One Faith, Many Paths: An Interview with…My Mom!

Ever since I started this blog, I’ve been interviewing people on a monthly basis that I met in real life or online. I’m about to hit 150 posts as of next week, so I thought why not do something special and interview my adoptive mother! She agreed, and these are the questions I asked her. This is a thank you to all my readers.

1. What evidence would you give for God’s existence?

How else do you explain how the Earth, moon, and stars exist?

2. How has your Christian worship helped you in raising me?

In raising you, I have had to pray looking for answers to help me.

3. What is your favorite biblical passage?

I actually have more than one:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
    and do not rely on your own insight.“–Proverbs 3:5-6

” I can do all things through him who strengthens me. “–Phillipians 4:13

It’s really hard to pick just one.

Continue reading “One Faith, Many Paths: An Interview with…My Mom!”

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One Faith, Many Paths: Nathan Joseph Sitton Marchand

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This is an interview with a very good and very funny Facebook friend and a fellow blogger! Thank you for taking the time to fill out these questions, Nathan.

1. Tell me about your childhood and family.
I’m the oldest of four kids. I have two brothers and a sister. My parents are wonderful people, but they’re quite “normal” compared to most of their kids. My sister is the closest to “normal” out of all of us. I’m a crazy creative type. One of my brothers has mild autism and is a brilliant artist.That sometimes led to some conflict, but they’ve been mostly supportive. I was homeschooled starting
 in first grade because public school kindergarten was horrendous. My teacher hated me. I’d get my work done first and get bored, so I’d try to talk to the kid next to me. Instead of giving me more work to do like a good teacher should do, she made me stand in the corner. Eventually, I was given my own little desk separate from the class. She never told my parents about my “problem” until the end of the school year. Mom took me out and started homeschooling me at a time when that wasn’t popular. I can’t thank her enough.
2. What evidence can you give for God’s existence?
 Look at the stars. The universe is vast, complex, and breathtaking. It couldn’t have happened by accident. Matter is not eternal. It had a Creator. The more non-Christian scientists try to move away from Intelligent Design and Creationism, the wackier they sound (and they call Christians the crazy ones!) 😛 I also like C.S. Lewis’ argument in Mere Christianity about how murder has been universally condemned by all cultures in history, indicating evidence of a God-given morality.
3. What is your favorite biblical verse and why?
I have several: Isaiah 40:31, Matthew 22:37-39, and Ecclesiastes 3:11. The first because I love the imagery (eagles are a favorite animal of mine); the second because it summarizes the entire Christian faith in a few sentences; and the third because it shows that all humans have an inkling of the Truth, that they know how things were and should be, even if they can’t explain it. It testifies to the image of God we bear.
4. Who is your favorite biblical figure besides Jesus?
That changes from time to time. I like several for different reasons, but currently it’s Job. He wasn’t afraid to speak his mind to God and dare to question him. He also put the smackdown on his so-called friends for spewing well-meaning but inaccurate philosophies at him. I find that my faith is much like his.
5. Tell me about your blog.
A: It’s only a “blog” in the sense that it’s a WordPress site. Regardless, I use it to promote my books, writings, and videos, and to connect with my readers/fans. I post news updates, unpublished short stories, and musings on writing and creativity. I also have a Youtube Vlog called “But I Digress”.

Continue reading “One Faith, Many Paths: Nathan Joseph Sitton Marchand”

One Faith, Many Paths: Amanda Thames

 

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For my latest One Faith Many Paths post, I’ve interviewed a fellow Christian aspie named Amanda Thames. Here’s what she had to say.

1. When were you diagnosed with autism/Aspergers?

Only just recently. For the longest time, my parents suspected I have it. They even brought it up a few times in my school days to teachers and counselors. However, they were always dismissed with being overly worried parents. My current therapist ran me through a few tests for it, and has changed my past diagnosis of schizophrenia to Autism. I fit the symptoms of Autism or Asperger’s Syndrome much more than any Schizophrenia types.

2. How long have you been a Christian?

My parents and extended family have always strived to give me, my brothers, and cousins a safe and Christian environment. They would never insist I had to be Christian and they always wanted my happiness. Without the idea that they had to make us Christian, they instead gave us a choice to choose God of our own accord. We all always chose God relatively quick compared to the rest of our friends. I myself had a falling out from God but have since come to serve him again.

