Deb’s Books Blast/Deb’s Ministry Blog

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Deb’s Ministry Blog shares articles of interest to people in a small church, missions, or writing ministry. These are practical and encouraging articles that may be shared freely.

Again, you’ll receive occasional emails. You may unsubscribe at any time. Your privacy will be respected. Your name and address will not be given to anyone else for any other purpose.

 

You could win this ebook! It’s easy!

 In my September Book Blast Joel Andring won a copy of my book Give It a Go. Joel said, “I rarely enter contests and it’s even rarer that I win.” Since most readers don’t bother to comment or leave a reply, your chances of winning my Book Blast giveaway are much higher that winning most other contests. I’d love to hear from you.

 To enter:

Simply leave a comment in the comment box below or send a comment to this email address: artdebbrammer@gmail.com. You might like to tell me about something special you are doing to celebrate Christmas this year.

This is a special Christmas for my family. My husband and I are beginning a furlough from our ministry in New Zealand by celebrating Christmas in many ways with my two daughters and their family. During the month of December we are driving back and forth between Des Moines, Iowa and Minneapolis, Minnesota so see our grandsons in special programs and participate in a live nativity with our daughter. Our whole family plans to celebrate Christmas together in a mission house in Iowa for around five days. We enjoy simple family traditions: decorating Christmas cookies, cutting out snowflakes, painting nutcracker men, and playing games together. If we get snow at the right time, we’ll do some sledding and build a snowman, something we can rarely do in our home in New Zealand. We’re so thankful for this opportunity to spend the holiday together.

Does buying gifts this Christmas season leave you worried and stressed?

Maybe you’re worried about the $$ you’re spending or finding a gift for the person who has everything?

Here’s an idea that:

  • Is inexpensive
  • Is easy to wrap
  • Doesn’t cost for shipping
  • Is available immediately
  • Doesn’t clutter your home
  • Fits inside a Christmas stocking
  • Provides hours of pleasure
  • Moves the heart in a way that honors God

What gift could fit all these descriptions? If you guessed “a Christian ebook” you’re absolutely right. My husband and I love to give ebooks for all these reasons. It’s also a great way to support authors.

Don’t know how to do it? It’s easy. To buy a Kindle book to gift to others, this is all you do:

  • Sign in to your Amazon account
  • Bring the book you want to gift up on your screen
  • Click “buy for others” on the far right of your screen
  • Fill in the information
  • Click “buy now” and you’re done!

Want something to wrap up or slip into a stocking? Here’s a copy of a stocking stuffer printout I use for my book Short Poppies. You can print out this image on letter size paper if you want to gift this book, but you can also change this image by cropping out the cover of Short Poppies and replacing it with another book. Or make your own image that fits on the top of a letter size paper. (Trim the extra paper off after printing.) Copying the cover of a book to use in this way doesn’t violate copyright laws. Just click on the image, right click, and copy image.

Here’s more about author of the book for the free drawing this time:

For many years Donna Poole and I both wrote many articles and stories for Regular Baptist Press which publishes quality Christian curriculum for Sunday School and VBS. This gives me a feeling of kinship with her, even though I only met her in person only once, years ago, in a restroom. Here’s a description of her book.

 If the Creek Don’t Rise by Donna Poole

Welcome to Corners Church, a white frame building on the corner of two dirt roads. A new set of characters joins familiar, beloved ones, but the church is the same loving, comforting place as always, or is it? Pastor J.D. finds more conflict than comfort at Corners Church. He’d hoped to find peace here, but his past with its painful secrets follows him. Not only that, but he has to deal with Cyrus who seems intent on forcing him to leave. J.D. must also untangle his complicated feelings toward Trish Hart. Trish has secrets of her own. She’s a mystery even to those who know her best. J.D. and Trish desperately need peace that eludes them. Others, especially their friends Tim and Edna, try to help them, but it isn’t enough. They need God. God shows His face in many ways in this book: in Tim’s booming laughter, in Edna’s endless supply of spaghetti, in a church that never tires of giving, and in little Charlie Boy’s toothless grin.

