Friday, December 2, 2016

The Earth Is My Treadmill: How Minimalism Has Changed Our Views on Ownership

"For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out."
I Timothy 6:7

For years, I wanted a treadmill.
I mean, a really nice one.
One that had all the little gadgets and bells and whistles,
especially the monitor that keeps track of heart rate.

A few Christmases ago, my kind and thoughtful husband and his mom split the cost of such a treadmill for me, and I was thrilled.
Then I had health issues and things kept happening that seemed to come between me and the treadmill.
Soon, dust began to collect, and when I did muster the courage and strength to get on it,
I became bored.
Just standing there, walking in the same spot for 20 minutes at a time, but never actually going anywhere, very quickly lost the ability to hold my interest.

So, I am ashamed to admit it, but I completely fell off the wagon and stopped using the much-desired treadmill at all.

Fast forward to several months ago, when our minimizing journey was kicked into high gear,
and we began looking at every, single item in our home to see if it was worthy of keeping,
or even more important, dear enough to cause us to move it long distance.
After thinking about it long and hard, we decided that the treadmill was not something we would try to keep.
Kevin and Zach really had no interest in it, and as the practical side of me became more pronounced, I realized, that in reality, I had ended up using it far less than I had intended to.
After we made the decision to get rid of it, we ran into another hurdle.
The treadmill had been assembled, by my dear, patient husband,
inside our spare, extra bedroom, which happened to have a narrow little passage,
and an even narrower doorway.
There was no way on earth that treadmill was coming out of that room.
No way short of my already overworked and exhausted husband having to dissemble it.

So, one day, he tackled the job and dissembled it enough to get it through the door
and out into our garage where he reassembled it to be stored for a while...just to make sure I really would not use it anymore and that I was truly ready to let it go.

It soon became apparent that walking on that treadmill was nowhere near the top of my priority list,
so, after some more consideration, we placed a classified ad in the paper,
and it sold pretty quickly for a fair price.

Fast forward to a while later when God blessed us to be able to move to a place where we have been taking regular walks outside, in an attempt to get healthier and lose weight.

The fresh air is such a blessing, and it is a precious gift to have my dear, little family walking with me.
We encourage one another, the mutual moral support keeps all 3 of us going,
and, oh, the talks we have while walking!

At first, I could not talk and hold a conversation while walking!
Oh, my!  I could barely breathe!  ☺
But, praise God, the longer we keep up with our walking,
the better I am feeling and improving on being able to walk and talk at the same time.

The other day I saw a sign that said,
"The earth is my treadmill".
When I read that, 
it began to occur to me how much minimalism has changed our point of view...
how it has affected and spilled over into so many areas of our lives and our way of thinking.

God reminded me of all of the things I hated to leave behind when we moved.
This post really describes what I was trying to hold on to,
even though God was clearly telling us to move forward.
I so clearly remember the day I was sitting in my favorite recliner,
looking out the window beyond the porch railing at the beautiful rose garden dear Kevin had so painstakingly planted for me over the span of several years.
My heart was heavy.
How could I ever leave that place?
It was home...for 14 1/2 years.
That is the longest I have ever lived anywhere, by far.
There were thousands of memories behind those walls.
We had moved there 25 days before Zach's first birthday.
I just could not imagine leaving it or living anywhere else full-time.

As I looked outside and felt those familiar pangs of not wanting to let go,
God spoke clearly.
"You are allowing this house and this yard to hold you prisoner."
I knew He was absolutely right, as always.

It took a huge level of consecration for me to ever come to a place of willingness to leave.
But, guess what?
As we walk upon this "new" treadmill....this beautiful earth...
I am finding that God is providing every, single thing we need.
He is steadily restoring the very things I did not want to leave behind,
and He is doing that in ways that I did not expect.

The astonishing thing is, He is making it so evident to us that 
we do not have to own something in order to enjoy it.
Much of what we need in this life can be found simply, easily, and naturally. 
And, yes, the best things in life are still and always will be free.