3. What “evidence” would you give for God’s existence?
It’s kinda hard to give just one example in this question, but I’ll try to keep it simple. We as human beings are given free will but within that are designed to follow him. This is where faith comes from. Without faith in the most basic things, life could not be possible. To ask for ‘proof’ of God is like asking for proof of gravity or oxygen. You cannot see gravity or but it keeps your feet on the ground. You cannot see oxygen, but you know if it goes missing. Same with God. We can neither see him, hear him or any of that sort of sensing him. But in situations where you might be asked to say rob a bank, there is a discerning force inside you telling you it wouldn’t be a good plan. Not because you might be caught or it’ll come back to get you eventually, but because you simply know you can’t bring yourself to knowingly do another harm. That force is the Holy Spirit putting us on the right track again.

4. Who is your favorite Biblical character besides Jesus?

I would likely go with Elijah or Elisha. While they performed their roles admirably and in the face of a hopeless situation, they had the courage to do what needed done to tend to God’s sheep in the face of false gods such as Baal. They were often depressed and the situation hopeless, but they proved it’s always possible with God on your side.

5. What was your childhood like?

 My family is largely Christian and a great deal conservative. So while we had an average upbringing despite our close knit family, my brothers and I were often singled out in school or in the neighborhood because everyone knew we were conservative, even more everyone knew we were Christians. We’d defend our cousins in school and they defended us.  I myself often wouldn’t care about popular trends or things and was thus immediately labeled a nerd. On top of that label, I had a near impossible time making friends because of that image or because of my own inability to converse with other kids on a ‘normal’ level. As a result of not knowing how to socialize I had almost no friends and was left to entertain myself or with my brothers or cousins.

6. Favorite Biblical passage and why?

I really can’t hone in on any one story or passage. But the books 1 Samuel through 2 Kings is some of my all time favorite lessons from David’s challenge of Goliath to when Elijah stood alone against Jezebel. To prove God is real. I also am partial to the books of 1 and 2 Timothy especially when I am feeling broken and unable to be saved by anything or anyone. There are also a few great verses in Ephesians I love.

7. What is your current profession?

I’m a pencil and Copic artist which I often do whether by commission or amusement. I also have a few story ideas not only itching to be written but drawn in manga form. I would ultimately love to come out with my own hot-selling manga.

8. Is there anyone in your life who inspires you to be a better person? Why?
 I can without a doubt say my parents and the rest of my family are for various reasons. My brothers inspire me that no matter what I want in life, it’s not out of my reach as they both are achieving their dreams as a bible philosopher and a nurse. Both have won awards for their efforts which tells me my own dreams aren’t so out of reach to be won. My parents have shown me a good nature backed by hard work are rewarded in some very unexpected ways. True, we are by no means a ‘rich family’ but we get by with what we earn ourselves and always take a portion to give back to God wether through church donations or simply buying a sandwich for the homeless on the streets. My family also has a long lineage of military service which a few of my cousins still actively serve. This kind of upbringing has lead me to stand up for myself and my rights as well as fight for the security of others. As a result, I am well rounded in self-defense and a strong resolve to always help those in need.

One Faith, Many Paths: Deborah Benjamin

 

 

Here’s another interview with another person I met through Fans For Christ, Deborah Benjamin.

1. What was your childhood like?

I was raised in a small Midwestern town. My father was a factory worker and my mom was a housekeeper at a local nursing home. We attended church every Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday night. If there was a special service or a tent meeting or a revival, we were there. The only time you missed church was because of serious illness. My father was abusive and had a terrible temper. He also had learning difficulties and was almost illiterate. My mother was a high school dropout but went back to receive her GED after I was born. I have a brother with learning difficulties and a sister with emotional problems and some physical issues as a result of a car accident several years ago. My father passed away when I was 12, leaving my mom with three children. We were very poor and my mother struggled to make ends meet. Church was very important. I spent a lot of time helping lead song service and singing specials for the congregation. I also taught Sunday school and felt called to be a youth minister when I was a sophomore in high school. She remarried when I was 15 and I acquired two more brothers and a sister.

