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

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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.
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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.
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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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Product Details

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

A Personal Guest Writer Interview By Andi Cumbo-Floyd At AndiLit.

Hello and Welcome Readers,

Hello and welcome to my new Book Blog! December was a pretty busy month for my book and myself. So I thought I would start the New Year off with sharing a wonderful ‘Guest Author Interview’ by Andi Cumbo-Floyd that was done and shared on her fantastic and helpful website here:

 

She is a writer, editor, and author herself, and she enjoys learning through interviewing other authors about their books and writing process. She was kind enough to do a wonderful interview about my book.
Here first is a little about Andi Cumbo-Floyd, and what she does to help other authors and writers.

About Andi Cumbo-Floyd:

I’m a writer, a teacher, an editor, and a reader.  Sometimes more of one of those than the other.

Recently, I published a book called The Slaves Have NamesThe book tells the stories of the people who were enslaved on the plantation where I was raised and shares my journey of getting to know them.  I self-published the book, a decision a vacillate between loving and loathing, depending on the moment and the predominance of solar flares.

I write mainly creative nonfiction and sometimes get something published. Most often I just get rejection letters that I dutifully file because some day I’ll be able to make my own recycled paper house from crushed up and hardened rejection slips. Additionally, I teach writing and edit manuscripts for other writers. I hold an MFA in Creative Writing and an MA in Literature, and I’ve taught at several colleges and universities all around the country including George Mason University, Cecil College, Stevenson University, Santa Clara University, and Solano College. For more about Andi, please visit here website  www.andilit.com . . .
Especially if you’re a writer.
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My Interview About ‘Failing At Fatherhood, A book for the imperfect father’

Write to Serve Others – A Writers Write Interview with Jack Barr

When a friend writes me and says, Would you interview my friend? I do everything I can to say yes.  So this interview is a result of that request from my college friend Manny.  If you have ever struggled with the path your life has taken, if you love someone who has Down Syndrome, if you doubt the reasons you life has come the way it has, I think you’ll appreciate the words of Jack Barr.

Failing at Fatherhood by Jack Barr

1. Tell me about your latest project.

I have recently written my first book, Failing at Fatherhood.  It was released this past November.  A publisher contacted me about two years ago after he read my article about our family on CNN.  He encouraged me to write a book and share my story with a broader community. That led me to writing Failing at Fatherhood.

2. What role, if any, did books, writing, and reading play in your childhood?

I was not an avid reader growing up.  My parents encouraged me to read, but I was more interested in outside activities.  After I became a Christian in college, reading became more important to me.  One author that encouraged me in my journey was Tony Campolo.  His book, Carpe Diem, opened my eyes to our calling as Christians and the needs of others
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3. What is your writing practice, your writing routine?

Since I have finished my book, I occasionally blog.  Usually I blog when something in the news or my life strikes me as an interesting story to share with others.  Recently I wrote about Brittany Maynard and Lauren Hill.  I shared my own thoughts about their stories and my personal experience of watching my father die of cancer when I was eighteen years old.

4. Who are you reading now?

I have three authors that I follow on a regular basis: Michael Connelly, John Grisham, & Ken Follett.  I enjoy “getting lost” in their stories and taking a break from my other responsibilities.  I also read various Christian authors when I find a topic interesting to me.  Right now I am working through a devotional book entitled, Conversations, by Brian Rice.

5. What are three of your all-time favorite books? Why do you love those?

Tony Campolo – Carpe Diem – It was the first Christian book I read that embraced difficult questions about Christian beliefs.  Tony gives you honest insight into what it means to be a Christian and follow that calling.

John Grisham – A Time to Kill – I grew up in the South, so many issues in this book I saw in my own community.  This is the first book I read by Grisham, and I have been reading his books ever since.  The book gives us a true glimpse into racism and makes us question our beliefs about justified murders.

