Monday, January 29, 2024

Rolling Through Memories: A Tribute to Martin's Potato Rolls and Portraits of White


With their generous support, Martin's Potato Rolls and Bread played a significant role in making the 2023 Portraits of White tenth year milestone celebration a reality. Their commitment to excellence and community continues to shine through, and we are incredibly grateful for their partnership over the years.

We extend our deepest gratitude to Martin's for their invaluable contribution in supporting the talented musicians of South Central Pennsylvania. Their partnership not only enhances the experience for our audience but also strengthens our mission of promoting local music and fostering artistic growth in our community.

Here's a little bit more about how supportive Martin's have been, not just to Portraits of White, but to the life of my family, my music and my community...

It Started with Sundaes and Radios

My journey as an artist has been deeply intertwined with Martin's Famous Potato Rolls. During my teenage years, Martin's Family Restaurant and Martin's Famous Pastry Shoppe (on Lincoln Way in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania), became a beloved spot for my mother and me. The moments we spent there, savoring hot fudge sundaes or pastries, became treasured memories.

Lloyd and Lois Martin, the founders of Martin's, not only delighted customers with their pastry dough (and hot fudge sundaes), but they also played a crucial role in helping minister Charlie B. Byers fulfill his vision of sharing a radio broadcast with Chambersburg. In addition to baking, the Martins had a love for music and radio.

Lloyd and Lois supported Charlie by building a studio in their home, equipped with recording equipment for the broadcast. Charlie's radio show became a cherished part of my mother's family Sundays. Between the radio broadcast and the pastry shoppe, you could say that Lloyd, Lois, and Charlie supplied nourishment to souls and tummies.

Many years later, thanks to Charlie's broadcast, I got my first chance to do an official music recording in a studio near Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. That experience changed my music life – forever.

From Rolls to Flakes

Fast forward to "Portraits of White" 2017, year number four of my vision to bring my Christmas album to life on stage, accompanied by a full orchestra. Excitedly, the dream was materializing – at a hefty cost of over $50K a year. Ticket sales never covered the cost of the event so I had to find ways to make up for that deficit. To help give you some perspective, in 2022, ticket sales covered 65% of the cost of the event. In those days, I was paying for it by doing smaller concerts and working part-time at a church.

When a friend noticed the financial weight I was carrying, he suggested that I find sponsors – and in his kindness, offered to help me. He got the snowball of sponsorships rolling. Eventually, under the direction of a wealth advisor, I put together a plan that would enable me to find sponsorships to keep my dream going every year. 

I eventually let go of the part-time job so I could focus solely on my dream. Merry Christmas!

Enter Martin's Potato Rolls. In 2017, Martin's became one of the premier sponsors for my "Portraits of White" event. Lloyd and Lois Martin's legacy rolls on! And once again, Martin's agreed to be a prominent sponsor for "Portraits of White" 2023. That's seven years in a row!! 

Thank you, Martin's!

Experience speaks volumes, and there's no better testament than testimonials and event videos. We're excited to share all three videos from the Portraits of White 2023 event, held at The Inn At Ragged Edge, providing you with an insightful glimpse into the experience.

Wednesday, October 18, 2023

Snowy Serenades: Celebrating a Decade of 'Portraits of White' Winter Magic Part 1

Pursuing your dreams requires a unique blend of tenacity and flexibility. You have to dream big while working very hard.


Tenacity is the determination to achieve your goals, providing the drive to stay committed even in the face of challenges, especially when it seems that dreams are slipping away.


Flexibility is the ability to adapt and change course when needed and is essential for navigating unexpected obstacles and seizing new opportunities. Flexibility in learning from failure and setbacks allows you to adjust your approach and continue moving forward. Overcommitment to one at the expense of the other can hinder progress and hind adaptability.

Throughout my musical journey, I've plunged into the world of music, the intricacies of the music industry, the boundless creativity it offers, and the sheer tenacity needed to persevere. It's a journey that's filled me with stories to tell, and while I may write that book someday, right now, we're in for a different treat.

