I have had the privilege of getting to know Breena over this past year and follow her journey of losing her son to Batten Disease. I can say this with full confidence – this girl is the real thing. She doesn’t just say things to be noticed or to be followed, she share her heart, her story, she shares Jesus. I prayed for her son Zekey when he was in the hospital without ever even knowing her. Just a few months after that, we found out we were placed in the same Influence Network group. God has a mysterious way of bringing His people together. We have gotten to hug each other and encourage each other in so many ways these past few months! Breena is now on an adventure of following Jesus and starting the Garment Collective! Would you consider supporting her kickstarter? (You can learn more about what a kickstarter is here.) I guarantee your money will go to make much of Jesus!
Introduce yourself like we are having a cup of coffee together. What kind of coffee/tea would you drink?
Hello! I am Breena, married to a preacher-writer-man, Andrew and together we have been abundantly blessed with four beautiful children! Cyrus-8, Eisley-4, Zekey (who met Jesus in March at 4 1/2 due to Batten disease) and Bexley-3. I am a writer, sharing how we live out hope in heartache on this side of suffering and loss of our sweet Zekey-boy, and how we have seen God’s faithfulness and goodness encompassing us through it all. I am also the owner/fashion designer for Garment Collective, an ethical clothing line for women who are living out new Hope and redemption by making my designs come to live! I also work very part time at a Montessori Day School here in Toledo, OH assisting the teachers and I have been SO blessed by these women building into these beautiful children’s lives. I’m quite busy! You can imagine me drinking a warm cup of coffee with cream in my “Birds don’t worry they sing’ mug and a blueberry scone on the side because YUM.
What is your definition of a “life lived beautifully”?
A life lived beautifully is simply desiring and living out to fully reflect the Jesus we know and believe in. With this comes failure and trials and brokenness but what is so beautiful about living for Jesus is that He takes us where we are, pours out unshakable love and grace and ushers us into continuing to walk out our faith and become more like Him. He gives us EVERYthing we need to live a godly life. Sometimes this is simply seeing our sin for what it is and repenting of it. Other times it’s pushing out the lies that are in our head and getting our faces in His word to allow His perfect Truth to wash over us. And along the way, blessings are poured out, almost as a breather and reminder that we are not to be overtaken by the brokenness of this world- that we can ALWAYS find joy in Him alone for ALL He has done for us! Amen!
When did you start following Jesus?
I started following Jesus when I was about 4 or 5. I remember laying in my bedroom that I shared with my sister, praying to Jesus and thinking that my parents had their own Jesus above them to pray to and my older siblings, who also shared a room, had THEIR own Jesus to pray to. One day, as a little 4 year old, I remember praying to Jesus, asking him to pick up my toys in the hallway because I simply didn’t want to…boy was I disappointed!
I had a pivotal time in my faith, as a teenager after going through some years of rebellion when living a double life was becoming exhausting. Jesus on Sunday, loving Him but not living it out throughout my week. I was crying in my bed one day, completely worn out and just felt I had to decide then and there if I was going to continue to walk with Jesus or follow the ways of the world. I stopped the double life and started living for Him only. I met my now husband 4 months later and the rest is history! Praise be to God!
What are some verses you constantly cling to and bring life to your soul?
My VERY favorite verses came to be and became my life verses the year before Zekey started having seizures. I am SO thankful for this truth: Jeremiah 17:7-8 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.” I was tested and refined in the fire and God stayed SO true to His sweet promises.
It reminds me that through it all, the good and the bad, when we stay constant in Him, we will not be shaken! That is something to celebrate and cling to!
How did God give you the vision for starting the “Garment Collective”?
Well, this is an exciting question! I remember being under 5 years old having a STRONG opinion on what I wore. As I grew, I realized it was a way to express myself. In Jr High and High school, I found really inexpensive dresses and would cast a new vision for it. I would take my dress and vision drawn out on paper to my great Aunt Sherry and she would transform the dress and bring my vision to life. It was SO fun! That is when my dream was born…I wanted to be a fashion designer!