Mitch Albom – Tuesdays with Morrie – This book prompted me to become a teacher and the purpose of my life.  The topics discussed in this memoir should be topics discussed between every pupil and teacher.

6. How do you balance “building a writing platform” and the actual writing to set on that platform?

I didn’t really follow a traditional writing process.  I just wrote my story. It was easy for me to write because it was a story I wanted to share.  After battling depression for a year, I knew I wanted to help other fathers.  The publisher contacted me before the book, so I was writing with the idea that my book would be published. Since writing the book, I have learned that promoting a book might be the hardest aspect of being an author.

7. What is a typical day like for you?

First we live in Bangkok, and I am a teacher at an international school.  I start each day at 7am at teacher devotions.  From 7am till 3pm, I am teaching or overseeing the athletic program at our school.  Usually from 3pm till 5pm, I am coaching a sports team after school.  At 5pm, I journey home to spend time with my wife and daughter.  My daughter goes to bed around 8pm, and I read for an hour before going to bed around 9pm.

8. Describe your dream writing space?

Somewhere quiet.  Does not really matter the location.  As long as my three-year-old daughter is not running around my feet, then it will work for me.

9. What is the hardest writing critique you ever received? How did you respond?

That was probably some of the comments from readers about my CNN article. I wrote about my journey in raising a daughter with Down syndrome.  I never realized that people could be extremely mean and hurtful.  I am not a traditional writer so when people critique my writing, I accept that with a willingness to improve.  But when people attack my beliefs, personal choices, and my own daughter for being different, I realized that the world could be a hurtful place.  How did I respond?  I cried.

10. What is the best wisdom you have to share with other writers?

Marley and Jack BarrWrite about what you care about.  I never wrote to be famous or to earn income.  I wrote because I cared about the topic and my future readers.  If you write to serve others, then you will always be happy with the finished product.

Jack and Jana Barr are missionaries in Bangkok, Thailand. Three years ago, Jack and Jana did not know God would use their daughter Marley, to forever alter their life plan.  Marley was born with Down syndrome and that event sent Jack crashing into a sea of depression. They started, If They Had A Voice, an awareness campaign that focuses on Down syndrome abortions.   Jack also wrote his first book, Failing at Fatherhood. . .

I want to Thank Andi for this in-depth interview she kindly did and shared on here website. I hope those of you who read this interview have a little more insight about my book, and my writing process. As this being my first book, I’ve had many doors open to share my book and message about Down Syndrome. I was also honored in December with a Silver Adult Book Award by The Mom’s Choice Awards, and also a live interview on Blog Talk Radio about my book as well.  So yes December was a busy month for me.

I thank you all who have come to visit, and have followed my new blog. I and my  family appreciate the support!
I hope you will support us by purchasing your copy of my book today on Amazon Books here: http://www.amazon.com/Failing-Fatherhood-book-imperfect-father/dp/1940145309/
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Product Details

Failing at Fatherhood: A book for the imperfect father

About My Book:

Winner Mom’s Choice Award

“Why do I fear her so much? Marley is my own flesh and blood, yet I lie here silently as a new father wondering if I will be here in the morning.”

When Jack Barr and his wife, Jana, had their first child, they were overcome with joy and excitement. Three days later, as they prepared to leave the hospital, two doctors entered their room debating whether newborn baby Marley, had Down syndrome. Mixed in with the confusion of whether or not their daughter was chromosomally different, Jack and Jana knew their lives would be changed forever.

Failing at Fatherhood embraces Jack’s honest struggles as a father, after receiving his child’s diagnosis of Down syndrome three weeks after her birth. He excavates the past, examines the present, and explores his future life in a sincere attempt to understand his personal failures as a father during his first year of parenthood. Throughout the book, Jack wrestles with the decision of divorce, suicide, and the existence of God. However, with His ultimate direction, Jack is able to understand the significance of fathers being committed to their children.
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My Book Is Now A Mom’s Choice Silver Award Winner.

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May God Bless You,
Jack Barr, Author