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Overview: Short stories – stories for children and teens

Margarete Steiff

At this time in history there are no wheelchairs for physically handicapped children: That is why a stable brown trolley with colourful wheels is standing in front of the house in the Ledergasse. There are fluffy cushions with colourful patterns on them lying in the pram. Every morning the mother carries her little girl down the stairs. Then she places little Margarete in the pram and makes the cushions comfortable so that her child can sit up well. Before they go back into the house the little one gets a KISS.

Margarete is lame. She cannot move her legs so she cannot skip and play with a ball like the other children. However the child is not sad. Her lively dark eyes wander back and forth watching everything which goes on around her. She often tells stories. The other children then sit around her pram and listen attentively. Margarete also likes listening to stories herself. Her favourite stories are about Jesus, the son of God, and how he made the sick people who were brought to him healthy again.

One morning a large package is lying on Margarete’s place at the breakfast table. With clumsy hands she rips the tape off and unfolds the paper. "A school satchel!" she calls out full of enthusiasm. "But who will take Gretel to school? And who will carry her down the steps into the classroom?" the siblings call out all at once. However there is a solution to everything. The two larger children can push the pram to school and a friendly neighbour will carry the girl into the class. "What should we play?" ask the classmates. Margarete is happy as she is never short of ideas. Everyone has fun. If Gretel has the command there are no arguments. But Margarete is sometimes a bit sad. She can be bad as well. When she wants her own way or when she wants to annoy her brothers and sisters for example. Not only are her parents sad about that but God is as well and she can feel it.

In the evening Margarete is taken to bed at seven. The sick arms and legs need rest but her thoughts are still running wild. Outside she can hear the neighbour’s children playing. She would love to be there as well. Suddenly someone calls out: "Gretel, we are coming for you!" Said and done. Strong boys carry the girl down the stairs. In her pram the boys push her over fields and meadows up the hill. Then the children become over confident. They run down the hill as fast as they can, pushing the pram. It is still not wild enough for Margarete. A scream! The pram has fallen over. Gretel is carried home with a broken leg. She cannot leave her bed for a long time.

Margarete spends a lot of time thinking. She remembers the stories from the bible and how Jesus healed the sick. How he died on the cross for the love of the people and that he did not stay in his tomb. She prays to God and not: Please make me better! But she prays: Change my heart! Through the accident Margarete realised that her sick feet are an unchangeable part of her life. "I no longer want to rebel against it inside, but want to see my disability as my challenge", she said. Margarete learns to sew. Together with her sister she opens a tailor shop. To make her work easier the young lady buys the first sewing machine in the town. People like to buy their clothes from the sisters. The lame Margarete does not only deliver good products she also gets rid of people’s worries with her joyfulness.

However once she is alone with her sister she complains: "If you knew what it is like to always be led and carried by other people! I am young and would like to do everything myself. Like this I am just a burden to others." "Trust in God" her sister comforts her, "and remember that a clever head and a warm, kind heart are much more useful to God than the healthiest of legs."

For Christmas Margarete gives her friends pin cushions which look like little elephants. The Christmas period is hardly over and people start storming into the shop wanting to buy little felt elephants. The children have found a new toy. The tailor shop turns into a real toy factory with lots of workers. Margarete thankfully takes everything from God’s hand. She keeps inventing new stuffed toys. Although the material is expensive and the work is complicated she starts to sew teddy bears – bears with proper fur and bright glass eyes. There had been nothing like it before.

At the next exhibition no one wants to buy the new item at first. The animals were just about to be packed up again before a man arrived at the stand. He is so impressed by the comical bears that he orders 3000 pieces to sell in America. That is how the Margarete Steiff teddy bear made it’s successful debut in the world. Margarete Steiff has learned that God can make something of every life. A disability or any other problem is no problem for God. He has a special place for everyone in life.

Possible parts of the bible relevant to the story:

  • And Jesus healed many who had various diseases. ( Mark 1,34)
  • A cheerful heart is good medicine. (Proverbs 17,22)
  • And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.( 1.John 5,15)
  • May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer. ( Psalm 19,14)
  • It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect. ( Psalm 18,32)

(Source: "Der Kompass" edition 2000, a daily calendar for children and young people in Germany. The story was allowed to be included in the collection of materials ( / with kind permission.)
Copyright: Christian circulation (

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