I do have one of her pans on the top shelf.
And under its warped blue rubber lid you can see it right there on the underside in faded black marker, her name still.
A memory on pyrex.
And I’m not the only one who can still taste her cherry cheese cakes from that nine by thirteen dish.
And Dad Voskamp gave me her spices when he cleaned out the cupboards, when he moved out of the house, moved far away to a new bride and new spices. He gave me Mom’s rosemary and thyme and a stack of packets with Dutch words I can’t read and I just go by the illustration and the aroma, and the soups haven’t been altogether bad.
I stir and think of her famous Sunday afternoon chicken casseroles. I use the spices sparingly. I don’t want to run out of the taste of her.
At lunch over chicken soup, one of our boys says he’s figured it out, the thousands of acres an elderly neighbor has amassed in his near seventy years.
Mom Voskamp had had nine kids and was 72 when she took her plot of land in the cemetery on the 8th line and I just move her one pyrex pan and lid to get down a plate for the biscuits. What does a woman really need to have amassed by the end?
For two weeks, I trip over this one last box Dad Voskamp dropped off when he cleaned out the house and I had aimlessly set down in the bedroom, of her plastic wrapped ivory candles and puzzles still sealed. Piles of never written on postcards from the fifties and sixties — at least three copies of each card, ferries and Holland and kittens in hay mows and of Alaska and we have no idea how she has postcards from Alaska but maybe all of our lives have turns in the road known only to us.
It’s what I find slipped down between 1000 pieces of a castle in Germany and the cardboard of the banana box that has me thinking of the wealth she amassed. These riches are clasped together with a pink elastic. I slide the papers out carefully.
She’s dated each one. ‘80. ‘81. ‘84. A string through the 90s. Bible Memory Association booklets. Booklets of her memory work over decades. Each one with her name in blue ink, same looping “y” as the pyrex lid.
After a late dinner, we light candles so we don’t have to see the dishes, the remnants of a day of homeschooling, and I bring her lifetime of memorization to the table. One of our boys tries to figure it out, how many verses his Grandma memorized.
What does a woman really need to have amassed have by the end?
“Grandma learned all these?” Shalom’s eyes are big in the shadows. I nod my wonder too.
“Wouldn’t Grandma like it if I could tell her all those verses from Ephesians we’ve been learning?” Shalom’s smiling and she begins, pulling herself up straight.
“Therefore, putting away lying, let each one speak truth with his neighbor, for we are members of one another.”
She’s smiling at her dad. Nothing’s slowing her down now.
“Be angry and do not sin and do not let the sun go down on your… your…. What’s that hard word, Levi?” Well… nothing but a hard word or two.
Levi’s leaning towards one of the flickering flames. “She dated the top of each page, too … Feb. 7, ‘80″
Hope runs her fingers across her Grandma’s faded pencil lines. “What are all these initials for in the corners?”
She shows them to me over wicks making halos and I read them aloud… “Good work, V.W.” … V.W. … Ah… Viola Weber. I smile and choke it back. Viola sat with Nelson and the four boys in the front pew every Sunday at the Bible Chapel.
“And there’s this one “Said to Seleda, after B.C.” Hope holds the page towards me.
“After B.C. — As in Before Christ?” Caleb’s confused.
“No… “ I can hardly talk for this lump in my throat. That would be “after B.C. … As in after Bible Club.” 70 kids in the Voskamp house for Bible Club every Friday night for 23 years….
Caleb says it so quietly I can hardly hear him: “I think we are losing this way of life… with the internet who memorizes like this anymore?”
He’s fifteen and he’s sad, his grandmother’s BMA book in his hand. His face is mirrored by candlelight into the window behind him.
Who memorizes God in the age of Google?
Losing a way of life… and losing our way….
“I was seven in 1980.” The Farmer says it quiet, thumbing through the “Wisdom for Daily Living” booklet, looking for traces of his mama that run deep in his veins.
“Seven. The age of Kai.”
I look down the table to the fourth boy with the eyes glinting in candlelight and I try to imagine.
Am I being the kind of mother to him as own his grandmother was to her son? His father…. Who will Kai be in thirty years because of who I am now?
Do I spend my week ruminating on His Words or my worries?
I outline the letters of the title of “1 John.” She’d written 1984. The winter of 1984.
I was 11.
She memorized the whole of 1 John the winter of 1984. Did she carry these verses with her out through the snow drifts to water the hens? As she made meals and made a boy into a man and my husband?
I had one that looked just like this, a copy of this 1 John BMA booklet too. Mine was later, the winter of 1992, my first year of university. I was 19.
