One of the most difficult things I ever did was leave Johnson City, Tennessee and head for Illinois, leaving my little girl on the campus of Milligan College. Milligan is a good college, but it was 500 miles from home and my little girl wasn't old enough or ready for it, regardless of what the calendar said.
To be honest, I'm not sure I'll ever be able to forgive Milligan College. Because my little girl thrived in its environment. She loved the mountains. She grew into a beautiful, well educated, big hearted, young woman. And she stayed in east Tennessee.
It has always been interesting visiting Jill. She has friends with names I recognize. For instance one time when were here she took us to dinner with some of her friends at Jim's house. I am familiar with his work, but when he writes for Christian Standard magazine he uses his full name.
She bounced around several jobs. Not necessarily “normal” jobs. Things live working with an adoption agency finding families and homes for kids. Eventually she ended up working for East Tennessee State University as a grant manager, responsible for … well, I'm not not going to try and explain because I'm not sure I fully understand it. I'm just proud of her for what she does.
A couple weeks ago she got her Masters degree from ETSU. This weekend we returned to Johnson City for a very different reason. I'm both overjoyed and heartbroken. Because we came back to Hopwood Church, on the campus of Milligan College, for Jill's wedding.
I'm overjoyed because Jill has married a very special guy, one I am convinced God was grooming just for her. I'm heartbroken because he lives in the mountains of North Carolina.
So in the morning we will head north, although it will be a little different than 15 or so years ago. Because we're probably leaving Johnson City for the last time. We won't have much of a reason to come here again. Jill will be in the mountains of North Carolina. And while I will be heartbroken to leave my little girl behind, this time I'll be leaving her in the care of a great guy.
'Course, he still isn't nearly good enough for my little girl.