Living Life Together . .

Hello and Welcome Friends & Readers,

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Ten years ago we moved to Bangkok, Thailand for the first time. During that first year we found a church that was rooted in the concept of home church groups. Every week various groups would meet in homes and conduct their own church services. Unfortunately like most churches, as attendance grew, the leadership of the church decided to purchase a building and start traditional church services. This was disappointing because we loved the intimate atmosphere of a house church and the meaning relationships we could build though a closer community. So, last year when a family approached us about starting a house church together, we excitedly accepted.

Why? The main reason we are drawn to the house church setting is because you are forced to live life together. We start our service every Saturday night with a meal and fellowship. After that time we come together for a time of worship and teaching. We rotate leaders every week, but our main focus is life discussion. Last week before leaving, I shared a message about coveting other families. We talked, laughed, and cried about the question of, ”Why can’t my family enjoy the easy life of another family”? We even had a time of small group confession time in which we prayed for one another’s current struggles. Our church closed the time together by praying for our trip and laying their hands on us. Our church community of twenty-five, has made a commitment to live life together before God.

Jana and I often discuss the prominent church structure in comparison with our house church. The debate for me is not which format is more aligned with the scriptures, but instead, are we living life together as a group of believers? Do you live in a community that loves, cares, and prays for you? Do you openly share with your community or carry a false persona that everything is fine? Do you come together as a group of believers every week to truly focus on your creator? For us, a house church forces us to be genuine people living tarnished lives.

Jesus lived life with others through compassion and accountability. Our house church tries to emulate the same approach. We pray for each other continually, we support one another through difficult times, and we celebrate God’s blessings together. Regardless of what kind of church you attend, you need people living life with you. You need fellow believers that can truly invest in one another’s lives. Jesus called us to minster to the lost together, not as individuals. Surround yourselves with fellow believers that love you. For us, living life without our community is unimaginable. God has shown us that we need our house church community to love, care, and support us during the good and difficult times. If you are not living life together, then you are missing out on a great blessing that God’s gives us through community.. .. .

Please visit out website we advocate to give other children like Marley who are diagnosed with Down Syndrome a voice!
If They Had A Voice And you can purchase my book on Amazon below. Just Click book.

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Author, Jack Barr a Mom’s Choice Award Book Winner.

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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)

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“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*

 

 

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.

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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! http://www.iftheyhadavoice.org/

May God bless you and your family,
Author, Jack Barr
http://www.amazon.com/Failing-Fatherhood-book-imperfect-father/dp/B00OSSQDGA

 

 

What Has God Taught Us? Let Me Tell You. . .

Hello Friends, Readers, and Welcome New Friends,

As many parents who care for a child with down syndrome or any disability, it can be a challenge.
But Jana and I keep close to our faith to help us through each day. So I thought today I would share with you what God has taught us so far on this journey we all call life. No matter what lies ahead for our future, we know when we keep our love and faith in God, we can make it through even the hardest storms that come our way. . .
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Nine years ago we made the decision to leave everything that was familiar to us and move to the other side of the world. One night while we were still living in Tennessee, Jana came home from teaching gymnastics, and asked whom I was talking with on the phone. I told her I was interviewing for a job at an International Christian School, in Bangkok Thailand.  She gave me a look that was intended to be profanity, but since we were good little Christians, she did not openly yell at me. I knew immediately it would not go well after I finished my phone conversation with ICS.  Once I hung up the phone, I quickly told her that I was offered a job, and the good news was they had an open elementary position.

What happened next was not the yelling attack I expected, but instead she smiled, and we started searching for Thailand on a map.  As I reflect back on this life changing decision, I think it would be good to share some things we have learned while serving in BKK.  I also want to encourage you this week to contemplate what God has taught you these past few years.  Too often in life, we don’t take the time to see what God has done in our lives.

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Jack – I have realized the true definition of depression.  I spent an entire year depressed after Marley was born.  I believe it was the hardest year of my life and I was worthless as a father during that time.  God taught me the value of a dedicated wife, and the healing we can receive through talking with people who have been there. The greatest part of that year was realizing my relationship with God was not where I thought it was, and my need for daily faith.

Jana – God’s creativity runs deep and wide. We have met so many different and interesting people while living in Thailand. Through each of these encounters and relationships, God has revealed Himself to us in different ways. It is through and because of these relationships that my relationship with the Creator has grown.

Jack – The enormous responsibility we have to mentor the next generation. God has opened my eyes to the struggles of our students at ICS.  The time we spend talking and caring for these students is a necessity.  Numerous young men and women have told us thank you for just taking the time to build a relationship with them outside of school.  We believe that is our greatest ministry at ICS.

