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IMG_1390Our realtor was our guide to our newly adopted megacity of Houston, TX.  We had no idea where to live or what to look for in local construction.  A vague budget was in our minds.

She showed us a house with all of the basic room necessities and good curb appeal.  Some of our wants were also on the list.  Most importantly the price was within our target range.

Yet, a price range for a couple like us that was devastated in the housing market crash didn’t have much to put down for a new home.  I looked at the construction issues with the very used home and figured out that the next decade of our life would be saving up to make major repairs on this fixer-upper.

Houston is famous for its heat.  Good windows are a must to fight the blistering temperatures in the summer months.  Keeping our air conditioning system happy was important.

IMG_1396The windows would eventually have to be replaced.  We had that in mind when we made on offer for the house.  Now, it was time to sign a contract and replace the windows with new ones.

Old windows are being torn out.  New well-insulated and excellent guaranteed windows are going in.  The installers are doing a superb job.

Half the windows are now done.  I can see clearly now!  The old broken seals and fogged up windows are going away.

The new glass is clean, clear and firmly mounted with strong heat resistant materials and block out unbearable temperatures. When the fogged up windows of our home make it impossible to enjoy the views it is sad.  The whole house feels ugly.

FullSizeRender-1Now, the improvement has given us a lift.  Looking outside is fun again.  Watching clouds float by and the daylight turn into night is enjoyable.

When we open the windows to let the cool winter breezes flow inside, the windows slide easily.  We don’t have to grunt and tug to get old corroded windows to scrape painfully across worn out tracks.  Figure tip control of well-made locks and well-lubricated tracks bring a great enjoyment to our home like few other purchases could.

Cost? Yes, it must be one of the most expensive home repair options that an owner must face.  We counted the cost, prayed over the options and even took on additional income jobs just for this very reason.  Then, God gave us His favor in an unexpected way.  He is good, all of the time!

photo credit: brucefong photography

 

 

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 3.30.37 PMBuilding buildings is a grandiose task that will negate the energy of an army of very good men and women.  But, we need a new building.  This is not an option.  If we do not then we will severely limit our growth.

The one we have has been under repair for years. We repair that wall, fix that office, reconfigure the desks, spruce up the classrooms, upgrade the equipment, rearrange office space, et cetera.  The major items like HVAC, plumbing, electrical, windows, roof leaks and the like leave us shaking our heads.

However, it is not the maintenance that keeps us wondering.  Instead, it is the space.  Enrollment has been steadily growing in our extension campus for successive years.

More students mean more faculty and staff.  More personnel means more office space.  Square footage has been as creatively sliced and diced as much as possible.

Parking is a big deal.  We have 275 students and only 50 parking places.  The neighboring streets are lined with cars and students have to walk to class in the dark.

A serious graduate school needs a research library.  Our little library has tripled in size over the last three years and it has overflowed the room where the stacks cannot be spaced any closer together.  We converted a classroom for an auxiliary library space.

It was time to move.  Hours of meetings, real estate conferences, drawings and discussion ate up time and resources.  Money was raised, donors smiled, prayers were lifted up and God blessed.

The new building was chosen, papers were signed, demolition began and architects designed the space.  Soon the dust will clear and new walls, halls and spaces will be set up.

Parking will not be a problem in the foreseeable future.  The library is the centerpiece of our new digs.  Offices are grouped for growth.  Class rooms are designed with intention rather than adapted to whatever is available.

Our Communications Office produced an artist’s conception of the new configuration.  Everyone is excited about the future.  It is just around the corner.

This summer we hope to move into the new location for DTS-Houston.  Plans are shaping up for our move.  Everyone is talking about the excitement.

Soon we can concentrate on seminary education at the highest level.  The puzzle of what to do with what we have will be a historic dialogue.  All of the energy that poured into short-term fixes will now accelerate outstanding seminary education at the highest level.  Now, that is bodacious!

photo credit: DTS Communication Department

IMG_4727Moping around for days about my smashed I-pad glass seemed right to me.  Remorse calmly tempers my foolish actions that caused the broken control panel on my high-tech machine.  It was that similar feeling that comes when repenting from sin.

On my next day-off I stopped in the nearest Apple store for a repair estimate.  This branch store was located in the middle of a major shopping mall.  Parking was the biggest challenge.

The crowds in the store the store were shocking.  This was a week day and in the middle of the day.  Does everyone get a Friday off from work?

Patiently or at least appearing patient I waited my turn.  Besides the drive into town, the parking, the long walk and now the standing in line, my day-off had lost nearly two hours.  Finally, it was my turn.

The associate or whatever they call these triage workers in blue shirts had a mini-i-pad in hand and had to be a least a decade younger than my own children.  She smiled and asked how she could help.  I showed her my broken screen.

