The light and dark.

Alright. So let me first address the elephant in the room before I go further: I’m sometimes horrible with commitment, especially with things that include a semi-weekly update; namely, my blog. So yes, I haven’t written in over two months, but I have just now been inspired to write. And be ready: this will be a long post. You may have to take it in doses if you get distracted easily.

Over the past two months, I’ve started completing/completed a few more of my goals.

  • Number 8: I’ve watched Harry Potter movies 1 through 6.
  • Number 37: I’ll be adding another state to my list in May: Tennessee. More about that later.
  • Number 39: I met Nick Cannon. Now, he’s not known for his singing, per se, but he does have an album out (however bad it is). And he’s incredibly famous.
  • Number 57: I have to update you on my voice lesson adventures. People are now seeking me out to take lessons from me. I’ll explain later.
  • Number 65: I’ll have to update you on that, too. I’m going on a Summer Project, but it’s changing a little from what I’d originally planned.
  • Number 86: I might not be a counselor at Camp Cedarbrook this summer, but it will happen soon!
  • Number 90: I got a camera for my birthday/Christmas, so I’ve become a novice photographer.
  • Number 97: Thankfully, this is done. I’ll tell you how my mom pressured me into singing at Christmas Eve. Urgh.
  • I’ve also been dealing with something that happened just Monday night, and I’ll tell you about it later in the post, after my goal updates. But be warned: It’s heavy stuff.

Goal number 8 doesn’t need explaining.

Goal number 37 does. This goes along with number 65, so I’ll explain them together. In my August 5th entry, titled “Things that happen to me,” I expressed an interest in going to Lebanon on Summer Project. This desire came to fruition when I applied in November to go, thinking that God really wanted me to go and that it would be wonderful and I’d have the best time of my life. Flash forward to Tuesday, January 25, 2011. I got a call from one of the leaders for the trip, Christi, who is also a friend of mine and a Campus Crusade for Christ leader at the University of South Carolina (where I go to college). She said she wanted to talk to me, so I instantly had a sinking feeling in my stomach. Side note: Any time anyone says that they need to talk to you about something, it’s almost always a bad something. So Christi basically said that she was really excited that I had applied and that I was so interested in going, but that I didn’t have enough evangelism experience for what we’d be doing in Lebanon. Of course, I was crushed. She kept telling me that it wasn’t my fault and that I didn’t do anything wrong, and that I would do really well on a state-side project, but that’s not what I wanted to hear at the time. To be honest, I knew that if God wanted me to go to Lebanon, I’d be going. So for me to be mad and resent Christi and argue that I was supposed to go on this trip was pointless, and it’d probably make me seem childish. So I sucked it up (though I still cried a lot and had a mini-panic attack later that night) and looked through state-side projects. Later that night, I spoke with one of my besties (just be thankful we don’t use the term “biffle”) Kristen about how I felt like my life was falling apart and how I had no idea what God wanted me to do anymore and how I felt so lost and hopeless. Yes, I was being super over-dramatic, but I was also super-emotional. She consoled me by saying that maybe I’d find my future husband on whichever state-side project I ended up going on. Another side note: This “finding my future husband” thing is not something I go around thinking. It’s something that everyone in Campus Crusade for Christ jokes about, how people go on projects single and come home with a boyfriend/girlfriend. And believe me, I’ve seen it happen. So it’s not completely out of the realm of possibility, but that’s not the reason I’m going on Summer Project, just to be clear.
Anyway, I finally sat down and looked through state-side projects. After a few more talks with Christi about what she thought of different projects and which ones she thought I’d do well on, I decided on Smokey Mountain Summer Project in Gatlinburg, TN. So that’s where goal number 37 comes in. I’ve never been to Tennessee before, and I’m really excited.
I had to redo the application a little bit and answer a few different questions for this project, so I finally submitted it on Sunday afternoon. That night, while I was taking a late nap, I got a phone call from a number I didn’t recognize, so I let it go to voicemail. That night after waking up, I checked my email and saw one that said, “Congratulations on your acceptance to Smokey Mountain Summer Project!” Then I listened to the voicemail and, go figure, it was from one of the leaders of the project. What wonderful affirmation from God that I was accepted to the project mere hours after I submitted the application. So psyched!!

