Unsatisfied By Average

The Musings of a Stubborn Believer

I Can’t!

To the contrary,
yes you can.
I know you can.

Did you expect to get this without trying really hard? (this, for those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about.)
We don’t come by anything valuable without effort.

But we’ve learned a thing or two that makes it a bit easier… You probably have too, and I’d love to hear about it. (We’re here to help each other, right?) So here are a few things that help me tremendously. (translation, habits without which it becomes impossible for me to memorize more than a phrase or two.)

1. Don’t panic.
If you’re working on verse 5 or 6, you’re fine! The schedule is a guide. And some people will find it more effective to memorize tortoise style, rather than hare style (no, not hair.) with a bunch of review. 

2. Engage multiple senses
Hear, see, speak out loud. Hear, see, speak out loud. Speak, hear, read. Hear your own speaking, while reading. Hear someone else reading, while speaking. The more different ways, the more neuropathways. The more pathways, the better.

3. Engage multiple systems
Think, speak, move! Muscle memory is sometimes easier to come by than abstract memory. I attach hand motions to abstract concepts to make them concrete. Then the gesture can actually remind you of the word… So, for words like “former…before…after…many days hence” I picture time as moving from left to right, and gesture accordingly. Other words like “seen…speaking,” “spoken…beheld…looked,” “taken up, and a cloud received him out of their sight.” are even easier. Invent your own sign language. ๐Ÿ™‚ Just move your hands.
Lists, same thing. Jerusalem is always on my left, Judea next, (all Judea– gesture the “all” too) Samaria off to the right a bit, and the uttermost part of the earth is… far flung. ๐Ÿ™‚
Oh, and one more thing: Don’t sit down. Seriously.

3. I repeat: Listen.
Can’t stress this enough. The Bible we listen to is free. So free, in fact, if any of you have not already procured it, I will email the first 3 chapters to you right this minute. Seriously. [then the next three, then the next three] Please(!!!) drop me an email… [seannebblett[at]gmail.com]
Even if you’re not an auditory learner, I promise you everything you hear (and everything you will ever hear) is stored in your brain forever. If you’ve listened to a chapter 20 times before it’s time to memorize it, you’ll find most of it recognizable. (Translation, start listening to Acts 2 a couple times a day. by the time you get there you’ll be glad you did.)

As a bonus, the mind is particularly adept at capturing conversations through the ear… And Acts is full of conversations. Have you noticed it’s easier to remember what the characters are actually saying that what is said about them?

4. Memorize out loud. (This is why it’s handy to have more than one person doing it in your house. :))

Ok. What have I missed?

p.s. If any of you are still having trouble with the calendar, revisit the original post and use the links I added specifically for Google Calendar.


  1. Something that REALLY helps me is to write out (or type) the verses I'm trying to memorize…the more times, the better. Also, the first-letter approach is really helpful – write the verse(s) on one side of a 3×5 card, and on the other side write the first letter of each word. Then see if you can say the verse just by looking at the first letters. That way, too, you can just stick the card in your pocket and carry it with you everywhere! ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Thanks for that advice Sean! Could you please email me the first three chapters? ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Excellent tips! One thing I find works very well for my brain is writing the verses out on note cards. It's the action of writing… And then I review them in spare moments throughout the day.

  4. Using multiple senses has been key for me–and besides the usual read/listen/speak, imagining the verses/conversations, that I'm right there and can see/hear/see Jesus going up in the clouds, etc. also helps me a lot. Writing the verses together and then in random order helps me know the verses backwards and forwards–like Rachel, the more I write the better.

    The newest thing I've tried that has made a huge difference is recording myself on my phone– it sounds weird I know, but at least for me, the guy on my audio Bible talks way too fast and in a really monotone voice and actually makes it harder to stay engaged–so although my voice isn't much better, I have yet to find an audio Bible that works for me, so for now this keeps me engaged, and as I listen back, I can catch the spots I'm weak on and I keep recording over until I don't pause at random moments because of forgetting what's next : )

    I hadn't thought of the motions one– I'll have to try it and see how it works for me.

  5. I will also sometimes draw little symbols, like when learning 2 Cor 3:18 I drew a face, rectangle for mirror and radiating lines for glory as I had trouble learning the order of those three.

