Archive for December, 2009

Tossing around the fiddle

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

Suzanne with Violin2 - cropped 008Don’t worry now…I’m tossing it around in my head, not my hands. 😉 My last post was entitled “Where am I going?” I have specifically been thinking about that in regard to the violin. I’ve been tossing this over and over and OVER in my mind for a few months now. And I don’t think the tossing is going to stop anytime soon, but I’d still like to share a few of my thoughts about it.

Proverbs 4:26  “Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established.”

Long Beach, WA

Long Beach, WA

My first question is, why did I ever start playing the violin? Let’s go back even further than that. Why did I ever start doing music? When I was just 5 years old my parents forced me to take piano lessons. I say forced because that is truly what they did. (And I’m so thankful, now.) Mom forced me to practice piano 30 minutes a day no matter what. I cried and cried, and merciful though she may be, she didn’t give in. I specifically remember the 10 pennies Mom would line up on the piano. She told me I had to play my piece perfectly. Each time I did, she’d give me a penny. Each time I messed up, she’d take a penny away! I didn’t get to stop until I had all 10 pennies. (To this day I use pennies when I’m practicing, I’ve just modified their use a bit.) And so I played the piano because my parents wanted me to. I put in the amount of effort required of me, but no more. By the time I was 14 I was a pretty decent pianist but had no ambition to earnestly pursue it. I didn’t love playing, but I didn’t dislike it either.

Suzanne - July 4thcropped

SWYSA July 4th Concert

And then one day, for who knows what reason, I remembered the violin that was stored away in the attic somewhere. When I was about 7, Matthew, Christina, and I had taken group violin lessons in Portland for a short while. I had HATED it and set the violin down for good, with no intention of ever touching it again.  But, the thought of pulling it out and picking out a couple hymns on the instrument was sounding like a great idea. So, I pulled that violin out of the attic, messed around a bit, and started playing a few hymns. After a couple days I was really taking a liking to the instrument. I have no idea what got into me, but I asked Mom if I could take lessons. And the rest is history. My piano practicing went from 1 dutiful hour a day to a desperate 30 minutes a month. My violin practicing started at 20 minutes a day and climbed the steepest incline I’ve ever known, maxing out at an obsessive 4 or 5 hours a day!

Ecc 9:10  “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do [it] with thy might; for [there is] no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.”

Everything in life has a purpose outside of the obvious. Due to much dedication of time and effort, I have learned to play the violin. But I can’t even begin to list all of the other things I have learned along the way: diligence, trust, respect, self-confidence, determination, stamina, commitment, boldness, gratefulness, initiative, task-mastering techniques, people skills, how to deal with nerves…honestly, I could go on and on.


UPS Studio Recital 08

And so here I am. I’ve had over 15 years of private music lessons, attended music festivals and training courses, performed on numerous stages with multiple orchestras, I’ve soloed with an orchestra, taught music for about 7 years, received several scholarships for my playing, and almost have my BA degree in Music. So what!? I’m a Christian: a child of God, saved by grace through faith, called according to HIS purpose…not mine. Is the violin in HIS purpose for my life?

Gal 3:26  “For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.”

Eph 2:8  “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God:”

2Ti 1:9  “Who hath saved us, and called [us] with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,”

Presently, I think I am supposed to continue to be faithful in my practicing, playing, and teaching. Music is a gift; what good is a gift if you don’t give it? How can I give the gift of music if I don’t practice? And how can others develop their God given talent without a teacher? My perspective must remain focused on the Lord and pleasing Him. My desire is to play for Him, when and where He wants me to play. And I need to be ready in season and out of season; therefore, I must be faithful in my practicing.

Psalm 33:3 “Sing unto him a new song; play skilfully with a loud noise.”

Since I have shifted my focus (from striving to be the best violinist I can possibly be, to doing whatever it is the Lord wants me to do), the Lord has opened up several opportunities for me to play for Him in different situations. One Sunday morning I prayed that God would let me be a “giver” and not just a “getter” at Church. When I arrived at church, I was asked to play the special. Not long after that, an elderly man called and asked my brother and I to come play for him in his home; he was on his death bed. Thankfully we were able to fit that into our schedule right away. Not two weeks later we were playing for that same man’s memorial service.

Long Beach, WA

Long Beach, WA

It is certainly possible (and I think likely) that God doesn’t want my focus to be on music as much as it has been in the recent past. Looking back, I see that music was my master: If necessary I would get up at 4am or stay up until midnight just to fit my practicing into my day. I took my violin EVERYWHERE and strictly practiced 6 days a week. I lived to play. My journal is full of detailed accounts of my violin lessons and performances.