2. I’ve seen your posts about the ministry. Can you tell me about that?

My husband and I attended two different bible colleges and we have done ministry off and on over our almost 20 years of marriage. We are both licensed ministers with the Assemblies of God. I have over 10 years of youth ministry experience. We currently pastor a very small church in rural Iowa. Our congregation runs about 20 on Sunday. I lead worship and sometimes preach when my husband is sick.

3. What evidence can you give for God’s existence?

I believe that the evidence I have for the existence of God can be seen in the miraculous things I have experienced. My husband was miraculously healed of scoliosis. He had had it for most of his life and was told that eventually he would have to have surgery and probably be confined to a wheelchair. When my son was almost 2 years old, Todd was prayed for and was instantly healed. He no longer has pain and is able to do things he was not able to do before. I have seen our niece healed of Stage 4 non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. I have witnessed a juvenile delinquent surrender his life to Christ and have a total transformation and change his ways. I have felt His presence. Even though I was abused by my earthly father, I have felt the love of my Heavenly Father. He has encouraged me and corrected me and loved me in spite of myself.

4. Tell me about your kid.

We have a 8 year old wonderfully compassionate boy named Lucian. Todd and I were married almost 11 years when he was born. He is in the second grade. He loves video games, art, music, Power Rangers, Super Heroes, Science, Animals, etc. He wants to be a zookeeper when he grows up. He also loves to go to church and read his Action Bible.

5. What’s your favorite bible verse?

My favorite Scripture is Psalm 13. When I am feeling alone or depressed or feel that the world is against me I can read this Scripture and know that I can trust in His unfailing love.

6. Who’s your favorite biblical figure besides Jesus?

I think that I really relate to Deborah. When everyone else was doing what was right in their own eyes, she had the determination to stand for what was right. She lead the people into battle and proclaimed that the Lord would be victorious. Because Barak would not take charge of the army and would not go into battle without Deborah, she prophesied that a woman would go down in history as the one who would lead the people to victory. She was right! Jael drove the tent spike into the enemy’s temple! She was a strong woman during a time when women customarily were not seen in powerful positions. She was wise and she heard from the Lord.

7. Who inspires you to be a better person?

My son inspires me to be a better person. I watch him watch me. I want Him to see Jesus in me. I want Him to see an example of how to live an upright life. I watch how compassionate and caring he is and how insightful he is and want to be the best example of a Godly woman that I can be.

8. What made you decide your profession?

I am currently looking for a high school teaching position. I think I have always been drawn to teaching in some form or fashion. In fact, I believe that I am more of a teacher than a preacher. When we took our current pastorate position I applied for a job at the local high school as a paraeducator in an English and Reading classroom. I instantly fell in love. I went back to school and received a post baccalaureate degree and obtained my teaching license. I love to teach kids to read and to express themselves through writing. I believe that every student has a voice that needs to be and should be heard.

One Faith, Many Paths: Chris Bern

bern1. How long have you been Christian? What was your childhood like?

I grew up Lutheran, and was nominally Christian, but God wasn’t central to our family.  We prayed at dinner and before bed, we attended church on Sundays, but we didn’t truly live by God.  It was a good childhood, though, with very loving, supportive parents who helped foster confidence and independence in me.  When I went to college I became agnostic and looked into other religions.  I reached a low point in my life when I was 28 and turned to Christ.  That was in 1998 and I’ve followed Jesus every since.

2. How long have you worked for Fans For Christ?

I first came across FFC at Dragon*Con in 2005.  Within the next year I became secretary for the group, and pretty soon I was helping lead worship services.  A few years ago I officially became co-director of the group and am in charge of the FFC efforts in the eastern half of the US.

3. Can you explain what your people do at conventions?

We set up a fan table and talk to people that come up to us.  Our purpose is to share Christ and the Gospel with people, but we aren’t heavy-handed about it.  We want to show those in the fan community that you can be a geek and a Christian.  The two are not mutually exclusive.  We also want to reach out to other Christian fans/geeks and give them a place of fellowship and community.  When possible we participate in con events such as marching as a group in parades, hosting and participating in panels, and otherwise being a light for Christ.  We also try to hold church services whenever possible, usually with a con-friendly theme.  God isn’t openly discussed much at cons, and we want to change that.  Yet we want to attract people to God, not turn them away.

