Posts Tagged ‘Danny Gokey’

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 :)


Prayer for new AI Contestants-American Idol Article

Thursday, August 19th, 2010

‘American Idol’s’ Christian connection

Mega-churches across the country’s heartland have served as the training grounds for many of the Fox show’s contestants, with parishioners doing their part with prayers and text votes.

By Scott Collins, Los Angeles Times

May 23, 2010

She isn’t employed by the show and viewers never see her sparring with Simon Cowell. But Leesa Bellesi exerts her own kind of pull on “American Idol,” Fox’s top-rated singing contest that has a unique if often-unstated link to Christian churches.

Bellesi, who runs a Christian nonprofit in Lake Forest with her Pastor husband, visits tapings frequently, has befriended numerous finalists and helps wrangle funds and scout temporary housing for families who trek cross-country to see relatives perform on “Idol.” Bellesi said that churches form a base for the young singers as they try to win votes and establish fan bases. Half of the Top 10 last season were worship leaders in their churches, she said.

“Most of the kids that have been really successful on ‘American Idol’ have that huge support of their church that’s pushed them — they’ve had a lot of voting and things like that,” said Bellesi, who has no official connection to the show (a spokesperson for the producers said he had never heard of her) but was spoken of as an unofficial patron by former finalists Danny Gokey, Jason Castro and others.

Read it in it’s entirety at:

Sorry for the late posting. Posting of anything since May.  By the time this article came out I was pretty whooped preparing for the  2010 WELL DONE Awards, see it at:  KA Kingdom Assignment Home or go to www.kingdomassignment.org although fantastic…still exhausting.  Shortly after I was rear ended on the 5 fwy re-injuring my neck uugghhh…and my Dad broke his hip giving cause to be on the 5 fwy a lot more.
But thankfully things are calming down and with AI Auditions happening weekly in a town near you it has given me the opportunity and privilege to pray for the hopefuls when they call.  What I have found over the last 5 years of this AI Ministy is that God does truly love us and for some strange reason cares about prayers concerning American Idol, I know because I have seen the results.  Bottom line He is waiting for us to come to Him over any little concern we might have.  Just admitting that you need God near makes Him come near and comfort the disappointed and give wisdom to the ones that make it through that first round, which is close to impossible by the way.  Many great singers have not made it past that first grueling overnight crazy audition.  I have seen it first hand and it can be shocking, but “it is what it is” (try not to over analyze) and you can be sure if you don’t make it it is for your own protection and would put a wrench on the other fantastic future He has for you just around the corner.

Note: Keep reminding yourself what a privilege it is just to have the opportunity to audition.  That you have a voice to share.  Many don’t.  My best friend has no arms or legs and he never complains…EVER! Life Without Limbs :: Nick Vujicic So just be happy you can drive or walk yourselves to the audition location.  It’s a gift to be alive…right!  Then make a point of meeting and enjoying the people around you.  Many have made life long friendships with those they have stood in line with.  When I went to support a friend I experienced this.  A few around us that we befriended made it to the top 24 and are still friends.  What a blessing just to be a part of it all.  Be in the moment and feel the joy and anticipation.

I heard great advice the other day. “If you feel that feeling in your stomach, you know that feeling…the one that makes you feel like you are going to hurl or double over.  It means you are about to do something very special so enjoy the ride.”

Also…do not complain to the Producers about the  heat, your exhaustion, your voice not being right, your song…be positive and hopefully they will be too.  You are being watched :-)

Love to you all…I will pray for you if you ask.  Write me at kingdomassignment@cox.net – If you give me your phone number I will text you little encouragements, which is what I have been doing this morning to those in San Francisco.  I’ll call and pray with you too if you would like.

God’s richest blessings!  Leesa

Yes… Danny Gokey’s Mom’s is my newest friend!

