Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Memorize THIS!

Let me say up front: I'm not a huge fan of AWANA.

It has its place, it has touched thousands of kids' lives over the years. Most importantly, it has instilled a love for the Word of God in their minds.

If you're not familiar, AWANA (Approved Workmen Are Not Ashamed- it comes from 2 Timothy 2:15- and you thought the Army's acronyms are bad! ;-) is a kids program that focuses on Bible memorization. There is game time, a lesson, and certainly friends- but the focus is the memorization.

That's my problem with it. I don't think memorizing Scripture is bad, mind you. Quite the opposite. And, I have to acknowledge that AWANA has changed since I was in it, 15-20 years ago. It has been updated and probably is a much more quality program now.

Here is the way I remember AWANA: memorizing verses from the Old King James, which had words I didn't know. Of course, they put the definitions for said words in the margins... in almost as incomprehensible language... for a 2nd grader.

My BIGGEST problem with it, though, is the rewards system. It worked great for ME! I am good at memorizing and often had my book completed well before Christmas. I was in AWANA for 10 years; by the end my leader was just giving me chapters to memorize, because I had done everything else.

But what about the kids who aren't inherently good at memorizing?

They can work at it, they can say their verses. But there was always this feeling that being a "good Christian" was synonymous with finishing your AWANA book. They probably already struggle with school; the last thing they need is to come to church and feel the same inferiority.

Do you not think that they make this comparison? By completing sections of the book, kids LITERALLY get JEWELS in their CROWNS!!! WHAT?!?!?!? You have GOT to be kidding me! These small plastic crowns and jewels (which have holes if they are not filled) adorn their uniforms. Again, I must say- I think the system and uniforms have changed since then. But, that is what I remember.

This only feeds the culture of American Christianity: spirituality is a formula. Did you pray and do your devos? Good. You get a gold star in God's book for today! Wait, what? You haven't done your devos (shortened for "devotions", aka "quiet time" for those of you who were not in a youth group in the 90s...) in THREE DAYS? Backslider!

I really react to that. Again, I think studying and reading the Word of God are great things for a Christian to do; that cannot be argued. There is also something to say for maintaining the discipline of it.

Jon and I plan to memorize passages (yes, passages- not individual verses which are so easily ripped out of context) with our kids, just as his family did.

But equating being a "good Christian" with a Pharisaical check-the-box to-do list (think they don't exist? You MUST not have been in a youth group in the 90s...) is far from the call to love to which Christ beckons.

Hm. I was not intending on going off on that rabbit trail.

The POINT of this post was actually more of a question. I'm sitting here studying for my midterm and found myself relying on some of the memorization skills I learned in AWANA. That made me wonder a "chicken-egg" kind of question- did I do well in AWANA because I'm a good memorizer, or am I a good memorizer because I did well in AWANA?

In days of old, grade school education relied MUCH more heavily on rote memorization than it does today. Is this a disservice to our kids? What do you think? Does memorization come easily for you? How do you think that is related to the amount which you had to memorize as a young child? (I don't mean high school- I'm talking about early elementary) I don't remember ever memorizing anything in school- even addition and subtraction had nifty tricks to it.

Just curious.

Anyway, back to my tangent. If you like AWANA, I certainly don't mean to offend (though, while I'm on the subject, can we all agree that the word does not have an S on the end? It is not AwanaS...) I certainly loved it as a kid- Wednesdays were the highlight of my week! I wished it wouldn't end for the summer- I wanted to do it year-round! I still remember many of those verses today (though, for some, it took until college to figure out what they meant...) I just wonder if maybe there is a better way, a way that instills in kids a love for Scripture that is not academic.

I suppose, if nothing else, it is indisputably helping me do well on my midterm this week...

Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Great North Part I

I have had this post up working on it several times now... I need to just go ahead and post this and finish it later!!

Ah! Another update! Today's will be presented in bulleted form, for ease of reading...

~ I have gone to the PWOC at Hunter (where Jon is now stationed) twice now. It is a very small group- just 5 or 6 women- but I am so much looking forward to being a part of their fellowship! They are all so eager to learn more about Christ and build a community. I have felt SO welcomed there already and plan to be in leadership (of course, with a group that small, EVERYONE is in leadership :)

~ We made it to my parents' a day early! I had it all planned out... I was going to put Sophie in her bumbo on their porch, ring the doorbell, and hide... unfortunately my dad happened to walk into another room and happened to look out the window the same exact moment I was crouching and running across the yard with Sophie... oh well... they were still surprised!

~ We had a great time with them, and she loved it too! She went on a couple walks with Grandpa, and loved it when Grandma fed her her applesauce!

~ We then went to Jon's dad's on Wednesday evening. She wasn't too sure about Poppy at first, but was giggling for him by the end of the night! (I think the bananas I was trying to feed her factored into her initial displeasure...)

