“It was a Forster’s Tern!” I was so excited!! I put down the Stokes Field Guide to Birds and reflected on my discovery. You would have thought I had personally discovered the Mississippi River or found a vein of gold. You see, I am an amateur birder, a novice really. But I am learning, and there is something about birding that really captures me. Allow me to share some of the details of my discovery, and how it relates to the wonder that we can enjoy in marriage.

It was a sunny afternoon as I walked the reservoir. I saw familiar birds – Canadian geese, mallards, northern flickers and robins – but I hoped to catch a glimpse of a kingfisher, or a heron, or even the early return of an American pelican. Then something caught my eye. At first glance I thought it was just a gull, but its behavior was different. It was hovering over the water, ready to dive for a small fish. And it had a dark black cap, very white neck and belly, with soft gray wings. I didn’t know what this was, but I was going to find out! Why does this experience carry so much meaning for me? There are three reasons that come to mind.

First – it is a huge reminder of how my life is richer because of my wife, Jan. She began birdwatching when we lived in Michigan. She taught me what a cardinal sounds like. She insists that we put up birdfeeders wherever we live. Her childlike amazement is contagious, and being in love with her means that I catch most of her contagions. And I like it! Because of her, walking has become an adventure.

Second – birding is proof that I have grown (Yes, I can be taught!). Before, all bird calls sounded alike, and I recognized only three bird categories; sparrow-sized, robin-sized, and lookatdat-sized! Then I began to notice the difference – the call more shrill, the color brighter, a red bill instead of black. So when I noticed the Forster’s Tern, I quickly looked through the book and fit the pieces together. Then came my discovery, “it was a Forster’s Tern!”

Third – is the joy of unexpected discovery. Serendipity is the word that comes to mind, which means, “The art of finding something by looking for something else.” When we look for something there is a hopefulness, a longing that we will gain something good from the experience.When we expect something good, we are better prepared to recognize the good around us, even if it is not what we were seeking. Serendipity is stalking us, waiting for the opportune moment to capture us with some of the unexpected wonders of life.

If anything is filled with the unexpected, it’s marriage. And it can be filled with wonder! Our spouses make our lives richer. Consider this: What activities do you enjoy today that your spouse introduced you to? What new adventure is your spouse inviting you to experience? Embrace some of the gratitude for this richness in your life, and give your spouse a little hug of thanks.

How have you grown lately? We are designed to continue to learn and grow throughout our lifetime. Find the tangible evidence of growth (bigger belt size does not really qualify here, unless you are pregnant, in which case CONGRATULATIONS!). Marriage is specifically designed by God to help us grow. Do you welcome the process?

And finally, what are you looking for in your marriage? Remember the call to serendipity:

 “The art of finding something by looking for something else.”

Often times we put demands on our spouse to fulfill certain expectations and end up missing the things God has given us in them.

Are you open?