About Shawn Petree

Shawn is passionate about living life to the fullest. He and his wife Anna have been marriage for 15 years, and they have three wonderful children. Asked what he likes, Shawn replied: "Early mornings, West Texas sunsets, kayaking in the San Juans, beating my friend Mike on the golf course, Univ. of Texas football, journaling, going on adventures with other guys, pickleball, connecting with my extended family, movies that relate to life, hiking, snuggling with my kids, and simply being with my beautiful wife, Anna." Shawn works full-time for an organization called Teleios. Teleios is a men's ministry founded to help men reach maturity in Christ through building bonds of friendship with other men.

Anna Update: On Love and Loss

Shawn took me on our first official date Valentine’s Day 1999. In the previous year we had been building a friendship across the country (before cell phones were a thing!). We met August 1997 at a three-week training conference in Florida. After the conference we flew back to our homes. Shawn to Texas and me to Portland, Oregon. When we decided did to give dating a whirl it meant a trip on a plane. I flew to Texas February 1999 to meet Shawn’s family and experience a little of his life there. We went to Dallas for the weekend with some friends of his and that is where we went on our first date. The date began with a 4:30 showing at the theater of Message in A Bottle, followed by dinner at a nice restaurant, complete with true Texas hospitality!

Throughout the years of our marriage Shawn and I would reminisce about that first date together. I specifically remember re-watching the movie together on our 5th wedding anniversary, our 10th and our 20th.  Watching it on our 20th was a bit surreal. I was in chemotherapy and very sick. I had never really fully paid attention to the movie beyond it being a love story. As I watched with new eyes, I realized it was a movie about a man who lost his wife to cancer.  The movie is the story of the man’s grieving process, along with the internal struggle of letting himself be loved by anyone (family, friends, a possible woman) again. A few months after we watched the movie on our 20th anniversary, I had a conversation with Shawn that went something like this. “Shawn, if this doesn’t turn out the way we hope it does, you have to promise me you will one day love again. We’ve worked too hard at learning how to give and receive love for you to close yourself off to love for the rest of your life.” This was one of the hardest things for me to put to words, through tears, while grabbing my husband’s face in my hands. But I had to. I had to make sure Shawn knew that no matter what, I wanted him to remain open to giving and receiving love.  

The movie ends with a profound final scene.  It’s a voice over that includes these words: “If some lives form a perfect circle, other take shape in ways we cannot predict or always understand. Loss has been part of my journey. But it has also shown me what is precious. So has love for which I can only be grateful.”

(Shawn here) Loss has indeed been part of my journey, our journey…so has love. I was loved by Anna in so many ways. Perhaps one of her most sacrificial acts of love was when she asked me to promise I would not close myself off to love. I can’t imagine, given the ongoing love affair that Anna and I had, how she was able to say those words to me. As I sit here reflecting on love and our first date 22 years ago, I can say that I remain open to receiving and giving love. Receiving and giving love from/ to God, family and others. I am able to honestly echo those final words from the movie scene….”Loss…has shown me what it precious. So has love for which I can only be grateful.”

Anna Update: Somewhere Between Beautiful and Brutal

The two words that keep coming up this Advent season for our family are beautiful and brutal. That seems to best describe our first Advent/ Christmas season without Anna. She was so good at making a house into a home, specifically during this season. All of the touches, big and small, made this one of the favorite times of year for our family.

It was beautiful watching Moriah meticulously string the lights on the tree just so, a job that was reserved for Anna until this year. Moriah took on the task without being asked and invited Hadassah to be her helper, the way Anna invited Moriah to be her helper for so many years. It was fairly brutal placing all of the ornaments on the tree. Our first year of marriage Anna and I stated collecting ornaments each time we went on a trip or shared a memorable experience. Anna included the kids in this tradition once they came along, so the girls each have their glass “Clara” from the first time they went to the Nutcracker with Mom. Many family trips have their own ornament, memories that now hang on the tree. Reminiscing and retelling those stories with just the four of us this year was both brutal and beautiful. 

