How To Have a Happy Home


I woke up to a Lion King sunrise here in Uganda.

My 16 year old texted that we might get the first snow in over a year back in Charlotte, North Carolina. The first snow at our new house. And here I am with a sunburned face and two pitted out tee shirts.

Today we spent a second day with Grace and her family. And since I wear house colored glasses I can’t help but notice deep truths spilling out from all over their home.

If I had just heard Grace and Momma Grace’s story without ever meeting them I would imagine them living in fear cowering in a corner somewhere vowing to lock themselves up safely away for the rest of their ever. I would worry that their lives were forever ruined and that their home would be full of locked doors and closed up windows.

I would be wrong.

Here’s what I learned about how to have a happy home from a family who lives in Uganda with no running water, no glass in their windows and no stuff to get in their way…



Keep your living room simple and tidy.

grace kitchen

Open shelves in the kitchen allow you to put used items away quickly so you can get back to more important things.


Make your bed. And hang up your clothes.


Enjoy the pretty sheets. (these sheets made possible by Compassion & Grace’s sponsor who believed she was worth getting the floral sheets!)


Remember animals add life to a home.


Wash your bowl promptly after you eat.


Take time to notice happy accidents full of pretty colors.


Slow down in the small things.


Let your friends help out if they are around.


Attack your everyday mundane tasks with gusto.


Hold pink balloons and paint your toenails blue.


Dress in your cute clothes even if you are just doing every day chores. Unless your mom fusses at you for wearing your Sunday best on a Tuesday. Then, run in your house and change as fast as you can.


Smile often. Your children are watching and Mom can set the whole tone of the home.


Stop for a rest in the middle of the afternoon.


Let the children help out around the house.


Maybe the secret to moving on from the past starts with doing our simple things.

Maybe you do your simple things well because you’ve found Hope.

Maybe you have a visitor at your house and they’ve heard your story and know a fraction of your past, enough that they’ll vow to never forget.

Maybe that visitor will be amazed that your home runs smoothly, peacefully and dependably.

Maybe she’ll wonder how. HOW in the world do you move on and create this haven after despair?


Maybe she’ll finally realize that she’s been following the answer around all day.

A bright yellow tee shirt that’s part of the Compassion uniform is patiently waiting for me to acknowledge what Grace and her family live out every day.

DSC_1390 2


Happy homes and homes full of fear are opposites.

Grace is learning to live freely without fear. She spends every Saturday and school holiday at the Compassion center learning about the Bible and being cared for and loved on by adults in her community. Today I told Grace and her mother that my friends and my parents are praying for her, especially that she won’t have nightmares. Thank you for your comments in the last post. Also, they were so confused that I’ve already told “all my friends” and my parents about their story that they just told me yesterday but trying to explain that was beyond translation. Yay internet!

Join us in finding sponsors for the children waiting to learn about true Hope. Click here to sponsor a child today and partner with Compassion to help free children from poverty in Jesus name.


Thank you so much for reading these posts, looking past the typos and being willing to hear and take action. This Nesting Place community never ceases to amaze me. I love you all so much and your tweets, emails and comments are a lifeline here in the hot, iced coffee-less place.

Here’s to many more happy homes!


The rest of today’s posts:

The Meaning of Life in Three Parts by Jeff Goins

What It Means To Boil Water by Joy the Baker

A Day in the Life. Ish. by Emily Freeman

What Good Dads Do by Shaun Groves




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  1. oh friend. this is beautiful. i was just thinking about the contrast of where i’m sitting right now, staring out my frost covered windows & stuck inside because it’s 20 below zero outside, and where you are, 1000s of miles away but really, you’re right here. the difference of the miles & the temperature are drastic, but your words & the life that Grace & her family are living are right here. loved the line “Smile often. Your children are watching and Mom can set the whole tone of the home.” yes. that & so much more. right here. so much beauty that i need to be reminded of each and every day.

    love you dearly & praying for you, your sister & the compassion team.

    • miss you so much caroline. thank you so much for tweeting and commenting, i love seeing your face pop up on my computer all the way over here!

  2. Oh good gracious. I’m sitting here bawling my eyes out! I am continually praying for you all throughout your trip. Thank you for sharing your journey and giving me another little glimpse into my baby’s home country. <3

  3. oh I’M CRYING! This sentence, “Smile often. Your children are watching and Mom can set the whole tone of the home.” — has totally grabbed a hold of my heart. Lessons from Uganda, yes. Another beautiful, awesome, powerful post. Sending you love from Los Angeles!!!!! xoxoxoxo

  4. This is just beautiful – all of it! Thank you for sharing these insights with us. Praying we can all find the truth and beauty in this.

