Nothing You’re Going through is without Purpose

In describing her family, Erin Bell is quick to say they are adventurous. They are a military family that has traveled all over the world, but the one place they have loved more than any other is their current home in Lee’s Summit. Together, with her pilot husband, two awesome sons and a fulfilling occupation, Erin has taken a life doused with difficulty and made it one of growth, transparency and inspiration.

Several challenging events have paved Erin’s journey, and each has shaped her into who she is today. The first life-altering blow came through motherhood. After having a healthy son, she became pregnant a second time, and, amid the excitement came a devastating loss when, during a routine ultrasound, it was discovered she was internally bleeding and had to be rushed into emergency surgery to save her life. She awakened to find their daughter did not survive and that she had likely lost her ability to have any more biological children in the future. She and her husband had a yearning to add to their family. Adoption, an ideal that stirred within them, suddenly became a viable option.

The adoption process was not easy and took almost three years. They tried three different times, and each time, when the birth mom chose another option, Erin felt another twinge of pain. Then, just as they were again completing the process with a little boy, they were hit with even more traumatic news. Erin’s mother had a brain aneurysm and was in a coma. A few weeks later, they had to make the gut-wrenching decision to pull life support after she showed no signs of life or brain activity. She was 50 years old. Proving once again that life has its own timeline, they were bringing home a newly adopted toddler right on the brink of another distressing loss.

Having experienced one stress-inducing trial after another, it started to affect every aspect of their lives. Erin’s marriage was teetering on failure, their careers derailed, and another move with the military took them farther away from family. Erin remembers feeling hopeless, numb and pained for a long time. But, over time, she chose to change her perspective and to choose joy. It was not an easy transition but one which included counseling and a renewed reliance on her faith.  

“The only way that I was able to make it through such devastating losses was by the hope I have in Jesus, by my patient and forgiving husband, coffee, friends and of course, chocolate,” she says. “My kids keep me going, God keeps me strong, and loving myself despite my failures is key. It’s a process. It’s a constant decision to choose joy.”

Erin spreads her inspiration by working with pregnant women who are in crisis situations. It empowers her to help in her community. She now has a beautiful family—complete with their adopted son—who has enriched their lives in immeasurable ways. She is in a place where her marriage is stronger than ever, and she is pursuing a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy to help others with trauma and loss. Erin is truly an inspired woman.

“We all have stories. We all have experienced loss in some way,” she says. “I do know that when you find that quiet, small strength within yourself to keep going, to keep choosing joy despite the pain, and embrace where you are and where you are going, you will unknowingly become an inspiration to others around you.”