What was also beautiful and brutal was creating our Christmas card. That was always Anna, 100% Anna to a T! She couldn’t imagine doing a stock template so she would spend hours and hours designing our annual card, writing the words on the back, picking every color and font. Moriah and I knew we wanted to get a card out, but also knew we didn’t have a clue how to do that. Thankfully, we figured out how to log into Anna’s card creating account, used an “Anna created template” from a previous card, and did our best to complete the project. At the end of the night we finalized the card and hit send to print. Moriah and I shared a long hug and said, “It’s not the card we never wanted to design, but we did it together.” It’s beautiful and brutal.

I guess that’s the story of Jesus…beautiful and brutal. So beautiful the way he lived, cared for people, valued friendship and responded to the love of his Father. So brutal the way he died, was abandoned by even his closest companions, that his love was rejected by so many.

As we round the corner and look toward Dec 25, the celebration of the birth and life of Jesus, may we embrace both the beautiful and brutal in our own lives and in the lives of those around us. The reality for us all is brutal is inevitable. Thankfully beauty seems to have a way of always having the last word. 

Teleios Turns 50!!!

50 years ago 6 men gathered around Jesus, scripture and a growing friendship with one another. Connie Jacobsen, founder of Teleios, used the template laid out in Acts 2:42 as a framework of what would become a weekly gathering for these men. Slowly, other men heard of this group and wanted to start something similar with a few others. Connie facilitated each new group. 50 years later we have 55 of these groups meeting in the greater Seattle area and beyond. Art Kopicky and I get to continue the legacy as staff members of Teleios.

We’ve prepared a legacy video to celebrate 50 years of Teleios. www.teleiosmen.com

Tune in and see one of the ways God is moving in men’s lives in Seattle.

Anna: Ode to A Fierce Momma

Saturday morning, the day before Mother’s Day I sat with Anna and wrote this tribute to her. It was one of our last times together on this side of Heaven. Her daughter Moriah sang this song (video of Moriah singing) to her Momma at the graveside service.

Momma clearly is the term 
To begin this little ode
Mom or Mommy doesn’t quite describe
When a lady chooses this road

And oh your momma chose it
She and I tried and tried for years
To get to be the momma of you three kids
Often brought her to tears

I’ll never forget her bravery
Natural births, painful feedings, training you kids to sleep
The days were long but she cherished them
Because her love was so deep

Moriah, for a while you had Mom to yourself
She carried you in a little pouch
The two of you would laugh, play and tickle
And cuddle on the couch

She couldn’t believe your love for Disney
You are truly a princess at heart
As days turned into years Mom was so pleased
To see you embrace creativity and art

Elijah, when you came on the scene 
You instantly became a treasure
You couldn’t get enough cud cuds with Mom
Her love for you cannot be measured

You quickly became her little “bud buds”
And her smile when she is with you has not wavered
That has never changed Elijah
Every moment with you, Mom has savored

Hadassah, to your mom you are such a treasure 
I see so much of her in you
You thrive on adventure, challenge, fun
And love fiercely just as you have seen her do

Mom delights in your Das and often wonders
What you will one day be
But then she already knows in her heart of hearts
That you will always be someone who lives free

Now we shift from you kids 
To a few things about your Mom
I know the word is a bit out of style
But lets face it, she is “the bomb” 

Honestly, you don’t understand
What a cool mom she really is
It’s normal to you, they are not all so “hip” 
But your mom is at the top of the list

What’s also not normal is how easy it seems 
For your mom to make a house a home
Know that she is the best of the best at this
Helping us each feel safe, secure and not alone

The most notable thing about your mom 
Is her love for Jesus, Holy Spirit and Father
She is always seeking to learn more, to worship
As she leans into the peace God has brought her

In fact, the thing your mom wants most 
Is for each of you to keep allowing God to love you
To feel His embrace through the hardest of days
And know He’s with you in whatever you do

It would take books and volumes to capture a glimpse
Of who mom is, all that she means to us four
As we look at each other and go through this together
She is in each one of us as we walk through this door 

Ok, I know I used mom a lot in this ode
Even though it began about Momma the word
Momma still describes her best because 
Of all the things you’ve heard

A momma takes care of her kids
She cares for them and teaches them how to live
Love is a momma’s most obvious trait
And someone who always gives

That’s your momma. A giver of life and hope
And most of all a lover, someone who sees
A lover of God and each of you
That’s your momma, that’s who she will always be

***A reminder that a memorial fund has been set up in honor of Anna. Click here to contribute.

Anna: Memorial Fund and Eulogy (in her own words)

*A Memorial Fund has been set up in honor of Anna’s life. See below for details.

