Brandy Vencel is one of the sweetest people I know. If you’ve met Brandy in person at any of the conferences she’s spoken at around the country in the last few years you’ve met the real Brandy. If you’ve had the incredible privilege of going through her Charlotte Mason Boot Camp and watched (or interacted with her) in her Facebook Live weekly video you’ve seen the real Brandy. Who you see is who we all see in person (aren’t we so lucky?). She’s lovely, delightful, calm, and just an absolute joy to know.
Last year I had the honour of assisting Brandy with getting In Memoriam: A Tribute to Charlotte Mason ready for publishing. And, while I worked on it, I also loved reading about Miss Mason and the person she was. I felt like it gave us a truer glimpse of the person behind the words we read and the quotes we know.
In many ways Brandy resembles Miss Mason. There are many similarities between Miss Mason and Brandy; their shared love of teaching, of Scripture, of furthering their own education and the mothers around them, exuding grace and still encouraging the best from you as a person (whether a student or not). Oh, and not to forget their shared passion for the human body and being in good health; body, mind, and soul. You may be familiar with Brandy’s ongoing series, albeit no blog post of late, about The Low-Energy Mom’s Guide to Homeschooling because like Miss Mason and her physical limitations Brandy also has hers.
There are two tender quotes from In Memoriam that I feel with a few words omitted or the tense in which the quote is written (past to present) one could be reading about Brandy herself:
The wonderful patience and cheerfulness with which she bears her physical limitations are a living testimony to that faith which is her ‘sure foundation’ and inspires the optimism and calmness of spirit, the wise and steadfast philosophy that makes her such an unfailing counsellor to others in difficult ways, and gives pause to realise she taps the Source that makes “quietness and confidence your strength.”
You can find the original quote by I.B.S. Whitaker on p. 41 of In Memoriam
And the following quote reminds me of Brandy’s impact and influence with the Charlotte Mason community through her blog, her recorded audio talks, and especially her Charlotte Mason Boot Camp (commonly known around here as CMBC) which she opens up three times a year:
I have been … realising how much happiness I owe to the vision of one woman. My case, no doubt, is similar to many others scattered all over the world. Others will write of Miss Mason’s work from the point of view of the trained teacher, but how much greater is the debt of the mother who, without any training at all, can teach her children through the method that Miss Mason had worked out [and Brandy so diligently replicates for our ease and understanding] . It was she who made the impossible possible, who shewed us term by term what books to use and how to use them, who taught us to take the children straight to the fountain head and let them learn from the books themselves. It was she who realised what home education might become, who changed the whole atmosphere of the home schoolroom, who inspired us for our work and gave us the power to carry it out; a pioneer who blazed the trail that many of us follow with keen enjoyment and grateful hearts.
You can find the original quote by E. M. Capron on p. 50 of In Memoriam
But really the reason I am hijacking Brandy’s blog is because I (or we, because there are a group of us) want to give you the opportunity to shower Brandy with words of encouragement and allow you to celebrate with us Brandy’s 40th birthday this month of May (her actual birthday was May 10th but when you’re turning 40 you’re allowed (and should!) celebrate all month long).
So, go ahead … join us in celebrating! Share how you know Brandy, or when you met for the first time, or how you haven’t met yet but how her blog posts are balm to your soul. And, if you’re like her real life friends, how she has encouraged and spurred you on in your love for Charlotte Mason’s teaching method which pours into our children and our families in a real, tangible, and long-lasting way.
Happy Birthday, dearest of friends!