I walked to class, bitter Toronto winds blowing snaking down the nape of my neck, mittened fingers holding open these pages of 1 John.
Communing with the Holy comes in committing the Holy to the heart.
When did I lose my first love?
Why do I make to-do lists to run my life but not make time to let God’s Word revolutionize my life?
Kai’s turning pages of the “Walk in the Light” booklet. He looks like his dad. How can I raise this child if I won’t raise my eyes to the hills whence my help coa verse card maker to memorize any verses at allme from? Something hurts hard in my chest.
Does repentance burn like this?
The next morning I would find a verse card maker — just type in the references you want to memorize, and it automatically gives you a page of the verses formatted like business cards, perfect for the pocket. The Farmer in the barn. Or an accordian Moleksine to carry all the business card verses in the diaper bag.
And I would find a download of all of Ephesians, formatted to cut out for a 3 by 5 booklet, like a pocket Moleskine. I’d follow the example of one very wise brother and on the left hand page, I would paste that week’s memory work of Ephesians. On the right hand page, I’d leave the top half of the page for marking down the number of times I review, the bottom half of the page for reviewing. I’d make my own memorization booklet —
A Commitment Booklet — committing His Words to memory and committing to Him.
I’d fall in love again and this is all a woman needs now and in the end.
“Helen.” The Farmer leans over to show me the handwriting.
“She recited that week’s to Helen.” Helen Van Veen. Mrs. Helen Van Veen shared the gospel with me in Mom Voskamp’s Bible Club. In 1981?
It was these two women who threw Words to a drowning kid and saved me with Jesus. The happiness wells liquid. I touch the corner of the page, where Helen and Mom and Jesus all met. She wrote this down too on the page “Description of a Wise Woman” with the text of of Proverbs 31. “Finished on on March 2/1980.”
She finished well. I have no idea how I’m running. Or maybe I do.
In the morning, I would begin again with earnest.
At the table in the evening, us all quiet in the memory of a woman who made her life about the memory of His Word, the remembrance of her Christ, Hope picks out one of the BMA booklets.
“Could I have one of these? And memorize all of these verses like Grandma?” Her voice is wistful in the dark. She doesn’t want to run out of the taste of her… Of Him.
“On top of all of our other memorizing?” Levi waves a thick booklet. He sounds… incredulous.
Hope stands up.
“I could do both.”
She sounds… like Grandma.
Resources to Aid Memorization:
#1. Business Size Cards in Pockets Commitment Booklet:
Verse Card Maker : type in any references to any verses you want to commit to memory
A Moleskine Memo Pockets Pocket booklet to slip all the business sized card verses into, to carry in the purse
#2. Daily Review of your Memory Verses by Typing them out:
Create an account at Scripture Typer (right hand sidebar)
Then click “Start Memorizing Scripture”
Click on “Enter your own verses” at the top of the page
Then type in verses of your own prayerful selection
Then click your preferred version of the verses, ESV, NASB, NIV, KJV, etc
Then click Import Verses
Then click Save Scripture
Finally, click “home” — and then click on your linkable verses in the right hand sidebar … which will send you to a page where you can just type out the verse you are trying to learn — (you type it and the screen only has half the words) … and then you attempt to “master it” — you type it with no verse on the screen and it notifies you in red when you are wrong…
Your typing out of the verse is always timed — so you are always trying to better your time. This really works for some folks! Every day you can be emailed a reminder to check in on the site and work on your memory work.
#3. Free Memory Book Downloadable: Colossians in Year: Just 2 Verses a Week
Click here to Download and Print your own Commitment Booklet: Colossians in a Year: Just 2 Verses a Week (NIV, 2011)
~ print and either have comb bound (cards are formatted to give space for comb binding), for ease of flipping cards, propping at the sink, etc.
~ or alternatively, cut and paste into a booklet like a pocket Moleskine
~with check off the boxes for each day of memory habit completed
~ built in weeks for review
~ find a reciting partner to recite to — have them sign each week on the allotted line
(only *two* verses a week — the document does take a bit to load. Thank you for grace!)
To Download and Print “Why Memorize?” And The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Bible Memorization Inspiration — also formatted in 3 by 5 to include in your Comittment booklet
The link for the cover in a PDF can be downloaded: right here.
For encouragement and cheering on in memorizing Colossians, our warm invitation to join the Colossians in a Year Facebook page
In making to-do lists to run our lives, why not make time to let God’s Word revolutionize our lives? Because making time to memorize His Word is putting the first things first.
If we fail to keep His Word in mind, we may simply fail. In the age of Google, who still memorizes God? Are we losing a way of life… and losing our way?
