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First Service: Following God's Calling and Finding Life's Purpose Hardcover – May 1, 2004

4.3 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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About the Author

Andrea Jaeger is a former #2 ranked female tennis player turned philanthropist. An active Christian (nondenominational), she founded The Silver Foundation for children with cancer in Aspen, Colorado, which she has run for more than a decade.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Chapter 1
Worthiness, not Pride


Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you.
—Jeremiah 1:5


As with many Americans, I was a child of determined immigrants seeking freedom and a better life in a new country with countless opportunities. My parents, Roland and Ilse Jaeger, longed to leave their native homeland of Germany, where everyone they knew told stories of the ravaging effects of two world wars. They had both lived through horrors of their own, and this added to their personal strength and determination to make a new life for themselves and, eventually, a better life for the family they hoped to start.

My father was a gifted athlete, but his frequent bouts with sports injuries curtailed his dreams of becoming an international soccer or boxing superstar. As much as this ­disappointed him, these injuries might have saved his life since they prevented him from being drafted into the German ­military.

War had been difficult for the Jaeger family. While my dad's father, my grandfather, was fighting at the front, his mother battled the ravages of a brain tumor and died in the prime of her child-rearing years. My dad's father was then taken prisoner by the Russians and held captive for four years. Filled with sorrow and despair, my father was determined to keep the remains of his family together to rise up against the death and decay all around him.

My mother had a fateful encounter during the war that, if acted upon differently, would have altered the course of many lives—including mine. In the pastoral German countryside, in view of the Rhine River, a soldier broke into my mom's home at the end of the war. French troops had captured the town of Brennet, Germany. The Americans were in Berlin. The Nazi regime was falling. As in all wars, bullets, mortars and bombs bring down innocent bystanders. Soldiers have to make split-second decisions to spare and take lives, including their own. This particular soldier was securing the perimeter around my mother's home when his attention was drawn to a noise in the kitchen. He made his way inside.

My mom sensed a presence behind her and turned from the kitchen counter where she was undertaking her daily chores of preparing a meal. Startled by the invasion, her eyes locked on the soldier. She feared for her life. He slowly came closer to my mother, lowered his firearm and withdrew a long blade. The soldier lifted the knife high in the air, apparently ready to slash my mother, but she didn't flinch. She watched the knife slice through the air. If it was her time to die, she certainly wasn't going down as a coward. But rather than harming my mother, the soldier decided to smash the knife down on the counter. In a mark of compassion, in the blink of an eye, the soldier spared my mom's life.

Staring at my mother, the soldier expressed that this was not her time to die. She had her own destiny to fulfill. Long seconds passed as they stared at each other, taking in how quickly life can turn to death and vice versa. The soldier made the next move, slicing himself some cheese, and then proceeded to quietly make his way out the door, never to be seen again. With the life-threatening situation over, Mom, in her typical no-nonsense fashion, continued about her chores. Nothing would deter her from her duty of making sure the family had food on the table.

My parents survived these rough challenges and more harrowing ones as well. No one lives through war without scars—emotional, spiritual or physical, or worse yet, all three—but it gave them an even stronger will to succeed and more reason to focus on their future and fulfill their hopes and dreams.
My mother's aunt lived in Chicago. Roland and Ilse, in love but not yet married, were encouraged by her stories of life in America—the land of prosperity. With few possessions, but a wealth of dreams, they set sail for the strange new land that would soon be their home. They had to travel separately, as my father had difficulty getting a visa from the German government, which wanted to keep as many of its citizens as possible—especially the men—to help in the rebuilding effort. In February 1956, undaunted by the challenges of traveling alone, my mother bravely ventured by boat to the United States of America, where her aunt met her in Chicago. My father finally joined his teenaged sweetheart in November of that same year. By January, they were married.

Roland and Ilse sought their own version of the American success story as they started their new life together in Skokie, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. Knowing little English, they jumped with blind faith into a culture they knew almost nothing about.

With a clean slate, and their inherent dedication and never-give-up attitude propelling them forward, my parents hit the ground running. They learned the language and acquired skills that would help them build promising careers. My father began in construction, eventually becoming a foreman. This ultimately provided him with the leadership skills and financial resources to fulfill his real desire: opening his own restaurant and bar.

Ilse helped Roland in his quest to own a restaurant by working as a beautician to help save money. Being a hairstylist alone did not satisfy my mom's drive for success, and with her own determination and fortitude she eventually opened up her own beauty shop.

In just over four short years, my parents saw their dream realized. The Postillion Lounge opened its doors in 1961. Roland and Ilse treated their American customers to a family restaurant with a definite European flavor. They were proud to be Americans, but held fast to their heritage.

In spite of these accomplishments, Roland and Ilse felt that something important was missing from their lives. They longed to start a family. In 1962, they received their wish with the birth of my sister, Susy. Another dream was fulfilled.

My mom said that Dad cared for his newborn as if 'the sun rose and set with Susy.' And she loved that about him. He would put his daughter on his new red Corvette, proudly wrapping his arm around her as my mom snapped away with the camera. The Jaegers were the quintessential immigrant success story: a young, beautiful family proudly living the American dream for all it was worth.

Susy, an ideal child, made life easy for them. While some parents could never think of taking their young child out to dinner, my parents could take Susy anywhere without a fuss. She behaved well beyond her years and never cried or threw temper tantrums in public places. Even at home, Susy was well-mannered and rarely needed discipline.

