So I had my forty-something birthday on the weekend! And I asked you all to give me a present: Help me get to 10,000 followers on Facebook. And you did! Thank you!

But I wasn’t exactly sitting around staring at my computer all day. My husband and I started bird watching a year ago. He’s more into it than I am, but I do enjoy getting outside, and spotting something new is always fun. So when I was trying to figure out what to do on my birthday, we brainstormed and decided to do a “big day” and see how many species we could see over a twenty-four hour period. We went down to Prince Edward County near where we live and ended up with 63 species, which was our biggest day yet.

We saw a meadowlark on a telephone line,

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A killdeer by the side of the road,

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Lots of warblers, including this American redstart,

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Cedar waxwings,

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A rose-breasted grosbeak,

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A red-eyed vireo,

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And tons more! It was really buggy (with midges, not mosquitoes, so they don’t sting, but still). And we had to hold our breath a lot. But it was still fun!

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But we never saw a single chickadee. Now, many of you don’t understand why that’s so weird, but in our neck of the woods, if you take a ten minute drive anywhere in the city you will see seven birds, guaranteed: pigeon, red-winged blackbird, ring-billed gull (seagull), mourning dove, crow, robin, and usually Canada goose. Look a little more and you’ll see a blue jay and a chickadee. They’re just incredibly common.

So we saw tons of rare stuff, but not a single chickadee. It was strange.

And it made me think that sometimes we get into ruts, when we’re just expecting that things will go a certain way. And it makes us not try.

The reason chickadee isn’t on our list is because occasionally we’d hear them, but we never went looking (like we did for other birds), because we just assumed, “aw, we’ll see one later today.” Because we always do.

And that’s the way it is with life, too. You always see things. Until the day you don’t.

So don’t take things for granted.

Don’t take your husband for granted, or your kids for granted, or God for granted, or your blessings for granted. Everything, and everyday, is a miracle from God. A chickadee, as common as it is, is a miracle. And if we forget to be grateful for the common things, and only search after the uncommon things, soon we may miss the common things.

If we forget to be grateful when he brings home a paycheque, or plays with the kids, or kisses us when he steps in the door, and instead we’re always looking for big romantic gestures, or for him to lead major family devotions, or for him to start reading parenting books, we may start to miss when he does bring home a paycheque, or when he does play with the kids. The common things are wonderful, too.

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Where I’m Heading in the Next Year

Birthdays are always a great time to re-evaluate, and when I look back on the last year, so much has happened. I’ve gotten to know many of you through this blog, and I’m grateful for that! A year ago I was in the middle of the launch for The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex; since then I’ve launched 31 Days to Great Sex, and I love hearing from you all about what a difference that’s made in your marriage.

But while I’ve been spending more time on the blog lately, I’ve let some of my writing go. So this summer I have big plans! We’ll be camping a lot, and I want to just WRITE. I have one book proposal to write, one second edition of To Love, Honor and Vacuum to start, one ebook to write (How to Make Love, not Just Have Sex, about how to experience a greater level of intimacy if sex seems shallow), and one product to create (that you’re going to love). I doubt I’ll get it all done, but I want to take a good stab at it. (If you want to make sure you’re notified when any of my new ebooks or products come out, just sign up for my newsletters.)

I feel almost freed up to concentrate on writing because the big things on my blog and website are done. For the last few months I’ve done some major renovations around here, fixing the blog, and then the website, and then moving over all my newsletter subscribers. Have you signed up yet? I’m especially proud of my marriage newsletter that goes out once a month, with highlights from the blog, Facebook, and Pinterest from that month, along with some neat archived posts you may have missed. Sign up for my newsletters on the sidebar, or just go here. I’d love to keep in touch more!

And speaking of the sidebar, I just loaded a new carousel widget from Amazon where you can see all my books! I think it’s kinda pretty.

So here I am, one year older. I’ll be an empty nester in two short years. That’s really creeping up on me. I want to make the most of my time left with my youngest daughter (my oldest is moving out in three months!). And I’ll hopefully get some writing done along the way. But most of all, I want to keep my marriage fresh so that when it is just the two of us (plus God!), we won’t feel like strangers.

What about you? How do you stop from taking things for granted?