Playdates with God: On the Way Home from Pittsburgh…

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I am caught up in the great white of the winter sky falling down in divagating flakes around me. Such a squall blows up when I mount the Fort Pitt Bridge to leave the city that it is nearing whiteout conditions.  When I turn on my wipers and spray the windshield with fluid, the liquid creates a frozen sheen in front of me—further compromising my line of vision. Is it any wonder that I see the sign for 376 West too late—across two lanes of traffic? Might as well be a thousand miles between me and that ramp so I doggedly move forward onto 279N—the exact opposite direction in which I want to go.

Before I even get started on the journey home I drive 25 miles out of my way. In a dizzying, blinding snowstorm.
I call my husband to tell him of the recent developments and he reminds me that the tires on my van are not the greatest. Please be careful, he says. So I am—I crawl along in the mind-numbing white and try to feel the ground beneath me.
But this disappointment in the weather runs deeper than slow-moving traffic and extended travel time—for I had wanted to stop and see a friend on the way home. A friend I’ve never met but one who has kept me company in thought for a year now. I glimpsed her last year at this same time—on my way to this same conference. She gazed long at me from a hillside along the interstate…all whitewashed and full of stories. I’ve regretted not stopping to see her for a full year now. Thought of her from time-to-time, wondering who she belonged to. What lives inside her belly.
So I told God we would stop to see her this year—just the two of us. And we would drive casually by to see if she extends an invitation to come closer.
But I can barely see a few feet in front of me right now and so I’m thinking this is God’s way of saying “no”.And who knows why He would, really? Maybe it’s dangerous or rude or maybe the road will get too treacherous if I stop or maybe there is some other unseen risk that I can never imagine. I’m feeling a little nervous about stopping anyway so it’s not that hard to accept this little “no”—it’s not that hard to imagine driving right by.
I’m feeling pretty good about the whole thing and I let my mind drift to all the ways God revealed himself at Jubilee—in the faces of the people I met and shared with, in art and music and prayers and the words of speakersand in time just sitting with friends. So many who wore the face of God—who bore His image well. My mind is a stone, heavy with all that I experienced and my heart wants to spill it out all over this minivan.
And I remember how one of the speakers talked about risky faith. How—if we believe in the hope of restoration—it will change the way we do everything. I think of how I long to go to Haiti or some other far off place to see God in the faces of distant brothers and sisters—how my life feels too small for that to ever happen. I think of how I almost took that sponsorship packet but let fear stop me in the end. How everything always comes down to money—and isn’t God bigger than that? Won’t He find a way?
How will I ever do the big things, Lord, if I’m too scared to even stop and look at a barn?
Just then the sun comes out and the snow stops swirling and I can see her exit coming into sight. And I recognize God in that time of wrestling and I see how He honors the struggle. The way He comes alongside me makes my eyes well with tears and I gently guide my minivan off the interstate and onto this little winding road that runs parallel.
The snow may have stopped but the wind still blows frigid air and I tromp through mud and climb a hillside and hold onto fence posts to get a closer look. I run up the road in the freezing just to see in her windows. And I keep looking over my shoulder wondering if I’m crazy but I’m not alone. My fingers are nearing purple and my boots are caked with mud when I finally say goodbye and climb back in the minivan.
As I edge back onto the interstate with flushed cheeks and a runny nose, I wonder about what I just learned.
And I ask God to help me be braver.
 Over at The High Calling today, we are continuing our discussion of Tim Keller’s Every Good Endeavor. Join us?
How do you embrace the God-joy? Every Monday I’ll be sharing one of my Playdates with God. I would love to hear about yours. It can be anything: outside, quiet time. Maybe it’s solitary. Maybe it’s loud and crowded. Just find Him. Be with Him.

The Playdates button:


  1. says

    I so hear your heart, Laura. I long to be braver too. To stop letting the snow and the cold whisper no, no, no. You were courageous though! God continues to fill us, bit by bit, yes? Thanks for sharing this beautiful story.

  2. bluecottonmemory says

    Oh, you are my soul sister – we need to go on a car trip and take photos of barns – those barns talk to me, too, encouraging me to stop and do what my heart wants:) I LOVE your photo. Yes – I think we ought to make a barn book together! LOL – BTW – this line – oh, how I pray this line often in my life: “if we believe in the hope of restoration—it will change the way we do everything” – that hope of restoration prayed for in so many areas! Wishing you blessing – and SO GLAD you stopped to see your old friend.

  3. says

    Laura, you have so much more courage and faith than I do. This was a convicting story of taking big faith risks … even if it is to brave a winter storm to meet a friend of the heart. You remind me that God is my protector. That’s something that I needed to hear today! Thanks for all you do and say!

  4. says

    I love this Laura, I felt the cold chill, the longing for bravery, the courage to do the impossible. And that barn, it stands sturdy despite the circumstances, whitewashed and beautiful.

  5. Rina Peru says

    Hi Laura. It’s my first time to link up with you – thank you for the opportunity! Beautiful writing, and photos! Yes, we all need to be braver, more courageous, esp. with the things of God. I believe He will not stop working on us until we gain that courage.

  6. OutnumberedMom says

    Glad you’re home safely. You gave me something to think about today — “If we believe in the hope of restoration, it changes the way we live.” Oh, how I want to live that way. I want that bravery, too, Laura.

