Friday, June 27, 2008

feeling more rested

Many thanks to my wife for forcing me to go to bed early last night...I have a busy day/night ahead (Celebrate Freedom music festival...Crowder, Sanctus Real, etc.), plus going to Granny's tomorrow... I actually feel pretty good....

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

not dealing with stress well (and I keep messing up...)

Well, the stress is getting to Missy and I. Just so many things going on...I won't list them (some of you probably know them). hard part is Missy and I deal with stress in different ways. When I am stressed, I need people, afirmations, etc. I want to be social. Missy is the opposite: she wants to be left alone. Now, when one or the other is stressed (but the opposite person is not), we do alright as nearly 7 years of marriage experience kicks in and we just push through. But when we are both stressed (like now) gets interesting. I get clingy, she wants to be left alone. I end up feeling unloved, and she ends up feeling smothered.

We know much of it is due to the "season" we are in, but it is tough. It is hard to find a middle ground.

Add to that several areas lately I feel like I'm "dropping the ball" in, and you can imagine it's not helping things...

So, prayers for patience, perseverance, wisdom, humility, etc. would be appreciated!

My Granny ROCKS

If you have known me for like, oh, over 5 minutes, you know that I love my Granny. You probably already know some stories, usually about her funny phrases, spunky persona, or her, um, famous "gas" issues.

Well, at the age of "nearly 91", her body is giving out, and is now in hospice care at her home. She has had such an amazing life. I am not so much sad as I am grateful and honored to have had a grandmother like her for 33+ years of my life, and that she has known my wife Missy for over 7 and my son Jax for almost 4...I barely remember (more images and stories) any of my great-grandparents, but I do remember things from when I was Jax's age so I am hopeful he will always have some memories of Granny.

If I am struggling with anything, it is just the realization that an era of my life is truly coming to an childhood. I know, I know...I'm coming up on 34, and I'm supposed to be "grown up", but this is my last grandparent and major link to a more carefree time...and I will miss her.

Thank you, Lord, for Granny! Please make whatever time she has left be relaxing and joyful as many folks love-on her, visit her, etc...

Great Mission Trip

Fayetteville, Arkansas was awesome last week! A very cool town, and the 100ish teens and adults truly seemed to experience God in a very real way as they blessed others. My two favorite things were probably a) worship on Mt. Sequoia (was not planned until that day; we "punted" and decided to go all unplugged and rustic...), complete with fireflies all around and a cool view of the city/valley below, and b) the fact that this was the first trip where I heard ZERO complaints about work teams...even on trips where folks seem to be getting along, there are at least one or two teams that just seem to not "click"...and I usually hear about it. Not this time...and we had a whopping 12 teams! Woohoo God!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Being Away from My Family (not cool for very long...)

I am about to embark on a week-long mission trip to Fayetteville, Arkansas (well, Saturday morning I will). I am anticipating a week of seeing teens and adults experience God in mighty ways as they selflessly work their tails off helping those in need, as they hang out together, and as they worship together. Every year (even "not so fun" ones), I come back with a sense of awe and honor that I was a small part of this experience for so many.

But usually by Wednesday (that is, with several days still remaining on the trip), I start missing my Missy and Jax.

I really wouldn't be a good trucker, travelling salesman, musician/actor who goes on tour, or is on set for weeks, military man, etc. And it's not like when I'm home I need to spend every waking minute with them, but for some reason mid-week on a mission trip, I start getting that "tug". Like, I'll be standing in line at a fast food place in some random town and hear a toddler whining to his momma (probably annoying everyone else in the place), and I get all mushy inside. Or some cool experience is happening and I'm like, "I wish Missy could be here to share this with me." And I DEFINITELY feel it at closing rally (a gathering in a big church of all "living centers", usually a couple-thousand folks), where it is a mish-mash of emotions ranging from being in awe of God, to exhausted, to hungry, to already missing new friends, to dreading the several hours remaining in a car because you want to see your wife and kid yesterday!

