Sunday, July 29, 2012

Until Death

Until death

Those two little words seem so out of place at a wedding, don’t they? Until death. Who wants to think of death when the bride and groom are celebrating the beginning of their life together. Death is the last thing on their minds. But there it is, that word “death” is spoken during the ceremony. But it is spoken as a promise to be faithful to marriage vows until death. As out of place as it seems on that day, it is the basis for all of their life to come….until death.

On my birthday in 1983, I was preparing for our wedding day the next afternoon. I turned 28 and was ready for all that God had ahead for us. The summer before in August Bud had taken me on a picnic to Harris Hill near my home in Horseheads, NY. While we were there he proposed to me and slipped a diamond on my finger. Our relationship had begun 3 years earlier while I was teaching school in Rochester, NY. He was a student at BBC and began writing to me. So for three years we wrote letters (no e-mail or cell phones in those days) and tried to see each other as often as we could work it out. Oh how precious those letters are to me now!

July 30, 1983, dawned bright and hot! No air-conditioning in the little country church in Breesport, NY, but that did not matter. It was our wedding day. As a surprise to Bud, I wrote new words to a melody, recorded my voice singing the song, and had that song played as I came down the aisle. Tomorrow I plan to go find a cassette recorder and listen to the ceremony. To hear his voice say our vows will bring me to tears, I’m sure. But I need to hear those words of love and commitment again. Especially now. How thankful I am that we did our best to keep our vows. Yes, we failed sometimes, me more often than he. And sometimes most miserably on my part. But we did strive to keep them through the almost 29 years God gave us. I know I am not bound to those vows now that death has separated us as Bud slipped into eternity on April 14,, but I will continue to honor him and his memory by my actions, how I speak of him, and as I continue to minister to the children God gave us. 

Our vows were written by us and are as follows:

Bud’s –
Sandy, before God, our family and friends, I commit myself to be your husband, promising to love you unconditionally and sacrificially, to honor and cherish you, to share with you my dreams and ambitions, as well as my burdens and disappointments, to be your best friend, your provider, your protector, though we may experience illness, hardness or affliction, according to God’s holy ordinance. I love you, Sandy.

And mine –
Bud, I commit myself to you to be your wife. I promise to honor and cherish you above all others, to obey you, to comfort and encourage you through whatever we experience in life. I will support your endeavors as you seek to serve the Lord. I will be true and faithful to you according to God’s holy ordinance until we are separated by death. I love you, Bud.

God is in Every Tomorrow

Recently I was going through things in Bud's office and packing it all up. In the next few posts I want to share some special things I found in his desk, on his clipboard, in his files. They speak of his faith, his confidence in the Lord, his love for his family. These little tidbits speak of the legacy he has left behind. The poem shared below was in the top drawer of his desk. He was not a poem person, so it surprised me to find it. Perhaps someone gave it to him and it touched a spot in his soul. Today it gives me comfort because it is truth.

God is in every tomorrow
Therefore I live for today,
Certain of finding at sunrise
Guidance and strength for the day;
Power for each moment of weakness;
Hope for each moment of pain;
Comfort for every sorrow;
Sunshine and joy after rain.

God is in every tomorrow
Planning for you and for me;
E’en in the dark will I follow,
Trust where my eyes cannot see.
Stilled by His promise of blessing,
Soothed by the touch of His hand,
Confident in His protection,
Knowing my life-path is planned.

God is in very tomorrow,
Life with its changes may come;
He is behind and before me,
While in the distance shines Home!
Home where no thoughts of tomorrow
Ever can shadow my brow;
Home in the presence of Jesus,
Through all eternity now!

Author unknown

Sunday, June 24, 2012

My Father's Day blessing for my kids - June 2012

My Father's Day blessing for my kids yesterday:
Many many years ago, almost 400 years ago in fact, three Spencer brothers and one sister crossed the Atlantic from England to settle near what is Boston today with the first wave of the "Great Migration" of 1630. One of those brothers, Gerard Spencer, is the line through which my father came. Gerard's brother, Thomas, was a furniture maker - a trade my father has taken up in retirement. In 1686, just before Thomas died in Hartford, Connecticut - a town he helped establish - he wrote his last will and testament. The last part of the will is what I read to my children around the dinner table on Sunday afternoon, " Finally I leave all my children with the Lord and desire his blessing may be their portion, that they may love and serve Him, and live in love and peace one with another when I shall be gathered to my fathers....." I feel that would have been Bud's last wishes for my kids. I'm so grateful for the godly heritage in my forefathers. I pray that legacy will continue into future generations.

