Congrats To Author, Jack Barr For Making It Into “The Readers Favorite” Book Award Contest!

Hello Readers and Friends,
I’m sharing a wonderful Guest Spotlight that was kindly done by “Lyon Book & Social Media Promotions” of some exciting news and new book review by Readers Favorite. Come on over and visit.
*Jack Barr*

"Cat Lyon's Reading & Writing Den"


I so enjoy sharing author news and updates about my author friends. And Jack, Jana and Marley Barr are no exception! I have had the honor of book promoting for Jack and the Barr family for quite some time now, and I’m very happy about this little project of his. He had asked me to research and find out more about a great place for authors and writers to submit their new books and novels for awards to an awesome ‘International Book Awards Website’ called  Readers Favorite’ . . .  So we did.

Well, not only did he get a fabulous 4 star book review, and now he has made it to the next round of their current 2015  book awards contest! Now I knew he would make the entry as I have read his fantastic memoir titled;
Failing at Fatherhood: a book for the imperfect father, which is available now on Amazon right here:

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Living in Second Place, But Finishing First.

By, Jack Barr

My students often tease me when I speak at school events because at some point during my talk, I always remind them that the only thing certain in life is that they will die one day.  Even alumni that I encounter years after their time at ICS will smile during our conversation and say, “I know, Mr. Jack, one day I will die”.  So why am I obsessed with reminding my students about their upcoming meeting with the Grim Reaper?  Because knowing that a final day is coming (soon or not), I believe, will change the way we approach every new morning that God grants us.

My father once told me that you could measure a person’s life by attending his or her funeral.  When you attend someone’s funeral, you do so because the deceased person has in one-way or another impacted your life.  There are certain people that have transformed my life in such a way that I would fly across the world to attend their funeral.  God used that person in a significant way to teach me, mold me, and love me.  But most importantly, that person sacrificed his or her time to build a relationship with me.  Sacrifice makes people significant.  Are we willing to sacrifice our time to love, care, and build relationships with the people God has placed before us?  When you die, will people be able to see the impact that you have made on them, so much so that they would travel around the world just to pay their final respects to you? Or will there be no one other than the “required” family members?

Last month, a young man that I coached, taught, and currently mentor, posted the following message on my Facebook page.  I share this message not to boast, but instead, to encourage you in the relationships you are building.  If we are not caring for the people God has placed in our lives, then we have to ask ourselves if we are truly glorifying His kingdom.  We spend so much time praying, attending church, and studying the Bible that we often neglect the greatest commandment that separates Christianity from all other religions.  “The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”

From the semester he sent endless emails to bring me to ICS during my freshman year of high school, to the day I graduated my senior year, Jack Barr was an incredible role model, mentor, and coach that challenged my life in many different aspects. These past few days, halfway across the world, he has inspired and transformed my life all over again, through his first book, Failing at Fatherhood. This book will make you face the deepest and darkest parts of your life, as Coach Jack dives into the most difficult times of his life with 100% honesty. Thank you for making your life vulnerable so we can learn something, and look into those parts of our own lives. Thank you for telling me I needed to get my crap together when I needed to get my crap together, encouraging me when I needed to be encouraged, and always being my friend regardless of what you were going through in your own life. You are an amazing man that many of your students, players, and peers try to emulate! I want to encourage everybody, whether you know Jack Barr personally or not, to buy his book, Failing at Fatherhood. I believe there is something for everybody in this book! Thank you Coach Jack, I will always appreciate your input in my life. . .

I want the day I die to be a glorious celebration overflowing with people.  Not because of a popularity contest to see how many people would come, but because I want to know that I have lived a life that put others first, before my own personal desires.  As people stand around to say goodbye to me, there will be many stories shared about my failures, triumphs, and Southern accent.  But I hope one major theme is constant in their stories.  That Jack Barr Jr. took the time to build relationships because he loved his neighbor as he loved himself.

~ If we are not living that commandment, then we are living a great injustice to the title that our Heavenly Father gave us as true followers of Christ. ~

God Bless All,
Jack Barr, Author

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Kindle Edition


Thankfully, my mother slapped me!

Hello Friends, Readers and Welcome New Visitor,

“This week I chose to share a section of my book. We have a growing problem of non-existent childhood discipline in our society. Are we so concerned with being our child’s friend that we sacrifice the one thing they need most in life? Someone telling him or her “No!”

