Going through seasonal decorations and memorabilia recently, I came across an essay written during my freshman year of college. It was about my great-grandmother’s farm. My grandmother asked for a framed copy, and it hung on her wall for many years.

Glancing over the long-forgotten writing assignment, it jolted my memory back to a college dorm room. I sat pecking away on an electric typewriter, awkwardly trying to use White-out without making a huge mess. The essay also transported me back to a time that truly feels like a lifetime ago. Here’s the essay, written in 1990.

A soft breeze sways the trees’ branches and gently blows my hair. A bird sings. A tractor grumbles. A dog barks. I listen to the country rhythms. In the distance, brilliant shades of yellow, orange, red and brown connect with a cloudless blue sky. Leaves rustle underfoot as I slowly wander around, observing many changes. Aged and crippled appears the farm where I spent much of my childhood. Tears spring to my eyes and I long for days past.

 The wooden swings my brother pushed me on hang motionless, thin and rotten. Leafy, green vines I so often plucked grapes from have now disappeared. The sweet smell of straw tickles my nose as I step into the familiar chicken coop. I gathered eggs here as a little girl and now peer anxiously into the nests. No eggs will be gathered today. Emerging from the tiny shed, I scan the surroundings. A worn-out wagon filled with corn rests under one shelter. Nearby, a cattle barn stands empty, its weather-beaten boards stained black and gray. The hay floor crunches beneath my feet as I venture inside. Stepping onto a ladder, I recall carefree times, climbing about, curiously exploring the massive structure.

 A favorite childhood spot catches my eye. The pond where I caught my first catfish stands serenely in an overgrown field. A gentle wind sends ripples across the surface. In an adjacent field, a tractor overturns rich, brown soil in straight rows, preparing to plant wheat. White wildflowers embellish the pasture with subtle, yet elegant detail.

 Shadows envelop me. The horizon glares pink. Reluctantly, I turn to go, noticing a broken gate leaning wearily against the barn. I recognize it as the one I closed and fastened tight as a small girl. I pause again, reflecting on the past. My great-grandmother’s farm holds precious memories. But cows no longer roam the pastures, no flowers decorate the garden, the old water pump runs dry. Only memories remain intact. I realize how quickly life happens, time passes, places change, and little girls grow up.

I drove up to see the farm a few weeks ago. It looks more forlorn today than it did then. However, even after all these years, the house still stands, the old barn still sets in the back field, and the gravel driveway remains. Most of the folks who left footprints on the land are now gone. My great-grandmother, grandmother, and mother have all passed away.

Much is no more, yet much endures. It reminds me of the scripture verse, “The grass withers, the flowers fade, but the word of our God remains forever.” Isaiah 40:8

I am so thankful.

Time refuses to stand still. Yet, His Word reminds us to “Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10

I am so comforted.

When sadness or anxiety creep into my thoughts over days gone by, memories that fade or loved ones I miss, there is solace and peace in knowing, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16

I am so glad. God had a plan from the very beginning. It included both painful sorrow and indescribable joy. It meant everything changed, yet His faithful, consistent goodness is woven throughout.

I washed a load of clothes the other day, tiny pink clothes. They have been in storage for a long time. My little girls have grown up too. And my oldest daughter is having a little girl of her very own.

I have a significant birthday coming up, and realization dawns as the sun sets on my fourth decade. Life happens quickly. Time passes silently. Places change without asking permission. And little girls grow up to become grandmothers.

I can’t stop smiling.