I gave up the cumbersome treadmill, because it was a necessary step in letting go and minimizing to make our move easier.
In return, God has provided a beautiful earth for us to walk upon.
It costs nothing, and here is a glimpse into some of the beauty we have seen while walking
over the past few months.

The geese are so beautiful, and I love hearing them swishingly (is that a word) land on the water?

The river runs all along our path.
I love hearing the water flowing over the rocks, in certain parts.
To me, there is nothing more soothing to listen to than naturally-running water.

I love this climbing vine/flower...not sure what it is,
but it catches my eye every time we pass it.

And, lo and behold, there are roses!!
I think often of the ones we left behind...and I look at these,
with my hand in Kevin's, as we walk together in this wonderful place,
and I realize that as long he is with me...I don't necessarily have to own the roses he planted for me.

More geese...

A pretty flower garden in town...

God even allowed a beautiful crepe myrtle to be placed in our path!
It is the identical color of the one in the yard of our old home that Kevin and Zach bought and planted for me for Mother's Day so many years ago.

Another pretty flower garden...

There is this special church that stays open 24/7 for anyone to stop in to worship.
The other night, GOD met us here so sweetly, as we prayed and our tears stained the altar up front,
then we sang some beautiful, old hymns afterwards.
We were the only ones there.

And, there are mountains!!
Beautiful, majestic, tall mountains...they surrounds us in all directions.
God allowing us to live in the mountains is a gift that I cannot ever praise Him for enough.
I have longed to live in the mountains my entire life.
The leaves have changed now, and oh, my, they are just so pretty to look at under this big, blue sky!

I love seeing spots of autumn along the riverbank.

This cross is in front of a local church, with the mountains off in the distance.

I know you can't see them well, but there are bunnies in the picture above!
We see them especially if we wait to take our daily walk in the late evening.
The other night, Kevin counted 15 of them!

This lovely, little blossom called out to me for days before I finally snapped a picture with Kevin's phone.
I was so glad I did, because the next day when we walked by that spot, it was gone.

Before we sold our home and left all that was familiar behind us,
I struggled so much with not wanting to turn loose.
It hurt so deeply to think of walking away from what was so dear to my heart.
The security, the sameness, the stability, the yard, the house that we had called home for so many years.
It felt like launching into deep, unknown waters.

But, the thing God is teaching me through minimalism is that He is all-sufficient.
He resides in the deep, unknown, and, He is restoring the very things we "gave up".
In the process, He is showing me that we don't have to own them.
We don't have to possess a deed of ownership in order for our deepest needs to be fulfilled.

We don't own the earth, but God allows us to walk upon it as a treadmill.
We don't own the crepe myrtle in town, the rose bushes, the mountains lined with the glory of autumn-clad trees, or the river that so gently flows all along our walking path.

We don't own them, but our Father does.
We don't need to own them.
I no longer even feel the need to.
In light of eternity, do we ever really own anything in this life?

"Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;
That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate;
Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life."
I Timothy 6:17-19
(Emphasis added.)

The other night, the one I still refer to as "Little Mr. Wisdom" (even though he is now way taller than me) and I were having a heart-to-heart talk.
He turned to me and said, 
"Mama, if God has something better for us than what we are praying for,
our prayers won't hinder it."

I sat there...speechless.
The wisdom God has instilled in this boy never ceases to amaze me.

I was clinging, with all my might, to what was...
to the "stuff" that had become so dear to me over the years,
to the house that was our haven for so long,
to the roses Kevin planted for me,
to the life we had built together in that place.

All along, it was time for change.
God had something so much better in mind for us...
we only had to let go of what was.

Sometimes, it is interesting to go back and re-read past blog posts.
I love tracing God's hand in the trials and situations of life and viewing them from the perspective of the present time.
This post, for example.
It will soon be one year since I wrote it,
and how different life is for us now.