4. Why do you feel that Christians who attack Sci-fi and fantasy, such as Harry Potter, are doing harm?

Many of us who are fans are very passionate about our interests.  I have seen all Star Wars movies when they were first released in the theaters.  I’ve been reading comic books since I could first read.  And I’ve been playing and running role-playing games for over 30 years.  None of that keeps me from loving God and following the Bible.  None of that affects my salvation.  These things aren’t central to my life, but they give me joy and entertainment.  When someone directly attacks these interests, especially without really knowing anything about them, they are indirectly attacking me.  Most fans and geeks feel similar, and feel that when a Christian belittles their passion it is a direct reflection on themselves as a person.  That Christian is then seen as narrow-minded and judgmental, as well as boring and uniformed.  Why would anyone want to be like that?   Christians who attack these things are certainly trying to look out for the hearts and souls of people, but in a very misguided way.  What is there in these attacks that would make anyone want to be one of those people?  Many fans have been condemned and hated simply because they liked anime or dressed like a Jedi.  Yes, there are absolutely things in fandoms and cons that are influenced by Satan and go against what the Bible teaches.  But most of it is harmless fun.  We should be trying to make people WANT to know Christ and WANT to be part of God’s kingdom.  Condemning them only pushes them away and makes them not want to have anything to do with Christ.  Christians shouldn’t be accepting of everything, but they should try to get to know the people and things they are talking about and find common ground.  That is a large part of the purpose of FFC.

5. What is your family like?

My wife and I are about to celebrate our 15th anniversary.  We have a son, Lucas, who is 12, and a daughter, Elena, who is 10.  My wife has a custom costuming business, A Touch Of Magic Costumes.  All of us are geeks and enjoy cosplay.  Our children have grown up going to cons and think that people who don’t attend them are boring.  My wife and daughter are very active in theater, while my son and I dabble a bit in it.  All of us are very close and it is important to us to make a point to do things as a family.  We are close-knit, but a bit of a unique family because of our hobbies and interests.

6. What is your job outside of FFC?

I’m a veterinarian who has been practicing for 16 years.  And I’m always happy to discuss my geek side at work!

7. Who is your favorite biblical figure besides Jesus?

Definitely the Apostle Peter.  I relate to him so well because he is the most “human” of Jesus’ disciples.  He was the most hot-headed of Jesus’ followers and routinely shot his mouth off and said things the didn’t mean and later regretted.  Yet at the same time he was one of the most spiritually strong, being the only person besides Jesus to walk on water, being the first to recognize Jesus as the Messiah, and being one of the most successful preachers in the New Testament era.  Peter was so fallible and prone to mistakes, yet Christ recognized the strength of his faith and used it despite his flaws.  If Jesus can use someone as imperfect as Peter, he can use me also.

8. What is your favorite Biblical passage and why?

Proverbs 3:5-6.  Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.

Many things in my life haven’t made sense to me.  I’ve been turned down for jobs that I’ve really wanted when I felt that I was the most qualified person.  I’ve moved to places I never thought I’d live.  I honestly never thought that I would become a licensed minister, hold church services, and help lead a ministry.  In fact, if I go back and look at my life, nothing has ever really gone exactly in the way that I had planned and expected.  This passage in Proverbs really helps me get through those confusing times when I can’t see what is ahead of me.  I’m also a very strong-willed, stubborn, independent person who has a hard time letting go of things and turning them over to God.  When this happens I can go back to this part of Proverbs and remember that God tells me to trust Him completely and absolutely, and as long as I do HE will be the one in charge and will take care of my path.  It’s been a hard lesson for me, but I’m learning that His ways are better than mine.

9. Is there anyone who inspires you to be a better person?

My wife and children.  I want so much to be a better father, husband, and person, and how I act around the people closest to me helps with how I act around everyone else.  I’ve learned many things about myself since they have been in my life and have especially learned just how fallible and selfish I can be.  I wouldn’t be a minister if it wasn’t for my wife’s guidance and calling me out when I’m being pig-headed and stupid.  I’m learning patience and unconditional love from my children.  Other than God they are the focus of my life and the reason I keep going through the difficult days.