Get ready to celebrate the monumental TENTH year of the Portraits of White Winter Concert. Join me on a winter journey back in time and delve into the stories behind the creation of the album that ignited the cherished holiday Christmas concert tradition. You'll witness a glimpse of 'back in the day' when the concert was a mere idea, unformed. The focus at that time was on preparing the album for release.

In my upcoming Snowy Serenades Series of videos, we'll revisit the enchanting melodies and the frosty charm of this classic album. With footage from the archives, you'll be transported to a cozy winter wonderland, where you can relive the magic that 'Portraits of White' brings to this season. 

Enjoy Part 1 of the Snowy Serenade Video Series...

Sunday, September 24, 2023

I Can Pray

My family is no stranger to tragedy. My mother’s first husband died after only two years of marriage. He was knocked off the scaffolding while building a silo for her father. He survived for a few days in a coma, but then died. She was a widow at age twenty-five, left with their seven-month-old son, Doug.

After seven years of widowhood, she met and married my father. Together, they had four children, of whom I am the youngest. Sadly, my brother, Nathan, born less than two years before me, drowned in our farm pond at the age of two, just a few days after his birthday.

When I was seven, I remember the pastor coming to our farm to give us the news of yet another tragedy. Doug, my oldest brother, had been killed on a farm where he worked. They found him pinned underneath a tractor, unsure of the exact details of what happened. He was so badly bruised they had a closed-casket funeral.

The next year, my mother’s father died of a bleeding ulcer. Two years later, her mother died from a stroke. Death kept ringing the family doorbell. I wanted it to go away.

Every family has stories. In our family, understandably, it seemed like death was my mother’s central subject. I absorbed the tragic stories like a sponge. Nobody seemed to notice. We all had our own pain.

As if talking about death weren’t enough, we’d go and visit family graves on the holidays. Now that’s quite a holiday tradition for a little girl! In my mind, it felt like we owned half of the cemetery—a city block of graves. Each visit, while my mother stood there looking at the names of my brothers, grandparents, and other loved ones, I was looking at her tombstone. Her birthdate was listed, but the death date remained ominously blank, waiting to be filled in. Each time, I’d turn away, anxious to get out of there.

The blank space on her gravestone is now filled in: September 24, 2014.

While she lived, she clung to the power of prayer. I believe this is what carried her through the tumultuous years. On less tragedy-stricken days, we’d pray about simple things, and that’s how I learned to pray. Almost every Wednesday night it seemed, just before prayer meetings at church, the cows would get out of the barnyard. We’d pray that they’d come back home. It seemed to work. It was good prayer practice.

A few years ago, I was asked to sing for a local National Day of Prayer event. As I thought about the many songs I could sing, I was dissatisfied. It wasn’t that there weren’t any good songs to choose from, I just felt they weren’t saying what I wanted to convey. So, naturally, I set out to change that by writing my own. But as I tried to write, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t find any words. Even with the long list of tragedies our family experienced and the way my mother modeled prayer, I still came up with nothing.

Then another tragedy happened. But this time, it wasn’t my family that suffered. News came of a tragic vehicle accident involving a young boy I knew. Drawing from the empathetic sadness rising up inside me, I pondered how the mother and sister of this young boy would be feeling in the days, months, and years to come. Their journey would be anything but easy.

I Can Pray

by Frances Drost

Her little baby died today

They couldn’t bring him back they say

And she never had a chance to say goodbye

She cries

They said it was an accident

But now she blames herself for it

And there’s nothing I can say

That can take away her pain

And set her free

But I can pray

I can reach heaven for her heart

I can pray

To Someone who knows more than I

And understands the painful part of living

Even when I don’t

I can pray

His little heart is torn in two

They say his mom and dad are through

And they’ve tried to make it clear

It’s not his fault

No matter what they try to say

He’s still feeling like he’s to blame

So I take his tiny hand

Try to help him understand

But it’s no use

But I can pray

I can reach heaven for his heart

I can pray

To Someone who knows more than I

And understands the painful part of living

My earthly words take hold with power from on high

And make a difference in this life, somehow

I can pray

I can reach heaven for his heart

I can pray

To Someone who knows more than I

And understands the painful part of living

Even when I don't

I can pray

Copyright © 2022 by Frances Drost.
All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form.

