Posts Tagged ‘Pastors’

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

Beach House News… your perfect vacation spot!

Saturday, July 11th, 2009

Denny and I found a little time to get away at our Beach House, or KARC (Kingdom Assignment Retreat Center) in Laguna for the first time in two years over the 4th of July… it was beautiful!  We have been giving it away for ministry to Pastoral weary travelers and American Idol families for so long that we have not been able to take advantage of it ourselves.

So many people have asked us if they could rent out the Beach House, but it just hasn’t seemed right…until now.  Surprisingly by renting it out, besides it meeting a personal financial need for us, it has opened up a whole new opportunity in ministry that we never expected.  This place has been a gift to us and so many.  In this home many prayers have been prayed and answered, books have been put to paper and written words and melodies have been turned into published songs for all to enjoy.   I think I can safely say it is an “inspiring“ location with it’s quiet 180 degree view of the Pacific Ocean with just a 5 minute walk to Montage’s pristine Beach.  The walls and plaques laced with scripture every where you look makes it such a wonderful and restful place for people to truly get a time of focus on spiritual things during a respite away.

It is so affordable compared to Hotel living.  If you have friends coming out for vacation, business or maybe a conference at Saddleback or Mariners Churches this could really be a great alternative.  You might even consider it for your own vacation.
It may just be a few miles away, but it feels like it could be thousands.

We posted it on the website VRBO.com (vacation rental by owner) #251726.  Right away calls came in from as far as New York and Canada resulting in everyday, until the middle of August, becoming booked.
Please check us out at www.vrbo.com/251726   
beach-house-living-room

There are more pictures on the site at www.vrbo.com/251726

Also… if you receive this and have had the opportunity to stay at the Beach House will you write a review for us?
Go to our site www.vrbo.com/251726 and click on “Guest Comments” then click on “View All Comments”.  There it gives you an opportunity to post a comment.  Maybe you just were there for dinner with us and didn’t stay over night, or were there for a meeting, if you could write a short little comment about the place we would be ever so grateful.

Glory to God for all He has done!!!

God’s richest blessings to you, your family and your daily assignments for Him – Leesa and Denny