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Creating from a Blank Canvas for a Bright Future

“It takes every layer to make the painting what I need it to be at the end. And by the end, every layer has done what it needs to do to make it the final piece.” Marcy Gregg is an accomplished abstract artist with works in galleries and private collections across the United States. It is a passion she rediscovered later - in a life that was almost cut short.

After giving birth to her third child at the age of thirty Marcy contracted a form of meningitis and fell into a coma. Her husband, Dev, says he nearly lost her, “I look in there and she’s got ten tubes hooked to her, she’s intubated and completely out, and the doctors literally came to me and said, ‘She’s probably not going to make it. We don’t see many patients that are – is this severe, you know, live.’”

She lay in a coma for an entire week with little hope for her survival. Then, miraculously after prayers from her pastor, Marcy woke up, confused, disoriented, and without any memories past the age of 17. Dev tried to comfort his wife, unaware of her mental state. Marcy says, “He sat down beside me and he talked to me as if I should know who he was, and I thought he was a doctor. But then he, he reached down to kiss me, and I thought, ‘Okay, wait. When did doctors start kissing their patients?’ And he said that he was my husband and that we had had a child together. And I didn’t remember any of this. So I was completely confused; what was going on?”

Marcy had no memories of the last 13 years of her life. Soon after, she was reunited with her children. She says, “I had no memory of having them at all. And when they came to the room and they brought them in and they jumped on the bed and they put the baby girl in my arms, I literally knew that they were mine. And I felt like that was God’s gift to me, that I knew they were mine.”

Desperate to be released from the hospital, Marcy hid her amnesia. She soon returned to a home and a life she didn’t remember. “Being inauthentic was the hardest part. I felt very inauthentic. And it was very – and it was hard. Everything I was doing was hard because I was – I was lying to everybody,” she says.

Marcy is a Christian and prayed earnestly for her memories to return. When they didn’t, she secretly began drinking alcohol to cover her frustration. “I would drink quietly, secretly, and then the next morning I would get up and I would have – I would open my Bible and I would pray and ask God to forgive me… There was this guilt, but I was so addicted to the alcohol that I drank anyway… I wanted to stop feeling what I was feeling, the pressure. I drank to forget what I couldn’t remember,” she recalls.

She struggled to keep her memory loss and addiction a secret for years. Then one night she saw her life and family with a new perspective. “I looked in there and there Dev was, and he had Cally in his arms, and the boys were all over the furniture, just everywhere. And God said to me at that moment, straight to my heart, as clear as I’ve ever heard him, ‘That is what I saved you, for the future, not the past. And as much as that father loves his children, I love you more. And just as that father’s holding his daughter, I’m holding you and I will never let you fall, but you’ve got to trust me.’”

She remembers, “And I fell to my knees and I literally, at that – point in my life surrendered my life because at that point I realized I wanted God’s will for my life more than I wanted anything else. I wanted His plan for me, without my memories, more than I wanted my plan with my memories, and I chose to trust Him with all of it.”

Marcy came clean before God and her husband. She was set free from alcohol addiction as she put her life in God’s hands. Her memories have not returned, however her passion for painting was reborn and has grown into a successful career - with the word of God at its foundation. “So I take scripture from usually a verse I’m studying that morning. I will take it to the studio and I will paint it across the blank canvas. And that becomes the foundation for the piece and it is also the inspiration for the title.”

In her book, Blank Canvas, she tells her amazing story and the process of learning to trust God with each layer of challenge and grace she faces in her life. She says, “And one day I was putting a final layer on and God literally just impressed on my heart, “God is the master artist and we are His canvas. We’re His masterpiece. Every layer in my life is important to make me who I am, and if we are His masterpiece and you’re in a bad layer, you’re in a bad place, He’s not finished. And I am convinced and I’m confident that He is going to finish the work He’s begun so there’s no accidents and there’s no mistakes.”


The Unfolding of a Miracle Brings Mom Home

The emergency C-section had gone well for Zach Carver’s third child, who was now resting in the neonatal intensive care unit. Zach says, “They walked in and said, 'It’s a boy, and he is doing fine.'” His wife, Autumn, however, was in ICU, fighting for her life. 

Zach remembers the chilling words about Autumn’s condition, "I was told that she had zero percent chance of survival. I mean, it was the worst day of my life.”

Autumn was 8 months pregnant when she and Zach contracted Covid-19 in mid-August, 2021. Zach recovered quickly. Autumn did not. By late August she was in ICU on a ventilator with Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome and having an emergency C-section to save the life of the baby. Then, she was put on advanced life support called ECMO.

“I’ve been with Autumn since I was 14 years old. I don’t know life without her, and so they are telling me she is not going to survive. It was terrible,” said Zach.

In the coming weeks, Autumn remained in critical condition. All Zach could do was pray and ask God for a miracle. “I would sit with her and pray, and pray over her. It was just overwhelming, and so I would go walk the halls, or sit in the waiting room. I was begging Him to keep her alive, to let her beat the odds, I need her, the kids need her." By this time, Zach had posted a prayer request on Facebook that ignited a wildfire on social media. “Literally all over the world just millions of people all over the world were just praying for us.”

