Bible, board books, kids' activities

READ, PLAY, and PRAY with MY TENDER HEART BIBLE: Summer Bible Time for Little Ones

Beginning in June, stop by my Facebook or Instagram pages (and here too!) each Wednesday for some Bible time for little ones and their families as we READ, PLAY and PRAY our way through MY TENDER HEART BIBLE (Paraclete Press).  Inspired by memories of sharing God’s Word and God’s love with my own children when they were small, it is my hope and prayer that this little weekly installment will provide busy, young families a fun, engaging way to make Bible time a part of your summer.

With that in mind, each Wednesday in a pre-recorded segment from my porch that I will share to Facebook and Instagram (and supplement here with details), I will:  

  • Share the inspiration behind that week’s Bible story, so you can READ it afterwards with your little ones
  • Offer fun, kid-friendly options for deepening your little ones’ understanding of the story and God’s love through PLAY using a craft, game or other activity
  • Close with a PRAYER that each week both we and our children will grow in our understanding of God’s love and be inspired to share that love with others

Sound fun? I hope so!

The book is available wherever books are sold, so if you don’t have yours yet, there’s still plenty of time for our June 7th kickoff as we READ, PLAY and PRAY our way through the summer with MY TENDER HEART BIBLE

Here’s the schedule. Feel free to jump in anytime. Please let your friends know. Hope to see you then! 

June 7, 2023 Creation Joy Genesis 1:1 – 2:3

June 14, 2023 God’s Garden Genesis 3:1-24

June 21, 2023 Star Promise Genesis 15:1-6

June 28, 2023 Great Escape Exodus 14:10-31

July 5, 2023 Tasty Blessings Exodus 16:11-18

July 12, 2023 Brave Queen Esther 14:13-17

July 19, 2023 Welcome, Jesus Luke 2:8-19

July 26, 2023 Dove Love Matthew 3:13-17

August 2, 2023 Precious Children Mark 10:13-16

August 9, 2023 Worry Cure Matthew 6:25-33

August 16, 2023 Donkey Parade Luke 19:35-38

August 23, 2023 Easter Joy Matthew 28:1-10

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Bible, faith, Inspiration

FAITH THOUGHTS: The Lasting Legacy of Church Cookbook

My son returned home from college last week and in celebration, I prepared what has become a favorite family dish—Swedish meatballs. But, not just any Swedish meatballs. This recipe comes from a recipe book that is near and dear to my heart — the Edina Baptist Church Cookbook 1977.

What’s so special about this cookbook? I’m so glad you asked! Here are FIVE reasons I treasure this vintage cookbook from Edina, Minnesota circa 1977.

REASON #5: The recipes are awesomely retro. If you have ever wondered if down-home cooking in the 70s was similar to today’s fare, the answer is no. The women who gathered their favorite recipes for this book were intrigued by modernities like frozen veggies, canned goods, processed cheeses, and instant this-and-that. 

Some of the recipes we will most likely never attempt, because they are just too salty or sweet or rich, but we do have a couple of family favorites. These include Sharon West’s Swedish Meatballs, which we just had this week, and Lora Holzworth’s Tater-Tot Hotdish, which is a real Minnesota treat.  

The book also boasts a wide-array of Jello-based desserts that instruct cooks to add things like marshmallows, cucumbers and mayonnaise!  I occasionally serve these because I remember my mother preparing them. When I serve them, it’s almost like having her there at the table. I even have a Tupperware mold just like the one she had!

REASON #4: It includes delightful words of wisdom. This is my husband’s favorite part of the book. And often, when I serve those Swedish meatballs or that tater-tot dinner, he will bring the book to the table so he can read those little bits of wisdom aloud to us. It always adds laughter and joy to the meal. A couple of our favorites include:

“Out of the mouth of babes come words we shouldn’t have said in the first place.”

“A pint of good example if worth a gallon of advice.”

REASON #3: The book oozes community spirit.  Turning the pages is like going down memory lane. There are so many names I recognize – friends of my mother’s and mothers of my friends. And as I read through the recipes, and what each chose to include, I remember community gatherings where many of these recipes were served. Most especially, I remember the church potluck that was part of every Wednesday night when I was in first and second grade.

REASON #2: The artwork is by my mother! My mother doesn’t have a single recipe in the entire book. I’ve checked thoroughly. She was an amazing artist, however, and the fine women who created this book recognized her gift and asked her to do the artwork for each section of the cookbook. 

Keep in mind it was the 70s and the printing capabilities for a church cook book were pretty basic. The entire book is type-written, for example, which adds vintage charm.  And my mother hand-printed the lettering for her pages and designed her illustrations in black and white. Here are a couple of my favorites:

REASON #1: If not for the some of these cooks, I might not have written MY TENDER HEART BIBLE or any of my faith-based books!  When we moved to Minnesota in the fall of 1975, we were not Christians. My family didn’t really believe in anything. But, God was at work through the women in this cook book.  Two, in particular, stand out. A woman named Susan Anderson, who lived down the street from us, invited my mom to go to the large women’s Bible study held weekly at Edina Baptist Church. That Bible study was taught by an amazing woman named Sharon Cooper. 

