December 31, 2010

The Windows of Heaven…

Category: News — admin @ 11:19 am

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…prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts,
if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and
pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room
enough to receive it.

—Malachi 3:10
____________

I consider myself a pretty crusty guy. Mildly cynical. Healthily skeptical. Aspiring to eventual curmudgeon status, somewhere along the lines of my good friend, Fred, whom I’ve long admired.

I’m certainly not the kind of guy who jumps up and down, hollering “Praise the Lord” at the drop of a hat, or at the drop of much of anything. Not that there’s anything wrong with such up and down jumping, if that’s your thing. Just don’t holler in my ear, because that makes me irate.

And it’s not that I doubt what I know. It’s just, well, somehow, it’s always seemed wise to me to test things a bit, instead of spouting rote words at the slightest provocation, like a squawking parrot. But then, most of you already knew that about me.

Don’t babble incessantly. Anyone can claim anything. Words are cheap, especially rote words. Many praise the Lord with their lips, while their hearts remain vacant, and far from Him. Not everyone is like that, of course. But over the years, I’ve met far too many who were.

This year, though, some of my firm (and healthy) skepticism has been deeply shaken. 2010 was a year that severely tested the resolve of this crusty old cynic to remain a crusty old cynic.

2010. A twelve-month span of unbelievable events that have unfolded before my startled eyes. Events beyond anything I could have imagined. A wild year. An absolutely exciting year. A year when so much crap was washed away. An intense year, a frantically busy year.

A year when the desires of my heart were granted, after a long slog down a tough and weary road.

The year of Tyndale. The book deal. The year the book was written, in one long and intense summer. The year the Lord shone His face into my life and onto my efforts. A year that I probably worked harder than any before, ever, but also a year when that work was accepted, purchased, and edited by a major publisher.

It’s been done since late October, the manuscript. Turned in. I waited nervously for their edits. What would they do to my stuff? I couldn’t wait, yet I feared the day of its return. And then, one evening, there it was in my email inbox. Five batches of edits, with queries. I quickly opened the first and scanned it. Almost collapsed with relief.

They kept my voice.

Edited a good bit, and cleaned up here and there, in some rough spots. But clearly my voice. I was amazed, astounded, and grateful. They had promised me they would. Assured me many times. Tried to calm me.

Of course, I thought, that’s what they promise everyone who’s writing for them, that they’ll keep the voice. And until that moment, I had my doubts. Anyone can claim anything. But they kept that promise. And I am grateful.

I was actually pretty amazed, and still am. They took my raw stuff, and made it palatable. I’m just astounded at how I see slivers of different scenes and times (in my original draft), woven together into one seamless narrative. Reflecting the mood and intensity of the story in that moment.

It’s a beautiful thing, the end result. Let’s just say I’m very happy with it. No, scratch that. I’m ecstatic.

Tyndale rocks.

In the last three weeks, I have been working on the edited batches, responding to the queries. Adding some description here, another paragraph there. It was intense, but this time I enjoyed it. A lot. The original production was mostly sweat and toil. The second stage, the editing and querying, was dessert. And now it’s mostly done. There will be one last round or so, I suppose. And then maybe a final check before printing.

The book is scheduled for release in July. Around the first or so. Seems like a long time, yet, but there’s a lot to be done on Tyndale’s end.

I’m excited about it. Well, that’s weak. I’m whoopin’ in-your-face freakin’ excited about it. It’s all a bit surreal. But it is real.

The folks at Tyndale, too, seem cautiously excited. Carol Traver, the guru of my publishing world, sent me a very complimentary note after it was all done. Which, coming from her, was just huge. Prior to that, I had little true grasp as to what she was really thinking. After each monthly submission, she always emailed back, “Good job. Keep it coming.” But who knew what she really thought? Only at the end did I truly believe her.

And then she did something really wild. Something pretty much impossible. She submitted my name and got me accepted as a speaker at the Munce Group. A convention of book retailers in Hershey, PA, in mid January. On the morning of the 17th, I will address the attendees, several hundred of them. People who buy books, thousands of different books each year, and sell them in their stores.

I’m one of only a handful who was accepted for that honor from hundreds of potential applicants. Carol must have submitted one outstanding application/proposal. I’m grateful, excited, and nervous.

And no, you can’t come hear my speech. The convention is closed to the public. Which is actually a bit of a relief to me. I’d much rather address strangers, who know nothing of me.

How Carol got that done, got me in at the last minute, is a source of wonder and awe to me. But she did. Like I said, Tyndale rocks.

Lately, now that I’ve had time to catch my breath, I’ve thought of things. Of how it was, these past four years. And how it went. The long road from there to here.

In 2007, after my world collapsed and I started writing, I cast about for a verse that would reflect my traumatized state. I found it, short, cryptic, and to the point. And posted it on this site as my new favorite verse: Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.

