I love listening to movie soundtracks. In fact, most days that’s what I listen to. Over the past few years, I’ve written arrangements of a few songs I love—very heavy on the Hans Zimmer, my personal fav. Along with some other contemp songs, I’ve put together an album of my arrangements. I’m really excited about this one! Enjoy!
Back in the spring, Emily Hope approached me about designing a cover and doing some formatting for a book she was working on. We’ve been working together ever since on this lovely, inspiring project.
What a privilege it has been!
(Emily also asked me to arrange a hymn mentioned in the book, “Nearer, My God, to Thee.” This is a companion to her book and has become my new favorite hymn. The words and melody are gorgeous! More info below the interview.)
Emily’s book is now published and available. It’s called:
REBECCA: What is this book about and who can it help?
EMILY: Restoring Virtue is about how I was able to access the Atonement as a way to recover from the effects of childhood sexual abuse. How I changed a traumatic experience into a life full of blessings, happiness, and service. Essentially, this book is my testimony of God’s love, the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and every other good and correct principle.
This book is not about standard treatments such as counseling, medication, or other common resources. It could be for someone who has explored standard treatments, but still feels like something is missing. Really, my book is for anyone who contemplates their relationship with God and is open to hearing how someone else experiences His presence.
REBECCA: I felt this as I read your story–that it is for more than just those who have been haunted by childhood abuse. It’s really a story of growth and spiritual healing. It’s beautiful.
What prompted you to tell your personal story?
EMILY: Two years ago, a combination of events aligned perfectly causing me to see my life with more honesty and clarity. My book describes these events in detail and how writing my story influenced the final step in my healing process.
The still small voice, just a whisper, planted the desire to write my testimony. The more I wrote the stronger this prompting became until it consumed my thoughts. I had to write. I had to get it out. I felt like Parley P. Pratt when he described reading the Book of Mormon for the first time. “I [wrote] all day; eating was a burden, I had no desire for food; sleep was a burden when the night came, for I preferred [writing] to sleep. As I [wrote], the spirit of the Lord was upon me … My joy was now full, as it were, and I rejoiced sufficiently to more than pay me for all the sorrows, sacrifices and toils of my life.”
Ultimately, I wrote my story so God may speak to another one of His children through my words. So other victims of abuse may experience hope.
REBECCA: And how glad I am that you did. Unfortunately abuse, specifically sexual abuse, affects more people than anyone would ever care to imagine. One statistic says that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused before the age of 18. That number is disturbing and disgusting. And yet, I believe it. I know too many friends and loved ones whose lives have been traumatized by abuse. How wonderful that you’re willing to talk about it and share your healing.
Why an orchid on the cover? Tell us about its significance.
EMILY: The orchid on the cover is a symbol of my healing process coming to a close.
I experienced a tender mercy when a spike emerged from the orchid sitting on my kitchen windowsill the same week I began writing my story. It grew as my story grew, as if being fed by my testimony. After a period of blooming, it then died the week my story was complete. Like the orchid stores up its energy to bloom from beneath the ground, my testimony grew from the darkest trials to become something beautiful, something new, and bright.
Traditionally the orchid symbolizes love, beauty, strength, wealth, and protection. The spots are sometimes used to symbolize the blood of Christ and a new beginning.
REBECCA: Can you share a favorite quote/scripture/excerpt from your book?
EMILY: My favorite quote is from Elder Richard G. Scott, may he be at peace. He sums up the process in a few short words. “Love is a potent healer.” When you understand the meaning of true love, you hold the key to the mysteries of God.
“Each time I was blessed with God’s love, whether in small or significant ways, a little piece of my heart was healed. It could have just been a comforting feeling, a blessing, a prompting from the Spirit, a scripture I read, or one of the more significant moments when God’s grace pulled me out of the darkness. With each piece my heart was restored not to its original form, but to a new form God had created. “A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you” (Ezekiel 36:26). I did not become the person I always yearned for, a flawed version of perfection, but the person God wanted me to be, the daughter He had thoughtfully gifted with eternal qualities.
“In each healing moment I learned something new and took another step towards God and towards becoming united with Him.”
REBECCA: Thanks for sharing. (See what I mean by beautiful?) This book is filled with quotes from church leaders and the scriptures, plus Emilisms, little truths Emily has come to know. I love that.
Do you plan to write more in the future?
EMILY: I won’t be writing any more books. However, I will continue writing onmy blog (Restoring-virtue.com)as inspiration strikes. For spiritual insights and growth taking place beyond the pages of my book.