(Excerpt From Failing At Fatherhood)


“Jack Jr., please turn the radio station back to where I had it,” was the only thing my mother said as she calmly kept her eyes on the road. I ignored her and looked out the window. I knew she was caught in a difficult position because she valued car safety, and would not risk taking her hands off the steering wheel to change the station. This was my day and this outdated woman needed to understand my newfound independence as an eighth grader. Then it happened quickly and suddenly while I was looking out the window. That terrible country music came blaring back across the speakers. I was shocked. Did something happen to “my” rap radio station?

As I turned back to look at the radio, I caught a glimpse of my mother’s hand going back to the steering wheel. She had actually done it. She had reached over and turned the station. I was furious. She had ruined my perfect plan and stolen the story I would share with my crew about how I had opposed my mother. I felt defeated and humiliated. I was in middle school and she needed to respect what I wanted to listen to and when I wanted to listen to it. Then it happened. I am not sure why it happened because I had been taught to never use profanity, but it transpired anyway. I looked at my mother with defiance and stated, “I don’t want to listen to this ****** ****** station!”

It came like a flash of lightning. Looking back now, I am not sure how she moved so quickly. My mother always seemed to be passive and methodical in everything she did, but not this time. She slapped me across the face with such vigor that the blow would have honored Muhammad Ali. My head went crashing into the window and I felt the sting of a thousand little bees attacking my face. The surprise of this woman striking me, who always passed on the punishment to my father, made it hurt even more. The tears and snot were gushing full stream, and the awkwardness of the radio station battle was insignificant compared to the waterfall of embarrassment I now felt. Slowly I looked back at her, and I could see the anger in her face as she was also crying. Quietly, like a silent whisper, she instructed me to never use the Lord’s name in vain around her again. The remainder of the trip consisted of me crying with my head against the window and my mother gripping the steering wheel like it was a wild animal.

Nothing else was ever said about the incident for the remainder of my childhood because the message had been delivered. Even now some twenty years later, when I ask my mother about it, she smiles and states she has no recollection of the incident. Maybe she does not remember the slap, or maybe she has chosen to forget it. Regardless, it has been etched in my memory as one of those events I will never forget. That morning I was ashamed of being whacked by my forty-year-old mother, but something else happened that I never admitted to anyone else. I gained a respect for my mother that I had never before experienced. My mother, the quiet, non-combative person in my life, did what needed to be done at that moment to correct my behavior. I deserved to be slapped for what I had said to her and she obliged me by slapping my face.

Sometimes as parents we have to do the one thing we hate for our children, correct their behavior.”

*Jack Barr, Author*



Being Cut From The Team.


Growing up baseball was my first love. During elementary and middle school I played other sports, but baseball was the sport I dreamed of playing professionally. Cal Ripken Jr. was my hero, and I envisioned taking over shortstop one day for the Baltimore Orioles. So, I believed that the first day of baseball tryout’s my freshmen year was just a formality. After two days of tryout’s, the coach told me I was cut. Not only did I not make the varsity team, but I also did not make the junior varsity team.  How could any reasonable coach cut me?

When my dad got home that day, he wanted an update on tryout’s. Through tears of embarrassment I told him that I had been cut from both teams. He told me that we would talk the next day about our next step regarding my baseball future. I told him I was never playing baseball again, and he said we would talk in the morning. The first thing he asked me the next morning was did I want to play college baseball? I said of course, but I could not even make the high school team. He then shared with me a plan to accomplish that goal. He went through the plan that involved giving up other sports, changing positions, throwing every day, and attending a pitching clinic.

Over the next three years I became an all conference pitcher and earned a scholarship to the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. My father did not give up on me; my father did not complain to the coach that cut me, instead he developed a plan for us to pursue my dream together.


Over the past few years we have received mostly positive updates on Marley’s development. Unfortunately this has caused us to become a little lax with her home therapy program. This was pointed out to us recently when Marley received her annual neurodevelopment evaluation. We received a discouraging report and that “cut feeling” crept into my mind as I heard; “Sorry, but your daughter is not doing well in these areas.”

Honestly, I had always viewed Marley as a Down Syndrome Super Star until that moment. I think we all view our children as stars at some point, but the therapist’s reality update helped us recognize that Marley was not making the cut. So what did we do?  We realized this was the “cut moment” we needed as parents, and started making a Marley Plan.

