Archive for January, 2011

American Idol: The Untold Story

Sunday, January 9th, 2011

american-idol-book-cover1

Great beginning to the new year (see the post below regarding our new partnering project with World Vision).

I wanted to make a post on a new book that arrives in book stores January 18th entitled “American Idol: The Untold Story”.   The Author Richard Rushfield became a friend during the Finale of AI’s Season 7.  Jason Castro’s Mom, Betsy, introduced us and the beginning of Richard hearing and following my story began.  At the time Richard was the LA Times most proficient collector of American Idol’s latest and breaking news where he had a featured blog viewed by millions of people daily.  I had read segments from his blog before I met him and found Richard to be a very kind writer, not into the sensational or created drama that many of the AI bloggers are.  I asked Richard and his assistant to join us for dinner.  It was after the first evening of the two day Finale and everyone was a buzz about the night.  Our ministry hosted the Castro’s, Cooks and Mercado’s for a dinner in the Hotel that many of the family members were staying.
Over the last two and a half years Richard has come to our home, sat around our round table enjoyed a few of Denny’s cafe lattes :) while I was interviewed for about 20 hours regarding the miracle of how this ministry began, unfolded and spread.  To know Richard is to love him and his understated way of “getting the story”.  He is an excellent journalist seeking to tell the story in a thoughtful and truthful way.
Richard had kept me informed on a book he was working on and planning on telling my story as he was limited to his desk with this new and exciting writing assignment.  The day before Christmas I received an unedited version and due to my fear and trepidation put off opening it and even taking a peek until the day after Christmas.  My plans were to let Denny read it first, but to my surprise as I opened the book finding a note from Richard where my story was told I became quite relieved as I read the first paragraph:
Chapter 17 “The Pastor”
“We’re all just going where the Lord sends us.  Some are sent on missions around the world.  Somehow I was sent to American Idol.”  Leesa Bellesi, an engaging blonde in her early fifties who resembles a young Florence Henderson, sits back at her kitchen table and begins her story.  Her home, located in a hilly, semirural section of south Orange County, seems another world from the American Idol bubble.  But at this table, a long line of mothers and fathers of Idol contestants have prayed for their children, watched them perform, and mourned when the Idol journeys ended.
The unofficial host to dozens of Idol families, Leesa Bellesi has in her time penetrated the protected space of the most high-profile show in the world.  She has roamed backstage, attended Idol dinners, and sat in the audience beside Idol families.
And it all began “the day a clown fell on my head,” Leesa told me with a laugh.
I knew right away that Richard was going to tell my story in a God honoring way.
Having written a handful of books myself I know the painstaking work it takes to what I have often referred to as “giving birth to a baby”.   Nine months of discomfort sometimes as excruciating as labor pains, but always ending in hope, great joy and relief when it is done and ready for the world to see.  Denny and I are excited for Richard as the “BIG REVEAL” is about to happen.
Yesterday, I met Richard at a Starbucks in LA and got my official finished copy.  Richard is so humble, I had to give him a good nudge to get him to sign my copy.  I am happy to say mine is the first copy that he has signed.  That’s pretty cool!
I also asked him to sign my denim jacket where dozens of American Idol contestants have signed their names to, which he obliged me with a wide smile.
By the way (side note) yesterday January 8th 2011 was the day Larry Poland’s Master Media Organization asked their participants to pray for the cultural influencer “American Idol”.  That means thousands and thousands of people were praying for the crew, contestants and staff of American Idol yesterday. I hope people keep it up throughout the season.
So what can I tell you about the book that my story, entitled “The Pastor”, is a chapter in.  Let me first say; this is not a Christian book.  I guess that would be followed by… duh!  There is profanity in the book.  Production people, people in this Industry curse and they are quoted many times throughout the book.  I have found it FASCINATING  to read as it lays out the story of how a dream became a reality.  I think we can all relate to having a dream.  The ins and outs of the entertainment industry are detailed unveiling some things that many of you may have wondered about.  I especially like the story of Brian Dunkleman, a “Jerry Maquire like” story that I just dug.  I hope to give the guy a big hug some day and give him a Jer. 29:11 wristband, reminding us all that God has good plans4us no matter the regrets we may have. God doesn’t do oops!
Alert!  I recommend, if you have a child that is interested in reading this book that you edit page 114.  Richard cleaned it up the best he could regarding the story and reason why one of the contestants was removed from the AI competition.  Just a warning.
Now… although the spirit of my chapter is spot on there are a few details that need some correction.
* Richard wrote that I gave a gift to many of the lady participants.  This is true.  I gave, beginning with Katharine, a sterling silver bracelet with the scripture Jeremiah 29:11 engraved on it.  ”For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”  But…what ended up being quoted is that I gave the girls a white “Livestrong style” wristband.  That was Bono who did that promoting his “ONE” charity organization.  Props to Bono for that one.  As soon as I read that, it was clear to me that it was a “God thing” and that this mix up happened for a reason. I have ordered a 1000 white silicone wristbands with the words Jer 29:11 on one side, on the other side it says “God has good plans4me” and inside is our website www.GoServeSomeone.org, giving me a more affordable way to spread this good word and help a good cause. These will soon be available for a small donation on our website supporting our partnering project with World Vision, bringing clean water to over 500,000 people in Ethiopia, East Africa.
* Some events, timelines and locations need some minor adjustments, but…something I only know and you could probably care less about…right?! :)
* Also I need to correct that it was not Danny’s Mom that called me to help with a flight for Jamar, but rather Jamar’s Mother.
* And lastly let me just make it clear that this is a ministry of unity and that it was never our intent for this to just be a help and outreach to only those of the Christian faith.  Our arms have always been open to those of all faiths.
What a blessing it has been for Denny and I to experience the people that have come (sometimes very temporarily) into our home and lives.  Thank you for all the private concerts, encouragement and joy of fellowship that you have brought to our family.  We got to do this and it has been a privilege. I am currently working on my own book (Publisher still needed) to tell the rest of the story entitled “The Day The Clown Fell On My Head”.  In this book I will prove that God hears your prayers, your thoughts and is one degree away from everyone.  That He will connect you with those that you will bear good fruit with if you just ask.  It matters not only what we say out loud, but what we think in our most private of thoughts.
He’s listening and He cares!
Sorry…
Because I have found over the years that some people are mean it is not possible to make a comment or post on this blog.  But if you would like to contact me you are welcome to through our website at www.GoServeSomeone.org or
www.kingdomassignment.org Thank you for making the extra effort to share your positive, good and encouraging words.  If you can not keep it positive than just keep it to yourself…thank you :)
Prayers for us are always appreciated!  Remember…God loves knee mail :)


