boarding school for troubled boys

A log cabin is rich with symbolism in these here United States of America. It conjures up Little House on the Prairie and Walden Pond. It gives us pride to know that one of our greatest presidents was born and raised in one – our earliest imaginings built with toy logs bearing his name.

It represents humble roots, work ethic, ingenuity, family, rugged individualism, bravery, the pioneer spirit and much, much more.

For us, the log cabin took on a different set of symbolic implications this week, as we used pine logs reclaimed from the rubble left by a tornado that nearly destroyed our campus almost one year ago, to the day.

As we sanded and sawed, nailed and notched, chiseled and chinked, it was easy to meditate on God’s mercy to us. We were spared.

Why some and not others is a question that will always need answering this side of eternity, but we are grateful nonetheless, and we at least, cannot ignore the fact that an F2 tornado seemed to leapfrog over our home, saving us from catastrophe.

Inspired in part by a legendary week that three of our founders spent building a log cabin together at Timothy Hill Children’s Ranch over 15 years ago, we chose to commemorate the anniversary of the tornado by devoting a second (soon-to-be-legendary) week to start constructing a cabin here.

In case you’re wondering, this is no fly-by-night ramshackle lean-to, but an Appalachian dog-trot styled cabin complex, built from half ton 16 foot logs with diameters of up to 24 inches. Rustic, yes. Capable of being blown down with a huff and a puff? I think not. This is a house built on a rock – poured concrete actually, but it’s the modern equivalent of Matthew 7. Tucked away on an idyllic piece of land, ½ mile to the south of our living room window, it will sit as an Ebenezer for decades to come.

We got knocked down, but we got back up again. And this week, as the weather seemed to smile upon us, unseasonably cool and sunny, it was hard not to feel that it was all for a purpose. We were a team. More. A family. We worked as one unit, for the common good. We were not, as we are on too many occasions, a house divided. We had arrived, quite unexpectedly, in a brave new world where the joy of raising upwards had replaced the sadness of watching things fall down. We were building, not repairing; bonding, not despairing.

The boys, for their part, joined willingly in this celebration of effort. Nary a complaint was heard all week long, as they went about various back-breaking tasks, and fought the blisters and bruises that come with manual labor.

And at the end of the week, as we posed for a group picture by climbing on top of our perfectly square stack of giants sticks that now stood 8 feet high, we knew – all the way from our big grins to our sore feet – we knew, that God is good.

And we knew that if we let him into our hearts, He can make all things new!