Before I was jealous when someone would proclaim, “I have never been cut from anything in my life!” Now, I am thankful for being cut from my high school baseball team, because I experienced a life-changing event that strengthened my relationship with my father and prepared me for life.  At the time I hated not making the team, but now I know it has benefited me as a husband, a father, and a person. There will be days that Marley gets “cut from the team”, but we will use those moments to teach, inspire, and love our little girl.


Jack Barr, Author of Failing at Fatherhood

Tobacco, Dad, & God . . .


“The Christian shoemaker does his duty not by putting little crosses on the shoes, but by making good shoes, because God is interested in good craftsmanship.”  – Martin Luther

There are very few things in my life that I hate more than priming1 tobacco. My father introduced me to this dreadful scene of exhausting labor at the age of ten, and I was finally able to escape from it only eight years later when I left for college.  Getting up every morning at 5:00am during tobacco season was not due to my household’s urgency for extra income, but instead, for the appeasement of my father’s belief that manual labor was a necessity for a young boy’s life.
My father primed tobacco when he was my age, so that meant that I was going to prime tobacco.  In fact, the little money that I did make every Saturday was subjected to taxes since my father worked for the Internal Revenue Service. How lucky was I to get to pick sappy leaves in the hot sun for six hours most Saturdays, and have my minimum wage further reduced by taxes! What more could a fifteen year-old boy want out of his life?

Tobacco farmers want fast workers because the faster you pick, the faster they can cover other fields that need priming.  The way the system works is that while farmers drive a tractor down the middle of the field, several eager pickers would work to pick leaves from the bottom of each tobacco plant (leaves at the bottom have ripened).  After many weeks, I had learned that if I picked fewer leaves off of each tobacco plant, then I would be able to move just as fast as the other veteran pickers.  Before long, I started being praised for keeping up with the best-of-the-best primers even though I was skipping leaves as I went along. Throughout my entire tobacco-priming career, I was more concerned about the outcome than the actual practice of doing the job to the best of my ability.


Looking back, I often find myself living my faith in the same way. I constantly look for shortcuts, quick fixes, and advantages to produce a product for Christ.  The quote I used to open this post adequately describes my approach to ministry.  Do as much as I can and stamp it with a Christian label to please God.  But does it really please God when I proudly proclaim for Him to, “See everything that I have done for the Kingdom of God?” It is not about us or how much we can do, but how much we are willing to mold to God’s desire and truly give our everything to any calling He sets before us.

As I close and think about the temptation to do things half-heartedly in my life, I am reminded of the quality versus quantity debate. Why do we desire a handmade piece of furniture over a factory-made piece?  Because we know someone has intentionally invested his or her time to make that piece of furniture pleasing and personal to us. They have given it there all. In the same way, that is how we should approach our ministry — with the desire to pour out everything we have to the best of our ability.  This does not mean to juggle numerous activities in order to boast about our accomplishments later on, but instead, to centralize our focus on the quality of our service and humbly sacrificing that “everything” we have when God calls upon us.

Jack Barr, Author of Failing at Fatherhood
A Mom’s Choice Award Book Winner

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Footnotes: 1(Priming tobacco is the process of walking down rows of tobacco and picking the ripe leaves off the bottom).

Reality of Life ~ A 2012 Flashback Share


I always enjoy coming home for the summer and it is usually difficult to say goodbye to family.  Even though after 8 weeks I am ready to see my own shower and bed, I begin to question if living overseas is the right thing for my family.  I often debate this question the week before we leave and I begin to think that maybe we should move back to the States.  This time the night we landed, God reassured me that we were exactly where we needed to be for His purpose.

 We arrived in BKK at midnight and got to our apartment around one in the morning.  When we arrived at our apartment I immediately went to bed and Jana got online to check up on things through Facebook.  A few minutes after I went to sleep Jana started shaking me.  I looked up at her and she had tears in her eyes.  I became very frightened and asked her what was wrong.  She told me that a Thai couple’s daughter (from the awareness center she visits regularly) had just died from heart surgery complications.

