Cherished Moments . . .


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Yesterday afternoon we said goodbye as our family split up for the first time. Our whimsical autumn trip in the States came to an end as I said farewell to my two girls. Now, I am flying over Japan on a fourteen-hour flight to Taiwan. After spending a few hours in Taiwan, I will take another three-hour flight to my final destination, Bangkok.

For the first time in thirteen years, my wife & my daughter are not traveling with me. They are staying in the States because our daughter needs additional speech therapy that is not available in Thailand. Our world has been turned upside down since her initial diagnosis this summer, and for the first time in many years, our future is uncertain. But, for this blog post, I want to focus on the cherished moments Jana and I shared the night before our tearful goodbye.

Rarely do I think about it, when I am living my fast paced day-to-day life in Bangkok. It never enters my mind that I might not see my family again every morning when I ride my scooter to work. Jana & I assume that we will be faithful servants for the day and be reunited again for dinner. But, when an unchangeable event forces you to sacrifice a significant amount of time apart, the dark thoughts of never seeing each other again creeps into your mind. (Hey turbulence just hit, someone must have a sense of humor). And unfortunately when these dark thoughts overcome me, I instantly occupy my mind with busy chores. Instead of embracing the pain of the separation, I launch into packing, cleaning, reading or surfing the Internet.  But thankfully, the evening before I left, Jana forced me to sit down and focus on her.

The tears, laughter, intimacy, and conversation we shared that last night together was a breath of fresh air during this troubling time.  We talked about the ‘what ifs’, we contemplated the ‘maybes’, we cried over the ‘separation’, and we loved each other with a ‘passion’ of saying goodbye. Of course we did not want to embrace the “unthinkable,”  but sharing those cherished moments that last night prepared for us for the possibility of never seeing each other again in this life.

It was refreshing to take the time and truly enjoy one another. I truly embraced my wife with a passionate love that had been buried in busyness the past few months.  Praise God that Jana forced us to turn off the distractions and spend time as a humble couple hurting before God.  If the unthinkable happens and I do not see Jana again, I am thankful that we spent our final night together cherishing one another instead of “just surviving”.

“How beautiful you are, my darling, how beautiful! Your eyes are like doves.”  ~ Cherished Moments . . .

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.

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

My Guest Article Written For, “My Big Jesus” ~ A Place For Spiritual Inspiration.

Hello Friends, Readers, and New Visitors,

It’s not everyday I get invited to be a guest writer on many websites. But my friends at “My Big Jesus” have given me a platform, and invitation to share about my new book and advocate a little about
Down Syndrome from a personal and family perspective of raising a child with downs, and to share hope with other families doing so as well. So I thought I would also share it here on my blog with all of you, my friends and supporters.

I want to thank the good people at, My Big Jesus for this wonderful opportunity to do so. Please go by and give their website a visit here: http://www.mybigjesus.com/, as I know you will be inspired after you have. Here is a little about them.
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My Big Jesus:

Your Jesus is too small. The idea that Jesus is King has cosmic implications for the way those who follow him see the world. Jesus not only wants to reconcile all people, created in his image, to himself; but he is also at work in and through his image bearers reconciling all things to himself. Meaning, Jesus redeems both people and all of culture: film, parenting, marriage, education, justice and mercy efforts, intellection endeavors, academics, finances, vocation, Christian identity, friendship, leisure – every area of life and culture. MyBigJesus.com will be a landing-place to find the voices that reflect this truth.
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Evangelical Presbyterian Church
Chris Lawson
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Founder of MyBigJesus.com, husband to Merri, father to Adam, Ellie, and Zachary, disdainer of Lucy (the dog), and executive pastor @reynoldachurch. Lives to make Jesus famous. He enjoys watching the Atlanta Braves and UNC basketball, as well as demeaning and insulting whatever sports teams you root for. He knows a disturbing amount about television and movies.

My Guest Article on My Big Jesus
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by Jack Barr

“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 immediately had a panic attack and was taken to the emergency room. Thoughts were racing through my mind: How could my perfect daughter have Down syndrome? How could they not know for sure? How could the general ultrasound, which said we had a 1-in-18,000 chance of having a child with Down syndrome, be wrong? Why was God punishing me? How could I live with a daughter that was going to be rejected by everyone … including myself?

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.

After I left, I started having second thoughts, and that’s when I remembered that my wife had signed up for an online support group.  I opened an email and phoned a father in India that I had never met. He had a 2-year-old son with Down syndrome and we talked for hours.  He was the first person since Marley’s birth that spoke truth into my life about Down syndrome. After that conversation I had the strength to go home and face another day.

Year ago, my father said to me, “If you want to fix a problem, then do something about it”.

I followed his advice. First, I tried to gain as much knowledge as I could about raising a child with Down syndrome. Next, I started calling every family I could find that had a child with Down syndrome. I also started interacting with my daughter. She was desperate for me to start loving her, and she continued loving me until I broke down and did the same. I was scared to accept my daughter because that would mean accepting her disability. But the reality was the only thing keeping me from loving my daughter was my own ignorance. I slowly began to see the beautiful girl that would change my life forever.

And finally, for the first time since my conversion in college, I talked to God. I talked to Him just like He was sitting in a chair beside me because that was the true barrier in my life. I was honest with God throughout the entire process, and that is when I started finding peace. Healing was a slow process and a long journey, but I am thankful for the life-changing transformation Marley brought to my faith.

It is true, there are difficult times having a daughter with Down syndrome. But it also true that she is very much like any other child. Marley smiles, laughs, plays, makes mistakes, and, most importantly, completes our family. The medical community focuses on so many of the challenges associated with Down syndrome that we develop an unnecessary fear — but these are only differences. The truth is I am a better person today because of my daughter, my daughter who has Down syndrome. I am grateful for a wife that was willing to push me to change, and support me when I struggled.