 

How to gift a Kindle ebook

Does this Christmas season leave you worried about the $$ you’re spending or searching for s gift for the person who has everything?

Here’s an idea that:

  • Is inexpensive
  • Is easy to wrap
  • Is available immediately
  • Doesn’t cost for shipping
  • Doesn’t clutter your home
  • Fits inside a Christmas stocking
  • Provides hours of pleasure
  • Moves the heart in a way that honors God

What gift could fit all these descriptions? If you guessed “a Christian ebook” you’re absolutely right. My husband and I love to give ebooks for all these reasons. It’s also a great way to support authors.

Don’t know how to do it? It’s easy. To buy a Kindle book to gift to others, this is all you do:

  • Sign in to your Amazon account
  • Bring the book you want to gift up on your screen
  • Click “buy for others” on the far right of your screen
  • Fill in the information
  • Click on “buy now” and you’re done!

Want something to wrap up or slip into a stocking? Here’s a copy of a stocking stuffer printout I used for my book Short Poppies. You can print out this image on letter size paper if you want to gift this book, but you can also change this image by cropping out the cover of Short Poppies and replacing it with another book. Or make your own image that fits on the top of a letter size paper. (After printing, trim the extra paper off.) Copying the cover of a book to use in this way doesn’t violate copyright laws. Just click on the image, right click, and copy image.

May the Lord bless you and your family as you seek to honor him this Christmas.

Christmas Season for Ministry Couples

I often hear complaints on Facebook about how early stores begin decorating for Christmas and selling products for it. Somehow, it seems like a silly thing to complain about. People can always walk on by and focus on something else. Some people appreciate the early Christmas roll-out because they need to ship presents to loved ones who live far from them. Crafters may need to start projects so they will have time to enjoy Christmas when it comes. Some just enjoy decorating for Christmas early because they love decorating. Where’s the harm?

Maybe I see this differently because I’m an overseas missionary who lives in a country that celebrates Christmas with far less fanfare than America does. My husband, Art, and I have lived in New Zealand now for twenty-five years. Since it doesn’t get dark until about 10 p.m. at Christmas in our city, most people don’t bother putting Christmas lights on their homes. Though New Zealanders cook up a grand Christmas dinner, they don’t decorate nearly as much as Americans. I suppose most countries don’t decorate as much as America does. Some people object to an emphasis on decorating at a time when Christ’s birth should be first and foremost, but I love the decorations. I love it all.

Since our youngest daughter left home early in 2000, our family has only been together for four Christmases. We fly back to America for furlough on November 17, so this year will be the fifth Christmas together. We can’t wait to be together again. We love to cut snowflakes, decorate gingerbread houses and Christmas trees, and drive by lighting displays at night. This year we hope to attend some Christmas programs our grandsons are in. One of my daughters and I share birthdays close to Christmas and that gets thrown into the mix as well. Our other daughter’s church hosts a live nativity scene and lighting outreach each year and this year we get to help. (Maybe they want us to be camels or donkeys??) So. Much. Fun!

Most years we are in charge of the Christmas activities for our New Zealand church. In 1998 our daughter, Lori, played the parts of the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future in my play “No Room for Jesus.” I found ways to include nearly all of our church children and teens in the play, as well as the church choir and a few adults. In more recent years, parents haven’t been as eager to help their kids memorize parts or bring them to practices. It works better to keep it simple: Choir song, gospel message, Christmas Dinner. At first, I found these changes hard to accept. As we moved from an evening program with many participants and a fellowship afterward to a very small program and a dinner, it felt wrong. It felt like no one cared about the programs I worked so hard on, that many just came for the food. On the other hand, this newer model made it much easier for me since I always lead the programs. Most of our church people lead extremely busy lives and driving kids to practices and helping kids memorize lines just adds to that. Having a big dinner together seems to be more what Asians do than children reciting parts, and we have many Asians in our church. I had to accept that our church had changed in many ways over the last twenty-five years. We’ve had to flex with it and find new ways to do ministry.

