Lifetime Movie

The following excerpt is from an article on my website about the Amish school shooting.  It was written as supplemental material for my book A Pocket Guide to Amish Life, but given the Lifetime movie of the same topic, I thought I might post some of it here as well.


A New Normal

Recently, I dined in the home of one of the families whose lives were directly impacted by the incident. Though the tragedy itself was not mentioned, I couldn’t help but notice the sadness that still lingers in the mother’s eyes, the heavy feeling of loss that permeates the entire family. Certainly, they have continued on in the world of the living. Their gleaming floors, healthy animals, and overflowing gardens attest to that. For the most part, family life seems back to business as usual, their youngest child laughing at the dogs’ antics, their teenager flashing a shy smile at his girlfriend.

But despite the years that have passed, the whole family is obviously still learning to adapt to what psychologists call a “new normal,” one where children can be victims of a senseless crime but life goes on anyway. For this family and indeed for all the Amish families touched by the tragedy, forgiveness is something they did in the beginning, yes, but also something they must do over and over, sometimes each new day.

Among the Amish, the tragedy at Nickel Mines has come to be known as “the Happening.” They don’t talk about it much anymore, at least not with outsiders. The schoolhouse has long since been torn down, its replacement built in a different style at a different location. No longer the Nickel Mines School, it has been christened New Hope, a name that resonates with optimism for the future despite the past. Of the five victims who survived the shooting, one lives with impaired vision, they’ve all had numerous surgeries, and one suffered extensive brain damage and is confined to a wheelchair. All five are currently living at home with their families, going on with their lives.

My best impression of how the incident has impacted the Amish community at large came from a conversation with another Amish woman, one who wasn’t directly connected to the victims or their families but grieved nonetheless. She and I weren’t even talking about the shooting but about the Ordnung and infractions of rules and differences between districts. According to her, Nickel Mines put everything into perspective.

“We used to bicker more, have disagreements about this little rule and that little rule and who did what differently in which districts,” she said. “Then something…bigger happened, something terrible,” she continued, her voice faltering for a moment, “and we realized all the arguing was so pointless. There were far more important matters in life.”

To read the entire article, visit

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One Response to “Lifetime Movie”

  1. Mindy, thank you so much for this update about the families of the school shooting. I had seen the case profiled on the Investigation channel and also watched the movie. I continue to be struck by the depth of Amish forgiveness. As a Christian, I have struggled to extend forgiveness–most recently in 2002 when my husband of 28 years left me for the woman he was having an affair with. I remember crying as I watched the case being profiled on Investigation Discovery, realizing the Lord was using this to speak to my heart. Anyway, thanks again for sharing this about the families.


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