Yesterday we went to have breakfast with this couple.  I had never met the couple, but Jana had become friends with them through the Rainbow Room (Awareness Center).  The husband was Thai and studied at Georgia Tech.  The wife was also Thai and had studied in San Francisco.  They both lived in Atlanta for several years before moving back to help their aging parents.  Their daughter was born a few months before Marley, and she had played with Marley several times at the Rainbow Room.  It was very sad to look at pictures of their deceased daughter and watch Marley pointing and trying to talk to the girl in the pictures.  I have no doubt that she recognized the girl from playing together at the Rainbow Room.

As they took us through their story it made me very sad and very nervous.  Their daughter had a hole in her heart and the hole started forming into a valve.  They took her in for surgery, but after the surgery, her heart started pumping blood without oxygen to the upper part of her body.  Within a few days she became very sick and they had to do another emergency surgery.  She did not make it and died.  The couple told us that they took her in on a Tuesday for what they thought would be a routine heart surgery, and left a week later without their daughter.

Life is hard.  I can’t begin to imagine what life would be like without Marley around.  I have told you in the past that when she was first-born I had a hard time accepting her disability.  I still struggle sometimes with her limitations, but her personality melts my heart.  Even when I get mad at her, her little pucker face makes me smile.  I know death is part of life, but what do you say to a couple that just lost their only child at one year of age?

I often question God about the events that happen around me, but I have to believe that God can bring good out of every situation.  Before Marley it was easy to say that is life, but now that I have a daughter, I understand the pain this father must feel.  Right about the time that he was beginning to accept this new person and love her; she was snatched away by death.  The only good news from all of this is that we spent about two hours talking to them on Sunday about their pain and doubts.  They are both Buddhist, so maybe this event will crack open some door for us to share God’s love with them. God places us in situations to “live life” with others, but we must be willing to do it.

May God Keep You And Your Family Blessed,
Jack Barr

Throwing Marley Across The Room (Figuratively) . . .

Throwing Marley Across The Room (Figuratively)	. . .

Last month I was putting Marley to bed and she was fighting like a monster to stay awake.  While I was reading to her, she grabbed my ear and attempted to pull it off.   It really hurt and I suddenly wanted to throw her across the room after already spending thirty minutes trying to coax her to sleep.

Instead of going to jail for launching my child against the wall, I gritted my teeth and started counting backwards silently.  This enabled me to relax and she finally drifted off to sleep.  Once I laid her in the bed, I started to think about her determination to stay awake.  I was mad because Marley was actually fighting against something that would benefit her.  I wanted to wake her back up and say, “Fine, you win, lets stay up all night and see how you feel tomorrow.”  Of course I knew she could not understand this reasoning and it would be worse for Jana the next day, and she would be furious with me (better to keep the wife happy J). While I was debating this in my head it brought me back to my relationship with God.

I began thinking about how much I fight God when I do not get what I want.  I started to imagine God looking down on me and saying “See, you are the same way, you fight something I have for you until you have no energy left to fight.  Then once you accept things, you realize that it was the best thing for you all along.”  I felt very convicted at that moment because I am sure God wants to throw me across the room sometimes when I am fighting, but he patently keeps rocking me until I accept the plan he has for my life.

When Marley was first-born I struggled with trying to hide her disability.  I was always asking Jana if she thought people could “see” her Down syndrome.  At an initial meeting with our speech therapist, she asked me if we were going to have any more children.  I told her that we did not know and she made a comment that has stuck with me since that meeting.  She said, “When you decide to have more children, then I will know that you have accepted Marley for who she is and whom she will become.”

When she first said that, it made me mad, but now I am starting to understand the importance of that insight.  As a competitive father, I have only wanted to push Marley to be “normal” since she was born.  This is an unhealthy way to live regardless of the limitations of our children.  I need to accept Marley for who she is and understand her value to God and the world.  Is this an excuse to not push Marley, not at all, but when Marley fails just like any other child, then I need to love her for who she is and not for what I want her to be.

“It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him.



All of this is based on trusting God and his plan for our lives. I know I have a serious problem with a lack of faith in my creator’s plan.  I constantly fight against God, I dislike rejection, I struggle accepting my child’s faults, and I want my daughter to be accepted; but all of these things are a lack of faith.  Take some time this week to look at Job.  I always enjoyed God’s response to Job, until some of my own struggles caused me to question God’s plan. 


Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm. He said:“Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me.“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone—while the morning stars sang together and all the angels [a] shouted for joy?

Please visit or website where we give Marley and other children diagnosed with Down Syndrome a voice to be heard!

May God bless you and your family,
Author, Jack Barr