~ On Thursday, we all loaded up to Jon's sister Emily's for the day. Another sister, Sarah, was in town, so Sophie had a great time with all sorts of cousins! There were four new Fisher girls this past year- three of them were all there that day. Of course, we couldn't get them to all look at the camera at the same time, but it was great fun! Eliza was born last May, and Alice is about 6 weeks younger than Sophie. In every picture, one or two of them is reaching out to grab another... I think the pic below is my favorite!

~ Sunday we went to my "old" church- it was so great to reconnect with people! They recently built a new building, so in many ways it feels like a whole new church. I look forward to being able to go there a couple more times while we're here!

~ Yesterday Sophie and I are took the day "off"- we spent the whole day at an empty house by ourselves! The last two weeks have been so busy, with so many new people, (in addition to what I already mentioned, on Saturday we came to Jon's brother's house, and yesterday we went to my brother's) - Sophie really needs a couple days to settle down.

~ This morning we went to Pine Ridge Bible Camp, where I worked in various roles for 7 summers. As I walked in to talk to one of the staff, a cabin leader (what PRBC calls "counselors") was asking a question about something. Brenda said, "Why don't you ask Sara? She's a veteran!" Jon doesn't understand why I keep going back to a "closed chapter" in my life- but I spent so much time there, I just can't stay away! :-)

Ok, that's it for now... more later!!!

Thursday, June 19, 2008


Sharing life together...

Monday, June 16, 2008

Daddy's Little Sweet Pea

Happy Father's Day, Daddy! We can't wait to see you!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Alas, it's another update...

Sorry for the silence.

I've started a couple posts, but they were more than just "updates" and, well, I just haven't had the mental energy to complete them. So, what follows is what I DO have the mental energy for- in all its updatiness.

I leave early Saturday morning for Michigan! This will be the first time Sophie will meet five of her grandparents- and many many more aunts, uncles, and cousins! (5 aunts, 8 uncles, and 6 cousins... PLUS seeing again the 2 aunts, 2 uncles, and 4 cousins she already knows!) So much fun! Our month o' family (and friends :-) will culminate with my cousin's wedding in July- then by the time we get home, Jon will be home in about 2 weeks!

In other news, tonight I made brownies with applesauce. Not bad. A little spongy, but they still taste great!

Sophie is doing really well with the spoon! She LOVES eating (like her mom!) and always laughs when we wave "all done!" at the end. She is also now rolling both ways (getting quite mobile!) and sitting up really straight. Today while we were webcamming she "talked" to Jon for probably 5 minutes straight... I have no idea what she said, but it sure seemed interesting!

The unpacking is going ok. Can anyone explain to me why they used literally 18 square feet of paper to wrap twisties, yet couldn't secure my open bags of sugar and flour that left a film on all my pantry items?? Seriously, I feel the need to plant a forest or something- they used SO MUCH paper! I appreciate the fact that none of my dishes were broken, but using 2 pieces of paper (6 sq feet each) to wrap ONE of Sophie's plastic "little people" is just obnoxious. Most of it I have actually saved since the next time we'll probably move ourselves. That makes me feel a little better about this move singlehandedly knocking out 27 ancient trees.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Gotta love Georgia...

Today the heat index is 100.

More later...

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

We did it!!

We both have blogged about this before, but I think today's events deserve their own post...

We're debt-free!

With the selling of the house and the paying off of Jon's student loan, that's the last of it. We first got serious about getting out of debt last September, and it is such a good feeling to know it's all gone.

I hesitate bringing it back up, because I know a lot of people aren't in our position. I really don't intend on making anyone feel any more burdened by what they may be going through. That said- if you would have told me two years ago that we would EVER be debt-free, I would have smiled politely and thought to myself, "Yeah, right..." (Actually, last summer we were on our way to see Shawn & Tracy in Florida with Mac & Lori, and we had that very conversation. They were sharing with us their story, and I remember thinking, "That's all well and great for you, but that will never be us...")

We don't buy totally into the Dave Ramsey approach... but I would say his common-sensical ideas definitely got us to where we are. Not even including the house, in the past 16 months we have paid off literally tens of thousands of dollars in debt. Very little was credit card- but some of it was. The rest was primarily vehicles (this time last year we were paying on 3) and his school, with a couple smaller things thrown in there.

How did we do it? Well, I had a part time job that paid off the truck. We sold the truck, which paid off the motorcycle. We sold the motorcycle, which paid off the car... and in there somewhere, the extra money we were saving by not having to give it to our lenders paid off the credit cards. The famous "envelope system" definitely helped too...

If you want to read about another incredible story still in the making, visit Joel Maxwell- he is a Soldier, and his wife is too (she's on her way to becoming a Chaplain!) They are working hard to pay off over $550,000- and have gotten rid of almost half! (Let that sink in a bit...) If you click on the "Steps to Freedom" in the left-hand sidebar, you can read their whole story.

So now, we're debt-free.

It's an awesome feeling.