Newtown as I know it

Written by Jamie Martin, editor of Simple Homeschool and writer at Steady Mom

I never intended to write about my current location here, or in any online space. I crave privacy and am tiger-mother fierce about protecting that of my kids. But when you see the town in which you live and love plastered across national and international news, the time has come to open up.

I make my home in Newtown, Connecticut–scene of last week’s 2nd deadliest school shooting in US history. If we had not chosen to homeschool, all three of my babes would have walked through the doors of Sandy Hook Elementary on Friday morning.

Who knows if all three would have come home again.

This tragedy hits close, shockingly close, to our home. Within walking distance families currently nurse a private grief that I find unimaginable.

What disturbs me, though, is that most of you are hearing about Newtown for the first time. Please know that there is another side than the sheer horror of what you’ve seen.

There’s the truth–what life is really like here. And though we’ve only lived in this town for a year and a half, this place will be part of our family’s heart, and history, forever.

This is Newtown as I know it:

I fell in love with this small town over two years ago. My kids attended a week-long summer camp here. After dropping them off I would wander–finding a place to write or take a walk–until time to pick them up again. Driving these country roads birthed a new dream for my family–a different type of life that would include fields and farms, refuge and freedom.

A safe place for my children to love, learn, and grow.

It has been that–and much more. You could say that Newtown was the answer to our prayers.

A stereotype holds that New Englanders keep their distance, but this community welcomed us warmly.

After Hurricane Sandy, when we lost power for four days, neighbors on both sides called and visited–inviting us to shower at their house, sleep on their floors, and borrow their camping stoves.

My children roam freely and play loudly for hours everyday outside our house. Once I noticed Elijah laying on the grass for several minutes, gazing at the sky.

“Watching hawks,” he said, when asked what captured his attention. I’ll always remember that moment. It struck me as exactly what a child should have the time and space for.

And it happened here. Newtown–a remarkable place to raise kids.

Though not exactly your typical family, I have never encountered even one rude look, glance, or comment about our uniqueness and diversity.

When checking out dozens of books recently, the librarian looked up at me with a warm smile and kindly said, “You must homeschool.” She went on to tell me of her positive experiences with other homeschooling families in the area.

Once my kids ran out to eagerly greet the oil man who had arrived to fill our tank. I walked out also, and he spoke up.

“Your son said you homeschool?”

As I answered yes, I wondered what would come next. But instead of questioning the validity of our educational choice, he opened up in my front yard about the learning struggles of his son. Turns out he and his wife had wondered about homeschooling themselves. He left that day with one of my cards for this blog, and an invitation to email me with any questions.

Our experience has shown us that Newtowners live and work with passion. I’ve been genuinely surprised to find that almost anyone hired to come to our house–from exterminators, to chimney sweeps, to tree choppers–exudes an excitement for their chosen line of work. My kids have come away thinking that “loving your job” is just what folks do.

Like I said, there’s something special here. A spark. Please remember that as you watch footage of terrified children running from classrooms and of lives irrevocably changed. That spark may be dim with sorrow, but it has not been extinguished in this courageous community.

Continue to send your prayers this direction. Not for us, who still have the privilege of tucking our little ones in tonight–but for those down the street and around the corner with empty beds and shattered hearts.

As for me, I will wake up tomorrow morning, look out the window at the field in the back, then do what I always do–thank God for sending us here. I will change my mind’s channel when images of horror and violence play on its screen, and replace it with images of what I know to be true about this beautiful community.

Treasured and cherished safely in my memory remains forever Newtown…as I know it.

Now you know it, too.

Further reading & resources:

“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning. I keep on swallowing. At other times it feels like being mildly drunk, or concussed. There is a sort of invisible blanket between the world and me. I find it hard to take in what anyone says. Or perhaps, hard to want to take it in. It is so uninteresting. Yet I want the others to be about me. I dread the moments when the house is empty. If only they would talk to one another and not to me.” ~ C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

Comments now closed. Thank you for your kind words, thoughts, and prayers.

About Jamie Martin

Jamie is a mama to three cute kids born on three different continents. She serves as editor of Simple Homeschool, and blogs about mindful parenting at Steady Mom. Jamie is also the author of two books: Steady Days and Mindset for Moms.


