-Excerpts from William Blake's A Song of Innocence, 1789
Benay with granddaughters at their ballet class
in Jan. 2007, 2 months before Shelbi's diagnosis
It's amazing how God sends people into our lives in the most unusual ways ---people we have never
met, yet with whom we create bonds due to very different, but yet similar circumstances.
What my friend Benay terms as "happy therapy" in times of sadness and stress is what actually
brought us together. I had begun restoring little 50's fashion dolls over a year ago, as my form of
"happy therapy," to help myself relax and to deal with a serious health situation. Once I began, it sort
of grew on me; and, to date, I have restored over 50 dolls. No matter what the illness, or
how serious, I have never been one to remain idle.
I had only recently familiarized myself with the Ann Estelle dolls when I purchased Benay's beautiful
Valentine outfit for my first doll. That is how I was led to her. I like to buy the basic dolls then dress
them myself. It has been a nice break from the more difficult restorations I have done. To say that Benay's
original designs and work are absolutely gorgeous would truly be an understatement. Every impeccable seam
drips with creativity and talent as she goes well over-the-top with detail beyond belief. It's those special
added touches that distinguish her ability as a superb seamstress.
It was after I had recently purchased a second outfit from her which she titled "Little Lamb Who Made Thee?"
that she shared with me what her family had been going through over the past year with her 4 yr. old
granddaughter's severe illness. If you have clicked the link above, you have seen her beautiful, precious
little Shelbi --- a "living doll" --- and have read much of her heartbreaking story, as well as seen photos
of her wonderful family.
Benay taught first grade for 4 years before becoming a stay-at-home Mom for 36 years. Up
until last April, when she retired after 14+ years to help her daughter, she worked in their
community library's children's room. Her grandchildren and their dolls have been the inspiration
for her sewing over the past few years.
After my three granddaughters were born, I lovingly pieced together and sewed them each
a patchwork quilt to cuddle with. Our Adelynne and our Hailey, the twins, were born at the
end of spring and our little Shelbi was born at the beginning of spring, very close to Easter.
On Shelbi's quilt, I had appliquéd sweet little lambs and butterflies and a big bright sun with
rays streaming forth on the quilt top. I then embroidered the words of William Blake on the
top of the sun..."Little Lamb, who made thee."
We too are all "lambs" --- the "sheep" of His pasture.
Needless to say, the "Little Lamb Who Made Thee" dress I purchased from Benay for
Ann Estelle's friend, Sophie, will now forever hold a very special meaning for me.
Shelbi Savanna Martin received her Heavenly Wings July 15, 2008
when God reached down with His loving arms to lift her up
into His Beautiful Heaven where she is now Flying High.
Please continue to keep her family in your thoughts and prayers
as they work together to help the non-profit foundation
"Shelbi's Sweets & Treats" Ice Cream Trucks!
(Click thumbnails to view full size images)
Bird graphics courtesy of