I was taking it out of my messenger bag to show her but she asked a horrible, terrible most despicable question, “Sir, do you have an appointment?”  My heart sank.  That thought had never even crossed my mind.

“No.”  Undeterred, she made several motions on her screen and said that the earliest appointment that was open was in two hours.  Rather than spend my entire morning chasing down options, I asked for an appointment at the end of the day so that I could come back on my way to run my afternoon errands.  We settled on a time.

Of course I was prompt for my 4pm appointment.  They whisked me right into the shop and seated me at a table.  A young, very young associate called my name and I raised my hand.

She assessed the condition of my broken glass screen all of the time entering data on her own mini I-pad.  “What’s the cost for the repair?”  After I picked myself off the floor, I then asked how much a new unit would cost.  It was the same cost as a repair!  I thanked her for her help and left the shop.

A google search led me to a repair shop near my office.  They repaired my I-pad for a third of the cost.  I also bought from them a protective case, easier to hold and set up.  Now, I am back in action.

IMG_3052The decision was obvious to me.  I had several watches that were not running.  The batteries had given out.

Now, these keepers of time were sitting in a drawer.  I had an epiphany, “What a waste!”  That is when I dug out a few watch tools that had accumulated over the years.

If I could carefully open these watches up and not lose any of those miniscule parts, then perhaps I could find replacement batteries.  Should I be successful then I could have optional watches to wear.  If I failed and ruined any of these time keepers, then I would not have lost anything since they were laying unused any way.

That’s how a resourceful mind thinks.  What can I do cheaper than buying something new?  Hey, I am created in the image of God!  I can do this!

When the back of one of the watches came off, I was thrilled.  Then, something flew out and I heard it fall into my office garbage can.  My garbage can was full of papers, envelopes and discarded junk mail.  It would be like find a needle in a haystack!

Carefully, I turned and unpacked the garbage can, carefully shaking the papers.  Then, I saw it.  It was a rod, a spring-loaded rod.  Can man make things so tiny as this?  Sure, and it was a necessary part of putting my watch back together again.  When I reached out to retrieve the part, it rolled off the paper and disappeared in the dark folds of the remaining papers.

I returned to the careful search.  Again, I saw the elusive part and successfully snagged it on my second attempt.  Whew!  I am not used to working in a world of miniatures.

Four watches later I extracted all of the dead batteries.  I replaced one and proudly wore my now-working time piece for the rest of the day.  The other three watches have weird batteries.  It is time to shop at a specialty store and get these wristwatches back on my wrist to do their duty.

I stopped by two stores during my battery hunt.  Neither store had the batteries that I needed.  It may be time to stop by a specialty store.  The thought crossed my mind that I may have to reassemble my four watches and bring them all to a watch shop and pay someone else to do what I was almost able to do on my own.  Rats!

photo credit: brucefong cellphone photography

My choice of bicycle rides is my road bike.  It is light weight, geared with a smooth shifting and derailer system.  There’s much about my road bike that I don’t like.

However, in the past month I have had two flat tires.  That is annoying.  Riding is severely hampered by having a flat tire. 

I haven’t fixed a flat tire on a bicycle since I was a youngster.  As an adult, I brought my bike in for a regular professional service and tune-up.  They had always advised me to have new tires with tubes installed at regular intervals.

But, now, I’m living on a budget.  It was do-it-yourself time.  Before I got started I checked my schedule, booked a time to work on the project and then watched a couple of YouTube videos on “How to fix a bicycle flat tire.”

One video shows the bike mechanic with the bicycle upside down.  The other one is right side up and there the mechanic said NOT to turn the bike upside down.  I put the bike sideways on the floor.

First, I was supposed to disconnect the brake.  That doesn’t work on my bike.  But, there is a lever that releases the brake pads so that the wheel passes through them.  I felt very good about that discovery all on my own.

Then, I shifted the gears to the smallest or highest speed on the rear gear cluster.  That would make the release of the chain easier.  It was!

Next, I pulled the quick release lever and the wheel came right off of the bike.  There was a great sense of accomplishment even though I hadn’t really done anything yet.  Nevertheless, successful moments are worth relishing!

All of the air was out of the tire.  I pulled out my tire levers.  They are a great little tool to break the bead from the tire rim.

Once the tension disappeared, I pushed one lever that lifted the entire side of the wheel off of the rim.  Now, I was able to pull the entire inner tube out.  The rest of the tire was easy to separate from the wheel.

I ran my thumbs along the inside of the tire.  With three rotations I was convinced that there was no sharp object that caused the flat.

Finally, I put it all back together with a new inner tube.  The repair was done.  Hey, poof…I’m a bicycle mechanic!

photo credit: google image

 

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