Miracles from Heaven: An Interview with Christy Beam, Part 2

Read Part 1 on ParentLife here, if you haven’t yet.


Kelly Wilson Mize: I’m so excited to see the movie! Was your family happy with the actors who were cast to play you?

Christy Beam: Yes! We were all so delighted and grateful. I just feel like they couldn’t have done a better job handpicking for each of us who they chose. In fact, when Anna and I went and met Kylie Rogers [the girl who played her in the movie] for the first time, she and Kylie clicked right away. Annabel said, “Mom, I was so worried that Kylie wouldn’t ‘get’ me or understand who I am, or ‘be like’ me.” And I had no idea she was worrying about that. But she said, “Kylie was perfect. I couldn’t have picked someone better for me.” And that just gave me so much peace. I knew Jennifer Garner would be amazing, but Annabel didn’t know Kylie Rogers would be amazing. Every one of us was just very pleased with the choices, the product, the result of what they all did.

KWM: Do you think the movie stuck closely with the true story?

CB: It did. There are some parts that are painfully accurate, and there are some parts that were very hard to watch. There were other parts that are definitely an adaptation of our story. There were some people morphed into one person. They were trying to take this long story and condense it down, but we were all very pleased with the outcome and how well they did it.

KWM: Do you have any plans to write future books?

CB: I would love to write a children’s book about this experience to help reach out to children who are struggling with chronic illness, or just struggling with challenges in general. I feel like all children could use that encouragement.

KWM: How have you and your family been changed as a result of this experience?

CB: We’ve been given the opportunity to be the people who tell other people, in times of crisis and in challenge, to look up. Because when we were in times of crisis, my head was down, and I was putting one foot in front of the other just plugging along. I wasn’t noticing all those little miracles daily going on around me. But whenever I stepped out of it, it was amazing how many miracles were happening around me; not big ones, but small ones that I was taking for granted. I have been able to be that person to say, “Look up! Look all around you, there are so many things God is doing. Don’t miss the small miracles while you’re waiting on the big ones.”

Miracles from Heaven opened in theaters nationwide on March 16th.

Sony Pictures’ Miracles from Heaven is launching a website to let moviegoers share who their everyday miracles in life. Users can visit ShareYourMiracle.com to create a customized digital image of someone who is a miracle in their life, whether it is an encouraging family member, a loving spouse or partner, motivating teacher, or best friend. On the site, users can upload a photo, personalize it, and share it easily on their social channels or the website’s gallery.

Will you go see Miracles from Heaven? 

Miracles from Heaven: an Interview with Christy Beam by Kelly Wilson Mize


Sony Pictures’ new inspirational movie Miracles from Heaven is based on the incredible true story of the Beam family. When Christy discovers her daughter Anna 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, however, an extraordinary miracle unfolds in the wake of her dramatic rescue, one that leaves medical specialists mystified, her family restored, and their community inspired.

Kelly Wilson Mize recently had the privilege of speaking with Christy Beam about the soon-to-be released film based on her book, Miracles from Heaven. The movie, starring Jennifer Garner, Kylie Rogers, and Queen Latifah will be released just in time for Easter, 2016.

Kelly Wilson Mize: Can you tell me a little bit about the day the tree “swallowed” your daughter?

Christy Beam: I was doing laundry and my (then eleven-year old) daughter Abigail came in, quite hysterical, telling me that her (nine-year old) sister Anna had ‘kind of fallen into a tree.’ The girls were climbing trees, and in my mind she had just climbed too high and couldn’t get down because she was so weak and sickly. So I hurried outside to help Anna navigate down the branches.

I got out to the massive cottonwood tree, and my daughter Adalyn (7 at the time) was holding a metal pipe, digging madly at the base of this tree. I asked what she was doing, and she said, “Mommy, Annabel can’t breathe, and I’m digging her out of this tree.”

“Where is Annabel?” I asked.

They both pointed and said, in unison, “She’s in the tree!”

It was like the world stopped. Abbie pointed up to the top of the tree where there was a hole, and told me that Anna was in the hole!

KWM: Prior to her fall, how had Annabel’s digestive disease affect her quality of life?

