I love a good challenge. I’m a natural goal setter, overachiever and list maker. But lately I feel like every email I get is entitled “Join X challenge.” I like to better myself and improve my life, but right now most days it feels like everything is falling apart. Just as we finally seem to be finding solutions for one child, another one is descending into emotional chaos and we find ourselves beginning again. I’m tired, over committed and coffee now makes me shaky which means it has to go. Christmas is coming and while we had already decided to simply, I’m still trying to figure out how we are going to pay for it all.

I’m not in a place to be challenged, I know the benefit of it, but right now what I need most is to survive and get back to feeling some semblance of normalcy. The Thanksgiving to Christmas vortex is opening and I can feel myself being sucked in. Except in some ways I feel like I’m on the outside. My house, my heart and my life just don’t feel prepared to embrace what should be times of wonder and joy.

Maybe you are facing an unexpected financial crisis, marriage struggles or other problems. It’s Ok. This doesn’t exclude us from enjoying this holiday season. In fact, these holidays were made for us. Thanksgiving and all it’s supposed focus on gratitude means more when you’ve experienced want as well as plenty. Gratitude costs us little when life is flowing along smoothly. But in difficulty, we learn to see what we truly have to be grateful for, and the things and people that really matter to us take center stage. All the trappings of the Christmas holiday season may feel like an assault rather than a balm for our tired souls, but if we look past the lights and tinsel, lovely as they are, we will see that the first Christmas was a gift to a desperate world from a God stretching out his hand of rescue.

Are you in need of rescue? I know I am. Not just from the bills and the stress but from a soul that forgets the strength available to me. I have allowed myself to be weighed down by the anchor of cultural expectations. Whether my Thanksgiving decor and foods are magazine worthy matters less then the grateful hearts that sit around the table. Whether my tree is large or small if I even have one and the number or expense of the gifts beneath it all pale in comparison to my realization of the joy that was brought to the world and that I can again access, even amid my daily trials.

I won’t challenge you, but I will encourage you. Don’t hold your heart hostage or grit your teeth through these days. Delight in them and in the one who is the giver of all good things. He has not forgotten us. I pray that you will feel his hand reaching down to rescue you.