Jana – God has been teaching me about humility for years and years. He has used so many of the years here in Bangkok to show me how little control I have in my own life, AND how much greater His plan is for me than what I have planned for myself.

Jack – There are days I love being a father and days I hate being a father.  I love the sweet smiles and hugs Marley gives me constantly throughout the day.  But I also hurt when I see people look at her differently, or when she struggles to complete tasks that are easier for others.  My own father dying at an early age inspired me to change my life, but I wish I could sit down with him now, and tell him I finally understand the love he had for me.

Jana – Unreached people groups are hiding within our own communities. We must pray for God to open our eyes to those people in need. We were never aware of the great need for families with special needs children until God made us aware. I think some of the raw emotions that we experienced as God showed/catapulted us into awareness is a taste of the deep love that God has for those who are hurting and lost.

Marley – I would say that she has learned that life is going to be fun sometimes and hard sometimes.  There will be times that Daddy/Mommy will let her splash in the rain puddles, eat a French fry, and wrestle the cat into submission.  Unfortunately, there will also be times that she will not get what she wants just because of who she is.  Pulling the cat’s ears, throwing her food, and biting will be followed by disciplinary actions.

Learn more about Jack and his book at http://www.iftheyhadavoice.org/
Follow Us on Twitter @jackjanamarley
Follow & Like Us on FB: https://www.facebook.com/JackBarrAuthor.FailingFatherhood/
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God Bless Friends,
~Jack, Jana and Marley~
http://www.amazon.com/Failing-Fatherhood-book-imperfect-father/dp/B00OSSQDGA

Another New Author/Book Interview For Failing At Fatherhood by: Chelsea Patterson of Patheos.

Hello Friends, Readers, and Welcome New Friends,

I have been blessed with another wonderful invite to be interviewed about my book and what my family advocates for by the good folks at Patheos, http://www.patheos.com . . .
Here is a little of who they are and what they do.

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Hosting the conversation of faith. . .

Founded in 2008, Patheos.com is the premier online destination to engage in the global dialogue about religion and spirituality and to explore and experience the world’s beliefs. Patheos is the website of choice for the millions of people looking for credible and balanced information about religion. Patheos brings together faith communities, academics, and the broader public into a single environment, and is the place where many people turn on a regular basis for insight, inspiration, and stimulating discussion. Patheos is unlike any other religious and spiritual site on the Web today.

As evidenced by the company founders’ story, religion and spirituality continue to be an important part of American life, with more Americans today than ever before identifying themselves as spiritual. In fact, according to the Pew Internet Project, more than 82 million Americans (and 64 percent of all Internet users) utilize the Web for faith-related matters. The importance of religion and spirituality, coupled with the growing use of the Internet for religious matters, point to the ongoing need for an online resource for religious and spiritual engagement and dialogue. Patheos fills this need.

My Guest Author Interview:

My Daughter With Down Syndrome – Every Life Is A Gift

Tears streamed down my cheeks as I learned more about Jack and Marley’s story. Jack demonstrates with stunning love what it means to truly care about someone, even in the most difficult circumstances. Their beautiful story was featured on CNN, and voted a top story of the year (2013). I had the privilege of “meeting” Jack and talking about his experiences as a father to a child with Down syndrome.

The theme for the March for Life this year is, “Every Life is a Gift“, focusing on the fact that all lives matter, have value and importance. I thought Jack was the perfect person to feature, and I think his story will touch your heart, encourage and challenge your faith, and leave you wanting to make this world a better place!
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Tell us a little bit about your story:

The day my daughter Marley was born, I went straight to the nursery and held her for well over two hours. I just held her and cried because I had never experienced such a love for anyone or anything in my life.  I think the nurses thought I was crazy because eventually they told me I needed to go be with my wife. Three days later, before we left the hospital, the pediatric doctor told us she thought Marley might have Down syndrome. I entered into a deep depression for the first year of Marley’s life. My wife became concerned about me, so I started taking antidepressants and seeing a counselor. I contemplated leaving my wife and suicide. I would lie awake at night thinking about my future, and searching for a reason to live. I believed all the negative things the world told me about Down syndrome, and viewed it as a curse on my family. The entire time, I couldn’t stop thinking about how this would change my life! Finally, one Saturday morning, when Marley was about 2 months old, I got up and told my wife I was going for a walk. I had no intention of coming back.

Can you explain a little further about the title of your book, “Failing at Fatherhood?”

I chose the phrase “Failing at Fatherhood” because it best describes the view I have of myself these past first three years as a Dad. I have made many mistakes since Marley’s birth and I am deeply ashamed of them. So, why share this when it will be out in the world for others to criticize? It came down to what I believed in as a Christian. If I was going to stand up and say that I believed in God; then I had to be willing to share the struggles and triumphs in my life.