Anna, in one sense, wrote her own Eulogy years ago with the help of the Lord. She called it her “Personal Declaration.”

After a decade of feeling alone, distant from God, and negatively impacted by the lies of unworthiness, Anna had been actively pursuing wholeness and healing in her life since 2010. She did this through learning to hear the voice of Jesus, receiving counseling/emotional healing, deep friendships, and spiritual direction.

Here is her declaration…

Screen Shot 2020-05-21 at 3.57.44 PM

God you are my comforter, my living hope, and I claim victory and freedom today in the name of Jesus. You are powerful and loving, my daily hope and salvation, the author of my story.

I, Anna Petree, claim my identity as your beloved daughter. Thank you for your constant care of me and our family. You are a good and faithful Father. I know that I am unconditionally loved and completely forgiven for all the times I’ve chosen my own way instead of Your best for me. 

Satan, you have no power over me! I renounce all fear and shame, claiming God’s love, mercy and healing power over my body, mind, and spirit in the name of Jesus!

Today I choose to believe that my face and body are beautiful and perfectly designed by You, God. That I am “fearfully and wonderfully made.” You know me intricately, and have a wonderful plan for my life. You are my refuge and strength, my hope, a very present help in times of trouble.

Father, I know that as I surrender everything into Your hands, You are trustworthy. You direct my steps and have my best interest in mind. I believe in Your awesome power to restore and heal any part of me that You desire.

May my life today be a reflection of your love, grace, mercy, and hope as I seek to love myself, my husband, our children, friends, and neighbors today. You, Father, are the primary focus of my affection. I believe today that I am enough, that I am worthy of love and belonging.

I am a courageous warrior. I will not succumb to fear or despair! Thank you, Father, that your mercies are new every morning. You are by my side every step of this day. I am Yours.                                                                               (excerpt taken from Am I Loved?) 

Anna read and proclaimed these words out loud many days the past decade. As we reflect on Anna might we each consider what is true about ourselves and God.

If you would like to give a gift in honor of Anna’s life, please consider donating to Soul Formation. Anna went through four years of spiritual training through Soul Formation and received her certificate of Spiritual Direction through this wonderful ministry in 2019. Click here to give a gift in honor of Anna’s life.

With gratitude,

The Petrees

Anna: Eulogy from the Father

We are working on a formal eulogy for Anna. In doing so, the Lord brings to mind something He shared with me almost six years ago. It was a season when I was struggling to see Anna for who she really was, and instead would often focused on her supposed shortcoming. Thankfully I got away for a few days on a private retreat during this season, and while away I ask God the Father two questions:

“What is your point of view of Anna? What do you say or think about your daughter?” 

Sitting in silence that morning after I asked these questions, I heard the words below clearly from our Father. As I returned home, I decided to read these words about His daughter Anna each morning in order to keep His perspective of my beloved wife. I maintained this daily practice for almost six years until Anna’s passing.

Anna is lovely. I created her perfectly. Anna is wonderful. She is worth fighting for. Anna is tender. Her heart is good. She is vulnerable. Anna is strong. She is afraid of rejection so be gentle with her. Anna is beautiful; she is a treasure. Warm your heart toward her. 

Shawn, allow me to bring Anna along into me. Keep faith, gratitude and generosity active in your home. Let me minister to Anna. I’ve got her. You are not her savior; you are not responsible. 

And Shawn, don’t magnify the lesser and minimize the greater. As you look at her or as you walk into your home, remind yourself of the truth about her. Don’t focus on her weakness; focus on me in her. And don’t lose heart! Return again and again to the place of love and faith which see Jesus in Anna.

Finally, see Anna as I see her. Honor her as one in whom I dwell. Count on me to work my will in her. Your part is to love her. 

At the end of the “download” from God the Father six years ago, He then showed me this verse.

“Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.” (Eph 5:2)

I soon memorized this verse and it became the lens through which I viewed Anna each day. I am so, so grateful to have been able to “co-love” Anna alongside Jesus for 23 years. What a privilege and an honor to get to be the husband of one of His favorites for so long.