Tuesday, May 19th, 2009

Check out the latest Article on the AI Ministry and the WELL DONE Awards, Sunday May 31st at the Grove of Anaheim… do not miss it :-)

Danny Gokey clan hanging in the OC – Offbeat OC – OCRegister.com

No… I am not Danny Gokey’s Mom…

Friday, May 15th, 2009

But thank you for the compliment :-)  On Tuesday of this AI week I was invited to sit with Danny’s family. His Sisters, Angie, Janell, Gina and Tracey had all been out to stay with us (see post below) and then a few weeks later their Husbands (Danny’s Bro in Laws) Rick, Rob and Brandon, sans one (Janell’s Husband Tony) arrived.  I was honored and privileged to be asked to sit with the family and represent for “the Danny” as we, no I guess it’s just me, likes to call him.  

I sat next to Kris’ Dad Neil and the rest of his clan… so nice… such a wonderful family.  I noticed the AI Camera was there a lot, but having done this before I knew that that meant nothing and that the “booth” makes those decisions and that they might take a quick shot of the family when Danny sang, and that would be it.   When I got out of the show my phone was flooded with “oh my goodness” they showed you more than the Kadarshian Sisters, no, more than Simon, no, more than Adam…right… I have funny friends…. I have not watched the show back yet, can’t bring myself to do it… too embarrassing… all I can do is laugh about it and hope I did not look too much like a dork…. so back to the point of this post.  

The next day, at Wednesday’s Show, the sweetest people came up to me with this look, this gentle, precious look and these same words, as they took my hand, moved in close and said; Hi… “Are you Danny’s Mom”? “Oh no just a friend I would respond”. They would go on,”Well they showed you so many times on Tuesday… I was just sure that you were his Mom”.  Understandably, curiosity would get the best of them… “well then WHO ARE YOU they would eventually ask”… which gave me opportunity to tell them about the AI Ministry and the Kingdom Assignment and the WELL DONE Awards.  By the end we had exchanged information and were friends for life :-)  

That is the way I roll people!  If I am given an opportunity to brag about my Lord and Savior I am going to take it.  No one is going to get away from me with out hearing how much I love Jesus and if they don’t love Him already, it’s my hope that someday they will love Him too… rock on AI Ministry… rock on!

ai-dannys-bro-in-laws

The Guys…Rick, Brandon, Rob on Tuesday night after watching Danny’s rendition of “You Are So Beautiful”.  I seriously used to hate (that’s too strong, let’s say highly dislike) the Joe Cocker version and now… well now, after hearing “the Danny” version, it is one of my favorites.  Go Gokey Go! iTunes download for sure…

ai-dannys-bros-with-leesaWhat handsome boys… fun and in the moment of it all :-) Smile Brandon Smile… “I am Smiling”…

ai-dannys-bros-at-balboa-benchOkay.. if you will scroll down you will see the Gokey Girls doing this same pose… had to get it with the guys… it was my goal… Sweetie thank you for filling in for Tony… you are such a good sport!  Note: Denny and I also celebrated 35 years of marriage this last week.  Honey… you are such a gift to me… okay now I’m crying…

AI Scary with Sweet Surprises

Thursday, May 7th, 2009

Stream of consciousness…Crazy day at American Idol this week… Tuesday Margie , Lizette and I made our way into the line for the performance show… it was an especially hot day… I was dressed in all black… what was I thinking… after an hour of standing in the line longer than most… the CBS Page told us it had been a strange day… just to hold on.  Hold on we did as Ambulances started filing into the sound stage and then right behind me a young girl fainted… more ambulances… more medics… we filed in an hour late…. got our wristbands… turned in our phones to then hear we weren’t getting in… bummer, but that we instead would get tickets to the finale to make up for it… nice :-)  Heard today that Stage Manager Debbie just needed stitches, but it was a very very serious fall.  Thanking God for a good report…the young girl also made it back into the line only to not get in… all was well with her…Margie made it in and had many ministry opportunities and fun surprises as I did out on the street… met these two fantastic people (below)… became quick friends… they attend the Dream Center where Danny is attending right now and had also NOT gotten in… was there to root for the Danny…as we talked found out Adrian is a singer and he busted it out… fantastic… while Sherry is a Red Carpet Photographer.  They both asked what can they could do to help at the WELL DONE Awards… what a wonderful surprise to find the replacement singer I needed and the Red Carpet Photographer I had prayed for just that morning out on the street… God is so good… gotta have eyes to see and anticipate them… their coming at us all the time… Please enjoy this string of pics from the last two weeks at AI.sheri-signSinger and Photographer Adrian and Sheri… my new friends I met on the street after we all “did not” get in to AI… God had other things in mind for us…what a blessing :-)