And frankly, I deeply longed for the wrath of His vengeance to be unleashed in furious waves upon the lives of those who had wronged me, betrayed me. Those who had hurt me so deeply.

And that was an OK verse, I guess. OK for me at that time, because that’s where I was.

But it could not remain my favorite verse, not long term. If it did, it would reflect a heart that could not heal. A heart focused primarily on vengeance, even the Lord’s vengeance, is not a heart that is truly free.

Not free to live life as it can be lived, as it should be lived. Not free to absorb and be thankful for the blessings, the miracle of life in each new day. Not free to be productive with the gifts God has granted. And not free in a host of other ways.

The months rolled by, then the years. Then, late last year, something stirred inside me. Like a still small voice inside my head. Nudged me to change that verse. It was time, said the still small voice.

And so, after some thought, I settled on another verse, the one that remains today under the personal info page. The verse I have since claimed as my own: Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.

There are many ways to delight in the Lord, other than rote words, however spoken, claiming such delight. One such way is to use the talents, the gifts He gave you. I have tried my best, these last few years, to use those talents, especially that particular one I had ignored for most of my life. In His own way, in His own time, the Lord called me back to claim that talent. And honor Him, by honoring it as the gift He gave me.

And in 2010, He granted me the desire of my heart. I’m very excited about 2011, and all that it might hold.

The Lord has opened the windows of heaven and literally poured out His blessings all around me. Blessings I could not have imagined, even twelve short months ago.

He may choose to do what He will with my efforts. Make them successful. Or not so much. I’ll know, in time. In the next year, I suppose.

Either way, I will have had the opportunity. For that, I am truly and humbly grateful. Both to God, and to Tyndale.

Either way, I will have done my best. And that is my gift to the Lord.

*****************************
Happy New Year to all my readers.

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(27 Comments) »

  1. Ira you are still crazy as a loon!!!!! Love it!

    Comment by Ernest S — December 31, 2010 @ 11:30 am

  2. Love, love, love this post!! Brings me hope in my own world to see that the sun is shining once again in yours after all that storm. Blessings to you in 2011!

    Comment by liz — December 31, 2010 @ 11:58 am

  3. Beautiful.

    Happy New Year, Ira

    Comment by Patrick — December 31, 2010 @ 12:09 pm

  4. Loved this post Ira. Your positive spirit is encouraging. Happy New Year and may 2011 be another year of blessing for you!

    Comment by Mimy — December 31, 2010 @ 12:33 pm

  5. Happy New Year, Ira! Looking forward to what 2011 will bring for you.

    Comment by shawn smucker — December 31, 2010 @ 12:39 pm

  6. Very refreshing post…wishing you the best in this New Year as well :)

    Comment by Erin — December 31, 2010 @ 12:56 pm

  7. ***Like***

    Comment by Nancy Good — December 31, 2010 @ 1:37 pm

  8. Stated so well. I love it. Can’t wait to read your first book. All best wishes in the new year!

    Comment by Rhoda — December 31, 2010 @ 1:52 pm

  9. Well stated… your heart/soul is obviously refreshed/renewed … Bro Nate

    Comment by Nate — December 31, 2010 @ 2:04 pm

  10. Can Pathway Publishers be at the Munce Group?

    Comment by Katie Troyer — December 31, 2010 @ 2:12 pm

  11. Good on you!
    Living the dream…
    Congratulations.

    Comment by Frogdancer — December 31, 2010 @ 3:10 pm

  12. I’m looking forward to reading the book, too. Wonder if I’ll be able to get it on my Kindle? ;)

    Comment by ann — December 31, 2010 @ 6:11 pm

  13. I am so excited for you. I can’t wait to read it. You make me proud. =)

    Comment by Lauri Stoltzfus — December 31, 2010 @ 6:56 pm

  14. Great post. Your honesty and straightforward approach to life is great to see and has made for great reading on this blog. Looking forward to the book. Happy New Year

    Comment by Bear — December 31, 2010 @ 11:54 pm

  15. Think of the joys you would have missed if the Amish man would have published your book…..how many speeches do you think he would ask you to give? So proud of you…….

    Comment by Rachel — January 1, 2011 @ 1:26 pm

  16. Great post, Ira. I’ve enjoyed reading your blog for several years now and hope you keep writing for us. Thanks

    Comment by David — January 1, 2011 @ 4:06 pm

  17. The key word in comment #8 is “first”. Does that scare you, or is it exciting?

    Comment by Paul — January 1, 2011 @ 7:38 pm

  18. You definitely have a gift with the written word. So true what you said about using our gifts to honor our Lord.

    Comment by Ava — January 2, 2011 @ 9:33 pm

  19. Having come across your blog only last year, and reading it bit by bit to catch up, I am so happy that you are at this spot in your life rather than that one. Keep delighting yourself in the Lord…the song that has been running through my mind this morning contains the lyrics “our God inhabits praise,” based on Psalm 22:3. He is faithful.