This story was taken from the book, Inside Things. The book and CD are available for purchase here.


Thursday, September 21, 2023

Transforming Goals: Unveiling The Strangest Secret to Personal and Tangible Success

In 2018, my co-host Pam and I left the comfort of our little South Central Pennsylvania homes and ventured out to the Podcast Movement conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Our podcast, "Brand New Me," was our labor of love—an avenue for two passionate women to share our life experiences and inspire others. Life had thrown its fair share of challenges our way, but podcasting offered a unique opportunity to blend our stories and encourage those seeking a fresh start.

Podcast Movement 2018 - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

As the conference neared its end, our minds were buzzing with newfound knowledge and inspiration. We debated whether we could absorb any more insights. However, the allure of Dan Miller's workshop was too compelling to resist. 

Podcast Movement Speakers
Dan Miller

Having already heard some of his captivating stories and followed his podcast, I knew staying was the right choice. While valuable tools and resources are essential, there's nothing quite like concluding days of learning with a captivating narrative. 

Dan had a story that deeply resonated with me—a farm boy raised in a conservative environment who embraced positive messages that transformed his life. Sitting in that room, listening to him in person, took his stories to a whole new level.

As the workshop drew to a close, Dan graciously opened the floor to questions. My innate curiosity and thirst for knowledge compelled me to raise my hand, my heart pounding with anticipation.

"What if you've been avidly listening to motivational speakers and podcasts, yet you still feel like nothing is working?" I asked, my frustration palpable. I braced myself for a complex, multi-step answer.

"Keep listening," he replied simply.

Huh? That was not the response I had anticipated.

But I heeded his advice. I continued to listen. And I'm still listening today. Things have started to click, and I'm finally getting it. It's changing my life.

Nearly three years ago, I joined Dan's 48 Days Eagles Community, and that's when everything began falling into place. Stimulated and inspired by other people who want to thrive in life, I found a place where I could find support as I began to implement the positive messages I had been listening to. One of those messages that changed Dan's life (and is changing mine), is Earl Nightingale's message, The Strangest Secret.

Sheila Davis (Dan's assistant), Frances Drost, Dan and Joanne Miller – Franklin, Tennessee
Eagles Innovation Event 2023

This October, I'm excited to share some of the powerful tools that have aided me in my journey towards achieving my life goals. Some of these goals are tangible, while others are intangible, but I've discovered that the transformation I'm undergoing on my path to achieving them is more fulfilling than the goals themselves. I'm thrilled to be leading an online workshop within Dan Miller's 48 Days Eagles Community.

In our four-week Eagles Nest program, we'll follow the CORN acronym (Earl mentions corn in his message) to propel ourselves towards our aspirations:

C - Clarify

O - Optimize

R - Replace

N - Nurture

If you're eager to join me on this journey of uncovering "The Strangest Secret" and experiencing life-changing growth, learn more by watching the video I recently created. 

Every Thursday morning in October, we'll delve deep into Earl Nightingale's book, "The Strangest Secret," through Zoom. This workshop is a complimentary benefit for Eagles members, and it's easy to become an Eagle by joining here.

Join us on this transformational journey—it's an opportunity to nurture your aspirations and create the life you desire.

Listen to the Brand New Me Podcast.

Listen to The Strangest Secret.

Monday, September 11, 2023

From Fields to Hearts: Nurturing Sweet Legacies in the Shadow of 9/11

It was a beautiful, clear-blue-sky September day in 2001. My mother had come over to my house to help me work my way through a pile of freshly picked soybeans from my garden. We would pull the soybeans off the stalks, blanch them and then pinch the bean out of the pods. I was grateful for her help. There was a big pile of beans to do! My husband was busy working in his welding shop, adjacent to our house. 

My mother and I sat in our little duplex carport and chatted as we worked. My father had passed away just a few months before and we were all still recovering from the suddenness of his death. It felt nice to be with my mother and have a chance to catch up. On that gorgeous September day, as we all went about our work, we were unaware of what was happening in the neighboring state of New York. It was September 11.

My husband got a phone call from my music producer. "Turn on the news," was all he said.

