When it rains, it pours

It’s been a tough week in the Buford household, over here northwest of Dallas in Flower Mound.

Not that things aren’t tough all over. Obviously, they are.

And believe me when I tell you I know how blessed we are that things aren’t worse under these surreal COVID-19 circumstances.

But allow me wallow in self pity for a moment.

My 85-year-old mother Eudella moved in with Marcy and I about two weeks ago.

Mom and I drove from Florida in her car, a U-Haul trailer in tow and her dog Tiger in the back seat.

Of course, this was all happening as schools, businesses and churches began closing down in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

That left us to deal with a displaced mother coming to grips with a new life and new circumstances, essentially without being able to leave the house.

Then there’s the dog. Or should I say dogs.

Tiger is actually very sweet and very well-behaved. It’s our dog Murphy who is the problem.

Murphy is not at all happy about sharing her house with this interloper.

We’re having to keep them separated while we desperately try to get them better acquainted – with the help of a trainer who, of course, can no longer come in the house.

One dog sleeps upstairs, the other downstairs. We feed them separately. We walk them separately.

It was on one of these walks when things really took a turn for the worse. We were coming back from walking Tiger on Thursday evening when Mom fell in the doorway and broke her hip.

She had surgery the next morning and remains in Medical City Lewisville, where of course we are not allowed to visit. She is moving to in-patient rehab today, and we expect her to remain there for a week to 10 days.

As one might expect, I texted the church staff with news about my mother’s fall when it happened.

I needed support and prayers, and the pastors and staff have been a rock of encouragement and support to me and my family from the day I began working at First United Methodist Garland.

My text began with “When it rains, it pours,” which brings me to the point of this long-winded tale.

One of the first responses, and one I will remember for the rest of my life, came from Pastor Caroline Noll, our Associate and Pastor for Children and Families.

I didn’t keep the exact words (should have), but the gist of it was this:

“I’ll be praying for an umbrella for you and your family.”

Never has a prayer touched me more deeply.

Pastor Caroline is a gifted servant of God, one I’m blessed to know and to work with in ministry.

And on this particular day, I believe her comforting words were a gift from God, delivered through her.

God speaks to all of us in many different ways. He asks only that we listen.

Especially in this time when the rain is falling, and we all need an umbrella.


Kitty Williams, Director of Music Ministries

My husband Wally and I recently visited our daughter Lindsey and her husband in northwest Washington state.

Nature’s beauty up in that ‘neck of the woods’ is astounding!

Somehow all the right conditions come together (climate, soil, sunlight, moisture) and cause common plants to grow more beautifully extravagant than most places.

One cannot help but contemplate creation in that environment.

I loved seeing a giant sequoia.

It is one of my favorite trees because of it’s massive size, resilience, longevity and beauty. I’m amazed that this magnificent tree starts from a seed smaller than a grain of oat.

To tell the truth, contemplating creation ‘blows my mind.’ 

Thinking about the organization of the universe, the configuration of our solar system, the construction of our earth, the composition of all matter, all the DNA sequences that make up all things living, not to mention the human brain which is able to contemplate all this – it’s unfathomable.

I’m speechless. 

When I contemplate the night sky, the cosmos which all unfolded from a speck, galaxies, stars, this beautiful earth – 

Who are we humans, that you attend to us? Mere mortals in our tiny corner, and you love us? 

We are life come to knowing and feeling. 

The whole world is in our hands – plants and animals, oceans and ice caps, rain forests, atmosphere and ecosystem. 

Touch our hearts, O God, make us worthy of this trust 

Help us care for life on this beautiful earth. 

– From Psalm 8, paraphrased by Christine Robinson 

From the ashes

Josh Medlock, Director of Missions and Student Ministries

What is the most beautiful sight in nature that you have ever seen?

For me it would have to be the Rocky Mountains in Colorado.

I spent my childhood in Colorado and never fully appreciated the majesty, the magnificence or the sheer magnitude of those mountains.

We would go camping, climb rocks at the Garden of the Gods in Red Rocks, and fish the streams and lakes for rainbow trout.

I remember there was a road we took that was often referred to as the “Road of All Seasons” because you could drive through snow in the spring and see leaves changing around the next corner, and the temperature was 85 degrees when you reached the campgrounds. 