  5. What a day you’ve had! Thank you for the insights and thank you for sharing your words with us! Praying!

  6. Beautiful. Thanks for sharing these perspectives! :)

  7. Loved this post. Thank you for sharing this experience.

  8. Your perspective is inspiring. Love these updates from Uganda.

    Maybe your family can whip up some snow cream and stick it in the freezer for you to enjoy when you return home : )

  9. We are sponsoring a child because of you Nester! :) I got my 7 year old son involved and we are on their site finding a child. Love this!

  10. Thanks for sharing this Myquillyn. I found this post very refreshing, because I could see how Grace and her family find joy and taking pride in their every day living, especially after hearing the heartbreaking story yesterday. They are very strong people, and that strength seems to out their beauty even more. I wonder God made us this way – the more hardship we endure, the stronger and more beautiful we become. There are many things to learn from this story, but I love her floral print bed sheet and the blue painted toenails. All these pretty details make a big difference!
    Love to you, Emily, and other compassion members. I’ll add Grace to my prayers in hopes that she won’t have any more nightmares. ox

  11. “Smile often. Your children are watching and Mom can set the whole tone of the home.”

    Love this, and love you! So much truth in this post, and so much to learn from these beautiful people. I’m praying for you guys every day. Big hugs!

  12. This post should be made into a book so I can pick it up to read every so often and remind myself. LOVE IT.

  13. We need to see these pictures and be reminded that we have so much more than we will ever need in this country. We need to see how some other folks live with so little. We need to know that we can help. Thank you for sharing. Universal truth about mothers setting the tone. We laugh at the sign that says “if mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy” but it is true everywhere. We mothers weep into the pillowcases after everyone is asleep.

  14. So, so good.

    Though I have to say, ” Mom can set the whole tone of the home.”…these are terrifying words for a mom whose kids are on their 7th-straight snow day.

  15. I just clicked on the link at the bottom to check out some kids. My heart jumped when I saw her, Jovia Kurubeishya in Uganda. Jeremy and I were talking about supporting a child but still were not sure about it. We went to the Compassion Experience last Friday at Meck Church. still not sure. Then I saw her. She shares a birthday with our oldest daughter and our middle daughter’s name is Jovie. So, Jovia is ours! Thanks for sharing your journey! Miss seeing you around Huntersville, by the way!

    • Oh, Holly… God is SO in those “little” Compassion coincidences. As an Advocate, I have seen it so many times while working events. I am so glad you felt the nudge and answered the call. God bless you as you start this new journey and relationship!

    • Holly! I love stories like that! Miss seeing you too, thank you so much for following along and for commenting, but I’m especially thrilled for you and Jovia!

  16. wonderful post. these are truths that hold steadfast regardless of country/culture/language. thank you for bridging with words the great truths and essence of what a beautiful life is and especially how well it can be spent.

  17. oh, friend.

    i just needed grace and her mom and their home today. i needed them.

    thank you!

  18. Thank you for being there and sharing. And honoring those children with your online home. After reading Emily’s post from yesterday this afternoon, I went ahead and decided to also sponsor our third child. Your words from last year still resonate in my heart so I picked out the oldest male in Uganda. He is 19 and his name is Johnson…my maiden name. He is perfect. I cannot wait to get to know him. xo

  19. Wow – what a beautiful and powerful post! You are an amazing writer and I am so moved by what you’re doing in Uganda. Thanks for always providing inspiration on so many levels.

  20. i’m all choked up.

    been thinking of you for days straight. checking in to see what time it is in uganda, so i’ll know how to pray. and these words, this truth? so powerful and alive. we are SO blessed to look at this precious family through your eyes.

    i’ll be hanging on every word all week.

    grace and peace and all my love,

  21. I returned from my first trip to Uganda with Compassion one year ago and your post makes me ache to be back. Actually, not a day has gone by that I have not longed to be there. Before I went, I thought the poor needed my money, my resources, and my comforts. What they need is Jesus, and Compassion is doing a fine job of shining his light into their lives. As sponsors we reinforce that by pouring love and encouragement to be all that God has gifted them for. Thank you for taking me back there today through your words and pictures.

  22. I love the way you told this story. I want to have a happy home, and here in Uganda, I’ve re-adjusted my definition of the word. I’ve learned that home isn’t how much you have or even where you live — it’s what you do with whom you love.

  23. I was wondering if the people who receive support from Compassion would continue to do so if they didn’t participate in the religious activities. Just curious. Thanks!

    • Hi Alli,
      I am Bri and I work for Compassion International. A child does not have to be a Christian to be accepted into Compassion’s program. They do have to show up to the Compassion center as this allows the center to stay connected to the child (amongst other things). Several of the center activities do involve things like prayer and worship and while we do not force the child to accept Christ it is important that the child is present for these activities. Does that help?

  24. LOVE this post! The sentiments we’ve heard before, but combining them with the pictures just drive them home. Thank you!

