Leaving CA Part 3: The Gambler AKA The Opportunist

The other day I had a flashback. I was sitting in my mother’s rust colored Volvo station wagon in the drop off line at school. A familiar tune was playing on the 8 track.

Do you remember those things?


“If you’re gonna play the game, boy,
You gotta learn to play it right.

You got to know when to hold ’em,
Know when to fold ’em,
Know when to walk away,
And know when to run.
You never count your money
When you’re sittin’ at the table.
There’ll be time enough for countin’
When the dealing’s done…”


Talk about an analogy for life: sometimes we need to decide if it’s time to “fold em” and walk away, or literally “run” from a situation. That requires discernment and wisdom.


In the game of Poker, a gambler’s experience determines the type of player he or she will be. The goal is to develop the ability to recognize opportune times to make one’s move.


In the game of life, there seems to be 3 key factors one must be able to recognize in order to take advantage (for lack of a better word) of an opportunity. 


First, the timing of a situation must be perfect.



When we were contemplating our move to Texas, the housing market in our town had changed dramatically. We knew if we listed our home, we would sell quickly and most likely above our asking price, based on what we were observing. That is exactly what happened! The quick sale of our Chico home enabled us to purchase our Texas home!



Second, you must be willing to make sacrifices!


Careful consideration went into our decision to move to Texas. We knew that we would be leaving loved ones behind. We would be leaving the security of what we knew: our jobs, our way of life, etc. We had to weigh it all in order to determine if it was worth making the sacrifice to start a new life in Texas.


Third, you must have faith it will all work out.


In regards to our move, that is yet to be seen. So far, details SEEM to be coming together. Our Chico home sold, we bought our Texas home, and Billy had received a verbal offer of employment. That is what we had when we moved. Only this week, did Billy sign a contract with his new employer. And, my employment is yet to be determined. Even still, we are trusting that God has led our family to Texas, and that He is working everything out in His timing.


When it comes to opportunity, it is truly in the eye of the beholder. We know that others may not follow our suit to make a move. That’s okay. Everyone must decide what they want their life to be like. Maybe one of the best questions one can ask is…

Could you live in your current situation indefinitely and be satisfied?

Question Marks on Blackboard


If not, you may need to determine to “fold ‘em walk away,” or “run.”





Part 2: Leaving California

After our epic, 1800 mile drive, we had about a week before our new home would close escrow!


We knew we wanted to have the concrete floors polished prior to moving in, but another pressing matter surfaced….


When we had walked through the home a month before, it was fully furnished. However, not with your typical, run of of the mill furniture…


It was super-sized, massive furniture….  We felt we had walked into a plantation home in Charleston. Beautiful hooded (for lack of a better word) chairs, Victorian curved couches. Jazz musician statues….

Like this…



When we returned to take a second peak, we were pretty shocked by what we saw…


The absence of the furnishings revealed:  multiple wall markings throughout.


In the master bedroom, a splatter of what appeared to be coffee on the wall where the bed had been. A splotch of what appeared to be red wine on the master bathroom door jam. Every room had something. We felt like crime scene detectives speculating what made each mark…



Painting the entire house wasn’t an option. We decided to match the paint and cover spots.


This wasn’t an easy task: the same dark-ish, flat paint was used throughout. First, we enlisted the help of Home Depot.


How could the paint cover and blend perfectly in one room, and not another LOL?!


The bright, natural lighting in the dining room revealed the first attempt wasn’t a good match.  We approached the builder, asked for the name of the paint, and once again, Home Depot helped us mix up a better match.


We are not big on flat paints–eventually we will repaint with a lighter, semi-gloss.


Billy worked tirelessly: buffing and polishing the concrete floors, and spot painting walls and trim. At times resembling Chip Gaines, minus a demo day…


We closed escrow on a Friday, and moved in the following day!



We were blessed to have a team of 6 helping us!


Within 3 hours, the moving trailer was emptied, and our team began re-vamping the front yard to improve our curb appeal!








This blog post is best completed with  “thank you’s” to all who made this Texas-sized move possible; in no particular order:

Mom and Dad: we can never thank you enough for all you did to help us! Thank you so much for doing everything you could throughout this huge endeavor!

Uncle Ron: thank you so much for helping Billy with the master bathroom remodel.

Tom: thank you for your help with the plumbing in the master bathroom remodel.

