The Mission 11: The StarGift Project

The Mission 11:  The StarGift Project

Photo of two women, backs to the camera, wearing royal blue and red t-shirts with the following words on the back:  StarGift Project
My daughter Jodi Lancaster and I at the Immanuel Bible Foundation Women’s Breakfast in December wearing our new StarGift Project t-shirts.

What is the StarGift Project?  It is a growing organization representing the evolution of the mission of child evangelism that God called me to, telling me “. . .to put IT into the hands of the children”, IT being a children’s story I had written in 1965.  It is God’s story, but told specifically for children through the character of a little star who could not glow.  Today, I believe God gave me this story all those years ago.  See blog “Mission 8”

The objective of the StarGift Mission is to get copies of this book to all little children. . .everywhere.

The story is like a tiny mustard seed from which great faith may grow.  So the StarGift Project is an outreach to young children to introduce them to our loving Father.

When I began to understand the mission to which I’ve been called, I recognized that this is clearly not something I can do by myself.  I do not have a network of connections to children in the U.S. let alone throughout the world.  And I do not have the resources to just have millions of copies printed to send them out in any event. I will need to build an organization to help fund and distribute books. . .to plant the mustard seeds. . .to grow children who know our loving God.

But how?

1:  How can I create a network to get the story distributed to children?

Might I be able to leverage existing organizations with such networks?  I felt it makes sense to try to leverage the mission networks of churches and non-profit organizations that serve children, rather than try to re-invent the wheel so to speak.

Now, how could I make a partnership between the StarGift Project and these organizations work not only to the benefit of the children but also to the benefit of the organizations that would distribute the books and to the StarGift Project itself?

Hold that thought for a moment.

2:  How can I get copies of the book to distribute without the financial resources needed?  The story is already a published book available on the retail market.   When the book is sold by various book stores they receive a portion of the profit of course.  But as the Author, I too receive a portion of the profit which I use to help fund the start up of another mission for developmentally disabled adults.  See Mission 1

Would it be possible to find donors, people who love the story and are moved to buy some number of copies to be distributed to children somewhere in the world?  If so, could I form a partnership between the StarGift Project and these would be donors that will benefit not only the children but the donors as well?

This story has become, for me, a gift that keeps on giving and I wanted to encourage the sharing.

My Vision:  I would try to build an organization that brings donors together with churches and other non-profits to get this story to children everywhere.   I chose to call it the StarGift Project.

  • The StarGift Project  would enable donors to purchase books at a price that is discounted from retail.  The donors would have the opportunity to choose an organization to distribute the books they purchase.  The distributing organizations would provide pictures, videos and written descriptions of distribution events so the donors could vicariously share in the joyful experience of ‘planting a mustard seed.’
  • The StarGift Project  would also enable participating churches and non-profits to use the book as a fundraiser by sharing any profit that remained after the discount to donors with them.  Perhaps groups within the church would market the book through the community to raise funds for a domestic abuse shelter.  Or perhaps they would raise money to be able to do mission work outside of their community. . .travel expenses.
  • Finally, the StarGift Project would provide support services:
    • I would develop and maintain a web site where donors could make contributions and select a participating organization to distribute their contribution.
    • Participating organizations would be granted permission upon request to use the story for Christmas presentations of music, theatre, dance etc. for children, at not cost.
    • As the author, I would make myself available to do readings for children, and to share my testimony and the mission goals with congregations and non-profit groups, at no fee.

The StarGift Project would become a non-profit organization.  So, I would try to identify people who are willing to participate on a Board of Directors or to otherwise volunteer to help build the StarGift Project, and we would file for non-profit status once we meet the qualifying criteria.

The StarGift Project Outline:  I have drafted an outline of the StarGift Project.   It is an outline, and a tentative one at that because I believe those who volunteer and are selected to sit on a Board of Directors should have input in shaping the organization.  I believe that participating churches and non-profits also should have input.  I hope that several churches and non-profit organizations will have representation on the board.  And I hope I have offered enough options that participating organizations can customize their participation to best fit their needs.

Please pray for this effort.  And if you are moved to help use the ‘contact’ information at the top of this page.

God loves you.  God provides you with gifts.  You may use these gifts to honor Him.

God bless.

The Mission 10: Transparency


Hi friends of “The Star Who Almost Wasn’t There”!

It is my desire to let everyone, who is interested, follow how these Star missions unfold;  That is, I want to be transparent in the creation of these missions.  This blog relates the steps I’ve taken and the progress made since Christmas.

