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Keeping House

"Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back." —Mark 13:35

Read: Mark 13

My wife Wendy and I live in a house of toddlers which means that at any given moment, our little home can look like hurricane-force winds blew through, tossing about everything that isn't nailed down. Toys are scattered, clothes are strewn over the furniture and...is that string cheese ground into our rug? We try, sometimes to no avail, to keep up with our cyclical mess.

However, once I get word that my mother-in-law is coming to visit, a new side of me emerges -- an unrelenting, super-cleaning alter ego that is intent on spot-shining the house into model-home glory. You see, not only did she and my father-in-law help us buy this place, but Ethelmarie keeps a pretty tidy house. And while she may not be bothered by the mountainous pile of juice cups in my sink, I still don't want her to see them. So my inner Mr. Clean -- the one that speedily washes fingerprints from windows and mops floors -- really only comes out when I know she's stopping by. And while her visits are usually announced, we love that she will occasionally just pop in. As a result, Wendy and I are now doing our best to keep the house Ethel-ready at all times, managing the maelstrom in small, daily increments (as much as Mya and Ella will allow, that is.)

We all have houses to keep -- both brick-and-mortar and flesh-and-blood -- that can benefit from daily attention. And you never really know when company's coming.

Lord, we are so grateful for the bodies that house our souls and do not take lightly that we were made in your image. Please help us find the daily motivation to be faithful stewards of the physical gifts we've been given. Amen.

--Eric Velazquez

HEALTH, ON THE SIDE Side dishes are supposed to be an accompaniment, but many favorites can jam in more calories than you want for an entire meal. Lighten up your plate with these healthy (but still delicious) substitutions.

Instead of: French fries Choose: Oven-baked fries The Payoff: At least 30 percent less fat

Instead of: Mac and Cheese Choose: Rice Pilaf or 5-Ingredient Cheesy Rice The Payoff: A healthy reduction in fat, cholesterol and calories.

(If it’s mac and cheese or bust, try our tips for lightening up your favorite recipe.)

Instead of: Mashed potatoes Choose: A baked sweet potato or sweet potato oven fries The Payoff: Half the calories and piles of vitamin A

Instead of: Butter-drenched vegetables Choose: Roasted seasonal veggies The Payoff: Big flavor for a fraction of the fat and calories

Instead of: Creamy salad dressing Choose: Vinaigrette The Payoff: Healthier fats and 40 calories less per tablespoon

Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition.