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Christopher's Story

The Most Challenging Year of Our Lives

Editor’s Note: When your life falls apart, you need a community to fall back on—people who care about you and will help you pick up the pieces.

This is what the story below is all about. It is told in two parts, first from the perspective of Maria Chamberlain, a Homeschool Foundation Ambassador, and then from the heart of Christopher LeCroix*, who lost his wife Charis*. 

May 2018 marks the first anniversary of Charis’s death.

MariaCharis and Christopher LaCroix

This is a story with a sorrowful ending, but it illustrates the significance of HSLDA’s Homeschool Foundation in the day-to-day life of a struggling family. 

As a northern New England state ambassador for the Foundation, I am privileged to help families in need continue teaching their children at home. I do this by referring them to the Foundation or by raising support for our state ambassador fund.

Often, the families I help are people I’ve never met before—but in this case, tragedy hit close to home. 

A beautiful young mom in my Classical Conversations homeschool community was diagnosed with stomach cancer in late August 2016—just days before we began our weekly meetings for the fall semester. The prognosis: 4–6 months at best.

Shocked, sad, and confused, Charis had three young children to care for and teach, and a devoted husband whose job as a pilot could take him many miles away on any given day. This was sobering news for all of us. How could this happen to our dear friend Charis? What would the coming school year bring?

A knee-jerk reaction was to put the children in school. After all, how could homeschooling continue when the coming months would mean weeks of hospitalization and treatments? 

Yet Charis’s husband Christopher was determined to continue homeschooling and keep his family together. As an HSF Ambassador, I was able to mobilize the Classical Conversations community, area churches, and other friends to pray, help with meals, homeschool, houseclean, and fundraise. People responded in tangible ways—and incredibly, through the power of prayer, this young mom rallied, grew stronger. By Thanksgiving, she was back in the community attending classes! The monies raised helped with the mounting hospital bills. People were amazed at God’s mighty hand, the strong faith of this young couple, and the love showered upon their family. It was truly a testimony.

But with the return of the harsh New England winter came a return of the cancer, and this time with a fury. Determined not to give up, Christopher sought alternative treatments when chemotherapy only offered a 0.01% chance, and Charis had the courage to try anything to get well again. The children continued to come to their weekly classes with Chris while Grandma came all the way from Finland to care for Charis. It was amazing to see the strength and peace in these children! And the faithfulness of their father was incredible, even as Christopher lost his primary insurance due to the reduction in his flight time.

A beautiful moment occurred when Grandma related to me how much Charis missed church and communion. I was able to secure a communion set for the family and coordinate an online worship service with friends who sang and prayed from all over the country. After the service, the family took communion together. It was a blessed time.

Charis lived beyond the four-month prognosis. But in May, her fight, her pain, and her suffering ended. She surrendered into the comfort of Jesus’ arms. Mercy, hope, and love triumphed over cancer as the hands and feet of Jesus were made manifest through the local community and the HSF.

It’s been a difficult few months as this young family recovers from this incredible loss. Needing support so Christopher could get his flight hours back in, Christopher and the children are currently living in France with Charis’ brother and family. As he logs his flight miles, the family makes exciting trips to amazing European sites while they study history. Christopher’s desire is to return the family to their home in the States this spring, so they can resume their Classical Conversations program and begin the next chapter in their homeschool journey.

With the love and support of this homeschool community, I believe Christopher will succeed.


This last year has been without a doubt the most challenging year of our lives. When my wife was diagnosed with cancer a couple of days before school was beginning, I was tasked with a very difficult decision to homeschool or put the children into the local public school.

It is my family’s vision and commitment to homeschool and bring the children up in the love of the Lord. When deciding which form of school for my children for the year, I wondered how would it be possible for me, as a full-time employee caring for my spouse, to also homeschool.

When speaking to my children about the options, my oldest daughter, then 8 years old, said, “Dad, you have to have faith like David.”

At that moment, I didn’t know the help that was waiting for us in the beautiful community of Classical Conversations. The director, Maria Chamberlain, also represents the Homeschool Foundation, and she encouraged us to apply for help. I had reduced my work hours so I could stay home more and teach my three children as well as care for my precious wife.

We are grateful for the monies received as it allowed us to continue to homeschool during this difficult time. The outpouring of love and help with meals and childcare from the local homeschooling community were priceless. 

My children owned their learning in an incredible way over the past year. We were able to spend the year next to mom before she passed away. We will always treasure the moments of this last year that we spent together. God is good. 

Thank you joining us during this past year and supporting and encouraging our family in this journey. 

* Names changed for privacy.

Helping families homeschool through hard times

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