God's way truly is best.
Even though following Him is a walk of faith, He is ever faithful, 
and "He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him."
Hebrews 11:6

 I remember the exact moment He began to deal with my heart and plant the seed of the thought that He was soon going to require us to move and leave all that was so familiar.
I could take you right to the spot.
I can still smell the fresh-mown grass and feel the breeze upon my face
as I made my way back and forth across the back acre behind our house.
I remember the stirring I felt deep within, and the mixed emotions that followed.
I remember the exact tenor of the prayer I prayed and how I asked the Lord over and over to clarify to me how moving from the place we had called home for so long could be qualified as "for His name's sake".
What was He calling us to?
Why was He asking this of us?
Was this really "for His name's sake"?

Over time, He sent the answers we sought, and He made His reasons clear.

It was, indeed, "for His name's sake", and we could rest upon the promise of His words 
in Matthew 19:29,
"And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for My name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life."

God keeps His word.
He restores "an hundredfold".
"An hundredfold" means "a hundred times".

As we walk through our new little town, I am reminded of this truth every. single day.

"According as His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue..."


  1. Beautifully said Cheryl. Your new scenery as you walk is beautiful and handmade by the Father for you, I'm glad you have reached a season of contentment.

    1. Thank you so much, sweet friend. So good to have you visit today! Sending you love and Christmas blessings!!

  2. All the way through this post I was nodding, agreeing and saying 'yes that's me!' I tend to hang onto things, memories of places I have loved, and find it hard to let go. Thank you Cheryl.

    1. Dear Elizabeth! I am not sure what happened to this comment, but I am only now seeing it! Forgive me for being so long in responding. I have been having some issues with my blog. I trust you and your husband had a lovely Christmas! Thank you for your encouragement here. It means so much!

  3. I got myself a treadmill a few years ago. The trick is to take it easy and not over-exercise. At first I walked on it sideways (width-wise) which is a shorter distance than walking the whole length of the belt. This was OK with it switched off. When I switched it on I fell over many times.

    I then practiced walking the whole length of the belt. Again it was OK with the machine switched off. When I switched it on the movement of the belt spilled my glass of whisky everywhere. It is really difficult to walk and have a drink at the same time. I tried putting the whisky in a bottle with a straw; but it is difficult to get the ice in the bottle. So now I have fitted a small tray on the handle bars where I leave my glass of whisly. It is an incentive to walk all the length of the belt.

    Better than walking outdoors and be interrupted by geese flying everywhere or roses dropping their leaves in my whisky.

    I can now sit infront of the TV and watch my dog exercise on the treadmill. He enjoys it so much I don't need to take him for a walk anymore.

    God bless.

    1. Victor, Victor, Victor! I just don't know about you!

  4. This is a great story of letting go of the familiar and receiving something far better. The photos of the "earth's treadmill" inspire me! And how special those walks must be with your family when that happens! This wonderful story reminds me of trusting God. His ideas are always better than my own. Bless you, wonderful friend. Sending you loving hugs from Arizona where I like to walk in our park full of weeping willows, a pond with water lilies and mistletoe at this time of year on the desert trees! Love ya!

    1. Yes, dear friend, it surely has been all about trusting God...and I am amazed at how many layers there are in trusting Him. It sounds like you have a beautiful place to walk, too, sweet friend. So thankful for you, and I love and appreciate you and your dear support and friendship!

  5. Beautiful post, Cheryl. A piece of equipment is a marvel, the gift of our brains used for our benefit, but nothing compares to the handiwork of our Father… and the power He provides to sustain the perpetual motion that allows us life. I like that saying; "Earth's our treadmill". And what a blessing it is to be led in the paths of righteousness for His namesake.

    So happy that you've found even deeper wisdom and provision in your new home.

    1. Thank you so much, Floyd. Your visits and support are so appreciated! I LOVED the reminder of the other Bible verse that mentions for His name's sake. That just blessed me so much today! I want to delve into that God is so good to bring things to our minds through the thoughts of others. God bless you, brother!

  6. The view from your walks is beautiful! Thank you for sharing it with us.
    I love Zach's words of wisdom, "Mama, if God has something better for us than what we are praying for,
    our prayers won't hinder it."

