Clifty Falls State Park was pretty much our home away from home for our vacation adventures growing up. We loved to camp! My parents would partner up with my Aunt and Uncle, and we would have some of the best times. Most of my favorite memories growing up happened at the parks. I learned to ride my bike at Clifty. I learned how to slide down the fireman's pole there. I learned to swim there—so many great memories. My favorite time was at night when the fire was bright, and campsites lit up all around us for the night. Smores were a must, even if it was too hot out to have a fire. We would joke about how the smoke followed beauty. Sometimes it felt like the smoke would chase us around the firepit no matter where we sat. Everything we owned would smell like smoke by the time we headed home. You could tell that we had just been camping.
Yes...I am wearing snow boots in this picture. I've always been that way...just a little outside of the box. 😂
Recently a good friend of mine told me something interesting that she felt I needed to hear as we closed out our foster care license. She said, "Jess...you smell like smoke. You need to hear this!" I was a little bit taken back. I started thinking through where I had been that day and why in the world did I smell like smoke!? She then went on to explain. In scripture, there is a story of three men named Shadrach Meshach and Abednego. (You can find this in Daniel 6) Here is the short version of the story:
These three men grew wise and respected as high appointed officials in Babylon. Other Babylonian officials were jealous of the Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego. They were able to get King Nebuchadnezzar to command that all people bow down to a golden statue. When the three men refused to bow down and worship the idol and god of Babylon, King Nebuchadnezzar had them thrown into the fiery furnace, which was heated seven times hotter than normal. Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego had faith that God would save them.
When King Nebuchadnezzar looked into the fire, he saw four men walking around in the furnace unharmed
- Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego, and the Son of God. King Nebuchadnezzar brought the young men out of the flames. When they came out, they smelled like smoke but were completely unharmed. Nebuchadnezzar promoted them to a higher office and decreed that the God of Israel be worshipped.
"You smell like smoke Jess. You can tell you have been through it. God has been with you through this whole ordeal. You had leaned on Him when you were falling short. You have a testimony of how you lived out God's call for you to say yes to foster care. I can see it in your life and how you have grown. You smell like smoke!"
Immediately I felt that in my bones. God met every single one of our needs during the last season. Sometimes it didn't feel like it, but now that I am on the other side, I can see many points where God swooped in at the right time. God's timing is perfect. It hasn't been on my timeline at all, but I can see His provision and heart for me to grow this last season.
My encouragement to you today is that if you are going through it right now, whatever "IT" means to you, to lean on your heavenly Father. Want to know more about what that even looks like or means? Reach out! I'd love to share more with you. We couldn't have gone through what we went through without God. I'm hoping to continue to share the testimony of our foster care journey on how God changed me through it in future posts as I process it all.
How can I be praying for you in your own furnace right now?