Pause, Rest, and Worship · 21 November 2015

The Wayside Chapel looks like a miniature church, steeple and all. It sits beside Highway 2 on the Monroe side of Sultan, Washington. Every time I drive by it, I think, “I ought to stop there.” I was glad when I finally did, even if it was not a burning bush type moment.

There is a large sign near the chapel inviting passersby to “pause, rest, and worship.” It also warns that there are no facilities. I did not stop because I wanted to pause, rest, or worship, nor did I need to use the facilities (which were not present, of course). I just wanted to take some pictures and satisfy my curiosity. Still, I found myself pausing, resting, and worshiping.

The Wayside Chapel is tiny (smaller than many sheds). There are four tiny pews inside that could fit a couple small people each. You can see the fields of a farm out the windows and that is all, a peaceful sea of green. Of course, if a preacher was preaching, he might scold or at least chide that a person was looking at the scenery instead of toward the front. Even if he had to admit that it was scenic and peaceful.

That hypothetical preacher would have a small flock indeed meeting in that tiny chapel. It is so small that if a revival was held there, the eight or so people who could fit in those miniature pews would not all be able to kneel at the front in a come to Jesus moment. But however many people showed up, they could certainly come and find rest. And they could find peace. I know I did.

As I sat, took pictures, and soaked up the inside of the little chapel, I was unaware of the world outside. Even though the door was ajar because it could not latch shut, I did not hear the vehicles pass by on the busy highway. I would not have guessed that a roadside building could be so peaceful.

Then again, I am certain the peace did not come from the building itself. After all, a building is not the church, as our pastor is fond of saying. The people who made the miniature building understood that and certainly had their hearts in the right place. They understood that any who seek for God will find Him. Whether they seek at home, in a church building, in the open field, or even in a tiny roadside chapel, God is there. We just need to seek and we will find.

The Wayside Chapel also has a simple pulpit in front of the pews as if it is waiting for a preacher and his flock to come in at any time. There is a cross hanging on the wall behind the pulpit and a cross hanging on the front of the pulpit itself. The cross on the pulpit has one of my favorite Bible verses inscribed on it. “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15) As I took pictures and sat in the pews, I realized where the peace I felt comes from. Not from the building or from feeling safe inside, but simply from knowing where my heart is. The little building with all its trappings helped to remind me of the source of my inner peace. And in that place I worshiped the God who knows no bounds.

The last thing I noticed was a little notepad on the pulpit. It was a little guest book of sorts where people wrote notes. I suppose there were prayers and thanksgiving. I did not read any of them, but I wrote a little thank you to the people who built the place. Their invitation and their Wayside Chapel were a welcome stop on any traveler’s journey. Regardless of how close to home it is.

I have traveled by the miniature church many times in my life. I have wondered for years what I might find inside. Even though I did not really intend to pause, rest, and worship, I found that it was easy to do so in that little place of peace. If you are like me and have been drawn to stop someplace, but never did, maybe you ought to do so. Especially, if you are driving down Highway 2 outside Sultan, Washington and see the little Wayside Chapel. Remember that they do not have facilities, but go ahead and take the time to pause, rest, and worship.

© 2015 Michael T. Miyoshi

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Not No-Shave November · 14 November 2015

Even if I tried, nobody would believe that I participated in No Shave November. Oh sure, I might have a little stubble or maybe even a couple long whiskers, but people would just say that I did a poor job of shaving for a month rather than not shaving at all.

While I may have tried NaNoWriMo (writing 50,000 words toward a novel in the month of November) a couple times, I have never participated in No Shave November. It is not that I do not think I could grow an amazing beard like the guys in the band ZZ Top or from the show Duck Dynasty. It is that I know I cannot. Even if I never shaved another day in my life, I doubt I would get more than a couple strands of whiskers to grow more than a couple inches on my face. (More likely, I would get a single strand of hair to grow out of my nose.) But seriously, I cannot grow facial hair.

Not that I have not tried.

One summer, I did not shave for a week. I looked the same on day five as I did on day two. (I may not have made it a full week.) Just a few stubbles on my boyish face. The worst part was not that I could not grow a beard though. The worst part was that those short whiskers (if they could even be called that) itched. While I was going through that short growth period, I had a realization. Men who stroke their beards are not really making them grow, they are just trying to keep themselves from scratching all that hair on their faces. Or maybe that feeling goes away when the whiskers grow longer. I do not know. Like I said, I cannot grow them any longer than a couple millimeters.

