Friday Fiction: "Chelsea's Check"

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It was the second week of December. Brightly colored paper chains trimmed the top of the classroom walls. Giant square snowflakes clung to the wintry windows. Plastic nativity figures marched across the bookshelf. The words “The Gift of God” and a picture of the holy infant proclaimed their wonderful message on the bulletin board. It was Christmas time at school, with lessons competing with the energy and excitement of the season. But there was one lesson was truly learned.

A little 5-year-old girl listened intently as I told my class of another little girl, burning with the fever of meningitis in the children’s hospital in Portland. The family was staying in her room each day and in a motel at night. It looked as if they would be there through Christmas. As a school, we were planning to give a money gift to them to help them through this trial. A decorated can with a slot in the lid was placed in each room.

I noticed the blue eyes of the kindergarten girl fill with tears. The room was very quiet. I talked to them of Jesus’ words, “When you do it unto the least of these, you have done it unto me.” Helping others around them is really giving a present to Jesus. He wants us to love others as He loves them. We ended the day with a prayer, and they all rushed out to play in the new fallen snow.

The next afternoon, just as school dismissed, the little girl dug into her coat pocket to retrieve a shiny quarter. She slipped it through the slot and it clunked to the bottom. With a frown, she shook the can and commented sadly, “There’s not very much in there. I wish I could put in more, but I only have 25 cents.”

I hugged her and whispered, “That’s OK; every little bit counts.”

“I know,” she replied, “but I still wish I could give more.”

Another teacher scurried into the room to discuss the upcoming Christmas program and party. She was full of ideas of a few songs and refreshments.

I felt a tap on my arm. “Excuse me. Mrs. Blake. May I have a piece of

With my mind on the Christmas program, I handed her the usual sheet of lined paper, but she shook her head.

“No, I need a smaller one . . . like one of those.” She pointed to my pad of notepaper on my desk.

“Sure,” I answered and tore off a piece.

Turning back to the other teacher, I could only half listen; for curiosity sent my thoughts to the young kindergartner. While we discussed sandwiches and punch, gifts and games, I often glanced to see what she would do with the paper. With air of excitement, the other teacher left to find a few parents, who might volunteer to help. The room was finally quiet.

I pulled a short wooden chair close to my little blue-eyed student. She hunched over her desk with intent concentration. The tip of her tongue stuck out slightly, and she clasped her pencil awkwardly. I could see her name written across the middle of the paper. C - H - E -L -S (It was backwards.) The E and A were squished into the corner, so as to make them fit. She was now writing numbers around her name…1-2-3-4-5… and so on though 20, and then filled the remaining spaces with more 0's.

“What are you making?” I asked.

She looked at me with a patient sigh, “A check.” I could almost hear the “of course.” She wrote a couple more 0's and sat back with a satisfied smile. “There! That should be enough; it’s the best I can do!”

She handed me the “check” and skipped happily out the door. Just before she left, she stuck her head back in the door. “I know Jesus will answer our prayers, Mrs. Blake.” Crossing the room, she wrapped her arms around my neck, while I sat in the little wooden chair. “I love you, Mrs. Blake. Merry Christmas!”

“I love you, too, Chelsea,” I replied thoughtfully.

I sat there in the empty quiet room with her words ringing in my ears, “It’s the best I can do.” My guilty heart ached with shame. How often have I given only a handful of change or a measly dollar for some charity cause, and thought that I had done my share? When was the last time I cared so much for someone who was hurting that I gave my all? Have I ever felt the joyful peace of doing my very best, of knowing God was pleased with me? It took a child to show me the way. “Lord, forgive my selfishness. Remind me often of this lesson of Chelsea’s Check.”

(This is not a fictional story. It was about a girl in my classroom who gave all that she had. Sad to say, the girl in the hospital died of spinal meningitis. I wish this story had a happier ending, but we don't always understand God's ways.)


Stina Rose said...

I just love the excitment and sincerity that five year olds have. Thank you for sharing this story.

Joanne Sher said...

It's amazing what we can learn from the young ones. And Jesus told us so, didn't he? Thanks, Vonnie!

S.C.(S.Harricharan) said...

Wow. Chelsea is a sweetheart. What a sparkle this story has, for being true on top of it. Lovely.

Catrina Bradley said...

Thank you Yvonne, for sharing this story. I think sometimes I learn just much from my little ones in my Sunday School class as they learn from me.

LauraLee Shaw said...

Oh my goodness, I had to get up and grab a kleenex! What a precious, precious girl, and I have so much to learn from her!

Lynn Squire said...

Wonderful. It brought tears to my eyes. We should all have the heart of such a sweet child. Thanks for sharing.

Dee Yoder said...

The best part of teaching children is their innocent trust in God and everything and everybody in their little worlds. So poignant, Vonnie. My heart aches for the family of that little girl, though, who went to Jesus so soon in her life.


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