Christy Beam had no plans to write “Miracles From Heaven: A Little Girl and Her Amazing Story of Healing” (Hachette Books, $14.99). Her daughter, Annabelle, had battled a disease doctors said couldn’t be cured but a near-death experience wiped out all signs of the chronic intestinal pseudo-obstruction.
Annabelle also told her parents she had visited Heaven and was told that she would be healed.
“God laid it on my heart to write a book,” Beam says. “I said ‘No God. I’m not a writer. Thanks anyway.’ ”
Beam balked because the last time she had written anything of note was a college paper. It was during a lunch with a friend that Beam hadn’t seen in 15 years that she got some more encouragement to write the book. The friend told her that God had laid it on her heart she was to write their story and it wasn’t a matter of if she would do it, but when.
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Beam jokes that at that point, she was afraid she was going to be hit by lightning, so she bought a laptop computer and began writing. Once she started, the story poured out of her.
“It ended up being cathartic,” Beam says.
It also ended up a best seller and the basis for a feature film of the same name starring Jennifer Garner, Kylie Rogers, Martin Henderson, Eugenio Derbez and Queen Latifah.
“Miracles From Heaven” opened Wednesday, March 16.
Making a movie based on her book meant the family would have to again face all of the pain, anguish, doubt and fear they lived through as Annabelle fought for her life and that she recounted as she wrote the book.
“It was hard to go through those emotions again, but I felt like it had to be done,” Beam says. “It would have been selfish to keep the story to ourselves.”
That decision proved to be wise because Beam has heard from so many people around the world who told her that her daughter’s story has impacted them deeply and meant a lot to them. All of the positive responses have been a confirmation for Beam that writing the book was the correct thing to do.
Any concerns Beam had about how their story would be treated in a film were washed away as soon as she met director Patricia Riggen and star Jennifer Garner. She saw in them that their focus was to share the story as close to possible as the way it originally unfolded.
Beam never had any concerns about what her daughter said about going to Heaven.
“She was so adamant and matter-of-cast in the way she shared it. She was so clear. The things that she said and the way she said them wasn’t as if she cared if I believed her or not,” Beam says. “It was that she owned it. It was what it was. Take it or leave it.
“I never doubted.”
The parents had no doubts, but there were plenty of naysayers, including members of the church the Beam family attended. The movie shows a group of the congregation doubting the young girl’s story.
Beam struggled with what to say to people who don’t believe her daughter. It was Annabelle who gave her the way to respond. The young girl says nothing to the doubters because she knows what she was like before and how she is now. She says they will get there when they get there.
Those comments by church members happened, but they weren’t in as concentrated a moment as depicted through the script adaptation done by Randy Brown. The screenwriter constantly talked with Beam about how they could keep the story as close to what really happened but fictionalizing enough to attract actors like Garner to the production.
There have been a few changes but Beam is happy that one element remains the same.
“The message is the same. There are miracles around you daily and often times when you are in the darkness, you don’t look up and recognize those things. They are the things that give you hope and propel you forward. Now, in reflection, I see them all the time now where I didn’t see them before,” Beam says.