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. Jamie- Thanks for sharing this. If anything, I think the world has seen Newtown as a place full of a great police force, wonderful neighbors and friends. The tragedy was not Newtowns fault. But Newtown has certainly shown grace under dire circumstances. The world’s prayers are with you.

  2. Having homeschooled our son (now a Sr. @ Johnson Univ in TN) one of my thoughts went to the fact that we never had to worry about him being away from us @ school all day, or at having to send him after any tragidy such as 9-11 when he was 10. God bless you! This post was so amazing and touched my heart. I have been posting that we can see God in the midst of the tragedy in the teachers/staff who sacrificed their lives for the children and the people that showed up in the community to help and show God’s love. Your post reinforces that for me. I live on Long Island, close enough to feel like it is almost our backyard. We also know of business associates who lost their son. God is there in the midst of the tragedy and the evil that caused it to happen. Continuing to keep you and all in the community in prayer as time moves forward and God moves among you. May his presence be evident to all who lost loved ones be they the children or the staff at the school. Thank you for your post…I will be sharing it on my FB page.

  3. Thank you for sharing the joy and happiness you’ve found in your town over the past year and a half.

    I will hold the pictures of happy children in my mind to balance out the tears that spring to my eyes whenever I think of Newtown’s tragedy.

  4. May God bless you for this word – may He bless you so much that it simply and naturally pours out of you and into your hurting community.

  5. Keith Ruby says:


  6. All parents throughout the world can only imagine the pain and suffering in Newtown right now. My friends on FB are global and everyone is praying for you all. I live in Australia via the UK and Cyprus and even though we are so very far away, it feels like you are family friends just around the corner. We pray for you and with you, and can only imagine the sorrow that our Father in Heaven feels too. Continuing our prayers for you I recall these scriptures and pray many blessings upon all of Newtown.
    ‘I waited patiently for the LORD; and He inclined to me, and heard my cry. He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps.’ Psalm 40:1-2(NKJV).
    ‘Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.’ 2 Corinthians 1:3-4(NKJV)

  7. Bless you for writing something positive. I read somewhere that in tragedy, look for the helpers. Focus on the support, the love, the community. If we continue to sensationalize these moments, the mentally ill murders get their moment of fame. I pray for you and your town. Bless you

  8. Thank you for sharing. I know it’s hard to release this private information to the world, but there is some hope in knowing you and your blog are a powerful tool for good in your town. My God bless you with many opportunities to share and continue to bless those closest to you. You and your family will be in my prayers.
    Rebecca’s latest post: Nothing is working!

  9. I come from the Philippines and have two sons, both are 7 and 4 years old respectively. I will tell them about this & we will have mass said for all those children that suffered. We will also offer one attendance in mass specially for all their fellow children and their families. This more that breaks my heart, though far away, i cannot imagine this happening to anyone.
    May God’s Angels lead all the children who suffered in fright and death back home to heaven where they deserve to rest. Love, Peace, Prayers and Light + Eternal Rest Grant unto the poor souls oh Lord and let Perpetual light and shine upon them, May they rest in peace, Amen +++

  10. What a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing the good, the very good in your town. Prayers for all those who lost a loved one. I cannot imagine their pain. I am praying for them and hoping they can feel the prayers of so many.

    The Domestic Fringe’s latest post: Trash -2- Treasure: DIY Pallet Wall Art

  11. Hi Jamie. Firstly, my heart goes out to the families and the community in Newtown, and it’s hard to imagine the grief you’re all feeling as you mourn the loss of loved ones and a community changed forever. Secondly, thank you so much for sharing your passion for the people and township of Newtown, and for giving us an insight into a community who before Friday didn’t exist for many of us. The news in Australia is full of the tragedy, but sadly this is now being overshadowed by updates on, and comments of the power of the gun-lobbying activists. In particular the gun culture in Newtown. It appears that even the police have had deep concerns in the past about the ready access of assault type weapons, and the lack of shooting restrictions close to houses. It’s hard to conceive, from this distance, that people can actually discharge bullets within a 20 feet radius of a residence! Your picture of your son, and others children, playing safely on the streets in Newtown, paint an altogether different picture from the one the local police are portraying it to be. It’s hard to separate the two images – an idyllic childhood watching the eagles overhead vs the gun-toting, trigger happy hunting community where even gas cylinders have been shot at for the thrill of seeing them explode! It does make me wonder whether things will change. Will another community, somewhere down the road, or on the other side of the country, have to suffer the same fate? How many communities have to be shattered forever before something is done to prevent this from happening again? My heart and thoughts are with you all as you come to grips with the horror that unfolded last Friday. May God give you the strength to rebuild your community, and to replace weapons with education and dialogue. Hx

