My memory failing... yet still, grace

forget-me-nots by Dean Jenkins

I don't really know what is going on, but I am struggling with my memory lately.  It is incredibly frustrating.

When I was a child, I never read books more than once because I found it boring to reread a book I had already absorbed in great detail.  One time through and I was done.  For my entire childhood.

When my parents couldn't remember something... a name, a date, an event... they would ask me.

I did well in school without too much studying because I could remember most everything after hearing it once.

I leaned hard on my memory, and it served me well.

Now I am in my forties.  In the past few years my memory has begun to fail.  I am off balance.

Last spring I had a few small parts in a children's play with my daughter.  She memorized 144 lines in about two weeks.  I had 10-ish lines; it took me two months.

I have been trying to memorize the book of Philippians (for more about that and to join an online community, click on the button in the sidebar), and since December have only been able to add a few new verses.

Today I write for two reasons.

The first is to share an incredible grace... several people have been praying for me to be able to persevere in memorizing Philippians (thank you sweet new friends), and today I saw the fruit of their prayers!  For the first time since December, I was able to make it all the way through the verses I've been memorizing, without getting completely lost and drawing a blank.  And this despite the fact that I had that persistent fuzzy feeling in my head (plus headache), and sometimes felt like it was my mouth remembering, not my brain.

The second is to ask for ideas... what might help me with this memory problem?  I don't so much mean techniques for memorization, although I'll be grateful for those as well.  But my mind... could this be hormones?  I would love to glean from your wisdom and experience! 

It won't surprise you now to learn that I forgot to continue adding to my gratitude list here on Mondays.  But now that I have remembered...  I am ever so grateful for...

41 ~ sisters in Christ who pray without being asked

42 ~ patient children who encourage and applaud as I stumble over words

43 ~ my Lord who is strong when I am weak

44 ~ Advil  :-)

45 ~ helpful ideas that are sure to come

46 ~ my little boy's loving hands stroking my hair as I strive to remember

47 ~ his small whisper of a word or two when I pause

48 ~ the deep grooves in my brain where God is carving His Word

49 ~ sweet tears of rejoicing when I realized the gift I had been given this morning

50 ~ bibles all over the house to lean on when I forget

linking up with Multitudes on Mondays...

If you have experienced memory lapses I would be ever so grateful if you would share what has helped you.  Thank you!


  1. This is great news, Patti! Yay for grace, and for getting through your verses!

    Have you been memorizing the number with the verses? This helps me tremendously, as the numbers serve as an anchor to keep things in order.

    Also, if you haven't used them yet, the "letter cards" work really well. You can DIY with your version here:

    This helps with recitation, and helping your brain categorize the words in the order they should be! I can tell the places that I need work on, as I stumble trying to figure out the letters. The places I have down, I can just breeze through the letters.

  2. Katie, since I saw you mention it (on twitter?) a few days ago I have started adding the verse number. Do you do it at the beginning or end? Curious which you find flows better.

    I haven't done the letter cards... I feel goofy saying this, given the subject of this blog, but I forgot about it. I am going to try it for tomorrow's verse and see how it goes. Do you look at the letters as you recite? Thank you! You are a wonderful source of encouragement and resources.

    Hey all you thinking-about-memorizing-scripture folks: really do go check out Katie's site, she has awesome ideas. Click on the Philippians button up there on the right.

  3. I'm sorry to hear that, Patty! I can't offer much advice- I'm having very similar troubles right now! I'd say I will keep you in prayer, but it will probably escape me. (sorry!)

  4. My memory is not my friend! I do remember reading that the hormones of pre-menopause can reek havoc on one's thought processes, including memory. I can't remember if it gets better once menopause actually occurs (um, I'm still in the "pre" stage so my memory is compromised!)

    I'm proud of you for persevering through Phillipians! I've been trying to learn the Psalms my children are learning for a Scripture challenge. No big surprise they are miles ahead of me!

  5. You're in your 40s? From the pictures I've seen I'd have put you in your late 20s!

    I have no memory help for you, but WAY TO GO on getting past your former stopping point! :)

  6. Thanks so much, everyone, for the support. In addition to your comments I also received a few emails with encouragement and some suggestions. One thing that has come to mind repeatedly is WATER So I tried to pay better attention to my water intake today. I do think it helped!

  7. And SomeGirl, the chocolate is in the mail. ;-)

  8. i bumped into your post @SomeGirl today. the memory thing can be a variety of of which is hormones. if it continues to be a big problem especially associated with either no energy or frantic energy, you might check to see what is happening with your thyroid. sad to say, memory issues don't vanish w least not with many of my friends. it's not like you are headed for senility or anything, it is just that you don't remember all the things you once did.
    one thing that will prob. help is your memory work. when i memorized colossians, i printed the book in my chosen version from Bible Gateway. then i cut it out by paragraphs on cards (used more than one paragraph to a 5x8 card). i get distracted by having to memorize the numbers and my goal is to learn the scripture so i learn it by paragraphs and interact with the meaning. it helps me memorize it. it also helps pick up some of the emotion that is there in paul's letter. always a good thing.
    if you are working on this with friends or your family, it is a good idea to look up on maps to see where paul was when this was written. what was happening to him b/f and during his time in Phillipi (check out the appropriate portions of acts) what was happening in this particular church that paul was writing to (easily found in a study bible and other sources.) learning a more specific context for the book you are memorizing will give you a LOt of insight into who he was writing to and why he was saying certain things to them. if keeps you from interpreting things from your own context and applying them in wrong (from a hermeneutical perspective) ways. often brings more depth to the applications.
    sorry i went on. this is prob. more info than you wanted. just passed on what has been helpful to me. we are doing a bible study in james starting next week. i'm hoping to mem. james in the process. m


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