But it is a part of who I am I suppose. This year, the dynamic will be a bit different as Jax is spending the week in Houston with Gramma and Pops (aka my parents). he will have a BLAST, and momma will get some much needed studying (and some peace and quiet) done. But, despite a week of not worrying/chasing a kid around, and despite that yesterday was a really crazy day with Jax (not listening, pooping in pants like, oh, four times, not napping, finding, um, "poo artwork" all around the house, etc.), we both lay in bed last night and agreed we'd miss the little guy a lot. Missy even said, "I don't know what I am going to do without him for seven days..." We love our little man!

So pray for all of us as we will be apart for a week. I am certainly grateful to be in a family that loves one another and actually LIKES being we all know there are an abundance of families that can't wait to get away from each other...

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Getting Smacked on the head with the God Frying Pan (aka, when God says, "hey, I'm here...I've got ya!", even as we try to ignore...)

So last week was interesting on many levels. Feeling tired, worried, un-content, immature, etc. I had many plates spinning and I really didn't want to stop some of them from falling. So I did what I at times do best: I whined. To friends, in posts on this blog, whatever. It is cathartic to be able to post what I do, but sometimes I do look back (either on my own or in response to someone's comment about it) and go, "Dang, need to rest in the Lord seek his peace and lean not on your own understanding..."

Well, a funny thing happened late in the week. It started when, let's just say, I found out my blog was "broadcasting" some messages that I didn't intend...but I can't complain about because, well, I take a risk (as does anyone posting their writings, art, etc., for public viewing) that someone may not agree or appreciate what I say. So at first I was a bit bummed. Not mad or angry, just bummed, and not at any specific people, more at myself than anything.

So I woke up Friday and was compelled to read 1 Peter 2:4-12 and write my last post ( And my fears, frustrations, and worry started melting away... First one to go was, "how on earth am I going to have time to prep a Sunday School lesson?" Well, as soon as I wrote the post, I stopped and said, "I think we have a lesson!" And it was fun to teach it Sunday morning...even found out one of the teens was led to read that very verse earlier in the stuff...

Then, later, I started prepping in earnest for the lock-in that night. Problem was, I had spent all day working in the 95 degree heat laying some I was a bit concerned I would "fold" way too early. But I remembered the scripture I read earlier and the post I made...and decided to simply trust God. As I left the parking lot leading a caravan of 44 folks, I told my friend/co-worker/parent of two of the teens, "You know, I actually feel pretty good!" She gave a smile and a nice thumbs-up to me... :-)

And then, as I proceeded to go to Medieval Times (AWESOME), a middle-of-the-night swim party, and back to our church for movies, games, etc., and as I should've expected, another cool thing happened: I felt "fresh" all night! I usually start "fading" around 4 am or so...but I felt strong and alert all the way until I pulled into my driveway at 7:15 am. Then I crashed until 1:15 pm... And then I was able to go lay more sod! (I am usually a ZOMBIE after a lock-in...even after sleeping a bit...). Good stuff!

I also have felt more at peace about our coming mission trip, my concerns, etc. I am just going to trust. As I myself say to those attending, "EXPECT God to do amazing things!" I need to claim that for myself sometimes!!!

Finally, I have decided to just give the college group to God...if only one or two show up, it's all good. If ten come, awesome. But I need to just be grateful for who is sent each week, and allow God to speak... I also LOVE how Missy (wife) seems to be sensing the need to share wisdom and her experiences with them. It is a good ministry venue for her...and that makes my smile!

So, woohoo to God for smacking me around a bit and saying, "Dude, I'm here...I know what's up...let me take over!"

Friday, June 6, 2008


The Living Stone and a Chosen People
4As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him— 5you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6For in Scripture it says:
"See, I lay a stone in Zion,
a chosen and precious cornerstone,
and the one who trusts in him
will never be put to shame."[a] 7Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe,
"The stone the builders rejected
has become the capstone,[b]"[c] 8and,
"A stone that causes men to stumble
and a rock that makes them fall."[d] They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for.
9But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

11Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. 12Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.
***1 Peter 2:4-12, NIV

Wow. I love how Peter uses the word "stone" to describe both our savior and redeemer(Jesus) and us ("living stones"). We are called stones, a part of a spiritual house. God has NO REASON to call or allow any of us to be a part of his work, but despite our sin and rebellion against him, he chose to love and atone for our sins, anyway ( But think about the word "stone". To me, that implies strength, a strength given to us by the Lord. I know I often don't feel much like a stone...sometimes a nice piece of oak or maple, but wood still can be consumed in fire. But stone? God calls us stone? That's a different thing altogether...