What’s happening in your church? If you look back a decade or two, you’ve probably had to make changes as well. If you’ve had to simplify Christmas programs and services, you’re not alone. I can tell this from the hits on my website. Every year they multiply rapidly from September to December because people in ministry are searching for ways to involve their church people in an effective outreach. After decades of presenting the Christmas message every year, they are looking for something that gives a fresh slant to Christmas.

I offer nine programs on my website.  Eight of them are free. I also offer three Christmas puppet scripts. They vary greatly in the range of difficulty. Which ones do you think get the most hits?

“Christmas Disaster,” the only program you have to order from a publisher, is a longer play with a few parts that have many memorized lines. At the opposite end of the level of difficulty, “Sounds of Christmas,” a re-enactment of the Christmas story that involves audience participation with rhythm instruments, has no parts to rehearse. If you guessed the simple program gets the most hits, you’re correct. “Sounds of Christmas gets more hits and comments than the others, partly because it is unusual, but also because it takes little work to organize. Sometimes we just have to keep it simple.

The Christmas season is busy and hectic for many people in ministry. For others it means being lonely and far from family. Either way, it can be challenging. We need to balance the ministry expectations of ourselves and others with joy of the season and rejuvenation.  Of course, we all need to focus our thoughts on Christ’s gift of salvation during this season. Christmas gives us unique outreach opportunities. Family and friends are important. But most of us also need to search out some quiet time to rest.

Where can you find that quiet time in a noisy season? How can you rest when your to-do lists seem endless?

We need to make time for rest, and that means different things to different people. My husband and I put jigsaw puzzles together, watch a Christmas movie, and read Christian novels on our e-readers when we need rest. I’m always looking for a new author to follow.

If you’re looking for a new Christian author, right now I’m in a promo with fourteen other Christian authors. If you enjoy reading, consider these Free Clean Christian Reads that will help you find new authors. You’ll find two of mine in this “Light in the Darkness” promotion. All books are free in exchange for joining the author’s newsletter.

Comment below to tell us what your biggest ministry challenge is during this year’s Christmas season. What activities do you do to rest your body, mind and spirit?

 

 

You could be a winner!

I usually give away a book from another author, but this month I’m going to do something different. To celebrate the release of my new book, Give It a Go, I’m giving a copy of it away instead. You could be the first winner of a giveaway for my new book, Give It a Go.

To enter: just comment on anything in this Book Blast in the comment boxes below or send a comment to this address: DebBrammer@gmail.com.

I will choose a winner to receive this ebook at random from all my Book Blast readers who comment in the next three days (on or before September 27.) Or you can read my free chapters from the link below.

In my August Book Blast, I gave away Second Opinion by Hannah Alexander. The winner was Ruth from Montana.  You can see who this month’s winner is in my next Book Blast.

September 2022 is a special month for me.

 On September 22, 2022 I released the ebook version of my book, Give It a Go, Book 2 in my New Beginnings series. To prepare readers for Book 2, I also lowered the price of Book 1, Short Poppies, to $.99 for the whole month of September. I’ve had a fun month crafting memes, posting on Facebook and Pinterest, even making a video which I don’t do very often. At the same time I’ve been waiting for a visa to come to a pastor’s wife in the US so my husband and I can take a six-month furlough. Just two weeks away from the time we planned to leave, we’re still waiting for the visa to be granted.

Check it out!

 Of course, you could just buy Short Poppies and Give It a Go and read them in order. But if you’re like me, you might want to check them out first. Here are several ways to do that.

Read the summaries.

 

Short Poppies

As the youth pastor of Victory Road Church, Levi’s pumped about the growth he sees—until he gets fired. Suddenly he is pushed into six weeks of missions work at Friendly Bay Bible Church in Oamaru, New Zealand. He comes prepared with 147 sermons and devotionals, and 793 games, but he finds working in a small mission church isn’t as easy as he thought.

MacKenzie is almost engaged to Mike, but when she hears about a six-week mission trip, she feels something calling her that she can’t explain. When a medical emergency changes the dynamics, Kenzie is forced to work under Levi while he tries to force big church ideas on a small mission church.

