Kathie Lee Gifford has had countless lessons in learning to take life in stride. The sidekick to Hoda Kotb in the final “Today” hour has her share of teasers and tormentors in comedy routines and the celebrity world, but nothing keeps her from staying her true self, and sharing her faith. The mom and morning host has leaned on her faith even more deeply since the passing of husband Frank Gifford, in August of 2015, but she has never had a moment of sadness over where he is, certain that he was in perfect peace and love in heavenly realms.

Gifford has written and recorded hundreds of songs, but she has no ego issues, even making fun of herself, and how her albums and books become the booby prizes for the trivia games in the “Kathie Lee and Hoda” segment. This morning, though, Kathie Lee Gifford offered a song to her husband in heaven, and to so many who find themselves hopeless and “stuck” motionless in the loss of grieving. “He Saw Jesus” is no “fluffy” cotton candy pop song, but an honest admission of the loss anyone in grief feels, and the faith that gives a hurting heart eternity as a promise.

Kathie Lee Gifford shared the experience of creating a song with Nashville hit-maker Brett James, and closed her hour with a heart rendering performance of “He Saw Jesus.”

A natural opener

“A little kiss, a little coffee, a little moment to pray,” was the opening that Kathie Lee Gifford brought to Brett James’ Nashville studio. After hearing just that simple depiction of their typical Sunday morning, he was sure that was the way to open their collaboration.

Kathie Lee Gifford purposely did not want to arrive with her lyrics already done. She was in no place to tell the “Jesus Take the Wheel” songwriter how to use his craftsmanship.

The collaboration began when Kathie Lee and Hoda visited Nashville last June, and the songwriter expressed his deep admiration for Frank Gifford to the host and widow. Going to a more quiet place, he asked “How are you doing?” with a penetrating sincerity.

The host who always has words of comfort for others explained that she was “really doing ok,” and she knew why.

She spoke of how she found her husband on his last Sunday morning with her. As usual, he had been having this morning coffee when his wife found him on the floor, with an open-mouthed expression of total peace and joy. “He saw Jesus, and he took his breath away,” she affirmed to James. “Let's write that song,” the songwriter immediately insisted. Kathie Lee attributed his enthusiasm to polite courtesy, but 20 minutes later, he called and wanted to make the song a reality as soon as possible.

Surprise vocalist

Kathie Lee Gifford felt “adequate” to sing on the demo recording, but explained to her creative partner that she wanted to get “Wynonna, Carrie Underwood, Sara Evans,” or some other top-tier country female vocalist to do the “real” song, since pneumonia had left her with weakened pipes and less breath control. Brett James let it slip that he was adding strings to the track, and Kathie Lee knew that never happened to demos.

“Only you can sing this,” James told her. Kathie Lee Gifford lifted her voice then, and this morning, to offer this gift of hope and love, which benefits storm victims through Samaritan's Purse.

The performance was Kathie Lee Gifford’s first since 2008 on “Today” and pure devotion pulsed through every verse devoted to “a man who never wanted to leave his house” but who is certainly home forever now. Kathie Lee’s own words fill every line of this song of affirmation. Grief leaves pain that is never fully gone, but love never ends in death. This gift of love is ringing in both Gifford souls.

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