  25. What a delightful article! It’s true – there is much happiness to be found in simplicity. Our media-saturated (dare I say “polluted”) lives can learn a thing or two from your friends in Uganda. Studies have shown that in spite of our increased “connectivity” more people report feelings of isolation, loneliness and depression. Somethings wrong with that picture. And ironically, you would think that people would be happier with more the acquisition of more things, however their not. More “things” only creates more clutter, more stuff to clean and be responsible for, and more stress. Simplicity = peace. There is an excellent article that addresses this on the blog
    Thank you for sharing – wonderful post! Blessings, Christy :)

  26. Stephanie Guinn says:

    We sponsor a boy in Uganda through Compassion. HIs name is Brian Musakira and we live in Texas. It would be so awesome if you see him and can tell us how he is. We would love to meet him someday. Our kiddos pray for their “brother in Africa” every single day. It is such a blessing to be able to help Brian have a better life, and we love him so much.

  27. Loved this! I love how nothing is everything in other’s about relationships, not ‘stuff’. I have entered a season of my life where I am just disgusted with this everyday rat race we call normal and how all we do is accumulate. I am so sick of ‘stuff’ and feel like I need a refresher…hoping to take my first mission trip this year. Thanks so much for sharing.

  28. Fear, I know. So deeply touched that you have offered hope to make her life a little more free, a little more loved. Your love casting out fear. I john 4:18. God’s Love. There is Something so tender and humbling about you and your presence there. Loved your posts. Bev

  29. oh you!!! YES!! From Uganda to NC, the mother sets the tone and my tone needs some serious readjusting. Thank you, thank you for giving us that perspective change that this momma neeeded.

    Love you, friend and am vicariously living through you this week and praying, praying for the much needed strength you need during these long days.

  30. Such a precious story and pictures. My heart wants to go. Maybe one day God will open the door. Thank you for sharing.

  31. Just read your post and Shaun’s …. wow. wow. wow. Going to share on my blog and fb. I hope that is ok…. love your words. My daughter’s word for this year is REDEEMED and even that verse…. we just smile when we saw that yellow shirt….

    Thank you. Thank you for sharing….
    Praying and following…

  32. Oh goodness. We make things waaaaay to complicated here when life should actually be “simpler” for us. Thanks for this post. Praying for you all!

  33. Loving these posts!! I signed up to go to Ethiopia on a Compassion-hosted trip with my church today. So excited.

  34. Love seeing all this beauty & redemption through your eyes. Grateful to follow along on your trip through your words & pictures.

  35. Steve Jones says:

    This post tore me up. Your lessons on how to have a happy home are one of the most powerful series of lessons and images I have ever seen. Thank you for putting into words so many of the feelings and thoughts I have had over the years during home visits but never said out loud or even knew there were words for. Powerful!

  36. This post about How to have a happy home is interesting. If you asked me, I think happiness in a home surpasses wealth with no happiness. Please keep us posted on yo encounters in Uganda. Shared this link in our batch page (LDP Uganda). Am thinking they’ll all read it.

  37. I love you friend. Thank you for sharing your heart with us. I am praying for you each night as I go to bed. *hugs*

  38. I wish I could be there to tell Grace’s mom (and Grace!) how much I admire her. I know my own limits, and I honestly don’t think I could carry on after the horrors she’s seen and felt. The Lord is using the work he’s done in and through her to encourage and inspire women all the way across the world. How awesome is that?!

  39. I want to write these on index cards and carry them in my pocket as a reminder. I especially love the one about mom setting the tone in the house. Peace be with you.

  40. Lovely photos and tips. Makes me want to go back to Africa.

  41. Fantastic post…just wonderful. Thank you.

  42. Well, you went and wrote a post that made me cry even more than your first post did. Just love this so much. Praying for you beautiful Myquillyn!

  43. Helene Demling says:

    Wonderful blog! My husband and I have two sponsored children in Uganda. Their names are Tito and Solomon. Tito is 13 and Solomon is 10. Thank you for sharing your trip with us. It’s the next best thing to being there. Thank you for taking the time to write. Helene

  44. Thank you for sharing this lovely post.

  45. I LOVE this! Can I please come on your next trip??? SO great, such a wonderful reminder on how to be happy…simple. Thanks!

  46. i really love your perspective! and your laugh. and that you always sit in the back of the bus with me.

  47. moved beyond words.
    beyond words to action.
    thank you for being there and telling Grace’s and the other’s stories.
    their stories are incredible; against the back drop our our U.S. way of life, our
    experiences and ways of thinking… their stories speak volumes of things
    i know not. must do something and be apart of the compassion. thank you.

  48. Such a beautiful, touching post. Thank you for sharing this journey with us. From getting emotional seeing how simply they live and how honest they live to laughing at trying to explain how your friends found out… I can only imagine!

  49. Oh Myquillyn. One of your loveliest posts…..EVER….. So profound and precious! Thank you for being a gift from GOD to all of us! Thank you for His perspective through you!

  50. Thank you for reminding me that I really don’t need a big house. All I need is grace…

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