As one saved by Christ, this implies:

...that we are directly rooted in the "Stone of Stones", and that his strength and might are available to us through him...even when we are convinced we are just weak...God is strong...

...that since God calls his chosen people a "holy priesthood", he must love us and think enough of his creation that through his redemption of us, we are truly able to be God's "hands and feet" in this world...I need to remember that better, as I am often too easily convinced that I'm not able to be used by God...because when I use my criteria (or the world's), I am just not good enough...but praise God for saving me, a messed up sinner, through Christ! My criteria doesn't matter...

But as a result, the world around us often simply can't relate.

We are called "aliens and strangers", and as humans, we don't like that idea. We (I) want to just be like everyone else. We don't like rocking the boat. But we are stones rooted in the Stone. God chooses to use us to spread his message in word and deed. Others may scoff, or get upset, or even go, "hey, I know how much you mess up...all the gossip and ugly attitudes you have (or have had in the past), why should I listen to you or accept your faith in this 'Jesus'?"

But we are stone.

We are redeemed.

We are chosen.

God wants to use US. Even in our mess. Even though a war goes on in our soul.

May we allow God to mold us, shape us, give us courage, help us to realize the strength he provides, to be motivated to live a selfless life, motivated out of gratitude for the fact that despite my original ugly heart that too often has tried to push God out the door, God's son STILL was willing to walk with us, be tortured and killed for us, and rise up again in final victory...FOR US!!!!!!!!

****DISCLAIMER: My "h" key is broken...has been for as a result, whenever I type that letter, I must hit "control-V", and I can't capitalize it. I'm not trying to make some "statement" by not capitalizing "he" or "his" or "him" when referring to God...haha...I normally would...I know some folks want us to stop using male pronouns for God...and while I certainly think God is not one to be boxed in and through the Trinity MANY different roles and qualities are expressed (even possibly feminine ones), for whatever reason, most biblical scholars have translated the original texts/languages to use words like "father" alot to describe our creator...

Disclaimer over. Carry on!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Proud of our Graduates!

I've had four years now of "graduating seniors" (I focused on junior high at my previous "post"...), and each group has had teens I love and am proud of deeply. This year an additional element was in the fray: It was my first group that I've been privileged to go all through high school with.

I always watched and wondered what it would be like to graduate a group like this, one I've walked with for so long. I would see my old boss, Josef, truly be proud of "his" kids back in houston, and while I would also be proud, it wasn't nearly what he felt. I suppose this is just one of those things you never truly "get" until it is your turn...

Well, this year, 2008, it's my turn. I've seen these kids grow so much, and I'm honored to have played a part at all.

Well done!

Proud of our Youth Band!

I just want to salute the folks in ParadigmShift, the youth worship band at our church. They have been working their TAILS OFF getting songs prepped to lead worship at our mission trip to Fayetteville, AR, in a bit more than a week. It has always been a fun group in its' various permutations, but for some reason, it seems like things are "clicking" really well. My hope is that their motivation is truly based on a desire to give God all the glory, and from conversations I've had both corporately and individually, it seems like it is.

Some songs being learned are simply for fun or to set a "mood" (Like, "Sadie hawkins Dance" by Relient K...basically just a good jumpy song to play as folks are arriving at an event), but some are almost giving me a good way. Today we did a couple new songs (for us), and it was almost like practice itself was meant to worship God with all our might (I mean, I know it ALL should be...but sometimes practice, for better or worse can seem like...well, practice...but today, it was another level...AWESOME!). Songs like "You Never Let Go" by Matt Redman or "Give Me Jesus" by Jeremy Camp were just so what I needed...I am praying that God speaks through the lyrics and arrangements as we worship in song at mission trip...and that we are singing/playing loudly (and sincerely) back to him!


