A few years back I had the most marvelous opportunity to live with my family in Portugal serving a mission for our church. It was indeed the greatest and most shaping experience of my entire life.
While my family remained in the country for three years, I only stayed for two so I could return home for college. Though leaving my family was one of the hardest things I’ve eve done, I knew it was necessary for my growth and I knew a new chapter awaited me back home.
As the days were drawing nearer for me to leave my family and my beloved country of Portugal, I wanted desperately to be able to enjoy each and every day. So I took two jam jars and counted out a number of dry kidney beans to equal how many days I had left. Then every day I would remove one of the beans and set it in front of the jars, reminding me to enjoy and savor this day to its fullest. At the end of the day I would take the bean and place it in the other jar, almost ritualistically. As the beans were slowly but surely transferred from one jar to the other I was saddened, but also grateful for the inspiration to do this small task. It helped me visually see the days I had left and not waste a single one of them. A year later when my family was preparing to leave, they followed suit and did the bean countdown to savor each day.
Now, seven years later, I have found another use for dry beans. This time to inspire a love of reading in my children. Every time my children read a book or I read one to them, they get to put a bean from the bowl to the jar. When it is halfway full, I’ll take them to the bookstore and they get to pick out a book, and when it is all the way full, they get to buy several books. I’m excited. I love books and I hope to be able to foster a love of books in my own little ones as well.