Greetings to every truth seeker who visits RENEW-GATHER BUILD™!
I'm Leroy Grey and together with my wife, Vonda, we’ve created:
RENEW-GATHER-BUILD: A Christ-Centered Social Learning Network™.
We could have called it a "Christ-Centered School", but replacing "School" with "Social Learning Network" is much more accurate. Please click on the menu item "A New Way of Learning", to understand why we’re so different. Honestly, there's not another "school" like us, not one, not anywhere on the planet!
Both my wife and I have unique stories of extreme hardship. And both of us have overcome immense obstacles to get where we are today. You'll learn more of our background as you get to know us, as we interact through our private, collaborative email system; through our online courses; through our presentations, videos, and webinars; and through daily 24/7 access to our proprietary, online "Smart Rooms™".
We can't wait to get to know each and every one of you.
Our goal isn’t just to build an online school with some nice courses. Our goal is to build online and offline communities, culturally transforming social networks of passionate lifelong learners who welcome the idea of contributing to God’s vision for “RENEW-GATHER-BUILD: A Christ-Centered Social Learning Network™”.
I’ll talk about my wife Vonda a little later. I start with me because God’s vision for these online and offline communities started with me. Over the years I have experienced more than 25 divine interventions and in time, as you learn their amazing details, you’ll understand how necessary they are to the process of drawing us all together, to instilling a sense of unity, and the manifesting God’s great love among us.
There is a reason God didn’t provide many details in my visions and dreams. This process was not to be some slavish, exact replication of what God revealed, but rather it relies upon a team of co-visionaries and founders, whose ideas and input are as valued as that premise which states, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts”!
MY FIRST VISION
My first vision happened when I was a young man, just 3-months shy of my 20th birthday. For the first time in my life I began to believe there is indeed a God. One evening I took a walk past the old Lyric Theater and found myself on a grassy hill overlooking the old Mount Royal train station in Baltimore city. As I stood there looking at the magnificent view, I began to focus on this growing sense of belonging to God and being interconnected with all God’s creation.
Suddenly I felt this spiritual wave, this vibrational energy that is God’s life in all things visible and invisible, moving through the earth towards me. Then I felt it enter my body and mind, where it was multiplied by me. After being amplified inside, this wave was sent out by me, into a large, steepled church on a distant hillside.
Inside the church God’s people did what I did, they received this life-wave of God’s energy, they amplified it, and then they sent it out as well. But what I witnessed when God’s people did this, was the destruction of that church building, for its roof and steeple were blown off, high into the sky. God’s life-wave of energy, which entered those believers able to receive, understand and multiply it, destroyed the church as they knew it. Then, what those believers had received from God and multiplied, rose up and up like a gigantic volcanic plume of whiteness, spreading outwards until it enveloped the whole earth, thence raining down its life-energy upon all the world. This happened over 50 years ago, in early January of 1966, seven years and ten months before I finally accepted Christ as savior (which was on Saturday, November 24, 1973).
MY SECOND VISION
My second vision was exponentially greater than the first, for God took me to heaven while fully conscious and in perfect health. Full details are available inside “RENEW-GATHER-BUILD: Christ-Centered Social Learning Network™”, accessible to all members (either Supporting Members or Church Community Members).
Here is a much shortened telling of my second vision. I was in a car with three of my closest friends when we were immersed in God’s light; a light so bright that it blocked out everything in this world; a light so powerful that it rendered all of us motionless and unable to speak. But while my friends experienced nothing further, I was taken to heaven, ordained by an angel and told that God had chosen me, that I was to bring change to the church and this change would come through the renewal of our minds, our gathering into community and our ability to abide in Christ and God.
My first vision was intended to reveal what my mission would be. It symbolized the receipt, multiplication and distribution of God’s living Spirit Word. And the Power of that Word of truth, as Jesus Himself revealed, always destroys the falsehoods and hypocrisy of religion (symbolized by the destruction of the church building).
The second vision I received was intended to seal me for the work of the mission revealed by the first vision.
The purpose entrusted to me that day of my heavenly sojourn/vision was this: I was to be an agent of renewal and change for the true Church, to call out, to gather, to feed with understanding those whom God’s Spirit would draw together. My heaven experience happened on the day of summer solstice, June, 1974, exactly seven months after my salvation experience.