  1. Heavenly Father, I pray that your grace and peace and comfort would surround the residents of Newtown as they slowly recover from this tragic event. Our whole nation is hurting and mourning and grieving this loss. May we not live in fear, but may we draw closer together and closer to You.
    Jill Foley’s latest post: {pretty, happy, funny, real} and extra!

  2. Jamie,
    Thank you for sharing. I am praying and will continue to pray.
    coleen’s latest post: mourning

  3. Jamie,
    Newtown sounds like a lovely place to live. The kind of place I have craved for my own little family.

    My heart cries for the families and friends that lost precious loved ones so dear to them. I also weep for the town as a whole that has been so deeply wounded.

    Praying for all those affected. Thank you for sharing your town with us.
    Stacy @ A Delightful Home’s latest post: Delightful Links

  4. What an eloquent portrait of Newtown and its spirit. It sounds like a wonderful place. I cannot imagine what you must be feeling to know your children could have been in that school. I homeschool as well and I know it could be us invaded at our home as well someday while other children are safe at school. You just never know and I am thankful my children and I are ready should the worst happen. But that would not ease the heartache of losing them. My heart is so so so heavy since this news broke. Tears just keep appearing on my cheeks. God bless Newtown and your family as you all deal with such sorrow so close to home.

  5. my heart is saddened by little lives lost, warmed by courageous teachers who tried to protect their kids. may God comfort all the families in newtown.

  6. Thanks for sharing your experience, I’m better in french but your text is so inspirational so I really want to write a little word for my appreciation. Thank you

  7. Newton sounds like a lovely place to raise a family. My heart is breaking for those mama’s who won’t hold their children again. I cannot imagine the ache in their hearts. I will continue to pray.
    Barbie’s latest post: Fresh Brewed Sunday: {Prayers for Sandy Hook Elementary School Victims}

  8. I knew you were local, but I didn’t know *how* local; I suppose it’s a testament to your success at keeping your location private. I grew up in New Milford and I have family and dear friends who make their homes in Newtown now. None of you has been far from my mind or my heart since Friday morning, and I’ll be holding you close there for quite some time, I suspect. xoxo
    meghann’s latest post: speechless

  9. Thank you for this post Jamie. I also live in a small quaint town that I love and have found myself asking “what if?”. I am so very saddened by the current events as well as those of the not so distant past. I hold my children tighter and closer and with more thanks than ever. There are no words to describe the pain and loss that is being felt there in Newtown. All I can do is send my love and prayers that direction. May everyone affected soon find comfort and peace.

  10. Now this post was a breath of fresh air. Your pictures are beautiful and your courage to share is very appreciated. The weight of sorrow can only be lifted by hope and faith and I pray that all of the people affected, in any way, in your town and across the country will be comforted and strengthened. Only God can understand and know all things and we must trust in Him.

  11. Brianna Preston says:

    Oh, Jamie. I feel conflicting emotions–so glad your babies are safe and so sorrowful that others are not. I will remember what you said about your beautiful town–thank you for sharing it’s beauty, and the beauty of its people. May the Lord minister to your heart as you reach out to minister to others who are hurting.

  12. They are, SURELY, with you now, Jesus. Thank You, Dear Lord for taking it from here… In Your Precious Name…Amen
    John 10:28-30 NIV
    “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.””

  13. Thank you for sharing. It had to be very hard for you to do. I’ve been considering home schooling for years now. I don’t want to start because of a knee jerk reaction to this tragedy, but honestly, this could be the beginning of a new way of life for our family… I’m just not quite sure where to start..

  14. I am so sorry this happened in your town… happened in any town. Thank you for sharing these words about Newtown.
    Jamie’s latest post: tragedy and sorrow and Christmas and hope

  15. From a regular reader of your blog…all mothers are thinking about your hometown these days…and holding our own children close.

  16. Thank you for sharing more about your community. Everyone talks about how these kinds of incidents make them lose faith in humanity, but I just try to remember that there are infinitely more stories of goodness, love, and hope that are just aspects of everyday life and not the sorts of things that get reported.
    I am sending many prayers for healing and ease in this terrible time.