I am the king of "reading-into" a tone, or an attitude, etc., from things like email or other forms of the written word. For example, my wife will send a "short" email response, and I may assume something is wrong, or she's mad at me, etc., even if in truth, she isn't. But I can read into what she is trying to project, and maybe ask too many questions...or not trust her...or simply take something personal. And we may even end up in a tizzy over something that, in truth, started at nothing but a mis-read by one of us. If I was talking face-to-face, I would know more...

It goes the same way with blogs I suppose, as I am learning.

One natural trait of mine that is both a gift and a curse is what I will call "transparency". What you see is basically what you get. If I am asked, "how are you today?" and the truth is that I'm not doing well...I'll probably say, "oh, just ok..." I try not to turn it into a therapeutic session (although I'm sure it has at times haha), but sometimes that catches folks off guard. Another example (usually with the teens I serve) is what I call, "telling folks stuff I wish I had heard when I was growing up", mostly in the faith/attitude arena. It is a gift because I have heard folks say they appreciate how "authentic" I am (I know the truth: I'm not always authentic...but who is I suppose?), or that I am not afraid to lovingly encourage and challenge folks to a higher calling. Where I get in trouble, however, is that sometimes folk aren't always wanting that, or sometimes (usually when I'm tired) I share "too much" and should just stop when I'm ahead. In fact, one joking nickname I developed in college was "The King of TMI (Too Much Information)". Another way I get in trouble with my transparency is that in my desires to encourage and "lovingly challenge", sometimes folks take it wrong, like I'm angry, or that I think they are doing a horrible job in some area. I am an encourager by nature, so I rarely am angry (frustrated? sure...but generally I am glass-half-full). But, I don't think life (especially as a Christian) is one that goes without challenge. I actually appreciate a LOVING challenge, one where even if I don't like what I'm hearing at the time, I can tell that it is being told to me out of great care and respect, and because the challenge-er simply wants me to reach a potential they must think is in me...or to help me wade through a struggle I may not be handling right. I have struggled with not being bold enough, in fact...I guess one way God is shaping me is a greater boldness and courage...but sometimes it comes back to bite...

So, If you are someone who reads this blog occasionally, thank you. I do it because, in some weird way, it helps me feel out life. And on occasion, I hear from you guys that a post made you think, which is awesome. But I post out of love and care for you guys and gals. Sometimes (and, increasingly) my passions bleed through, and if they are taken wrong (like when I read into my wife's emails...), I apologize. Also, another trait about my transparency is I have a tendency to "think out loud" as I work through stuff...and sometimes that comes out in what I write. I journey through a whole process...sometimes it's cool, sometimes it makes it seem like I'm upset, or whatever. But keep reading, because 9-times out of 10, I come full circle in a posting. It's like God uses my words and thoughts to bring me back around to a realization of the Truth. And if in some weird way that helps you, awesome. Sometimes you may feel challenged, or tempted to say, "hey, wait a dang minute", but keep reading, and be willing to possibly explore why you have that emotion...maybe something stuck a chord. Or maybe (I admit) I myself was wrong.

So, I humbly submit this post. I am a man simply trying to allow God to keep making me more like Christ through sanctification (check out Philippians 1:4-7:;&version=31;), and boy, do I have TONS still to learn. I also know that what I post, I can't take back (unless I remove it or edit it really quick haha), but I don't think I've posted anything I have felt too "iffy" about (probably because I knew what I meant...) Regardless, I know some things are mis-read...

But I appreciate everyone's prayers, discussion, thoughts, and honesty. Thanks for being a part of my journey!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

College Group Night Uno

Well, we actually had a group! It was small (like, myself, my wife, and one recent high school grad...but another was coming and got confused as to the locale and went to the church instead of our house haha!), but I think it was worthwhile. We just hung out a bit, then ate some grilled beef (yummy), salad, and garlic bread (mmmmmm), then as we finished up eating started the Andy Stanley "Breakaway" video. It was a good video...not necessarily geared specifically for college agers though (Missy even said, "This might be better more for mid-20s and up"...and I may agree...), as Andy was obviously speaking to a cross-section of folk at his church. Still, we may watch one more of the series next week before deciding whether to "punt" or not after mission trip...