What I saw in heaven was awesome but it would have been rendered utterly meaningless if somewhere along the way, at some point during this 40+ year walk through Christianity’s spiritual wilderness, I had given up.
THE ONLY TIME I EVER CONSIDERED GIVING UP THIS MINISTRY, GOD PERFORMED A MIRACLE!
Fast forward from my second vision in the summer of 1974 to 1985. It was summer break and I had just completed my first year at Capitol Institute of Technology (I had a scholarship and stipend from The Migrant and Seasonal Farmworker’s Association of West Virginia, to study computers and telecommunications). While swimming my car was broken into and hundreds of dollars were stolen, including my briefcase. In my briefcase was my one and only copy of all my personal journals. This loss led to another important and miraculous divine intervention.
I had a long conversation with God that day. Those journals contained God’s direction for this ministry, so I had to wonder, where was God’s protection? I put everything on the line that day. I told God that if those journals were not returned to me, there would be no ministry. When I went to the police station to file a report they told me that no one’s ever gotten back their missing papers. But I left them my phone number and address anyway.
A month or more later, a box was delivered to my door and inside were all my journals, water damaged but readable. A note explained that one of the officers was hiking around a nearby lake when he noticed a briefcase on the edge of the lake with my papers inside, and remembering how important they were to me, he carefully dried them out. Also inside was a salvation comic. I immediately understood. God directed an officer who was also a fellow believer to my briefcase that day, so I would never again entertain a single doubt regarding this ministry.
MY FUGITIVE MIRACLES
Some of the greatest miracles of my life happened during my eleven years as a fugitive, so bear with me while we go back in time again, to the fall of 1969.
It is October and unbeknownst to me, my brother-in-law, Noel Winters, was busted by the police. They threatened to put my sister, Norma, in jail and take away their child if he didn’t cooperate (she was pregnant). Noel knew I was importing large quantities of LSD from California (hidden inside birthday candles), selling it to the larger street dealers. So he promised the cops he could help them setup a sting operation.
After I was busted and got out on bail I developed an elaborate plan, pretending to cooperate with fingering my supplier. On the night of my departure I took multiple buses to a prearranged meeting place, where Noel picked me up in his souped-up GTO. He drove me at extremely high speeds to the airport where I took a non-stop flight to San Francisco. There I hooked up with my first wife (from whom I was separated) and her new boyfriend and they drove me to the Canadian border. Under cover of darkness I made my way through the woods and they picked me upon the other side.
To say I was initially scared of my new life as a fugitive would be an understatement. A friend of my wife’s boyfriend allowed me to stay in his attic. For two weeks I didn’t go outside. I read about nearby Vancouver, checked out the help wanted ads and began developing a plan of action. I realized I needed to find an “under the table” job, so I asked for a “Georgia Strait” (a drug culture magazine).
Looking through the ads I felt this strong attraction to “Shum Organic Foods” so I decided to call and see if they needed any help. As soon as I finished asking for a job the guy I was speaking to said, “Is this Leroy Grey from Dundalk, Boy Scout troop 356?” I was taken aback for a few seconds and then said, “Yes”, whereupon the fellow on the other end said, “This is Al Baker!” I could hardly believe my “luck”. Al and I were two of the troops black sheep and always getting into some sort of trouble, often ditching troop meetings to pal around and have fun. Al was co-owner, so he gave me a job and a place to stay in their communal house, with his wife and child, and several other Shum employees.
There is a lot more to this story, including too many “coincidences” for all of them to be a coincidence: My non-stop flight to San Francisco that was forced to land in Colorado and surrounded by FBI cars; My near capture by immigration authorities and an RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police), when I bolted and ran while the cop was shouting “Stop or I’ll shoot”; And how I evaded a man-hunt with planes and dogs over the next few days, then made my way on a stolen rubber raft to a friend’s place on a nearby Island, nearly drowning in the process (the raft had a leak, I was paddling against the wind during a cold fall storm, and just as it was about to sink was rescued by the last fishing boat returning to port; the captain said I was lucky because engine trouble had delayed their return).