MacKenzie’s not available and Levi’s not looking. They drive each other crazy but they have to work together to fill a sudden ministry need which no one else can fill. They find even six weeks of ministry can make a difference to at-risk teens at a critical time in their lives.

Give It a Go:

When visitors move on to other churches, Pastor Greg recites excuses for why church attendance is dropping. Two years after the death of his beloved wife, Dana, however, he realizes that, without a trained, fulltime partner in ministry, the church will continue to suffer. Greg feels the Lord leading him to open his heart again.

Jennifer is happy with her life and job in America and glad to live close to her children and grandchildren. When MacKenzie suggests Jennifer take a puppet team to New Zealand, Jennifer suspects a matchmaking scheme. She responds with a definite “uh uh.” No way is she going to traipse down to New Zealand to throw herself at a pastor she respects too highly to consider dating. Or would dating even be possible in their situation?

When the compelling nature of the trip calls to Jennifer, however, she agrees to go, but only to pass new skills on to mission churches. When Greg asks the unthinkable, will she be willing to give the idea a go, trusting God to lead her down a different path, not knowing where it will lead?

Read free chapters.

Read the first four chapters of Short Poppies for free.

Read the first five chapters of Give It a Go for free.

Where can you buy Short Poppies and Give It a Go?

Short Poppies from Amazon 

 Give It a Go from Amazon

Short Poppies from Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, or Rakuten Kobo

Give It A Go from Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, or Rakuten Kobo

Don’t forget!

To enter my giveaway for Give It a Go: just comment on anything in this Book Blast in the comment boxes below or send a comment to this address: DebBrammer@gmail.com.

My New Fiction Book about Ministry

If you’re a fiction reader, maybe, like me, you’d like to read a novel about ordinary people in ministries like yours. That kind of book would interest me and since there’s so few of them, I decided to write some. All three of the books in my New Beginnings series are about Americans partnering with New Zealanders in small church ministry. Today I’m going to share what kind ministry themes you’ll find in these books.

 

Short Poppies

Last December I launched Book 1 in my New Beginnings series, Short Poppies.

What’s it about? New Zealand sounds more like a tourist destination than a mission field, but when Levi is thrust into a short term ministry there, things aren’t as easy as he expected.

These themes are explored in Short Poppies:

  • Finding God’s will in marriage and career
  • The differences in leadership styles for big and small churches
  • How to measure your ministry when you see few results
  • Servant leadership

I am waiting until Book 3 is published before I release the print book, but you can buy the ebook version of Short Poppies here for 99 cents during September 2022. (Sometimes Amazon raises the price a bit, and authors have no control over that.)

Give It a Go

This week I’ve released Book 2 in the series, Give It a Go.

 What’s it about? Pastor Greg needs a new wife, but how can he begin to date when he lives in the goldfish bowl of a mission church, ten thousand miles away from his home in America?

These themes are explored in Give It a Go.

  • Finding God’s will when life changes direction
  • Being sensitive to God’s leading in relationships
  • The need for accountability and encouragement (Isolation is dangerous.)
  • Taking risks and stepping out in faith

I am waiting until Book 3 is published before I release the print book, but you can buy the ebook of Give It a Go here.

Pop In for a Cuppa

I have already written the first draft for this book and hope to release it in 2023.

What’s it about? At fifty-two, Jennifer has never felt called to missions, but dating veteran missionary Greg Fischer makes her rethink almost every area of her life.

In this book, Jennifer chooses to work with two women from very different backgrounds.  One of the women has escaped from Gloriavale.

In 2019 my husband and I became aware of a couple of families who had left Gloriavale, a “Christian cult” commune, had become Christians, and were attending a sister church of ours. We began to pray for others to leave the commune and find true salvation by faith alone. This year, after finishing my first draft, Gloriavale has been thrust into the media spotlight. Right now the court is considering a second case that challenges whether the residents, who give all their income to the church and work almost like slaves, should be treated as employees or volunteers. You can read more about it in this article, one of many on the topic.