Every believer in Jesus has a story; a unique God-written story about the transforming power of Christ’s redeeming love in their life. Mine is no different. Although the details of my life story are far different than yours, my testimony is that Jesus opened my eyes to see how I needed His perfect sacrifice for my sin and how God, in His great mercy and love made me His own because of the Cross.
My last Valentine’s Day with my dear Chris, 2009
I am the wife of the late Christopher J. Klicka, an international pioneer in the homeschool movement and Senior Counsel for the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) for over 24 years, who passed away on October 12, 2009 after a courageous, 15-year battle with MS. I am also a homeschooling mother of seven children, two of which have graduated and are in college, with one married and five teens still at home.
I met Chris while a freshman at Grove City College. As a senior there Chris led a young men’s Bible study group, and served as a resident assistant and editor of The Collegian, Grove City College’s campus newspaper. His singular passion for Christ and his determination to serve God and proclaim the gospel with his life intrigued me and drew me to him as a friend.
That fall when I sang a solo for the freshman talent show, giving testimony to my Jesus and winning first place—Chris admitted he was impressed with my bold faith, and wanted to get to know me better. That year we studied God’s Word each week together and eventually started dating. By the fall of my sophomore year and Chris’s first year of law school, we knew God was calling us to serve Him together as a team. After a season of engagement, we were married May 26, 1984.
A Call to Suffering
Besides being Chris’s helpmeet for over 25 years and a busy homeschooling mother for 20, I’ve experienced significant trials which God used in my childhood to bring me to salvation in Christ, and which as a Christian have become part of my testimony of God’s sustaining grace and power while in the midst of suffering.
As a child growing up in Cleveland, Ohio, though I was a victim of both physical and sexual abuse, and was bullied by a local girl’s gang, God rescued me and opened my eyes to the powerful truth of the gospel. As a young believer just entering high school, I grew in my love of the Scriptures and my understanding of God as my heavenly Father. Early on in my faith because of the kindness of the Lord, I wanted to live “sold out” for Jesus Christ. Having an early love for singing, God now gave me a new song:
“The Lord gave me ‘…beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for the spirit of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair,’ and I live to be ‘…a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor.’ ” ~Isaiah 61:3
After Chris and I married, God called him to Washington, DC to become the first full-time attorney for HSLDA. I worked on Capitol Hill until our first child was born in 1987.
Our family, Christmas, 1991
Just after Bethany was born, however, I developed ulcerative colitis and nearly died twice from it over the next few years. Doctors told me I could never have children again, so imagine our profound joy when God not only granted me healing and a reprieve from UC, but also gave us two more children, Megan and Jesse, over the next five years. During this time, when Bethany was four, we started our homeschooling adventure and never looked back.
Homeschooling at that time was still early in its growth as a movement and while Chris was busy defending the rights of parents to home educate their children, I was having more children. Susanna came along in 1994, just eighteen months after Jesse, and then just five months later, when I thought I was pregnant with our fifth child, Chris started experiencing numbness, tingling and fatigue.
A New Trial
After a battery of tests Chris was diagnosed with chronic progressive MS. Neurologists were not very encouraging, saying, “You should just hope your rate of decline is slow.” Not knowing much about MS, Chris started diligently researching the disease and discovered his best chance of keeping his system strong and fighting the MS was through nutrition and alternative therapies. His allergy to the most promising medication yet offered seemed to confirm this was the best course to take.
With four little children and one more (or so we thought!) on the way, I remember Chris’s trust in God yet fervent desire to be there for us as he prayed to the Lord, asking God to give him 15 more years to serve Him, similar to Hezekiah’s prayer in Isaiah 38:
“This is what the LORD says: Put your house in order, because you are going to die; you will not recover.” Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the LORD, “Remember, LORD, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly.
Then the word of the LORD came to Isaiah: “Go and tell Hezekiah, ‘This is what the LORD, the God of your father David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will add fifteen years to your life.’”
God’s Mercies are New Every Morning
As Chris’s health started to rapidly decline, just two days before Christmas we found out we weren’t expecting one child; we were expecting two! Our twin girls were due in May of 1995, but because of a high-risk pregnancy, where our smaller twin was being deprived of life-giving nutrition, doctors didn’t expect either of them to survive.
God gave us their names, Charity Anne (meaning ‘grace’) and Amy (meaning ‘beloved’) Grace, and we started praying over them that God would give Charity a spirit of charity and that somehow, miraculously, she would start giving to her smaller identical sister Amy. Whether Amy was going to survive or not, only God knew, we wanted her to know she was truly beloved to us.
All through the pregnancy, thousands of people, many of them homeschoolers from around the country were praying for us. Though Amy continued to fall behind more and more in development, God kept her and Charity alive, and helped Chris to respond positively to his new radical diet changes and intensive supplementation.
Chris started to improve even while Amy’s condition seemed to decline, however, and it was only through truly miraculous intervention from the Lord around 29 weeks that we didn’t lose these precious girls. When at 37 weeks, they were both born alive and Chris was seeing real relief from the MS symptoms, we celebrated God’s goodness to us as a family, and so did our parents and many thousands of praying friends. We renewed our promise to the Lord that He and He alone would get all the glory for any good in our lives—how great is His love!
“How great is Your goodness which You have stored up for those who fear You, which You have wrought for those who take refuge in You, before the sons of men!” ~Psalm 31:19
A Journey of Grace
Those were the crazy yet joyful, busy toddler days of having six children, aged seven and under with four in diapers and nursing two! Later on came the even more challenging days of watching Chris’s health decline, never knowing how long we would have him with us. As the days got harder, we leaned heavily on Jesus for His grace through Chris’s illnesses, loss of function, and injuries while we continued to homeschool.
At this point, we now had mostly teens/adults and, in this new season, some significant struggles along the way, including a daughter who suffered from bulimia for five years. The Lord has shown Himself faithful to make His truth known, however, and to continue to rescue and deliver our children as He did for me so many years ago. God is worthy of all our trust!
“Because Thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise Thee.” ~Psalm 63:3
The Rivers of Sorrow Will Not Overflow
My greatest loss was saying goodbye to my best friend and husband Chris less than two years ago. I am grateful beyond words for the love Chris had for Jesus and for me and the children. God’s sustaining power in his life was so evident, and Chris’s passion to serve God never diminished, right up to his last breath.
God’s mercy has been so evident, allowing Chris to be with us through the most important years of our lives as a young family. He even gave Chris the deep joy of giving away our first daughter in marriage to our wonderful son-in-law Ben. The Lord indeed heard Chris’s prayer and gave him 15 more years, almost to the day of his prayer. We give Him thanks and praise!
Ben & Bethany’s wedding, August, 2008
Even though I am now without my best earthly friend, I am continuing to learn that God is the Author of my story. He is sovereignly writing each chapter and paragraph, and while troubles have abounded, so too has God’s help. Looking back, I can see God’s protection and sustaining grace over the years in so many ways, and it is out of God’s mercy through many difficult experiences that I love to encourage people from the Word of God in the midst of their hardships. I can testify,
“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” ~Psalm 34:18 “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” ~Romans 8:18
By God’s amazing grace, I live for Christ, and regardless of what happens to me from this day on, I will always be my Beloved’s and He will be mine! Soli Deo Gloria!