Matt 6:24 “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”

I’ve noticed that my focus has indeed come away from my violin because I “forget” about it regularly now. This isn’t a good thing in every way, as it’s important to take good care of my valueable instrument. One Wednesday night I got busy fellowshiping with people after church and went out to my car WITHOUT my violin. When I came back in after it someone said, “Did you forget your violin!? I never thought I’d see the day!!” When I played for that memorial service, I forgot my violin in the car for the rest of the afternoon while I went hunting…and discovered it was still in the car when I got to Portland that evening to do some street evangelism. That wasn’t good because it was really cold outside (which is dangerous for the instrument). But, so far it has survived my neglectful treatment. But you see, I used to feel like I was forgetting something if my violin wasn’t slung over my shoulder. Now it is my Bible I check for when I walk out of the house.

And then, the Lord has blessed me with multiple violin/piano students to teach. It is a job I enjoy so much that I regularly forget it is a job. Sharing the gift of music; investing in kids lives; enjoying the talent God has given to me and to my students…my “job” is a blessing. And when I think about my violin from this perspective; not practicing is as irresponsible as not showing up for work.

1Corinthians 9:25  “And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they [do it] to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.”

1 Corinthians 10:31 “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.”

Pro 23:4  “Labour not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom.”

Pro 3:5-6 “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”

“Sometimes we just keep doing things because God hasn’t showed us NOT to do them”

Yup, that’s a lot to think about. 😀

Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I [am] God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.”

Proverbs 4:26  “Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established.”

Where am I going?

Saturday, December 19th, 2009

There are about 15 different topics I would love to write about but there just isn’t time. Life gets busy, as it should, and there is always time for the things we make time for, but we must keep our priorities straight. I have a feeling I will always have more than one thing I’d like to write about on my blog, so I shall always do my best to choose just one or two topics and write about those as time allows. Today I chose the question, where am I going?

As I travel through life and do my day to day tasks, what am I doing? what is my purpose? where am I going? I get up in the morning (so that I can get tired all day so that I can sleep the next night), do my devotions, feed my animals (so they can just get hungry again), feed myself (so I can just get hungry again), clean the house (so it can just get dirty again), study school (so I can study more when I finish that), try to check each item off my to-do list (so I can start on a new list the next day), practice violin (because I will loose my ability to play if I don’t), teach violin (so I can make money so I can buy the things I need to buy so that I can live so that I can keeping teaching so that I can make more money so that…wait, am I going in a circle?)…wow! That’s rather depressing! Solomon, the wisest man there ever was, or ever will be, thought so too.

Eccl 1:14  I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all [is] vanity and vexation of spirit.

Eccl 2:11  Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do: and, behold, all [was] vanity and vexation of spirit, and [there was] no profit under the sun.

Eccl 2:17  Therefore I hated life; because the work that is wrought under the sun [is] grievous unto me: for all [is] vanity and vexation of spirit.

No, that is indeed the wrong perspective to have on life. My purpose is to please the Lord (Rev 4:11). Therefore, the answer to questions like, what am I doing? or where am I going? need to please the Lord or else “Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all [is] vanity.” (Eccl 1:2)

Okay, let’s try this again: I get up in the morning (so that I can praise the Lord and serve Him all day long), do my devotions (so I can strengthen my relationship with my Saviour, learning more about Him and His ways), feed my animals (so I can get my morning exercise, enjoy God’s creation, and learn from them; they give endless numbers of examples of a master/servant relationship), feed myself (so as to gain the strength I need to fulfill the tasks the Lord has for me to accomplish that day), clean the house (1 Cor 14:40 “Let all things be done decently and in order.”, so we can be “given to hospitality” Rom 12:13), study school (Pro 18:15 “The heart of the prudent getteth knowledge; and the ear of the wise seeketh knowledge.”), try to check each item off my to-do list (People have learned that checklists help us get things done more efficiently. Eph 5:16 “Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”), practice violin (Psa 33:3 “Sing unto him a new song; play skilfully with a loud noise.”), teach violin (so I can pass along the gift of music)…ahh, how refreshing! What a difference!

Every task that God has for us to do each day has a purpose. A purpose that serves the ultimate purpose of pleasing Him. A purpose of shaping us (the clay) into what He (the potter) wants us to be.

Isa 64:8 “But now, O LORD, thou [art] our father; we [are] the clay, and thou our potter; and we all [are] the work of thy hand.”