I am still saddened that Marley has Down syndrome, but I am beginning to realize that God can bless us regardless of our circumstances. I will never be able to fully understand why Marley has Down syndrome, but I do know she has made a difference in my life, my wife’s life, and in the lives of so many in our community.

May God Bless You and Yours,
Jack Barr, Author
http://www.amazon.com/Failing-Fatherhood-book-imperfect-father-ebook/dp/B00OSSQDGA

Hello & Welcome to my New Book Blog for “Failing At Fatherhood, A book for the Imperfect Father’.

Hello and Welcome Friends, Readers, and New Visitors

What is this blog all about?

I will share my story, my new book, interact, and engage with you about Down Syndrome. With now 6,000 babies diagnosed each year in the US, raising awareness & sharing hope to other parents is one of my life missions. Now I have started a personal blog to share how my book is helping others, giving kids a voice, and most importantly engaging with many who share the same experiences with their children. I hope to connect with other bloggers and parents by sharing their stories, as I share my story.  Also this is a place to share about me my new book titled, ‘Failing At Fatherhood’, A book for the Imperfect Father. . . Available on Amazon 

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Now I would like to introduce the big reason behind my book. Please meet my daughter, Marley Barr, who is my sweet vibrant little girl. My book is about my first reaction to the news about her diagnosis. Even with faith, I was not prepared to hear that my daughter would be different.

Here is a little more about my book and my family…


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About Family Life:
Jack and Jana Barr are missionaries in Bangkok, Thailand.  Before their first date, they both knew God was calling them to serve overseas.  After completing their undergraduate degrees at Johnson University, and their graduate degrees (Jack M.Ed. Regent University, M.Sc. Canisius College/ Jana M.A. Lee University) they flew to Bangkok for the first time.  For the past nine years they have served God by teaching at the International Community School in Bangkok, Thailand.

“Jana and I wanted to be self-supportive and earning our graduate degrees provided us with that opportunity.  But beyond that, the graduate degrees we earned prepared us to teach and live cross culturally.  Our college courses forced us to step outside our comfortable environment of teaching first language learners and embrace second language teaching.  Most importantly, our professors prepared us for a chaotic life of change that accompanies living overseas.”

Our story has been featured on CNN, CNN Mexico, Life Action News, and The Insight Channel. I also wrote my first published book, Failing at Fatherhood, which has won a Silver Award by The Mom’s Choice Awards for adult book, and has been endorsed by Bob Russell, S.A. Bodeen, and Woodroll Kroll.  Jack & Jana had a simple plan for their future, but God has forced them to trust in HIS plan.

About My New Book:
“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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In closing I would like to share our most recent newsletter and current campaign. We started the “If They Had A Voice” awareness campaign which is dedicated to unborn children diagnosed with Down Syndrome. You can view the initial video here http://www.iftheyhadavoice.org/

News Letter:
Jack, Marley, Martha, & Mary
(December 2014)

Last week during lunch, Jana and I were discussing our holiday travel plans.  The conversation was centered on cost, travel schedule, and the overall inconvenience of bouncing around the US during Christmas.  About halfway through the conversation Marley said, “plane, plane, me, me.”  Jana told Marley that “yes”; we were flying on a plane in the next few weeks to visit family for Christmas.
The remainder of the day involved Marley reminding us that she was going to be flying on a plane and we were going home for Christmas.

For the past week, every time Marley has seen a plane in the sky she has started yelling “plane, plane, me, me”. Regardless of what she is doing, she stops and her excitement spills over at the thought of flying home for Christmas. Of course every time she yells “plane”, I think about BKK to SFO to LAS to DFW to OKC to CLT to GSO to EWR to SFO to BKK in three weeks. (Amazing how these acronyms are a constant in my life now) But, Marley does not care about the cost, travel, or the headache of sleeping in various houses. She only cares about flying home to see Pappy, Grammy, Ma Ma, Ray Ray, RF, and numerous other people she loves. Last week as I was sharing at church about the Christmas story, I realized I was already embracing the Christmas holidays with a Martha approach.

38 As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. 39 Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. 40 But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.” 41 But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! 42 There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”
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Things have to get done. There are always certain details in life that must be prepared before something can be accomplished. I do not believe Jesus is telling us to completely ignore those preparations. The main point I see Him making is to take time for what is important. Every year during the holidays, I become obsessed with my “to do” list. Is everything in place, is the schedule set, do we have enough money, which parties are we attending, and we must remember to read the Christmas story on Christmas Eve. Even the religious rituals I honor at Christmas are more about attending the event, instead of focusing on the one thing worth our attention.

We love living in Bangkok, but there is always something special about spending the holidays in the States with family. This Christmas break I am going to try to take the Marley approach. Instead of worrying about the holiday schedule, cost, or headaches, I am going to focus on spending time with my family, loving my wife and child, and truly taking time to reflect on the birth of Christ.

When flights are delayed, schedules are thrown off, and we spend too much money; I am going to stop and enjoy the moment.  Life will always move forward with needed preparations, but for this season in my life, I am going to peacefully sit at the feet of Jesus and listen to Him. . .

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Silver Award Adult Book ~ Mom’s Choice Award Winner for Failing At Fatherhood.

I hope you have enjoyed visiting our new blog and consider purchasing a copy of my new book through one of these outlets. Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and Apple ibook.

Author Bio: http://about.me/jack_barr Come connect with us on Twitter @jackjanamarley Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JackBarrAuthor.FailingFatherhood/ GoodReads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8843797.Jack_Barr
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