Friday, November 27, 2015

A Dramatic Difference

Last spring we painted this house for the wonderful couple who own and live in it. At the time, they casually asked if we painted cabinets and how much would it cost to do this set in the kitchen and family room. I did not think it would go beyond a simple inquiry, but here we were a few weeks ago doing the job.

The house was around 30 years old and the old bleached oak cabinets were worn down to raw wood in places. In the above two photos you can see the original finish in places and in other places, the white primer. There was a lot of prep to be done as the wood has to be impeccably clean before today's acrylic paints stick to it.

What made this job unique was that the request was for black cabinets, only the second set of black ones we have ever done.

Here, the body of the cabinets are complete and the doors have been re-installed and primed white, a nice checker-board effect.

And finally, the finished look, with a three coat system in satin black enamel. The change in the room was dramatic. He loved it, but she was not sure and said she had to get used to it.

I am sure that when their friends, who strongly suggested that they do this, see the finished product and rave about it, she will feel much better.

It was a challenge, but also a lot of fun. There is less room for error when using black than when using white. There is no forgiveness for any mistakes or nicks or crooked lines. The homeowners were fabulous people and we became good friends. I hope we do not lose the friendship when they call me back for touch-ups every few months. Once the paint is hard and cured it should not be a problem. In the meantime, I suggested that they do not even look at the cabinets for the next five weeks. I will probably get to see it after the new brushed metal knobs are installed.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Are You As Confused As I Am?

All of us have been inundated, in the last few weeks, with information regarding Islam, immigration, and terrorism. Anyone engaged in social media is well aware of the blizzard of posts, opinions, videos, and sound bytes surrounding these topics.
As we sort through the information and opinions, we are looking to clarify our own perspective, our own ideas, and somewhere in the mix, the truth. The truth, for me, has been elusive, to say the least. There are too many opinions, too many facts, too many charts, too many testimonials, too many 'cobbled together' videos, and too many 'experts', all of which are contradictory to some degree.
Being the kind of person who likes cut and dried answers and cut and dried solutions, I find it all troubling and confusing. I have been interested in reading about (I almost wrote studying) the Islam issues for many years, ever since I began to delve into the Jew/Palestinian conflict. I read a number of books written by former Muslims who came out of, and rejected that tradition and religion, because they became disillusioned. One of the authors was the foremost Islamic studies professor at the University of Cairo. What he did not know about Islam was not worth mentioning. I tend to give former or current Muslims more credibility as they have lived the faith and were indoctrinated in it since birth. They should know what they are talking about. Another reason these reformed Muslims have credibility is because their lives have been threatened, even by their own families, for being at all critical of Islam. They have nothing to gain by exposing the shortcomings of Islam, other than to inform the world of the threat.
With the internet today, extensive research can be done with the click of a mouse, and bit of time to read. But I keep getting mixed messages in the research, and therein lies my confusion.
1. The meaning of Islam. Islam means submission ... to Allah and his written word, and his prophet Mohammed. Immediately I am confused because the claim is that God is God, and we all worship the same God. However, the Islam God (Allah) has no partner, no equal, no son, and no associate. Mmm. The Christian God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The reason that is a problem is because although Muslims also believe in Jesus, they do not believe he is the Son of God and do not believe that he died and rose again as the saviour of mankind. And that is what makes us their enemies. We are blasphemers.
2. A Muslim, in order to be a true believer, must live by the Koran and the writing of Mohammed. I have read parts of the Koran, enough to see huge contradictions. There is love and peace and neighbourliness, but in the next verses there will be an injunction to cut off the hands and head of the unbelievers. Mohammed himself was no saint, but was a murderer and a pedophile, not exactly a prophet to hold up as a role model, and yet there are Muslims who are model citizens and do good works in their neighbourhoods and communities. Where does that inspiration come from? How do they see the unbelievers around them? Are they only tolerant until the day of Jihad. One only wonders this because it in their holy book. One of the guidelines when reading the Koran is that when one scripture contradicts another, the one written at a later date (the newer one) is the one to adhere to. As Mohammed progressed in his pursuits, he became more violent and so the more violent scriptures are the true and right ones. How many Muslims know this? How many believe this. Is this why so many remain silent in the face of terrorism?  

3. The Islamic doctrine of deception, or Taqiya, troubles me greatly because this would seem to give a Muslim permission to lie in order to  preserve their life or their faith. In terms of immigration, this is extremely concerning as the lack of data bases and other information leaves, often, only the word of the applicant when filling out the immigration papers. Vetting becomes very unreliable, especially when hurried under duress of immigration quotas and deadlines.
4. PEW research finds that an overwhelming majority of Muslims around the world want Sharia Law (Islamic Law as defined in the Koran) to be the law of the land where they live. Would this not fall under the definition of radical Islam? And yet we are told that only a tiny fraction of Muslims are radicalized.
5. If the majority of Muslims around the world are for peace and tranquility, why are they not speaking out against their terrorist brothers? Are they afraid? Do they see the radicals as the foot soldiers of Allah and are secretly rooting for them? There seems to be evidence for this when a moment of silence at a soccer match, meant to honour the dead of the Paris massacres is booed by the Muslim fans.
6. It is troubling that the west is supposed to rescue the distressed Syrian migrants yet other Muslim nations do nothing to help their Muslim brothers. Why is this? And why does the US under the leadership of Obama refuse to take Christian Syrian migrants, a people group who has the most to lose by staying in harms way. You would think that these are the very people who have the best chance of assimilating in the west.
7. Why does the world not stand with Israel in its fight against terrorism? They have many years of experience. It is the same bunch who are terrorizing Paris and threaten to terrorize the entire world of Christendom, that Israel is up against, yet most of the world demonizes Israel.   
8. Is Islam a religion, a geopolitical movement, or both. Again it is confusing, and depends on who you listen to and who you believe. Mohammed declared that Islam would conquer the world by the sword and the cradle. Muslims are doing both, some through terrorism and most by their prolific  birth rate. If the prophet Mohammed's teachings are paramount in your submission to Allah, would you not, as a Muslim, be sympathetic to this agenda?  
The confusion comes from the contradictions, and often a bit of fear and paranoia arise from misinformation. As a Christian, I have great assurance and comfort in knowing what I am supposed to do, and knowing that God is in control, and that no matter what happens, it is part of the master plan, of which I know very little. So while I trust God and cast out fear, I know also that my mandate as a Christian, is to love, help and protect the helpless. In so doing, I become a tiny piece of the solution. I do not lose sight of the fact that there is good and evil in the world, and I will be an advocate for government and law enforcement to root out that evil, wherever it is. But if Muslims comes to my neighbourhood, I will be a good neighbour to them, as I am to my South Asian neighbours. And herein lies the ultimate solution. We are all created in the image of God, he loves everyone of us, and wants us to love each other.