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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Interview, Picture Books

WEDNESDAY BOOKMARK: My Interview on Canada’s Christian Family Radio Chri 99.1

Yesterday, it was my pleasure to be interviewed by radio host Care Baldwin for her program, The Wednesday Bookmark, a weekly show that celebrates books. The interview aired April 19th, 2023 at 4:30 EST on Family Radio CHRI 99.1 fm, a Canadian Christian family radio station.  Thank you, Care, for being such a great host!  I had a wonderful time chatting about MY TENDER HEART BIBLE.  Here’s the link for the radio interview.  And we also recorded for youtube which you can access there as well! How fun is that. Enjoy!

Interested in purchasing a copy of this or any of my books? Check out my Books tab!

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faith, Life, Writing

THE CLOCKS ON MY MANTEL: Reflections on Faith, Life and Writing

The clocks on my mantel each tick to their own beat. In our current house there are just two, but originally we had three (the third broke at some point). Here’s a picture of the two that still grace my mantel – one is from the 1850s. The other from the 1870s. Both were purchased from a dear family friend, now deceased, who collected and restored clocks. Each boasts a lovely wooden case, intricate wind-up gears and reverse-painted glass doors.  I love their visual presence on the mantel.

I also enjoy the sound of their ticking, though family have had different reactions. “They sound off beat,” notes my husband. “They’re frantic,” my mother used to say.  But to me, they beat in sink with my heart, for my heart beats to three different passions.

My deepest passion, like the clock on the right that beats loudest, is my faith that springs deep from within.  That tick is my passion for Christ – whose love for me beats steady and strong through it all.  This is the beat that starts my day, every day, and keeps me ticking even when life gets tough. It’s my joy and strength.

The middle clock (the one that I still remember fondly) ticked and chimed in two modes and gave peeps every quarter hour. In my heart, that tick tock was the mothering clock that was ever ticking and keeping me moving forward, nurturing and raising my children.  That middle clock always seemed to beat faster than the other two, which matched my feeling of often being out of breath with the intensity of parenting and the fullness to bursting – good and bad – of managing all the daily details of life. 

Then there’s that third clock. Tall and serene with dainty walnut steeples, its tocks are as delicate as mouse whiskers.  In my mind, this is the clock that’s quietly noticing and taking it all in. This mirrors the depths of my heart that are ever sensing and grappling with life’s beauty and pain. This gentle beating comes with a pen in hand.  It uses words to pull together and analyze the sometimes seemingly discordant tick-tocks of life. And over the years, it has been a source of  renewal and expression that I can’t imagine living without.  The result?  A mile-high stack of journals, this blog, and my stories and books for children which each in their own way point to God’s goodness and love.

What about you? What makes you tick? Do have any figurative clocks on your life mantel?  And what helps you keep them all in sync?

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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:

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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!

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Easter, Picture Books

EASTER BOOK PARADE: Eight Books to Teach Little Ones about the Real Meaning of Easter

I love a good old-fashioned Easter Parade with colorful bonnets and fancy spring outfits, all bursting with JOY. Easter, after all, is the most significant holiday in the Christian calendar. It’s when we celebrate the good news of Christ’s resurrection.

But amidst the joy of jelly beans and chocolate bunnies and colorful Easter outfits, it’s also good to remind our kids about the deeper significance of Easter. With that in mind, I thought it would be fun to have an Easter BOOK Parade on my blog today featuring eight Easter-themed kids’ books that your little bunnies, I mean children,  might enjoy: 

The Easter Story by Patricia Pingry, illustrated by Mary Ann Utt

Intended for toddlers and preschoolers, with one or two concrete sentences per spread, this is a sweet introduction to the life of Jesus culminating with His glorious resurrection Easter morning.

Say and Pray Bible Easter Sticker and Activity Book by Diane Stortz, illustrated by Sarah Ward

If my kids were still little this would definitely be a part of their Easter baskets.  Chock full of over 40 Easter-related activities and puzzles plus 100 stickers, it will entertain and teach little ones about Easter in a most colorful and engaging way. Perfect for a long car ride, too.  

Bunny Finds Easter by Laura Sassi, illustrated by Ela Jarzabek 

As Bunny bounces through her day in this board book for littlest ones, she encounters various items that are connected to Easter including colorful Easter eggs, hot cross buns, an Easter bonnet, lilies and an Easter Egg Hunt. All these are fun, but it’s not until she arrives at church and all rise to sing the good news of Easter that Bunny realizes what it’s really about — Jesus!

’Twas the Morning of Easter by Glenys Nellist, illustrated by Elena Selivanova

Ideal for ages 4 – 8, this beautiful retelling of the Easter story is told to the cadence of “Twas the Night Before Christmas”.  The illustrations have a glowing quality that adds to the richness of the story. We will be reading this Easter in my Sunday school class this year.

Benjamin’s Box by Melody Carlson, illustrated by Jack Stockman. 

