Every year we enjoy having a Thanksgiving meal in our home with family to celebrate the gratitude of God’s blessings. We invite someone into our home during the holidays, someone who for one reason or another isn’t able to be with his or her family. Our kids have taken on the example, and now when they come they always bring someone with them. This Thanksgiving was no different.
Our youngest daughter and her husband invited a friend, Charles, who has been to our home before for the holidays. Charles, in turn, invited his friend Howard. The aroma of a great meal filled the kitchen. The sound of laughter echoed as the adults talked and the kids played games.
We gathered for prayer and then formed a line to fill our plates. Charles and Howard stood back and waited for everyone else to go through the line. Mary and I waited, too. By the time we were ready to sit down, the dining room table was full.
Charles knew there was a smaller table on the back porch. So that’s where he headed, with Howard following him. Mary and I joined them and started a conversation about what we were thankful for.
Charles began to tell us a little about Howard’s story of serving in the Iraq war on several missions. The military awarded Howard five Purple Hearts, a Bronze Star, and other medals of distinction. We realized we were sitting at the table with a humble hero.
Unfortunately, like many heroes, his time in the war came with a huge price. After enduring the atrocities of war, he came home to a life he no longer knew. His struggles with PTSD caused him to lose jobs, his family, and his sanity for a while.
Then Charles introduced Howard to Celebrate Recovery. Howard said, “Celebrate Recovery changed my life. I still have issues to work on. But today I have a band of brothers that I am working through them with. I am not trying to do life alone anymore.”
We told Howard about the new Celebrate Recovery initiative, Welcome Home, designed specifically for veterans. With tear-filled eyes he said, “I look forward to getting involved with this group to give other vets the hope I’ve found through Celebrate Recovery.”
Howard called me the next day and simply said, “Thank you. I really had nowhere to go on Thanksgiving. I would’ve sat at home alone. But because of Celebrate Recovery my family has grown. I made new good memories spending the day with your family that is now part of my family.”
I was reminded that in Celebrate Recovery no one has to walk alone.
Celebrate Recovery National Director