Why complain?

This weekend I had the opportunity to volunteer at our church's food pantry. There are few things I've done more humbling and more gratitude-inducing. Even those of us who aren't viewed as "rich" in this country are in reality far richer than we acknowledge. Experiences like the one I had make almost a more powerful impact than footage of shanty towns in developing countries -- these are people in my own backyard struggling to make a life for themselves.

Do I have to line up once a week for free food because the rest of my money went to paying bills? Do I have to choose between a semi-nutritious diet for my family and putting gas in the car? No. Thank God. And yet, even if I was forced to do those things, I must also force myself to be grateful for what I have.

There is only one poorest person in the world and only one richest; if you're not either of them, that means there's not only someone who's always better off than you financially, but there's always someone worse off. Wherever we're at in life, we ought to be thankful for the good things we've got. Evie the singer taught me that as a child, but I need frequent reminding:

"Why complain about the way that you look
Why complain about the scolding that you took
Why complain when so many cannot run
Why complain when you're having so much fun

Just be thankful for the good things that you've got
Oh be thankful for the good things that you've got
The good things that you've got are for many just a dream
So be thankful for the good things that you've got

Why complain about your clothes and your shoes
Why complain about your teacher and her rules
Why complain when so many have no home
Why complain when you have one of your own"

My first baby shower

This last weekend, Superman and I traveled to his neck of the woods to visit "the fam." My thoughtful mother-in-law threw me a delightful baby shower -- the first I've ever attended in my honor! Though it was difficult to restrain my competitive prowess (no respectable woman in my family leaves a shower without game-winning spoils), so as not to horde all the baby gifts AND prizes, the evening was very pleasant. Mother Superman left no traditional stone unturned, and I love her for it.

UPDATE: "Like a Piece of Meat" -- Desperate tight-pink-shirted woman has downgraded, not to a short shirt or outerwear sports bra, but to a white top that she ties/tucks INTO what is quite obviously NOT a sports bra. There is some phrasing on it that I can't quite make out because of the, um, stretching (ahem). So ya. That's my new view from the back-row bicycles.

Don't you think it's odd...

...that picking out new glasses requires you to try on frames without the benefit of corrected vision? Odd indeed. The shop lady looked taken aback when I picked them up after they were done --with my prescription inside-- and exclaimed "Oh, they ARE cute!" At any rate, these are my new specs. Not to be confused with my old specs, which, though similar, were not Nike brand. Now at last my eyes will be fast!


Yesterday at church I was challenged. And what's church without a little challenge? This time it came from my brother who was giving the sermon at the local church where he's youth minister. The teaching was taken from the story of the good Samaritan. It's one many of us have heard a hundred times in as many different ways. But I saw it from a slightly different angle this particular morning.

We the congregates were asked to ponder whether the thing that prevented a priest and a Levite from helping the beaten man on the road to Jericho was simply asking the wrong question: "What will happen to me if I stop to help him?" The question they should have asked, and presumably the question our Samaritan example did ask, was "What will happen to this man if I don't help him?"

It's the simple yet profound conundrum of our human race. There is no shortage of excuses when it comes to not helping someone in need -- many of them very good excuses, in fact. But this isn't just about a stranger by the side of the road in physical peril. It's about your friend, your neighbor, your co-worker, your sister. One thing it's certainly not about: you.

I generally consider myself a kind person and thoughtful friend. Well, at least that's how I come off. In my mind, however, exists this funnel-like object. Acts of love and caring come pouring down and I am happily drenched in them. But in a dry season, I position that funnel in front of my eye and see the wide world as a bevy of blessings that ought to be swishing and funneling toward me. This is particularly true in my friendships.

My human condition mingled with past hurts has led to a shameless self-addiction. "Why aren't they calling ME?" "Why aren't they checking up on ME?" How backward. How narrow. Every one of my precious friends is going through her own unique challenges. She may not be bloodied on the side of the road, but her heart might be wrung or her spirit exhausted. How could I know if I don't ask?

Lord, grant me the strength to turn the funnel around and use it as a scope to target the people I should bless, and let all the gifts you've given me come flooding through to reach them.

Of sitcom mommies on the down-low

I know I'm not the only one who thought it was comical when TV sitcoms would attempt to camouflage the pregnancies of their leading ladies. Clair Huxtable almost always had grocery bags in her hands or was sitting at a desk when Phylicia Rashad was pregnant. But she was lucky because her belly was about the only thing that looked pregnant about her.

Not so for Daphne Moon. When Jane Leeves was with child on "Frasier," she showed it everywhere. But since pregnancy didn't fit into the plot line, the writers came up with some over-the-top stress-related weight gain. It was quite something to behold -- how many pounds this dainty Brit could pack on in a season.

Carrie Heffernan took a similar route. "King of Queens" wouldn't be "King of Queens" with a baby in the mix, so Leah Remini's condition also was not addressed on the show. And it was like watching a balloon inflate. Except this time the writers were smart enough to not even address the unaccounted-for weight gain. And why should they? As if people in the real world don't bulk up and slim down without cause? Geez, Hollywood, cut a girl some slack.

Alas, I am learning quickly that when it comes to pregnancy, I'm no Clair Huxtable. There will be no sticking me behind a counter and calling it good. I am doomed to the same pregnancy fate as Carrie and Daphne. Of course my frame wasn't as petite as theirs to begin with, but you get the idea. I have resigned myself to the fact that I will be roughly the size of a house for the duration. (When I told my almost 5-year-old nephew this, he laughed, and reminded me that's impossible -- "but people can be as big as dog houses." How true.)

How do you not love Ross?

Here's your "Friends" fix for the day...priceless

It has been determined

I would not like to live in the Land of the Teletubbies. It just raises too many questions...

• Why does Tinkie-Winkie need a purse when there's no place to shop?

• What happens to the baby who lives in the sun whenever it sets?

• Can I watch any TV programs other than the ones that appear on their bellies?

• Whom do I take orders from -- the narrator or the lady who calls out "Time for Teletubbies"?

• What exactly is there for me to do when the Teletubbies return to their abode? Do I bunk with them?

• Would I be limited to eating only Tubby Pudding?

• Will Tinkie-Winkie, Bipsy, La La and Po even understand my complete sentences?

• Would I be required to wear the same color day after day and attach a shape of some kind to my head?

• Can I please leave?