    As for getting up to memorising that much a day…I remember at the beginning of last year when Rebekah decided she wanted to learn more than a verse or two a week. At first she could barely manage a verse a day, but I am sure it was only about 3 or 4 months before she could memorise 5 a day and later that year she would do up to around 7 a day at times. So that is encouragement for those others out there like me who are still struggling with a verse or so a day, keep persisting it really does become easier.

  6. Great tips. I didn't get to do much memorizing the last two days. But this morning I was able to catch up. Such a good feeling! I'll try everyone's suggestions. So far, I've found reading it, then speaking it over and over, helps me most. I too find that often, the audio Bibles are spoken rather too fast. But if you say it helps so much anyway, I'll do it. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. I'm absolutely loving this, Sean! I was behind the first day but I've caught up…and what an incredible, deep bless! I'm working earnestly at it. I want to be able to say, "Thy word have I hid in mine heart that I might not sin against Thee". God's word has truly been "a lamp unto my feet and light unto my path". God bless you, too, as you are embracing this amazing challenge.

  8. thanks for the tipe. What do you use for listening to the bible free? We found one site but are just curious what you use. We all worked on it during our walk to day and also said it outloud while running which really gives your lungs a work out, but we're determined. I made a photo copy of the chapter to so we can have it handy during the day. I haven't looked at the schodule but I'm going there next. Today we're at verse 8.
    Another thing I've found that helps is asking questions of the text to spark the memory. Ex: Verse one. "The former treatise have I made…" Q. What kind of treatise? A. the former treatise. "…of all that Jesus began both to do and teach." Q. Jesus began what? A. to do and teach. "Until the day in which he was taken up.." Q. until when? A. until the day in which he was taken up.
    It's fun to do it with your siblings and ask and answer the questions of eachother.

  9. Is that audio bible that you're offering to send chapters from the same one that you linked to in your last post? I've been on a search for a good audio Bible for the last few weeks now. I agree with Sara. I'm looking for something downloadable and {free} with a slower more thoughtful voice. The only one I found that I actually really like has background music that strikes me as eery sounding. Any ideas?

  10. Oooh! Thanks for sharing that… ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Wow, such enthusiasm…I love it! And so I'm inspired to give it a try. Pray I can make it all the way through!

  12. You could record yourself reading the bible.

  13. Excellent thoughts, all! Thank you so much! ๐Ÿ™‚
    @Maria and Beth Anna:
    I'm with you on the struggle to find the perfect audio Bible… I still haven't found one I'm unreservedly happy with start to finish. I've heard many too fast, one too slow, and lots disqualified by their dramatic interpretation. The one we listen to most (one of the versions produced by Faith Comes By Hearing) still has its moments where text and background might clash briefly but for the most part it does the job well. ๐Ÿ™‚ Not sure if it is exactly the version you are making reference to from the website, because we got it free from that ministry on CD years ago. The reason I'm happy to email it is because it is distributed free, it's just difficult to navigate the download process due to the technicalities of their ambassador program.

  14. We can all cheer for (and pray for) each other! ๐Ÿ™‚ And as for making it all the way… It's about the journey more than the destination. We won't all move at the same pace, but we're pointing the same direction. That's what counts. ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. Yes, prayer is very useful. I have not only been praying for the people who have taken up this challenge, but also for the people who haven't, yet… Today, I talked to two more people and they have decided to give it a go! Praise the Lord!

  16. I've been looking for something to do while on the treadmill every morning, and I do believe I've just gotten my answer! Now the trick is to coordinate all of this while running… ๐Ÿ˜‰

  17. That is so wonderful, Bek!

  18. thanks for the idea, I will have to try to record my voice- may be with some animation ๐Ÿ˜€

  19. Such an exciting project! If anyone is interested, I have the entire Bible by Alexander Scourby… I can happily send it along via Dropbox ๐Ÿ™‚

  20. Something that has helped me some is an app called iMemorize. You can get it for iPad or iPod Touch. Just search iMemorize in the app store. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Sometimes I write down the number of words in the verse. For example, in verse 3 of Acts 1, I would write: 14, 6, 11 [14 words before the first comma, then 6 words, another comma, then 11 words]. That way I can make sure I don't miss any of the words, but don't have to look at the first letters and get any hints that way. Hope that makes sense! ๐Ÿ™‚

  21. One site we found and I like the sound of the man's voice. It's called Audio Treasure. And you can download it also. I haven't tried yet but plan to.

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