Who remembers when buying U.S. savings bonds was the thing to do? A new baby? No diapers or bottles. Buy a savings bond! A wedding? No dishes or silver. Buy a savings bond!
Someday, that child will need a car and that savings bond will help; that couple will need a house and it will help. That may have been true when a $100 savings bond bought at $50 would mature to the $100 in a few years. But economy issues came along.
In the ‘80s and ‘90s, those same savings bonds often took two or three times as long to mature as they used to. Our daughters had some bought in those decades. When they went to redeem their bonds, they discovered they wouldn’t mature for another several years.
But the story I have to tell is about a U.S. savings bond bought in the 1960s for me as a child. I’d tucked it inside my cedar hope chest, along with my birth certificate, my SAT scores (in case I decided to go to college), and other important papers. I never looked at it or considered cashing it in, so I had no idea if it had matured or not.
In the spring of 1997, I attended my first writers’ critique group meeting. One of the members had a brochure for the Montrose Christian Writers Conference to be held that July. I’d never heard of this and was interested to see what it was all about, though I knew I couldn’t do it. For one, it would cost money … something we didn’t have.
However, one look inside the brochure set my heart pounding with “What ifs”! One of the instructors slated to teach was Elizabeth Sherrill, someone whose writings I’d long admired and would have loved to meet in person. But one look at the amount required turned my heart to stone. No way on earth could I ever find that kind of money. Still, I slipped the brochure into my notebook and sent a silent prayer heavenward.
At home, life went on. Homeschooling to finish, portfolios to make, evaluations to schedule. Now and then, I’d think about that brochure and sigh. Towards the end of May, I prepared for my annual writer’s club picnic. I’d led writers’ clubs in my home for eight years. Homeschool parents brought their K-12 students to the meetings every other week, where we learned writing techniques in fun ways. The picnic was a highlight of the year with nearly 40 kids. I had never charged for this club, nor any of my teaching or tutoring. I enjoyed it and wanted to serve my fellow homeschoolers.
At the end of the picnic, one of the mothers approached me and handed me a card. I figured it was just a simple thank-you card and stuck it in my box of supplies to take home. When I opened it, though, I discovered not only a card signed by all the kids and their parents, but money! A lot of money! I was shocked. A still, small voice whispered in my ears: “Writers’ conference ….”
Was it possible? I hurried to get the brochure and looked at the cost again. The money they’d given me would cover part of it, but where would I get the rest?
Then, God brought to my mind a slip of official paper in a yellowed envelope inside my hope chest—my savings bond. I’d heard that often older savings bonds kept accruing interest even after the maturity date, sometimes doubling the base amount. I wondered ….
As soon as I could, I took that savings bond to the bank to cash in. I waited, hoping it at least doubled. It was only for $25. Doubled would be a nice amount to add to the money from the writers’ club. Still not enough to go, but closer.
When the teller came back with a stack of bills, she began counting aloud as she laid the bills on the counter, “20, 40, 60, 80 ….” At some point, my mouth dropped open and I just stared at her.
Would you like to guess how much was there? To the exact dollar … enough that when added to the money in the card from my students would cover the cost of the Montrose Christian Writers Conference!
Does God delight in surprising us or what? Believe me, He gets all the glory for that year and the next 22 years at my second favorite place on earth.
And that brings me to letting you know to come back next week and read our daughter Faith Weaver’s guest post in which she tells about how she went to Montrose her first time by surprise. Also, check out her blog site (https://faithcolleenweaver.wixsite.com/faithcolleenweaver) for my guest post there this coming Saturday, May 16, 2020. All three posts go together!
And what about you? Did you ever have or purchase a U.S. savings bond? Did you redeem yours? Any interesting stories about them? Do share! We love to read your stories!