Jason and Lacy Apfelbecks’ homeschooling journey began 14 years ago when their oldest son, Coy, was 4. “We thought homeschoolers were weird,” Lacy admits.

They had enrolled Coy in preschool too early, when he was 3. So, when he was set to repeat preschool with the same teacher, Lacy and Jason decided to try homeschooling.

“Needless to say, we all fell in love with it,” Lacy said. “Fourteen years later, we are still homeschooling our children.”

Entrepreneurship: The Road to Service

Through homeschooling, the Apfelbeck children, Coy, Jude, Grace and Parker, have thrived not just academically but also in character, deeply influenced by their parents’ dedication to service.

The flexibility afforded by homeschooling provided Coy, Jude, and Grace with the opportunity to create a small business during the pandemic—Candy Cloud. They bought a cotton candy machine and started making and selling it at a farmer’s market in their town in Minnesota.

“They came up with the name, and saved and pooled their funds to purchase the machine and product,” Lacy said. “They did their own marketing, took and passed the cottage food law test, purchased insurance, and interacted with customers.”

During their first year of business, they realized they weren’t marketing to the adult demographic, so they decided to start selling popcorn. They did their research on the best popcorn machines and pooled their profits from the prior year’s sales to get it going.

“They learned a lot about business during those years,” Lacy said. “More importantly, they learned about service, compassion, and encouragement by serving the greater community and putting smiles on people's faces when so many were frantic due to the pandemic.”

These efforts led to Coy receiving an honorable mention in HSLDA’s Teen Servant Leadership Award in 2020. As part of this award, he received $500 and used the money to enroll in a summer camp.*

After managing their business from 2020 to 2022, Coy, Jude, and Grace donated almost all their profits to a religious order in Wisconsin, The Franciscan Congregation of Divine Mercy, an association of consecrated women, clergy, religious, and lay persons of all ages.

They chose this order because they were inspired by the religious sisters from the congregation who helped their mother heal from childhood wounds, including clergy abuse.

A Passion for Healing and Wholeness

Lacy’s personal journey with mental health and chronic illness led her to found a nonprofit dedicated to providing free Christian online support for emotional, physical, and spiritual healing, called Edge of the Red Sea Ministries (ERSM).

Inspired by her own healing process, as well as her two-decade battle in overcoming many autoimmune conditions––including Lyme disease and thyroid issues––and her experience as a craniosacral and neuromuscular therapist specializing in trauma and abuse, Lacy envisioned a platform where others could find the support they need to recover.

She founded ERSM to honor their family’s philanthropy. The nonprofit aims to bridge the gap for those struggling with life’s challenges, as well as everyday ups and downs, offering resources and a community of support. “We focus on feelings, and talk about forgiveness, grieving, and choices,” Lacy said.  “Everyone deserves to heal and be whole based on three foundational aspects of emotional, physical, and spiritual health.”

Compassion Grants Bring Peace of Mind

The Apfelbecks’ homeschooling journey has not been exempted from obstacles. Dyslexia runs in Lacy’s family, so early on, she was watching for symptoms in their children. Coy was diagnosed with dyslexia when he was in 5th grade. His college required an updated diagnosis.

Additionally, Lacy suspected Grace had dyslexia and dyscalculia, a similar learning disorder that affects her ability to understand numbers and math.

The required testing and diagnosis strained the family's finances. Their move from Wisconsin to Minnesota further complicated their financial situation, as Jason’s income alone was not sufficient to cover their growing needs, especially with Lacy’s ongoing battle with Celiac disease.

Lacy first heard of HSLDA through the Minnesota Catholic Home Education Conference & Curriculum Fair. She described the conference as an annual encouragement to continue to homeschool, where Catholic homeschoolers from all over the Midwest receive support from a variety of speakers and vendors.

After hearing of HSLDA, she joined so she could receive legal help in case her family needed it. Then, she learned about HSLDA Compassion Grants after reading an article in the Weekly Update newsletter about a family that had received one.

The Apfelbecks applied for and received three HSLDA Curriculum Grants between 2021 and 2023. They also received financial aid  for HSLDA membership.

With the grants, Lacy and Jason were able to fund critical dyslexia and dyscalculia testing and resources for Coy and Grace. This allowed them to receive the accommodations they needed for their education.

Lacy and Jason were also able to enroll their middle son, Jude, into a college-level astronomy class with a “fantastic co-op tutor.” Jude is also taking an art class from a homeschool co-op called Veritas in Academia in Minnesota. This class inspired him to start his own art YouTube channel called “The pink bucket hat guy,” with more than 550 subscribers and 100+ videos.

Grace is also taking a hands-on science class at the same co-op, as well as a fine arts education class. Lacy said she enjoys being with other kids her age.

“As one can imagine, the feat of creating a new start-up, not-for-profit, along with homeschooling, is all-consuming,” Lacy said. “The financial assistance from HSLDA supporters has given us a large part of the peace of mind we needed to continue to homeschool and do what we feel God is calling us to.”

Stumbling Into Co-op Friends at College

As for Coy, he graduates this year from high school as a homeschooled student and from a program that allows him to earn college credits as well. He was recently accepted into the University of Mary in North Dakota, where he plans to study to become a psychologist. The family is especially proud of him because he was awarded their top scholarship for academic excellence.

On a recent visit to the University of Mary, Lacy noticed that Coy kept greeting people as they walked through the campus. It turns out a lot of them were homeschoolers that attended the same Catholic co-op he was part of back in Minnesota, the Church of Saint Paul Home Education Ministry (HEM).

“He knew more people than I did!” Lacy said. She was pleased to know Coy would be able to keep forging the friendships from this co-op at University of Mary. She added that this particular co-op has been wonderful for their children to get involved with social activities.

Hope for Healing

The Apfelbecks’ testimony shows that people who have recovered from mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual struggles can bring healing to others. As Lacy continues homeschooling her children, she hopes to be able to keep helping others in their healing journey.

She can’t help but marvel at her children’s ability to give to the world. “I was never like them when growing up,” Lacy said. “Their hearts are truly made of gold.”

* This award program is no longer active.