The teaching and fellowship were amazing and my mom’s heart was stirred. Soon, not only was my mom attending Bible study, we were all going to church. I started attending things like Sunday school and Vacation Bible School, and Wednesday Night AWANA (which was always preceded by that potluck!) Long story short, over the course of the next couple of years, my mom, my dad, my sister and I all accepted Jesus into our hearts. Our lives were forever transformed.  

In the fall of 1977 we moved away to Paris, France. Around the same time Edina Baptist changed its name to Grace Baptist and then it became Grace Church. In 1987 our family moved out of Minnesota altogether. And sometime after that Grace Church changed locations from Edina to nearby Eden Prairie. 

And in the “time flies” category, it has been almost 50 years since the cook book released. But, the impact of those women who gathered those recipes and boldly shared their faith with my mother remains remains strong as ever. In fact, if not for God’s loving hand in prompting those women to minister to my mom, thus planting the seeds of faith in my heart as well,  I probably wouldn’t be the writer I am today – one who writes books that minister to young families like my newest release, MY TENDER HEART BIBLE! I am forever grateful and in awe at how God works through us and those around us to bring us closer to Him. May He bless you this week!

 

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Bible, devotional, Publishing

FUN NEWS: There’s a THIRD Tender Heart Book on the Way!

This painted rock that I spotted in Surf City, NJ a couple of summers ago is the perfect visual for my latest fun news—there’s going to be a THIRD book in the MY TENDER HEART series published by Paraclete Press!

So, just why is that painted rock such a perfect image? It’s perfect because this series is truly a project from my heart and one which I hope touches others’ hearts as well. Indeed, my prayer from the very beginning has been that first, MY TENDER HEART BIBLE, followed by MY TENDER HEART PRAYER BOOK and now MY TENDER HEART DEVOTIONS will bless families, churches and schools everywhere—pointing tender hearts to Jesus. 

The seeds for these three books were planted in my heart when my own kids were little and I longed to teach them about God’s love and the wonderful, redeeming hope we have in Jesus. But often, at the end of the day, I was so tired. What I really wanted was something that would be easy to pick up and share, and that I could be confident was biblically sound and engaging. 

Thinking that other parents might be experiencing similar exhaustion, yet longing, I intentionally planned for all three of these books to be easy for tired parents to pick up and share with their children, knowing that they could count on each to be engaging, thoughtful faith conversation starters. That’s why each bible story, prayer and devotion is accompanied by easy-to-find Bible citations, so you can look up God’s very word with your children, beautiful illustrations with lots to ponder (thank you, Sandra Eide!), and Heart Moments of prayer and action so kids can connect and respond to God’s love and God’s truth.  

If you haven’t checked the books out yet, I hope you will. Start with MY TENDER HEART BIBLE, which is out now.  Then, in September, continue nurturing the tender hearts in your life with MY TENDER HEART PRAYER BOOK which is available for preorder now. Next fall, you can look forward to MY TENDER HEART DEVOTIONS.

Here are the announcements.  Squee! 

From PublishersMarketPlace: 

And from Publisher’s Weekly announcement:

Finally, did you know that the MY TENDER HEART series has its own little home on the web where you can download activity kits, learn about events and more? Check it out at MyTenderHeartBooks.com

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Bible, board books

Summer Offer from the Author: MY TENDER HEART BIBLE Signed Book Plates!

From the moment I penned the first word of MY TENDER HEART BIBLE, it has been my hope and prayer that the book be used as a colorful, engaging poetic introduction to God’s love and God’s Word. Over these last three months since it released, I’ve signed copies for baby showers, baptisms, birthdays and Easter baskets. But now, as we approach graduation season – preschool graduation, that is, or even Sunday School graduation, followed by summertime VBS, I wonder if God might place it on your heart to gift MY TENDER HEART BIBLE to some children you know who are graduating from their preschool years. Or, maybe even, you might sponsor a child’s class and gift a copy to each child? Or, gift a copy to each class at your preschool or Sunday school so that it might be a blessing for years to come?  Or, share with your church’s VBS so it can be offered as a prize and bless some children and their families in that way.

The book is available everywhere. Check my book page for links to the publisher and other vendors. And please, as the offer states, if you order three or more copies, let me know and I will send signed and personalized book plates.

Blessings all, on this beautiful day!

