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…

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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.

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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.’ “
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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.

 

Anna Update: “I shall not want”

“I shall not want” is the second line of Psalm 23. Sunday morning Anna and I read the lectionary and Psalm 23 was the psalm for the day, along with John 10:1-10 as the Gospel reading. As we read those two passages together one word stood out, pasture.

Psalm 23:1-2

The Lord is my shepherd,
I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;

John 10:9

I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he(she) will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.

That word pasture seemed to be saying something to us Sunday morning so we looked further. The Greek word is νομὴν and it means pasturage, fodder, food…one shall not have want for the needful supplies for the true life.

John 10:9 is the only time we know of that Jesus uses this word νομὴν, pasture. I wonder if He specifically said pasture to harken back to Psalm 23. Those good young Jewish men that Jesus was training surely would’ve picked up on it. As Anna and I, along with our kids go this this tragic experience one thing is clear, we are in the pasture. We are covered. There’s enough food, there’s enough space, the Shepherd has our back.

Psalm 23 talks about the green pasture in verse two. The Greek word for pasture that Jesus uses means to not want, and verse one of Psalm 23 talks about not wanting. It’s almost like David is saying pasture twice in two different ways in verse one and verse two of Psalm 23.

The reality is we are all living in the green pasture. We may not know it, feel it or believe it, but it’s true. Verse three of the psalm goes on to talk about how amazing life is in the pasture if we will dare believe we are already living there. The shepherd is leading, restoring, guiding. And apparently this is all going on while David is walking “through the shadow of death.” (v 4)

From the beginning of this famous psalm, David proclaims that the Lord is his Shepherd. He has no other shepherd. He has no other master. His allegiance is to God alone. He believes God is holding him. Shepherd is an intimate metaphor. A shepherd lives with his flock and totally cares for each one of the sheep. I’ve heard that a shepherd literally lays down on the ground with his sheep.

As we continue to walk through the valley of the shadow of death Anna and I are choosing to fear no evil, knowing beyond a knowing that we knew was possible, that God is with us. There is no want, we are covered. The Shepherd has us. And part of his “having” us is having you walk though this valley with us. We have each other, and in having one another somehow we mysteriously have God.

 

Anna Update: Tired of waiting

We are tired of waiting. Anna and I wrote on this blog at the beginning of the journey three years ago that we believed we were being asked to wait.

 Isaiah the prophet speaks about waiting in a passage that is familiar to many:

“But those who wait upon the LORD will renew their strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint.”Is 40:31

Often the verse is seen on a picture much like this one:

The verse that gets less notice is perhaps spoken in the same breath by Isaiah,

“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.” Isaiah 40:29

Anna and I, along with our kids find ourselves in verse 29 desperately wanting to live in verse 31. We desire to have our strength renewed. We want to be compared to an eagle. We want to run, to not be weary. We want to walk and not faint. The reality, however, is that Anna can hardly walk right now due to physical pain. She has nearly fainted on a few occasions getting from one place to another in our home. Anna dreams of running one day again, unsure if she ever will.

We feel like we have waited on the Lord, as Isaiah instructs at the beginning of verse 31. The word from the Lord three years ago to wait was real, and yet here we are still waiting. I get it, God is not a “do this and you will get this outcome” God, but I sure want him to be, we want him to be. Instead, we find ourselves  living verse 29 day after day. Anna barely having the strength not to faint, not sure if the promises of verse 31 will come.

That is where we are today, waiting.

Isaiah ends verse 31 with the words, “They will walk and not faint” We’ll take even Isaiah final promise at this point, a shift from fainting to walking.

 

Anna Update: “We do not know what to do…”

A few days ago Anna and I listened to a teaching on Jehoshaphat from 2 Chronicles 20. Neither Anna nor I were very familiar with this story, but since Jehoshaphat was someone in the Bible who was up against a battle he could not fight on his own, we thought we would see what we could learn from his approach. We were surprised by the “strategies” of Jehoshaphat.

In the scene of the story Jehoshaphat, King of Judah, is up against three armies at once. There is no way he and his army can defeat even one of the armies, much less three. When Jehoshaphat realizes there is no hope he turns to God and begins to remind God of who God is and what He has done. That’s an interesting strategy, reminding God of who He is and what He has done in the past:

Lord, the God of our ancestors, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you. 7 Our God, did you not drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend? 8 They have lived in it and have built in it a sanctuary for your Name, saying, 9 ‘If calamity comes upon us, whether the sword of judgment, or plague or famine, we will stand in your presence before this temple that bears your Name and will cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us and save us.’

Then Jehoshaphat makes this incredible statement of trust:

For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” (v 12) What a posture of humility and trust, “we don’t know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” 

After Jehoshaphat‘s prayer, a prophet speaks up and says this to Jehoshaphat and all of the people of Judah in earshot:

This is what the Lord says to you: ‘Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s. 16 Tomorrow go down against them. 17 You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem!’ Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the Lord is with you.”

What stands out in the story to Anna and me is that it’s not about power, it’s about position. “Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you.”  

So Jehoshaphat and his people took the advise of the prophet and got into position, the position was worship:

And Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem bowed before the Lord, worshiping the Lord.

Their next strategy seemed like madness:

And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed those who should sing to the Lord, and who should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army and were saying:

“Praise the Lord, For His mercy endures forever.”

As we read further in the story we realized that God wasn’t asking Jehoshaphat and his army to get into position to fight, He was getting them into position to worship and watch God fight the battle for them. The three armies that were coming against Jehoshaphat ended up fighting each other and Jehoshaphat and his people were rescued.

As you think about Anna and are family during these hard days, consider worshiping with us. Our understanding of worship is that it is way beyond singing. Worship is anything that shifts our focus from a problem or situation to God. Gratitude seems to be the most practical “action” of worship these days. Worship with us. Echo these words of Jehoshaphat alongside us, “we don’t know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” 

We remain grateful for you.

What Could Rest Have to Do With Repentance?

“In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.” (Is 31:15)

As we enter the final two weeks of Lent we will look at the concept of rest together. I’m not sure that we can truly rest without repentance. Before we look at rest, maybe we should first consider why Isaiah might’ve put have these two words of repentance and rest together.

What could rest have to do with repentance? I have no answers, but instead more questions. If we’re not experiencing rest today, how can we expect to receive it tomorrow without some sort of a change? Further, how could we experience rest if we don’t rethink our lives/ reevaluate and make a change? Isn’t that the definition of insanity we have heard our whole lives, doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result?

As I mentioned a few weeks ago (link) repentance (metanoia) in its most fundamental understanding is change (meta) of mind (nous). I’m going to lean on Richard Rohr for his understanding of this change. Rohr says, “Jesus did not come to change the mind of God about humanity. It did not need changing. Jesus came to change the mind of humanity about God! God is not someone to be afraid of but is the Ground of Being and on our side.” What Rohr seems to be addressing not only relates to repentance, but also to rest. Specifically, that last statement, “God is not someone to be afraid of but is the Ground of Being and on our side.” As long as we remain afraid of God, believing that He is either out to get us or has left us to figure out life on our own, we cannot rest. Augustine puts it this way,

Because you have made us for Yourself,

and our hearts are restless till they find their rest in Thee.

Augustine, Confessions, 1.1.1.

As we look at the concept of rest for the remainder or Lent, perhaps a word to keep coming back to is the word Augustine references, restlessness. We will pick up there later this week.