Book Review - This Ordinary Adventure by Christine & Adam Jeske

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This Ordinary Adventure cover

I picked up a few books at the Collyde Summit earlier this year committed to having a summer reading list that would both allow me to 'escape' and to grow. It is closing in on the end of July so I figure that it's time to read or I will need to rename it my 'autumn' - or worse my 'when I get around to it' reading list.

The book I have been most excited about has been This Ordinary Adventure by Christine & Adam Jeske. I had the opportunity to hear Christine speak at the summit, representing World Vision Micro and I was so impressed by her world view and the way she was able to challenge everyone in the audience to look at their life and see God working in and through them. I am thankful that I waited a while between the Summit and my reading the book - it allowed me to gain some perspective and have some ordinary adventures of my own.

I needed to be reminded that it is not where you are, who you are with or even what you are doing that matters - it is that no matter where, with who or what you do, do it to the glory of God. Our circles, as Christine eloquently describes - in a chapter titled Baby Slaves may not be as large as we might have imagined them when we were younger and more idealistic - but they are where we operate and with who we interact. We have lots of these circles - they form a huge Venn Diagram. Google+ understands this - one of the few things they got right - and so do we - we live it everyday. Is our circle too big? Too small? Neither - our circle just is. As Christine puts it "In every circle there is enough of God."

Will this book give you a primer on how to start a micro finance movement or tips on where you should go if you want to do missionary work? No. Does it contain inspirational stories on how to live out your own ordinary adventure in the midst of the chaos and uncertainty that surrounds us each day? Yes and for that alone it is worth reading. It also challenged me to find what is Amazing in each day. When our kids were small we would never finish a day without going around the table and listing at least one "good" thing that happened in the day. The Jeske's have their Amazing Day list on their fridge - I think it is time to find our beat up spiral notebook filled with "good things".

Christine Jeske

I truly appreciated Adam's humor as it revealed itself through the chapters he penned. Broken legs, malaria and other ailments I won't go into were handled with enough levity to allow me to appreciate the magnitude of the situation while experiencing the near Job-like feeling that Adam must have been experiencing. The chapter on perseverance title "All I Got For Christmas Was Malaria" gave mea new appreciation for the work of a missionary.

At the end of each chapter there is a list of ideas for Ordinary Adventures - this is just a small sampling but I truly loved to read through them - and I believe I will love to take these on with my wife.

Ordinary Adventures in Perseverance:

  • Spend 30 minutes considering how your life could be worse
  • Walk somewhere far (like to Walmart, Tennessee or Belize)

Ordinary Adventures in Overcoming Fears:

  • Laugh to tears
  • Choose a song you want sung at your funeral
  • Tell your closest friend how much you appreciate them

There were two bible verses that kept coming up as I read this book and I wanted to share them with you. I love short books - and James delivers! Lots packed into little. The second passage from Matthew is oft quoted but separately. Either "well getting this work done is like getting a camel through the eye of a needle" or (add sappy-sweet music) "with God all things are possible". I had a wonderful discussion with an agnostic friend at work in the morning - initiated by him. On the train ride home when I settled into my seat with my book, this verse was there - not an integral part of the book but definitely for me a part of my story and my struggle. I think this belongs together - not one without the other.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. -James 1:2-4 (NIV)

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” -Matthew 19:23-26 (NIV)

I thank the Jeskes for sharing so much of themselves, the great and the not so great, with me. I learned a lot and hope to be able to build it into my daily life. I almost used the word "routine" but that would not honor what they have taught in This Ordinary Adventure.

ReviewsBob Ferretti