Thursday, February 23, 2006

Goin' Postal

I felt like this when we got the letter from the U.S. Postal Service. I'm not sure how Lynné felt, but it couldn't have involved smiles.

Try to follow these events carefully, and see if you can come to any other conclusion than the one we figured: the Sleimans in Washington getting screwed by the Post Office.

Lynné hand-knit a wedding shawl from her own hand-spun thread. I would post the picture, but I can't get a digital version of it. Trust me, it's beautiful. More than that, it represented over three months of work. Not just any three months, mind you. Lynné was pregnant(with morning sickness) during the move to 922 York Avenue, #2... and this shawl was her work in the spare and off-time (between bouts of sickness). It was intended for one of my best friends in Texas, Jessica Cleckley; specifically, for her wedding. Even more specifically, a wedding we wouldn't be able to go to since it was scheduled on a day too close to LilyAnne's due date. This shawl was a little bit of us, our hearts (and Lynné's own sweat) to be on our friend's special day.

In August '04, to make sure it arrives in time for Jessica's dress fitting, Lynné mails the wedding shawl. We don't figure there's much hurry, but we are very anxious that it arrives. We make sure it is sent by "delivery confirmation." I can remember Lynné wondering aloud (worrying aloud, that is), "What if it does get lost in the mail?" That's why we insured it for $300 dollars. After all, even if it does get lost... we'll get the claim money. Isn't that what everyone thinks when they purchase US Postal Insurance?

By late August of '04, the tracking number for the wedding shawl, via an Internet site, indicates that the package has arrived. Oddly enough, there's no signature box. Yet, when we talk to Jessica on the phone, she says no shawl has arrived. We have her investigate while we investigate our end. Our side turns up nothing, except a form for claiming a lost item. Jessica's side brings up the most fruitful (and condemning to the Postal Service) information. That is, her regular postal employee was out sick... that there is no signature for an item requiring a signature... that the shawl, package and all, is nowhere they can find.

One baby and one wedding later, Jessica Locklear sends the Sleimans a letter saying she didn't receive it. Here is an exerpt from her letter.
"I cannot describe the value my husband and I place on that gift [the wedding shawl]. Not only is the piece worth a great deal due to the fact that it was entirely handmade, but there is also the sentimental value. It was made specifically for my wedding gift, to wear on my wedding day. .... And more than any other item I wore or carried on my wedding day, the shawl was to me going to be the biggest heirloom of all to pass down to my daughters, and granddaughters for their wedding days. Now, not only has my wedding passed, but it also seems we will never see the shawl again."
Pretty scathing, isn't it?
Lynné and I put together the package to give to the Post Office Claims desk. We thought that since the shawl didn't arrive, we hoped to use the insurance money to buy her something that we know she would really like (such as a spinning wheel). Just so that you all know, you cannot turn in this form to just any post office. In each city, there is one claims office. We wait in line, hand over the picture of the shawl, the letter, and our hopes for the claim. No one in this office really wants to conduct the business we're doing. We, after all, would have much rather preferred to have the shawl arrive. They, we guess, never really want to pay up the insurance they sell. We ask the lady as we hand her the forms, "Do you think it'll work out?"
"I don't know," she replies. "It's kind of questionable."
Final event. Today. The arrival of a check from the United States' Postal Service. We did not get the Insurance Coverage of $300. We did not get the cost of insurance, $4.20. Instead, we received the cost of postage, $1.09. This face says it all.

We are pretty frustrated. Jessica Locklear, the newlywed, suggested I take the Postal Service to court. After all, what case can they make? They accepted the $300 risk of loss, they lost the shawl, they refused to pay.
But, here we delve into some paranoia of Youssef's mind, what are the chances of actually winning? And if we win, what will the government pay? Only $300 to me, and my lawyer's fees? Will there be a precedent set--that all postal services must make good on their insurance claims--or will a different precedent be set, that the government can do whatever it wants because its bigger, stronger. Think about that draconian picture... and think of the weaker man's reply, "There must be some other recourse. Let's use FedEx or UPS from now on." If the postal service can bully us around, pickpocketing anyone who is dupe enough to pay for insurance, why can't we bully them around? I feel like the little nerd who, after so many pushes, has finally thought of pushing back. So what if Bruno, the 8th grader who shaves, breaks my nose, humiliates me in front of the class? Despite my pain, I've unmasked his tyranny before the other students. So what if this government appendage escapes on a technicality, that they didn't say they would pay the 300... that 300 was only a limit to the value of the item... that 1.09 was all their underwriters could find in their frigid hearts to give to the honest request? Despite our pain, we've unmasked their tyranny before the other citizens.
Together, we can put the USPS out in the cold where it has left so many of us.

I have been able to digitize a picture of the shawl. Enjoy.

For those who didn't believe the U.S. Government would stoop to sending one-dollar checks, look here. This is the return we get for purchasing $300.00 of postal service insurance. Perhaps I can buy some stamps... nope, just three stamps.

Friday, February 17, 2006

This is the humble abode of yours truly. Recognize the car, everyone?

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Borrowing Youssef's blog again

I probably shouldn't swipe Youssef's blog again (this is his wife Lynné, if you hadn't guessed), but I need to say something that someone can hear. Not that any specific person needs to hear me, only that I need to speak.

I've been depressed lately. You might be thinking that it's "postpartum depression" or something... perhaps it is but it's feels just exactly as all the other depression that I've had to deal with most of my life .. though most people can't see it. I told a friend of mine once, "If I didn't have Jesus in my life I'd be a manic depressant." She laughed and said that would be hard to picture because I've always seemed so happy. Some people might think that I act oddly joyful (actually.. some people HAVE thought that.) Other people thought that I was flirting or showing off (just because I was happy and smiling.)