Growing up, I spent most of my time learning music or helping Dad with building projects. When I wasn’t doing that, I was off in the woods with animals doing whatever kids do. Oh yeah, and I did do a bit of school here and there. If you looked at one of my days growing up, it would appear that I wasn’t learning much. But when I was old enough to go to college, all those days added together had prepared me for it and I was accepted at the University level, which surprised me.

We like to see noticeable progress or change in our life every day. We get impatient and think that God isn’t working in our life. But really, He is, it’s just that he knows He has eternity. James 4:14 “…For what [is] your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” God is outside of time. You probably aren’t going to notice God changing you. But if you look back on your life, you will probably, hopefully, be able to see that he has been working on you.

If I am just willing to do whatever God wants me to do, however big or small, important or menial it may appear to be, he will use it to prepare me for the things he has for me to do later in my life. I don’t need to understand how helping Dad screw the roofing on, or studying Principles of Marketing is going to help me later in life. I just need to do everything as unto the Lord.

Col 3:23  “And whatsoever ye do, do [it] heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;”

So then, where am I going? Wherever God is taking me. When I was little I was very confident I would become a veterinarian when I grew up. Then, when I was about 15, getting very serious about playing the violin, I was quite confident I would become a professional musician. And now, I have no idea! But I’m pretty sure it won’t be either a veterinarian or a professional musician. At least, that won’t be my main title. Maybe I’ll always work with animals and music, who knows. I’m already playing and teaching music “professionally” (since that only means that you are paid to do it). I read in a book one time that your job is “what you do, not who you are.” I’m not a violinist, but I do play the violin.  I am a child of God, saved by grace, through faith, called according to His purpose!

So then you might ask, but if you don’t become a professional musician, doesn’t that mean you wasted all those years of studying, practicing, and lessons? Absolutely not. God has taught me so many things through all of that…but don’t get ahead of me! That’s my next blog entry. 😉

I spent a lot of time these past few weeks hunting. Here I am at the end of the season, with no meat. I’ve thought about that a bit off and on. Does the fact that I didn’t get any meat mean that I wasted all the time I spent hunting? No, though it feels like it at times. If getting meat were the only reason I was going to go hunting, I probably wouldn’t have gone. Though I may not of brought any meat home, I did get to spend a lot of time in the woods enjoying God’s creation, I most certainly got my exercise, enjoyed some great fellowship, learned a lot about how to hunt, saw 20 running animals, and realized that the animals are much much smater than humans. One of my fellow hunters said, “They do this for a living! We come out here and do it once a year.”


Wednesday, December 9th, 2009
Thanksgiving Dinner at David's

Thanksgiving Dinner at David's

My family enjoyed a nice Thanksgiving this year at my brother David’s house in Brooklyn, WA. There were 22 people all together, if I am remembering right. Dinner was pretty good too. BTW, have you ever thought about the strange foods that are traditionally part of Thanksgiving? You know, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, stuffing…I don’t like any of that stuff. I filled my plate with mashed potatoes, turkey, and rolls. And then to top it off, I had a nice big slice of pumpkin pie. Then I went out hunting with Dad and David. When I got back from hunting, I had another nice piece of pumpkin pie. 😀 And even though I made my own pumpkin pie about a week before thanksgiving (and ate most of it by myself) I still haven’t had enough pumpkin pie for the year. I need to go buy myself a can of Libby’s pumpkin and make myself at least one more pie. 😉


The Saturday after Thanksgiving we went skiing at Mt. Hood Meadows. I got to try out my new skis and was sadly disappointed. I was expecting great things from those skis…and they let me down. I didn’t really notice a significant improvement over my ancient skis. Perhaps it is just because I need someone to teach me how to use them properly. From my understanding, you’re supposed to ski a little differently with shaped skis. So I’ll give them a couple more tries, and hopefully have someone teach me how to carve, and then I’ll make a final decision as to whether or not the skis were worth my money. On the other hand, I think I enjoyed skiing more before I had money invested in it. Too bad I didn’t figure that out before I purchased the new skis. I suppose I could probably sell them if I wanted to, but like I said, I should probably wait until someone teaches me how to carve before I make a decision.

Matthew recently got a new top rack. Yay, now we don’t have to ride home with wet skis dripping melted snow on us while we’re trying to warm up from a day of skiing. 🙂



The sunset was pretty neat from the top of the mountain. If my camera had been easier to get to I would have taken a lot more pictures.

Matthew and Mariya

Matthew and Mariya

Matthew taught Mariya how to snowboard for the first half of the night while my nephew Jeremiah and I skiied. They joined us at the top of the mountain later on so Mariya could try out her new skis. I challenged Matthew (on his snowboard) to a race and he accepted. That was a lot of fun! We really flew down the mountain! But we ended up tieing.