10. What evidence would you give for God’s existence?

Wow, I don’t even know where to begin!  I’ve studied a lot of apologetics and it’s impossible for me to quickly and succinctly give all of the evidence.  For someone who wants to delve into the details, I would recommend reading “The Case For….” series by Lee Strobel and “Evidence That Demands A Verdict” by Josh McDowell.  Both are excellent and exhaustive sources on how the Bible is accurate and how God really can exist and do everything that He has.  Personally I can simply see the change in me after I experienced salvation and how I am absolutely not the same person I was before that.

11. Are there any Sci-fi or fantasy programs you feel have brought you new insight into the Christian faith? (Excluding stuff like Narnia or Lord of the Rings, which is Christian to begin with) How did this happen?

Believe it or not, Firefly.  The character of Shepherd Book was created by an atheist, acted by a Buddhist, and is one of the best representations of a Christian that I’ve seen.  He is strong in his faith, but also very human and fallible.  He has a questionable background that he gave up to serve God.  He associates with known sinners and tries to bring light into their lives rather than condemning them.  I’ve long found him an inspiring character and one to admire.  It doesn’t change my faith as much as it shows me how our human failings can be overcome, as well as still affect us.  He sometimes shows fear in the face of death but also stands up to danger.  Too many times Christians and especially preachers are seen as somehow weak when their shortcomings are visible.  Book proves that the faith can still support someone even when things seem to be going wrong around them.

12. What is your opinion on the DC reboot? 

Okay, I’ll try to keep this relatively brief, but comic books have always been one of my biggest interests and passions.  I certainly can understand the reasons for DC’s reboot to the New 52, as there were decades upon decades of sometimes convoluted changes, characters, and other “baggage” that would make it hard for someone new to comics to understand. By completely wiping the slate clean in a way that had never been done (even in their previous “reboot” events such as Crisis on Infinite Earths and Zero Hour) they made their series and characters more approachable.  I’ll admit that it helped get me back into DC comics.  On the other hand, the got rid of some beloved storylines and even characters.  And the timing is often confusing.  For example, in the new timeline over a five year period there were four Robins:  Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, Tim Drake, and Damien Wayne.  How did all of those guys have time to be Robin in such a short period of time?  Some characters have been changed in unwanted ways, at least to me, such as the Creeper and Blue Devil.  And there are also many characters that still haven’t shown up, such as Metamorpho.  A lot of the minor characters from the previous DC universe have gone AWOL and we don’t know if they will show up.  So overall, I think it’s a mixed bag.  I love what they’ve done with Aquaman (one of my all-time favorite characters), but don’t like how they changed Green Arrow (another favorite of mine).  I really like the Earth 2 series and how they are modernizing the Golden Age characters such as Jay Garrick’s Flash.  I wasn’t as happy with Firestorm being two separate characters, and think that they went back to the merged being too late.  I do have to give DC credit for sticking to their guns and making this a completely new universe, not going back and putting things back to the old ways.

13. About your agnostic period, what led you back to the faith?

It’s actually kind of interesting.  When I was in college I had an opportunity to travel to the UK for a month of study as part of the honors program.  Being a young, rather naive American, I brought some unwanted jeans to sell on the street corners in London.  By the end of the trip I hadn’t worked up the courage to do so, but had run out of room in my luggage due to souvenirs.  Needing to get rid of the jeans, I walked into a church planning on donating them to the poor.  It was during the week so someone went to get the priest.  I sat in a pew waiting for him and looked around.  The church had been badly damaged during German bombing during World War II and remnants from the old stained glass windows were used to make new ones.  While I was sitting there just looking around, I suddenly felt the overwhelming presence of God.  There is no other way to describe it.  In an instant I was absolutely convinced that God himself was turning his eyes on me.  It was overwhelming!  I had not expected or sought this kind of experience and was unprepared for it.  I started crying and when the priest came out I’m sure I confused him as I shoved the jeans at him, tears running down my face, and blubbered something about giving them to the needy.  Then I quickly left!  I didn’t know what was happening, but I no longer had any doubt whatsoever that God was real!  Unfortunately, despite that experience I didn’t follow Christ.  I had no doubts that God existed, but I didn’t understand Jesus’ sacrifice and what that meant.  I didn’t live my life as I should have.  It would take me another 10 years before I would reach a low point in my life, realize that I had nowhere else to turn, and pray for God to accept me and forgive me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

One Faith, Many Paths: Audra Whitton

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1. What is your current profession? Why did you choose it?