  12. Donna Lovelace says:

    I had the priviledge of spending a week in Newtown to assist witha Franchise Store opening in th 60’s. Yes, it was and still is a beautiful town, with beautiful people. My prayer is that the most recent tragedy will NOT change your values or your good intentions. As parents and grandparents, and just plain folks, words can not express our sorrow for the families and community. Hang on to your children, to your faith and to each other and you shall survive, though you will no doubt be ever changed. Our prayers are with yiu Newtown. Jim and Donna Lovelace

  13. Thank you for this post, for your sharing. It’s good to know a bit of “the rest of the story.” God bless you, your family, and your town through this heartbreaking time! My thoughts and prayers are with you all.

  14. Thank you for sharing this… we live in Putnam Lake, NY and often drive through Bethel and Newtown, I guess that is why it feels so close and real. The area is just beautiful and I always got such a wonderful feeling driving through there. I think people can see between the cameras and reporting to find the heart of the town and the wonderful neighbors and tightnit ways. Sending my hopes and wishes to your entire community. “There is no foot too small that it cannot leave an imprint on this world.”

  15. Funny… I watched the constant news reports……I thought to myself…what a lovely town and amazing people. I am so glad to hear that my impressions of your home and neighbors was spot on. My heart aches for your neighbors who have seen such unthinkable acts up close. But my heart is happy for them that they live in such a supportive and faithful community that will lift them up during this sad, dark time. Thank you for your open heart….

  16. We live in a small community on the south coast of New South Wales, Australia. This could have easily been our town. We mourn with you and send our deep sympathy to you folk in Newtown. May healing begin as you little town moves forward and just know that even though we are on the other side of the world, we care and are praying.
    May you all be blessed and know God’s comfort.

  17. shannon conner says:

    Your sweet community are in my prayers, just wanted you to know from Anniston, Al

  18. My heart weeps for these families. It could be any one of us. I haven’t even been able to turn on the news–it’s too much. There are no words. I am crying with you and your town, but I know I have no idea of the depth of pain.
    Charity’s latest post: Rhythm of a Year: Holidays

  19. Thank you for sharing this. Praise God that your family is safe!

  20. Jamie
    Never once have I thought Newtown was anything but wonderful! I’m so very sorry for the dark pain that has blanketed that beautiful town and it’s sweet people!
    Praying….begging God for comfort!

  21. Thank you for this warm and heartfelt post. It’s sad that a community is labled forever as a place of tragedy when something this horrific happens, but to those of you living there it is your home. Any one of us could have our community shaken and turned upside down like this, but it’s still the place we call home.
    Our family along with the world are praying for your community and the families that have lost loved ones. My heart breaks trying to comprehend why this happened, and how the parents are coping with losing their precious children. The only hope and comfort that anyone has is through the Lord, knowing that those sweet babies are with Him now. Our prayer for Newtown is that the Lord’s grace and strength will be poured out to the people, and the world will see how He can take such a horrific event and use it for good.

  22. The people of Newtown have been in my prayers and will continue to be, Jamie. Thank you for sharing the beauty of Newtown in the face of the unimaginable horror and sadness that the world has seen these last few days. It is my prayer that the strength and grace of the community that the world has also seen will help hearts to be healed and grief to be comforted for those who have had to endure the unthinkable. Praying for you all.
    Kris @ Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers’s latest post: Weekly Wrap-Up: No Words

  23. I had never read your blog before. Thank you so much for sharing with us the images of your beautiful town. Your description makes me want to move there! I’ve heard Newtown described as idyllic and close-knit several times over the past few days. I hope all the residents will continue to lean on each other and on God in the days to come, and that it will again be the lovely town that it was, and not just a place marked by violence.