As life went on, I pursued art studies but allowed fear to keep me from pursuing my dream to design clothes. After meeting my husband and having our 4 beautiful children, watching my 3rd child, Zekey, go from a healthy 2.5 year old boy and suffer with seizures for the last 2 years of his life, I saw what real strength, joy and light from God looked like and I didn’t want that lesson to go by the wayside. His life story connected me to a manufacturer in Nepal who engages the poorest and most marginalized women in society and helps them to find freedom and redemption with their God-given gifts. They are able to provide for their families and live out their own dreams! It’s a beautiful thing. I wanted to pursue my dream again because of my son’s amazing life and I felt God calling me to a part in seeing redemption unfold in the lives of these women in Nepal who will be bringing my designs to life. I believe we can all use our lives to bring, “Redemption For All” one way or another. I imagine it being a way we usher Jesus back to us, to help Heaven and Earth collide.
As a mother, pastor’s wife, teacher, and small business owner, how do you find time to spend alone with Jesus? What advice would you give to other busy momma’s in the ministry?
I find the best way to communicate and hear from Jesus is by yes, making time to just be and hear and get in His word but it’s terribly hard to do daily so I also love to just invite Him in to my day and all that entails, each day something new. Talking to him as I feel am at work, driving, cleaning. I love to sing out and listen to my children join in (Until one interrupts because they have a VERY important question to ask. ha!) I find it is SO important to invite my children in on what God’s doing and saying and asking them to participate. We do devotions almost every day before school (and when we don’t, I get reminded by one of them, which I think is SO sweet!). Currently, we are talking about the advent season. I read over Naptime Diaries Advent before discussing it with my kids . They LOVE it. There is so much awe and wonder in this season….Christmas is just a beautiful holiday to reflect on what a perfect gift Jesus is to us! In short, invite those children in, your coworkers- tell them you’re praying for them and then follow through. Everyone loves to be lifted up!
Zekey’s life is still sharing the Gospel today and will continue to through the Garment Collective. You have shared his story with great joy and freedom in Christ. For those who are reading and have experienced a loss, what would you share with them about the process of grief and trusting the Lord in the midst of suffering?
First of all, there’s a place in my heart that aches when I am reminded that I am not alone- there are other parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles, etc who have experienced loss. I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone. I’ve written in my grief from a mountaintop and a deep, deep valley. I haven’t pretended to be something I am not when I write and it has blessed so many as being true to what is going on gives a unique opportunity to share the Jesus that meets us in the deep deep valley- the One who gets it and never leaves nor forsakes. I encourage you to cast it all to Him…whatever ‘it’ is. The good days, the awful ones for He CAN and He WILL carry what you cannot. He remains faithful and He is TRULY the best to cling to when going through such heartache. Humans are a gift, but they fail us. Jesus never fails.
If you could do anything for the glory of God (with no limits), what would it be?
I love so much about what I’m doing with Garment Collective- a dream I have had for SO many years. But the FIRST dream I had was also as a little girl- I wanted to marry a Christian man and have 4 kids. And now that I am living in this beautiful gift, even with heartache and loss attached, and I just want to do it better! I know that my most important ministry is to my family and I want them to meet Jesus at home and want to carry it out to their little worlds. I want them to see our lives are not revolved around our family but as a family, we can reach the world for Jesus just by sharing all He has done in our lives! I want them to see our everything can bring God glory, so use ALL we have been given and share this Hope with the world!
If you could tell every woman reading this blog one thing God has laid on your heart, what would it be?
Your dreams, your family, your home, your job…whatever it is you hold so high, remember, although treasures, these are our earthly treasures. We are not Home and we have a high calling on this earth, to share the Jesus who saved our souls. To share the Jesus who gets us through our toughest days, months, years…To share the Jesus that brings a peace in the midst of chaos- sometimes we are the only Jesus anyone has met, so let His light shine brightly! I want us to live here remembering, we haven’t arrived yet and something grander and more beautiful awaits. Let’s live our mission out while being more excited to see our Savior face to face in the glory of Heaven, our truest Home. Amen?!