I arrived in August 1996, the oldest daughter of my parents Natasha and Mark Knell. Following closely behind, my sister Rebecca (1998) and then in his typical laidback manner, my brother Daniel (2006) decided to turn up.
I spent my childhood living north of Auckland in the sunny Hibiscus Coast never far from an array of beautiful New Zealand beaches. I attended the local Christian school, KingsWay, where I completed my education.
On reflection, I had a wonderful childhood with doting parents and always a rather large collection of family pets. Family pets were often a point of contention. Specifically, my desire for them and my parents desire to limit the number of household pets to a number within health and safety regulations.
From the outset, I guess my family looks normal - if normal was such a thing. My Dad often says that normal is only a gauge on the dryer and he is not wrong about that.
Although us Knells may appear quiet at times, when you sit with us around a dinner table, you may easily be mistaken for thinking that you have entered a heated controversial political debate. There is no discussion off-limits, and no one takes offence at conflicting points of view.
The middle part
Unfortunately, or perhaps, fortunately, I have seemed to have avoided stories of teenage misadventure. As a high school nerd, I spend most of my time studying or reading. I worked as a gymnastics coach part-time throughout my college years and taught kids church on Sunday.
I had always wanted to help others and having a keen interest in human biology since a young age decided that I wanted to be a Doctor. In 2015, I started the competitive entry programme into Medicine. It was a challenging year not only academically, but physically and spiritually.
By the end of that year, I felt with absolute certainty that God had called me to not apply for Medicine but instead, Nursing.
Not the ending, the beginning
Currently, I am working as a paediatric nurse. My nursing journey has taken me on many adventures, including participating in aid work in Fiji. I am incredibly passionate about improving the health outcomes of children both nationally and internationally.
Part-time I am working towards my Post Graduate Diploma in Advanced Nursing Practice with the goal of one day becoming a Nurse Practitioner.
At the end of this year, I will accept the additional role of becoming a wife. Blake Gardiner (one of the other young writers) and I got engaged a few days prior to the COVID-19 New Zealand lockdown and a mere few weeks after he had neurosurgery.
I guess you could say that we have had an eventful year.
I am incredibly thankful on the journey God has brought me on and all that I am is a testimony to His incredible unceasing love and continued grace.
Something that God has constantly reiterated in my life is that is “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose (Romans chapter 8, verse 28).” God is sovereign in all things. As I age, I am learning to release the grip on my own plans and commit all that I do God alone.
I became a young writer for Christian Today in 2018 through Grant Harris, who invited young adults to join the team. Since becoming a writer, I have managed to convince a few other writers to join the team, including my fiancé.
I write about topics which make me feel uncomfortable and challenged. I hope that those of you who read my musings seek scripture and feel encouraged in your faith journey.
Kiwi-born with British roots, Jessica Gardiner drinks tea religiously while her dinner table discussions reverberate between the sovereignty of God, global politics, and the public health system. Having experienced churches from conservative to everything but, Jessica writes out a desire for Christian orthodoxy and biblical literacy in her generation. Jessica is married to fellow young writer Blake Gardiner.