CB: We were in and out of the hospital and doctor’s offices constantly. That last year she was hospitalized 9 times, no less than 5 days each time. Her life was consumed with the illness. Even eating and drinking was just a nightmare.

KWM: What are some of the miraculous things that happened to Annabel while she was unconscious inside the tree?

CB: Annabel told us that she visited heaven and sat in Jesus’ lap! She wanted to stay there because there was no pain in heaven. But Jesus told her, “I have plans for you on earth that you cannot fulfill in heaven. When the firefighters get you out, there will be nothing wrong with you.”

Doctors told us, “Jesus must have been with that little girl in that tree, because we’ve never ever had anyone fall 30 feet and not suffer paralysis or broken bones.” And so her survival was a miracle in itself.

While she was with Jesus, Anna says she saw a little girl, and kept thinking, “I know that face. Who is that little girl?” She says that Jesus told her it was her sister.

We had never told Annabel that we had two miscarriages. If that was her sister, we wondered why she wouldn’t have seen two children. But we realized that one of the miscarriages was known [medically] as a blighted ovum, where no life ever forms. The other baby, though, was lost at 12 weeks, and we believe that hers was the face that Annabel saw. I found that miraculous. When she told us all this, I began to think, “There is something really, really, really serious going on here.” She could never have known that …

Miracles from Heaven

KWM: Was Anna immediately healed after her experience in the tree?

CB: I wish I could tell you that I immediately said, “God is good; you are healed,” but I was not-so “standing on faith” right away. Because it just didn’t seem real. It just couldn’t be happening! But every day, Anna was eating and playing and going to the bathroom normally, and wasn’t asking for pain meds. One day turned into another, and into another, and before we knew it, two weeks had passed and it was time for her to rotate onto a more powerful antibiotic. I called the doctor and said, “She doesn’t need it.” He thought she would need it in a few days, but we never gave it to her again! And that was the beginning of weaning her off of one medication after another, after another.

KWM: Does Anna still talk about her experience?

CB: Sometimes, but not very often. She talked about it so much with the book release; there was a lot of media for that. I think that’s what is so precious about her experience is that it’s her experience. I’ve told her, “If there are parts of your experience that you feel are treasures that you want to keep in your heart, you keep them. Those are between you and the Almighty. You don’t have to share them.” She gives me a little wry smile, so it makes me feel like there are treasures she’s keeping, and that’s OK. Some days she shares things just out of the blue, but not consistently.

KWM: Have you experienced cynicism about this experience? If so, how has your family handled that?

CB: When we experience that negative eye, or “venom spewed,” we go straight back to the positive, and [think about] the good things. I get messages from all over the world: Pakistan, South Africa, the Netherlands, literally all over the world, with people saying that our story has given them hope in spite of challenges. When a negative comes along I say, “You know what? You are getting replaced with a positive, because I am not going to stay and dwell here!”

KWM: How did your book come to be written?

CB: Because God actually laid it on my heart. Me not being a writer, I said to God audibly, “You know that’s so cute, God, but no thank You. I’m not doing that.”

I had lunch with a friend that I hadn’t seen in 15 years, and we sat down and literally within 5 minutes she said, “You know God has laid it on my heart that you need to write a book about Annabel’s journey.” Well, I had not told anybody that God had laid it on my heart to write a book, so that really freaked me out.

Then, we met again about a month later, and of course I’d done nothing about it. My friend sat down and said to me, “It’s not a matter of if you’re going to write a book, God wants to know when.” That day, I went and bought a laptop, and it just started pouring out of my heart. The manuscript got written, and it just took off from there.

Read the rest, where Christy talks about the movie, tomorrow on ParentLife!

When the Game Stands Tall: A Conversation by Kelly Mize

Last week, I had an opportunity to speak with Bob Ladouceur and Terry Eidson, the coaches portrayed in the new movie, When the Game Stands Tall, starring Jim Caviezel and Laura Dern. It’s the story of an impressive high school football team that held twelve consecutive undefeated seasons, setting a national record winning streak of 151 consecutive wins. I spoke with the movie-inspiring coaches about faith, family, and football.


What advice could you share with parents of young children who want their kids to be involved in sports?