Paradoxically, it was those eleven years of experience as a fugitive that strengthened my psychological resolve once I was reborn by God’s Spirit, enabling me to disconnect from all the “normal” entanglements of this world, to see beyond those things we usually identify with “self”, and to dive with abandon into the mind of God.
I believe those unique circumstances of my life, more than my personality or intelligence, is why God chose me, because I’m absolutely certain I’m not more holy than others!
However, that doesn’t mean I should keep quiet about all the miracles God has done in my life. Those visions and dreams, my journey to heaven, my deliverance as a young man from the path of crime, and God’s life-saving intervention on numerous occasions, all of those things add up to irrefutable proof that God was watching over me, that God called me, ordained me, and delivered a prophetic Word as to what would come to pass. This is why I’ve learned to be exceptionally thankful.
I thank God for all the suffering I’ve had to endure over these past 40+ years, especially for the understanding that most of it was my own doing and could have been avoided with righteous choices.
I thank God for what I learned during my 11 years as a fugitive, for though it often forced me into living alone, it also gave me a deeper understanding of God and alerted me to the coming world-wide economic and natural disasters.
I thank God for the experience of starting a commune in the BC wilderness and for being lost in a virgin forest of 300 foot tall Douglas Firs, where I was able to witness things few humans have ever seen or heard: like the sound of an eagle’s wings as it returned to feed its baby eaglets; like walking upon a springy, moss covered mat of roots and moss that grew over top a spring-fed mountain meadow; or like when I laid down upon that same meadow-mat, to listen to the gurgling water underneath, and fell asleep because the Presence of God had removed all fear.
I thank God for the experience of being homeless, and my “Miracle car” that enabled me to have a place to live and a way to get to the migrant farm jobs in the area. Homelessness taught me how to overcome great adversity and helped me draw so much closer to God.
I thank God that the circumstances of my fugitive status forced me to cut all ties to blood relations for over a decade, allowing me to truly understand the greater value of our spiritual family.
I am thankful for the freedom of living in abject poverty, unencumbered by indebtedness to any man or any credit company.
And since there was no need to fix or maintain all those things everyone considers essential to modern living, my poverty gave me much more time to spend with God. You see, I lived for nearly a year without a job or money, in an abandoned farmhouse. I used the farmhouse root cellar to store what I could grow and forage during the summer and fall. There was no toilet or indoor plumbing, no electricity, no car, no shower, no TV, no radio, and no phone.
Of course, there was no way to see a doctor or receive comfort when I was sick, so I learned to improvise. Once, when I got an infection in a cut on my finger I remembered reading about the Indians using Balsam Fir sap for cuts; so I found the sap, heated it and poured it directly into my cut. It formed a natural bandage that lasted for days and when it fell off, the cut had completely healed. And when I wanted to store what everyone said couldn’t be stored, fresh berries, I used the old canning jars left behind, a 50/50 mixture of honey and water, a special method of sealing, and invented a way to store berries without cooking (I had no canning equipment anyway). And WOW, were they delicious!
I was also thankful for my weekly hikes into the town of Bear River, Nova Scotia, where I attended worship services and Bible studies at two different churches. It would take a half hour each way and in the fall and winter the return trip would be in total darkness on moonless nights. Having no flashlight or batteries and no money to buy them, I had to just put one foot in front of the other and keep walking on the gravel. I must admit I was fearful on two occasions, when I sensed there was an animal just off to the side of the road. Whether it was a bear or a mountain lion I don’t know… I simply prayed for God’s protection and kept walking.
Most people complain about trivial inconveniences because they’ve never experienced real deprivation. If we Christians want more of God’s blessings, we need to be more thankful. And if we want to experience miraculous divine interventions, we need to step out in faith and challenge God with bold prayers. For we know this to be absolutely true: “All things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).
But if we’ve not put aside the time with God, if we’ve failed to hone our listening skills through Christ-centered meditation, how can we truly know God’s purposes? And how can we step out in faith, with full assurance that what we’re asking is within God’s perfect will?
Looking back, I can see that each of those 25+ experiences of divine intervention prepared my heart and mind, making me more receptive to receiving the next miraculous message from God. Those who listen to hear and understand God’s Spirit-Word can’t help but become more driven and fearless, more willing to go anywhere or do anything for God!
