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  • By Barb (Edtl) Shelton

The Blue Chip Stamp Story

I got to thinking about the word "redeem" one day, and wondered if it had any correlation to the word redeem that what we see on a coupon: "Redeemable only at [whatever] stores. Cash value: 1/20th of one cent."

Pile of coupons / The Blue Chip Stamp Story /

That statement can be found on most coupons, right?

Next, a Scripture verse ~ "Let the redeemed of the Lord say so" ~ came to mind.

And then I re-remembered an old familiar hymn, popular in the "olden days": "I've been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb."

Silhouette of hill with statue of Jesus on top / The Blue Chip Stamp Story /

Did the "religious" meaning of redeem have anything to do with the meaning of redeem on coupons?

I thought and I pondered, and thought some more... and decided "Naaaah!" What could "redeemed" relating to a coupon and "redeemed" relating to a life have in common?

Nope ~ no correlation. These two versions of redeem must be homonyms: two words that are spelled the same, but have completely different meanings.

Like "run" where a person runs along at a fast pace on a road, and "run" where you operate your computer or a car engine. ... Totally different meanings.

Or "pants" that you wear on your lower half, and "pants" like what a dog that's been running on previously-mentioned road does. ... Totally different meanings.

Yep ~ homonyms.

I was about to dismiss redeem into the "Non-Related-Meanings / Homonyms" file folder of my brain when a scene from my childhood flashed into my mind...

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All of us kids and Mom were in our car in the parking lot of a "Blue Chip Stamp Redemption Center" − waiting there while Dad carried in a box full of Blue Chip stamp books. We waited what seemed like an eternity, but, boy-oh-boy, was the wait ever worth it, as Dad would always come back out with some wonderful treasure!

Like one time it was a new lamp for our living room!

Lamp shining in the dark / The Blue Chip Stamp Story /

I don't even remember what the lamp looked like, but the fact that those Blue Chip Stamps "bought" it made it glow extra bright!

Another time we got an ice chest for our family picnics, which the family used for many many years!!! (This is the kind of secluded, woodsy setting by a lake that my dad would have chosen for us to have a picnic at...)

Picnic table by lake in trees / The Blue Chip Stamp Story /

So my point is that there was ALL sorts of desirable, valuable stuff in that Blue Chip Redemption Center!

There have been similar store redemption programs in other areas of the country, and in different eras ~ like "S & H Green Stamps" and "Fred Meyer Dollar Savers." And the idea behind all of them was the​​ same: stamps were dispensed in direct proportion to purchases made at a store, which customers collected (amassed, in our case, with seven kids) over a period of time, saved in some kind of book, and then brought in to the store or a "redemption center" to be redeemed for some kind of wonderful prize, gift, or discount!

I felt like I was getting close to something here, but still didn't know what. So I felt compelled to just continue thinking more about what was happening in the process...


Now we're at our kitchen table, with all of us kids who were of stamp-licking age sitting at said table, licking piles of ​stamps and sticking them into these booklets. With seven kids and a lot of groceries, baby stuff, toiletries, and supplies to buy, there was a lot of stamp-licking-'n'-sticking to do!

I did not agree with my mom on what was truly "stamp-licking age." I was the oldest (still am, for that matter), and my younger siblings were pretty messy about keeping their stamps inside the clearly lined boxes on the pages. The sad and pathetic result was that most of the stamp books​ looked atrocious − hanging off the edges, all sloppy and uneven, while mine always looked so perfect, every stamp lined up perfectly inside the lines!​ Like this...

But, alas, no matter how nice mine looked, they were never worth even 1/20th of a cent more than the messy ones!

OK, Lord, so what's the connection here? What are you saying?!?!?

All right ~ think! What exactly was happening back at that Blue Chip Redemption Store?

Blue Chip Stamp booklet / The Blue Chip Stamp Story /

We started out with a box full of messy stamp books (all but mine) that would have been worth absolutely nothing at any other place. If we had tried to buy even the smallest piece of candy at Safeway with those stamps, they would never have accepted them. Not even a hundred boxes overflowing with the best licked-and-lined-up books of stamps.

Dad took these same stamp books − messy as they were, and of NO value anywhere ​​else − into the redemption store that accepted them, set them on the counter (with a big thud, I bet; never actually went in, so I can only guess) where I can only imagine they happily accepted them, (especially noting the ones I had done), and in exchange Dad was given ~ what? ~ something of great value.

Ooooooh my goodness!!!!!!!! ... BINGO!!!!!!!! ... JACKPOT!!!!!!! ... WIN WIN WIN!!!!

Collage of WIN photos / The Blue Chip Stamp Story /


I had stumbled upon the beautiful and amazing essence of the word REDEEM!!!!

Likewise, we take something in our life that's of no value, maybe even something of negative or horrible value − like a habit or addiction we struggle with, a totally messed-up situation, a painful experience − to the One Who possesses all the riches, treasures, and good stuff we can imagine, as well as the power and wisdom to actually do something about it.

And, what' more, He is actually delighted to receive all these ugly, awful, hard, messed-up things.

So as we approach Him, He asks us to simply dump the whole mess at His feet ~ without even trying to straighten anything out first!

And, in exchange... This is the good and amazing part!!! We get something of great value!!!

Anything that's good, beautiful, or lovely in my life has come about as the direct result of God's redeeming work in my life, my mind, and my heart!


So what exactly has God redeemed in my life?!? What can He redeem in your life?!? And how exactly does He do this? How can we know He's doing it?

Excellent questions!!! And they just happen to be what I cover in the next two parts of my 3-part series on this wonderful topic that I call "Beauty For Ashes − Redeemed"!!!

"Redeem" just happens to be one of my very favorite words ~ like ever! ~ as well as the very theme of my life!!!

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"The Blue Chip Stamp Story" (above) is Part 1 of my 3-part series entitled "Beauty For Ashes − Redeemed!"

Part 2 is the post entitled "What Can God Redeem?" in which I share various things ~ hard, icky, sad, difficult, and/or really painful and even impossible things ~ that God has redeemed in my life!

And in Part 3, "How Does God Redeem Stuff?" I share various methods He has used to do everything alluded to in Parts 1 and 2!!!


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