Four years ago my youngest daughter came into the world in a whirlwind. She was born 8 weeks early because we discovered she was in heart failure due to a condition called SVT. It was the scariest thing I've ever gone through as a mother, but I held onto the one thing that kept me going each day.
I held onto it so strongly that 4 days after her birth, I finally gave her a name.
Christy Beam, a Texas mother and the author of Miracles from Heaven, is a mother sharing her story of hope about her daughter Annabel's heartwrenching story. Annabel was diagnosed with two rare life-threatening digestive disorders. The movie follows their path and struggles of getting a diagnosis and trying to get her treatment in Boston.
Christy started writing her story much like most mom bloggers start, to get the story out. “It started out, I thought cathartic. I thought it was for myself for healing, I thought it was because I needed that,” Christy tells us. Which I can relate to because as a blogger that started out in 2008 sharing our family with the world, it was a very therapeutic experience for me. Especially after Peanut's medical crisis. I had PTSD after her birth and blocked out a lot of the experience because it was so frightening for me. Had I not written it down on this blog, I would have forgotten details.
After the Beam family returned home Annabel was climbing a tree with her sister when she fell into the center of the hollowed out cottonwood. Annabel told her parents that she visited heaven while she had blacked out in the tree. Jesus told her that she wasn't finished on Earth and that she was being sent back because He had plans for her. He also told her that she would be completely healed when she came back, and she was. Doctors couldn't explain how she fell 30 ft and only had a scratch on her but even more puzzled by the fact that her digestive disorders completely cleared up.
Christy feels that Annabel's was sent back from heaven to “share her story and message of hope and inspiration that she has given to so many. Truly hope. People struggle for hope and to have that through the eyes of a little girl and a childlike faith, it's amazing.” Annabel feels like she was sent back to help other kids as a child life specialist, which are pediatric health care professionals who work with children and families in hospitals and other settings to help them cope with the challenges of hospitalization, illness, and disability.
Martin Henderson (who plays Kevin Beam) was happy to portray a father that helped show that raising girls, making dinner, and doing household chores is not an anomaly. My husband was my rock during our tough time. Despite his own fears he held it together to help keep me strong. Jennifer Garner (who plays Christy Beam) says “this film gave me a great sense of perspective and a sense of peace about how my children are healthy and all is well.” Martin was so sweet complimenting Jennifer about how much of a devoted mother she is and how great of a job she is doing with her children. She thinks the movie would be a great mother – daughter film that is a conversation starter, “not just about faith, but about adversity and family and love and hope and pushing through a challenge.”
Queen Latifah plays Angela, a much-needed “angel during a horrific time in our life,” as Christy puts it. She brings her sassy personality to the mix and captures the real life Angela's impact on the Beam family. Queen Latifah said that doing films like these is her way of “giving back and thanking God for everything else she gets to do and to give people what they need. Hope and being uplifted and knowing that you go through difficult times in life but you can still manage to persevere and keep the faith, things can turn around.”
Producers, Joe Roth, T.D. Jakes, and DeVon Franklin, all had one goal in mind and that was to bring an authentic mother – daughter story to life. They want viewers to know “that things are not hopeless even when they look hopeless. To bring hope into their own lives,” Joe Roth tells us. Patricia Riggen directs tear jerkers that move you to the core and she was able to relay that message in Miracles from Heaven. Along with hope, everyone I interviewed wanted viewers to slow down and appreciate the little miracles in life we may not recognize. For me it was the help of friends taking care of my oldest daughter or bringing us dinner. Mother's from across the country (complete strangers) sending me emails of hope and prayers for my family.
My last question for Christy Beam was whether she felt they captured their story the way she had hoped. She told me that, “the heartbeat and the message of the movie is so exactly in line with the heartbeat and the message of the book. The book, Miracles from Heaven is exactly what we lived. If you read the two…they compliment each other very well but they still shared the same message.” We were given the book to read after our interview, so I can't wait to read the story because this story takes place over nearly five years in real life but with movie magic they make it look like one year.
Whether or not you are religious the message is very clear. Christy tells us, “I look back and I see all those miracles that were happening and I missed them, and I feel like if I had not missed them those would have been such messages of hope to inspire me and propel me forward without me just having to do it.” Christy hopes that people leave the film knowing the message “that little miracles are all around you and they are happening daily. With a new lens in their eyes, they see things differently. They have a better hope and inspiration and they are encouraged by it.”
Without hope, I wouldn't have been able to see the bigger picture of what was going on with out daughter. After a month long struggle in the NICU, we went home and my daughter never had another heart arrhythmia again. She was my little miracle.
The Beam family is now involved with the Annabel Research Motility and Care Fund (named after Annabel Beam) that is working to help parents with children with this horrific disorder and provide funding for research to help find a cure for this incurable disorder.
Miracles from Heaven comes out in theaters March 16th. I suggest you bring a whole box of tissues. It is a powerful story about a family that went through something scary but found hope and little miracles that helped lead to a big one.