But last night's lesson was obviously an "intro" to a series, so just like the first movie of a trilogy often is, it's alot of "setup and character development with bits of action dropped in", so I'm hoping for more during the "meat" of the series. Still, I liked the main point, going off of Romans 12:2: Just as God calls us to allow him to renew our minds (aka attitudes, beliefs, and thought processes), Andy talked about how our decisions (followed by outcomes) are directly a result of our core beliefs on those issues...and how when we don't always like the outcomes, we usually spend lots of energy on changing the decisions...but not questioning the root beliefs that drove them.

Probably the best example he gave was folks who have been married multiple times. Stanley said that he often meets with folks being married 2, 3, or more times, and when he asks them about what the "common denominator" was in each failed marriage, every time people say, "I keep marrying the wrong person...I'll get it right next time". Andy says that is SOOOOO missing the obvious point...the common denominator isn't the "wrong person" (as they are different people each time...thus not a "common" denominator), it is YOU (as in, the one who keeps getting married). And as a result, the habitual divorcee/er needs to allow God to renovate their core beliefs on that issue...because they can't expect others (the "decision" part of the equation) to always drive the desired outcome. I'm not saying (and I really don't think Andy is either...but like I said he's just setting up the series) that desired outcomes are all about "us" and what we simply want (and just gritting our teeth to get here), but it's about acknowledging and LIVING God's truth in all things...and allowing the outcomes to be "all God"...and resting in his will, no matter what...

so tired that i can't sleep (aka, summer is already becoming crazy...and it's only June 4) *UPDATED*

So here I sit at 12:22 am...exhausted...but can't sleep. And I think at least some of it is due to so many "items" on my list... Some are family related, and not bad or anything...but just trying to "do my part" despite the fact it's summer and I'm busy. Missy's teaching test is soon, for example, and that makes our family schedule tough to nail down as she studies, etc. I also need to find time to visit my sister and nephew (I've only seen him once!), as well as my 91 y/o Granny as much as we can. Some are youth-ministry-responsibility and "lots of big stuff on the horizon to organize" related...lock-in Friday; first mission trip coming up in a week-and-a-half (and having some "iffy" feelings about it for some reason...foe example, I am in charge of worship...and as is often the case when several different Methodist churches gather, they are ALL OVER the board theologically...we tend to run on the conservative side...but every year, at least one church seems to barely even believe in orthodox Christianity and gets all in a tizzy...praying for peace and courage!), another mission trip (that I am directing) in late July that, because of all this other stuff, I have done a poor job getting prepped for; really spending time trying to train, encourage, and raise up teen leaders to take true ownership in our ministry, and it is going well, but still will require lots of planning, practices, brainstorming, and above all, time; and along those lines, continuing to head toward a re:boot of our Sunday evening stuff this fall. And then you always have that "other" stuff out there that you just don't know what to do with...the "what-if's?" of the future, not knowing what God is up to, etc.

So, just a bunch going on, and for some reason, it seems like alot more than usual... What do I do with this? Keep seeking balance, peace, and make sure my faith stays at the forefront... Tough to do, but I know folks will be praying for me (I know some already are...thanks!).

PS: I also think I'm getting sick...sore throat, "icky" feeling, etc...

UPDATE: So I ended up falling asleep at like 2:15...and Jax woke up early (6:55 am). I obviously chose to sleep instead of walk (2nd day in a row...C'MON, BEN!!! But, the walking is still doing wonders, BTW...haven't weighed in a couple days, but last time I was 182...creeping close to the sub-180 threshold I have only been to ONCE post-marriage, in the summer of 2006 for like 2 days haha.), but despite the lack of sleep (and I BETTER get some good rest before Friday or I'm really in trouble for the Lock-In), as often is the case, this post was quite cathartic, almost like a prayer, and despite the fact that there IS alot on my/our plate...I feel better, more at peace, and woohoo God for helping ease my mind...

My throat is still hurting though :-(

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Trying to Start Something for our College-Aged Folk (will it take????)

The church I serve in I suppose is like most churches out there. In some areas, they do a bang-up job and are setting some trends/examples for others to aspire to. In other areas, they simply drop the ball.

One area our church struggles with is ministering to "college-aged" (18-23ish?) young adults. And while I can't truly start and run a new ministry to them (my teen ministry responsibilities basically negate that), I also can't sit idly any longer.