BL: Go ahead and get them involved in sports early, as they want to be involved, if they ask to, and then back off. Let them do what they can do. I think it’s a great learning experience no matter what happens, whether they’re doing well, or even if they can’t hack it. However, when parents get involved trying to micro-manage, it just turns into a mess. It doesn’t do the kids any good to have their parents fighting battles for them. They’re going to have to learn how to lose and be disappointed. That’s a part of life.

I love the way that this movie uses Bible passages to subtly illustrate, without being “preachy.” What role did/does your faith play in your coaching, and in your life?

BL: It’s infused in every part of your life if you call yourself a Christian. If you try your faith on like a shirt, take it on and off in different situations, that’s pretty lame, not being true to your faith.

TE: One of my favorite professors in seminary said, “Once you understand Scripture, there’s only one way you can act.” That’s always behind the curtain of everything I do.

One of the things that seemed to make your teams strong was the love the players had for each other. How did you encourage this attitude with your players and within your own family?

BL: Kids in middle/high school around the ages of 14-18 are searching for identity, a place to belong. They sometimes have a tendency to be narcissistic or myopic about it: What’s in it for me? What am I getting out of it? We tried to teach the kids that having that attitude is not how you make connections, not how you improve yourself as a human. It’s about understanding the other person, reaching out to other people and showing real concern and empathy for them. This comes in teachable moments, in listening to your kids and the way they speak to each other. We made it a point to stop and correct. “Is that building someone up or tearing them down?” As coaches, we spent an inordinate amount of time reinforcing this.

TE: Respect authority, be thankful for what people do for you, clean up after yourself, think about others. For parents, teachers, and coaches, it’s also not about being the good guy all the time. A greater love is always out there to learn.

I live in Alabama where football is a way of life and high school football is huge. How can families maintain the perspective that football is “just a game”?

BL: No matter what you’re doing, when it’s all said and done, just say to yourself, “Does this really matter?” The important things are God, family, kids, loved ones; all the other stuff, it doesn’t matter much.

TE: I think it’s great that families go to games together. Have a passion for your team, but keep the perspective that what’s really important is who you are, not the team you root for. Families can be inspired by a team’s playing and effort, but at the end of the day its important who you are.

Do you think non-football fans will enjoy this story?

BL: It’s not just about football; it’s wrapped around the human lives. The human lives are not wrapped around the football, it’s vice versa.

LE: It’s about building a team, and family is a pretty important team. In the focus groups, the film was very popular among women and mothers, even those who did not like football.

Any last words for parents of children ages 3-11 trying to balance work, family, and fun?

BL: When you do get that rare free time, try to make it family-time. When my kids were younger, I always tried to make it a point to read to them or ask about their day. Hearing some sacred thing in their lives was important. This season doesn’t last forever.

This applies to marriage too: I think one of the most important things is to never leave each other or go to bed, without telling your kids you love them and hugging them. It makes a huge difference. I think that’s critical, that human touch and connection.

When the Game Stands Tall opened in theaters on August 22. It is rated PG.

Trends & Truth Online with Mika Nappa: Talking The Hobbit with Dr. Timothy Paul Jones


Dr. Timothy Paul Jones is a distinguished theologian, a professor at The Southern Baptist Seminary, and editor of the Journal of Discipleship and Family Ministry. Oh, he’s also a pop culture savant and expert on J.R.R. Tolkien. We recently got him talking about The Hobbit movie―care to listen in?

T&TO: What should every parent know about The Hobbit?

Jones: The Hobbit will span three films: An Unexpected Journey (2012), The Desolation of Smaug (2013), and There and Back Again (2014). The films are based on a book from J.R.R. Tolkien. Tolkien wrote the book for children, although the book’s readership has long since transcended any age limitation.

Even though The Hobbit will hit theaters a decade after The Lord of the Rings films, this reversed order wasn’t the case when it comes to the books. The first version of The Hobbit book was published in 1937, several years prior to the first installment of The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

If The Hobbit films follow Tolkien’s text, there will be a lot of wizardry and a bit of burglary, a couple of quite violent conflicts, and plenty of puffing on pipe-weed. The Hobbit films are likely to provide foundations for fruitful family discussions about magic and morals, wealth and war, and more.