RN, pediatric specialty.  I love children with all my heart, and I’m a huge medical geek.  I started out to be a pediatrician, figuring starting as a RN would give me a nice income through medical school and a good base.  To quote a song from Broadway, though, “That’s how I got the calling, and it was bracing but enthralling.”  I knew in my heart as soon as I did my pediatric rotation I was meant to be a nurse to children.  I do pick up shifts with adults, especially those with disabilities, as needed to support myself, but pediatrics is my love.  I’ve saved a couple of lives, something I try to be humble about, but the most rewarding part to me is walking through the door of an elementary school (where I’ve been full-time lately) and having children run to hug me just seeing me.
2. What evidence would you give for God’s existence?
I can’t convince someone who is bound and determined not to believe.  But for me, it’s the tiny miracles.  A healthy baby.  Spring coming after a harsh Chicago winter.  That sounds poetic, but I’m a writer; you’ll have to indulge me.  It’s in the medical miracles.  The things that we cannot explain.  The premature baby who survives with no disabilities and no one knows why.  And it’s in close calls I’ve had in my life.  I joke that I often live life faster than my guardian angel can fly.  But I’ve had some really scary close calls, and I always felt an invisible force at that “almost” moment.  Since my parents might read this, I’ll decline to mention the details of the black ice and subsequent discovery that a 1996 Chevy Lumina was not meant to be an aerial vehicle.  But as terrified as I was, there was a strange sense of calm underneath it.  And there is no way according to physics that vehicle should have landed firmly on all four wheels, undamaged.  Jesus, take the wheel, indeed.  (Though if you watch the music video and notice the way her hands fly off the steering wheel, I’d like to point out that Jesus would appreciate it if you helped Him out by keeping your hands on the wheel.
3. Tell me about your childhood?
I was born a poor black child.  (Steve Martin joke.)  No, seriously.  I was born to loving parents who were not exactly wealthy, but we got by. I happen to be a Caucasian female with Hispanic heritage, but that was irrelevant with the way I was raised.  I was raised with the teachings of Martin Luther King, Junior, and the belief that all humans are created equal and equally loved by God.  I was raised Seventh Day Adventist.  I left that denomination in my teens due to the legalism in the church, but the core beliefs that were based on Biblical teachings stuck with me.  One of my childhood heroes was Dr. Ben Carson, the neurologist. (I told you I was a medical geek.)  I did reports on him whenever possible and read his books.  He also happens to be an Adventist, and when I was 12, he was a guest preacher at the church we attended.  My first celebrity encounter.  He’s a very kind, wonderful man, so I’m happy to announce there was no let-down whatsoever.
My dad joined the Air Force when I was 2, and between him being a medical administrator and my mother a nurse, my love of medicine was well-fostered.  I was always the “weird” kid, something that wouldn’t be fully explained until I was an adult.  But I was a geek from the start.  I loved Power Rangers, though I’d tape it, skip the battles, and get right down to the teenage soap opera of Kimberly and Tommy.  Then came Emergency!, the paramedic drama.  And X-Files.  And so many others.  At times, my obsession did interfere with real life, but my parents were good about redirecting me. My mom and I have some conflicts from time to time based on personality differences and differing views on some faith matters, but we do love each other.  My dad and I are very close, and I’m pretty much his clone in personality. I spent most of my childhood on Air Force bases, mostly in the South.  When we moved to Biloxi, MS in my early teens, that was really the first time I ever dealt with race issues.  I made some wonderful friends down there, who have been friends for life.  We were there for my teen years, and Biloxi will always own a piece of my heart.  Plus, it was where I discovered my other love, theatre.  (And no matter how many teachers got out their red pen, for live theatre, the British spelling is preferred and I insist on using it.)
I have a younger brother, and we fought bitterly as children, but we came to known and appreciate each other as adults.  He’s a rockstar paramedic with a beautiful family.
4. You told me you’ve worked with people with disabilities. Why?
I’d say because I have a mild form of Asperger’s, but that’s not why.  I wasn’t actually diagnosed until adulthood, after I started working.  I began to suspect I was something slightly more than the average eccentric while working with autism disorders and recognizing myself in them.  I bond with them very quickly and I have a knack for getting through to them because I understand on a soul level.  As for why, it just happened, honestly.  I did a special rotation in nursing school in pediatric psych because my psych professor noticed I had an aptitude for it.  That led to working with children with disabilities in an outpatient setting.  Eventually when I got into school nursing, the special needs kids needed the most care, and some of them require full-time nurses.  I truly love it.  Downs Syndrome is my extra-special favorite to work with, not going to lie, but autism is right up there.  And many Downs individuals also have autism.  
Looking back, I think I was being led in that direction all along.  My dad even commented when I was younger that I tended to quickly befriend handicapped kids in school.  I had a dear friend, Kit, when I was in elementary school, who used a wheelchair.  My first boyfriend was intellectually disabled, with epilepsy.  I describe him to others as Forrest Gump.  He was “slow,” but he knew how to love.  I honestly had to think for a long time before dating him because I didn’t want to take advantage of our friendship.  But he was, honestly, the best boyfriend I’ve ever had.  (We were teenagers, though, and my moving ended the relationship.  I think of him often, though, and hope he found a woman who deserves him.)
5. I’ve heard some pro-abortion people say we should eliminate the burdens of our society, and they often include people with disabilities. What would you say against that?
 