Thursday, June 7, 2012


Recently I've been going up to church during the week just to be alone for a little while in Bud's office. I go in and check the mail, answer phone messages, tidy up a bit, and just sit in his chair to think, to cry, to pray. I love it there. It's his place, his place to study, to pray, to think, to work. I find comfort there. As I'm there, I'm starting to go through his personal things and bring some of it home now to save. I found one of his posters that he loved. On it is pictured a rust-colored rocky cliff and two men rock climbing on it at dizzying heights. Also inscribed on it are the words, "Lead me to the rock that is higher than I. Psalm 61:2." Bud loved that poster.

It all started back in 1986 when he and I and little Jeremy took a trip to Yosemite National Park in California. While we were there for the week, he took rock climbing classes. I would wheel Jeremy in the stroller to the base of the cliff, look up at my husband way up there hanging only by ropes, and pray! On Saturday his dad came up from San Francisco to climb with him. That was the beginning. He went on to climb in many other places. Also he loved the challenge of hiking mountains. From the Colorado Rockies climbing peaks over 13,000 feet, to the autumn Catskills ablaze with color in every direction, to the blustery heights of Mount Washington. He loved the mountains. I used to ask him why? Why do you do this? It's a lot of effort. It's not safe." And he would say, "Because it's there." Not what my safety-loving heart wanted to hear. I like my feet on solid, low lands!

Seeing that poster again helped me to understand why Bud loved the mountains. They pictured for him his eternal God. Psalm 90:2 says, "Before the mountains were brought forth or before you had formed the earth and world, even from everlasting to everlasting, you are God." The mountains reminded Bud of his own mortality. God was eternal, existed before those mighty mountains He created. The psalmist said he looked to the hills from where his help came. The mountains reminded Bud that God was his help, God was eternal, and His creation of the mountains declares His majesty to our own feeble minds.

Mountains....mentioned many times in the Scriptures. The mountain on which Moses received the ten commandments; the mount of Transfiguration of Jesus; Jerusalem on the mountain; the Mount of Olives on which Jesus prayed before His crucifixion.

The mountains....I'm glad Bud climbed them.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Occupation....Bus driver

The Evangel bus! I wonder how many miles Bud drove a bus or van full of teens? Has to be over 500,000 in the 22 years of being a youth pastor. Trips to Lake Ann Camp, all over the state for quiz meets and retreats, to Long Island and back many times for mission trips, out west with vans full of kids, to Arkansas to run a camp several times.....He loved it! On the long trips, he enjoyed chatting with various kids who would come up front to talk. Good times! I am just so thankful for the safety on the roads for those many many miles.

Algonquin - Father and Daughter

When I was pregnant with Janelle, Bud took his first Algonquin wilderness canoe trip. He went with people from North Baptist Church in Rochester, NY. When I went to drop him off to go with them, I got to reconnect with two former students of mine - Jay and Suzanne Hamilton. Fun! I found out they had married. Oh my, who would have dreamed that when they were my 6th grade students! After that week in Algonquin, Bud took many more over the years. He took teens, young adults, and even older adults like Everett and Elayne Biielby, Paul and Faith Harold  and others! It was a great week of canoeing about 80 miles, away from the trappings of life at home. No phones, no fast food, no media. Time in God's creation. Time alone with God. Great times with others, learning together. This picture is Janelle and Bud sitting alone by a lake there. A special time with Daddy all to herself! How I wish I now had a recording of their conversation!

Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God. Psalm 90:2

If you went on an Algonquin trip with Bud, please feel free to share something God taught you through that experience and perhaps how that lesson is still helping you in your walk with God today. Thanks!

