Hi, I’m a grateful believer in Jesus. I struggle with codependency, anxiety, and the effects of past abuse. My name is Tiffani. I became a Christian when I was 30 years old, and for many years I volunteered in children’s ministry. I served as a Sunday school teacher, VBS teacher and coordinator. I also served as a youth group leader, teen chat leader, young adult leader, and eventually as the children and youth ministry coordinator. All the while my life was secretly spinning out of control. The poor choices I made left me feeling unloved, unworthy, and lonely. When my chaotic lifestyle came into the light, I was asked to step down from all of these positions that I loved and found my worth in. My heart broke; I had to accept I was not a good example for the children. I was hopeless. Fortunately, a counselor told me about a local Celebrate Recovery program and I started attending.
After a few years in Celebrate Recovery, I went to my first One-Day event where I attended the breakout session for Celebration Place. I remember thinking – this is it, this is what I am to do; I just know it! I wanted to start immediately. However, God had a different plan. He not only wanted to equip me to lead Celebration Place; he wanted to heal me. My passion for teaching children never went away, but the shame, guilt, unforgiveness, codependency, and anger over the physical, emotional, and sexual abuse I endured as a child were still present in my life. During the next two years, I participated in two step studies. The healing was incredible! The time I spent serving as a CR leader was equipping me to run Celebration Place.
At the Celebrate Recovery Summit in 2014, I attended the sessions for Celebration Place and received the go-ahead from my ministry leader to start. I went home and started with two other ladies. Unfortunately, I didn’t start as I was taught by the regional representatives. I knew a better way — my way. The first six months were awful.
When I read the lessons, I felt the children would not understand them so I would change them. I was not enforcing the program guidelines for the children either. I was still holding on to pride and not trusting the process of recovery. I understood the DNA of Celebrate Recovery but wasn’t following through with the DNA of Celebration Place. The serenity prayer says, “trusting that he will make all things right if I surrender to his will.” That word if is a small word but sure says a lot. I had to yet again completely trust God and surrender Celebration Place to him. He proved to me again that his ways are always better than what I had in mind.
Celebration Place has helped me grow in my recovery as I prepare each week to teach the children. The lessons are the same as for the adults but easier to understand. I have had many of my own ‘aha’ moments while teaching the children in Celebration Place. Watching the children grow closer to God and overcome their struggles has brought me a tremendous amount of joy. God is using all my past hurts and experiences to help not just adults but children, too.
God has the confidence in me that I lack. He has even given me the privilege to be the Northeast Regional Representative for Celebration Place. Today I get to help others start Celebration Place programs in their area. I am in awe of how God has turned my life around and that he entrusts me to work in such an important ministry as Celebration Place.
In the Bible, Acts 20:24 says, “But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus – the work of telling others the Good News about the grace of God” (NLT).
Thanks for letting me share.