  17. What a beautifully written post. After such a devastating event, it’s hard to imagine the beauty in such a place. But thank you for reminding us all that these little angels had a beautiful home to grow in, during their time here on earth. Praying for all the innocent’s lost!
    Vanessa (Mom’s Menu Planner)’s latest post: Homemade Hamburger Helper – Cheeseburger Macaroni

  18. thank you for sharing Jamie –

  19. What a lovely, beautiful place to live. We are praying for those families and your community.
    Johanna @ My Home Tableau’s latest post: In the wake of tragedy

  20. Beautifully written. And exactly my experience with Newtown, as well. Thank you so much for sharing the beauty of this town in this space.
    JessieLeigh’s latest post: How to Help Sandy Hook (Newtown)

  21. A beautiful portrait that makes me want to visit.

    I know Friday’s events weren’t typical; for Newtown or anywhere. So I don’t judge this place based on that at all. Instead, I see love, compasion, community in large measure. And I refuse to linger on the horror that introduced me, but rather the beauty that is rising.

    Lord bring mercy and grace and greater love.

    Robin Dance’s latest post: Collateral damage in ten parts

  22. Thank you for speaking up. This reminds me of how I spoke about my home after 9/11; it will help many more than the empty words currently playing across TV screens.

  23. Thank you so much for sharing. It is good to hear about the town and people in the midst of all of this sadness. Thoughts and prayers to Newton.

  24. I am so just sorry.
    Thank you for showing us Newtown.
    Katherine Willis Pershey’s latest post: Something to Ponder

  25. Jamie,
    Thank you for sharing this. I am also a very private person and, if I were a blogger, wouldn’t like to share where I am from. But the gift of sharing with others another face of this place where something so horrific has occured is a great gift.

  26. So beautiful. Thank you for opening up and sharing that.
    shelli : mamaofletters’s latest post: Inspire Kids: Amazing Insects made from random junk

  27. Jaime it’s so nice to meet you and your adorable family. Thank you for sharing your little corner of the world with us. The world is so full of prayers for those in pain in your area – I add mine to the chorus each day.

  28. Jamie, thank you for sharing this. My prayers go out to all affected by this tragedy, and in hope that the Light of the Lord will shine through.

  29. I am glad you wrote this because this has been on my mind and heart. This tragedy could happen in any town or city…it is just that this is too scary a thought to hold on to for very long. But it is true. There is nothing unique about Newton or Sandy Hook Elementary that holds the answer to why this happened. It could happen anywhere.
    We are praying for all who are hurting in Newton.
    Phyllis at All Things Beautiful’s latest post: All Year Round Blog Carnival: Winter Begins

  30. Jamie – I’ve admired you for years. Thanks for sharing your Newtown with us. It makes it that much more personal. You ALL are in our prayers.
    Courtney’s latest post: Papaw’s Bird

  31. What a beautiful tribute. God Bless you all.

  32. Thank you for sharing what your town really looks like. It’s sad that this is the first and lasting impression that many people will have of Newtown, but it is with hope that we join you in prayer. That God would surround this town with love and a peace that passes all understanding. We love you and your town.

  33. Thank you Jamie. A wonderful perspective, and one I personally needed. Prayers for everyone in Newtown.

  34. Thank you for this beautiful post and the words you have shared about Newtown. Sending my prayers to all Newtowners.
    Vinita’s latest post: Cheesy Spicy Corn Muffins

  35. From myself and all my fellow mothers in my bi-monthly bible study group, our prayers have been going up for all of the families and the city of Newtown. Our hearts ache as we pray. We will continue to pray for strength for all in your town.

  36. I’m so sorry to hear about your community. When I heard the news, I actually thought of you, thinking you might live around those parts…but I didn’t know how close.

    Thank you for sharing this, as it does for sure show another side to the story.