I heard some where that if you aren't where you'd like to be or like how you feel.. if you're sad or whatever.. that you should think of the time when you were in a good place (not just a feel good place but a time.. even if it was just a moment.. of your soul being at peace.. true joy.) And Think of what were you doing?

What was I doing when I felt that way?

I was singing.

Not on a stage (*shudders*) .. not really because I liked to sing (though I do) .. but because I was singing songs that were like prayers. Songs of intimate worship (like I Want to Know You) songs of happy loveing worship (or songs that cried out for help) for the lover of my soul.

I haven't sung much in a long time. Back then I sang in the shower, doing the dishes, walking, inbetween words. My Mom said that I was a musical come to life. I stopped singing because I was afraid. ... People can think that you are showing off when you sing all the time.. and they can gossip and be hurtful and then your joy can fall away when you try to do what they say. ... only for me, stopping the songs was stopping the communion and worship with God that gave me that joyful spirit.

So, back to today. I watched an extreemly depressing movie. It was from the library and the back said that it was about a girls coming of age story with hardships that she overcame. It was all hardship and not at all encouraging. I was tired too, which never helps my mood. Then I was depressed. Maybe this is a bad habit, but when ever I am sad, I always try to figure out why I feel that way. I guess I think that if I can find the cause I'll be able to deal with it. Only that never works... I start to turn to other people or things (or popcorn) to make me feel better.. or perhaps find something or someone to blame. From some tiny irritant as small as a bug bite to something bigger.. some gigantic hurt from my past that I drage up again and again thinking that it's making me this way.

But the problem is less complex... more beautifully healed.

I miss living in the country where I can see His creation so much easier without all this clutter that people think so necessary. But I really have no good reason to be depressed. He has given me so much. Even though I was just interrupted by a knock from one of our tenents saying that there is a leak in the ceiling of their laundry room (another problem of many problems we've fixed in our old house)... yet.. He's given us a roof.. (*grin* though it might leak in places occasionally) We don't have much money, but we can pay our bills. Our furniture isn't new by any close margin.. but we have places to sit!

I HAVE no reason to be depressed. Yet today I was looking for one. Such dumb things that I get annoyed about... that I'm even ashamed to admit. Yesterday I got annoyed that Youssef couldn't figure out how to put the stroller together quickly enough so that we could go on a walk before Lily got hungry again... My problem isn't what he does or doesn't do (and if I told anyone all the things that he DOES do so wonderfully for me, they would think I'm a total idiot for being annoyed at a tiny thing like that when I obviously have the most amazingly helpful loving husband in the world and they'd inform me that their husband would never do even one of the things that he does to help me each day!) My problem wasn't any other person or sad event.

Now the obvious answer that someone might be thinking I'd say is "the problem was me"
No.. not exactly that either. Because I can't fix anything in myself that would solve any of my problems.

While I was feeling like this today I starting reading in the middle of a book I've read before (a really great book) called "Captivating" by John and Stasi Eldredge (that's the womens version of "Wild at Heart".. they also wrote "Sacred Romance") I was reminded that what I was missing was the romance with our Creator... The Bridegroom of the church...

The problem was that I wasn't loving God in a real way anymore... When Youssef and I were engaged we longed to be near the other (he was going to school in TX and I was in WA) we wrote to each other.. sent notes, trinkets, talked on the phone for hours and hours (one of the few couples who actually ripped off the cell phone company's "free nights and weekends" plan by using ALL the "free minutes") He and I even watched movies together over the phone (you can do it well if you time them just right ;) When you truely love someone they are on your mind most of the time... and you want to know them and be with them.. even if it's just so that you can get accustomed to seeing their face in a crowd. Why don't more people in the church love God as their Bridegroom? Pooring over His every word and talking to Him and looking for His demonstrations of love?

My problem lately has been that I've not been loving God... loving.. adoring the Lover of my soul. Looking for his notes of love in return... For me, I adore Him through the day by singing to Him. And His notes and kisses of love for me usually look like a flower growing in my pathway or the pink and purple clouds of a sunset.

Now.. even more so than seeing the sunset or stars that he created.. After bring me to meet my soul mate (which is a pretty amazing story in itself) and taking us through the journey of getting to know each other, fall in love, cring over the distance, moving, getting married, moving again and so forth.. Now He's shown His amazing love by giving us a little miracle created in His own image.. .. how amazing it is to look into a crowd of people and remember that each person was created in the image of God (even that irritating person at work) .. how sad it is that most of them do not know Him.

My rambling thoughts seem to keep going and I want to play with my little girl soon (Lily is being so patient as she sits on my lap watching me type)... So I'll end with someone elses words that are far more wise than my own can be.

From "Captivating" pg 120

"What is it that God wants from you?
He wants the same thing that you want. He wants to be loved. He wants to be known as only lovers can know each other. He wants intimacy with you. Yes, yes, he wants your obedience, but only when it flows out of a heart filled with love for him. 'Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me.' (John 14:21). Following hard after Jesus is the heart's natural response when it has been captured and has fallen deeply in love with him. Reading George MacDonald several years ago, I came across an astounding thought. You've probably heard that there is in every human heart a place that God alone can fill. (Lord knows we've tried to fill it with everything else, to our utter dismay.) But what the old poet was saying was that there is also in God's heart a place that you alone can fill.
'It follows that there is also a chamber in God himself, into which none can enter but the one, the individual.' You. You are meant to fill a place in the heart of God no one and nothing else can fill... He longs for you."