    And so glad you're enjoying your walks and able to do them more easily now! This evening I'm going to the Tour de Lights 5K in Vinton, Iowa. It starts after dark for everyone to enjoy the Christmas lights in town throughout the run! It should be beautiful, if I can enjoy beauty while panting and sweating! :D

    1. Thank you so much, sweet friend. I know...I about fell over, so to speak, when Zach said that. It has helped me SO much to see that even when I think I know what is best, God will trump that if He has something better. Love this thought! Oh, wow, your run sounds amazing!! I hope it went well, and hopefully, you will be able to share about it on your blog. If so, I can't wait to read all about it! Sending you love and hugs and gratitude for your dear encouragement.

  7. Beautiful my friend in so many ways. You've come so far. God bless you this Advent season!

    1. And, you have been such a support and encouragement to me on this journey. I still have a long way to go, but it is so wonderful to look back at where we have already been and how far God has brought us. Sending you love and hugs, dear friend!

  8. That word from Timothy is a wonderful reminder when we're so caught up with work and busyness that we forget what really matters most.

    Love this thought-provoking post.

    1. Thank you ever so much, Lux! I do apologize...I just saw this comment tonight! I am so sorry I have been so long in responding to it. I so appreciate your encouragement here and hope you had a nice Christmas! God bless you in the new year!

  9. I love that God has placed so much beauty around you that you can enjoy without having to maintain it! Pulling weeds and pruning can be a lot of work!

    1. Oh, you are SO right! Oh, my, it used to consume so much of our time to care for our two acres of land. So many hours that could have been spent as family time. We are very thankful to have all this beauty that we do not need to lift a finger to maintain. Surely God has brought us to this place, and we are most grateful. So thankful for your visit, Ruth! It was such a bright spot!

    2. This is so true. Owning property and trying to grow things on it is a lot of work! I have almost given up on gardening here in Central Texas because it is so challenging and time consuming. I always used to love to garden.

  10. I find myself holding onto things as security, when God is asking me to let go and trust Him. Your post is a sweet reminder to me that God's plans are always so much better than my own. Just look at the beauty that surrounds you! Stunning!

    1. Oh, it is so stunning! I may or may not break forth into singing "How Great Thou Art" some days, as we walk along! It is hard to hold praises in when you realize how far God has brought you and you stop and consider the beauty around you. There is so much to thank Him for! Thank you for your sweet visit, Alecia. Have a wonderful Christmas!

  11. This is so beautiful and encouraging, Cheryl! Thank you for writing it. It brought tears to my eyes at one point. And I am so thankful on your behalf for the wonderful blessings God has given you in place of what He took away. It's an important thing to remember the principle of replacement - that God doesn't take things away without adding something good. My dad has often reminded us of this from Psalms 40:2-3 - He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings. And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD.

    I was reminded of something that Isobel Kuhn wrote about, I think it was in her book "In the Arena". She talked about how we need to hold our things and blessings with an open hand, not a closed one because the more tightly we hold onto things the more painful it is when God needs to take them away. If we hold things with an open hand, lightly, then when He takes something away it will cause us the least discomfort. It's a hard thing to learn and do, but it makes so much sense.

    Also I thought of this poem by Martha Snell Nicholson, a dear sister who suffered from debilitating health conditions for year:

    by Martha Snell Nicholson (1898?-1953)

    One by one He took them from me,
    All the things I valued most,
    Until I was empty-handed;
    Every glittering toy was lost.

    And I walked earth's highways, grieving.
    In my rags and poverty.
    Till I heard His voice inviting,
    "Lift your empty hands to Me!"

    So I held my hands toward heaven,
    And He filled them with a store
    Of His own transcendent riches,
    Till they could contain no more.

    And at last I comprehended
    With my stupid mind and dull,
    That God COULD not pour His riches
    Into hands already full!

    1. Oh, how true, sweet friend! What beautiful words penned by a woman who knew the depths of loss, God rest her soul. Just think of what she is enjoying now, in the fullness of His presence, bowing at His feet for eternity! I so appreciate your precious visit, your support, friendship, and kindness. God bless you with a wonderful Christmas season!