Since we didn't have a TV in the house, we turned on the radio. The reports were blasting across every station. Two towers... two planes... the Pentagon... Shanksville, Pennsylvania... a third plane? How many planes were there? Airports were shutting down. The Towers had been hit. 

The memory of that day is seared deep into my memory. For some reason, the fact that I had just recently lost my father made the experience even more surreal. I missed him. I was used to going through tragedies with him.

When Princess Diana died tragically, my husband and I absorbed the shock with my parents in my parents' living room as we watched the televised funeral service. Worldwide tragedies seemed a little easier to process when you had a father to process them with. Now he was gone. The feeling sort of surprised me. The 9/11 tragedy had nothing to do with my father, yet it called attention to my own loss. I mourned along with everyone else in the world.

My husband and I never watched any visuals of that frightening day. For one thing, as I mentioned, we didn't have a TV and for another thing, even if we did, my heart is so sensitive to images of tragedy, that I wouldn't have watched it anyway.

But a few weeks ago, I picked up a DVD from the local library. The cover caught my eye. After twenty-two years, I felt like I wanted to know about the day our country had been reduced to a pile of rubble. I took the DVD off the shelf, knowing that I might only be able to watch just the beginning, and then I'd have to shut it off. The series was put out by The National Geographic–a documentary of 9/11; "One Day in America." 

Although it occurred many years after the event, my urge to take action in response to what I had seen remained strong. A few days later, while listening to Alan Alda's book, "Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself," I came across a story that captured my attention. Three weeks following the Towers' attack, actor Richard Masur, actively supporting rescue workers on-site, reached out to Alan Alda. Richard asked if Alan would be willing to visit the site, listen, and provide support to the workers. Alan accepted the invitation and soon found himself aboard a boat with fellow theater professionals, heading down the Hudson toward the area known as "the pile." Their primary objective was to lend an empathetic ear, giving individuals a chance to express themselves and unburden their hearts.

During his time there, Alan learned that candy bars given to the workers had brought immense joy. Many acknowledged the impact of this small gesture but expressed regret that the candy had run out.

In response, Alan took it upon himself to contact the Hershey factory in Pennsylvania. He conveyed how much those candy bars meant to the workers and inquired if the company could send a truckload of Hershey bars to the site. While the company had already sent hard candy, logistical challenges had arisen due to truck congestion, with concerns that the chocolate bars might melt in the sun's heat. Alan provided the address of a warehouse further uptown, closer to Ground Zero, where the shipment could be stored in cooler conditions. In gratitude for his initiative, a truckload of Hershey bars was promptly dispatched to the workers.

As I absorbed this narrative, memories resurfaced of a mountain of Hershey bars where, in my younger days, I had found myself nestled. As farmers, we cherished a sense of camaraderie with our fellow farming families in the neighborhood. In particular, I'd frequently trek across the fields to the farm of a girl who lived just over the hill from ours. We reveled in shared adventures, from sledding and ice skating to savoring snacks in her kitchen. And yes, we'd luxuriate in large crates of chocolate bars, not fit for store shelves but perfectly suited for two young girls with a penchant for chocolate! Somehow, they had received a shipment of cardboard tubs filled with Hershey's chocolate bars. It was a chocolate lover's dream—endless stacks of chocolate, an abundance beyond measure.

For our thirty-fourth wedding anniversary on September 2, 2023, my husband and I visited The Hershey Story Museum in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Milton S. Hershey's entrepreneurship and vision to make chocolate bars that every American could afford and enjoy have been an inspiration to me for years. Living so close to the town, I became curious to learn more about it's history and it's story over the past decade. Fresh on my mind, as I toured the museum, I was thinking about the power of one man's vision to create something, follow through (even though it took him many years to perfect the recipe), and how it could impact a community and a country more than a century later. 

Tom and I celebrate our 34th wedding anniversary with Milton S. Hershey. :-)

The Hershey Story Museum "I've got an idea..."

As we commemorate another anniversary of 9/11, I realize that time may pass, but the memories and the lessons endure. The power of vision, compassion, and community, exemplified by Milton S. Hershey, Alan Alda, and countless of rescue workers, remind us that even in the darkest of times, humanity's resilience and generosity can shine through. I too aspire to create something that, in its own way, can touch the lives of others. Perhaps mine will be in the form of a song. 

