Maintenance A few months ago my husband Wayne and I were laying on the hammock in the back yard enjoying a rare quiet evening together. I remember it being an unusually still evening, so much so that we could hear cars rushing by on the highway near our home. After about half an hour of relaxing and talking, the peaceful setting was disrupted by a horrible crashing sound. I was so surprised my armpits itched! (I realize this is probably an over-share, but what can I say… my armpits itch when I am scared.) My back was turned to the tree that had fallen, so I had no idea what had caused the unexpected noise. Hardly daring to breathe I whispered, “Fireworks?” Wayne shook his head no. “Pecan Tree” was all he said, but I could hear the disappointment in his voice. When we bought our land a few years ago it had been covered in pecan trees, but over the last year many of them have fallen over during strong winds and storms. I could understand a tree falling over during a bad storm, but this was different. It was an uncommonly still night. There wasn’t even a gentle breeze ruffling the leaves. When I voiced my confusion to Wayne he explained it was all due to the extreme drought that we had experienced in 2011. When I walked outside the next morning to survey the damage I was greeted with one of the strangest sights I have ever seen: a massive 100 year old pecan tree lying on its side, with its gnarled roots pointing up to the sky. The day before it looked perfectly healthy and strong. I had not noticed any outward signs of inner weakness, yet there it was lying on the ground. I have often thought about that big old tree falling victim to a drought while being only a few feet away from a year-round creek. The picture of that giant tree lying on its side serves to remind me that Wayne and I are in the maintenance stage of our marriage. The thing that stands out the most to me is the importance of daily watering. During the year directly following discovery, Wayne and I were both very purposeful in the way we poured into our relationship. It was a daily pursuit. He looked for ways to show me that my heart was important to him. We prayed together every day. We carved out specific time each day to talk about how we were feeling. We surrounded ourselves with people who showered us with love and encouragement. Wayne went to AA meetings. I read everything I could find on healing. I chased after the Voice of Truth in a way I had never done before. After seven years of drought we finally put down deep roots in the flood plain and found incredible healing in the water that was poured over us. Today we are nearing almost four years post discovery. We have both found ourselves slacking up in areas that had previously been a passionate pursuit. We have allowed the pressing immediate matters to distract us from the importance of eternal ones. Mr. Obvious wants to say that while the work of picking up the pieces in a broken marriage is clearly important, maintaining that closeness is also important as well. That means continuing to do all the things that pour life-water into our marriage even after the thrill and excitement of doing a ‘new’ thing together has worn off. So we have been knocked down, but not destroyed. My hope is in the One who was faithful to pour healing waters over us before. He will pour them out again. In his loving kindness He picks us up and plants our feet back on firm ground. Then He gently reminds us that we may have to endure some plateau seasons of maintenance because they are necessary preparation for new things that are still coming. Now we are again sending our roots down deep and spreading our branches wide to receive the life giving water that our marriage so desperately needs during this plateau phase. Even as we do this I feel a smile return to my face as I anticipate the new things waiting for us at the end of this plateau. I am sensing some rivers will soon be cutting across this desert. Whoot! Someone get excited with me!