Thursday, May 17, 2012


There's a peace I've come to know

Though my heart and flesh may fail

There's an anchor for my soul

I can say "It is well"

Jesus has overcome

And the grave is overwhelmed

The victory is won

He is risen from the dead.

From "I Will Rise" by Chris Tomlin

With the Lord - Baptist Bulletin article

Leland “Bud” Hall, 54, went to be with the Lord in his sleep on April 14. He was serving as pastor of Calvary Baptist Church, Bay Shore, N.Y. Prior to his ministry in Bay Shore, he served on staff at Evangel Baptist Church, Taylor, Mich., for 22 years. He graduated from Baptist Bible College, Clarks Summit, Pa., in 1980 and from Baptist Bible Seminary in 1984.
Bud’s foremost ministry was to his family. He was a faithful husband to Sandy for almost 29 years, and a devoted father to his five children: Jeremy, Joanna Syroteuk, Jason, Janelle, and Joseph. They will always remember how supportive and involved he was in each of their individual sports and pursuits, as well as how he and Sandy taught them to walk with God daily and love Him with heart, soul, mind, and strength.
Pastor Bud’s passion for the local body of Christ was evident to all. His greatest pursuit in church ministry was evangelism and discipleship. While pastoring at Evangel Baptist in Michigan, he became trained to teach Evangelism Explosion and devoted much time to equipping believers of all ages to share their faith. As a youth pastor, Bud’s vision for those in his youth group was to be servant leaders in their own sphere of influence; he accomplished this by encouraging the teens to step out of their comfort zone and take responsibility in ministry even at a young age. A large percentage of those teens, many who are currently training for or are in full-time ministry today, have attributed their spiritual walk with Christ to Pastor Bud’s example, vision, training, and equipping.
As pastor of Calvary Baptist in New York, Pastor Bud’s passion for discipleship in ministry involved a greater emphasis and involvement in preaching and teaching. Through corporate worship, men’s or couple’s Bible studies, or one-on-one relationships, Pastor Bud encouraged believers to take the next step in their spiritual walk with Christ—whether baptism, sharing their faith, getting involved in the body of Christ, reaching out to brothers and sisters in Christ both local and around the world, or becoming spiritual leaders in their own families. Although he ministered in Bay Shore for only five years, he had an incredible impact in both the local church and the community.
In his community, Bud conducted many devotions for Christian Youth Soccer League, Port Jefferson Station, N.Y., and was a fixture on Saturday mornings, cheering on the kids. The soccer league says, “Truly we have been blessed by knowing this man and his ministry. We give God the glory for his wisdom, kindness and grace which was so evident in the life of Pastor Bud Hall.”
Bud’s family says, “Though in our perspective his life was brief, as a man of integrity, wisdom, vision, and devotion, Leland ‘Bud’ Hall has left a rich legacy for the glory of God.”


Home! so many memories of home. Bud asked me to marry him the summer of 1982. Knowing he was headed for ministry, he prefaced his proposal with a reminder to me that we might never own our own home. If I married him, I was stepping into ministry with him....whatever that meant for us and wherever that took us. Was I willing? Yes, a thousand yeses! We married July of 1983. Graciously the Lord took us to Evangel Baptist Church in Taylor, MI, the summer of 1984 when Bud finished seminary. We moved into our home in Woodhaven in October. What I thought might never happen became a reality. We owned our own home! Little did we even guess then that we would live there for 22 years. All five of our children were born while we lived there. The neighborhood was wonderful with other families with young children.

Home! Meals, diapers, repairs, guests, discipleship, music lessons, books, chores, homeschooling,toys, loving, prayers.....home. I am so grateful for the many memories of our first home. My heart was to make it a refuge for Bud and for my children. A place of training, education, growth, safety.

Home! now the memories flood my mind.....
Doing dishes at the kitchen sink and looking out the window to suddenly see my 2 year old Janelle on top of the monkey bars. How on earth did she get up there?

A 15 year old son Jeremy heading out the door for a mission trip and remembering to come back in to say goodbye to Mom and give me a hug.