Bible, board books

MY TENDER HEART BIBLE is THREE MONTHS OLD! (Three Fun Milestones)

MY TENDER HEART BIBLE is three months old! Though not sleeping through the night yet, my newest book baby loves to smile and coo. He can be a little gassy, but we love him. Just kidding. Seriously, though, I thought it would be fun celebrate by snapping this “three months old book baby” picture inspired by all the cute baby pictures I see these days on social media celebrating monthly milestones. My kids were babies before this was done so, humor me. My books are my babies these days. =) Further riffing on the theme (again, please humor me), here are three sweet book-themed milestones MY TENDER HEART BIBLE has achieved:

Milestone #1: MY TENDER HEART BIBLE is getting lots of reading love!

Though I envisioned the book being read in 12 cozy sittings (because it has 12 stories), I’ve heard from many families that once they sit down to read the book, their little ones ask to keep reading. This has been the case at school visits too. As a result three of my favorite new phrases from young readers are “Just one more!”, “Another one, please.” and “I want to read them all!” Will you help this book baby get into the hands of even more readers by ordering a copy for a little one in your life today? Or for a school or church? Or, alternately, could you recommend it for purchase to your school, church or library? Links to a variety of vendors can be found here: https://mytenderheartbooks.com

Milestone #2: MY TENDER HEART BIBLE is getting lots of positive reviews!

As of the three-month mark, this rhyming bible story book for babies through beginning readers has 16 Amazon reviews. The next milestone goal? 20, then 30, then 50! Will you help by leaving yours on Amazon or the vendor of your choice today?

Milestone #3: MY TENDER HEART BIBLE will soon be a big book brother!

That’s, right. In case you didn’t hear the news, the next MY TENDER HEART book is due in August! It’s called MY TENDER HEART PRAYER BOOK! Get your first peek here.

Bible, board books

NATIONAL DAY of PRAYER and a New MY TENDER HEART Cover Reveal

❤️It’s NATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER and time for a COVER REVEAL!!! (In case you missed it.) Illustrator Sandra Eide and I have a prayer book coming out in August 2023 with Paraclete Press and the cover is just starting to pop up on the web. 
❤️The second in the My Tender Heart series, the book is called MY TENDER HEART PRAYER BOOK and it’s something I was working on last summer. Teaching our children that they can connect with God through prayer is so important, and something that has been on my heart for a long time. Hasn’t illustrator, Sandra Eide, done a terrific job on the cover capturing the joy of those three young tender hearts as they pray? 
❤️Here’s the scoop from Paraclete Press:
❤️With rhyming text and playful illustrations, My Tender Heart Prayer Book offers a vibrant collection of prayers for every moment of the day from morning to night. Inspiring words and “Heart Moments” combine to foster a little one’s relationship with God. Contains 23 prayers that encourage gratitude, thinking of others, asking for help, joy, compassion, trust in God, and teach important spiritual cornerstones.
❤️Here are two easy ways you can help let others know about the book (and make this author’s heart overflow with gratitude.)


Way #1: Add it to your Goodreads “to-read” shelf.

Way #2: Pre-order it from Amazon.

Bible, board books, Interview

The MY TENDER HEART BIBLE Book Tour Continues with two interviews, a review, and a gifting idea!

One of the joys of having a new book out is getting to chat about it in meaningful and fun ways. Today I have two new interviews to share with you.

First up, I was honored to be interviewed by the lovely Christian author, Crystal Bowman, whose writing I have looked up to for a long time. Here’s the link to that.

Then, last week, I was interviewed by the amazing Brock Eastman. You can check that out here.

Third, bestselling Christian author, Diane Stortz, who, like me, has a heart for reaching next generations with messages of God’s love through Jesus, kindly shared her thoughts on MY TENDER HEART BIBLE in her May newsletter. Read the full review and newsletter here.

Now for the GIFTING idea:

From the moment I penned the first word in this Bible story collection, it has been my hope and prayer that it be used as a colorful, engaging poetic introduction to God’s love and God’s Word. Over these last three months since it released, I’ve signed copies for baby showers, baptisms, birthdays and Easter baskets. But now, as we approach graduation season – preschool graduation, that is, or even Sunday School graduation, I wonder if God might place it on your heart to gift MY TENDER HEART BIBLE to a child you know who is graduating from their preschool years. Or, maybe even, you might sponsor a child’s class and gift a copy to each child? Or, gift a copy to each class at your child’s or grandchild’s school so that it might be a blessing for years to come?

The book is available everywhere. But if you choose to purchase copies for a school or class, my publisher, Paraclete Press, offers great discounts for bulk purchases. If ordering 1 – 10 copies, use the code SASSI for a 20% discount. After that the discount will apply automatically, with a 20% for up do thirty copies, 25% for up to up to 60 copies, 30% for up to 99 copies and 40% discount for 100+ copies. Check my book page for links to the publisher and other vendors.

And if you decide to order multiple copies for a class or school, let me know and I will send signed book plates with a special message for each book!

