miscellaneous · musings · photo a day challenge

photo a day challenge – my kids all dressed up for church

Okay, I admit it.  I’m already a dismal failure at taking a photo each day.  But you know what?  That’s okay!  I’m going to swap between the photo a day challenge over at Katie Evans Photography and the one at Fat Mum Slim.  Depending on what the challenge for that day actually is.  And if I remember!

On Sunday it was “my kids all dressed up for church”.  They’re not all that dressed up, really.  Church isn’t all that formal – and it was HOT!  I made Stella’s dress (for Clare originally) and Clare’s is from Myer.  They had an argument about what to wear that morning – Clare wanted to be “matching” and Stella didn’t.  This was their compromise.

photo a day challenge - my kids dressed up for church

I originally hesitated to post this one, because it does make it pretty obvious that I do attend church, as do my kids (although I probably have mentioned the “church” word before).  My Christian faith has been a fairly private and personal thing for me. For the non-Australians who read this blog, I possibly need to give you a little context. Australia is a highly secular nation.  The majority of my friends and relatives – including my husband – don’t align themselves to any particular religion.  Some disdain Christianity and other religions completely.  So it is something that I have mostly kept to myself.  Maybe I’ve been worried about what others might think of me!

I grew up going to the Uniting Church, a mainstream and progressive church that embraces pretty much everyone and has an active outreach role.  We went to church and Sunday school, and I attended a secondary school affiliated with the Uniting Church for the last three years of my schooling.  Once I was a young adult, I rarely attended church, although I always retained the faith that I had been introduced to as a child somewhere in the recesses of my mind and soul.  Around twenty years passed before I found a new church community close to home (although I often attended with my Mum when I visited my parents, and both my daughters were baptised in my childhood church).

Church is important to me.  I’ve been attending regularly for around a year and a half now (it happens to be a Baptist church but I have retained the more liberal views of my Uniting Church upbringing).  My faith has sustained me through what have been a difficult couple of years, and I give thanks for that.  It is important to me to introduce my daughters to the community of faith, no matter what religion they eventually choose to identify with.  I don’t force them to attend church with me; it is their choice and they love coming along.  Stella is especially thrilled that “she is a Sunday School girl now”.

Worshipping God with other Christians is important to me.  Having my beliefs affirmed – and often challenged – makes me think a little more deeply about the person I am and the parent I am, and where I fit into the broader community.  Many people say that you can be a Christian without going to church.  You possibly can.  That’s what I said for the past twenty years.  And there are plenty of non-Christians who live according to what I consider to be Christian principles.  But I find that going to church helps me to focus and to connect with a community who are accepting of and genuinely interested in my family.  Our church community is surprisingly diverse in socioeconomic, cultural, and educational backgrounds, and along with that are different thoughts about God and Christianity and the Bible.  But despite our differences, we have the same basic faith and are worshipping together.

My Christian faith is pretty simple, actually.  I don’t know the Bible all that well.  I just believe that God is Love, Jesus is the son of God, and everything else flows from that.

This is a deeply personal blog post for me, and is way more than I was originally intending to type.  I’m not even sure whether I’ll press publish.

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35 thoughts on “photo a day challenge – my kids all dressed up for church

  1. I really like this post. My experience is somewhat similar, and I have just recently started attending my local Catholic Church, whereas my boyfriend doesn’t go at all, and it does help me reflect and focus. I only discuss it with certain people, and even then it’s not at length. I went to a Catholic school until the age of nine, and I truly believe that bringing children up with religion is important, even if it is until they are teenagers, then let them decide. Your girls may not always go to church with you, but at least you have set them up with that building block. I apologise for writing too much, but I really do like this post.
    Lee x

  2. I’m really grateful for this post too. I’m also from a Catholic background, with a Catholic primary and secondary school education. Even in my university years I regularly attended Mass and found it very nourishing. For the last 11-12 years, since I married and had my own children, I have had little to do with the church, and at times had myself wondering if I still believed at all. Recently, so many things have lead me to return to my Catholic base – multiple events that all seem to be pointing me in the direction of my Christian faith. It is a joy to have returned “home”. Thanks for sharing your experience. There are probably many more “quiet” Christians out there who are a little shy about their faith in this day and age. It is lovely to hear about this part of your life.

  3. I’m glad you pressed publish! 🙂 Even though my faith is private to me too, it should show in everything that I do. I am a Mennonite Baptist 🙂
    I love reading your posts because we have such similar hobbies: sewing and crocheting. But today’s post moved me! Hugs from Paraguay, Brenda (we met on Ravelry:)

  4. I’m very glad you published Lara. I find it really frustrating that we don’t readily celebrate our religion. I wish everyone felt free enough to be able to take pride in their beliefs or non-beliefs.

