How to Make Any Place Happy

And after 11 years here, we paint the walls white, all the walls white, right over the shades of softest green, because in the beginning I wanted a cocoon and now I just want clean, the quiet of clean.

Because if you’re saying the average nowadays family has two kids?

And we have three times the average with these ridiculous six—  then you multiply the age of these walls that try to contain all their banging, multiply that by three, then these walls are really 33 years old.

And four of these six kids are of the testosterone kind, real live farm boys — so it really was time to open a can of paint.










We start in the dining room.

Which used to be the study, before I moved the table in there and put the books up high, so we just keep calling it the study, where we put out the plates and where we eat books whole. We never get up from the meal without opening the Bible.

First, we patch in the holes with mud. Then sand it and the years right smooth.

We dip brushes and roll it out thick, as if we could cover things, and I remember how round Levi’s milky cheeks were when I first painted these virgin walls one night under a full moon more than a decade ago and he’d sucked his thumb to sleep.

After the walls are washed as white as wool, and before we move the table back in, the littlest, who wasn’t even here in the beginning, she washes away the dust off the century old floors. I call her Cinderella and she laughs loud and loveliest in all the emptiness and it echoes. And she makes them gleam, those floors that we pulled up from the old house and laid down again, the way one farm wife needs to walk the old paths, the ones worn by all the women before her.

That’s the thing: I am going about these floors and this world and this day looking for grace hours. Even moments will do. This changes a lot of things, most things — what you look for. Beauty’s to be had anywhere because where isn’t glory-packed full of God? The art of life is learning how to turn and see a certain way.

I take most things out of the room, leave empty spaces of white, and I hang only two things.

The framed print of the bowed man over the loaf of bread, what I chose when my father-in-law asked me to choose just one thing from the house after Mom Voskamp went Home and he moved away. The print hung over the Farmer’s table all his growing up years, all those nine kids smelling like straw and dairy cows and grace, and now over our six farm kids here and another generation clinging to mercy.

On the other wall, I hang just one word, what every mother needs by the time she gets to a chair: Pray.

For all the piling, layering talk of how to peel back a bit of the earth and find happiness, it is right there on the holy-thin King James pages, right there on the white:

Happy is the people whose God is the Lord. {Ps. 144:15}

Everything else can be taken out of the room and the life — and He is the everything that makes happy.

In the white space, it’s a bit of a life epiphany — Any place becomes more like a palace just by filling it with thoughts of God.

And the Farmer, he grins at me already wiping fingerprints off white walls.

All this grace that makes light.




And a week from today, this little blog space too, it gets a painting and arranging of the furniture too, a happy simplifying of the space! Yes, a little happy gleaming of everything familiar — and then I pray we can gather and simply look for the beauty that’s to be had anywhere because where isn’t glory-packed full of God?

And an invitation coming tomorrow too? For you to come to the farm? Stay tuned — a bit of the painting and freshening was for you to come and we’ll sit on the front porch swing together and just be real and quiet and filled with joy in Him. So, yes — happy quiet things tucking in this corner over the next several days — Any place becomes more like a palace just by filling it with thoughts of God.

Day 24: Catch the whole 31 Days to Crazy Joy series right here

Like some crazy joy? (Anyone not want more joy?) Tap in your email to not miss a day of
your guidebook to 31 Days to Crazy Joy


Every Wednesday, we Walk with Him, posting a spiritual practice that draws us nearer to His heart.

To read the entire series of spiritual practices

For the next week: The Practice of Joy…. What does it mean to choose Crazy Joy? How do we authentically walk through hard times? How do practice the “gigantic secret” of Christians? We look forward to your Scripture study, stories, encouragement….

Today, if you’d like to share with community The Practice of Suffering … with Joy.. just quietly slip in the direct URL to your exact post….. If you join us, we humbly ask that you please help us find each other by sharing the community’s graphic within your post.