Growing Together in Jesus

Kathie Lee GiffordBy Kathie Lee Gifford9 Minutes

Excerpted from The Jesus I Know: Honest Conversations and Diverse Opinions about Who He Is by Kathie Lee Gifford

Jason Kennedy and Lauren Scruggs

I have been friends with Jason Kennedy since he first came on the national scene as a correspondent for E! News. I’ve always admired his natural charm, his commitment to excellence, and his public acknowledgment of his faith in Jesus.

My daughter, Cassidy, and I were honored to be guests at the ceremony when Jason married his beautiful bride, Lauren Scruggs, in Dallas, Texas, where Lauren had grown up. Lauren became known nationally when she lost her left eye and her left arm in a tragic propeller accident in 2011. She wrote a powerful book, Still Lolo: A Spinning Propeller, a Horrific Accident, and a Family’s Journey of Hope, about the life-changing incident and her long and painful recovery.

KATHIE LEE: You guys have separate faith journeys, and now you’re one in Christ and one in the flesh as a married couple. Jason, why don’t you tell me the faith background you came from? Were you raised in a Christian family?

JASON: I was raised in a Southern Baptist church in South Florida. Probably until I was about fourteen or fifteen years old, I would fall asleep during the sermon. My sister would be like, “You’re in middle school, and you’re sleeping like a baby through the message!” I just never really connected with what was happening. But I loved Sunday school because I got to see my friends, and we got to hang out. So I would go to the Baptist church for Sunday school, and then when it was big service, I would go to the Presbyterian church to do Sunday school there because I had another set of friends. I was just a big Sunday school guy.

KATHIE LEE: You know what that translates as: “nerd.”

JASON: I could do the books of the Bible in under twelve seconds. I was a really smart kid. My senior year of high school, I met one of my best friends still to this day, Rich Wilkerson Jr. His parents had an Assemblies of God church, and it was the most incredible thing ever, so I started going to church with him. That’s when it really connected. As I got older and understood that Jesus not only loves you but has grace for you and forgives you and is on your side, He’s for you, I think it kind of changed everything. And then when I moved to LA and was on my own, making new friends, I had that decision: “Am I gonna just do what my parents taught me, or am I gonna understand what this faith thing means for myself?” And that’s when I realized I can’t live without it.

KATHIE LEE: Lo, tell me a little about you growing up in Dallas, Texas.

LAUREN: My parents divorced when I was four. After that was when my parents became really serious about their faith. I went to two separate churches, my mom’s and my dad’s. My mom became a believer right after the divorce. And I remember every morning, she’d be in her big, cozy chair with her coffee and her blanket and her Bible and her pen. That was such an example to me, and I started to journal because I wanted to be like my mom. That kind of developed my prayer life and how to talk to God. I learned so much from my mom that way. She was so passionate about the Lord. My sister and I came to know Jesus around the same time, at about age six. We had a little Bible study with our girlfriends that my mom would lead at our house. I would go to church also with my dad on the weekends.

KATHIE LEE: Lo, could you talk about that season of suffering for you?

Tell me about the accident in the briefest of terms, so people know the extent of your injuries.

LAUREN: I was in a little two-seater plane. Our friends live along a runway, and every home has a hangar. So I went on one of those planes to look at Christmas lights. I was on the plane, and I just knew, this whole different feeling I felt before, like something was about to happen. I prayed to the Lord, and I was like, “I trust You with my life.” We landed, and I still felt no relief.

KATHIE LEE: A foreboding feeling?

LAUREN: Yes, I was very adventurous, so I flew a few times with my friends and had the time of my life. But I was very fearful this time. I got out of the plane how I always had. The plane was still on, and I was hit by the plane propeller. I lost my left hand, left eye. There were way more injuries than I was aware of at the time. Crazy things, like a spinal injury, neck injury, jaw fracture, brain aneurysm—just so many things. God is so big. I literally cannot believe I’m here, functioning, able to do life. Just so wild.

I remember waking up in the hospital. I was there three weeks. I lived with my parents through the physical recovery, around six months. I was definitely going through the grieving process. I remember my doctor asked me, “Have you gotten angry yet?” I was like, “Yes.” And she said, “Great!”

KATHIE LEE: So instead of being bitter toward the Lord, it brought you much closer.

Were you familiar with Jason from TV before you met him?

LAUREN: I think so. I watched E!, but I’m terrible with names. I remember coming to LA, where I met Jason. There was no pressure. It was just meeting someone new and going on a hike.

KATHIE LEE: Now you’re in a different kind of a hike: an uphill struggle to have a child. Tell me how you’re feeling about it.

LAUREN: We’ve been trying for four years. We went to one doctor and started IUIs, but it didn’t work. We have so much trust and hope in God’s journey that we don’t worry about it, though. We’re excited about what God’s timing is. We’re very content in our lives and enjoy each other, and a child will only add more joy.

Taken from “The Jesus I Know: Honest Conversations and Diverse Opinions about Who He Is” by Kathie Lee Gifford. Copyright 2021 by Kathie Lee Gifford. Used with permission from Thomas Nelson.

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