Other Thoughts

Happy 40th Birthday to Brandy!

May 22, 2018 by Hayley Beck
[dropcap]H[/dropcap]ave you ever hijacked someone’s blog?  I mean, as in, writing a post … and they have no idea?

Me either.

Until now.

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!

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28 Comments

  • Reply Ariana Anderson May 30, 2018 at 8:37 pm

    Happy birthday! I am startled to realize I’m older than you, but I claim it is because you seem so mature and your kids are older than mine. ? I still feel like I’m following in your footsteps.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel May 30, 2018 at 9:04 pm

      Ha! I had my babies young, that’s all. 🙂 ♥

  • Reply Amber May 26, 2018 at 12:36 pm

    Happy birthday, Brandy! I’m trying to remember when I first started reading your blog… it certainly was quite a long time ago. You have been such a help to me in many ways – and not just in homeschooling! I really appreciate your curiousity and interest about the world, and your desire to keep learning and growing.

    I also have you to thank for introducing me to Celeste, back when she did a guest post on your blog during that 31 days of CM series you did a number of years ago.

    I am thankful for having had the opportunity to meet you in person, and I look forward to being able to do that again in the future!

    (And well done, Hayley!! What a beautiful post.)

  • Reply Maurlo May 26, 2018 at 9:56 am

    Happy Birthday!

    I am a young mom with six small children, and I don’t remember how I found your blog, but I have been greatly strengthened and encouraged by your words. I was homeschooled, but my mom passed away in an accudent the year I went to college which means I didn’t ask her the nitty gritty details of mothering and homeschooling because I had no idea then, what I need to know now. I have homeschooled from the start, but am so grateful for women like you who document your own journey so that when I have a “I need to talk to my mom” moment, I can turn to you instead. You are my mom voice—calm, reasoning, experienced…with good perspective rolled in!

    I especially look forward to your Saturday email. It always gives me good things to think on and act on, good ideas for my own reading…really just inspiration to be educating myself every week.

  • Reply Amanda Venema May 26, 2018 at 9:21 am

    Happy Birthday, Brandy! I am so grateful for all of the times you have shared your wisdom and insights via Voxer! 🙂 You have a wonderful way of getting to the heart of the matter and helping myself and others think through principles and practices. I appreciate that so much. You are a voice of reason, dear! Thank you for all that you do for the CM community and beyond.

  • Reply Melissa Greene May 25, 2018 at 6:18 pm

    Happy Birthday Brandy!

    I’ve known Brandy online for a few years and used her Start Here guide for our CM Study Group. I finally got to meet her in real life in April at GHC in OH! I was blessed to finally meet the brains behind the screen 😉

    Lovely post Hayley!

  • Reply Shawna May 25, 2018 at 7:17 am

    Happiest of birthday months, Brandy! Your blog and the Schole Sisteres podcast have encouraged me so much and helped make practical many notions that seemed too high to reach!

  • Reply Mystie May 25, 2018 at 7:16 am

    Happy birthday, dear friend! ?

  • Reply Thoughtworthy (Monumental Birthdays, Chore Boards, and MORE!) | Afterthoughts May 25, 2018 at 1:33 am

    […] for the birthday greetings this week! (I am determined to celebrate for a full month.) Hayley said things about me that were far too nice, but I forgive her for it (and also for hacking my blog). I’ve been asked if it was hard for […]

  • Reply Kansas Mom May 24, 2018 at 6:06 am

    Happy birthday, Brandy!

  • Reply Jill Courser May 23, 2018 at 8:51 pm

    I got to meet Brandy this April at the Midwest GHC:). Such a smart, kind, compassionate person! Happy 40th birthday!!

  • Reply Camille May 23, 2018 at 6:40 pm

    Happy Birthday!! I hope you have a wonderful day!

  • Reply Julie Zilkie May 23, 2018 at 1:39 pm

    Oh my goodness, yes! What a great idea! Brandy, although we have never met, and most likely never will this side of heaven, I am so grateful for so many things you have shared with me. The first things that come to mind are your Circle Time Plans, your favorite read alouds, your health tips–there are so many I now use regularly, the calm and reasonable way you approach a CM education, and finally, the grace and freedom you communicate all of the above with! Blessing upon blessing to you this day and always!!