  24. Thank you for this enlightening post. The town and school are all over the map because of this horrible event that tends to make us tear up at soft songs of Christmas. (Me). But I go on and know that God is in the midst of the hurting in Newton. Thank you for sharing the reasons you wanted your family to move there. It will take time to feel safer again. We home schooled our children in the 1980s to 2002 and so enjoyed them being here at home. We had knives in our school….in the kitchen! We continue to pray for the families that lost their children and the community that was touched by this event. It will take time to heal, if ever for some, but know that there are caring, praying, loving people around the world that wish you well. Hugs and have a blessed Christmas season. Look for His mercies that are new every morning. Lamentations 3:22-24
    Becky L’s latest post: Mary Kay Giveaway

  25. I grew up in Newtown and loved it. It IS everything people say it is and that you see in those hopefully soon -ending news stories. I carry a piece of iNewtown with me wherever I go. Your kids will thank you for moving there :)
    This incident just breaks my heart for many, many reasons. I know it won’t change the town in any drastic ways, but it will be felt forever. Having just gone through this type of tragedy less than a year ago in my current home, near Chardon, Ohio, my family cannot stop praying and thinking of everyone there. It is too fresh. Kids so youmg. Much sympathy and many prayers to a loved “home town.”

  26. Where was God?
    God is right there!

  27. Andrea Jones says:

    We are praying for all of Newtown… thank you for sharing. Beautifully written… it reminds me so of my childhood days, when times were much more simple, it seems. God Bless!

  28. This is the most beautiful post I have read. I live and teach and raise my internationally-adopted son here in Newtown. You have captured so much of what I feel about Newtown in this post. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I wish you many blessings and peace.

  29. My family and I lived in Newtown for a year, back in the early 1980’s. We lived in a very old farmhouse on Pine Tree Hill Ln. It was beautiful. The town was beautiful and so were the people. I am deeply grieved for everyone’s loss and everyone did lose even those of us who don’t live there. I pray for God’s strong comforting arms to be wrapped around all of Newtown, to whisper into each ear that He is near.
    “Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in Him, for He shields him all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests between His shoulders.”

  30. Jamie,
    Thank you for so bravely sharing this with us. It is no small feat to find and share beauty in the wake of tragedy. I for one, am grateful to get a glimpse of the real Newtown.
    While we are grieving and trying to understand this tragedy all over the world, I can not imagine what it is like to experience this in your own back yard. While I am able to shelter my kids from the media covering this event, I know you must be dealing with hard questions from fraught little ones.
    My heart goes out to all of Newtown. To the families of the victims, and to families like yours,
    I hope that you will all find some peace.

  31. Great blog post! Newtown is a special place! We live in Oxford and we always find ourselves in Newtown! I appreciate your thoughts and well written perspective on the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary. Our thoughts and prayers are with our communities as we all find a way to heal.

  32. Gay Boston says:

    Never for one moment did I think that Newtown was the cause of this tragedy. It is sad that the actions of one sick individual can bring on the media blitz (and blight) that may make some people think this is all there is to Newton, Columbine, or other places. I pray for those who lost loved ones that they may find healing in the support of those who did not. Your post shows that it is there. Blessings to you and your family, as well as all those in Newtown who now have a new reality to deal with.

  33. Thank you for sharing your joyful pictures and Newtown life. Your friends and community are in my family’s prayers.

  34. Jamie – Thank you for sharing with us about your wonderful town. We started homeschooling in August, and this is my favorite blog. You really do make a difference in so many lives. We will continue to keep you and your neighbors and friends in our thoughts and prayers during this terrible time of tragedy.

  35. Jamie ~ Thank you so much for sharing your heart and your town with us! Blessings to you, your family and all of Newtown.

  36. Wishing you and your family and community much strength and hope during this difficult time.
    Nina’s latest post: Santa and kids: balancing imagination with reality

  37. Elizabeth McDonald says:

    I am so thankful that you took the time and thoughtfulness to write this post about Newtown, Ct.! My dear aunt and uncle lived there for decades, and I always felt that Newtown was a special town, a wonderful welcoming place for my cousin to grow up and flourish. The terrible tragedy that broke the peacefulness last Friday is an aberration, not a definition of Newtown. People all over the country, all over the world are shedding tears for Newtown, appropriately. You are all in our thoughts and in our hearts.

