The Gift of God’s Presence

Dirt clods covered our driveway and freshly cut lawn. I surveyed the minor chaos that had been wrought by the new “For Sale” sign in our front yard and wondered if they couldn’t have been a bit more careful. Did agreeing to sell the house have to have this much impact on my nice and tidy life?

With the economic downturn in 2012 and numerous homes in our neighborhood for sale, some for 3 years, we began studying ways to sell the house:

“Choose sophisticated neutral colors.” Now is not the time to experiment with that “fun”-looking lime green.  (Years earlier, Emma had chosen M&M green and blue for her bedroom colors.)  “We had better talk with the realtor,” I thought.


“Create a gender-neutral master bedroom.”  We had painted our bedroom a dark blue.


Our realtor, much to our surprise, encouraged us to leave things as they were, from the paint colors to the personal items in and around the house, and so we did.  We prayed often that the house would sell, that we would have some confirmation that we were in God’s will, and that He would take care of us no matter what happened.  Eight days later our house sold.  Eight days.  Shock.  Sadness.  Awe.  Praise.  And so it was; our response to the sale alternated moment by moment. Amidst the subsequent packing up and moving into a friend’s home (until our journey to Washington State so that Paul could attend school), we adopted a reliance on God that felt unique for both of us.

A month later, we received an email.

Dear Mr. and Mrs. Gebben:

Greetings from Washington State!  By way of introduction, I’m Glory Haga, and my husband Scott and I are buying your beautiful home!  I’ve been meaning to write to you for a while now, and am finally taking the time to do that.  I just want to share our story with you and show you how God’s hand is at work in our lives, and how buying your home is undoubtedly part of His amazing plan.

We moved from Grand Rapids 10 years ago to Washington State because of Scott’s job.  He is a physician assistant, and was enrolled in a program that places providers in medically under-served areas. Scott’s commitment was for 2 years, and OUR plan was to do the two years and go back to our family in GR.  However, God had lots of other plans, and here we are 10 years later!  Scott has an amazing passion for the “least of these.”  His calling is to provide medical care for the mentally ill, homeless, downtrodden, etc.  Keep that in mind, as we fast forward to January, 2012…

Out of the clear blue, Scott gets a phone call from Spectrum Health recruiting for a new clinic that opened in December.  Its focus is on the over-utilizers of the Emergency Room (aka Scott’s “peeps”).  To make a long story short, by the end of the phone interview with the clinic director, he and Scott were talking starting dates.  Scott moved to Grand Rapids in March to continue his calling to serve the “least of these” at the Spectrum Center for Integrative Medicine.

Our son Mark (age 11) and I flew to Grand Rapids in April to enroll him at a Christian Middle School and to find a house.  Scott’s sister Julie and I had one day to find a house.  Julie will be living with us and we needed to find a home that would have a lower walk-out level that would serve as Julie’s living space.  Our realtor showed us many houses that day, and we were SO discouraged by lunchtime.  And then we walked into your house.  I want to share with you why I KNOW this was totally God’s plan.

The basement is perfect for Julie and her two little dogs.  She fell in love with the place and immediately could see herself there in that as her studio apartment.  I knew it was meant to be when I walked upstairs into the blue and green bedroom.  That green is Mark’s absolute favorite color.  It could not have been any better!  (His current bedroom is John Deere tractor green with lime green accents.)  Master bedroom blue–that’s my favorite color.  Coincidence?  I don’t think so!  When I walked out onto the deck and saw where it looks out onto, I literally almost started bawling.  When I was pregnant with Mark, I was driving home from work and as I approached St. Mark’s church, the Lord gave me Mark’s middle name.


Your house looks out onto the exact spot where that happened!  Also, when I saw your daughter’s name and address up on the cupboard and saw it was at Whitworth College I knew.  Also, the Nooma videos in the basement…we just finished a study of those with our small group from church.  Oh, and then when we heard you were moving to Washington…oh my!

Thanks for taking the time to read this…I just felt compelled to tell you a piece of our story!  Please know that you’re in my prayers for a smooth transition to Washington.  As I’m sure you know, WA is absolutely amazing.  The beauty of God’s creation continues to blow me away on a daily basis!   God’s richest blessings be upon you!  In Christ’s love,  Glory Haga.

 We cried and thanked God for this amazing gift of confirmation.   So I sit and wait in this Advent season, watching for what gets revealed, for the unwrapping and unfolding of our stories. 

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Maureen Gebben is enjoying life in the Pacific Northwest after moving there a year ago with her husband, who is presently enrolled in The Seattle School. Mother of 2 fabulous children, she has been married for 29 years. She dreams of gardening on her farm with afternoons spent fly fishing in the property’s stream. Maureen loves hiking, a well-hit back hand, and laughter.