Christy Beam was just a regular wife and mother of three in the Dallas-area suburb of Burleson, Texas, when she learned that her young daughter Annabel was diagnosed with a rare and incurable digestive disorder. It seemed Annabel would never have a chance at a normal life, but on a rare day in which she was able to play outside with her sisters, she fell three stories headfirst into an old, hollowed-out tree and managed to survive without a scratch.
During the five hours she was awaiting rescue, the unconscious Annabel visited Heaven, and while being checked in a hospital afterward, she was found to have been cured of her chronic illness. That amazing turn of events inspired Christy to write her incredible story in book form, with the intention of it just being a personally therapeutic process.
But God wasn’t through with her yet, as her memoir, “Miracles from Heaven: A Little Girl and Her Amazing Story of Healing,” not only got published but became a national best-seller. And its immensely popular reaction has now led to Christy’s story coming to the big screen today through Sony, with Jennifer Garner playing her in the new movie “Miracles from Heaven.”
“Miracles” is a moving and well-made film, with Garner bringing it greater star power and critical acclaim than most recent faith-based movies. I highly recommend it as great Easter season viewing and it’s definitely Dateworthy.
Beam took time to discuss her remarkable journey, detailing what it’s like for a Southern wife and mom to find her life depicted on the big screen with Jennifer Garner playing herself. It’s been a strange and wonderful ride, but one whose impact is likely only beginning to be felt.
Q: It’s kind of perfect timing, having this movie released on March 16, aka 3/16, isn’t it?
Beam: Sure, but they picked it for an Easter season release because the story is such a story of hope and new life.
Q: What’s it like seeing your life up on the big screen?
Beam: It’s pretty crazy, the word ‘surreal’ keeps getting thrown around. I’m just in awe that our story is being shared to help people.
Q: So is the movie accurate to your story? Did it do a good job in adapting your book?
Beam: They did take dramatic license. The book I wrote is the chronicle of everything we’ve endured, everything poured out on the pages. The movie follows it pretty well, except for example, Annabel was really sick for 4 ½ years, but the movie makes her sick about nine months to a year so you can understand time lapses. Where they are different, the book picks up where they’re lacking, but they complement each other really well. People who love the book are going to have a really amazing movie experience.
Q: Could you explain your story to those who are unfamiliar with it?
Beam: Annabel was very sick, and she started getting sick at the age of 4. She had two major abdominal surgeries, she had obstructed completely and we almost lost her. They finally, after many many tests, diagnosed her with an incurable digestive disorder, pseudo-obstruction motility disorder. It’s not a disorder you ever get better from. You either get sicker or get fed by PRN nutrition, having it fed to your body bypassing your intestines. It was a very hard life, with 10 medications a day taken several times a day and sitting on the sofa in a fetal position with a heating pad on her stomach all day.
We went to an expert doctor in Boston, because it was rough, really rough. Then one day she fell 30 feet within a tree on our property and was entombed in that tree for about five hours in the base of a hollowed out cottonwood tree. And when she was examined in the hospital afterwards, they said she was cured.
Q: What inspired you to put your life in a book? Did you intend this to reach tons of people?
Beam: It’s so amazing, but I thought the whole purpose I wrote the book was cathartic. I felt God told me to do it because I needed healing and needed all this to come out, and then put it in a well-wrapped box with a bow and forget about it. But He had so much greater a plan and brought in brilliant people who made it go above and beyond, like my literary agent, and producer Devon Franklin for the movie, and it was really all just a part of a bigger plan.
Q: Was your own faith was shaken, and then strengthened, by all of this?
Beam: I just had a lot of support. Kevin my husband is such a rock, and has a solid foundation in his faith. Plus I had his parents and my parents. Anytime I began to get frustrated, overwhelmed asking God where He is, they were right there to refer me back to His Word. And I had strong friends whom had me read the book of Job while Annabel was going through this. God purposely surrounded me with friends and family to help me when I was struggling. They gave me the strength I needed. They were the miracle I needed to make it through that difficult time, and we encourage you to be that person for other people.
Q: Is there a particular cause you’re associated with now that people can help?
Beam: We’re going to go to Boston this weekend for a screening to raise funds for the Annabel Research and Care Fund for Pseudo-Obstruction Motility Disorder. We encourage people to give to that and learn about it because there’s so much to learn in order to try and cure this disorder.
Q: Ultimately, what do you hope people take away from “Miracles from Heaven”?
Beam: It’s such an encouragement because everybody has struggles, everybody has challenges, and if you don’t have one now, you better buckle up because you’re going to go through one. People can go through challenges with faith, or without, and I’d much rather go through a challenge with faith than without it. This is a story we hope inspires people and challenges them to keep trying, keep fighting through their own struggles because ultimately there’s a bigger purpose.
“Miracles from Heaven” opens in theaters nationwide March 16th.