Theology and other conversations

Twenty-five years ago, I started college at Belmont. I thought I wanted to be a teacher...that lasted for about half a semester. I realized very quickly that I most enjoyed my Old Testament history class, taught by the amazing Marty Bell. I loved learning the history and context behind the scriptures, something I had never learned at church. So, at the end of my first semester, I have a memory of trudging up the hill in the rain to Fidelity Hall where the School of Religion was housed. I sat down in tears across from Dr. Bell and after some heavy sighs, decided to change my major to Religion. Soon after, I took my first theology course, "Christian Theology" with Dr. Steve Simpler. (side note: Dr. Simpler has been a fixture in my life. He was the dean of the SOR when I was at Belmont and we have kept in touch all of these years. Later this month, I'll attend his retirement party.) I'll never forget the simple definition of "theology" that Dr. Simpler gave: theology literally means "thinking/thoughts about God." It may sound simplistic, but honestly, we're all theologians. I'm convinced that every single human has at least contemplated the thought of a god or God at some point. Personally, I believe we're created that way. We crave knowing that which is bigger than ourselves, but I digress...

Our children are also theologians. Amber Joy has been asking great questions lately, and despite my best efforts to keep it simple, she's delving into deep waters. I'm not sure Justin and I are quite prepared, but we do our best, all the while hoping that what we tell her now doesn't cost her too much in therapy bills later.

She's a perceptive little thing. We listen to music a lot because frankly, I don't like the total silence and we don't have cable TV. So often, when we're at home, it's easier just to put on some music. I don't remember the song, but a few weeks ago, she heard the word "glory" in a song. She looked at me intently and said, "mommy, what's glory mean?" Um. Well? After I stumbled over my words a bit, I decided on "awesome." "Honey, it means that God is awesome. That's God's glory." When Justin got home that night, she told him that God's glory means He is awesome. Maybe that will do for now?

Then another day, the word "sin" came up. Here we go. I don't want to tell my five-year-old that we are all sinful, but then again, that's the truth. We are all in need of a Savior. So, I said the first thing that came to mind: "sin is, well,'s why we need Jesus. We do things and think thoughts that God doesn't like. So that's why Jesus came." We've talked about other words lately..."life," "Satan" (the enemy of God as we call him in our house), and "variety." Her vocabulary continues to grow as does her understanding of the world around her.

Our girl! She likes to draw, write letters, cut, and glue. She draws our house, our family, and usually includes her cousin Jasmine in the photo. She is no longer sure she wants to be "Amber Joy." Most days, she says she just wants to be Joy. But then last week, she told Justin she just wanted to be Amber. She loves the song "Better When I'm Dancing" by Megan Trainor and says she wants to meet Megan one day. Pink is her favorite color, she only wants to wear shirts with skirts (or dresses), and wants to be an audiologist. She is fascinated with the story of Jesus on the Cross, but also loves the stories of Joseph and Moses. She likes learning about Egypt, Pharoah, and the Sphinx (spinks, as she calls it). Her favorite phrase is "nailed it!" The first thing she does when we get home is to take off her socks and shoes. She loves being outside barefoot. We are putting in a garden this year and she's super excited. She likes to play with mom and dad anytime, any day. She can unload the silverware out of the dishwasher, get herself in and out of the tub, and buckle her own car seat. She can sweep the floor and hang up dresses and shirts. She is compassionate, especially toward people we see on the side of the road who "don't have food." Lately, we've been visiting a ground swallow every day. She has three eggs and Amber Joy just likes sitting there in the grass with me, watching the mama bird and tearing grass blades. She says she wants to move to another country and live in an apartment (or a pink lake house). I absolutely love this phase! She's so much fun and so creative.

Keep going, girl. #shine


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