T&TO: The Hobbit is overwhelmingly favored by Christian groups, but some parents warn that kind of blanket endorsement is potentially harmful. Your thoughts?

Jones: Part of this favor in the Christian community stems from the fact that J.R.R. Tolkien’s writings originated within a Christian worldview. In fact, Tolkien took the very term “Middle-earth” from an Old English poem about Christ’s ascension! Tolkien was a devout Roman Catholic, and God used Tolkien to bring C.S. Lewis to faith in Jesus Christ.

When asked about the religious perspective of The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien described the trilogy as “a fundamentally religious and Catholic work, unconsciously so at first, but consciously in the revision. That is why I have not put in, or have cut out, practically all references to anything like ‘religion,’ to cults or practices, in the Imaginary world. For the religious element is absorbed into the story and the symbolism.”

I would suggest that this is no less true of The Hobbit. Although the work is certainly no allegory—Tolkien despised allegories—the characters are deeply symbolic, representing humanity’s deep sense of exile as well as our struggle not to center our lives on the pursuit of earthly wealth or power.

Despite the origins of The Hobbit in a Christian worldview, I would agree that a blanket endorsement is undeserved—and I’d say the same about any other work of popular art and culture. Here’s why: Such endorsements can unintentionally provide parents with a false comfort, the idea that they can place this book or movie or digital download in front of their children without having to engage in critique or conversation about it.

Visit Dr. Jones online at: www.TimothyPaulJones.com.

Will you and/or your kids go see The Hobbit movie? It releases December 14th, this Friday.

Should Smoking Be Rated R? Trends & Truth Online with Mike Nappa



If James Sargent, M.D., of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in New Hampshire, had his way, cigarette smoking in any movie would automatically earn an “R” rating. Same for films with cigars, pipes, and the like. Here’s why:

When young kids see people smoking onscreen, that becomes something of a “product placement” advertisement that’s repeated and reinforced through frequent viewings—and which might influence kids’ attitudes toward the habit. Dr. Sargent and his colleagues conducted a study of 6522 preteens and early teens, trying to measure scientifically the impact smoking in movies may or may not have on children. According to Everydayhealth.com, Sargent’s research suggests that, “Kids 10 to 14 years old were 49 percent more likely to have tried a cigarette for every 500 they saw smoked on the screen in PG-13 movies.”

“It is the movie smoking that prompts adolescents to smoke,” Sargent’s team emphasized in their report, “not other characteristics of R-rated movies or adolescents drawn to them.”

In response to these findings, the study’s originators have a simple recommendation: Give all movie smoking an “R” rating.

The thinking is that an “R” rating would make it harder for preteens and young teens to see repeated product placement of cigarettes in movies. In the researchers’ opinion, that would reduce underage smoking by at least 18%—a significant number in today’s American society.

According to the Surgeon General’s office, the smoking habit almost always begins in adolescence. About 2400 youth and young adults become regular smokers each day, with about 90% trying their first cigarette before the age of 18. What’s more, cigarette-sized cigars are so popular in youth culture today that one in five high school males smoke cigars.

A strategy that would help postpone the onset of adolescent smoking would drastically reduce adult smoking (and smoking-related illnesses) in years to come. Why? Because, according to the Surgeon General, “Almost no one starts smoking after age 25.”

This is why Dr. Sargent calls for an “R” rating on movies that contain smoking. Refusing a PG-13 (or less) rating for tobacco-fueled films would, in theory at least, keep anyone under 17 from being exposed (without parental consent) to the negative influence of onscreen smoking. If Dr. Sargent is correct, that in turn would measurably reduce the prevalence of underage smoking in America.

And so now the question is out there:

Should smoking be rated “R” in movies?

Or does that take social censorship too far, paving the way for “R” ratings for films that feature other bad health habits, such as eating fatty foods or drinking coffee and soda?

And how does an “R” rating criteria in cinema impact smoking and other bad habits displayed on television?

What do you think, ParentLife families? Take time to talk about it in your home this week.


Have a pop culture question for Trends & Truths? Email it to parentlife@lifeway.com!



Mike Nappa is a bestselling author, a noted commentator on pop culture, and founder of the website for parents, FamilyFans.com.