Jason sneaking into the girls' room at night after lights out to talk with Joanna and Janelle. They wonder if I knew?

Bud praying with Joanna in the living room in the very early morning before her knee surgery.

Joseph up on the ladder at 6 or 7 years old helping hold a piece of siding in place for Bud as he worked to reside the house.

Bud desperately trying to turn off the water to the house while a pipe in the utility room had sprung a leak. Water spraying everywhere....Bud soaked! Little vignettes of sweetness!

Home! I quote Henry Beecher, "Home should be an oratorio of the memory, singing to all our after life melodies and harmonies of old remembered joy."

Ever Learning

Several years ago Bud and I attended a Marriage Journey workshop sponsored by some good friends here on Long Island. Even after 25 years of marriage, we still needed to be refreshed and taught. Time for true heart-to-heart connection. Thisworkshop taught several communication skills which significantly helped us in our marriage to understand each other better. This picture represents so much about us, always learning. Over the years Bud became more and more my best friend. Precious!

Friday, May 11, 2012

It's the Fam!

Family.....such a precious word. The Hall family! You know the signs you see sometimes that you can hang in your home? "All because two people fell in love"! What a privilege to raise a family of five children together for God! 

Family....struggles sometimes. Yes, our family had and has them too. Misunderstandings, irritations, disagreements. But in the midst of all of those times were also the precious times. The times of introducing a new little one to the other kids. Family vacations with all seven of us stuffed into a minivan with all the ski equipment, coolers of food, luggage. No one could move; we were so packed in like sardines. Family game times. Birthdays. Weddings. It's a life together. Walking together in the grace of life. Learning, growing, loving no matter what.

Losing Bud to glory was a horrible shock to all of us as you can imagine. Yet in the midst of our grief, we  have experienced the deep love of God along with His never-ending grace. Times for all of us to be together are becoming very rare now that some are married and have moved away from home. The week following Bud's death, we were all here together. We laughed, teased, played games and tricks on each other, helped, and had a lot of fun.....all in the midst of our tears and sorrow. How can the two be mingled together? Joy and grief. I don't know except that is what happened. We are a family. How I thank God for this sweetness!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Promises of God

Almost 29 years ago Bud and I made promises to one another on our wedding day. And thankfully by God's grace, we have kept those promises. But....

Promises are made to be least that's way it seems in our culture. A parent bribes a child, "We will go to the zoo on Friday." But they never go. A mechanic guarantees, "I will have your car done by 2 o'clock today." But two days later you are still waiting! A promise seems to mean nothing. Maybe this is why it is hard for us to trust in the promises of God. Would you say that you believe and act upon God's promises? Or do you doubt His Word?

Most of us would say we do believe God's promises, but do we really trust what He says in His Word and what He promises to us?

Hebrews chapter 11 lists many who did believe in the promises of God. Among that list are the names of women who trusted. Sarah is one, the wife of Abraham, who had the choice to believe God or look at the impossible circumstances around her.

Hebrews 11:11, "Through faith also Sarah herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised."

What exactly was God's promise to Abraham and Sarah? Genesis 12:1-3 records that God told Abram and Sarai (their names at this point in the story) to leave their kinsmen and country to go to a place where God would lead them. He promised to make of them a great nation, to bless them, to use them to bless all other nations of the earth, and to protect them as they went. Later in Genesis 15:2-6, God says their descendants would outnumber the stars in the sky. Actually these promises were spoken by God directly to Abraham but they certainly included Sarah as God said that she would bear a child as the means to God beginning to fulfill His promises.

Genesis 18 tells the account of the three men who visited Abraham and Sarah and told them of God's promise that Sarah would truly bear a son. Sarah's first reaction was to laugh - this was totally impossible because she was past the time of her life when she could have a child.

Aren't we like her in spirit? Maybe we don't actually laugh out loud, but deep, deep down in our heart we keep focused on all of the circumstances that we think prevent God from working and doing all that He has promised and is able to do.

* A doctor tells a woman that it is impossible for her to carry a pregnancy full term.
* Or a child is so far way from walking in harmony with his family and it seems like he will never come back no matter how hard you pray.
* Or a husband is unsaved or seems to be cold toward spiritual things....and things are getting worse and worse.
* Or you have been badly hurt by someone and healing is far, far away.