  37. As I was reading your post , the thought came to me that this could have happened anywhere. Because this happened it was an evil act, but we as a nation have obviously found that we don’t need God. It’s not Sandy Hook’s fault, it’s all of our fault really. We have become so busy that we ARE not teaching our children, loving our children. We have become complacent. As I watched the memorial service last night, you know God will allow things to happen to show us we need him, He desirees our fellowship, and I know these we’re innocent children that we’re killed, but he needs our fellowship, the Bible speaks of teaching our children as we rise up and lie down about him. If we don’t have God the answer to these tragedys, we have nothing, He is showing us we need him. We as parents whether we are HSing parents or ps parents, we have to pray for our children, their safety as we live in a society that would love to snuff our children out as they did these children. The evil that lurks out there, this could have been my town, But we need God. We need to pray for this nation to turn back to God. We need Him!!!

  38. Jamie, I want to first tell you how very sorry I am for your community in Newtown for the loss f such precious lives. My heart aches for you as you all grieve and try and go on with life. I appreciate your courage to show us your town as you know it. It connects us in a way that is so much more personal than what the news can show. You are all in my thoughts and prayers during this very difficult time. I pray that God will hold your community in the palm of his hand and give you peace even in this difficult time. God bless you and God bless Newtown, CT.
    Amy Avery’s latest post: Tender Thoughts

  39. Simply beautiful. Thank you for taking the time to write this.
    Omaira’s latest post: Teach because you want to learn.

  40. Thanks for sharing. I see Newtown as a quaint and idyllic little New England town that experienced an awful tragedy. This may have put Newtown on the map for many, but it doesn’t have to define it!
    This is the first time I’ve come across your blog and I love that you call your family a mini United Nations!! So fun!! We have lived in various places across Europe for 13 years, adopted one in Czech Republic (she is Roma) and birthed twins in Prague (through IVF, in that foreign country). If you asked my kids where they are from they will tell you they are from Prague, because that is were they were born. =) They’ve only lived in the US for short stints here and there and have lived in 2 other countries since their birth (Spain & Austria) and will make a third in February when we move to England. We hope it to be a more permanent location, but only God knows that for sure! =)
    Thanks again for sharing!! Many thoughts and many prayers for your community!!
    Tina @ Girl Meets Globe’s latest post: Hug Them Closer

  41. Jamie, Thank you for sharing your heart and home with us today…lifting my prayers with so many others to cover your town with other-wordly peace.
    Lisa’s latest post: When it is all too much to bear…

  42. Mikki Parkhill says:

    Prayers for comfort, peace and harmony continue for everyone.

    From Coweta, OK

  43. I don’t often comment, but I wanted to thank you for sharing. no words can put right the wrongs that have happened, but it is important to remember that a community does not have to be defined by it’s tragedies, and that goes for humanity too.
    hoping peace comes to you and yours, and the people so deeply hurt by this.

  44. My heart has been so broke since this tragedy happened, yesterday I saw my 7 year old granddaughter for the first time since before Friday, I held, hugged and kissed her and told her how much Grammy loved her, I think that’s all we can do! Prayer is going up for your beautiful town and for the families…it can happen in any town too!

  45. I’m glad you wrote this post, Jamie. Newtown sounds like a lovely place to live.
    emily freeman’s latest post: an attempt to put words on the heartbreak

  46. I am holding all of the people in your town in my prayers. Your loss has affected the entire world – we all lost those innocent children and the courageous staff members who lost their lives trying to protect the innocent.

  47. Jamie, thank you for sharing such a beautiful portrait of your home town with us. I will picture your words in my mind as I continue to pray for your town and all the families affected by this tragedy. “Man’s inhumanity to Man makes countless thousands mourn” no truer words were spoken, but I serve the Living God, and I know He has those precious souls with him, and I pray that His comfort will continue to pour out on Newtown as a nation we cry out to Him. God Bless you and your family.

  48. I am so glad to read this today. Newtown deserves to be known for more than this heartache. I am glad to know that the Littles we lost on Friday had this sort of life before it was cut short. Thank you for writing it.

  49. Nice post…I am glad I read it b/c of the Incourage blog….there is so much TV coverage and dare I say hype over the shooter, the gun used, the events leading up to it etc…I just wish we could all turn off the TV and news and focus on the kids and families …focus on Newton. Thanks for your perspective. 😉

  50. My family’s prayers are with your community and our great world we all share.