“What a heart knows by heart is what a heart really knows,” urges Dennis Lennon. And what the heart knows by heart is all that can calm the heart. Direct the heart. Strengthen the heart. What do our hearts really know? Will we who claim to be believers of the Word commit to shaping our lives with His Letters?
Committing the Holy to heart is the way we commune with the Holy Himself.
Scripture repetition is the way we daily revive our faith, the slow pumping of the Word of Life into the lungs with the breath of His Words.
And for the disciples of Christ, this Scripture Memorization isn’t a a one-time hurtle — but a life-long habit. A way of living to live the Way of Christ.
“We want this to be a discipline we practice for the rest of our lives.Think marathon, not sprint.” writes Beth Moore. “Never — NOT ONCE — have I ever known anyone to get to the end of a Scripture memory commitment and say that it didn’t make any real difference. Not a single time.”
So this Commitment Booklet: committing our hearts to Him and His Words to heart.
Seven Ways of Highly Effective Bible Memorization*
1. Old before New
Always take the old paths. Begin each day by reviewing the memorized verses first before learning the next verse. The goal is retention not accumulation.
2. Rinse and Repeat
And again. The only way to retain learned verses is to review them again and again over an extended period of time. Everyday’s memorization rhythm: Rinse and repeat.
3. Location, Location, Location
Like the mantra in real estate is location, location, location, so it is for really remembering: memorize the location of each verse. Memorize each verse number and don’t skip it. This is paramount and makes it much easier to memorize long passages and not inadvertently skip verses when reciting whole chapters. Location!
4. Take a Mental Screen Shot
Use your mental point and shoot and take a brain “photograph” of the verse. Read each new verse several times, hiding one word at a time, burning each word into your mind like light onto film.
5. Preach it
To yourself. Speak your memory verses to yourself aloud. Preach it aloud to the soul that needs it the most — our own — and say each verse with emotion and feeling. Whispering it while driving, walking, working not only is an easy way of reviewing and memorizing, it’s fulfilling God’s call to meditate on His Word day and night. And saying each verse aloud is a way to work the words deep into our memory: His Words never return void.
6. Repeat it for 100
For 100 consecutive days repeat aloud your memory work — all the verses, or the chapter, or the whole book. This is painless and demands no extra time: do it first thing every morning while getting ready for the day — in the shower, getting dressed, making the bed etc. Repeat it for 100!
7. Sabbath Sanctuary to see the weeds
After your Repeat it for 100, take the last Sunday of every month and make a sabbath sanctuary to read through your memory work. This will help you to “see the weeds” — any mistakes that have crept into your recitation of longer projects/chapters/books. Soak in His Word on a Sabbath — pluck out some weeds. Commit your heart — and mind —- to Him again.
(*Ideas adapted from Dr. Andrew Davis)
“I know of no other single practice in the Christian life more rewarding… than memorizing Scripture… No other single exercise pays greater spiritual dividends…” ~Charles Swindoll
Learning the ART of Memorizing
Attend to the verse. Do whatever it takes to attend to the verse and work those brain muscles. If you have to act it out, draw it up, write it down, or tape it everywhere. Make up actions and sign-language to correspond with the verse. Listen it a recording of the book of Colossians on CD/MP3. Listen in the car, while doing dishes, going for a walk. For children: Draw the verse in pictures. Fill in the blank. Write it down several times. Close your eyes and see the words.Do whatever it takes to Attend.
Review to Renew
Repeat. Recite. Recap. Reiterate. And then…. Recite to an accountability partner weekly. Each day, take just five minutes to review verses learned last week. Learning is important…but reviewing is paramount to retention. Repeating God’s Word renews.
Tie Daily Memorizing to Daily Duties. Tie reciting to routines: when you brush teeth, comb hair, make the bed, use the time to savor His Sweet Word. Tie memorizing to meal times. Bind Scripture learning to laundry, labor and living. Tying daily memorizing to daily duties is the living of Deuteronomy 6:7: “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” Tie His Word to your life. Tie.
So goes the ART of Memorizing. And our motivation to keep memorizing? “Guard my words as your most precious possession… ” Pr. 7:2 (LB) “Your promises to me are my hope. They give me strength in all my troubles; how they refresh and revive me!” (Ps. 119:49 LB)
I have posted this before, but it inspires me every time:
a repost from archives as I walk woods & water this week, my memory book of Colossians in hand, as I long to live Christ-centric
Every Wednesday, we Walk with Him, posting a spiritual practice that draws us nearer to His heart.
Next Week and the next three weeks: The Practice of Humility… We look forward to your thoughts, stories, ideas….
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