MY THIRD VISION
A third, very important vision from God took place in Creston, British Columbia, Canada, a small fruit growing town near the US border, at the bottom of 80-mile long Kootenay Lake. God gifted me with two visions that day, as I walked down the snow covered rural road in front of my rented house. The moon was full and the snow crunched under my feet as I sought God’s input on what I should do now. My wife (ex-wife now) had taken up with another man and I would soon be kicked out of Canada (she was a landed immigrant and had sponsored me on our return to Canada, but was now withdrawing her sponsorship).
The first vision that cold January evening was like a fast-forward movie of my life, with God continually pausing the movie, saying, “I was there… and I was here”, reinforcing the fact that God is in our lives, trying to guide and protect us, long before we become Christians. This helped reinforce my understanding that some of the visions and impossible tasks I had received before I chose to accept Christ, were indeed given to me by God.
The second vision that moonlit evening happened just after the first. I saw computers and satellites networked around the world. They formed this giant web of interconnected communications that was being used to gather God’s people together. I felt God was telling me I needed to be part of this “web”, so I could use it in this ministry-business.
Keep in mind that this was January of 1984, ten years before the creation and public availability of the Internet and its World Wide Web!
I experienced a series of miracles after this vision, beginning with my decision to return to the States from Canada, in March 1984.
Here are a few highlights:
· I had only enough money for the trip to Baltimore, where my mom was going to help me start over, but on the way through West Virginia God told me to stop, to not return to Baltimore and to not seek financial assistance through welfare.
· I stopped in Keyser, WV at a Christian bookstore, where a woman came up to me and told me God spoke to her about helping me; later that evening at my motel room, her and her husband stopped by. Our conversation led to an introduction to her born-again friend, the director of the West Virginia Migrant and Seasonal Farmworker’s Association.
· The WV Migrant & Seasonal Farmworkers Association gave me a series of tests and I scored well, but their organization only helped train migrant workers for blue collar work, which I refused; I told them God had showed me my future, and it had to be computer related training.
· For the first time in its history, the WV Migrant & Seasonal Farmworkers Association provided one of their clients (me) a scholarship and small stipend to cover books and project materials.
That was a miracle in itself, but finding the school was another. With the assistance of their organization I visited a number of schools but discovered all of them only taught computer programming.
Finally, as it was near the start of the school year and I was getting desperate, I opened to the Yellow Pages computer schools section, said a prayer for guidance, closed my eyes and put my finger on the page. It landed on “Capitol Institute of Technology.” When I called I said, “I don’t know the exact name but I’m looking for a school that teaches computers and satellites.” The fellow replied, “It’s called Telecommunications and we’re the only school south of New York that teaches the subject.”
Twelve years later, in April, 1996, I opened for business as an Internet Access Provider (ISP) in the rural West Virginia town of Romney. With the help of two full-time employees I ran R.A.V.E.N. (Rural Appalachian Villages Electronic Network) as a profitable business for seven years, then sold to a competitor.
Ever since my vision of the Internet I felt I’ve been waiting for the technology to catch up, so I could finally bring together all the necessary tools to create permanent online and offline communities. At long last a single person can easily manage a complex membership and affiliate website, without the need to hire website developers to do all the customizations and coding. This has allowed us to start with a few hundred dollars instead of 10’s of 1000’s of dollars!
THE TURNING POINT
One of the most important decisions I ever made, in regards to fulfilling God’s mission to “Feed my sheep”, took place in the early fall of 1974, less than a year after my spiritual rebirth in Christ, and only 3 months after my heavenly ordination. I was auditing a Greek class at a divinity school in Nova Scotia and thinking of enrolling to become a pastoral leader. As I was praying about this, God spoke to me clearly. I was asked to abandon my idea of going back to school and allow God to teach me instead.
I stepped out in obedient faith, believing God would teach me, would show me how best to receive spiritual instruction and discern that it was indeed a word from God.