Ideal for ages 6 – 10, Benjamin’s box recounts the story from the fictional perspective of a young boy named Benjamin.  Starting with Palm Sunday, Benjamin collects items that tell the story of Jesus’ journey to the cross, culminating in Jesus resurrection Easter Sunday.  The story can be paired with the ever-popular Resurrection Eggs.

That Grand Easter Day by Jill Roman Lord, illustrated by Alessia Trunfio

Told in cumulative story-style to the cadence of  “This is the House that Jack Built”, this picture book introduces littlest ones to the Easter story beginning with the stone in front of the tomb and culminating in Jesus resurrection. It’s fun, memorable and perfect for preschoolers. 

Easter is Coming by Tama Fortner, illustrated by Wazza Pink

Author Tama Fortner does an exceptional job in this deceptively simple picture book of contextualizing Christ’s death and resurrection in the bigger scope of God’s grand plan for redemption. Starting with Adam and Eve, each spread poetically points to the fulfillment of God’s plan to save us through Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection.

The Legend of the Easter Robin by Dandi Daley Mackall, illustrated by Richard Cowdrey

This sweet tale uses robins, nests, and eggs to remind readers that Easter is when we celebrate the glorious miracle of Jesus’ resurrection – through which we too receive new life in Christ. I have used this book in past years as part of my Easter lessons for Sunday school.

These books are available wherever books are sold.  You can also recommend or request them through your local library (which is a wonderful way to help books get into the hands of readers). 

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author spotlight, Bible, faith

TODDLER THEOLOGY: Tips for Sharing Faith with Little Ones with Author Cathy Dudley

Is it possible to teach toddlers about God? I first had this question as a college senior when the children’s ministry coordinator at the small church I attended asked me if I’d be interested in teaching the toddler class.  “Aren’t they too young to understand anything?” I asked. Her answer has stuck with me all these years. And now as a mom, author, and long-time Sunday School teacher, I know she is right.  And what was that response?  “Their hearts are ready.” 

With all this in mind, I have a special guest here today.  No, it’s not that children’s ministry coordinator from all those years ago.  My guest today is Cathy Dudley, an author with a heart for sharing faith with toddlers and preschoolers. Her two books, TODDLER THEOLOGY – CHILDLIKE FAITH FOR EVERYONE and FAITH, FAMILY, & FUN – MONTHLY LESSONS TO COLOR AND CONNECT WITH GOD do just that. Today she is joining me with tips and reflections on sharing about God with littlest ones.  Without further ado, here’s our interview with my questions bolded.  

Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got interested in this beautiful faith-sharing endeavor.

My name is Cathy and I live in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia with my husband, Gary.  We enjoyed raising our three children on our farm, Joyful Noise Acres, and just celebrated our 50th Anniversary.  We’re now loving retirement travel and being Grammy and Grandpa to our six dear grandchildren.

I believe God can use anyone to do anything. I didn’t intend to become an author, but God started preparing me when I was born into a wonderful Christian home. I never knew anything other than Jesus loves me. My mother was the pianist in Sunday School, and I’d sit on the bench beside her. As a little girl, my dream was to become a missionary nurse. This modified over the years, and I earned a degree in physical therapy, specializing in working with children with disabilities.  I just always loved children … and the gospel.

When I retired, God started putting things together. I decided I wanted a new bible and bought one entitled “The Grandmother’s Bible”.  It’s really neat.  Sprinkled all throughout the scripture are devotions by famous grandmothers, reminding the reader of how important it is to pass down our faith to the next generation. 

The next thing I knew, God gave me the desire to write the good news of the gospel in a new way, using simple language and concepts little people can understand. That book title is TODDLER THEOLOGY – CHILDLIKE FAITH FOR EVERYONE.  I can’t tell you how much I love sharing it, usually as a vendor and wearing one of my hats!

Skeptics might say toddlers are too young for faith chats. What would your response be?

I think toddlers and preschoolers are of the perfect age for faith introduction. Yes, they usually have short attention spans and aren’t capable of abstract thinking, but they’re also curious, eager to learn, and trusting. I think these are the characteristics of children Jesus was talking about when He said, “Let the children come to me, do not hinder them, for to such belongs the Kingdom of God”.  

Little ones know nothing yet of Jesus and have everything to receive.  So their childlike faith is accepting and trusting ~ waiting to be filled up. This is the kind of faith Jesus is looking for.  

Since we know children’s minds are like sponges, ready to soak up whatever knowledge the adults they love present, what better time to plant simple faith seeds?  Tell them Jesus is their special friend and that He loves them. Then, as they grow and questions come, they’ll have a firm foundation for understanding even greater truths.  

What would be your top three tips for sharing faith with toddlers through preschoolers?