sheriUnexpected prayer time out side CBS…

ai-lineBeautiful pic of Sherry (Danny’s Cousin) waiting in line for the Dress Rehearsal two weeks ago… what a blast :-)

margie-and-meHad to…couldn’t miss this opportunity to do one of our JUMP SHOTS with the CBS sign in the background… were 50 something and happy :-)

ai-girls-jumpConvincing the others was not difficult…

girlsLysa, Jenn, Sherry, Margie, Jenn and Lizette’s famous sign…ai-lizette-with-sistersThis sign has a life of it’s own… everyone seems to want to pose with it… Lizette,Damadis and Lezzit (Sophia Gokey’s Sisters) Sherry (Danny’s Cousin)… later that night the girls introduced Lizette to her favorite American Idol Danny… fun memory huh girl…

friendsAI Home Girls….ai-margie-5th-graderOkay… so Margie got into AI Tuesday Night… while she was there she over heard an associate Producer talking about auditions for “Smarter Than a 5th Grader”… my Reality Star friend… remember “Mama Fogal” (google it) piped up… gave her a copy of her book “Tales of Crazy Pastor’s Wife” and right there on the spot the Producer auditioned her, fell in love with our Margie, gave her her card, told her to call the next day…which Margie did today and tomorrow Thursday Margie has a audition in front of the other Producers to be a contestant on “Smarter than a 5th Grader” …woo hoo… Margie you’re amazing….and God is so good… He loves to surprise us…

Gokey Girls in the House

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

What can I say… when I picked up the Gokey Girls (all 4 of Danny Gokey’s Sisters) at the Airport in Orange County I was in for a good time. It was the first time EVER that they have been on a vacation just the 4 of them.  They love taking pictures, they love laughing, they love laughing, they love their families and they are understandably super proud of their brother Danny.   Their parents did a fantastic job raising them… I could not believe how much they liked each other… the pictures say it all.

bananas1

I insist…first stop… Frozen Banana’s on Balboa Island…

benchI think they have done this before :-) Tracey, Gina, Janell and Angie

gokey-girls-in-whitePretty in white… Babies due to Tracey and Janell in a few months… praying for easy labors girls.

refineryI don’t know how this picture came to be… but I love it and the moment was hysterical… as you will see in this next picture… these darling girls became my trick ponies… I would say come on girls let’s do this and they would enthusiastically say… okay let’s do that…

jumping2Seriously… they did this over and over again…. I was like… Girls, you’re pregnant …  and they would say let’s do it again :-) nice form… huh!!

securityLong (happy ending) story after Janell’s purse is stolen out of my car at Saddleback Church.  Thanks to the excellent Security work… purse, wallet (sans money), perpetrator found… quite a bonding adventure wasn’t it girls…

el-capitanLater that night… Danny with his Sisters… Happy B-Day Danny!

hollywood-starHollywood and Highland… 

danny-jumpingLet’s jump with Danny… okay :-)

meHappy!!!   Girls… Mama Lee, as you named me loves you and I miss your wonderful, rich, true, honest, infectious laughs and sweet faces.  Your ability to find humor and beauty in everything makes me smile daily… come back soon :-)

Sophia’s Sweet Family

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

Sophia Martinez  Gokey was one of  four Sisters.  We got the privilege of hosting another Sister, Margarita with Ivan, Petto and Marilyn (Mari)… Don’t miss the jumping shot… it is one of my favorites…

martinez-family

marilyn-petto-margarita-ivan-jumpingWhoa!  Nice height  :-)

See below to meet more of Sophia’s family.  And please check out Sophia’s Foundation at:  www.sophiasheart.org

AI Ministry Resource Update

Wednesday, April 15th, 2009

What began as an unspoken dream and a silent prayer has now become a full blown ministry, proving God hears our thoughts and listens to our wildest of prayers. Forgive me as I reflect on the last four years and how God has brought something my way that only He could of done in the most beautiful and creative of ways.  As of today Denny and I and our ministry partners have had the privilege of meeting the needs of 9 American Idol contestants families affecting over 75 people with flights, lodging, meals on the road, meals in our home, game nights (Apples to Apples :) , rides to and fro, gasoline to make it from state to state, lots of prayer circles, scripture bracelets to remind of God’s love for them… all round good stuff.