Knowing the Bible talked about the importance of meditation for communicating with God, I instinctively felt it might be part of God's teaching process. However, ever since November 1973, when I was reborn in Christ and gave my life in service to God, I had ceased my daily morning practice of meditation. That’s because the method I practiced at the time was rooted in eastern religions and New Age philosophy. I knew there must be a better way than the only form of Christian meditation I’d come across, one practiced by monks in the Catholic Church. All they did was repeat over and over the Jesus Prayer, which I was certain fit into the category of forbidden “vain repetitions”. So, for nearly 10 years I prayed about this continually, asking God to show me the best, most effective method of Christian meditation.
By the Spring of 1983 I had arrived at one of the lowest points in my life. I was homeless through no fault of my own (while I was 300 miles away working, my ex-wife began an affair with a guy who lived in a teepee next door to the farm we were caretaking; when I returned she called the cops and lied, telling them she feared I would take out my anger on her and the children).
I was saddened by the loss of my children. And I sorely missed the daily interaction I enjoyed the previous 7 years. But being homeless turned out to be a good thing. It forced me to turn to God like never before and led to my being able to receive God's answer regarding a new Christ-centered method of meditation. It's methods and name comes from two New Testament scriptures. I call it "Christ-Centered, Glory2Glory, Transforming Meditation™" (CC-G2G-TM™).
You can find out more by enrolling for free, but if you’re serious about learning CC-G2G-TM, the best way is to enroll as a monthly subscriber. That gives you your own private 3circles.org email address and an account on our #slack collaborative network. All new members receive our 12-part series detailing CC-G2G-TM and how to make it a part of your daily routine. I’ll also be hosting regular meditation training webinars, as well as in person seminars and retreats, all of which are free for paying RENEW-GATHER-BUILD™ members.
This “About Us” is already much longer than I intended, but I felt I should at least include those miraculous events that created and shaped this ministry. You can learn more by going to this link: http://3circles.org/journal/chronology-of-journal-events/ (this “Chronology of Events” section is a summary of my journal, which I tweeted in 140-character sections on Twitter for the better part of a year; please excuse the odd name, this was an experiment that didn’t take hold).
I would be totally remiss if I didn’t share something about my wife, Vonda, and the miracle of how we met and married. Our amazing story is pretty long, so I’m only going to touch on the highlights (you can read the entire romantic story here: http://3circles.net/testimony ; we call it our “Testimony” because everything in each of our lives is a testimony to God’s power).
I had a dream about meeting Vonda seven years before we met. The dream was so powerful I was sure it was prophetic, so wrote it down in detail and carried it in my heart. There were three things in the dream that needed to happen, so I would be sure she was the woman of my dream: first, she was much younger; second, there would be this intense spiritual energy, like what I experienced in the dream and both us would recognize it as a sign of God’s seal upon our relationship; and third, she would be pursued by another man at the same time, a man closer to her age, but she would choose me. When all three of those things were revealed I told her about the dream, but Vonda said she already knew I was the one!
Only one month before I met her online and three months before I moved to Tennessee to marry her, I had a second dream about marrying her. However, I didn’t even realize it till I arrived at my hotel. That’s when I saw this paper sticking out of my bag. When I read it I was amazed, for I woke and went back to sleep three times and each time I was asleep I had the same dream. God was telling me in the dream that I would be meeting my wife very soon!
There are many amazing details in our Testimony article but perhaps the most amazing thing is that both of us had to listen to God and obey God’s leading in order for us to meet. I had given up on dating sites, even the Christian ones, because so many lie about those things that would make them look bad. Both men and women do this. But I got an invite from Christian Café to come back for a free month of access, so I did. And then I felt led to do something I had never done: I looked at women’s profiles that didn’t have a picture (which included Vonda!). Unbeknownst to me, just a few days before I found her, Vonda was going to put a picture on her profile. But she says she felt led to not attach her photo and didn’t.
As you'll learn from our testimony article, Vonda is disabled. I was blown away by what Vonda wrote, but having no experience with anyone who was disabled I thought we would just be friends. However, as we wrote and talked to one another over those 8-9 weeks before I moved to Tennessee we fell in love and discovered it was a fulfilment of God’s prophetic dream.
Vonda is unable to walk without canes or a rolling walker and has difficulty speaking (but not if she’s reading a book out loud to others!). Her disability was caused by a viral infection that resulted in the swelling of her brain and a two-month long coma. The doctors told her she'd never walk or talk again, but of course they didn't know just how determined a woman she is!