World Vision here we come!

Sunday, January 9th, 2011

Greetings for the New Year!

January has generally been a month of recovery after a December filled with Christmas music productions, too much sugar would make for some blues.  This year I was determined to feel my best as I knew we were hitting the ground running as of the first of the year.  I am happy that I was a good girl and kept the sugar to a minimum and it is paying off with energy as we begin our partnering project with World Vision.
Now home after 4 days in Seattle, WA speaking and having our eyes opened to the wide, HUGE impact World Vision has made over the last 60 years of it’s existence.  I have read the book “Man of Vision” by Founder Bob Pierces’s daughter Marilee Pierce Dunker and I just have a taste of the breath and width of how far God has used this incredible organization.  Denny and I are beyond honored to be asked to join in the efforts of making a difference in Africa, Ethiopia in particular.  Water: What do you have if you don’t have clean drinking water.  I’ll tell you.  You have disease, hunger, devastation of community after community.
I used to wear a lapel button that simply said; 40,000 which stood for how many people die in a day from starvation.  That number has dropped and drops every year thanks to the concentration of finding clean water for the communities most effected by water deprivation.
Our water project entitled “Liquidate for Living Water” uses the tools of Kingdom Assignment 2.  Selling something of significance and giving the money to the poor.  Denny and I have been in places of leadership in the church for over 40 years now and we know what church budgets look like.  In one word “tight”.  Having to depend on offerings there is not always money to expand to the other side of the globe when you are just trying to keep your head afloat in your own community.  No surprise the economy has effected the giving in churches, but our God is a big God and He will keep making a way for all of us to serve the poor near and far.  Jesus didn’t come to be served as a King might come to expect, but to serve.
This partnering project with World Vision is rolling out this way.  Churches will not be expected to take one penny out of their own budget with this life changing event.
It’s simple:
Using the story of the Rich Young Ruler in Mark 10:17-22 ask your congregation to “Sell Something” over the following 45 days.  We will help you with ideas how to do that in an easy and uniting way, bringing your church and community together.
We will help organize a celebration or a WELL DONE event and this will be fun.
The event will be three fold:
1. This is the opportunity to bring those that have sold something to contribute to this water project for Ethiopia.
2. We will bring celebrated Christian musicians to you making the potential for this to be a city wide outreach event in your church.  We will use media to help you tell the stories of your congregants is a beautiful and moving way.
3.  One more opportunity to make a difference and that will be the chance to embrace and support a World Vision sponsor child in Western Africa, where their future is dependent on clean drinking water.  How can they learn the good news of Jesus Christ if their stomachs are growling so loud they can not hear.
My lapel button has changed and the number has gone up.  Not 40,000, but 500,000.  This is the amount of men, women and children that will be affected and have the opportunity for life giving water if we are successful in raising one million dollars toward this project.  Think of what this could do over the next 100 years as generation after generation of children grow to healthy adults.
Would your church like to be involved?  Just let us know at www.kingdomassignment.org or www.GoServeSomeone.org

bellesis-butterworthsJessie and Marisa Butterworth did a great job leading worship for us when we spoke to the staff during chapel at the World Vision Offices in Seattle, WA…what a blessing to reunite.  Marisa and our daughter Brooke were room mates at APU.  Also… where they both met their great husbands Jessie and Darren :)