This atmosphere gave my parents reason to expand their family. When Susy was nearly three years old, my mother became pregnant with me. Very quickly, my parents learned how different children born of the same parents can be. As my mom drove along Lake Shore Drive, on June 4, 1965, her labor pains began fast and furiously. From the outset, I had a sense of urgency to get things done in a style all my own. Through the pain, Mom somehow safely drove herself to the hospital. It was a difficult labor for my mother. She was a small woman and I was a large baby. Fortunately, the doctors managed to remove me with a minimal amount of damage while using forceps to safely deliver me. My mom survived the ordeal with few problems, but I came into the world looking decidedly unlike the Gerber baby. Pronounced forceps marks on my head, along with a bruised face, led my parents to hide all delivery and hospital photos.

Susy was charming and persuasive from the start, always looking and acting as if she was born to lead more than just our family. She was a child model, featured in many catalogs and magazines with great success. She was also highly intelligent, easily reading books written for adults even as a child.

I was completely different from Susy. While she was an extrovert and liked being in a crowd; I was shy and preferred to play alone. It was as if I was in a world of my own. Susy was charming and entertaining, while I 'disappeared' into fascinating internal ventures. Susy could always be trusted to do the right thing and behave impeccably, making people feel welcome. I was being trained by unseen forces to follow my spirit. This made me appear aloof, indifferent and unresponsive to others.

My parents had a perfect built-in babysitter for me in Susy. I fondly called her 'Foofin' until I could properly pronounce her name. I was enthralled with trying to crawl, walk, run and even bike to have fun with Susy and then excitedly escape to my own retreats. I found it very entertaining to watch Susy captivate people with her colorful intellect and considerable beauty. This eventually served me well since one of my favorite activities became studying how people interacted with one another.

As do all successful restaurateurs, my parents worked long hours. But this hard work made it possible for us to visit our ­relatives in Germany every year. Since countries in Europe are so near to one another, my parents would always add scenic and educational side trips along with our visit to their home country. They wanted us to appreciate the culture and history of all of Europe.

The scenery and European way of life thrilled me. It seemed that every nook and cranny in the quaint little villages that dotted the countryside were somehow historically important, and conducting business always took a backseat to something as simple as eating lunch. And unlike America, where we were the newcomers, every place we stepped here was part of my family's history. The butcher, baker, neighbors, grocery store owner, wine merchant, restaurant staff, even gas station attendants, all knew my parents. We were treated as visiting royalty. The butcher gave us free snacks; the baker, samples of his tastiest dessert. Every merchant grabbed a handful of his or her fa...


Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: HCI; First Edition edition (May 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 075730169X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0757301698
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6.1 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,659,842 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This book by Andrea Jaeger is ideal for anyone who wants to get insight into finding out what is important in life. Andrea was a great tennis player but she has found joy and purpose off the court -- helping others and being close to her faith. She tells her story in a way that makes it clear how others, too, can find joy. The book is also excitng to read as you learn about miracle after miracle that has helped her build a beauitful ranch in Aspen, CO, where children with cancer go to have great days of peace and joy. Andrea rocks! This book is a perfect gift for anyone you love.
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Format: Hardcover
In the early 1980s, Andrea Jaeger was a household name, even among people who had little or no interest in tennis, the sport that catapulted her into the limelight. One of the youngest players ever to turn pro, Jaeger at 14 was everywhere --- in newspapers and magazines, on television. Her signature long, blonde pigtails made her immediately recognizable. She was the media darling of the tennis world.

Her career was cut short by an injury, prompting her to pursue a dream she had had since childhood --- not all that long ago, at the time --- to work with children. After spending several years acquiring business skills and other related experience, Jaeger and a friend moved to Aspen, Colorado, where they eventually set up a foundation and started a ministry to reach out to cancer-stricken children at a place now known as the Silver Lining Ranch. Jaeger's entire $1.4 million in lifetime earnings provided the seed money for the organization.

That's the straightforward account of what happened. In FIRST SERVICE, Jaeger fills in the details, the often remarkable, behind-the-scenes story of a woman whose childlike faith in God never questioned that He would bring to pass the hopes and dreams she held out for the future --- a future she always knew would not find its center in professional tennis. In her telling of the story of her life, her faith and her ministry, Jaeger clearly demonstrates that what was once considered to be her youthful exuberance is instead who she really is, because her energy, excitement and enthusiasm for life is every bit as much a part of her personality today, at the age of 38, as it was when she was a celebrity teenager.

Throughout her life, as well as the pages of the book, God plays the dominant role.
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Format: Hardcover
Arthur K. Dugan, an avid reader.

Andrea Jaeger's book " FIRST SERVICE " is one of the finest I have ever read on personal spirituality and I have read many. Her life of service to God through the giving of all her great amount of money to develop a place for children with cancer called The Silver Foundation. As I read through her book she reminds me of dedicated people like Mother Teresa in her work with the poor. I will read the book again and highly recommend it to others and how each of us needs to be aware of the less fortunate.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am still out on this one. I have great faith in the power of God upon us, but I do wonder how this whole story can be as Andrea writes it. No doubt she has answered many calls from our God, but searching the internet about Andrea one reads a slightly different story about her life. No doubt she is doing a wonderful service for those children who need someone to reach out to them.
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