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Swallowed by a Tree and Fighting to Survive

“She was hysterical. And she was tugging me and screaming, just ‘mommy, Annabel's stuck in a tree.’ I thought, you know, ‘she's climbed too high. O:K, O:K,  I’m coming. I’m coming.’ She just kept saying, ‘No, mommy you don't understand. Come now, come now.’"

It wasn’t until Christy Beam followed the eldest of her three daughters outside, that she understood the panic in her voice. “I kept saying, ‘where’s Annabel?’ I was looking around and then finally at the same time they both pointed to this massive tree and they said, ‘she's in the tree!’ in unison. And it was like everything just slowed down and came to a screeching halt.”

Eight year-old Annabel had fallen into a hollowed out cottonwood tree she and her sister had been climbing, and plunged 30 feet to the bottom. Christy called her husband Kevin who raced home to try to save his daughter. “I wanted more than anything in the world to just reach right down and grab that little girl and bring her up into my arms, and it was physically impossible,” Kevin remembers.

Meanwhile, Christy called 911. Kevin looked for signs that his daughter was alive. “One of the most beautiful moments in my life was when she raised her little left arm and then put it back down. And I knew at that point that she was alive.”

The volunteer fire department arrived and quickly assessed the situation. Fire Chief Brian Jamison remembers trying to locate her within the tree. “We could see her with flashlights enough of her body to be able to see that she didn't appear to have any major hemorrhaging.”

Still, the rescue would take time and extreme caution. Because of the dynamic of the tree, because the tree was rotten, we didn't want to risk cutting anything out because we were afraid things would start falling in on her,” Firefighter Mike Hill, said.

As the family looked on, there was only one thing they could do. “I just started praying. Really just crying out, ‘God, please be with her. God please help her.  God, please let her be okay,’ remembers Christy. “I texted my dad and I texted Kevin's mom and I said, ‘pray.’”
 
Inside the tree, Annabel was in out of consciousness, as she attempted to climb out. “I remember seeing this little thing that stuck out and jutted out of the tree. It was kind of like a little step stool. And the whole entire time I tried to get up to that. I was climbing up and didn’t quite reach that thing, because it was so muddy. Then I would fall off and then I would probably hit my head or something and then black out again.”

Firefighters were finally able to communicate with Annabel. They created a makeshift harness and lowered it down to her. “They set it up like a pulley, but they made it into a seat that I had to sit inside and then they would pull me up,” Annabel said. “I was relieved because I knew, ‘oh, I'm finally going to get out of here.’"

After nearly four hours, rescue workers pulled her out of the tree. “I was happy. I was grateful they got her out, ‘thank you, God. Thank you, God.’ she looked perfect,” Christy recalls.

Chief Jamison was also relieved at the outcome. “We were all very, very excited and very ecstatic that she was not harmed any worse than she was.”

Kevin knew God had protected his daughter. “No broken bones, no paralysis was nothing short of miraculous.”

Even the doctors who examined her at the hospital, had no explanation why she wasn’t severely injured. “The doctor said, ‘you know, mom, Jesus must have been with that little girl in that tree because we don't ever have anybody fall 30 feet and not suffer paralysis or broken bones.’"

But they believe there was another miracle that day. Annabel told her mom that at one point, she met Jesus. “Whenever I was in that tree I went to heaven. And I remember it was really bright and I saw my meme who had died a couple of years back, and that's how I knew I was in heaven. I sat on Jesus' lap and He said, "Whenever the firefighters get you out, there will be nothing wrong with you."  

For several years Annabel had been suffering from severe intestinal disorders. She was constantly in pain and in and out hospitals – doctors said there was no cure. “Her stomach physically could take food in, but it couldn't do anything with it after that,” Kevin said. “She had some days where she could go and play and be like her sisters. They always were encouraging her. They were probably her best medicine.”  

“It was probably at least ten days or more after the accident before I really started to kind of assess the fact that she'd never gone this long without hurting. She’d never gone this long without having a flare-up of her stomach.”

Doctors had no answer for why Annabel showed no signs of her ailments. They started slowly taking her off medications. We dropped one medication after another away and Annabel’s on zero medications today,” Christy said. “She doesn’t go to a specialist anymore. She doesn't go to doctors for medication anymore. She's been released.”

Today, Annabel is eating well and very active. “It was just so much fun because I could make up for all the times that I was sick on the couch,” she said.

The Beams have learned from their experience that God is always there. They tell the story of Annabel’s journey in the book, Miracles from Heaven. “He's powerful and He's amazing and He's big -- but He's also so tender and so intimate that He knew Annabel so well and He loved her so much that He gave her back,” Christy said.

Through it all, Annabel wants to encourage others that God will never fail them. “I just hope that people who are going through what I did, or any hard time of struggling, keep faith in God and realize that He's not just forgetting about you and He really does know about you and He really does care and He has a plan. You have to keep faith in Him.”

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