Whether it's a chocolate bar or a song, we never know how something we create might touch someone else for generations to come.

As we commemorate another 9/11 anniversary, the lessons of vision, compassion, and community exemplified by Milton S. Hershey, Alan Alda, and countless rescue workers remind us that even in the darkest hours, humanity's resilience and generosity shine through. Inspired, I aspire to create something that, in its own unique way, touches the lives of others–perhaps mine will come in the form of a song. 

Whether it's a chocolate bar or a song, we can never predict how our creations might resonate with future generations, leaving a legacy of kindness and connection for years to come.

Saturday, September 2, 2023

The 31-Minute Secret: Transforming Your Life

Have you ever pondered the notion of completely altering the course of your life in just thirty-one minutes and thirty-five seconds? Imagine this: dedicating that small slice of your day for thirty consecutive days. Intriguing, isn't it? 

Let me take you on a personal journey, one that began with a challenge that landed in my lap back in August 2022—a challenge that has quite literally rewritten the script of my life.

**The Challenge That Redefined My Path**

The challenge was simple: listen to Earl Nightingale's "The Strangest Secret" recording every single day for thirty days straight. I decided to take on the challenge, not fully comprehending the transformative power it would have in my life. This commitment marks the start of a remarkable shift in my existence. 

Just so you know, it wasn't always easy. There were moments when I stumbled and had to hit that "reset" button, and start over for thirty days. (You'll understand once you've listened to Earl). Yet, the message in his recording was so compelling that I not only kept listening beyond the thirty days, but I eventually bought a copy of the book so I could easily refer back to its wisdom.

Fast forward to September 2023, and the 48 Days Eagles Community, a group I've been part of since January 2021 has once again issued a challenge. So for thirty days, we will be immersing ourselves in Earl's recording. Fully aware of the immense impact it's already had on my life, I am excited to see what all transpires in my life as a result.

**The Strangest Secret Unveiled: **

As I've been anticipating listening regularly for thirty days in September, I've been reflecting on the transformative might of this message and its central theme:

**"We become what we think about."** 

These simple yet profound words hold the golden key to unlocking the boundless potential nestled within each of us.

A few sunsets ago, despite the whirlwind of life's demands, I felt an undeniable urge to sit down and write a song. What better way to reinforce this life-altering truth than through the catchy rhythm of a song?

**Gratitude and Acknowledgments**

Every song idea usually starts with a moment of inspiration and I know exactly where this song comes from! I wish to express my immense gratitude to Earl Nightingale, whose timeless wisdom continues to stir the hearts and minds of countless individuals like me. A special, personal nod also goes out to Dan Miller, who first introduced me to this life-changing message, and Sound Wisdom, for ensuring this wisdom finds its way into the hands of those yearning for transformation.

**In Closing: The 31-Minute Challenge, Frances Drost-Style**

So, my friends, I extend to you an invitation—an invitation to join me in this challenge: for the next thirty days, allocate a mere thirty-one minutes and thirty-five seconds of your day to immerse yourself in something that holds the potential to metamorphose your life. Let this be your first step toward becoming the person you've always aspired to be.

In the spirit of sharing and igniting the flames of inspiration in others, I leave you with my little tune—a musical reminder of the mind-blowing truth concealed within "The Strangest Secret." I encourage you to listen to Earl's recording (see link below) and savor this musical dessert.

Your life could be on the brink of an incredible transformation.

Helpful resources:

We Become What We Think About Song Lyric Video Link

Learn more about the 48 Days Eagles Community

Listen to Earl Nightingale's "The Strangest Secret"

"The Strangest Secret" Book

Monday, August 28, 2023

Five Essential Keys for Unlocking the Door to Your Dreams

I have been a part of Dan Miller's 48 Days Eagles Community for over two years and the impact it's had on my life is significant. 

The most recent development came from a connection I made at an Eagles' event I attended in Franklin, Tennessee, back in April. It was there that I met Isaiah Taylor, a literary scout who learned that I was writing a book about my journey with Christmas. I had been planning to self-publish my story so I wasn't seeking a publisher, but he encouraged me to submit my manuscript to a publisher. I walked away from that conversation feeling somewhat intrigued, and rather doubtful. 