I have not been any place since where I felt I was truly witnessing creation.

It was as if the modern world simply ceased to exist, and I could become one with nature and enjoy it exactly as God created it.

Then I had children … 

I saw God so clearly in the birth of both of my children.

To know that life had been created, a gift that I was a part of, the magnitude and awesomeness was not lost on me.

I have never been so humbled.

When I afford myself the time to actually reflect on this gift it still humbles me.

It makes me realize how precious and fragile life and creation really are.

Even in nature, life is precious and fragile.

Forest fires can bring the tallest and oldest trees down and reduce them to ash.

Volcanoes can erupt and level the tallest mountain.

Glaciers can march their way toward oceans and strip the land, leaving behind nothing but smooth rock and sand.

Yet creation and life endure.

From the ashes new life springs forth bursting with color, and with enough time will cover the landscape with the lush green colors of summer.

Eruptions make way for new landscapes to form and with it, given enough time, life returns in abundance.

Glaciers clear the landscape and allow new places for life to take root and new valleys to be formed that can give birth to fish, animals and birds.

Our church is part of this creation. Right now we are in a place that reminds us how fragile and precious we are.

Many are fearful the fires will come, the earthquakes will rumble, the volcanoes will erupt and the glaciers will march through, and we simply won’t recover.

Others are fearful simply because change is here, and cannot process where they will fit into what comes next.

Still others are choosing not to look ahead, remaining in the past and present and simply trying to “wait it out.”

One thing I have learned from watching creation in all its wonder and majesty is this:

From the ashes new life is born.

From the rubble endurance and perseverance prevail. 

Life goes on. It will sound different. It will look different. It will feel different. It will be … different.

Our church will be different.

However, it will be what God needs it to be for the next step in creation.

We are all part of the same big world. We are all the children of God and the love that God has for us all is the same. We all struggle with showing that same love to our neighbors.

Rest assured no matter where you are at on this journey God loves you. Nothing will ever change that.

From the ashes the church will rise and God will be there with us.

Take some time to watch a sunrise or sunset.

Enjoy a thunderstorm or the rain.

Revel in this wonderful creation that we are all a part of.

Take a breath. God is there with you.

Beginning again

Caroline Noll, Associate Pastor and Pastor for Children and Families

Fall is actually here! At least on paper. All August, friends kept saying, “I can’t wait for September!” My thought was, why? Do you remember September in Texas? It doesn’t feel a whole lot different than August.

But now the State Fair is here! I remember mom used to say that the weather always changes sometime during the fair.

One of my favorite parts of welcoming fall is the changing colors of the leaves. Other parts of the country are famous for their fall foliage, but I’m content with the few bursts of color in our neighborhood and on my drive to church.

A giant tree on the corner of our street slowly changes from yellow to orange to brilliant red. There’s another we named the “James and the Giant Peach” tree because of its shape and color. Smaller scarlet trees and the golden confetti from our cedar elms … I enjoy them all.

I wonder how it came to be that some trees keep their green leaves and needles and others undergo such transformation from year to year.

Some trees and plants seem only to grow and grow until very old age or disease finally set in, and others continually renew and transform with the seasons.

How did this come to be?

If one had only ever lived among evergreens, what would they think the first time a mighty oak or pecan began to shed what seemed like every green and growing thing from its branches?

Would they panic? Would they be puzzled? Would they worry? Would their hopes for growth, resources and shade diminish? Maybe.

But you and I have not only lived among evergreens.

We have experienced many aspects of God’s spectacular creation: its wonders, its mysteries, its beauty, and its decay.

We have enjoyed times of planting, times of growth, seasons of heat and drought, the delight and surprise of the changing of seasons, and the cold and gray of winter.

I don’t know what season you are experiencing. What I do know is, whatever season you are in, it is not the last. There is no last season.

Creation doesn’t go in a line, beginning in spring and ending in winter. Creation begins and ends and begins again. New creation! It is true for nature, it is true for you and me, and it is true for our church.

Those little golden leaves collecting on my sidewalk bring me joy and hope. Those leaves have served their purpose well.

When they fall, the tree may look bare for a season, but the branches still reach high into the sky. They join together in a solid and strong trunk which connects them to their deep and far reaching roots.

And from those roots new life will grow. May it be so with you, with me, with us.