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. Simply amazing. Life gets so complicated. What a tearful reminder that it doesn’t have to be. Thank you.

  2. This is so good! I was born and grew up in Bangladesh, the daughter of missionaries. I saw so much poverty from literally the day I as born. I struggle now with how to fit in here in America, where everything seems to be so skin-deep and only about appearances, when I know there are so many in need. Thank you for showing what a beautiful home really is, what really matters. This is what I love about your blog!

    • Quaife Nichols says

      Hi, Joy,

      Have you read Third Culture Kids, by Ruth Van Reken and David Pollock? It deals with the challenges of those who have grown up in another culture (and offers solutions!).

      Also, I am part of a “TCK Fellowship Group” here in the Oklahoma City area. Perhaps you could find (or start!) one where you are.

      You can see our FB page at:

      Growing up overseas is both a great blessing and a challenge. May we all enjoy the blessings while overcoming the challenges…

      Quaife Nichols

      • Quaife Nichols says

        I forgot to mention: I was born in the Middle East and have spent much of my adult life overseas (SE Africa and Central Asia).

  3. Our Compassion child lives in Uganda! Her name is Aguti Elizabeth, and we have sponsored her for more than three years! I have tears in my eyes thinking of how close you are to her. What a wonderful trip!!! You were blessed to be a blessing!

  4. This is the only shelter blog I follow that can reduce me to tears. It is so easy for me to loose focus of what is truly important and this is just what I needed today. :) Thank you. Isaiah 43!

  5. I am soaking up you and Emily’s posts like y’all are soaking up the Uganda sun. You are doing a great thing, telling these stories with your inspired words and personal perspectives and I’m praying that all 400 get sponsors. I gave a shout-out to your posts on my blog today; I so want everyone to know about this opportunity we all have to make a real difference in a life. Emily’s story about Ottiwi…I have no words. Yesterday my son and I looked through all of the Ugandan kids on the Compassion web-site trying to decide on the one for us.

    Also, I love your house-colored glasses. : )

  6. Such an eye opener!! I need that everyday… thanks much!

  7. What a beautiful reminder! Thank you!!
    While you’re out of the country you’re still in our hearts and our prayers are with you. :) <3

  8. Thank you for such a beautiful reminder.

  9. There is this children’s book; “A Country Far Away” by Nigel Gray and Dupasquier Philippe. My kids and I have enjoyed it for years. (Amazon lets you see inside the book-i think you would like it, the story is written in the middle of the page with illustrations above and below. above is a boy in an African village, below a boy in a western suburb. Our favorite page is the one that reads, “it rained today so we went swimming.” )

    But this post is the mom’s version. And I like it better….( or at least just as much)

  10. This post made me sit and take inventory of all the blessings in my life. Grace and her family are living bright, happy, vibrant lives despite……….
    I sat with my 18 month old grandson today while he played with a bowl of uncooked rice ($1.25), a mixing bowl, and a measuring cup for almost an hour. We have been so programmed to believe we NEED so many things. Keeping it simple and inexpensive can be just as delightful.
    Thanks for sharing your experiences. I’ve really enjoyed seeing this trip through the eyes of your whole team!

  11. House colored glasses? That’s a BEAUTIFUL analogy. I think I wear fellowship and restoration colored glasses.

    Thank you for sharing Grace’s story. Erasing fear from the home by starting with the simple things sounds like a beautiful process.

  12. I am so thankful their house is not full of fear. Thank you, Jesus.

  13. Such a beautiful post. Possibly my favorite ever.

  14. I love seeing the posts on this Compassion trip to Uganda! This post reminds me of our family’s visit to our sponsored child’s home in Ethiopia a few years back. Of course all of my memories flood back to me as I read your posts, but two regarding being in our sponsored child’s home are just too good not to share in light of your post on “homes”. I have a funny (and quite embarrassing) memory of stepping into Meskerem’s home. As they beckoned us in and offered us a seat, my eyes were still adjusting to the dark of the room and I unknowingly took a seat right in the middle of their “table”, which was covered with a beautiful table cloth – I’m sure their finest. Although I was horrified, it made for a good laugh and really broke the ice for the remainder of our visit.
    The second memory of their home was one that made my eyes well up with tears immediately. As my eyes adjusted to the lighting and I scanned the room, I noticed that the “art” on their wall was made by my girls. There on the mud walls hung little blue flowers, drawn by my girls, and lots of sparkly purple ribbons they had used to tie up her cards. Talk about humbling. I truly didn’t have words. So, so glad you all are able to spend time soaking in what God is doing.

  15. Hi sweet friend. we are reading these post as a family each night at the dinner table. Thank you for opening my eyes. my husbands eyes. my kids eyes. Love you.

  16. this makes me love you even more.
    way to be the voice for them girlie!

  17. Steve Jones says

    Just read this again with Patricia. Seriously stunned by the beauty and brilliance of this post. Thank you, thank you, thank you. The wisdom and irony wrapped in every one of those pictures and lessons is staggering. Thank you for allowing God to use you.

  18. Such a beautiful post.

  19. So good. So true! My sister and I took our first mission trip together to Trinidad. I will never forget how HAPPY and giving they were despite the living conditions they were in. They had a joy I longed for. I loved this post and all of the posts from the week. I need daily reminding that our joy comes from living life with purpose for Jesus and displaying the joy and thanks of all He is and does for us. Thank you for the reminder! May we start living our lives like sweet Grace and her family!

  20. :’) God’s doing something in my heart today…

  21. I love the pictures of Grace and her family going through their day! It gives me a better idea of their reality. They are grateful for all that they do have, instead of moaning about what they do not have. Thank you for sharing these pictures with all of us.

  22. I just got caught up on your posts from this trip. You are such a gifted writer. I am so glad they picked you to go and share because you take us all there with you. You have changed my perspective today and inspired me. Love you girl!

  23. Seems a bit like you’re poking fun….

  24. This is exactly what I needed to read on this exact day! We see blessings as burdens and work as a punishment. Shame on me for forgetting that, to quote Shaun, all is grace – truly. Bless you for bringing Uganda to me. It is in my heart and mind so often. I don’t know why yet, but it is there and growing daily. Was that Nester Blue nail polish? :)

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