I think some of those people have been burdened with relatives with disabilities with no support.  It is by NO MEANS easy to parent a child with special needs.  There is a higher rate of abuse, and though it’s horrible to me, I understand the stress.  Our society needs to intervene and support those at risk.  That having been said, the rewards are amazing.  Yes, some disabled people of sound mind do become very bitter and jaded.  But many more are wonderful, cheerful people who take life in stride.  However, the abortion debate generally concerns those who are intellectually disabled, so I’ll focus on that.
I have never known any human with the capacity to love like a child with mental disabilities.  They see the world as it truly is.  They will take a dislike to those with malice in their hearts, yes.  Sometimes (especially in autism), they take random dislikes.  But it’s because something is triggering them, and making them feel uncomfortable, and they lack the ability to express that.  Babies scream for no reason sometimes, but no loving parent ever thinks “man, this kid is just being a jerk.”  Non-verbal kids do the same.  But if you forge a bond with a child or a childlike adult, it is deep and intense.  They bring joy to the world.
Back to my love of Downs individuals.  First of all, they’re freaking ADORABLE.  But just being cute isn’t reason enough.  They are genuine, amazing people.  They have a stereotype of being always huggy; this isn’t true.  They can have bad moods and outbursts.  So can any other human being.  They get stuck in their ways, especially those with autism.  I have a boy I worked with who about drove me batty with his “stimming” (a term for self-soothing behaviors that tend to be repetitive) with an ABC toy of his.  It sang the alphabet and he would never get as far as G before starting it over.  Sometimes you want to scream, “For the love of God, let the song finish!”…  But when this same boy, who almost never spoke (by choice) came up to me when I was holding the toy hostage to get him to do some work, handed me his finished work, signed “please” (something he never did; he preferred the sign for “more”) and looked at me with those beautiful blue eyes and said, “ABC?”…well, my heart melted everywhere.  And when I tried to help him with a new toy, and for the first time ever, he said “Me do it!”…I cried with pride.  I always said if his parents didn’t love him so much, he would have come home with me.
6. What’s your favorite Bible verse and why?
It’s varied over the years.  Senior year of high school, I listed it as one of the Psalms in my yearbook (I went to a Christian high school).  Over the years, I’ve gravitated to the New Testament more.  Currently, it’s John 14: 1-3, the “let not your heart be troubled” passage.  I always know that no matter what, Jesus has my back.