  • Reply Celeste May 23, 2018 at 8:43 am

    Happy Birthday, Brandy! Thankful to know you online for many years and to be able to meet in person too over the last few. <3 You do so much for the CM community and I am grateful to call you friend! Your blog is always the first I recommend to mamas new to CM and your common sense, logical, friendly approach is a welcome voice in the Mason world.

  • Reply tess May 23, 2018 at 8:08 am

    Happy Birthday, Brandy! You are one of the worthiest voices on the Web.

  • Reply Blossom May 23, 2018 at 5:15 am

    Yes!! Happy Birthday to you, Brandy 🙂

  • Reply JoyH May 22, 2018 at 8:57 pm

    Happy 40th!

    Thank you for the contribution you bring to the CM world, and for sharing other parts of your life as well.

  • Reply Taking Joy Blog May 22, 2018 at 7:16 pm

    Happy birthday, Brandy! I have read your blog posts since my oldest was beginning AO Year 1 (Next year he begins Year 5), and they have always taught and encouraged me. I love listening to Schole Sisters and seeing your posts in the SO forum. You are a reasonable voice in this crazy homeschool journey, and I know that I can always look to you (or reach out to you) for advice and helpful input. I how you enjoy your birthday month and continue to celebrate!

  • Reply Carol May 22, 2018 at 4:51 pm

    Happy birthday, Brandy! Maybe one day I might get to meet you 🙂

  • Reply dawn May 22, 2018 at 2:11 pm

    Happiest of Birthdays, Brandy!

    (Well done, Hailey!)

  • Reply Tricia Fowler May 22, 2018 at 12:50 pm

    Happy Birthday! I have gleaned so much from your blogging! Hope you have a great birthday!

  • Reply Jami May 22, 2018 at 10:52 am

    Happy Birthday Dear Brandy! It has been such a pleasure to learn and grow with you over the past few years. When I first began seeing your posts (and Mystie’s!) on Cindy’s blog, I had that “What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . .” experience that Lewis describes so well. Cindy’s blog was a wonderful gathering place for likeminded friends. And yours continues to be as well. Thank you for your encouragement and work on behalf of the Charlotte Mason community! –Jami

  • Reply Lynn May 22, 2018 at 10:44 am

    Happy birthday! This blog has helped our family tremendously, and I just want to say thank you for all your time and effort.

  • Reply Kelly May 22, 2018 at 7:21 am

    Happy birthday, Brandy!

    I suppose we met via Cindy’s blog — it’s been so long that I don’t remember! Keep up the good work!

  • Reply Bethany May 22, 2018 at 3:59 am

    I’m not sure when I first came across this blog. But I remember a friend telling me that I needed to sign up for CMBC if I wanted to learn more about Charlotte Mason. I followed my friend’s advice and found the ex pop experience to be wonderful! I’m thankful for Brandy sharing her passion with others and helping to show us another way to homeschool. Her joy and enthusiasm is catching! I also appreciate what she does for AO. I started AO this year with 4 kids and it had been a joy and a blessing to me and my children. Thank you, Brandy for all you do. Have a very happy birthday month!

  • Reply Dawn Duran May 22, 2018 at 3:41 am

    Oh my word! Hayley, I love that you did this! I am blessed to call Brandy friend and only wish that California were physically closer. Afterthoughts was the first blog I ever read, and I discovered the blog after finding AmblesideOnline. Brandy and Afterthoughts introduced me to Cindy Rollins via ordo-amoris, too, which is something for which I am forever grateful. Getting to know Brandy online was a joy, but finally meeting her at Deep of the Heart of AO and becoming “in real life” friends in 2016 made our friendship all the more special. Those of you who get to spend time with Brandy in person and experience conversations in real time are truly blessed! Happy Birthday Month, Brandy – and welcome to the other side of 40:)!

    • Reply BecTasmanian May 22, 2018 at 7:00 am

      Happy birthday 🙂 I love your laugh. Thank you for your time. Your words reach all the way to our farmhouse in rural Australia.

    • Reply Hayley Beck May 22, 2018 at 7:57 am

      Or that you were just closer and not on the complete other side of the country, Dawn!

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