My post from about 7 months ago stated that it was my last, but clearly God had different plans. Last summer I couldn’t have imagined the ways He would push me, comfort me, give me new outlets for expression, and use my family’s story to help others. If you are discovering this blog for the first time, “Welcome!” If you want to know more of my backstory, there are a couple of places to start. Our Caring Bridge site at https://www.caringbridge.org/visit/jeffstroud and a short video at https://youtu.be/Z37Vekv5TOQ will do a fair job of getting you up to speed and I am always willing to share any personal information with anyone that asks. I’ve had the honor to build face to face relationships with several amazing women who also lost their husbands in the past two years and hope that my online words have helped and/or comforted others, as well.
This blog has been about my journey through my husband’s 17 month fight with Glioblastoma Grade IV and life after losing him on September 19, 2015. Since more time has passed, I feel more comfortable sharing information and experiences that were too painful before now. God has also given me confidence and freedom to express myself that was not present in many of my previous posts. I’m pretty much all out there–not because I chose it, but because I can’t remain silent about such significant change, growth, and hope when I’ve realized how much it can help others. God carried me through the most difficult time in my life. Not that it isn’t still a challenge, but I am now on the other side of intense pain and despair that often was unbearable apart from God’s comfort and protection.
Last night was a real milestone for me as I shared the screen with my sweet friend, Cindy, in my first Facebook Live artist talk. I’ve been an artist for many years, but would have never anticipated having one of my paintings chosen as an album cover. You can hear a 16 minute summary of how it happened here: Facebook Live “Jenna”
It is an amazing feeling to see my “Jenna” on the cover of a CD and know that the meaning behind this little hummer completely supports and symbolizes the message of the “Love Manifested” selections. The fact that our daughter is singing on the album makes it even more amazing. It is at moments like this when I wish I could see Jeff’s expression or hear his thoughts. In the two and a half years without him, there have been so many significant events that he couldn’t be present for. We keep his memory alive and absolutely love it when his name comes up in a conversation or something reminds us of him. I’ll share some stories about the cardinals appearances in a post to come–pretty amazing stuff.
I hope this introduces new friends to our “Beauty for Ashes” story and re-connects us with the friends and family that have supported us over the past three and a half+ years. God is continuing to do amazing things in my life and I hope you will be encouraged by the way He has helped me find my new place in life and an inner strength I never knew I had. It’s certainly a daily process where I take one step forward and two steps back (tripping over my dogs as I go). I struggled so much to figure out what my new normal is and have recently realized that I just need to trust God to lead me each day. I never could have planned the “Jenna” project–too many pieces of a puzzle fitting together. It is obvious to me that the Lord who loves me orchestrated the entire thing to give me a new purpose and encourage the talent He gave me for His glory. I’m up for that challenge any day because my trial by fire taught me to trust Him wholeheartedly and His track record is flawless. Hope you’ll join me on this new journey to see what’s next. Thank you all for your love and support!