Have you ever:

  • planned a lesson for kids only to see it fall apart when you actually presented it?
  • lost a co-worker when you needed them the most?
  • struggled to back a trailer into a tight space?
  • felt the magic of a sudden open door to sharing an important spiritual truth with someone?
  • struggled to work under someone else’s leadership?
  • had a close friend who encouraged you in ministry?
  • watched a promising new convert break your heart with an unwise decision?
  • served as a cook or dishwasher for camp?
  • wondered if your ministry was a failure?
  • severely embarrassed yourself while preaching a sermon or giving a lesson?

These are very common occurrences when you are involved in small church ministry. My husband and I have been in mission ministries for more than 40 years. We know what it’s like to keep putting one foot ahead of the other even when we weren’t always sure what the Lord was doing through our ministry.

I am just releasing a new novel about young single adults facing some of these same things in ministry. Short Poppies is first in this series about Americans partnering with New Zealanders in church planting ministry. If you’re in ministry I believe you’ll find that some part of this book will resonate with you. This book has light-hearted moments but also deals with serious issues in ministry. And the ebook is just in time for Christmas!

Buy it on Kindle.

Buy it at other online stores.

Though we all struggle from time to time, we need to remember that it’s a privilege to be in ministry. When we are working hard, doing our best at what we feel God is leading us to do, we can know that God is working through us whether or not we can see results. 1 Corinthians 15:58 gives us this precious promise: My beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

Wherever you are today, may you have a blessed Christmas as you minister to others and celebrate on your own.

Instant winner!

Being a subscriber to Deb’s Book Blast automatically qualifies you to be in the draw to win the Kindle version of Looking into You by Chris Fabry. I’ll announce the winner at the end of this Book Blast.

Our international trip during Covid

 Recently my husband and I left Invercargill, New Zealand, where we live and minister, to go to the States for his mother’s memorial service. All of his mom’s children, grandchildren and great grandchildren attended the service. It was not only the celebration of the spiritual heritage she left behind, but also a great family reunion. During those four weeks in the States I was also able to visit all my siblings. It was great to see family who had come from all across the States for these two reunions and God did extra things for us during that time.

God helped us overcome many obstacles to make this travel possible. New Zealand, a country of about 5 million people who live on land about the same size as Colorado, has exercised strict Covid restrictions with the pandemic since the beginning. These restrictions have been very effective. Since March 2020, we’ve only had about four thousand confirmed and probable cases of Covid. Most of these came from a recent spike in numbers. Most New Zealanders live on two islands, which also helps keep Covid under control. But these results are partly due to very strict border control. As a result, at this time travel is expensive and complicated. God helped us get through many challenging obstacles to allow us to travel during Covid. Here are some of the obstacles:

  • We couldn’t bring a pastoral couple to fill in for us outside New Zealand borders.
  • We had to find a flight from the US back to NZ that linked to a MIQ voucher. (A reserved spot in special facilities to remain isolated in for two weeks.) This obstacle is huge all by itself.
  • Though Covid jabs weren’t mandatory, we felt we needed them for travel and the schedule for them in our town was filled up until after we needed to leave.
  • Covid added thousands of dollars of expenses to our trip.
  • When we got out of MIQ there were no flights to Invercargill for eight days.

One by one God helped us past these obstacles. We are so thankful.

During managed isolation we were only allowed out of our rooms for a bit of exercise several times a day. The rest of the time we were in our motel room. Meals were dropped in front of our door three times daily. Some found this isolation very trying, but Art and I enjoyed our time together. We had plenty of time to read. I read Looking into You during our travels or isolation. I also spent much of these two weeks working on my book, Short Poppies, which I hope to publish by the end of the year.

How are you doing?

During our recent visit, it seemed like many Americans had largely forgotten about Covid and were living pretty much as normal. Others, of course, have lost jobs or loved ones. Some churches have special struggles. Covid means people around us may be scared, angry, confused, worried, or resentful. As friends and neighbors experience pandemic fatigue, we can be the kind faces (even if masked) and cheery voices that make their day a bit brighter.

Here is a meme to remind us of this. Feel free to copy it and post it in the social network you like to use. I’ve posted two versions which can be used in a portrait or landscape orientation. Or you can pin it to a Pinterest Board.

A Song about God’s goodness during dark days

You may have heard of Ron and Shelly Hamilton. Ron has written hundreds of songs and hymns and cantatas. Shelly wrote the music for many of these songs. They are probably the foremost couple in composing, performing and publishing conservative Christian songs.

As a boy, Jonathan, their son, was the voice of Pee Wee Pirate on the Patch the Pirate audio tapes. During college a medication for acne triggered a clinical depression Jonathan never came out of. He was an outspoken Christian and wrote beautiful music, but on Mother’s Day in 2013 he took his life. During the dark days following his death, his family commissioned a songwriter to write lyrics to a tune Jonathan had written. It is a powerful testimony of God’s goodness in difficult times. I’m hoping this song, “You Are Always Good,” will encourage you as it has me.

Now for the free drawing.