  7. says

    But look how you are reaching out into all the world, and we come to meet your friend and her tired old windows, still standing strong in fields, beckoning us to stand strong, as well. God honors the struggle every single day. You faithfully show up and write your story; and He does so much with it.

  8. says

    I loved this post. It sounded like something I would do — if I were only brave enough! (And the only reason I’d be out in a white-out storm would be sheer necessity like that, believe me. I’ve already had my snowy adventures!) Your heart’s prayer also = my realization this week of my need to be braver!

  9. says

    Hi Laura – this is crazy, but our church is planning a trip to Haiti this summer & I’ll be leading the team – one week in July & we would be glad to have you join us. We’ll be installing 40 water filters for families without clean water. Feel free to email me for more info: Or to check out our church:

    Thank you for your wise words – your blog is one of my favorite “breaths” in the middle of the day!

    Blessings, Jill

  10. says

    I was thinking this very thing while I was out running, Megan (I have my best thoughts when my brain is oxygen-deprived. Scary, huh?) I’m starting from a pretty low platform and I know risk means different things to different people. I have dreams for my children and my children’s children that I pray might sprout from seeds I’m planting now. But right now, asking my husband to pray with me feels risky. Right now, believing in some promises seems risky…I guess I could go on. But. I won’t. I know you know.

  11. says

    Beth, you are such a blessing. This is a message I am whispering to my heart over and over these days. Trust is being tested and I need to preach this one to myself :). Yes, yes–God is my protector.

  12. says

    She is so lovely, isn’t she, Shelly? I so want to know her story. She doesn’t look like just any ‘ol barn, but something rather special. Maybe I need to do some sleuthing 🙂

  13. says

    Mercy, Barbara :)! It would depend on which day of the week whether you might really mean that or not. Rather bumpy going here lately. Another reason this message speaks to my heart.

  14. says

    It sure would have been fun to have you there, Linda! The snow started up again toward the latter part of my adventure, though, and I have some photos of her that border on the white :). It was very cold. But I laughed a lot with God while I was doing it.

  15. says

    Home safe and trying to work off that Primanti Brothers sandwich! It was a wonderful trip and the snow squall only made it a better story :). I’ve never been brave–always play it safe. But I am learning Slow and sure.

  16. says

    Isn’t she beautiful? I couldn’t remember exactly what she looked like from last year, only that she impressed me so. I’m glad I stopped. Seems a funny sort of brave, I know, but that’s my little world :). Thanks for stopping in, Ann.

  17. says

    Thank you, Brandee. Yes, there are things in my life that take courage, that take trusting God. They seem small in comparison to some of the risks I read about in the bloggy world–but some days it feels like I risk it all.

  18. says

    I read Mark Batterson’s book “In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day” last month — it is all about risky faith. Your post was like a big “AMEN” to his entire book. Thanks for sharing…. as usual, you’ve got me thinking…. 🙂

  19. says

    I started to comment, “I definitely would have kept the date with the barn,” but was hit with a deluge of memories of many such vows I’ve not followed through on, weather not even a factor. Didn’t want to risk…..hmmmm……being inconvenienced? You have me wondering. Beautiful post, text and photos!

  20. Pam says

    Laura, first…your photos make me want to draw this barn and it’s lovely setting! Next… I so relate to your fears driving in that snowstorm and ice. Just even getting around locally when it’s icy… and praying to be braver. But also to have wisdom when not to “stop” and when to “go.” Thanks for your lovely sharing as always…

  21. pastordt says

    Amazing, amazing. “God honors the struggle. . . ” YES, yes, yes. This is my heart, on my slowly growing list of truths I’ve learned to live by, things I might write about in chapter form some day. This is just lovely, dear Laura. As are you. And how long a drive was that?? Seems a fair piece to me!

  22. says

    You are brave, girl. You really, really are. And you are utterly beautiful.

    About Haiti: The brave thing isn’t going there; it’s finding the courage to come back to America.

  23. Sam Van Eman says

    Great reflection, Laura. I’m glad you made it home safely and I’m also glad you got to pursue this little treat with the barn. I think more of us care deeply about stuff like this than we admit. We need to be kids again.

    P.S. What an awesome time at Jubilee, the gang of us having fun!

  24. says

    Oh, how I love old barns. And this one–she’s a beauty. And didn’t He time that stopping and that sighting so perfectly? He’s like that. Just a whisper in a snowstorm, and the swirling stops. Dear, brave, gentle Laura.

    I so want to go to this conference sometime.

  25. says

    What a beautiful gift God gave you, and what beautiful trust for you to receive it! I feel small just looking at the images of that majestic, matriarchal barn. How much life she must have witnessed. Pity she keeps mum.

  26. says

    Sam, it was wonderful to hang out with you this weekend! I think next year I may remember which lane to get in on the Fort Pitt bridge. And some of us get to explore the wilderness as part of our jobs–can you say fun? But I wouldn’t recommend it in the middle of a blizzard…

  27. says

    A kindred spirit you are! We once almost bought one of the oldest houses in Pittsburgh (Circa 1769). I was so taken with it, I’d drive by at night and stop just to put my hands on its side and dream of the history there.

  28. soulstops says

    Dear Laura,
    Thank you for sharing your journey and photos with us…lovely…you, and the barn 🙂 I could relate to what you were saying, and being brave really is different for each of us depending on what God calls us to…that said, I do pray to be brave, and to follow Him 🙂 Hugs to you, sweet friend 🙂

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