As we get older in life we eventually hit the season where we need to help our parents, we need to support them in their health or decision making. They are getting older which means we are getting older and the roles start to slowly change. It’s a role change both parties do not want to embrace. We try to resist it, fight the ever pressing call to switch. Our parents are the ones that have set us up for decision making since we were young, they nurtured us, cared for us and provided for us (and a whole other host of things). So when they get older and need some assistance from us, the children, it is a hard thing for all to embrace. It’s a flow of life that God has arranged, and we just really need to embrace it. We are all people and therefore we are called to help others, no matter the role we all carry. We now help and care for our parents as they age. Quite an honor I believe.

Inga Mae’s season of irritation was just that. She is a daughter to parents who are strong and passionate and took great effort to raise 2 daughters. So when her Dad started having strokes (5 to be exact) it changed her world, it changed the flow of the parent/child relationship. She was now the one, alongside her family, having to make decisions for her Dad’s health and his care. All the while, praying he doesn’t have another stroke and take a turn for the worse.

I met Inga Mae probably 8 years ago, roughly. I saw her all over social media before I actually met her. These were the days of MySpace and BeenUpTo. When I saw her sharing pictures or commenting on people’s pictures, I wondered to myself, “Who is this girl?” She was always encouraging people. Funny how encouragement will make you wonder who someone is, like it’s a foreign concept to encourage someone. Nonetheless, I wondered who she was. It wasn’t in a judging way, but more of an intriguing way. What did she hold inside of her that led her to speak words of life over others? I heard that she continually encouraged a celebrity on Twitter (that no other Christian would even consider doing!), that this celebrity in turn followed her! When we speak words of life, hope, love, encouragement to those that are so used to being judged by the public and are the target of criticism and attacks, they will instantly be aware of words that speak love. So, I say all that to let you know that I am a fan of Inga Mae and the way she encourages and speaks life to all those she knows and DOESN’T know. It took some getting used to when I would be with her in Target or Walmart and she would go up to complete strangers and speak kindness to them, compliment them and pray for them. If she sees someone in a wheelchair or wearing a cast, they are a target for her. She walks right to them and asks if she can pray healing over their injury, meanwhile I’m hiding in aisle 3! (I don’t hide anymore!) She practices what she preaches!

There are countless stories that I could share about Inga Mae and there are countless stories people could share of being in contact with her, or being the target of her love. However, when I asked her what she wanted to share with the reader, she chose a topic that was so close to her heart and that was challenging her in a good way. I believe that it is somewhat easier to encourage, speak hope and pray for those that you don’t know and even those that you do life with, but when it comes to family, that’s another dynamic. We are so connected and hold such history with family. They know our strengths and weaknesses. We have a freedom to be ourselves and sometimes our frustrations are more accepted. We are ok to be “raw” with family. Sometimes it is easy to have faith for those we don’t know or our friends, it seems to be a bit easier than when we need faith for our family. A deeper level of faith is needed because our family are us. They’re apart of us and we desperately want to see God move on their behalf. We have a front row seat to the needs and hopes of our families and it’s difficult when we are waiting to see God move in the wondrous ways He does.

So when this hardship happened to Inga Mae, it came close to her and her relationship with God. She had been witness to God moving in so many people’s lives’ and she desperately wanted to see it happen in her Dad. This hardship would challenge her fear of man, her voice, and her patience. God always has treasures for is in these moments of hardship.

“…count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the the testing of our faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” – James 1:2-3

“I am coming out of a season of being easily irritable about things. With my Dad having 5 strokes, certain things are more important to me and certain things aren’t. Have I found anything beautiful in this season or am I just really irritated? I have found the beauty in this season. The beauty I have found is that I have been awakened and I am standing up for what I believe in. I am not taking on what people think of me. I am not pondering over and over what people say to me or what I say to people. The beauty is that I am standing up for what I believe in and being less fearful of man.”

“It all started out with the nurses and doctors. I normally wouldn’t speak to them the way that I have been, but I was in high anxiety regarding my dad and his care. I wanted him to have the best care. ‘Did you give him his meds, did you check this out, that out…’ In my head I thought, ‘That doesn’t sound very Christian of me’, but I heard God say, ‘You are being an advocate, being assertive for your Dad and that’s ok.’ Standing up for what you believe in, is sometimes not fun. I don’t need to be fearful of man anymore.”

“I wish he was 100% healed. I wish I could say, ‘I had this horrible season and I found the beauty in it because God healed…’ In this season I was in/am in, I definitely grew closer to God because I was talking to Him more. I kept asking, ‘Why?’, or ‘How do I pray?’, or ‘I need to talk to You today’, or ‘I need Your help.’ In my frustration and irritation, I found myself getting angry and yelling at my dad because he was unable to do a few things I asked due to his stroke. He seems ok in every other way, so why can’t he do what I ask? He would get in the car and say, ‘How do I put on my seatbelt?’, and I would just cry. I would be so mean at times because I wanted him to be what he used to be. A friend brought clarity to me, ‘Inga, maybe he just doesn’t know how to put his seatbelt on anymore because that part of his brain isn’t working, and you just have to help him.’ And I thought, ‘Wow, ok.” Just changing my mind regarding it all. I am going to help every time. I then became less angry. The presence of God was there when I was at my worst. I found Him there. It’s been so amazing and helpful. I am still waiting on the day when my dad will be healed. In the meantime, I am finding God in the waiting.

“I’m in the midst of still being irritated. I am still being ‘sanded’! I also realized in this season, that I don’t have it all together. I thought I did. I got saved in 2005, and I probably had a little bit of pride about it. I knew God, I knew the word, and I was doing everything right. I didn’t talk bad about people and I always talked positive. This season really showed me that my heart wasn’t fully right, and it exposed things inside of me that God wanted to work on. When you face tragedy or tragic things you will see what comes out, the state of your heart. I thought I had it all together, I was always quick to pray for people. But now I have gained a greater level of compassion.”

Inga Mae says she is still growing in patience. She is learning not to take things on that are not hers. Battling the fear of man. “There is only so much of me. I used to take on things because I had the time. Now my capacity is limited and I have to say no. Even with family, I need to know what to take on. If I am presented with a need, I say, ‘I have talk to God and feel it out.’”

A learning curve we are all on, for sometimes we always want to help and fix things, especially with family, but then we rob God of the space to move, to provide, to show up with His miracles. That can snowball into Him not receiving the full glory and praise He is worthy of and also the opportunity for those individuals to grow closer in their relationship with Him. It’s a learning we all need to embrace as it’s a fine line of knowing when to help and knowing when God wants to be the complete answer. He works both ways!

Inga Mae is so faithful with people, she has courage to pray for the stranger. She prays for people in her gym, and has seen great victory there. A man who was dealing with vertigo, was healed because Inga took the time to notice him and pray for him. She has encouraging words for everyone.  She notices people. God notices her. God has her on a journey of growth right now, it has come in a difficult way but the beauty is there, the changing from strength to strength, the working through of her patience, finding the joy in each trial. It’s all happening in her life and even though she probably feels discouraged or frustrated at times, I can see the change, I can see the beauty that is increasing inside of her, I can see Him. She reflects God.

Inga Mae shared her story in the midst of still being sanded. Being aware of all that we are to learn in the midst of difficulties is key. It’s like when we take a test, we have to recall all that we have been taught, the information we have gathered, the lessons we have learned and apply it to the test at hand and have joy because we know we are going to pass this test (trial!)

When you read this, please take a moment and pray for Inga Mae’s dad and his complete healing!

“Count it all JOY when you fall into various trials….”

 

Photos by Heather Armstrong Photography