REBECCA: Thank you again for sharing, Emily! I know your book will be a help and comfort to those who struggle!
ABOUT EMILY: I am a wife, a mother, a daughter, and a friend. I love cold weather, which is why I live in the beautiful state of Alaska. I love biking, picking berries in the wild Alaskan frontier, discount movies with my best friend, sharing spiritual experiences with my children, and the comfort of my husband’s hugs. I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. My life is blessed in more ways than I can count.
This is my first Mother’s Day without my mom. She passed away last June. I’ve been thinking about her a lot the last few weeks, pondering her incredible influence on my life.
One huge impact she had on me is with music.
My mom, Lynn S. Lund, was an amazing musician and composer. Growing up, she was ward organist at 12 years old and stake organist at 16. She taught piano all of my life and told me that, as a baby, I listened quietly on her lap to all of her students play.
When I showed interest in writing music, my mom was so excited–more excited than I was. She was always right there giving me help, teaching me theory and how to write choral parts, teaching me to use the notation software, and most of all, cheering me on.
I miss her, but still feel her influence strongly in my life.
Since I can’t give her a true ‘gift’ this Mother’s Day, I thought I’d do the next closest thing. Her belief was that music should be shared.
The first music my mom published was compilations of her piano hymn arrangements, so I’m excited that my first compilation is the same. If you’re not already familiar with them, you should check out her piano solos. They’re gorgeous and wonderful. You can find them here.
I hope all of you have a lovely and wonderful Mother’s Day!!!!!!!!!!
If you’ve read Sadie or Augustina, you know both are filled with my love of music, both religious and classical. This song is a realization of a dream I’ve had since I started writing novels. Since the beginning, I wanted to combine my two passions: writing books and writing music. While I wrote some lyrics for a song in Sadie, and while Sadie plays another song for Josh that I’ve yet to finish, this song is the first time the two sides of REBECCA BELLISTON became one.
I’ve arranged several hymns for people before, but this one has a cool story. With my fiction writing obsession, my music has taken a back seat lately. Which is fine. I love music and writing, and I’ll do whichever I’m in the mood for, because if I force either one, it never turns out great.
Cool thing #1
About a month ago, I was in a musical mood and sat down at my piano and started goofing around. Before I knew it, I was plunking out a piano arrangement of “How Great Thou Art.” Not sure why that hymn since it’s never been on my top-ten favorites list, but okay. I grabbed my manuscript paper and scribbled (literally) all over it. My musical handwriting is worse than my regular handwriting, which is scary enough. But the music was coming faster than I could write. I haven’t written a song that fast in a LONG time.
Low Version sung by Erica Soelberg:
Cool thing #2 came a week later
A man in my ward was asked to sing a solo at the Detroit Mission Home Fireside. He approached me to see if I would accompany him. I said yes and asked him what he wanted to sing.
He said, “I’d love to sing How Great Thou Art, but I don’t want to sing it straight out of the hymnbook. I want to do some kind of an arrangement. Do you know of any?”
Now, at times like this my personality begs me to clam up and say nothing. I HATE my personality. But I went for bold, jumped uncharacteristically out of my comfort zone.
“Actually . . . I’m working on an arrangement right now. It’s mostly finished but it’s for a piano solo. But, it wouldn’t be too hard to switch it over to a vocal solo. What do you think?”
He was nice enough to trust me, so we gave it a try. Not sure how he got through that first rehearsal. I was scribbling and scratching things out as he sang. But he put up with me. He even tolerated the funky timing I added.
Cool thing #3
The song went great at the fireside — Thank you, Scott! I even had someone I don’t know ask for the arrangement afterward, which is the nicest compliment anyone can give. When I told her it was my arrangement she wasn’t completely shocked — another compliment. However, I only had one copy, and it had more scribbles on it. I handed it over anyway, hoping I would remember my last minutes tweaks. I rushed home, made the changes, and had the thought — I should publish it. Might as well, right? It was finished and a whole two people liked it. I’ve had less motivation before. :)
Then came the hard part. Most hymns are so old the copyrights have expired. You can arrange to your heart’s desire and not worry about anything. “How Great Thou Art” is not one of them. In fact, you can’t even copy it out of the hymnbook without permission. That’s okay. I’ve been working with publishers and copyrights for eight years now, so I decided to take the plunge.
Cool thing #4
I did some research, wrote about 10 emails, and now it’s approved for publication. Yay! So that’s the long story for my short announcement. My arrangement of “How Great Thou Art” is available.