Goal number 39: Like I said, Nick Cannon isn’t known for his music, but he does have an album out titled Nick Cannon. So he’s a famous musician, and he’s just plain famous. If you grew up in the 90s and lived in America, you know Nick Cannon. From All That to Teen Nick to Drumline to America’s Got Talent and marrying Mariah Carey, we know Nick Cannon. He came to USC on Monday, January 24, 2011, and did some standup for us; it was really great, and he’s actually very funny! Afterwards, my friends and I waited outside the ballroom where he performed, and he came out and gave autographs and took pictures with us. When I met him, I said, “Hello! I’m Bethanie. It’s really nice to meet you!” And he said, “Bethanie? That’s my mom’s name!” I almost died. Of course I looked it up as soon as I got home. And yep, his mom’s name is Bethanie (though spelled “Bethany”).  So yeah, Nick Cannon’s going to remember me forever as the girl who met him for all of 25 seconds and has the same name as his mother. Oh yeah.

Goal number 57: On November 2, I told you that I teach voice lessons at the Columbia Arts Academy now. I still do, but I also teach outside of the academy on the side. My friends have been asking me for voice lessons, and last semester I gave them for free because they weren’t weekly lessons. Now I’m a lot busier with school and other things, so when my friend TJ asked for weekly lessons, I told him that I had to charge. I hate having to take money from friends, but if I ever want to make money, I have to get used to it. So I told him that I’d give him lessons at a very very reduced rate (all of my music friends tell me I’m crazy for only charging what I charge him), but I know how it is to be a poor college student because I’m one, also. It’s really great having a student that I teach on a weekly basis, and it’s teaching me a lot about what I need to do as a teacher to be prepared for each lesson and how to teach in a way that’s helpful to the student. The other day, my friend Justin asked me to teach him, too. So now I’m being sought after for voice lessons and I’m building a clientele. It’s kind of awesome.

Goal number 86: I’m not going to be able to be a counselor this year at Camp Cedarbrook, but I’m definitely hoping to be one next year. I really want to.

Goal number 90: I got a Nikon D3100 as a 21st birthday present/Christmas present this year, as a “last big present until your wedding” type of thing from my parents. And as for waiting for another big present until my wedding… that might be a looonnnnggg time from now. My life doesn’t seem to be going in that direction anytime soon, unfortunately. With my new Nikon, I’ve been taking pictures any chance I get. They’re nowhere near professional level, but they’re much better than the pictures I used to take on my 2008 Nikon digital camera. Way better. I like to pretend I know what I’m doing with it, and I play with the settings and the shutter speeds and stuff, but it’s all for fun. Nothing more than that. (The picture on the side is one I took with my Nikon D3100 during a snow day we had at USC).

Goal number 97: I do not have a picture of me singing in front of my relatives, thank goodness. That’s embarrassing. To preface, I have to say that just because I perform music for my major, and just because I’m trained to be able to perform and teach music, does not mean I am a trained monkey you can order to sing whenever and wherever you want. Just saying.
Anyway, we were in Arizona this Christmas visiting family, and we had Christmas Eve dinner on the patio of my uncle’s neighbor’s house. So the list of who was at this dinner/Bethanie-performance-event: My family (9 of us), my uncle’s family (6 of them), and my uncle’s neighbors and their friends (probably around 10 or 11 of them). So between 25 and 27 people. Wonderful. So we’re all outside on the patio eating Christmas Eve dinner, and my mother, wonderful woman that she is, starts telling everyone how I’m a music education for voice major. She loves to talk about me because she loves that I sing for a living. Of course, everyone now wants me to sing for them. So what in the world am I going to sing a cappella, outside, at Christmas, but not a Christmas song because they wanted opera? I told them I really really didn’t want to sing, but my mom insisted and gave me that look, so I had to sing. I stood up and sang the first few bars of an aria by Verdi called, “Da Gusman su fragil barca.” Look it up. They were floored, obviously, because I’m uber-talented. Bahaha. Just kidding. But they were really impressed. Then my mom told me to sing “Amazing Grace,” and everyone agreed, because who doesn’t like a good rendition of “Amazing Grace?” I resisted, but they begged. So I began to sing. My mom started tearing up, and I looked at my uncle and I’m pretty sure he stated tearing up, too. I almost lost it also because the last time I sang “Amazing Grace” in front of anyone was at my great-grandmother’s funeral when my cousin Caitlin and I sang it together and made everyone cry. What a song.
Yep, they got me to sing at a family function, and I hope it doesn’t happen again for a long time. You might not understand why performers don’t like performing on the spot, but it’s because you’re putting them on the spot. Right?