One thing led to another...

I was recently (and delightfully) surprised to see a post on Dan Miller's Facebook page that mentioned me and my journey, letting the cat out of the bag. Since I have been racking (and wracking) my brain trying to figure out how to share what's been happening and tell everyone the great news, I felt a sense of relief to have it come from someone else's newsfeed. 

I'll let you read the post for yourself:

"For Frances Drost, the journey from dream to reality started in a difficult place—the deaths of two of her siblings. And it took a winding path from a nagging sense of loss to a creative expression of joy and togetherness.

Frances’s annual Christmas show, Portraits of White, began 11 years ago when she started reimagining what it means to be in the holiday spirit after she spent years feeling “disenchanted” with the season. This December, Portraits of White will celebrate a decade of bringing people together through music with the special release of Frances’ forthcoming book.
Whether you’re an artist like Frances or not, her story has a lot to teach us about our dreams.
1: Dreams come from unexpected places
Like many people who have been touched by loss, Frances wondered why Christmas felt so empty no matter how many years went by. One year, Frances even decided to skip Christmas all together!
Frances realized that she felt disconnected from the holiday spirit because of the grief she carried. Instead of continuing to live in that mindset of despair, she decided to turn it into an opportunity to create hope and find peace—for herself and others who have experienced loss.
Frances began writing songs about how she felt during the holiday season, and eventually started dreaming of a Christmas album.
2: Have faith in your dreams
Eventually, that Christmas album came to be. Frances called it Portraits of White and based it on what she discovered reflecting on her disenchantment with Christmas.
“I learned that holidays have a tendency to amplify the loss and the dysfunction that we have. I thought maybe by sharing my own story, I could bring hope to others.”
While the album was successful, Frances also had faith that Portraits of White could be so much more than a collection of songs.
"I had a vision to perform my songs on stage with a full orchestra. I'd never done that before. I'd always traveled as a solo artist. And so I hired a conductor from Nashville. I hired an orchestra. And we sold out the first show that year in 2014!”
3: Dream bigger than yourself
What started as an album by a solo artist trying to process her own grief blossomed into a creative project that brings together musicians and artists from around the country.
If Frances had stopped with her feeling of disenchantment—or even stopped with the album—her life, her business, and the hearts of thousands of audience members over the years wouldn’t be what they are today. Even though the dream for Portraits of White didn’t start with a goal of reaching millions or turning a profit, it grew into something that brought Frances’s goals well within her reach.
4: The path from dream to reality is not always smooth
In 2019, Portraits of White drew over one thousand people. Frances and her team expanded the project to three shows, extending the reach of her message.
And then COVID hit.
Through the turmoil of 2020, Frances persisted in sharing Portraits of White. The show was released as a DVD, bringing her message into the homes and hearts of audiences across the country. She turned what could have been a dead end for Portraits of White into an opportunity for growth.
5: Dreams are rarely accomplished alone
Frances is soon releasing a book telling the story of her journey with Christmas. The current working title of the book is Portraits of White: A Songwriter's Journey to Find Christmas.
“Thanks to the Eagles community and their connections and actually going to the 48 Days Innovate Experience in Franklin, Tennessee in April, I talked to a literary agent from Morgan James, and he encouraged me to submit my story about my journey with Christmas.”
Now Frances is on the final round of edits for the book. With the book release, sponsors, and the support of her community and audience—the 10th anniversary of Portraits of White promises to be the most exciting year since its start.
The Eagles are so proud of Frances and thankful for her continuous, active, involvement in our community. We celebrate and support all kinds of success—from traditional entrepreneurial journeys to artistic projects and more. Each and every one of the Eagles is out to transform lives, make their dreams a reality, and uplift each other along the way.

​Join the 48 Days Eagles Community and see where your dreams will take YOU!:"

David L. Hancock (Founder and Publisher), Frances Drost (Author), Isaiah Taylor (Literary Scout)
 The Urban Roost in Richmond, VA
June 8, 2023 Publishing Agreement Signed