After her illness caused her former husband to abandon her, Vonda’s mom took her in and cared for her. During those 6 or 7 years with her mom, prior to my meeting her online, Vonda came to a saving knowledge of Christ through a Christian book given to her by a friend. Vonda and I met online a few years after that, which was 7 years after her viral infection.
After I arrived to marry Vonda I discovered her family had power of attorney and Vonda’s life was not entirely her own. Her mother was especially skeptical, believing that I might have other motives besides love, so God had to work quite a few more miracles before we received her family’s blessing. When I first arrived both her mom and dad believed I must be some sort of nut for burning all my bridges behind me and arriving on their doorstep as a total stranger proclaiming God wanted us to marry! But it all worked out, and as of this past January (2016) we've been happily married for eleven years.
You should know that Vonda, like me, was the adventurous black sheep of her family. She dressed, thought and acted differently and that is one of the bonds of commonality we share. Before her brain injury and coma Vonda had earned her Master's Degree in Family Counseling and was working for the State of Texas in Austin. She still retains her knowledge and skills but because of her speech impairment was unable to continue her practice. However, during email communications with one of our computer friends she was asked to counsel the couple, which led to the discovery that she’s more than capable of continuing her practice via emails, texting and other online collaborative methods. So, as our online church community grows and the need arises, she looks forward to helping couples who request her counseling help.
VONDA’S STORY IN HER OWN WORDS
I was 28 and a psychologist in Austin, TX and was about to open my own private practice. I had been married for almost a year and things were great. I was very happy and things in my life were going exactly as I had planned.
Then one day after a work vacation in Corpus Christi, TX I started to not feel well. As usual I thought I could just sleep it off. I don't remember what happened next or over the next 3 months. Apparently my ex-husband took me to the hospital after a few days of laying on the couch. When my mother came to visit me in the hospital I didn't even recognize her. Three days later I went into a 2-month long coma.
When I came out of my coma I was in intensive care and was in and out of consciousness the whole time. I was in there for I don't know how long, but it seemed like a month. I had some type of bandages wrapped all around my neck and my stomach and half of my hair was gone (which I didn't discover for a while; it was the result of brain surgery). I was told that something had bitten me while I was hiking, which I had previously loved to do. Bug bites can cause viral infections that go to the brain.
After intensive care, I got moved into my own room. There I couldn't talk or move most of my body. That's where physical therapy came into my life (which I hated). I remember them getting me up for the first time. When they finally got me standing in a contraption, Mom said I passed out, from being in a horizontal position for the last 3 months.
I remember not being able to do anything. I eventually learned to feed myself. That is when I discovered that my left side of my body was not responding to my brain telling it what to do. I don't know how long I was in the hospital, several months at least.
I finally was moved to a rehabilitation hospital. I was in a wheelchair and I couldn't talk and my body was in this terrible state. And then I continued with physical therapy. I was all alone for this phase of my treatment (and I was all alone during the intensive care phase too).
I learned how to use my voice and talk somewhat. I had casts put on my left leg to bring it up to the front equal with my other leg (because it was bowed under my wheelchair and I had to drag it).
The worst thing about being in this physical therapy hospital was that once I got up in the morning I had to stay in my chair the rest of the day. There were breaks in the therapy but my rear end hurt so badly due to not being able to lay down for a little while, I knew I had to do something. So after several months I just couldn't take it anymore and I quit.
The rehabilitation experts couldn't have known what was going on because I couldn't talk. So they sent me to a nursing home. I finally was getting the rest that I needed. There I learned how to roll my wheelchair and my left arm was straightened out (it had been up against my chest since my coma). I was in the nursing home for about 6 months.
I had therapists come in and try to straighten out my legs which were permanently in a bent state. They made great progress but they were still not totally straight. My ex-husband got to come every day for an hour during his lunch break. Other than that I was alone there too, and still throwing up regularly (which happened the better part of my first year of sickness).
My Dad and his wife Carol came down from Tennessee as did my Mother; both came every once in a while. After about 6 months they told me I could go back home to Austin. Yipee! I hadn't seen home in over a year, or at least I think it had been that long.
