Catherine (Cathy) has enjoyed expressing thoughts, feelings, and observations in writing ever since she was a toddler scribbling in the margins of her preacher-father’s theology books. Born in Colorado, she grew up moving from town to town in California, then married and raised children near the Redwoods. Returning to Colorado in midlife, she finds inspiration along mountain trails, rivers, and meadows, and she visits the salty shores of an ocean at every opportunity. She believes that ‘God is love.’
Catherine has worked as a substitute teacher and English reader in public schools, a piano teacher and church musician, and as an editor, publisher, and speaker. She sees life as an upward journey, a challenging but surprise-filled adventure, and an unfolding story. Through novels, memoirs, essays and poetry she explores the depths of our relationships with God, each other, and nature. Inner healing is a theme running through her life and work.
Cathy had her first poem published in a national periodical at the age of twelve. Since then her byline has appeared in numerous periodicals and book compilations. She has a BA degree in English from Pasadena College/Point Loma Nazarene University and took graduate courses in education and in theology. Cathy and her husband, Larry, have participated in and led short-term mission teams to Mexico, South Africa, Venezuela, Sicily & Rome, and Peru.
The Lawtons love spending time with their two grown children and their spouses, and their six beautiful grandchildren. They enjoy making new friends and keeping in touch with the “old.”
As co-owner and publisher of Cladach Publishing, Catherine has had a hand in the acquisition, editing, and design of all Cladach’s titles. She still manages to find time for her first love, writing—she blogs here. She has authored four Cladach books (below).
A Conversation with Cathy
Catherine: It really was affirming and amazing to me to think someone would want to print and read something I wrote. (It was a rhyming poem about how Jesus is my friend, and a Sunday school teacher encouraged me to send it in. That early poem is even included in the collection, (Remembering Softly: A Life in Poems). The desire to write kept growing until it became a sense of a call.
In your biblical novel, Face to Face, you fictionalize a story about a woman who is miraculously healed by Jesus. She is mentioned in the Bible only once, in Luke 13:10-17. With so little known about her, how did you develop her character and make her so believable?
Catherine: That woman, who was healed by Jesus on the Sabbath, gripped my heart and imagination. She was unnamed in the story, so I named her Joakima, which means “One whom God has lifted up spiritually.” She was bent over double for 18 years and “could in no way lift herself,” which indicates that she had tried. I began to imagine what “cures” she might have used. Each has a parallel today, whether it’s conventional wisdom and “old wives’ tales,” self-righteous religion, new-age spiritualism, or humanistic self-improvement methods. I considered the context of the scriptures and researched the historical period and life in those days. A good story needs conflict, and there’s plenty in this account—between the woman and the spirit that crippled her, between Jesus and the leaders of the synagogue, between the people and the burdensome Sabbath laws, and between walking by faith versus walking by sight. I began to imagine Joakima in a colorful setting interacting with other vibrant characters until the story took on a life of its own. I was interested to see how my character would survive and finally thrive in the challenges of that setting.
Face to Face sprang out of my love for literature and for the Bible, as well as years of seeking a more intimate walk with God. In this story I explore what faith is, who Jesus was (and is), how a religious person could become spiritually oppressed, why all the philosophies of this world can’t bring release, and where true freedom is found. I want to share, with all who will read or listen, that Jesus will lift them up to new joy, freedom and wholeness.
One gets the sense that there may be experiences in your own life that parallel those of your character, Joakima. Is this perception accurate?
Catherine: The story formed in my mind while I was going through a period of inner healing. I read the book of Luke, and this woman who was so wretched and yet so tenaciously persevering, triggered my imagination as well as my faith. Jesus told the woman she was released and he said that Satan had kept her bound. That part is very personal. People who are bound by various things—memories, addictions, sins, wrong thinking, bitterness, and even evil spirits. I have seen people set free. I wondered what sort of spirit had taken hold of this woman, how Satan could keep a religious person of faith bound, and what might have caused that spirit to enter into her body and life. Luke also tells us that Jesus called her a “daughter of Abraham” which means she had faith.
Now a question to help readers know you better. If you had three free tickets to go to any three places in the world, where would you go, and why?
Catherine: First I’d go to Israel to research my next novel! Next I’d go to Scotland and the Hebrides Islands, where a mighty revival happened the year I was born. Third I’d go to Rome again, where there is a strong sense of the biblical world and the modern world intersecting.
Since music has played such an important role in your life: What music CDs happen to be in your player right now?
Catherine: Loreena McKennitt singing Christmas songs, a Russian pianist playing Rachmaninoff concertos, worship songs from Taize, “Everything” by Tim Hughes, even a few U2 songs.
If you could spend a week with any historical person of the past ten centuries, who would that be?
Catherine: I think I’d like to spend a week with Joan of Arc, though it might be dangerous. A simple peasant girl believed so strongly that God had spoken to her that she was able to convince leaders of her country and army to let her lead them to victory out of a dark and troubled period. And talk about conflicts! She stayed faithful and obedient to the vision, though it led to her martyrdom. Amazing.
What was your purpose for publishing the compilation, Journeys to Mother Love?
Catherine: The Lord has given me deep and lasting emotional healing for traumatic experiences that are described in my story in Journeys to Mother Love. The other eight women whose stories are told in Journeys to Mother Love are also personal memoirs about the mother/daughter relationship; all powerful experiences.
Inner healing is a theme running through my work. And this theme is also found in No More Fear: From Killing Fields to Harvest Fields, which I wrote from my interviews with Physa Chanmany, another life-changing experience for me.