  5. Pleased you pressed publish! Lara, totally understand the matching/non-matching issue… it has started here in the last few months with my girls! I haven’t dropped by for a couple of weeks and you have been very busy! Loving the Pj’s! C x

  6. I’m glad you published too. As the scriptures say: If we are ashamed of God, He will be ashamed of us. Not a good situation to be in. I’ve noticed that American bloggers include their faith as a normal part of their blogging. If you have a Bible check out the second book of Timothy, chapter 3, verses 1 – 5. Gives insight into why religion is not of major importance to people today. Cherrie

  7. wow, very moving lara. im also glad you pressed publish. i am a non practising catholic, but hoping with my eldest starting prep at a catholic school,that it will give me the push i have been resisting for some time 🙂 i love your approach to not ‘forcing’ the girls to go along & that they can make their own minds about what faith to follow. i think with everything we do as a parent whether it be being healthy & active, to being community minded or even teaching them craft etc, it’s all about exposing our children to the big wide world & allowing them to make their own path in life. thankyou for having the courage to share your post 🙂 cheers cas

  8. Lara, I grew up in a Catholic/Uniting Church home. Shock horror, my parents intermarried!

    I had the full Catholic education, but the Uniting Church feels much more like home to me. I am proud of it’s progressive, inclusive nature, and our kids are likely to be going to a Uniting Church Secondary School in the near future.

    I also don’t really mention my background, but I am glad you did today.

  9. Thanks for your post! I’m also a Christian (co-incidently we go attend a Baptist church, and I’ve just realised that we attend playgroup at yours!), and usually don’t talk about it much at all on my blog. I’ve noticed that you talk about going to church, and have found your openness encouraging – it shouldn’t be something to hide!

  10. I understand the reluctance – the words we use to describe our beliefs seem clumsy because they can be such loaded terms. Secular people hear “Christian” and immediately bring all their bad experiences/baggage/assumptions with them. And it’s very hard to describe that aspect of yourself not using those terms or even with them!
    As another churchy girl, I’m taking my girls to Sunday school. (and even teaching some weeks!) It’s a privilege to be a part of the same church family that I grew up in. I love that its part of the Sunday routine, experiencing the diversity of the church family and I get to put my 3 girls in dresses & skirts – sometimes homemade and really where else do you get to do that regularly? 🙂

  11. I’m glad you pressed the publish button 😉

    You’ve said everything I would. I grew up a Presbyterian but was confirmed Uniting Church when I was 20 as it was a better fit for me and my personal belief system. Since moving to ACanberra I have failed to find a Uniting Church that isn’t a) younger than average 90 years old and b) not completely obsessed with “family includes children”. I actually tend to go to the very old Presbyterian church when I do go as it’s the best fit of all. Also – they have loud bells. I love loud bells.

    When I was in hospital last year I shared a room with a Catholic woman who’s daughter was a nun. Pat prayed for me every night when I was at my sickest, and the sisters were praying too and I know God was listening because I got better when I really shouldn’t have. It was a turning point in my faith and life.

    I must add that my closest friends are athiests, but their lack of faith doesn’t bother me as much as my faith seems to bother them. Each to their own, I say.

    Thanks for letting me ramble. Again. xx

  12. Well, I, for one, am glad you published. I often think when I read your posts how brave you are to post photos of yourself on a regular basis, although you are just a regular working (super) mother and wife. I love your photos and stories, Australia is a long way from Michigan, USA. But being a Christian is the same all over the world, and I have felt challenged as a Christian myself at times. I don’t have a church right now, having been displaced by losing my job and returning to college as a 50-something-year old. And my college age daughter is showing the signs of a young adult rejecting Christianity (at least temporarily). In our campus community here at Michigan State University, we have a very diverse population, with foreign students from all over the world. Religious affiliation is kept pretty quiet around here. However, I am considering finding a new church where it is OK to be a Christian, and I wanted to let you know that your post makes me feel better and stronger about doing so. Thanks for sharing!, Karli

  13. Kudos to you for publishing the post. I also rarely mention my faith on my blog. Maybe some from fear, but also because that’s not what my blog is about. There are plenty of other blogs about ‘faith’ if that’s what people are looking for.
    Unfortunately as ‘Christians’ we too often look at the differences between the churches, and don’t pay enough attention to the foundation of truth, which truly can be summed up in John 3:16.

  14. Being a Christian myself I love it when others express their faith, very glad you pressed publish and shared with the rest of us. While most don’t go to church where I live neither are we belittled by others for going either. I think Canada is fairly diverse culterally speaking and perhaps more accepting of other people’s faith and practises or at least I’ve always felt it so.

  15. I think there is no wrong or right believes… as long as you respect what others beleive you have right to believe whatever you want… Religion is also important to me although I can’t attend church as often as I would want. I loved your post!

  16. I think it’s good to share your faith, Lara. John 3:16. We want everyone to believe in Jesus Christ and have eternal life! I don’t mean that you have to be extreme and shove it down people’s throats but when the opportunity arises we need to pass along the message. Keep it up!

