Posts Tagged ‘Ministry’

American Idol: The Untold Story

Sunday, January 9th, 2011

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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 :)


Season 9-American Idol Ministry Resource…

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

Every year I always tell the Lord, I will obey.  If you want to use me to bear fruit for your Kingdom here on earth and for eternity…I’m in.  I don’t go looking for AI contestants, I just stay F.A.T. Faithful, Available and Teachable. Even though I am giving my body to Science (my last Kingdom Assignment on Earth) I do want a Grave Stone somewhere and I want it to read: “She was so F.A.T.”  :-)

This season started unexpectedly early.  I received an email from good friend Mark Joseph who had passed my info on to Byron Spradling who passed my info to  Shelley Vance out of Little Rock, Arkansas and the Mother of Songbird Charity Vance.  She needed a place for her husband “Vance” to stay while Charity was in Hollywood Week.  I called Shelley…we talked, got to pray with Charity and my love affair with the Vance family began.  Charity calls me Miss Leesa…gotta love that :-) Just say it to yourself in a cute Southern accent and well…it’s just really cute, especially since I have not been a “Miss” in over 36 years.  Shelley invited Denny and I to Hollywood Week auditions and it was such a joy to attend.  When I first met Shelley and Charity face to face.  I immediately gave her a AI Ministry Resource standard, made by my friend Deborah Harder, “Sterling Grace” Silver Bracelet which read Jer. 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans not to harm you, but to give you a hope and a future. I’ve given the bracelet to several of the AI players and have worn them on the Show, Katharine McPhee, Jordin Sparks (Jordin wore hers on every show until she won at the Finale), Paula Abdul, Kristi Lee Cook, Syesha Mercado now Charity Vance.  God’s word as a constant reminder of His love and plan for them.  Two kids that had a special place in my heart also made it to Hollywood Week and we were able to cheer them on.  Colin Benward…He calls me his CA Mama, and has worked for me at the Award Shows, Oscars, Golden Globes, Emmy’s and others.  He did so so good and he was just darling…spoken like a Mom huh?!  But so true.  As I held his Sisters had as the Judges said; step forward, step back we knew he would make it past the first round.  He didn’t…whaaat?!   My theory on that is 1) He looks just like Lee and 2) He’s from Nashville like Di Di, it definitely is not because he wasn’t good, because he WAS GOOD!  Not all the best voices make it to the top.  It is a reality show and they have many  things to consider, especially giving every state someone to be proud of and vote for.  The other favorite and friend was Michael Castro.  He is just so talented and has grown so much in the last year.  Surprised he didn’t make it further, but he made it a little further than Colin, Group Night.  Big Mike was in his group and Little Mike did great, but sadly was sent home.  Michael was so gracious, I was really proud of him.

Now on to Charity…

But hold on…off to tonight’s viewing party at the Dixon’s.  Pics and her story when I get home :-)

Yikes… I am so behind!

Saturday, July 11th, 2009

I know it really won’t matter to anyone else, but myself… but there is this pressure… you bloggers know what I mean… it’s when you have not updated your blog and you feel so behind and have no idea where to catch up.

I try to be respectful to the AI kids when they are here and not post anything until they are gone so that has been some what of my hold up.  Jason Castro’s girlfriend Mandy and Michael Castro’s girlfriend Mackenzie have been our Interns for the Kingdom Assignment for the last two months living here with us in Lake Forest… so it has been a revolving Castro door for quite some time now.  The girls parents came out and stayed at the Beach House and then here last night.  But yesterday we sent a fond farewell to the girls with a big thank you for all their help.  We gave them each a special gift of jewelry to remind them of the importance of prayer in their relationships and it was a blast to match it up to their personalities.  If you see them ask them what they got :-)

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So more pics will soon follow.  I have had some wonderful daily Billy Graham devotionals… time to share those again… whew… I am far far behind.

Okay so we are clear with a fresh start… let the blogging begin again :-)

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!

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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…

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.

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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 :-)

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…

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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!

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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!

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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!

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

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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!

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

My KA DNA Blog

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

www.kingdomassignment.org… check out our Ministry website.  

Contact me at kingdomassignment@cox.net

Jeremiah 29:11 – 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!  

I could never before reconcile having a blog that spoke of our Ministry, but still weaved in my own personal daily Kingdom Assignments… and finally I have reconciled it with this blog.  It’s my fingerprint, my DNA, my Kingdom Assignment DNA, My KA DNA.  It is what I am about. How I put God first in my life, for I am Second, He is first.  My life, my purpose is to give God glory!  I am “On Assignment” daily, many times a day and so are you.  You have your own personal KA DNA, different than mine.  It coincides perfectly with your life journey.  I love football, but I didn’t just love it one day.  It came about after my Brother was killed by a drunk driver and I tried to comfort my Dad by becoming interested in boy things, giving me the opportunity to hang with my Dad.  And slowly, but surely I became to love the rules of football.  So when you see my Fantasy Football trophy at the bottom of this page you will understand why that is a big deal to me.  We all have unique callings.  As believers they are called Kingdom Assignments…on earth as it is in Heaven.  Everything I do is ministry minded.  It may be frivolous to some, but in my heart it is all to be salt and light, where God plants me, to a world with great need.  A world that needs the salve that only Jesus can give. The fruits of the Spirit… Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, Self-Control.  I am about to celebrate my 54th Birthday and this life has been such a grand journey of joy and pain, no different than anyone else.  Thankfully God is not done with me yet and He seems to continue to have surprises for me around every corner.  I thought my life was over and my dreams were goners when miraculously in 2006 God brought a ministry with the contestants of American Idol.  See our website for the details.  So every year… I repeat what I said the first year “Here I am Lord send me”.  I tell him I do not need to do this, but if it will bear fruit them I am “on it”, I will obey!  And poof I got my first assignment for the 2009 season this last Sunday… more to come on that.  Below is a pic of the AI site.  This is the one just for the contestants, but if you want to see the public one… go to: www.aiministryresource.com

 

 

AI Ministry