A big thank you to:  Janet and Dave Brown, Nicole and Earl Reed, Dee Dee and Paul Dirks and their kids, Deborah and Gary Harter, Margie and Brad Fogal, Diana and Jerry LaMont, Suzette and Charlie Schafer for their faithfulness to this ministry.  Couldn’t do it without you… no way!

Prayer requests:  Please pray for Scott MacIntyre’s Sister Katelyn.  On Friday April 17th she will be having kidney transplant surgery.  Please pray for Katelyn’s and her donors quick recovery.  Continued support of Sophia’s Heart Foundation.

Below are some of my latest favorite pics…

saddleback

Danny Gokey’s In-Laws at Saddleback Church with the coolest, Youth Director….Josh Griffin…

josh Us jumping for joy… you go Josh… nice height…. truly :-)  Everyone… nice effort!

montage

Sweet and wonderful, Ana (Sophia’s Mom) Damadis (Sophia’s Sister) Sophia’s Cousins, Amadis and Kimmy.  At the Montage Hotel… had to show them the view… I love these ladies … ahh I miss you girls… but you’re coming back soon!

ai-friends

Friends we met along the way after a day at American Idol… what a blast… Oklahoma, Illinois, San Diego… we all still stay in touch.

amberCinderella and Amber even came and stayed the night before their 24 hour trip back home to Okalahoma… home for Easter morning…. sweeeeet!

ai-dream-center

A night of fellowship and great preaching at the Dream Center in LA.  Danny’s family with Dream Center Pastor Matthew Barnett.

macintyre-girls

Picked up Carole MacIntrye, Katelyn MacIntrye from LAX last Wednesday.  They met up with Scott’s Music Teacher visiting from Canada when they checked into their hotel.  Fantastic, gracious and precious people they are… if you look up “nice” in the dictionary the MacIntyre’s family picture is there :-)  Return trip thanks to Dee Dee and Paul Dirks… thanks guys!

ai-leesa-and-danny

What a warm and gracious guy… just like you see him on TV… authentic and real!

Finally… new post!

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

It has been 15 days since my last post due to “computer photo adding issues” and then was sick for, going on, two weeks now.  But as you will see this cough and cold did not hold me back from having a full birth month.  My family party was a blast, Tea Party with Camy, Baseball games with Caeden, Emily’s 1st B-day, Beach House stay by Danny, Suzanne, Emmy and Jake from Lakepoint Church in Rockwall, TX, Visit by Jason, Betsy and Jackie Castro, Lunch with my Homies… Lysa, Terry and Claudine, Spa B-Day with my Girls… Brookie and Talie…. one of the best days of my life… really, a day uninterrupted with my girls… yipee! Denny and I enjoyed watching friends Jerry and Brenda Wilkinson’s son Keith win the National Championship for USC’s Basketball team…. how cool was that! :-) Fellow worship leaders with Danny Gokey at his church made a visit.  Destiny and Yadi drove 39 hours and stayed with us in Lake Forest… precious girls!  Great prayer time, Balboa Island Frozen Banana’s (my fav), Montage Resort visit, Josh Griffin (Youth guy at Saddleback Church) meeting at the Refinery, waved goodbye and sent them to stay with Diana Carreno so they could hang with Danny in LA.  They made so many new friends and went so many new places… back on the road again… be safe girls.  They will be back for the WELL DONE Awards and do back up… awesome.  So here are the pics to follow the words.
castros-and-me-at-beach-house1

 

bobo-and-caeden-at-the-game2
family2

b-day-with-homies2

castros-at-the-beach-house4

tea-party-with-camy

destiny-and-yadi3

jason-betsy-jackie-castro1

destiny-and-yadi4

with-brookie-and-talie-on-my-b-day

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img_66081

wilkinsons-at-the-usc-game

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