Mission 1:  Put the book into the hands of all little children everywhere

Mission 2:  Start a community for developmentally disabled adults based on Lambs Farm

Mission 3:  Start a tuition free college based on College of the Ozarks

In January I met with an attorney about setting up a not for profit and funneling money into it from the sale of “The Star Who Almost Wasn’t There.”  The objective of the not-for-profit will be to work to establish missions 2 and 3.  The attorney advised me that it is cumbersome and rather expensive to set up a not-for-profit, and he directed me to an organization called Prairie Community Foundation.  The statement below is from the Prairie Community Foundation web site:

We connect people who care with causes that matter. Explore our website and let us know how we can help you fulfill your charitable goals.

Illinois Prairie Community Foundation provides a simple and powerful approach to charitable giving. We make it possible for individuals, families and organizations to custom-design their own named funds and/or support existing funds that reflect their charitable goals and interests.”

I will meet with a representative from Prairie Community Foundation later this month.

I also met with the Pastor of the Christian Church in my community  about the mission to get the book to young children.  Tim, liked the message in the book, was interested in my personal story and the opportunity for his church to share in the profits as they help to put the book into the hands of young children.

The approach is that Churches and other not-for-profit organizations can help to get the book to children everywhere through their various missions.  In addition, they can use the book as a fundraiser to help support their own missions.

As a result of that meeting, I enjoyed a breakfast meeting with four Pastors of the various churches in my community.  They too seemed interested and I have promised to send them more detailed information and to make myself available to speak to groups within their churches.

Just this weekend Roger and I had dinner with friends, the Pastor who married us, Tom and his wife Diane.  Tom has a ministry speaking at churches around the world.  I looked to him for guidance.  He gave more than guidance.  He has offered to take some books with him on a trip to see how they do.  And we will explore whether or not we can share space to market our respective materials at some venues.

There are many activities planned for this year.

  • To make the story as accessible to as many children as possible, I am working on a version that will be must less expensive to produce.  It will be a coloring book, but unlike other coloring books, this one will contain the story narrative as well as pictures to color.  So, I am also looking for good crayons that can be purchased wholesale, at the best possible price, to package with the coloring book.  Some of these books will be headed for destinations in other countries.
  • I am designing a t-shirt that will be worn by people who participate in Star events and which eventually will be available for purchase.
  • I’ve asked a friend to see if she could translate the story into Spanish
  • I met with a representative from the Baby Fold regarding participation in the Festival of Trees and the possibility of a ‘special Star event’ that might fit into the Festive venue.  She will take the idea to the appropriate committee.  So I hope to hear more about that in a month or two.

I have made a commitment to myself that when there is a need to purchase materials associated with the Star, they will be made in the U.S.A.

I was not successful at getting registered to participate in the Hearts at Home National Convention here in Normal in March.  This is the only venue I have even considered prior to June 1 [when I will have more time to work on this] because it is local.  But, I will reach out to this organization again next year!

Please consider volunteering!

I am looking for volunteers to help us get rolling!  I hope that you may find some interest here.  Please read the previous blog on volunteering and contact me if you find you have any interest.  Or consider these additional options:

  • Would you be willing to provide an introduction to the Pastor at the church you attend?
  • Perhaps you would be willing to serve as the contact for your Church if they choose to help market the book and deliver the story to children at various missions.  If you are well-organized, or if you have accounting skills, this is a great fit. 
  • Perhaps you’d like to participate in the mission to get the book to children by purchasing some copies to be donated to children at mission locations.
  • Or perhaps you have an interest in helping developmentally disabled adults or believe that the world would benefit if some college age students were able to pay for their college experience with hard work. . .and build character as part of their education.  Would you be interested in participating on a steering board?

Feel free to contact me at:


The Mission 9: Laying a Foundation in 2013 and Volunteers

Happy New Year!  Welcome to 2013, and welcome back to my site.

Have you read the earlier blogs?  If not, you may want to read them in order or this blog may not paint a vision of the activities for this new year.

We are standing on the threshold of 2013.  Most of us wonder what it will bring.  I know that for me it will be very busy and exciting, but also intimidating.

There is so much to do.  Will I initiate the right activities and in the right order?  Will I find the right words to bring together the good hearts and talent needed to lay a strong foundation for the missions I’ve outlined?  And so I ask God for help:

Dear God, give me the wisdom to see how the activities must unfold to support your work.  And please give me the words that will engage your people who have ideas, knowledge and talent to embrace the vision.  I know that You will move others to join in this magical adventure building a new generation of people who love You, providing services to enable developmentally disabled adults to contribute to the full extent of their abilities and providing an educational opportunity that helps students to build character and contribute work for their education.