Screen Shot 2020-05-19 at 9.00.44 AM

Anna Update: “You’re Blessed…”

Our tradition of “Lectio Walking” began six years ago when Anna and I spent time alone on Maui celebrating our 15th anniversary. “Lectio Walking” involves selecting a few verses of scripture, reading them aloud, then pausing for a few minutes to let the words sink in. The reading is repeated four times, with a pause between each reading. After the fourth reading, each of us has a chance to say a word or phrase that stands out, and then we talk about the passage. As we returned home from Maui, we committed to making this our new rhythm. So for the past six years, Anna and I have shared “Lectio Walks” together.

A few hours after Anna went to be with Jesus on Tuesday morning, Art and our pastor Jack said, “Shawn, let’s get you some exercise and fresh air.” As Art, Jack and I walked, we decided to share in a “Lectio Walk” in her honor. Jack asked what text she and I began with six years ago on Maui. It was Matthew 5. Jack pulled out his phone and read these verses from The Message version:

You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.

 You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you. (Matt 5:3-4) 

As we walked the ravine, Jack reflected on the words of Jesus about being at the end of our rope with the image of trapeze in mind. He said, “What if the end of your rope is not the bottom of a pit but the pinnacle of our flying through life? What if it’s the point when you can let go, soar and be caught?”

Over the past week, the Lord graciously placed an image on the hearts of three of our dear friends. It started with Anna’s spiritual director. The Father gave her the vision of Anna as a trapeze artist, flying through the air into the arms of Jesus, her Catcher. In the following days, two other beloved friends independently shared a similar vision, drawing us into Henri Nouwen’s story of the flyer and the catcher.

“The Flying Rodleighs are trapeze artists who perform in the German circus Simoneit-Barum. When the circus came to Freiburg two years ago, my friends Franz and Reny invited me and my father to see the show. I will never forget how enraptured I became when I first saw the Rodleighs move through the air, flying and catching as elegant dancers.
The next day, I returned to the circus to see them again and introduced myself to them as one of their great fans. They invited me to attend their practice sessions, gave me free tickets, asked me to dinner, and suggested I travel with them for a week in the near future. I did, and we became good friends.
“One day, I was sitting with Rodleigh, the leader of the troupe, in his caravan, talking about flying. He said, ‘As a flyer, I must have complete trust in my catcher. The public might think that I am the great star of the trapeze, but the real star is Joe, my catcher. He has to be there for me with split-second precision and grab me out of the air as I come to him in the long jump.’
‘How does it work?’ I asked.
‘The secret,’ Rodleigh said, ‘is that the flyer does nothing and the catcher does everything. When I fly to Joe, I have simply to stretch out my arms and hands and wait for him to catch me and pull me safely over the apron behind the catchbar.’
‘You do nothing!’ I said, surprised.
‘Nothing,’ Rodleigh repeated. ‘The worst thing the flyer can do is to try to catch the catcher. I am not supposed to catch Joe. It’s Joe’s task to catch me. If I grabbed Joe’s wrists, I might break them, or he might break mine, and that would be the end for both of us. A flyer must fly, and a catcher must catch, and the flyer must trust, with outstretched arms, that his catcher will be there for him.’
“When Rodleigh said this with so much conviction, the words of Jesus flashed through my mind: ‘Father into your hands I commend my Spirit.’ Dying is trusting in the catcher. To care for the dying is to say, ‘Don’t be afraid. Remember that you are the beloved child of God. He will be there when you make your long jump. Don’t try to grab him; he will grab you. Just stretch out your arms and hands and trust, trust, trust.’ “
Screen Shot 2020-05-15 at 12.57.32 PM

With this sweet image on Anna on my heart, I was then able to read the next verse with new eyes during our fourth Lectio reading…

You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.

The kids and I have lost what is most dear to us, our beloved Anna. Anna has lost what it most dear to her, her family. And yet somehow mysteriously we are all being embraced by the One most dear – the ultimate Catcher.

Know that you are participating with the Catcher as you have been there for us and will continue to be with us in the moments, hours, days, months and years ahead. The kids and I feel held and trust that you will continue to hold us and participate in the Father’s embrace of us all.