Despite the dire prognosis, Zach took a firm stand in faith for his wife. “I told them I am not leaving here without Autumn. I prayed all the time. Every second. I can’t explain it, I just knew she was going to survive.”

During the day, Zach maintained a vigil at Autumn’s side.  At night, he visited his two daughters and baby son Huxley, who were staying with their grandparents. Then, he returned to an empty dark house. “It was super sad. I would come in, get some food, and go right to bed. I hated being there.”

With the arrival of fall, came more complications for the young mother and wife: multiple infections, anemia, and she even went into cardiac arrest and had to be revived. Doctors had few answers and considered a double lung transplant but dismissed the idea. Instead, they suggested that Autumn be taken off life support and allowed to die peacefully with a “Do Not Resuscitate” order in place. Zach declined, refusing to give up.

“The main doctor said there was a zero per cent chance that she would survive. I remember going off on my own that afternoon somewhere in the hospital. I had been praying. I just knew that she wasn’t going to die.”  

Zach and millions on Facebook continued to pray as Zach began searching for a second opinion. In early October there was one hopeful moment. Autumn’s vital signs improved slightly, and doctors agreed to Zach’s request that she be taken out of sedation and off of the ECMO machine long enough for her to see and hold Huxley for the first, and perhaps, the last time.

Autumn cries when she remembers that happy day, “I obviously had very little strength to hold myself up, so they got me all propped up with lots of pillows. They brought him in and put him in my arms. Zach was helping me, and we got to feed him a bottle. Then, they took him and laid him to my side, and he just curled up and went to sleep.”

The reunion was short lived as Autumn was put back on ECMO. Then, another answer to prayer. Renowned thoracic surgeon, Dr. Ankit Bharat at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago agreed to evaluate Autumn for a double lung transplant. “We got transferred up to Chicago," Zach says, "and that doctor, day two, said, 'Whether you need a lung transplant or not, you are going to be fine.'”

Although still on life support, Autumn was only lightly sedated. Now she and Zach could pray together as they waited for Dr. Bharat’s decision. Before long, he gave them the best news they could have hoped for. 

Zach smiles broadly as he says, “He came in and said, 'You don’t need a lung transplant, you are going to be fine.' It was super good news, super, super good news, we embraced in a hug and thanked God and the doctor.”

Autumn was weaned slowly from the ECMO machine and continued to improve. On November 11, three months after being given no hope of survival, Autumn was discharged from Northwestern Memorial Hospital to begin three weeks of rehabilitation. On Dec 1, 2021, Autumn walked out of the hospital, smiling and unassisted.

“We pulled into the driveway, our neighbors were in our yard yelling and screaming. I am trying not to cry," Zach says, wiping away tears. “It was just emotional.”

Autumn tries to describe her homecoming, “It was a whole host of emotions, it was happy, just the opportunity to see my kids grow, to spend time with my husband. Every day is a gift.” Autumn says she will never forget what her daughter said that day, “I believe in miracles, mommy."

The neighborhood is quiet today, Autumn is busy providing her family with all the TLC they missed and more. But life in the Carver family will never be the same.

Autumn wants to encourage others when she says, “Tell people you love them, give lots of hugs. It can just all change so quickly. You don’t want to leave anything left unsaid."

Zach reflects, “I’m closer with my family. I say prayers with my kids every night, I didn’t do that before. I am super grateful and I don’t go throughout the day without saying multiple prayers. Prayer saved my wife, and not only did it save her life, it changed my life.”

Autumn adds, “Prayer is so important. It’s everything. It saved my life. When people are flooding the gates of heaven, there is no way it will be ignored.”


Blessings Built by God

Todd Dunston always knew he wanted to be a builder. He eventually started his own carpentry business and did well.   Meanwhile, one of his sons started going through some difficulties.  As a single father, Todd had a tough choice to make.  

He shares, “I decided to quit my business for a while and work for someone else just so that I could spend a little more time with him.  There’s something about family that is more important that you will sacrifice and go through anything for your family.”

His new position provided a decent salary for a while, and then his pay was cut in half.

“I used up uh the little savings I had. I did take some side jobs,” he recalls. “It didn't add up though to quite enough, and I kept getting more in a bind with my bills.”

He cut corners to try to make ends meet.  

Todd confesses, “All of a sudden, my good intentions of spending time with my son began to be serious.”  He continues with a smile, “I learned how to make COR casserole: Clean Out Refrigerator.”  

At one point, he had to go to a food bank for help.  He also fell several months behind with his mortgage.

He reveals, “It's a gut punch when you get a letter- you could lose a house that you worked very hard for.”

As a Christian, Todd had tithed for years. Even during these lean times, he continued to give to God.

Todd explains, “Because I was a giver, I had a little more confidence that God was going to take care of things for me. I had nowhere to turn but to the Lord, and that was also my desire is to see God move on my behalf.”

Then, one Sunday at church he remembers, “The pastor read the verse before the offering and God started speaking to me immediately.   And He said, ‘Todd, I've seen your need, and I've taken care of it.’ And I got home, the moment I shut the door, I mean click, my phone rings.”