  17. Thanks for sharing your experience and spiritual journey here. My daughter has lived in Canada for the past several years and discusses the secular-ness of Canadian culture vs the religiosity of the USA (where I live) so I am not surprised to learn about Australia’s secular nature.

    I identify and practice Quakerism and not to long ago read a book by Elton Trueblood (a Quaker scholar) who wrote that Christianity is practiced in community, which I’ve also heard elsewhere. I believe it’s true despite those who profess to be unchurched Christian – or other religions.

    I share your belief that God is Love. I also interpret Jesus’ appearance to the women following his death and words that I am always with you – not as magic and evidence of his divinity, but evidence of our shared divine nature and our shared humanity. At any rate, I believe in the importance of faith communities – no matter the religion- because above all else we need to be in community together, and to be raised to a higher level, to the greater good. That’s why I love the evolution of the internet and social media – community building for modern wo/man!

    With you on the journey, Lillian

  18. hey hey! “Peace be with you” … we have this in common too … I’ve grown up at Ashburton Baptist … the thing is with the Baptist churches in Australia, they each have their own mission statement & organise themselves independently of their state’s Union … & yet they belong. Depends where you are as to how liberal etc … I agree with you on your ideas of faith! We are all created to be in community & gathering with others like minded supports us on our journey …

  19. Good on you Lara. I do think there are more ‘church going people’ out there, but as you say we keep it to ourselves. I gre up in an Aglican household and went to church every Sunday with my parents. When I left home I stopped going, I had a lot of unanswered questions that no-one could answer. I was frustrated with the whole religious thing.
    Now, being married to a Catholic, I go with my family to the Catholic church (right across the road!). My eldest has just started being an alter boy and loves it – it has given him a purpose and direction. I still get frustrated with the ‘rules’ and the ‘why’s’ but I go to get in touch with God. That, and being with my family touching God. I don’t think I will ever convert to the Catholic faith, it has way too many rules and regulations for my liking!!! But I do believe that Christianity plays a bit part in our society.

  20. Hi! A really interesting post, thank you.

    I clicked on the link for your Baptist Church and the first thing I saw was ‘Baptists don’t support same sex marriage’. I am afraid this dissuaded me from reading further. Is this part of the philosophy of the wider congregation?

    1. Great question! From my observation this is controversial within the church. Personally I am a supporter of same sex marriage and there are others at my church who are too. There are some senior Baptist clergy who support it publicly as well. But clearly there are also still many who oppose it. It is an issue of considerable debate in the church still. Much like the rest of the population I suppose.

  21. Thank you for your post Lara. A friend directed me to your post after a discussion about everything you posted about! Your post has been way more of a blessing than you could know – thank you!
    Rowena

  22. I’m so glad you pressed publish too Lara – your experience and philosophy mirrors mine in many ways – I too want my children exposed to a church-going environment – to learn the importance of acceptance, kindness and compassion and to be part of something that might help them find peace and comfort during their life.
    I battled major Catholic guilt in not sending our girls to the local Catholic school – but in the end decided the educational/personal reasons we wanted them to attend the local state school were more important than just sending them there because of the Catholic religious component – that can come from their church experience.
    I enjoy the mental challenges that religion often stimulates in me too – debates about same sex marriage and also those about ‘why bad things happen to good people’ being just two of them.
    As with many people who practice religion there are times when I don’t agree with the view of my church but it is the guiding principles that I wish to instil in my girls.
    Thanks for sharing.

  23. Thank you for sharing your faith so simply and honestly, Lara. We tend to be very reticent about such things and it is wonderful to see this side of you. Wish I could do it so well! God bless.

  24. I have christian friends as well, one is even a gay Sabbath abiding seventh day adventist. He has shared a lot of insight with me of church, religion, christianity, and homosexuality with me. I have even openly asked him how is that he can hold a religion so close to his heart that condemn his own existence. he told me that that God’s love transcends the bible and its their duty to share that love and sacrifice of ,his own son. I never thought about it in such a way and it was very eye opening to me! I think that was a part of me judging religion as well and I admit, I was so glad I have friends like him. although I am agnostic, I think attending a church is like taking a bus ride to the same destination. if you are going to the same place, you may have lots to talk about and friends to make!

    I don’t like how a lot of secular way of thinking seems to be that if one is religious, one certainly must be close minded. I’ve met both secular and religious people who are close and open minded.

  25. Lara, I read your post with a lot of interest. I attended Sunday School as a child, was confirmed and was part of a number of church groups, somewhat under protest. Once I was confirmed, I was able to elect not to be involved with the church, however looking back, I am very happy that I have that background, which I consider to be a critical part of my education. While a religious education does help you make choices about faith, it also provides insights and perspective on art, history and the development of society. I now attend church from time to time and actually enjoy it and certainly don’t rule out a greater involvement in the future.

  26. It must be strange for people say in the USA to read about Australia and really understand just how secular we are. I’m one of the secular mob but I greatly admire people with faith. Bravo for pushing publish.

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