  12. Hi Cheryl! You live in such a beautiful place! Thank you for sharing your photos here, one better than the next. I agree that the earth is my treadmill, I love walking on the nature path by my house, which you know. But it doesn't hold a candle to your river walk.
    I'm so glad you can now look back and see that God had a magnificent plan for you and your family. I know it was a hard walk, and I was praying and hoping that all would be well. This post is such a testament to your faith and ability to hang in there in hope. You are going to have a wonderful Christmas this year.

    1. Dear Ceil! You have been a support to me on this journey, so now we share together in the victory! I so appreciate your sweet words and encouragement. I do trust Jesus things will soon calm down in your world. Know that I am praying for you, sweet friend, and hoping you have a wonderful Christmas, in spite of your current trials.

  13. Dearest Cheryl, I hung on every beautiful word of this post and soaked in every lovely picture from your walk.

    Your insight about how God provides those things we love without even owning them was so profound to me and as you shared the pictures in God's creations of how He did just that, I marveled at His goodness.

    Thank you for sharing this extremely edifying and encouraging post. Your family's life testifying to God's promise of doing immeasurably more than we could ask her hope when we simply trust and obey.

    You are such a sweet blessing my dear friend.

    1. Dear friend! Thank you ever so much for your sweet, kind words! I so enjoy your precious visits here, and I just trust God will show you how very dear you are! Thank you for your encouragement and support on this Christian, blogging, minimizing journey. Sending you lots of love and hugs!

  14. Your words bring a psalm to mind:
    The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof; the world and whose who dwell therein.

    So kind of Him to share all that He has with us, His beloved daughters!

    1. Oh, that is so fitting to what we are seeing and experiencing here, Michele! Sending you much love and hugs this Christmas season! You are a blessing to me. :)

  15. "Truly, He is all we need." That echoes my heart so beautifully, Cheryl. It's amazing how many of our wants are simply not necessary at all. How beautiful that God helped you to let go of one place, and clearly blessed you with a new one that is so fit for you. Those views are just gorgeous and I agree, fresh air and friends are far better than a treadmill!

    1. Thank you so very much for your dear words and support, Tiffany! I appreciate you, sweet friend. I hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas season and this new year opens up many new and exciting things for you! Sending you love and hugs!!

  16. Oh dear Cheryl, how many times have I thought about the beautiful world that the Lord has given to us to walk on and enjoy, and oh how true, we don't have to own it, but we can enjoy it nevertheless! I really enjoyed the beautiful pictures you shared, how wonderful that you are able to enjoy such a gorgeous view as you walk! I enjoyed each one of the pictures, and was so thankful with you that the Lord has blessed you with these roses, and beautiful flowers that you can enjoy as you walk with Kevin's hand in yours... oh the blessings of the Lord! They make us rich, and add no sorrow with it! I love the little meme that you shared, so true, because we hold back from the Lord when all He is waiting for us is to surrender so that He can bless us in the way He desires. Such a beautiful heartfelt glorious post this is, a testimony to the faithfulness and goodness of the Lord! Many hugs to you today dear friend!

    1. Dear friend! You don't know it, but the verse you quoted from Proverbs is one that God gave me when I was expecting Zachary and having such a turbulent pregnancy. Oh, that verse has been one that I have clung to all these years. God is a faithful God Who is truly able to do exceeding abundantly above all we can ask or think. I know you have a beautiful place to walk, too, and I have often thought how neat it would be if one day we could take a walk together. If not in this life, we will, by God's grace, do that on the streets of gold in Heaven! Love and appreciate you, sweet friend. :)

  17. Cheryl, I love reading about your journey. So many lessons here.

    Merry Christmas to you and yours.

    1. Thank you, dear friend. Sending you love and hugs and many wishes for a blessed Christmas, too!!

  18. Thank you for your beautiful photos and for reminding us to "Let it go." Thank you for sharing with us here at Tell me a Story.

    1. Thank you ever so much for your encouragement, Hazel. God bless you abundantly!