The call was from a former contractor of his who wanted to hire him for some big projects.  Todd accepted and then asked if he could get a cash advance even before the work began.

“And he did not hesitate.  The next day, there was $4,000 in my bank account. Hallelujah!” he says with a chuckle.

The advance allowed him to catch up on his mortgage and his bills, and that was only the beginning.  He continued to work with that client for several years, during which time his income substantially increased.  Best of all, by this point, things had improved with his son.  

“I believe it was beneficial for him,” Todd shares.  “I began to see a change in him.  He’s holding down a job.  He actually has a small business himself in another state.”  

Todd is once again an independent contractor.  And having struggled himself, he now likes helping others as a CBN partner.

“I like how they go to different parts of the country and different parts of the world, and they're there to lend a hand and to help people in their faith when they're in trouble,” he explains.

Today Todd’s income has quadrupled, and he and his family are doing better than ever.  He encourages others who need a miracle to give, just like he does.

“We all have a part in building God's kingdom,” he says.  “I would challenge others to support the work at CBN. He sees it, He doesn't forget it.”  Todd concludes, “If you're in a difficult situation right now, whatever the problem is, you can trust God with giving. God is going to come through for you.”


Pastor Has His Own Lazarus Story

Mark Morrow, a pastor, just knocked out a time on the treadmill better than any he had since high school. Even though he was a day away from turning 58, he was in the best shape of his life. And then at 5:15 am, he was dead. Victim of a massive heart attack. Those at the gym performed emergency CPR as they waited for paramedics. First Responders found Mark completely lifeless.

“He was completely gone at that point,” said Landon Morrow, Mark’s son. “There’s a paramedic straddling over top of him, slamming on his chest, trying to get some sort of response.”

The EMTs had to shock Mark’s chest six times before they got a pulse. While trying to jumpstart his heart, they scorched his chest. But while they were able to resuscitate Mark, they weren’t able to intubate him. For 33 minutes, both on the floor and in the ambulance, Mark was without oxygen. He flatlined, twice, on the way to the hospital.

“There was no life in his body at that point,” said Landon. “And that was probably the hardest sight to see through the whole experience.”

The ICU staff revived Mark and placed him on a ventilator. But there was only so much they could do, so they airlifted him to a Level Two Trauma Center twenty miles away. 

“We were thinking this could be the last time we see our dad,” said Landon.

Landon and his mother, Pam Morrow, followed behind in their car. Shell-shocked, they prayed for Mark’s healing. “The prayer at that point was just a prayer of desperation,” said Pam. “God spare him. Save his life. Don’t let this be the end.”

Mark was placed in a medically induced coma. Doctors told his family that he might not wake up. Even if he did, the time spent without oxygen made it likely that Mark would suffer significant brain damage.

“That was a very hard conversation,” said Landon. “I appreciate that doctor telling us the truth, but it was hard to hear that.”

Landon and his family kept crying out to God on Mark’s behalf. The following morning – Mark’s birthday – Pam says she felt the Holy Spirit speaking to her.

“The Holy Spirit said, ‘Just stand,’” Pam said. “And I knew that I could stand on who He was: He was the healer. He was in control.”

“And from that point on, we were going to believe that God was going to heal my dad,” said Landon. “We were going to believe that God was going to bring him back to us. Everything was going to be okay.”

Outside the hospital, members of Mark’s church gathered for a time of praise and worship. Other congregants hosted prayer meetings in their homes. “Seeing the faith of the people of our church and the people of the community was such a comfort to us,” said Landon. “It encouraged us and it caused our faith to rise up.”

The prayers continued throughout the week. Then, at about 72 hours after the initial heart attack, the doctor called Mark’s name. To everyone’s surprise, he opened his eyes.

“It was kind of like a Lazarus Moment,” said Pam. “I knew at that moment he was going to be raised up.”

A few days later, Mark was awake and alert. When Pam told him what had happened. Mark scrawled out, “God must not be finished with me yet.” 
That morning, he was up and able to watch church online. That day, the doctor told him the unbelievable news. Mark had no signs of brain damage or any sort of residual damage to his heart. In fact, they expected a full recovery.

“It could only have happened by the healing touch of our Great Healer,” said Pam.

Not even ten days after he dropped dead, Mark was cleared to go home.
 “Right before he was released, the ICU doctor looked at my dad in the eyes and said, ‘You are a miracle,'” said Landon.

Just a few weeks later, against all odds, Mark returned to the pulpit. “I know Jesus healed me,” said Mark. “He touched me.”

Since then, Mark’s church has hosted Encounter Nights where he and his staff pray for healing. “Everyone wants to know the story,” said Mark. “You’re the ‘Miracle Man.’ If he can heal you, I’m sure he can heal someone else that we know. And so we pray for them and lay hands on them and see them healed.

These days, Mark is thankful to be back with his family and his church. He’s even back in the gym. He’s since completed the work to get his doctorate. And he’s grateful for God giving him the second chance. “God is not finished with me yet,” he said.

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