Which is rather strange. The hair on top of my head grows pretty quickly. In fact, I actually let some student athletes shave my head when I was student teaching oh so long ago. It was not really a wager or anything. They just had to achieve a certain accomplishment (which I figured they would do) but they were excited when one of them (Will) pulled out the razor and shaved my head. They had a great time at my expense.

Needless to say, I was only completely bald for a couple days. The hair on my head grew back lickety split. Which is why I think it strange that hair on the bottom of my chinny chin chin does not grow at all. After all, it has gravity on its side.

But alas. Like it or not, my face will always be mustacheless and beardless.

Which brings me back to November.

I am not really a non-conformist. Sure, I like to go against the status quo sometimes. I do like to swim upstream as it were. But that does not mean that I will not get behind something or go with the flow sometimes. Like I said, I have tried NaNoWriMo. And I have tried to not shave for a while, just not in November. When it comes right down to it, I am just like everybody else. Sometimes I get involved and sometimes I do not.

Which brings me back to No Shave November.

I would actually like to participate in No Shave November sometime. But I would like to have some success. I would like to actually get more than a little peach fuzz or stubble over my lip and on my chinny chin chin. My dad finally did it, grew a beard and mustache, and one of my brothers has done it, so maybe one day I can too. Maybe one day I can grow more than a couple hairs on my face.

Until then, though I will watch as people grow beards and mustaches. I will sit on the sideline cheering them on (and not scratching my chin) as everybody else goes through No Shave November.

© 2015 Michael T. Miyoshi

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November Is NaNoWriMo · 7 November 2015

Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month.

It is November and that means writing. Personally, I am not going to do NaNoWriMo this year. But I definitely encourage others to participate.

November is National Novel Writing Month. (Thus the shortened version NaNoWriMo.) People from all over the world take to their keyboards or pick up their pens and paper to write, write, write. All month long. Professional and amateurs and wannabes start something that most will either not finish, deny they ever started, or lie that they met their goal of 50,000 words put to paper or stored on their computers. Okay. That is not a fair assessment of the month or its writing goals. It is merely my own jaded assessment of my own feeble efforts during the month.

Many years ago, I participated in NaNoWriMo. (I even wrote a blog post about it. Two in fact.) But I did not even get close to 50,000 words. Probably because I was blogging at the time and spent my time divided between the two efforts. One of my friends and faithful readers asked me one time what I thought I might be able to accomplish if I just focused all my efforts on my book writing or my blogging. He suggested that maybe I might actually get good at one or the other. At least up to mediocre.

I have thought about it many times since then and he is probably right. I might be able to live up to my moniker. But I just cannot give up either form of writing. So I split my limited writing time between blogging and book writing and do not get much better at either.

Which brings me back to NaNoWriMo.

I would say that NaNoWriMo is just a diversionary tactic for me. It takes me away from my writing goals. It makes me think that I can finish a decent novel in a month. That I can get 50,000 words onto my computer and flesh out a story in just thirty days. That I can jump start my writing by stuffing word after word into my computer. I know the goal of NaNoWriMo is to get people to quit saying they want to be writers and get them to just write. So for me NaNoWriMo is superfluous. I am a writer. Not an on paper published one. Not a famous one. Surely not a great one. Just a self-admitted mediocre one. But I am a writer.

I definitely applaud NaNoWriMo and its participants. Indeed it was a great kick starter for me when I tried it. I put my heart and soul into writing one November. I wrote and wrote and wrote. I did not make my 50,000 words in thirty days. But since that first try, I have written well over 50,000 words. I have several hundred blog posts and I have a bunch of digital books out there too. Not all because of NaNoWriMo, but because I have always believed God made me a writer and that I better not disrespect His wishes. Or put the gifts He gave me on a shelf.

Still, I must say that I do have a goal for NaNoWriMo. That is, I have a goal for November. That goal is to get the second book of my series, Autobiography of a Sixth Grader, onto the digital shelves. It is finished. It is polished. It just needs its cover. My artist friend and faithful reader finished the cover. I just need to get it ready for digital publication. And then it is off to Amazon for readers to download.

So while I may or may not get 50,000 words written this month, certainly not toward one project, I do want to get a novel done and out the door this NaNoWriMo. I also want to encourage others to write and get their word counts up. After all, it is November. And whether you participate in National Novel Writing Month or not, November, rather NaNoWriMo, still means writing to me.

© 2015 Michael T. Miyoshi

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