Death of a Southern Beauty

A few months ago, I wrote these lines…


Thankfully, the thaw has come, but not before the Winter of 2014 wreaked havoc in the garden. Many plants experienced such trauma that their only hope was found in a drastic springtime pruning. Others, once treasured, are now no more than treasured memories – their blank spaces in the landscape recently filled by tiny replacements… as if one could really replace a treasure.


For still others, like our stately magnolia, the verdict is still out. We worked so hard to save the Southern favorite – the arboreal beauty that’s shaded our century-old house for many decades – but I fear its days are numbered. Every time I look out my kitchen window and see another brown leaf fall to the ground instead of waxy-green spring growth, my heart breaks just a little more. I haven’t given up hope, but it feels like the end of an era. The landscape is changing all around me… and yet it seems eerily familiar, for the spring thaw has come to my soul as well.


Excerpt from The Thaw

The verdict is out no more…


The Southern beauty that stood for decades behind our old house—sharing season after season of glorious white blossoms— has died.

Magnolia 1 Magnolia 2


Sadly, she met her match in the Winter of 2014.

Magnolia 5 Magnolia 6


There are some realities we don’t want to face—but face them we must…

Magnolia 7

The old house doesn’t look the same.

Magnolia 8


I looked for a silver lining.  I found two.


The Southern Beauty was ready to go.

As I looked up one last time into those sad, bare branches, I saw it:  a long piece of white plastic flying from a lone bird’s nest—waving like a flag of truce. I smiled. It was time. The tree had sheltered its last feathered family.

Magnolia 11

She won’t be forgotten.

As I looked around, beneath where her outstretched branches once waved, I saw it:  the next generation of Southern style. Future families in our old house will make their own memories. They’ll watch her grow, eventually towering overhead—protecting generations of young lives both within and beneath her branches.

Magnolia 13

There is hope for a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that its shoots will not cease. (Job 14:7)


Granted, this was just a beautiful old tree, and I miss it—but it was a tree. Even so,


encouragement can be found if we look for it!


Whatever you’re facing today,


Look up…

God is our refuge and strength. A very present help in trouble. (Psalm 46:1)

God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. – See more at:
God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. – See more at:
God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. – See more at:


Look around…

Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8)


Beauty and hope are all around us. We just have to look for them.


I hope you’ve found some encouragement here today. I also pray you’ll find encouragement from the “reach out and touch” people in your life. Sometimes we simply need to be reminded—or to remind each other.


What’s the most recent glimpse of hope or beauty you’ve seen? Won’t you leave a comment to encourage the rest of us?



  1. So sad for your magnolia, The same happened in our neighborhood, though not our tree (thankfully). My sister also lost hers. Just down the street, one right across the street from the other – one died, one survived. I love the metaphor of the nest and white flag. I would say my glimpse of hope and beauty has come with my purge – it is such an eye-opener as to what really matters in one’s life of accumulated experiences v. stuff.

  2. Unlike much of the country, our winter last year was pretty mild but we have had some rough ones where plantings were lost. Your tree was beautiful and thankful with you that you were able to enjoy it so long. Great weaving of thoughts about life and hope throughout this post.

  3. It was a tough winter for so many. We lost a few azaleas. I would have been sad about the magnolia, too, but I smiled seeing the new shoot. One day someone will be enjoying those gorgeous blooms.♥

  4. What a way of letting you go forward also. You see the tree for the new family to come, as you let go of the one you enjoyed…it allows you to disconnect.
    Great piece…many levels of meanings in this one.