  38. Thank you for that wonderful tribute.

  39. Wow. On so many levels. Cannot help but cry as I read this. And feel comfort that you are there in the community, to speak for it, and help it to heal. So many mixed feelings, as a homeschooling mom myself, and mostly just sending many prayers to you all.

  40. Sigh…I understand and hear your heart. Our sweet little town got a horrible reputation from one movie called The Changeling which spotlighted a crime that happened in 1928…such a long, long time ago.
    Praying for your town and your families, for the hearts of those who lost children and loved ones, and for the Lord to use this in the beautifully unique ways only He can. Many blessings.

  41. My heart is hurting everyday since it happened… I cry and hope this is the LAST tragedy ever.. Thank you for this post and please send all this families a big hug and tell that Monica from CA is thinking and sharing the pain. I have 2 little ones and we homeschool. I cannot even think about loosing would kill me…I am very sorry that horrible thing happened.. Is there an address where we can send a letter to those families? Thank you go the post. Monica
    Monica’s latest post: Overhead Projector Ideas

  42. Beautifully written! I know your hope is a light in your community right now. Your town is in the prayers of The Christian Church family in Myrtle Beach, SC and we send our heartfelt sympathy and love!

  43. Although my family and I now live in southern California, this event struck close to home; Mrs. Sherlach’s daughter lives in Salem, NJ which is where we lived before coming here. Know that our hearts rejoice for those who willingly stepped in to try and protect the babies, while we shed uncountable tears at the loss. Blessings to you, your neighbors, and friends as you come together at this time. God keeps His wings around you all. With love, Andree’ and Christopher Neal
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  44. Thank you for your words about our beloved little town. I also live in Newtown and am a homeschooling mother of three. When we first moved to CT, my husband stumbled upon Newtown quite by accident, and knew immediately that this picturesque, family-oriented, Norman Rockwellian town was where we wanted to live. During our 11 years here, we have found everything to be as you described. Newtown is a little, tranquil piece of Americana. We will get through this senseless tragedy because we are \”Newtown strong\”. May we all draw closer to God, as He can pull good out of bad. May our precious families find healing, comfort, and peace. (Would love to meet you sometime, by the way.)

  45. My heart goes out to your town and to the families who are grieving this holiday season. Thank you for sharing the truth of your town.
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  46. Sending thoughts and prayers to your community from our small town. God bless, and Merry Christmas.
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  47. jen chenoweth says:

    We had the priviledge of moving to Newtown probably around the same time as you! A friend from the homeschooling community told be about your article and I said “I know that mom”, we were a part of a local homeschool group together a few years ago. It was so refreshing to hear your perspective a,nd to see how you are focused on the greatness of this town. I too have been trying to live on the outskirts and stay away from all of the media and news. Although my children know of this tragedy we are trying to shelter them from anymore unnecessary hurt. It would be great to get together and reconnect. Email me when you can!

  48. Pam Romano says:

    Hi Jamie, I had the privilege of living in Newtown as a child and yes, it is a wonderful place to live! Thank you for sharing this. It truly warmed my heart. Enjoy your years there; I’m jealous. :)

  49. I know Newtown. I grew up in New Milford, worked and went to college in Danbury. My husband and I got married in the Meeting House in Newtown in 1996. We LOVE that little idyllic town and have been hurting for the families and the community there. We are in TX now, but I can picture the streets and the gorgeous New England charm so easily. It’s been so surreal thinking of such a tragedy happening “back home.” Thank you for opening up to share. People need to know that Newtown is “everytown” not some scary place that you could ever imagine something like this happening. The unfortunate reality that this has had is that if it can happen there, it can happen ANYwhere. I am praying for healing and peace the families and the community and everyone this has affected.

  50. Thank you for choosing to embrace the beautiful and positive! And, while this tragedy is absolutely horrendous, focusing on all of the evil in it only empowers the enemy. For, he would like nothing better than to be in the spotlight. After all, it distracts us from the love and beauty of our Father! You are right, there will be the correct time to plan protection from future tragedy. But, for now, thank you for the peaceful and innocent images.