Bible, board books, Reading

Five Tips for Sharing MY TENDER HEART BIBLE with Littlest Ones

My newest book, MY TENDER HEART BIBLE, introduces littlest ones to twelve of my favorite stories from the Old and New Testament rendered in poetic rhyme which both individually and together point to God’s redemptive love. The book is inspired by memories of sitting with my own children when they were little to read or re-tell (in my own words so they could understand) Bible stories so they could grasp just how much God loved them.

Each retelling is accompanied by a Bible citation, a beautiful illustration by Sandra Eide, and a Heart Moment of prayer.  This four-part design is intentional with rich opportunity to explore and learn. With that in mind, here a five ideas to help caregivers and their little ones get the most out of each spread.  

Tip #1: Before reading each story, take a moment to ponder the title and the illustrations. Using just those clues, can they guess what the story might be about? Do they recognize anyone or anything?

 Tip #2: Next, take a moment to note the Bible citation. Maybe even open your own Bible to that part and have it there alongside you as your read the story so that little readers make the connection that the story comes from God’s word.

Tip #3: As you read, pause to think about each part of the story. Maybe see if your children can spot the action that is being described in words somewhere in the illustrations. Don’t rush. Instead, encourage your children to explore the illustrations, listen to the words, and ask questions.

Tip #4: After reading, reflect together on the retelling as a whole. What was their favorite part? Did they learn something new about God? What?

Tip #5: Finally, see if your little ones can locate the “Heart Moment” at the bottom right corner of each spread.  Explain that this is their chance to respond to God’s loving word with a prayer. Then read and pray it together. 

BONUS MATERIAL: Paraclete Press has also created an activity kit to go with MY TENDER HEART BIBLE. It includes printable memory verse cards, printable greeting cards to color, and printable stickers. Instructions for downloading that can be found here: https://mytenderheartbooks.com

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Bible, board books, Easter

BUNNY FINDS EASTER: Faith Thoughts from the Author  

Have you read my Easter book BUNNY FINDS EASTER?  It released with Zonderkidz last Spring and both then, and now, it’s my hope, that it will be used as a fun introduction to the real meaning of Easter with littlest ones. The story is bouncy and colorful and fits right into an Easter basket. 

It was my joy to write and I love how illustrator Ela Jarzabek’s colorful renderings of Bunny and friends complement the joyfully rhyming text.

Though I carefully crafted every line, I must confess that I have a favorite. It comes near the end, when Bunny finds herself in church.  All through the book she’s been on a hunt to find what Easter signifies. She’s dyed eggs and nibbled hot cross buns and hopped through an Easter Egg Hunt. But, though all those things can be fun clues, it’s not until this moment near the end of the book that she has that heart moment, when deep inside, she makes the connection and figures it out.

Here’s that scene recapped: Bunny is in her pew as all stand to sing the Easter news.  

“Who came to take our sins away? And rose again on Easter Day?”  

Here’s the moment:

And on the next spread she joyfully sings the answer: “Jesus!”

This, my friends, is what I pray for all of our children. Not that their whiskers twitch, but that this Easter, deep inside they feel that glow of knowing Jesus came and died and rose again for them.  

Happy Easter!

If you enjoyed this post, please consider subscribing to my blog using the subscribe button in the footer or sidebar. I post once or twice weekly with book news, inspirational reflections, tips, interviews and more.

Bible, board books, Interview

The MY TENDER HEART BIBLE Book Tour Continues with Three Interviews (including one on Catholic Faith Network!)

One of the joys of having a new book out is getting to chat about it in meaningful and fun ways. This week I have three special interviews to share with you. First up, on February 22nd at approximately 9:45 am, I had my first ever LIVE tv interview. The lovely Colleen from Catholic Faith Network interviewed me as a part of their morning show. Here’s the segment. It’s just under six minutes and I hope you are keen to take a peek. =)

Next, that very same day, I had an early afternoon chat with author and interview host Valerie Fentress over on her Instagram page. Valerie does monthly interviews with Christian authors and asks really fun questions. (And in the super fun department, I will be hosting her on my blog later this month with Five Fun Facts about her Easter book, so stay tuned for that.)

Most recently, yesterday, I had a nice chat with Kathy O’Neill over at her blog. Here’s the link for that: https://kathythepicturelady.wordpress.com/2023/03/10/laura-sassi-tells-us-about-her-newest-childrens-book-my-tender-heart-bible/ She also asks great questions and her dog, Molly, often chimes in as well. While you are there, you might also enjoy checking out her treasure trove of great ideas for connecting art to faith with kids.

BOOK SALE! Finally, now through Easter, my publisher is offering a special price for both MY TENDER HEART BIBLE and HAPPY BIRTHDAY CHRISTMAS CHILD. When you order through them, use the code SASSI!  to receive 20% off either title on the Paraclete Press website

Have a wonderful weekend!