[Wow.  Even just a couple of months ago, I shied from the idea of praying publicly because I felt inadequate to express my thoughts in public prayer.  What a leap!  The potter is shaping this clay, and I definitely need to be shaped.]

I hope eventually that many readers in locations throughout the world will be moved to participate in these missions.  This work is likely to create some jobs at some point.  It is yet another gift of the story that keeps giving.  But in 2013 we will have to depend largely upon volunteers to begin the work and start to lay the foundation.   In the last blog I laid out some of the activities I feel will be addressed in 2013.

Will you volunteer?

  • Do you feel moved to help get this book to the children?
  • What gifts do you have that you can volunteer?
    • Do you speak and write in languages other than English?
    • Do you have business experience to share?
    • Do you have legal knowledge of establishing not-for-profits?
    • Are you interested in participating on a steering board?
    • What other gifts would you like to contribute?
    • Would you like to work with churches and organizations in your community to spread the word and encourage them to participate in selling the book and distributing it to little children?
    • Do you enjoy advertising and marketing?
    • Do you have legal expertise?
    • Do you enjoy researching topics?  Can you volunteer some time to dig out information?
    • Are you familiar with publishing processes?  Do you know what it takes to secure an ISBN number?
    • Are you familiar with printing technologies?
    • Do you have management experience?
    • Do you have artistic talents?  Theater?  Music?


If you have found this site, please search your heart and ask God for guidance.  I am hopeful that many of you are feeling or will feel moved by spirit to join this important mission.  Please feel free to contact me via email at:

Thank you to those who volunteered services to this point:

  • Mark Burns of Great News Radio who gave me some air time and invited me to the Christian Artists and Authors Meet and Greet at the Olive Garden
  • The LeRoy Replex who sold books and held a book signing and where books may still be purchased.
  • Steve Dean who sold books at Niepagen Garden Shop in LeRoy where we are planning another book signing, and where books may still be purchased
  • LaWanda Matson, a neighbor who shared the story with women from all LeRoy churches in a presentation she gave in December.
  • Jane Sleight, who took time to help me with a book signing at the LeRoy Replex
  • Berean Book Store who held a book signing and sold books
  • Beth Sennett who provided assistance with changes to my web site
  • Contours Day Spa, Bloomington, where the book can still be purchased
  • To the many work associates and facebook friends have shared the story,helped to spread the word to their families and friends, and offered information:  Lisa Willis, Yvonne Duncan, Kirsten Feldker, Kendra Coleman, Hema Gopi, Kristin Laughlin, Melanie Blankenship, Robin Leenders, Mike Sennett, Steve Ullom, Jodi Lancaster, Butch Correll, Lori Neisler, Terie Sumrall, Frank Thomas, Barb Emmett, Charla Andrade, Ann Wheet, Kent Jarrett, Michelle Steinbacher, Karmen Riggs, Tim Johnson, Margaret DeMaio, Lori Koehler-Brown, Susan Payne, Kaye Gwin, Chad and Tiffany Emmett, Mrs. Vermillion . . .[I know as soon as I post this, I will remember those who I have missed.  Please forgive me!]

I can be contacted at the email address above if you wish to have a book signed.

May 2013 bring you some joy each day:  Good health, friendships and family relationships and good spirits.  Rejoice.

The Mission 8: Put the book into the hands of the children

Welcome once again friends. If you have been reading prior blogs, you probably know there are three missions:

  1. Put the book into the hands of the children
  2. Create a residential-work community for developmentally disabled adults  based on the model of
  3. Create a tuition free college that stresses work, character and citizenship based on the model of

Of these three missions, the first, ‘put the book into the hands of the children’ is by far the most important.

This is the mission for which God made His will known to me.  If you don’t know how that happened, please read the Backstory 5 blog where I describe this experience.   I believe my responsibility is to do everything that I can to carry out this mission.

But God needs all people of faith to participate in this mission.  And like the message of the book, God has given you gifts which you can use to serve one another and in doing so, serve Him.

We, people of faith, all need to work together to make sure that young children have the opportunity to come to know Him, that they may one day choose to follow Him.

So, below is the draft of a beginning plan to help us start.  I’m sure it’s quite naïve and I’m equally sure it will evolve as many of you offer insights and great ideas or even volunteer your gifts to His service.  He has given us a great challenge!


