“I will lead the blind by a way they do not know, in paths they do not know I will guide them. I will make darkness into light before them and rugged places into plains. These are the things I will do, and I will not leave them undone” (Isa. 42:16).
Hey Gang: Last week I had the privilege to be a tiny part of the dedication of the Lighthouse Academy, the new school program at the Village. I remembered back, how many years, I am not sure, when Gov. John Engler, called to inform me that the legislation allowing development of Charter Schools in Michigan had passed and suggested that we consider being the first charter school in Michigan.
It was a time of extreme agony for me. I was far from satisfied with our education program at that time but we had just received wonderful gifts from two wonderful ladies to build our third and fourth residential units. That meant double everything including staff and, adding the nuts and bolts of adding a school at that time was just impossible.
If I were to choose the two toughest years of my tenure in development of the Village, it would be during that period. We learned that “if it could break it would”, or “if it could be confused and come out the opposite of what we planned, It did”. We were in the midst of trying to develop treatment teams in two houses, and finding qualified staff who were willing to move to Hersey, Michigan, and in filling the beds in the two new houses meant twenty-two new boys that we knew absolutely nothing about arriving on our doorstep. I do not believe I had one continuous night sleep during that period.
As I stood there at the dedication of the Lighthouse Academy, Leppien House, previously known as the Starr Home was to my right, Ashmun School behind me, the Branson center dead ahead and beside it the Strosacker Maintenance Building. In the distance I could see Hainley House, the Ashmun House and the Sherk House and behind me on the hillside, the Putnam House. As I viewed each one, a thousand memories of the good things and the bad flooded my mind; all part of the process called rising to the top of the mountain.
How many times I stood on Mt Nose, a favorite name of our family for the hill behind Putnam House, and looked at what God had done, again I asked the Lord, “Why me Lord?” “Why did you pick me?” or better said, “Why did you allow me to be part of this wondrous miracle called Eagle Village? Were there not better equipped people who would have listened more intensely, who had much more talent than I?” The answer was always the same, “Because you were willing! Because I knew you would climb to the top of the mountain.”
That brought back more memories of people who came here to gain advice on how they could follow in our footsteps. But, to our knowledge, none made it because they came and saw the beautiful campus with all of the program activities and they were not willing to go through the process and the agony and pain to climb ten feet at a time- up the mountain. They could not see the top of the mountain because of the storm clouds and soon allowed the agony and pain associated with climbing mountains to kill their dreams.
Well, I cannot close this without a challenge to you who are beginning to climb your mountain. My advice is “Don’t try it if you are not in good spiritual, physical and emotional shape. If you are in good shape spiritually, physical and emotional, get your back pack out and begin your climb up the mountain; remember that God knows how to close doors as well as open them., so be diligent and continue to test the waters to see if God is opening a new path for you to add to the “process”.