I think it started really bugging me early last summer (2007). I had been in my current church for 3 years as youth minister, but hadn't really "graduated" any teens that I was especially close with. I mean, sure, I knew them, loved them, etc., but they weren't the "core" group (if you are in youth ministry, you know what I mean...we don't play favorites, but some kiddoes just gravitate and "resonate" toward you more...). Well, last year, I had some of my first graduates that I was especially close with move on...and there was nothing at our church for them. Well, not entirely true: earlier that year, I expressed some vision for a true "young adults" ministry and even had "names" brought to me that I sensed God was giving I prayed, swallowed hard, and shared the vision with those people. And they agreed! The problem was that we probably truly needed two separate groups: college/young singles, and "young marrieds-and/or older singles". My wife attended this group for awhile, and would tell me of the awkwardness of the class...where you had 30+ aged folks with young kids trying to relate discussion with an 18 y/o single still quite, I affirm the need to "multi-generalize" our church cultures more for sharing of gifts and wisdom, but I also see the value in something age/group specific. Well, apparently the vast differences in "where folks were at" was too great...and the class basically withered away...

So, we were left with nothing again.

Then this school year, I started noticing some college-age folks wandering into our Sunday School first, I didn't know what to do, as a) this was geared more for teens (at least in theory) and b) our risk management policies have guidelines for things like age-difference requirements for adults in the same room as kids, etc...and I wasn't sure how college students worked into that.

Well, first thing is I decided to go ahead and just let the college folk attend our Sunday School under the conditions of a) I tell each one I expect them to be a leader and an example above-and-beyond the youth, almost like a pseudo-adult leader. As a result, I tell them I won't be afraid to call them on the carpet harsher than I might a youth if they are "bringing down" the teens, and possibly ask them to move on if it becomes a problem (it hasn't). But, with nothing for them on Sunday mornings...except for one of the adult classes (some good classes and folks...but we have a huge generation gap at our church...20s and 30s are VERY rare for the most part...), I just decided to let them in until someone with authority comes to me saying it isn't right, etc.

Another thing I decided to implement for the summer months (when we have a decent chunk of college-agers around), with my wife's blessing, is a "college-aged discussion/study group" meeting weekly at our home. Tonight is supposed to be the first one. I think it could be really great...although I am a bit fearful that for tonight, it will be sparsely attended (day after high school graduation/"project graduation" all-night party, lots saying they have to work, etc.). And I even have some fears (I know...fear is DUMB...just being honest...I do have hope as well!) that this group will become what so many "startups" in our church seem to be: There are exceptions, but one quality I've noticed in four years here is that many folks have vision, ideas, purpose, etc., about new-or-adapted ministry ideas and opportunities, and often folks seem to "like" the new ideas-at least on the surface level. But, it's almost like folks struggle to truly "buy into" anything new or groundbreaking. Won't do what it takes to "make it happen", like sensing a call to plug into a ministry, so they re-arrange some personal stuff to insure their participation...maybe (and, probably) that isn't unique to our church, but it sure happens alot. I kinda wonder if it happens to this group as well. I say that due to conversations I've had...many folks seemed really excited about this group when I announced it to them a couple months back. And when I started asking for "date and time" ideas for the group, almost no one had an opinion..."just tell us, Ben, and we'll be there". Well, now folks are having to work, or scheduling outings with friends...etc. I know you can't help some stuff...but I guess for me, if there is something I TRULY want to be a part of, I do all I can to rearrange...ask off for Tuesdays instead of Thursdays, for example...or say you're busy on group night (or even, gasp!, invite your friend to our group!), etc. I know I'm being kinda weird, and I know God will send who needs to be there...I'm just praying and hoping for all of them :-). I also know some of this hesitation is due to the unknown...we have never had a group like this...and these folks likely want to make sure it is worth their time...and I do understand...

So, I'm praying for this to be a blessing to our college folk... Simply put, I love these folk and want them to have a place to grow their faith in an intimate, honest, group setting. I am excited...these folks are very special to me...and I know college can be a "make or break" time for one's is when my wife became a follower of Christ, and while I did in high school, it was during my college years where God really began working on me, my utter allegiance and dependence on him, etc...

I'll keep you posted.