  1. Engaging Churches and other organizations

As we enter 2013, I will begin work to engage churches and other organizations in my community, to get the book to youngsters.  It should become a prized possession to be read over and over; to be absorbed.  And hopefully many churches and organizations will be moved to serve this mission.

  •  I have committed to contribute a portion of the Author’s profit to this number one mission as well as to the other two missions that have captured my heart.
  • I will also share the Author’s portion of the profit with any church or organization that chooses to participate in getting the books to the children.
    • Church groups can create a mission of their own and raise funds to distribute copies of the book to children in their community or to send them to other locations.
    • Many churches and organizations have mission groups that have to fund their trips.  These groups can choose to sell the books to help fund the mission.  In short, this can be a fundraiser for non-profit activities.  At the same time, they can ask that people who want to participate in getting the book into the hands of children, purchase an additional book or books to be given out to the children during their mission experience.

2. Increasing accessibility to the story

 As an Artist and Author, I will work to create a version of the story that can be produced more economically to make the book accessible to more children.

This version was created with colorful illustrations to draw children in.  At the time, I did not yet know of God’s mission.  Printing in full color process is rather expensive and that is reflected in the retail price.

I don’t want to forgo color, but black and white is far more economical.  So I am thinking I will create the full story as a coloring book, reducing the illustrations to line drawings.   A benefit to this is that the same child may be excited to get the coloring book for several years and as their coloring skills improve, they create an updated version.  To make this happen, I will be trying to find crayons to be packed with the coloring book.  The crayons must be economical as well, but still provide rich color.  So there is some research to be done and perhaps some negotiating.

      3. Research

 And there is more research that needs to happen.  I want to learn what is required to obtain an ISBN number and what different printing techniques are available and at what cost.  Clearly, there is more work than I can accomplish by myself.

      4. Creative outreach!

  •  I have already reached out to the pre-school program at my own church and encouraged the staff to consider putting on the first ‘play’ based on “The Star Who Almost Wasn’t There.”
  • I’ve brainstormed a ‘flashmob’ event for next year combining music and the story and hope I can get a mall to agree to the event.
  • I am planning a Christmas Tree design for our local Festival of Trees that raises funds for the Baby Fold.  The tree will be decorated with all stars created by children and creative supporters of this mission.  And I hope I can fashion a shining star in the image of “The Star Who Almost Wasn’t There” for the top.
  • I will try again, to engage many people in creating youtube videos that feature this story.  As we spread this story, we spread His word for little children

5. Transparency

I have stated that I am committed to contribute a portion of the Author’s profit to these missions.  Before I started on the path to publication, I prayed for guidance in this.  You see, I feel that this is God’s story, not mine.  And I asked God, as I have many times in the past, what portion I am entitled to.  I told God that I expect to be fine in retirement but I want to help my grandchildren with their higher-education goals.  And this time, I receive profound ‘peace’ in response to my prayer.

So I want to be very clear:  I do intend to use a portion of the profit to put away for my grandchildren, some of whom are struggling with college expenses now, others have quite a few years yet to go.

But in 2013 I intend to work with an attorney to establish the best mechanism, Not-for-profit or Foundation etc., to ensure that a portion of the Author’s profit is allocated to fund these missions.  I want all participants to be able to access information about the financial state of these missions.

This story has been a gift and one that keeps on giving.  I am certain that at some point, these missions will generate jobs and hopefully put a few people to work.  And then the gift I’ve been given will give back again.

God is at work.  And helping to do His work is a JOY!

May you all find wonder and joy and peace this Christmas.

The Mission 7: A Tuition-Free College for Illinois

Welcome again.  I’m so pleased that you are interested in learning more about my mission.  It is really a mission of three parts.  The first is the mission to share the story of God’s love with all little children everywhere.  The second is the mission to facilitate the creation and development of a residential and work community for developmentally disable adults based on the model of Lambs Farm of Libertyville, Il.

The third is a mission to facilitate the creation of a tuition-free college based on the model of College of the Ozarks in Missouri.

College of the Ozarks is a Christian liberal arts college.  It is self-described as ‘Hard Work U.’ While students do not pay tuition, they are required to work on campus.  But there are other important goals as well.


  • Don’t Pay Tuition
  • Work for an Education
  • Graduate Without Debt
  • Develop Character
  • Value God and Country

Please take the time to follow the link about and click on each goal listed on the home page for a complete description.

Now, you may be curious as to why this college stands out for me as a model.  It has something to do with my personal history.