OK, so my goal updates are over. Time for the deep stuff, the heavy stuff. Get out your tissues (maybe those are just for me…).

On Monday, January 31, 2011, my friend Danny committed suicide. Danny and I met on a mission trip to Juarez, Mexico, in the summer of 2007. He was a leader and I was a student. If you’ve never been on a mission trip, I have to explain something: The bonds that you form with the leaders and other students on the trip are different from anything you will ever experience. Even though you might not talk with the people very much after the trip is finished, or keep in touch with them for years after, they are still a huge part of your life. The bond is formed through enduring stress and hard work together, through spending almost every waking moment together, through your mutual love of Christ. That type of bond is endless. Danny was only three years older than I am, and though he was a leader on the trip and I was a student, we became close, just like all the other leaders and students became close too. The leaders were more like older friends than “adults.” We kept in contact a little bit over facebook for the next few months after the mission trip, and even talked on the phone a couple of times. He was like a cool older brother, and he was just a great guy. In the spring of 2008, we caught up on facebook a little bit, but I never really got a chance to talk to him as much as I would have liked to.
On Monday night, I was on facebook and saw a picture that someone posted and had a caption that said something like, “RIP Danny. We’ll miss you forever.” That made me curious, so I looked at his page, and there were a number of posts about how people will miss him and that it was horrible that he was gone, and I scrolled down and someone explained to someone else that he had committed suicide.
I called one of my friends Jess, who was also a leader on that trip, to see what was going on. She looked at the page too, and said she couldn’t believe it. She said that she had just spoken with him a few days before, and he seemed fine. She then called her uncle, who’s close to Danny’s family, to see what was happening. She told me the next morning that it was true, that he had committed suicide and that his mom had found him. I didn’t go to classes that day, and couldn’t even really get out of bed. I hadn’t cried much yet, which was surprising, because all of my friends will tell you that I’m a freely emotional person. I called my mom to tell her, but I was reluctant to call only because I knew she wouldn’t be able to really do anything except talk with me. But I called anyway, and as soon as she answered the phone, I began to weep. I cried so much, and she prayed with me for Danny’s family and for comfort from God, and that helped a lot. I cried some more when I saw my friends that night at CRU’s prayer meeting, and then later that night when I listened to “Angel” by Sarah McLachlan.
Suicide is hard to deal with. I believe that God has a plan for everyone’s life, and the fact that Danny cut his own life short makes me sad because God wasn’t finished with him yet. Danny was such a wonderful person, and I know he loved the Lord, and I can’t understand what made him do what he did. There are so many unanswered questions, and there is so much burdening me. Was there anything I could have said to him? What could have been done to stop it? Why did he do this? It’s really hard for me to accept that he could have done this because I know he knew God, and I know he loved Him, and I know he knew that God loved him, so why did he take his own life?
His family lived in New Jersey, but moved back to North Carolina a while ago, so that’s where the viewing and funeral are. I’m glad that I’m at USC because I’ll be able to make the trip there to see him one last time. At least until heaven. There are differing views on whether or not people who commit suicide go to heaven, but I think they do. Suicide is a sin because you’re not following God’s plan for your life (that’s what all sin is, when you boil it down: not following God’s plan). But, just like any other sin, Jesus died to take the penalty for it. So I know that I’ll see Danny again in heaven, whenever that time comes. So here’s to Danny. <3

Thanks for sticking with me through this novel of a post. Sorry. I’ll try to post more often now that I’m back at school again. I’m hoping that exciting things will happen this semester.

Good night and good luck. <3