I knew this day was coming. The month of March is laced with joy as we celebrate the birth of such an influential person in our family. Our first born child, the very soul that caused us to think of another life, other then our selfish selves, this is the month that he was born.

Yet this very month is interwoven with deep sadness, heavy regret, too many conversations that are left unfinished and most of all the all consuming weight that a deeply loved soul left this earth. March 15, 2015 Ken Teune claimed his heavenly reward.

Our family just came back from a 2 week vacation. It was something that we painfully saved for, for over 5 yrs. Giving up anything that could be labeled excess. pinching and saving for a tropical destination was our goal. I think that Ken would be so proud of me, saving and being accountable for our money to get 8 people to Hawai‘i was a huge task. His intense skill to be accountable, to know where and how his money was spent is something that has stayed with me all these years. In fact did you know that when a Christian organization made a public announcement that impacted their world view and what they deemed to be acceptable according to the Bible, he pulled out of supporting them? With some conviction as well as his burning desire to know the truth, he called them up and drilled the soul that answered. After he was assured that his money would be used to glorify the kingdom, he reinstated his monthly donation. Many of you who know him can’t help but smile knowing that Ken had the gumption to call this organization up and ask his list of questions. Ken was so thrifty with his 100 pack Bar S hotdogs and western family buns, because there was a good sale. Ken was thrifty with life in general.

Have you ever gone into Walmart and seen the “Dooms Day” emergency preparedness food? That man could not pass those up. One day, in my wondering I asked him, why he spent all that money on those scar tactics. Wouldn’t God, the one who watches over the sparrows, watch over him? I mean I really needed to understand. I thought maybe there was some memo he had gotten from God that somehow skipped me or could this solid man of faith actual have some fear? So yes, I asked. I was then told, “Sarah it’s our job as Christians to meet the needs of the poor and needy”. He challenged me and told me, if something were to go wrong in our constantly changing health of our country, providing food for the masses would be another way for Ken to feed souls, spiritually and physically. He told me, when crisis comes, people run to those of faith, because they know we are different, there is a peace they can’t comprehend. It was Ken’s hope that over a can of Mac and Cheese that had a shelf life of 24 years, that he would be able to offer them hope of a future that could only come from Christ. I am not sharing this so that you can laugh in mockery or scoff and what he did, but instead evaluate some choices. Ken was so meticulous, he didn’t leave out details and he never wasted a chance to use ANY opportunity to tell someone about Christ. ANY chance.

One of the many drives our family took to chase the sun, we pushed play on leadership podcasts or sermons from some of our favorite preachers. It was on one of the drives that we heard the term “genesis of leadership”. The speaker was talking about how leaders, if you were to sit down and talk about the start of their leadership journey, they would be able to identify the 3 most critical people that shaped them. These people where the ones that identified and believed in them, helped open doors for them and sowed leadership seeds in their lives.

Stupid silly emotions, the very things that Ken assured me to never be ashamed of, found me on the Kuhio Hwy. The speaker kept on going and I found myself in and out of important conversations that I had shared with Ken as we talked about the “hows and whys” of kingdom work.

When Ken met me, I was not where I am today. I had been asked to be a part of the worship team and served minimally my first two years. It wasn’t until a sudden change came, that I found myself serving in a completely different way. He walked side by side, sometimes ahead as I lost my focus or hope, but he never left me as I learned to lead in a joint leadership role with two other leaders. Iron sharpens Iron, he never let me off on the easy side when I wanted to jump ship because emotions, feelings or a person’s view of things challenged mine. Nope, lean in Sarah, fight for the kingdom. He was there to offer me the Worship Leader role in our church and continued to humbly lead me as I became his boss. In fact one Sunday when we disagreed with the tempo of the song he stopped and in front of everyone realized that he was suppose to be a team member not my boss and he changed his tune. Humbly.

Ken saw leadership potential in me. In fact he made sure to help sow those seeds. He encouraged and helped me to stay the course.

At the beginning of this year I found myself in another shift. I was offered the staffed position of being the Worship & Teaching leader at the church. I celebrated, something that I had worked for, survived many battles and experienced great joy in my life. But if I am honest, it didn’t feel like I could truly celebrate. Someone who believed in me from the very beginning, before I had done the time to prove my worth, was not there.

When someone leaves this earth, as time comes and goes, as major life changes take place, their absence is felt more then ever. Time makes memories fade, life and the ups and downs can make their absence be misplaced too.

As we drove and I got myself pulled together I finished the podcast and knew what I needed to do.

If you are reading this, then you clicked on the blog. You saw something pop up in your feed and saw his name. My hope is that you clicked it because of what you will do next.

It’s been 3 years, yet it wasn’t until we were sitting in a church on a vacation and hearing a organization present their cause that I remembered the conversation Ken and I had, about knowing how and where his money went. It wasn’t until we were driving that I remembered him telling me how critical it was for me to always choose freedom and not slavery when I am dealing with hard situations with my brothers and sisters in Christ. One of the preachers said, if you haven’t been offended in the church you are attending, you aren’t really attending. He said, it’s through relationships with others, as we grow, that we learn what Christ really died for, how we truly understand redemptive love. Ken preached that sermon to me many times, not just through words but through his life. I missed his high five that he would have given me or his check in phone calls that I would get, as he asked how my soul was doing or what battles I was facing. His absence is real as I embrace this next step in my leadership journey.

If today, you find yourself reading this, I want to ask that you will leave a memory of when Ken breathed into your life. Let us celebrate his life and encourage each other as we remember the Hebrews 11 man we all miss. I am sure his loved ones would love to read about how their dearly missed and loved husband and father impacted you.

Plant some seeds, you might be the person who makes a way for someone else as you share

2 thoughts on “Seeds”

  1. Thank for your beautiful tribute. You helped me remember some thoughts of Ken.

    Consistent to his honest and non-judgemental nature, Ken always shot straight with you. Two incidents come to mind.
    #1) I was ruminating about a comment I’d made during our morning staff devotions and thought it may have been misunderstood. I walked a few steps back to Ken’s office to ask him what he thought. Puzzled and without a clue what I alluded to he said, “Mrs Smith, you think too much of yourself. I don’t remember a thing about what you said”. I couldn’t help laughimg and responded, “Thanks Mr. Teune. I needed that.” I’ve tried since to just say what I mean (thoughtfully) and stop sweating the small stuff.
    #2) Ken walked in as I was running copies of our weekly school newsletter. He was quiet and as I looked up, he said, “Mrs . Smith, I had to put my dog down today because it was really sick.” I told him how sorry I was and asked if he was okay. Thoughtfully he replied, “That was a hard thing to do.” This guy who loved all things rugged in the Alaskan outdoors (who also had a reputation among his junior high students to deviate from the science curriculum to talk fishing and hunting) showed me a tender, empathetic side that cared for all creatures … lost humanity and his suffering pet.
    I miss this wonderful guy I came to love as a younger brother. Much love and prayers for Dawn, Jessi, Joel and his extended family.

    1. Oh Karen, he actually talked from time to time of working with a Karen ❤️. You left a mark on him to share memories. Thank you for your words. I laughed at your #1, because he once told me in my nerves before leading worship “Sarah, it’s not about you, so stop worrying”. I responded the same “ken, I needed that”. Oh what a big void he has left.

      #2 story, thank you for sharing that tender side that he carefully shared with people ❤️

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