I love it here. The June sun is so bright on our western-facing house that in the late afternoon it’s nearly impossible to see the face of the person standing on our front porch when I answer the doorbell. There is often a breeze floating through and when it turns to wind it powers across nearby fields of early summer alfalfa and sugar beets just to bump up against and travel over a long line of vinyl subdivision fencing. And another. And another. As I drive down long-familiar roadways, the trees are 25 years bigger than when this was last our home, and the landscape has matured which disorients if I’m not paying close attention. There aren’t as many in-town horses and cows every now and then between houses. Flood irrigation seems to be a thing of the past.
It may be different from how I left it. But I love it here.
It’s been a comfort to find that I still can maneuver around the backstreets in my old hometown of Nampa, Idaho. Some sections are unidentifiable as to what they were a couple of decades ago, but the essential core remains intact and the downtown roads are still laid out in a confusing diagonal that make sense only if you realize they’re in perfect harmony with the original railroad tracks. Ha! And I happen to know that the weird partial green fencing along one of the Babe Ruth ballparks in North Nampa is a nod to the old Snake River Stampede rodeo which dominated that part of town for generations. My dad took my mother on a date there during their engagement in the 50s. I enjoy driving past buildings and remembering what they were in days gone by like the tiny house at the now unbelievably busy corner of Midland and Roosevelt where our newlywed friends, Dale and Peggy, lived and stored boxes for us for some now forgotten reason that had to do with our moving into married student housing on the NNU campus. It’s a barber shop/insurance office now.
We have always been moving to or from or around Nampa.
Now, so is everyone else on the planet. Literally everyone else. I guess I feel a little guilty for contributing to that. To say there’s been an influx is an understatement. A big one.
And I understand the grief that it causes so many Idahoans with the fields disappearing and that our very own house we just bought is sitting on what was not long ago either alfalfa or sugar beets, and I’m sorry about that . . . we had to play the real estate game too in order to find a place to lay our weary heads, so now we sleep on what probably was a generational family farm. I’m sorry.
Our appointment at the DMV to get our Oregon plates changed out for good ol’ 2C Canyon County Idaho ones can’t come soon enough. I’d like to fly a banner above my car that I’m native Idahoan which is true in the biblical sense because my husband is and the two become One and all that. Works for me.
And truly I get it. The valley didn’t ask for this. The average lifelong Idaho working family is finding it difficult to exist in their own state. We’ve not lived here in town long enough, however, for me to get a grip on exactly how various cross sections of the population feel about these complicated issues, but I can tell you that there is a general sense of interlopers having invaded from zip codes that begin with a 9, bringing their big salaries and abilities to afford inflated home prices and that many folks from Nampa, Boise, Meridian, Caldwell, and the entire Treasure Valley wish it could just go back to the old days when this dry corner of southwest Idaho was an acquired taste like sauerkraut and banjo music. Back when there was literally no shopping in the capital city of Boise except some creepy downtown store that had mostly knick knacks even your grandma would pass up, Meridian had the Hungry Onion and car races, and everybody drove to little old Nampa because there was a Bon Marche’ in the Karcher Mall.
Oh, and get this — a weird phenomenon followed me here in that even though we are newcomers (surely there’s got to be a word like “re-newcomers”), strangers just come up and talk to me. I don’t know if I look wretched or like I need help or what. Or maybe it seems I have cookies in my pocket I can’t wait to give away. Whatever it is, the chit chat topic centers around the Great Idaho Invasion from one perspective or another. Ever since I can remember I’ve had a Talk-To-Me-About-Any-Random-and-Possibly-Quite-Personal-or-Controversial-Topic sign on my forehead so I just stand there and sympathize and nod and tsk tsk before continuing with my dog walking or grocery shopping or singing in church. True, I could’ve used better judgement before donating my Oregon Ducks crockpot to the charity organization lady but live and learn . . . that conversation took a while. One of our neighbors moved here from California and has the understandable “It’s a free country. I can live where I want to” attitude to which I nodded and tsk tsked sympathetically for a while. She didn’t want any possible imaginary cookies from my pocket. She just wanted to gripe.
It feels like we might be strangers in our own (former) country.
Time will help.
Time always helps.
This “I’m an invader” feeling will pass.
And truthfully, we are waiting just to get evened out in general. God has been so very good to us during these last months of blazing new trails and we are thankful. But we still haven’t exactly cleared the underbrush and gotten the map sorted.
Time will help.
Time always helps.
This “What now?” feeling will pass.
We are visiting churches and looking for a home for our hearts. We are not proving to be very good at that and having Bob actually sitting next to me during services is weirding me out a little bit. Ha! I always said that if I ever wrote a memoir of our years in ministry it would be titled, “The Empty Seat to the Left of Me.” I symbolically always saved him a seat but it was most unusual for him to occupy it.
We want to be careful. We want to choose wisely. We want to follow His leading. And we want to plant roots deeply for always.
Are we still servants? Yes. I think so.
Is there still a “fire shut up in my bones” as the prophet Jeremiah spoke of? I do believe so. These bones may be a little more tired but the fire burns just as intensely.
Here’s that reference if you’re interested:
But if I say, “I will not mention His word or speak anymore in His name,” His word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.
Jeremiah 20:9 NIV
This is an unusual ask for these pages but friends, we sure wouldn’t mind if you might pray for us. As I’ve said many times all is basically well and we are tremendously grateful. In the midst of this community though, this place that we love and have beautiful history with, we need to continue to be servants of Jesus, living out loud for Him, and carrying on with Kingdom work. We’re not used to sitting on the outside looking in. We need a place to serve.
Time will help.
Yes, I know. You said that.
And as I do when I don’t know what else to say, here’s a song that’s spoken to my heart a whole bunch over the years. It’s pretty basic in its lyrics and mighty glorious in its three-part harmony. Listen, won’t you?
One more thing before I’m done (anybody remember a pastor who said this fairly often and then finished up 20 minutes later?) … here’s the truth:
I’m a Colorado native. And an Arkansas transplant. And a former Missourian, Kansan, Washingtonian, Oregonian and Idahoan. And now I’m IdaHome.
“As long as it is day, we must do the works of Him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work.”
John 9:4 NIV