Pastor Shanks and Marshall Hatfield

Pastor Shanks and Marshall Hatfield

And then it was hunting season again. Dad and I went out to our church’s hunting camp on Friday, right after Thanksgiving. We hunted from about 1pm to closing. We didn’t see anything. We spent the night in the camp and hunted again the next morning. Our set up for the night wasn’t so great though. We slept right on the ground, I didn’t even take my mattress pad (I never like taking more gear than I have to, it just gets in the way). BTW, if you own a mattress pad and you’re going camping, take it with you! You may be tough enough to sleep on the hard ground…but when you think about the insulation factor, well, it’s totally worth it. Especially if it’s late November! I actually ended up shivering like a dog ALL night long! Just when I started to get warm, Dad shook my bag and informed me that it had started raining. No wonder I got warm! So then we climbed into the car and slept in the car the rest of the night…which never works well. By morning I’m pretty sure I had only slept one little tiny hour. We headed out hunting at 5am because we wanted to be at our clear cut by daylight. And it was a really good hunting clear cut! We scared 6 deer out of there. :-/ I didn’t get a shot at any of them. But at least we found some! That was an encouraging step in the right direction. After a few more hours of hunting we headed back to the car so I could meet Matthew to go skiing (that’s the day we went skiing….after I’d only slept one miserable hour the night before).

Pastor with his grouse

Pastor with his grouse

The next Monday I left our house at 3:30am so I could be at the camp by 4:30am. All I saw that day was a BEAUTIFUL sunrise and a grouse at the end of the day. The grouse was an unfortunate creature because Pastor Shanks is a really good shot and took the head right off that bird. I also had to test my sense of direction as I walked through some THICK trees with tons of elk trails going every which direction. The fact that I am updating my blog proves that I passed the test. 😉 But it sure is easy to start getting yourself freaked out when you’re in the woods all alone. But if you freak out, then you are no good to yourself anyways.

It's not mine - I just spotted it

It's not mine - I just spotted it

He gets the meat

He gets the meat

Pastor knows how to pose with a deer, notice how much better his picture is than ours. :-)

Pastor knows how to pose with a deer, notice how much better his picture is than ours. 🙂

As we were discussing our plans to split up for a few hours of hunting, we heard a gunshot just over the rise from us in the clear cut. We took off down the road and I spotted this deer running across the side of the hill in front of us. All three of us went after it…and if I had been in the right place, I probably could have shot it, but I didn’t…

The next day (last Friday) I went out yet again. We split up to walk through some big timber in search for elk. And I FOUND ONE! But I’m such an immature hunter that I got all excited and ended up scaring this big beautiful bull. I looked at him through the sights on my gun but I didn’t pull the trigger because I was pretty sure I would only injure him if I shot at him as a running target. SO CLOSE! 🙁 But he was a sight to see and I’m thankful I at least got to see one.

We pushed the deer out on a bike. What a blessing! 2 miles would have been a long haul otherwise.

We pushed the deer out on a bike. What a blessing! 2 miles would have been a long haul otherwise.

Hanging at hunting camp

Hanging at hunting camp

And so here I sit, a rather frustrated hunter. On Sunday night I heard Pastor tell Dad, “Suzanne almost got an elk! And she almost got a deer too!” Well, almost isn’t good enough. I have a little less than a week left to get out there, find, and this time KILL an animal. But I also have a life to live; there’s school to be done, chores to be kept up with, and my violin studio recital is this Friday night. I have to keep my priorities straight even if I do end up eating “tag soup”.


Tuesday, December 8th, 2009

Matthew and I completed the design for my site. What do you think!? I think my brother is a genius to be able to convert an html/css design into a wordpress blog template. My head hurt just watching him do it. He did all the work, I just sat there and watched. Thanks Matthew! I like it a lot. 🙂

Fall Studio Recital

Tuesday, December 1st, 2009

Fall Studio Recital

Friday, December 11th at 7:00pm

Woodland Christian Church: 430 Buckeye St, Woodland WA, 98674

Violin and Piano students of Suzanne Farnell will be playing a variety of pieces from the beginning to advanced levels. Please come and enjoy. Your attendance would be an encouragement to the performers.

Included on program:

The William Tell Overture, Arkansas Traveler and other fun, simplified duets

A few hymn arrangements for violin and piano

Violin Concerto in A minor, 3rd mvt, by Vivaldi

Violin Concerto in D minor for two violins, 1st mvt, by Bach

Group photo - Suzanne's Studio

Group photo - Suzanne's Studio