Aunt Sherry: thank you so much for coming over and helping us pack!

Grandma and Gaia: thank you so much for the meals you provided us!

Jon and Kasha: thank you for introducing us to life as a Texan. For offering advice, support, and for hosting us!

To Kim and George (our Chico and Salado realtors): thank you for keeping us on track throughout the entire process!

The Well Ministry: thank you for providing us a team of men  to help pack our moving trailer!

Our employers: thank you for understanding our decision,  releasing us from our positions, and offering kind words of encouragement and support!

Our close friends (you know who you are): thank you for your love and support!

Billy: you amaze me! You truly are one of the most talented people I’ve ever met!

Liam: thank you for rolling with all that you had to over the past couple of months! We love you, and we did this for us!

Our readers: thank you for following the next chapter in our journey!




Part 1: Leaving California

I will never forget our dear friends’ faces when we told them that our family had decided to move from Chico, California to Salado, Texas-within a matter of a few short weeks.


The common responses were: “What’s in Texas?”

“I didn’t know you wanted to leave California.”


Their perplexion was justified.  We had kept our “situation” quiet so we could sort through things….


There were several factors that HAD to come together for us to make such a big move. Our California home had to sell, we needed to find a new home in Texas, we both had to be released from our jobs, and my husband Billy needed to secure a job. We prayed and waited. Details, big and small, began coming together. We began preparing our home of 14 years for the new owners—Camp Fire victims who had lost everything…


A door mat we purchased for the buyers of our Chico home!


We were ecstatic when our offer on a beautiful Texas home was accepted!




Prepping our Chico home to sell was no small task. Our master bathroom had been gutted for 3 years, and it needed to be completely remodeled prior to our closing escrow. Billy worked tirelessly on the remodel while my parents and I packed the house, garage, and two sheds!




One day, we received a shocking email: the appraisal on our Texas home was ordered later than expected, and we were informed our escrow wouldn’t close till the end of the month. This was HUGE as we had planned everything around closing mid-month. We immediately made some phone calls…Eventually our closing date was adjusted to the 22nd.  We called the moving company to check the cost of their holding our trailer for a few days. Then, we called my cousin in Salado, who we planned to stay with until our escrow closed, to ensure a few extra days at their home would be okay.


We enlisted the help of a local Christian men’s ministry to help pack our moving trailer. Within a matter of days, Billy and I were on the road.  Our son Liam stayed behind with my parents, and flew out with them on a later date in order to miss out on the massive 1,800 mile trip.





Still we had our lab, Josey along for the ride. We enjoyed the first half of the trip together (as our Hummer was pulling my Murano),  re-connecting as a couple and spotting points of interest along the way—though we didn’t stop:





Image result for tombstone, AR sign



The countless…. LOL




Until the Hummer over heated in New Mexico— in the middle of nowhere.


With very few options, we chose to rent a U-Haul truck for Billy to pull the Hummer on the auto trailer. I would drive the Murano.



Cara-vanning for the remaining 12+ hrs. of the trip was in one word: CRAZY!


At times, we were on the phone just so Billy could direct me through insane highways designated for 75 mph speeds!


I quickly learned that I needed to up my driving “game!”


Additionally, issues with my brakes, a horrific bloody nose, and a “warning” from  law enforcement (our trailer lights had become disconnected), delayed our arrival time.

We were so grateful to FINALLY arrive at my cousin’s home, but we had no idea what BIG challenge lie ahead….


Make sure to catch Part 2: Leaving California next week!





Merry Christmas!

I wasn’t sure about this picture gracing our Christmas card this year.

Our usual Christmas card is serious. Dressy. Traditional.

The opposite of this one LOL.


If you guessed it was my husband Billy’s idea to do a funny picture to “change things up,” you’d be correct.

He often pulls me outside of the “norm” aka. my comfort zone.

I’m so thankful for him- for so many reasons.

Words can’t express my gratefulness for that boy in the pink “deranged” bunny suit. He’s fun, quirky, and plays along with our shenanigans.

Though it isn’t as plainly on our card this year as in previous years, please know: our family gives all glory to God for “every good and perfect gift” (James 1:17).  Especially the gift of Jesus, and the hope found in Him (Luke 2:11).


Praying that you experience His comfort and peace in your life!


We wish you a merry Christmas!




The O’Neal family