We face those "impossible circumstances" here in this twentieth century; maybe not the same exact details as Sarah faced, but certainly to the same magnitude of overwhelming odds against us.


Genesis 21:1-2 says, "And the Lord visited Sarah as He had said, and the Lord did unto Sarah as He had spoken. For Sarah conceived, and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him."

Romans 4:21 comes to mind, "and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform."

God had promised Abraham and Sarah a son, and He gave it. Now was there any reason to doubt that He would fulfill the rest of His promises to Abraham that He had given earlier? Our verse about Sarah in Hebrews 11 says that Sarah received strength to conceive. That strength was not actual physical strength, but the Greek word here means "a special, miraculous abundance of power." The conception of this child was not the norm; Isaac was conceived by the miraculous, mighty working of an all-powerful God Who was doing just what He said He would do.

Couldn't God have caused Sarah to conceive Isaac at an earlier time in her life when it was naturally possible for her to bear children? Sure! But by waiting until it was impossible, humanly speaking, He was able to show Himself "faithful who had promised" as Hebrews 11 tells.

God does what He says!

Do you believe that? Do you believe that He deals with us out of a heart of love? Or do you succumb to Satan's lies that God has forgotten you or turns a deaf ear to your prayers? What better choice do we have than to cling to  God, His loving character, and His Word?

What are some of God's promises to Christians today as revealed in the Bible? The study of the promises of God is a wonderful lesson in His goodness. His Word is truth. You can be sure that whatever God promises us, Satan will quietly whisper and sometimes shout the exact opposite to us in our heart. He will twist the truth and amplify the "impossible circumstances" to get us to doubt what God has said.

1. Once we are saved, we are forever God's children. One promise that God give to Christians today is found in John 10:27-29 which says, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. And I give unto them eternal life: and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, who gave them to me, is greater than all, and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand."

Once you have been saved by sincerely accepting Christ's sacrificial death on the cross as payment for the penalty of your sins, you are forever saved. You belong to Him just as the sheep belong to the shepherd. And because of who God is - the eternal, all-powerful Father - we can know that we will always be saved. We now have eternal life, spiritual life and will live forever with Him.

Has Satan been whispering his lies to you that you are such a failure as a Christian or as a wife or mother, that surely you are no longer saved? If he can get you to believe that, you will not grow in your walk with God and you will wallow around in your sin for a long time, even years. There is no sin that can cause you to be "plucked out of his hand." This is not an excuse to sin or to stay in our sin as is discussed in Romans 6:1-2. We need to confess our sin and trust in His promise to forgive (I John 1:9). 

Please remember that your salvation was not earned by you, neither can it be maintained by you. The focus of these verses in John 10 teaches us that when we recognize how great and powerful God the Father is then we understand that no one is able to go against His great work of salvation in our lives.

Are you willing to build the assurance of your salvation upon His character and His promise? 

2. God will forgive a repentant heart.

Another promise given to Christians is in I John 1:9 which was briefly mentioned above.

"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." Do you believe this verse? Do you believe it fully or are there some of your secret sins that you won't even admit to God, let alone believe that He can and will forgive them if you confess them?

Sometimes we carry around with us the sins of years past because we don't really believe that God is able to forgive them and cleanse us. Sometimes we do lay them at His feet, admitting our failure, but then at a later time Satan gets us to pick them back up again and we continue to lug around the guilt again. 

God did not intend for us to live that way. He saved to the uttermost, cleansed away all of the guilt of our sins, and gave us the power to live for Him.

If there is a sin in your heart to which you are holding and hiding, may I encourage you to confess it to God by admitting that what you did was wrong and then trust Him to be faithful to forgive and cleanse you as He has promised.

And if that sin was against another person, make it right by asking forgiveness of him, thus allowing God to make you totally free of the guilt. He has already paid for that sin through His death on the cross. He already knows about it because He is all-knowing; there is nowhere that we can hide from him (Psalm 139, "O Lord, thou has searched me, and known me...").