I have randomly picked several winners from my subscribers list to receive the Kindle version of Looking into You by Chris Fabry.

And the winner could be … you! This time I’ve picked several winners from my list, but none of them were able to get back to me. As a result, I will chose the first person to get back to me as the winner of this drawing. The second to get back to me will be the winner of the next drawing. All you have to do is send these words to this address: artdebbrammer@gmail.com. The words are: I have read your Book Blast and want to go into the drawing for a free book. The winners will be announced as soon as they reply.

My review of Looking into You:

Paige Redwine is haunted by a choice she made when she was only seventeen. Now a well-respected English teacher, she finds the baby she gave up for adoption is a student in one of her classes. She must choose between keeping silent about the past or revealing herself to her daughter and risking her reputation as a teacher. Fabry gives a personal and intimate look into the lives of the birth mom and her daughter and the choices they must make. Though several things seemed a bit unrealistic I did enjoy this book for the personal look it gave into giving up a baby to adoption. I don’t give 5 stars to many books, but I did for this one.

Instant winner!

Being a subscriber to Deb’s Book Blast automatically qualifies you to be in the draw to win the Kindle version of A Million Miles from Home by Mike Delloso. This relationship novel is the last 5 star book I’ve read. I’ll announce the winner at the end of this Book Blast.

This month my husband, Art, and I celebrate our anniversary. We married at age 22. Do the math and you find we married at 22, 44 years of marriage makes us 66 years old. Don’t know where we’ll be when we’re 88, but I wouldn’t mind being in heaven by then.

Secret to Happy Marriage

Our lives are so much richer for our marriage. Lots of people talk about secrets for a happy marriage. A cornerstone for our marriage is our faith in Christ and seeking to please him. Compatible ministry goals certainly help that. But the more I think about our marriage and peek into other marriages, I believe two things make marriage happy. Are you ready for this big secret? Here it is: kindness and consideration. I have a kind husband who considers my wants and needs and that makes me want to be kind and considerate right back. It’s not exactly rocket science, but it works for us.

Of course, marrying the right person is a great start. Wondering what that means? Here are 15 questions a Christian girl should ask before she says, “Yes, I will marry you.”

A Bit of Art/Marriage Humor

I learned to appreciate art and art humor as I wrote my Art Spotlight Mysteries. I love the patterns in M.C. Escher’s “Relativity.” Here’s some art/marriage humor based on that piece.

Escher’s “Relativity”

Escher’s Wife

A Song of Hope

I hope you are weathering the ups and downs of 2021. During these days I like to remember that my hope is not in circumstances, but in Jesus. “My Hope Is Jesus” is a song that reminds me of this truth.

Now for the free drawing.

I have randomly picked a winner from my subscribers list to receive the Kindle version of A Million Miles from Home by Mike Dellosso.

And the winner is … Becky Canfield.

My review of A Million Miles from Home

Ben and Annie grow up together in abusive homes and later marry. They have a daughter and are determined to leave their past behind and build a loving home. But tragedy forces Ben for face his past and work toward forgiveness.

I seldom give 5 stars to books, but Dellosso’s book deserves the high rating for telling this emotional story. The story is told from Ben’s point-of-view and goes back and forth between the past and present, but the author handles this well so that you feel like you are with Ben, feeling what he is feeling. A couple characters seem to have no flaws, but generally his characters are well-rounded and realistic.

A couple of times the author talks about baptism “washing away a person’s sin,” which clashes with my personal viewpoint. But the book is moving and well-written, though fairly sad throughout.

Merry Christmas 2020!

Instant winner!

Being a subscriber to Deb’s Book Blast automatically qualifies you to be in the draw to win the Kindle version of Mistletoe and Murder: A Christmas Suspense Collection. I’ve already read about half of these novellas by Christian authors. I’ll announce the winner at the end of this Book Blast.

Because of Covid 19 my husband and I were not able to return to the States for Christmas 2020. New Zealand remains one of the safest countries of the world from Covid. Our country here continues to have near zero cases of community transmission. We were due for a furlough from our mission church ministry this year but it didn’t seem like a wise time for us to go back.

We were disappointed not to be able to see our family who we have not seen since 2017. So we planned a virtual Christmas. From Thanksgiving to Christmas we met online for weekly Zoom calls with our daughters and their family. We used these advent calls to share memories and photos from the past, seasonal crafts, share brief devotionals, and even play a short game. We planned activities that could involve everyone in some way. Several times we talked about the ways God has provided for us during the last year and during difficult times in the past. These have been positive calls that helped us be together in a year like 2020.

I have many things for which to be thankful. Today I’m especially thankful for social networking like Facebook and Zoom which allows us to be connected to friends and family even when many miles (or kilometers) separate us.

What Christmas tradition are you changing because of Covid-19 this year? What special blessings have touched you during this unusual year? What have you learned to appreciate more because of the effects of the pandemic?

I hope you have a lovely Christmas full of awareness of all life’s blessings.

Now for the free drawing.

I have randomly picked a winner from my subscribers list to receive the Kindle version of a book with a cross cultural theme.

And the winner is … Jenny Leavitt from Florida.