    July seems like such a long way off…would love to be reading my way through it on snowy winter days like today. Soon enough, I suppose :)

    Comment by Carol — January 3, 2011 @ 8:37 am

  20. Enjoyed your post. Looking forward to the release of your book. Have a great year!

    Comment by Joe — January 4, 2011 @ 1:26 pm

  21. Ira, Your many readers delight in the Lord, also. Through your gift of writing / telling, in the smallest of ways and at a distance, we have walked with you these past few years. Your writings took us with you to the past, the present and now the future.

    (When the time comes, please let us know of any Lancaster County area book signings.)

    Comment by Robert Miller — January 6, 2011 @ 8:29 am

  22. One delights in himself, and eats the fruit. (I do not gloat, or judge with any finality, but still pray to my Redeemer.) Another in the Lord, and is satisfied. And stable. And advancing.

    Hey, if you hide a little digital recorder in your pocket, you can tape your speech. I’d love to hear it someday. Unless it’s illegal somehow, maybe you could make it a post.

    More, Lord. Prov. 3:5ff. Curmudgeons are trees drying up. Green trees flourish even in old age.

    Comment by LeRoy — January 8, 2011 @ 6:19 pm

  23. Great post (as usual), Ira,

    You have about 5000 blog readers and we all want 10 copies of your book, so you’ve already sold 50,000 copies! That’s bestseller numbers! I hope Tyndale can keep up!

    Comment by John Schmid — January 9, 2011 @ 10:41 pm

  24. I’m happy for you, Ira! Gary and I are excited to read your book.

    Comment by Anne Swartzentruber — January 12, 2011 @ 6:20 pm

  25. I don’t know you, Ira, but I love the way you write, and I will buy your book. Congratulations, and best wishes!

    Comment by Glywn — January 14, 2011 @ 1:16 am

  26. It does my heart good to read this. About your dreams coming true, peace restoring itself in your heart. So wonderful. So…God.

    You spoke of the year ahead and how you looked forward to it. Yes, the thoughts of new beginnings often arise in January. And with January but a whisper away I wonder what your hopes are for 2013.

    I’m going to get to the point now. Please don’t be angry with me for prying into your personal affairs. I know you dislike this, that you are private. But, here goes- have you ever considered cleaning up the pictures on your blog? To be more specific, deleting the pictures of your ex-wife? New beginnings hold within them new relationships, say like, with a woman. And now that you’re kind a, sort a, thinking about attending writers’ conferences and gatherings with other writers, the possibility of you meeting a like-minded woman with similar interests is highly likely. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a warm body to go home to at night? A companion that you can hold hands with and kiss? I’m too old to get red in the face writing this and I’ve never been one to beat around the bush so, please, bear with me. Sometimes, in order for new relationships to happen you have to release or get rid of the old even if it’s just an object that reminds you of the person or photos or “platonic” visits. Do you get what I’m saying? Before I married my husband I tore up and threw away every single photo I had of men I had dated or had long term relationships with from my past. It was symbolic, a way of letting go. An end to signify a beginning.

    Now that I have crossed every social boundary…which I don’t have much use for half the time…keeps people closed off from one another…

    Well, there it is. One of your nutty readers wants to see you in a loving relationship. And to go a step further, I’ve been asking God to help you out as far as finding that woman. Ira, you’re a peach. You deserve to be in love again. That’s my wish for you for 2013.

    Comment by Francine — December 19, 2012 @ 12:04 am

  27. My late mother used to say that if I was not commenting about what was going on around me or complaining about something,then I needed to be checked out,that I was probably sick.and she had me peggeg pretty good,even tho I didn’t like to admit to it.The cynicism and lack of belief ,the skepticism that started to bloom,was a part of me that I was sort of proud of at times.For after all,its kind of easy to put up some walls,keep people at arms length,keep some of that pain blocked that happens if we make our self vulnerable. It took the demise of a couple of marriages,that deep kind of pain that seems forever,like time will never heal,the fear and desire for vengeance ,the self hatred and loathing,to bring out that desire for healing.and its an ongoing process,its sort of fun,its not boring and it doesn’t involve a bunch of bible verses being trotted out.It keeps me comfortable in my own skin,as my creator designed me.It allows me to keep mementos from the past,pictures and tokens of affection from lost love l.That I’m not proud of my past and yet,I don’t regret it,for I had to do what I did to get to where I am.and what more could I ask for.Life is good and I’m grateful to my God for that.Thanks IRA,for gotten er done

    Comment by lenny — March 16, 2014 @ 12:26 pm

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