3. God is ever-present with us. 

And what of the promise that God is ever-present with us? Matthew 28:20 tells us that He is with us always. "And, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the age." Do you believe that? Or does Satan ever get you to doubt that? Especially in the middle of trouble, we quietly begin to wonder if God has lost us in the billions of people living on the earth today or think that maybe He has forgotten about us for a day, a month, or even for years.

Where is your confidence and courage?

According to Joshua 1:8, if you are feeling that way, it's probably because you have not been meditating in the Word of God and doing what it says. "This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous and then you will have good success."

When we don't fill our minds and hearts with God's truth, we wander around in doubts and fears.

God told Joshua to be strong and courageous, but He also told him how to do it - by reading God's Word and thinking about it day and night and then by doing what it says to do.

Do you doubt His presence?

It is not because He has moved but because you have turned away. For whatever circumstances you face as a woman, as a wife and mother, God is there with you as He promised. What a comfort? And what hope for the future! I can face all of life with Him beside me, helping me, guiding us.

If we do not believe God promises, Satan leads us to doubt, despair, discouragement, depression and even defiance against God. Perhaps others have broken their promises to you, but God never will. Some of the women in Hebrews 11, the Hall of Faith chapter, never saw the promise fulfilled in their lifetime, but in heaven all promises will be kept and realized. 

My prayer:
I have anchored my soul in Your unchanging presence, Your all-knowing wisdom and Your deep abiding love. Because of these, I can trust Your promises.

(Just a few weeks before Bud died, I wrote this article but never got to proofread it and publish it here. I believe God was preparing my heart as I wrote this for the events He knew were coming. I do believe God's promises. I believe He is a father to the fatherless and a defender of widows - Psalm 68. I believe He hears my prayers. And I will trust His promises. I will speak truth to my heart by God's grace.)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Blessed be the name of the Lord

Thank you, dear friends, for your prayers, financial gifts and practical helps you have given to our family at this time. We are daily depending upon  God's grace. Below are some words God gave me to speak at Bud's memorial service in Michigan. I pray they are an encouragement to you.

"My children are not sure I should try to or even would be able to speak today, but since I cannot possibly speak to each of you individually I wanted to share my heart to you all together.

Thankfully the Lord veils the future from our eyes. Bud used to say about things that surprised him, “Who-da thunk it?””” We had no clue that when he closed his eyes to sleep that Friday evening, he would open his eyes in glory. We had a sweet evening together Friday to celebrate the fact that he had ridden his bike 1,000 miles since January 1. He requested his favorite meal and then took me out for a dessert treat. Had I known what the next day would hold I could not have enjoyed what is now a sweet precious memory.

It will come as no surprise that as I look back over recent months, God was preparing me for this day. Our ladies Bible study has been memorizing Psalm 91 this year and recently quoted it for our adult Sunday school class. Now phrases from that passage are anchoring my soul. “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in Him I will trust.”

Also in ladies Bible study this year we have focused on thankfulness. We have kept daily journals of the blessings, both big and small, that God gives to us. Because I have exercised thankfulness all year long, my heart turned to gratefulness over and over in these past weeks.
                I am thankful for the years God gave Bud and me together.

                I am thankful for the godly examples He set before us.

                I am thankful for the love and support of God’s people
                I am thankful for my five children and their spouses who have stepped up to care for me. They hovered over me so carefully, that finally one afternoon I held up my car keys and said, “These are my keys to my suburban and I am taking a ride alone.”

                I am thankful for the Savior we served together.

                I am thankful that Bud now has the joy of seeing God face to face.

The last sermon Bud preached was Resurrection Sunday. Now what he believed to be true by faith is sight. The week before that he preached in Acts chapter 16 which tells the story of Paul and Silas being dragged into prison for preaching the gospel. In this seemingly out of control circumstance, they chose to worship God and praise Him. The statement Bud repeated over and over through the sermon was this, “When it seems that everything is out of control, put your trust in the One who controls everything.”  Today those words give me strength.

I will repeat the words of Job 1:21, “The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord.”
With love for you all,