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"Miracles from Heaven" Mother Shares Her Story

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Author, Miracles from Heaven, (Hatchette Books, 2015)

Graduated from Hardin Simmons University with a degree in Education

Married to Kevin

Mom to three daughters: Abigail, Annabel, and Adelynn

A CHRONIC DIAGNOSIS

When Christy and Kevin settled down to start a family they prayed for the usual things like healthy children and a peaceful home. They built a house on thirty acres in Texas and planned for a happy life, but things began to change when their second daughter Annabel, who was born in 2002, began having “tummy troubles” around the age of four. In 2008, Annabel, then 6, had emergency surgery because her intestines were 100% obstructed. A few days later, Annabel was fully obstructed again requiring another surgery. A year later, Annabel received the devastating diagnosis of pseudo-obstruction motility disorder (when things don’t move normally from point A to point B in the intestines often causing flare-ups that are similar to an intestinal obstruction). Then at eight she was diagnosed with another disorder called antral hypo motility (weak contractions in the top of the stomach). Quality of life is difficult to maintain for children with these chronic and life threatening disorders. “We were desperate for anything to ease Anna’s pain and make it possible for her to lead some semblance of a normal life,” shares Christy. By 2011, their life revolved around hospital emergency rooms and rare disease specialists. They started seeing a world leading expert on the disorder at the Boston Children’s Hospital where her doctor was able to prescribe a drug that had been officially taken off the market because of possible damage to the heart and liver.

Through the years, friends and family stepped in to help at a moment’s notice when Christy and Kevin had to travel to Boston with Annabel. One time when Annabel was admitted to the hospital Christy recalls Annabel’s desperate words, “Mommy…I just want to die and go to Heaven and be with Jesus where there’s no pain.” Christy begged God to give Annabel strength to continue her fight. An unexpected visit to the hospital by her dad and sisters cheered Annabel up and she was soon released although she was still weak and pale. Her stomach was still distended and she was still asking for pain meds when she came home from the hospital.  

THE COTTONWOOD TREE

On December 30, 2011, Annabel was still weak from her last visit to the hospital but Christy was pleased when she decided to go outside and play with her sisters.

“Seeing one’s kid dash out the door to play might not seem like a miracle to everybody, but it was a miracle for me,” shares Christy. Abigail and Annabel had climbed high in a cottonwood when they heard the dry branch groan beneath them. Abigail, the oldest, tried to direct Annabel to safety by having her move closer to the tree trunk. As Annabel stepped on the edge of the tree trunk it crumbled beneath her feet sending her head first thirty feet below into complete darkness of the hollowed out tree. Abigail made her way back across the distressed branch and began calling for Annabel. When she heard nothing she dropped a headlamp into the dark cavity of the tree. Panic began to set in as she realized the depth of the tree trunk. Christy was doing laundry when Abigail came screaming up the driveway.

As the mother of three farm-raised tomboys, one of whom was afflicted with a chronic life threatening health issue, Christy had learned to ration her panic. She learned to access the situation calmly before clicking into crisis mode. Abigail shouted, “Anna’s stuck in the tree. She’s in the tree.” However, it wasn’t until Christy came outside and saw the gaping hole thirty feet up that she began to comprehend what had happened. She called her husband, Kevin, at the veterinary clinic where he worked. Ten minutes later he arrived at their house and climbed up the tree to access the situation. He had envisioned climbing up a few branches, reaching four or five feet into a depression and helping Annabel down from the tree. He soon realized the severity of the situation when he caught a glimpse of Annabel lying motionless in the dirt at the bottom of the tree truck. As they waited for the response teams to arrive Kevin, kept calling out to Annabel. During that time she raised one limp hand up from the dirt and set it down. Both Christy and Kevin were thankful she was alive, but aware that her walking away without serious injury was very slim. When the response teams arrived, a firefighter climbed the ladder and began to call out to Annabel. The response team and Kevin worked feverishly to fashion a harness with a pulley system that could be used to lift Annabel up 30 feet and out of the tree. Two hours later, when the harness was lowered to her she was instructed how to get in the harness so she could be rescued. After she was slowly lifted out of the tree truck, she was air lifted to the hospital. She went through a barrage of tests and exams to access the damage, but the ER doc reported that other than some superficial bumps and bruises Annabel didn’t appear to be injured at all.

HEAVENLY ENCOUNTER

In the days that followed, Annabel began to reveal a few details about her experience while trapped inside the tree. She told her mom she went to Heaven, “It kind of was like I was taken to another place…and then I was brought back to the inside of the tree.” Although they were church-going people, Christy and Kevin did not know how to respond at first. Annabel shared how she sat on Jesus’ lap, what He looked like and how she had seen the gates of Heaven. “Mommy, the gates of Heaven really are made of gold, and they really are big and bright.”

Annabel told her experience without drama and the details of her story have never changed. While in Heaven, she saw her grandmother, Mimi, and a sister who died before she was born. “Everything she said was in keeping with the beliefs we held – the Christian faith in which Annabel and her sisters were raised,” shares Christy.

Although Annabel wanted to stay with Jesus He told her, “It’s time for you to go, Annabel. The firemen are going to get you out, and when they do…Annabel, there will be nothing wrong with you. My Holy Spirit will be with you. Don’t be afraid. I’m sending my guardian angel to be with you.”  She said Jesus sent an angel so she could see inside the tree, “And that’s how I was able to grab the rope. The only way I could get ahold of it was because my guardian angel shined her light on it.”

Christy recalls, “Three years have passed since our world changed. I used to say since Anna fell and later I started saying since Anna was healed, but now even that has receded into a world of miracles, large and small, as countless as the stars – far more than any of us will ever know.” At first, the idea that Annabel was truly and completely healed was too dangerous to even contemplate. Christy and Kevin were afraid they would jinx it or something by even talking about it, but gradually Annabel’s transformation was undeniable. Her tummy was now flat and no longer distended. Her body no longer needed many of the medications she had been on for years. She was keeping up with her schoolwork, running and playing with her sisters. The first time Annabel ate pizza with her sisters after she was taken off one of her major medications was a time of celebration.

Today Annabel is a happy, healthy thirteen year old who wants to be a child life specialist when she grows up. She is no longer on any medication. Christy is thankful for God’s faithfulness. “We loved it when doctors and nurses, teachers, pastors, and friends who’d known her all her life would come up to us and say, “We can’t believe she’s the same little girl.”

“MIRACLES FROM HEAVEN”  - MOVIE OPENS WEDNESDAY, MARCH 16

When Christy discovers her 10-year-old daughter Anna (Kylie Rogers) has a rare, incurable disease, she becomes a ferocious advocate for her daughter’s healing as she searches for a solution. After Anna has a freak accident, an extraordinary miracle unfolds in the wake of her dramatic rescue that leaves medical specialists mystified, her family’s faith restored and their community inspired.  The movie was based on Christy’s memoir of the same name. “We were very pleased with the movie,” shares Christy. “At times it was difficult to watch certain scenes from the movie because the wounds were still very painful.”  The cast includes:  Jennifer Garner (Christy Beam), Kylie Rogers (Anna Beam), Martin Henderson (Kevin Beam), Queen Latifah (Angela Bradford), John Carroll Lynch (Pastor Scott), and Eugenio Derbez (Dr. Nurko). It is directed by Patricia Riggen and produced by Joe Roth, T.D. Jakes and DeVon Franklin.

Guest Name / Person Interviewed or Featured in Article or Video: 
Christy Wilson Beam
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