My Dad had to come to build a ramp for me. He did, and I was finally home! My ex-husband had to still work so he hired someone to sit with me. I just sat for a few weeks until I started therapy again at the same hospital I had been at earlier. I was at this hospital doing physical therapy and getting stronger. That's when the doctors recommended I get a screening for a Baclofen pump (to stop muscle spasms). I was approved, although it didn't work. I had the surgery and had to stay in the hospital several more weeks. It was then that my ex-husband came in one day and said he wanted a divorce. This crushed me. Just when I thought my life couldn't get any worse, it did.
My Mom and my Aunt Marie came to get me and take me back to Tennessee. I was glad to get out of the hospital and say goodbye to all of that disappointment.
We flew home and a good deal of my family met me at the airport. I was finally around people who loved me again. Living in my Mom's home was different. My mom still worked, so my cousin stayed with me during the day. I couldn't go up the stairs, so I stayed on the bottom floor. I couldn’t get in the shower so Mom washed my hair and body while I was in bed.
I started therapy again in Shelbyville. I learned to walk on a walker, to ride a stationary bike, and to dress myself (somewhat). Slowly I was getting stronger. My cousin also did therapy with me at home.
Mom's house was just too small and very inconvenient for us. So Mom started looking for another house for us. She found one, and my Uncle had to build me my room, which had my own bathroom in it., but it was still attached to the rest of the house. I finally felt some measure of independence. I was 32 now.
Mom was still working. I had a new sitter and a new therapy. I think I learned to walk on canes there. I don't remember exactly where I learned these things but this is what I could do now: I could sit up in my wheelchair now without anything to hold me in; my arms were much stronger now; I could dress myself (mostly) and my legs were slowly catching up.
I had to go to Vanderbilt hospital for the in house therapy twice. I just remember that they would try to stretch out my legs. This hurt a tremendous amount. When this didn’t work well they cut ligaments behind my ankles and knees. Later the doctors at Vanderbilt put full-length leg casts on. This stretched out my legs little by little (they had to do this three or four times till they were straight). This too was painful and I had many surgeries during these years.
Mom started a group for brain injured adults. I don't remember this but apparently I was still in a wheelchair when the group started. We met once a week.
I was now at Tullahoma therapy. I learned how to walk on my canes there. Eventually I learned to take care of much of my day to day activities so I no longer needed a full-time sitter. I was now 38 and wanted so badly to have a normal life.
I started praying to God whom I had previously dismissed. How could God take such a happy young women and put her through all the things I had been put through. I was reading a book about a woman who was on a plane and terrorists took over the plane and after traumatic brain injury she pretended to be dead so they wouldn't kill her.
I don't remember much about the story, just about how God came into her life and I thought I needed that as well, so I accepted God and Christ into my life for the second time. I had accepted them into my life when I was 12 years old. I had strayed from God and Christ ever since college. Now I accepted them into my life for good. I started going to church with my Mother and I stopped watching certain TV shows.
In October, 2004, my Mom gave me some money for my birthday and I joined Christian Café, an online dating site. I had been praying to God and Jesus to please bring me a husband. I wanted so badly to be somewhat normal. I decided to look for a husband on Christian Café, and that’s where I met Leroy. I got a surprising number of guys who would communicate with me, seeing as though I didn't have a picture up. Leroy shared with me what God had planned out for his life and I was hooked. Leroy and I communicated every day! We fell in love and I couldn't wait for him to come down and marry me. God had answered my prayers!
That December he came! Suddenly Mom turned evil she was so against Leroy coming down here in person and wanting to marry me. She had Leroy go and talk to a lawyer and private investigator who happened to know Mom and he couldn't stop saying nice things about him. So on January 15th, 2005 we got married in a private ceremony. We actually got married legally at the court house on January 13th, without mom knowing. We had our wedding at the house we just moved into, with friends and family. Mom didn't believe that we actually got married so she went to the court house to check.
Since then we have remained very happy (11 years). Mom has come around as well. She tolerates Leroy. I can now walk on two canes with no problems (but slowly). I am very strong in my arms, and my legs. I still can't talk clearly but I enjoy life!