ‘I want that body back,'" she says with a laugh.

Her secret to body acceptance at any age is "to live close to Jesus," she says. "It's how you define yourself. If you let the world define you, you're going to be a bag of bones. You are going to have the root of bitterness. You're going to be sick. You're going to treat people unkindly, but if you have the living water in you, if you are a stream of living water like the Lord wants us to be, there's a great beauty that is evident."

Kathie Lee Gifford in 2024

@kathielgifford/Instagram

For Gifford, living your best life is about the choices you make. "Be proactive about your joy and always share with someone who has less than you do. That is such a template for how to live a Godly life," she says.

"I love the scripture that says, ‘What does your God require of you? Be kind. Love mercy and walk humbly with your God,'" she adds. "I try to do that. I have a choice today. I can choose to be kind, or I can choose to be snarky. [Someone can look] like the most beautiful super model in the world and it doesn't matter if she's got a cruel heart. I try to be kind. I try not to leave my house if I can't be a blessing because the world doesn't need any more burdens."

Gifford also stresses the need for mercy in today's turbulent times. "Jesus was so merciful and all we see these days is cruelty and no mercy," she observes. "Mercy is a beautiful thing. I want to be that person."

Ultimately, "What this world needs is more kindness," Gifford says. "When I was growing up, cruelty was unusual, and kindness was everywhere. Now it's turned around the other way. There's cruelty everywhere and when I see a kindness, it moves me to tears because it's so rare. Living in the South, I do see more of it down here."

When it comes to finding joy and peace in the everyday, "I don't know the answer, except his name is Jesus," Gifford says definitively, and she makes a strong case for the power of kindness.

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