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Hard Lessons from Hot Dogs

All the hot dogs, burgers and shakes you can consume.

That sounds like the ultimate job perk to the average teenager, doesn't it? My son certainly thought so.

He doesn't anymore.

But before we get to that...

Getting healthy as a family has been really fun for my kids (except the exact opposite)

For a long while, my wife and I have looked for ways to eat healthier and become more active. Like many people, we've crashed and burned several times.

Last year, however, we discovered and embraced something that worked for us. Not only did our bodies feel the positive impact, but we actually found ourselves giving God leadership over that area of our lives.

And so we decided to make it a family-wide thing.

And yes, our kids resisted it.

"Can I ask what that is?" they'd each ask just before dinner was served.

The push back was discouraging. We felt tempted to let it wear us down. Instead, we told them we were going to commit to this for a few months - possibly even longer.

That's when the polite objections from our teenager became more noticeable.

"Can I  possibly not have any quinoa?"

"Is there any way I can just have a regular slice of pizza?"

"What if I add chocolate to this almond milk?"

My wife and I kept pursuing the plan, though.

We also realized that we needed to do more than impose the new principles on our kids but actually help them see the wisdom in it all. This involves everything from on-the-spot explanations in the grocery store to sharing appropriate bursts of information they can process at their level.

A lot of things in life are like that, aren't they?

As parents, we try to do something meaningful or inspirational for our kids and they resist us. We're tempted to cave because their sighs attack our intentions. Only when we determine to live by conviction can we mentor them forward to eventually coming on board.

First Day on the JobLike how my son recently started his first job at a local restaurant and learned a fringe benefit was getting to order anything off the menu he wanted for free. He figured he'd found a little escape twice a week to eat whatever he wanted.

That is until he started coming home from work sluggish and sick. The food tastes great, but it isn't always great to pig out on.

"I need something healthy to eat," he'd murmur after a long shift. "Do we have, like, lettuce?"

It took all my wife and I had to not give him an "I told you so" speech.

A lot of things in life are like that, aren't they?

My son has now started packing his own lunch, making sure to include grapes, carrot sticks or some other type of produce. To be clear, we still have junk food in our home and he still has moments when he eats poorly and pays the price for it.

But there's progress.

This whole thing has reminded me about how our heavenly Father parents us. He warns us how some things in life will "taste great" on the front end yet "make us sick" on the back end. He then pursues us with what's best for us, even though we're tempted to run the other way.

Then we pig out on shallow things and pay the price in deep ways.

Parenting means we have to be both a teacher and a student; an advocate and a counselor; a wall and a runway.

Maybe if we choose to be authentic to our own learning curve with Jesus, we can help our kids with theirs. A lot of things in life are like that, aren't they?

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