7.  Who is your favorite Biblical character besides Jesus?

Heh, that question made my mind go elsewhere.  I found an old diary of mine from when I was 9 that asked “what is your favorite book?”  Answer – The Bible.  “Who is your best friend?” – Jesus.  Clearly, religious training.  I do wish I’d put down the answers that were not what I was “supposed to” say, just for the memories.  But!  Not the question.  I like that you clarified “besides Jesus,” because He would have been it.  
Honestly, gotta go with Mary Magdalene.  The historical facts do suggest (along with an not-often-circulated statement from the Catholic church) that there might have been mistranslations back in the Middle Ages, and she was probably a land-owning woman (prohibited at the time and punishable by stoning) instead of a prostitute.  But whether she was or not, her absolute faith in Jesus and her desire to follow Him is inspiring.  The fact that she was the first He appeared to after the resurrection says much of their deep friendship.  He WAS human when on Earth, and any human needs friends.  The disciples were all His friends, but I consider Mary the overlooked disciple.  The Bible doesn’t follow her after the ascension, so we don’t really know what became of her, but I’ve read many gripping historical fictions that follow her as she spreads the Gospel as well.
8. Is there anyone in your life who inspires you to be a better person? Why?
This is going to sound corny, but children, if you mean people in my actual life.  My niece will be 2 in a couple of weeks, and it’s auntie pride, of course, that she’s super smart.  But seeing the way children see the world, without prejudice until they’re taught it, is truly amazing.  And I want to be the guide that they deserve, like the people who touched me in my childhood.  
 
If you mean people I don’t actually know but would like to, Gabby Giffords.  Her politics have no bearing on that.  I’m one of the least political people I know.  But seeing her fight to recover from a devastating injury and then inspire others while she’s fighting her own fight, like the late and amazing Christopher Reeve, is truly inspiring and makes me realize that my own problems are pretty trivial.
9. what is your denomination?
Non-denominational Christian.  It is a pet peeve of mine that many denominations consider non-denominational folks to be wishy-washy, unable to really commit to anything.  I laughed so hard at that when one of the girls in my graduating class, who’d done many mission trips and was clearly the most on fire for God in our class, mentioned she was non-denominational.  I am fascinated by learning about the many denominations out there, and have visited many of their churches, though.

 

 

One Faith, Many Paths: Christian Jaeschke

For this edition of One Faith, Many Paths, I have chosen a Facebook friend all the way from the Land Down Under. We’ve known each other for years, thanks to being members of Christian Anime Alliance.  Here’s what he had to say:

1. What proof would you give for God’s Existence?

The beauty, creativity and variety found in nature. The weirdness and unity of fauna and flora. Nature’s not chaotic bur harmonious (as far as can be had living in a fallen world). It’s not survival of the fittest because some of the weakest species thrive. Some creatures seem to serve no purpose or look weird but they exist. The fact that there are so many variables in life that had to be designed to allow life on planet Earth. Also, how the human body has to be a certain temperature to survive. This isn’t some cosmic accident, it all points to a divine creator.  Finally, I believe are need to look for answers outside ourselves, points to there being a divine designer. There’s a desire for identity, purpose and hope, outside ourselves. That something else is the Triune God (Father God, Christ Jesus and the Holy Spirit).

2. What was your childhood like?
I was raised in a Christian household. I can’t think of any particular moment in my life that I chose to accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Saviour but I know that I grew quite a bit in my faith in Year 9 at a youth group camp and then later, after I left high school and had a ‘wilderness’ moment in my life.

3. What is your current job?
 I’m a primary (elementary) school teacher.

4. What is your favorite Biblical passage and why?

My favourite Bible passage changes from time to time, but I’ve always enjoyed Ephesians 6:10-17. It’s all about the armour of God. I love the battle imagery and the practical use of God’s Word. It just speaks to me and reminds me that while the physical world often seems to be all there is, there’s a spiritual realm that’s all the more real.

5. Is the Christian religion doing well in Austrailia?

 Yes and no. Church numbers are plummeting and there is generally less interest from young people, once they’ve left high school but there also seems to be a rise in more authentic Christianity. Australia is definitely losing it’s Judeo-Christian heritage though.

6. Who is your favorite Biblical figure besides Jesus?

 Job. He’s a great man of faith that is so seriously tested by Satan and still clings to God. He’s very open and honest and raw with his questions. The book illustrates the mysteries of God as well as his sovereignty. In the end, Job is rewarded for his faith in God. It’s good to read about Job when you feel the world is against you, so you can put human suffering into perspective and be reminded that God has an ultimate plan, however mysterious it may be.

7. Is there anyone in your life who inspires you to be a better person?

I can’t think of any specific individual but Christian friends and family are helpful. They support and challenge me where needed.