Join us in TEMPE every Sunday morning at 8:50 for Sacred Space or 10:00 for our traditional service.

bullocksBeing a parent is one of most incredible and daunting gifts that I have been given in my life. Whether we are blood related or serve in parent/nurturing type role in the life of a child, we are co-creators with them in the journey of life. It’s a privilege to dance with children through their milestones.  It can also be heartbreaking when we witness their dreams, crushed, because of various life circumstances.
We are now in a season of change as students are beginning or going back to school from preschool to college. Many of our children are excited for the challenge and some may be apprehensive for the new change. This summer, the Bullock family experienced a new change. We moved to a condo and my daughters began new schools as well. My youngest daughter, Anna, is attending Waggoner Elementary and my oldest, Heidi, is in her first year at Kyrene Middle School. So far they are enjoying the new schools, teachers and friends. I’m very happy that they have made this transition smoothly.
However, a couple of weeks ago, I attended a meeting for parents of middle schoolers at Heidi’s school. As I walked into the very large dinning hall, I quickly began to realize that moving to middle school was a big change. I sat quietly in a sea of parents and guardians, listening to each teacher share passionately about the curriculum that they will be teaching my daughter.  Each time a teacher stood up to share, my stomach tightened up more and more. I found myself holding back a flood of emotion in order not to embarrass myself.  Memories of when the girls were younger were flashing in my mind. How much fun we had being insanely silly. But what happened to the time? How did my girls grow so fast?  How did I get to be a parent of a middle schooler?
I thought to myself, “I’m not ready for this change, I’m just not ready.” As I tried to pull myself together emotionally, I came to the realization that this change was more about “me” not wanting to grow up. This realization, of course, sent me to another string of thoughts that lead me to wonder why I don’t want to grow up. Does being a parent of a middle schooler mean I’m getting older? Am I no longer needed as much? Is it possible that I may not know as much about my daughter who is turning into a young woman? I can already hear a resounding, “YES,” as I write this. Clearly, I wasn’t prepared for this change in my daughter’s life. Facing this reality was probably written all over my forehead as I sat there trying to face this reality and appear to be composed. The questions kept popping up in my head, “what will be role in my daughters’ life be?”  “Am I ready for this? Can I handle all this change?”
Recently, I joined a local gym with some friends and am experiencing a whole new understanding of health and exercise. Unfortunately, the work outs never get easier, but fortunately, I am feeling better after each exercise experience… well, maybe three hours after the fact. This new exercise routine, has really helped me contemplate my health and understanding as a parent. Being a parent never gets easier. However, I’m learning to cherish and accept the reality of time gone by and discover ways to grow and mature as a person, even when I struggle to grow up. Being a parent takes time, patience, lots of love, and now I’m learning it involves maturing into the Dad God desires me to be.
I have often wondered about Mary and Joseph’s parenting experience. What brought them joy? What
broke their hearts? How in the world did they really respond to Jesus when they thought he was lost and
they finally found him in the temple discussing theology with the religious leaders? I wonder how they were growing with their son who would lead a movement to turn society upside down and inside out by simply challenging the hierarchy and calling his followers to love God and neighbor with their whole being?
Well, the good news is, I’m not Mary or Joseph and my daughters aren’t Jesus. However, we are all children of God, called to grow in wisdom and grace. I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not a perfect parent, but I’m thankful I’m not alone on the growth journey. Our family is blessed with great schools and a faith community to help us on our journey of growth and maturity, even when we don’t want to grow up.
In this season of changes, I have been reading stories from Genesis and reflecting on all the growth changes that are occurring within the families. My favorite is the Abraham and Sarah story. They discover that God is with them throughout their journey. What a blessing to receive. May you find that God is constantly with you on the journey.
I wonder how you are growing in your journey? If there is one thing I have learned as a parent, it takes a village. I wonder where you find strength and support in growing up as parent, as child of God? I would love to know. Feel free to drop me an email at
May you grow in God’s grace and wisdom,
Pastor Joel