The theme of the March for Life this year is “Every Life is a Gift”. Why would you say that all life sacred and a gift?

The change in my life would never have occurred without Marley. Today, I have a love for her that I could have never imagined or comprehended before the words Down syndrome entered our family’s life. My love for her and the journey of our lives needs to be shared because many parents out there are receiving news that will forever change their lives. Marley is a beautiful gift that has taught me many things these first few years. It started out difficult, but I promise you, if you accept the gift, then God will bless you in ways you could have never imagined.

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How have your personal experiences being a father to a daughter with Down syndrome influenced your life, and the lives of others? 

For the past few years I have really talked to God. I talk to God in the same manner I would talk to my wife sitting at the dinner table. I openly share with him my anger and disappointment about my child’s disability. Sometimes this will last for hours and involve screaming, fighting, crying, and praying, but I know this has helped me build a stronger relationship with my Creator. My faith is still not without doubt, but now I believe in a God who I can actually share my life with and can handle my real, un-suppressed emotions.

What would you say to parents of children with disabilities?

The most important thing in life is not our children, but helping our children accomplish the calling God has for them. It was never that I hated my daughter; it was the fact that I hated her having Down syndrome. If I did not share my story, then everything Marley has taught me would be lost once my life was over. What if a mother decides to keep her child because she hears about your story? What if a father decides to come home one night instead of leaving his family because of you? And finally, what if someone takes a step out of the pit of darkness instead of ending everything in death because you brought him or her hope? People need guidance and hope, and this is not our stories, but the stories of our children transforming our purpose, beliefs, and ultimately, society. What a miracle it would be if our children that have been labeled as “broken,” actually helped saved lives, families, and other children! This is where I find peace.

What are some of the most important lessons you’ve learned through being Marley’s father?

The most important lesson I have leaned is that our lives are not our own.  Look at the story of Abraham and his son. Abraham did not want to kill his only son, but he knew that if God was asking him to do it, then there was a greater purpose. The same is true with our lives. 

I don’t want Marley to walk in one day and say, “Daddy, why did you not want me when I was born?” I know that day is coming and I will endure that crisis when it darkens my door. But facing that day is so much better than the alternative of not being honest with God, my daughter, or myself, and letting our story go untold. New fathers and mothers are hurting, and they need to know that there are other parents in this world that can show them a glimpse of the joy they will have with their new child. It was not Marley’s birth that led me to fail as a father, but it was my previous issues that were never resolved which led to inadequate healing. If sharing my deepest thoughts helps someone start a relationship with God, convinces a father to stay with his children, or helps parents mend their relationships with their own children, then I believe it is worth every bit of criticism.

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How have you seen the hand of God at work in your life and in Marley’s life?

My daughter and her disability inspired the If They Had A Voice video.  It has been viewed over 40,000 times and we continually receive emails from people touched by the video.

Marley’s CNN article was voted a top story of the year (2013).  The posting alone had over 1000 comments and generated enough traffic to be on the CNN front page for several days.

When Jana and I finally accepted God’s plan, you could immediately see His work in Marley. 

Follow Jack Barr on Twitter here

I want to thank the wonderful new friends and Chelsea from Pathoes for this guest interview. Our faith helps us through each and everyday. We appreciate all the support from everyone, and for myself as an author sharing a message of hope to other families. . .

Jack Barr
http://www.amazon.com/Failing-Fatherhood-book-imperfect-father-ebook/dp/B00OSSQDGA

 

 

 

 

Fighting Like A Little Monster.

Fighting Like A Little Monster.

Hello Friends, Readers, and New Visitors,

Last night I was putting Marley to bed and she was fighting like a monster to stay awake. While I was wrangling her, she jabbed her finger in my eye. It really hurt and I suddenly wanted to throw her across the room. 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 I was finally able to get her in bed. Once I laid her down, 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). 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 working until I accept the plan he has for my life.

Our first Christmas with Marley we met our speech therapist in Charleston, SC. At the meeting the therapist 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 the past few years.

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 I accepted her condition. This is an unhealthy way to live a life 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 time this month 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?

Very few people have suffered like Job.  I think instead of blaming God for me not getting my way, I should step back and see the blessings in my life.  We know God loves us and cares for us more than anything on this earth.  We need to trust him during the sunshine and storm.  What kind of faith do I have if I can only praise God during the joyous times?
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Jack Barr, Author and Dad
http://www.amazon.com/Failing-Fatherhood-book-imperfect-father-ebook/dp/B00OSSQDGA