It's a mess of a life. Empty playgrounds and fear. - JJ Landis
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It’s a mess of a life. Empty playgrounds and fear.


I just drove past the elementary school and had to choke back my tears. The swings are still. The slides empty. The mulch undisturbed. No monkeys are on the monkey bars.


The summer humidity has broken. The temperature sits at a near-perfect 70. The corn is being cut and the breeze brings the smells of fall. If ever there could be a better “play outside day” I can’t imagine it.


So why the barren playgounds? All the children are being kept indoors, I guess.


Friday morning, it was a bomb threat.


Last night, the automated call came from the school superintendent reporting an anonymous threat of shooting.


Thus began the social media buzz about what to do with kids today. Send them to school? Keep them home?


Will cops be there? How will they guarantee safety?


What about buses? What about games and practices after school?


Will backpacks be checked?


Some parents were adamant about keeping their children home. Some were claiming resolve – no way are some bullies going to knock us down – kids have to go to school or else the bad guys win.


I didn’t know what to think so I kept scrolling and reading and was in a few group chats about it. My heart raced. My hands shook. I fell deeper into a panic. It was more than an immediate panic though – it was a kind of dread: “This is the world we live in and I knew that, but I didn’t want to think about it. Now I have no choice but to think about it.” And that makes me mad. Because I rather enjoy my innocence.


I have three kids in three different schools in our district – all schools are on the same campus, so the danger is there for all of them.


For a few hours last night, I bounced around between panic and peace. The peace came from rationalizing that the schools will be safer than ever since everyone will be on high alert. From remembering that my children are never going to be completely free from harm so me freaking out will not help anyone.


Ashamedly, I prayed only after an hour or so of frantic social media interaction. God is real. He comforts and strengthens. I don’t know how anyone can live without the knowledge that there is something stronger and bigger than us flawed humans.


People do get shot. People die. People get sick. Kids do stupid things. Adults do stupid things. We are unkind to each other sometimes. It’s a mess of a life. Living in fear can cripple us though.


I’m not saying whether I sent my kids to school – that’s not the issue. All of us want our children to be safe. Some felt school was the best option. Some felt a day at home would be better.


When the threat of the world hangs on your Mommy shoulders, look to a comfort that is bigger than the hurts of this world:

“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid” (John 14:27 NLT).


When bad things do happen, I always go back to this passage:

“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.

The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights” (Habakkuk 3:17-19).


Yet, I will rejoice. Even today, when the playground is empty.

  • Erin weaver
    Posted at 06:36h, 17 September Reply

    Thank you for sharing this. I’m so glad that I stumbled across your lovely blog on such a scary day. I too have 3 kids in 3 separate schools on campus and making the decision Monday morning was so so hard, but soon found comfort in similar verses that you and other readers have shared. I also learned that on that day there were prayer warrior mothers walking the campus praying for our babies that morning, and my heart was filled with gratitude knowing they were being covered all the way from homes to the campus.

    • JJ Landis
      Posted at 06:39h, 17 September Reply

      Erin, Very good point. I also learned there are many prayer warriors out there. Lots of good was found in the bad. Thanks for reading and for commenting. Nice to meet you!

  • Susan Wade
    Posted at 21:38h, 14 September Reply

    My heart breaks — then rejoices — as I read and re-read your post. Thank you for reminding us of the joy and hope that break through fear.

  • Lois Early
    Posted at 16:26h, 14 September Reply

    Thank you for your thoughts. I am a teacher, but not in your district. However, my school was affected too…we had to move a soccer game.d The verses you quoted really spoke to me. Thank you for taking the time to write your thoughts and share God’s Word.

    • JJ Landis
      Posted at 21:06h, 14 September Reply

      Thank you! I appreciate your comment, Lois.

  • patty winters
    Posted at 14:05h, 14 September Reply

    thank you for that note. i think we all struggled with the same thoughts. It was eerie to see the playgrounds empty and the children asking why we couldn’t go out today. they kept saying but its nice out. cafeteria voices were low and almost half the children not in attendance.
    The verses were appropriate. thank you for sharing some calmness/ ~p

    • JJ Landis
      Posted at 21:07h, 14 September Reply

      Thank you for taking such good care of all our babies!

    • Kelly Poniatowski
      Posted at 22:02h, 14 September Reply

      Thank you Miss Patty.

  • lisa
    Posted at 13:11h, 14 September Reply

    Thanks for putting my feelings into words, JJ! Praying that our teachers & schools feel the prayers lifted by so many in our community!

    • JJ Landis
      Posted at 21:08h, 14 September Reply

      Thanks Lisa. Let’s continue to pray!

  • Karen
    Posted at 12:54h, 14 September Reply

    Thank you for sharing! These verses are so wonderful. 2 Timothy 1:17 also comes to mind today as do many others. Yesterday in Sunday school we were discussing the sovereignty of God…how appropriate! It was no accident that this would be the topic in the class that I chose (or that God placed me in for this quarter). Nothing happens without Him knowing…He is in complete control. We serve a amazing and awesome God. I, too, can not imagine life without the hope we have in Him.

    • JJ Landis
      Posted at 21:08h, 14 September Reply


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