I feel that I was very fortunate to be able to ‘go away’ to college and live on campus.  In 1964 when I started at ISU, there were no co-ed dorms, but there were curfews.  We ladies had to be in the dorm at 10:00 on week nights and 10:30 on weekends.  It was a different time.  And I feel that made it a safe environment to learn to live life and mature from a high-school graduate who had been quite protected growing up, to a responsible and self-sufficient adult.  I loved my time in college as an undergrad.

But going away to college was a special opportunity in my family, one that I didn’t really understand at first.  My parents did not attend college but encouraged education.  And my three brothers all started at community college in Chicago and worked part time to pay for their education.

I always knew that I wanted to go to college.  And I didn’t even imagine myself going to a community college.  I only envisioned going away to school somewhere.  I know that I was quite naive because I’m quite sure I didn’t consider the costs of tuition or other expenses as I ‘dreamed’ up my college experience.

I applied for a few colleges, some out of state, but that wasn’t even considered by my parents. I didn’t realize it at the time but out of state tuition was simply not in any realistic budget.  I think I may have been accepted at one out of state school because I remember being enlightened by my Father who explained to me that going out of state was much more expensive and more than he and my Mother could pay.  In the end, I went to ISU, one of our State Universities, because an older cousin had graduated from there, and I think my parents felt comfortable with that little familiarity.

I also started college the day after my high-school graduation.  At that time Chicago high schools graduate two classes a year, one in January and one in June.  I was a January graduate.  So I started college in the middle of the year.

The night of my graduation, my Uncle/Godfather and Aunt stopped by the house to wish me well.  They found me home alone and crying.  I was crying because I had just learned that my parents had taken out a second mortgage on their house to cover my dorm and expenses.  I’m not sure I even understood exactly how a mortgage worked but I did understand that they had risked something to provide me this opportunity.  And there was suddenly a huge weight on my shoulders.  What if I hated it?  What if I did not do well?  What then?  How could I come home?  I was trapped.

But it had been set in motion and the next morning my parents and I rose early for the 3 plus hour road trip to move me to my first college dorm.

You will understand how thankful I am that by the end of the first day, I loved being there.  And I never looked back.

So you see I recognize what a blessing my parents gave me in providing this opportunity.  My education has served me well, and I somehow grew up and began to take responsibility as I learned to manage my life on campus.

Flash forward!  Today I have 15 grandchildren.  I’d like each of them to have the experience of going away to school, if they would like to do so.  But their parents, like mine, are really pressed to finance that.  So the older ones are struggling to get their education in whatever way they can.  And many of them are resistant to taking on a large debt load.  While that shows good sense in my opinion, it is hampering their ability to get the full educational experience that I feel was so valuable to me.

I would like to help them if I can make that possible.  So when I learned about College of the Ozarks on a TV program, it got my attention.  I couldn’t stop thinking about this program.  I encouraged the older grandchildren to look into it.  Since it is in another state I have no idea what chance they might have to be accepted.

And of course that led me to ask myself, “Why don’t we have something like this in Illinois?”  Mind you,  I appreciate our community college system.  But not only do I think it is good for some young people to get out a bit on their own, but the program at College of the Ozarks has goals of building character and love and respect of country!  That is the kind of education I’d like to see my grandchildren and their children have access to.

And what I want for my grandchildren, I want to help make available to our community.  So this mission has been on my mind for a couple of years.

The creation of a tuition-free college based on the model of College of the Ozarks is the third part of what I believe my mission to be.

And how do I think I can facilitate these missions?  Well it is not a one-person job, that’s for sure.  So in my next blog, I’ll share my thoughts on how I hope to get these missions started.  And I hope you will join me for the ride as this part of the story unfolds.





The Mission 6: A Life Community for Developmentally Disabled Adults

If you have read the blogs in Back Story, you know that my mission is to put this book, “The Star Who Almost Wasn’t There” in the hands of all little children everywhere.  But that mission has many goals much like the roots of a plant.

This story that began as a gift and has generated many gifts as it was created, should keep giving.  A portion of profits from this story will go into the funding of a Not-For-Profit organization.

Works created by this organization will depend on a volunteer force and will not be dependent upon government funds.  This does not mean we will not utilize government grants where they are available.  But it does mean that no service will be funded by government funds to the degree that the success of the service is dependent upon these funds.

Hopefully, this blog will touch persons in other communities who recognize the gifts that they have received from God and who also will choose to use their gifts to fund good works in their own communities.

The first of the good works I hope to help fund is a ‘residential/work community for developmentally disabled adults.’

Continue reading The Mission 6: A Life Community for Developmentally Disabled Adults