  1. Keep it simple.  Use simple words and ideas they can relate to and also incorporate simple faith sharing into their daily routine.  Examples: On a walk, talk about God being our father in heaven. He made the trees, the birds, and everything in the world. When helping your child get dressed, remind them that God and Jesus love him (her) and think he (she) is very special.  At mealtime or bedtime, teach them that prayer is the way we can talk to God and Jesus. Show them how to fold their hands, bow their heads, and say the words after you.  Young children learn through experience and will be happy to imitate this as they like copying what they see.
  2. Use fun songs with motions.  Singing makes one happy, the lyrics linger in the mind, and this age group loves to move.  Examples.  “Jesus Loves Me” with sign language.  “Hallelu!  Hallelu!  Hallelu!  Hallelujah!” with big arm movements and standing up / sitting down
  3. Read picture books.  Select simple books that depict the message you’re sharing.  They are loved by God … and Jesus … and they’re very special to God and Jesus.  Toddlers – preschoolers love to be read to and have the same story retold. So repeat the favorites over and over.

Tell us a little bit about each of your books?

I’ve written two Christian books for children and their families. 

TODDLER THEOLOGY – CHILDLIKE FAITH FOR EVERYONE won a children’s literature award, the Purple Dragonfly.  This sweet little book is the good news of the gospel in a nutshell, told in the friendly voice of Jesus and using simple language and concepts young children can understand … including the very special job God gave Jesus at the cross. You may have heard this story many, many times, but you’ve never heard it explained like this! Jesus tells us how much He loves us in an unexpected way that makes sense to children. TODDLER THEOLOGY makes the perfect baby shower or baptism gift … and is also great for birthdays and holidays.  

FAITH, FAMILY, & FUN – MONTHLY LESSONS TO COLOR AND CONNECT WITH GOD is a delightful devotional, activity book designed to be used by families. There are 14 unique lessons that connect every day life with faith. Each lesson begins by describing an experience the child has probably had in their own life, like moving to a new city or having a sleepover with cousins.  This situation is pictured in a black and white caricature drawing that can be colored.  The story then transitions to the spiritual message and links to a complementary Bible verse, prayer, activity, and talking point.  This book makes it super easy to spend meaningful time with your children, focusing on Jesus.  Now this is something to celebrate!  

Where can readers learn more about you and your work?

Thank you, Laura, for this opportunity to share with your reader friends. If any of your readers would like to know more about me or are interested in getting any books, please check out the following:

1. Website:

2.  Amazon Author Page

3. Facebook: Toddler Theology – Faith, Family, & Fun

4.  YouTube: Cathy D. Dudley

Also, on my website, you’ll see listed various specialty stores across the United States that have been gracious enough to stock my books.  If one is close to you, please support them.  

Thank you for joining me today, Cathy. This has been a blessing to me and I’m sure to others as well.

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Bible, board books, Book Launch


Did you know that MY TENDER HEART BIBLE, which released earlier this month with Paracete Press, is part of a series? The second book MY TENDER HEART PRAYER BOOK will release this coming fall. And in the super neat category, my publisher Paraclete Press has created a special website for the series:

It’s your go-to spot for all things MY TENDER HEART starting with oodles of fun stuff related to MY TENDER HEART BIBLE including:

The link to the MY TENDER HEART BIBLE story time which aired with Paraclete Press last week

A downloadable activity kit for MY TENDER HEART BIBLE which includes:

  • Printable Bible verse “Tender Heart Moment” cards
  • Printable Greeting Cards for Kids to color and give on special days
  • Printable Tender Heart Stickers
  • A special preview of My Tender Heart Prayer Book – coming this Fall!

Easy links for purchase from a broad array of vendors

The beautiful book trailer produced by Paraclete

A regularly updated listing of all my events

An “About the Creators” section

A contact tab so you can reach out to me or them

And this LOVELY endorsement from best-selling author Crystal Bowman:

The title says it all! My Tender Heart Bible is a sweet Bible storybook, just right for little hands and little hearts. Written in rhyming verse and paired with adorable illustrations, this collection of favorite Bible stories will help young children learn about people and events from the Bible, while reminding them of God’s unconditional love. I need it for my grandkids!

Crystal Bowman—award-winning, bestselling author of more than 100 books for children including, Our Daily Bread for Kids

I hope you will bookmark it for easy reference. (I’ll also include on my website’s designated book page for MY TENDER HEART BIBLE.)

Happy Monday, all!

Bible, podcast


This week it was my pleasure to be interviewed by podcast host Terrie Hellard-Brown. Her podcast, Books that Spark, reviews children’s books that spark imagination, emotion, questions, and discussion leading to teachable moments with our kids. Her podcast posts each Tuesday morning. 

Terrie has interviewed many authors including Crystal Bowman, Annette Whipple, Glenys Nellist and more. Recent topics include Teaching our Children to Pray and How to Disciple Our Children.  And in our podcast we chat about Helping Children Delight in God’s Word.

Here are a couple of visual nuggets to whet your appetite.  And here is a link to the podcast. And here’s a link to the transcript if you prefer to read. Enjoy!

For more information about Terrie, visit her website at