I remember when my mom got me my first savings account. I was only six years old, and we had recently moved to the US from El Salvador in Central America. At that young age, I was already learning to count my pennies and also my blessings. Twelve years later, I was happy to get a job at a bank where I discovered how to use a computer to count the customer’s money, plus their daily compounded interest earned. It became clear to me that a penny saved is a penny earned. Plus, any earnings left in the bank earn daily interest.

The mechanism of a savings account helped me learn to count my blessings. Here are some lessons I would like to share with you:

  1. Explore. With fear and trepidation, my mother and I explored a new country, language and culture. But by seeing the words ‘IN GOD WE TRUST’ on every dollar bill, I eventually became comfortable with a new people that also believed in God.
  2. Count your blessings, not your problems. I know that my mother and I were poor. But we always had everything we needed. Mom always found work and we always lived within our means. She was constantly calculating how much money she earned and made sure there was enough before making a big purchase or going on a vacation. We always counted on what we had, and never fretted about what we did not have.
  3. Smile. The musical ‘Annie’ is a favorite of mine. And the song, ‘You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile’ describes well the infectious attitude of Annie who is always pointing out the bright side of any situation. So, no matter the difficulties, always count on God’s grace which is personified in a smile.
  4. Pray. Jesus taught us to ask everyday: “Give us this day our daily bread.” Pray daily to receive what you need for the day. Don’t worry about the future and let go of the past. Today is the only day that matters. Learn to be eternally present in praising God for his never-ending love.
  5. Have faith in the Lord. Everyday sing faithfully, “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24). Every day is a gift from God. So, give thanks faithfully. Have faith that after the darkness, the sun will rise for another day.
  6. Savor the silence. Like a gentle breeze, Christ is always present to give us peace. Every day, find a quiet place to sit and mediate. Always find time to listen to the Lord as he whispers, “Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10a
  7. Think positive. All hell literally broke loose when Adam and Eve chose to bring evil thoughts into the human mind. We must therefore learn to focus our minds on Jesus who is all good. Count what is good and avoid circumstances that lead to evil.
  8. Do charitable works. In the parking lot close to where I frequently get my morning pastries, I often see a homeless man holding a cardboard sign that reads: 75cents. Instead of giving him money, I go into the bakery and buy him a croissant for $2.25. I give him three times more the cost of what he asked for, but the value of the meeting is priceless.
  9. “Make new friends. But keep the old. One is silver and the other gold.” Every human being is created in the image and likeness of God. Therefore, every meeting with a good friend brings us closer to God.
  10. Go to church regularly. Church is the best place to make life-lasting friends. Church is the best place to find God. Church is where we receive Jesus, our daily bread.
  11.  Show appreciation. Everyday give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. Every day, count your blessings and then give thanks!
  12. Surrender. Learn to let go and let God. When things did not go well with my mom, she would sigh, “Que sea la volutad de Dios.” Voluntas tua; thy will be done. Surrender to the will of God, for only Our Lord knows what is best for us.

My dear sweet mom is now with God. But the legacy she left me lives on. I’ve kept the little bank book that defined the savings of my youth. My husband and I have built on the foundation my mother gave us. Decades later, I still use the same bank. It has become symbollic of the wisdom of counting blessings. Don’t be tempted to turn from what you have and search for greener pastures. And for heaven’s sake, do not burn any bridges. Instead, turn around, return

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