New Voices: Catherine Parks

By Trillia Newbell

Many women dream about a fairytale wedding. Though a knight in shining armor is needed, he’s merely an accessory to the centerpiece–the bride and all her ambiance.

Catherine Parks, along with her mother Linda Strode, hope to inspire and encourage Christian women to rethink the way we pursue our wedding days in their book tentatively titled A Christ-Centered Wedding (B&H Publishing, April 2014).

Catherine is a stay-at-home mom of two living in Nashville, TN, with her husband Erik of seven years. She recently started blogging and came upon the book idea on a sort of whim. Find out more about her story and her book as we continue our New Voices series.

Q:  When did you discover you enjoyed writing?

Parks: My dad is a journalist and I must have received the writing bug from him because I was always writing stories when I was a kid. In college I loved my writing classes (aside from creative writing, at which I was embarrassingly terrible) and actually really enjoyed writing research papers. When I graduated, though, I no longer had assignments or reasons to write. I wanted someone to say, “Hey, go research this topic and write a paper on it,” but no one was saying that so I just didn’t write. And I’ve never been able to journal. There is nothing so painful as reading back over my own journaling. I sound like the biggest goof.

Q:  Why do you write?

Parks: Unlike so many writers whose work is just beautiful, I do not feel like I just have to write. Actually, it’s really hard work. I sit down and try to force the words to come out in some semblance of coherent thought and often just stare at the computer until I give up (or am conveniently distracted). Yet the writing process has forced me to realize how truly dependent I am on the Lord to even write one good sentence. And so I write because I love this process of looking into the nature and character of God and praying the Holy Spirit would somehow work through me to convey a message of hope or grace or love or truth.

Q: Busy moms often wonder when writers who are also mothers find time to write. When do you write?

Parks:  Great question. I ask myself the same thing all the time. My kids still take naps or have “room time” so that’s an ideal time. I also try to get up early and write a bit before the family is awake. My husband is great about giving me time on Saturdays or weeknights to go out and write for a few hours. He is so supportive of this process, which is just amazingly helpful.

Q: If you were to sit down with a blogger who desires to write a book what is one piece of advice you’d give them?

Parks: This is tough for me because I’m a relatively new blogger, but the one thing I know is how important it is to have a clear idea of your subject matter. Whatever it is you are passionate about or the message you think the Lord has given you to write about—that’s what your book should be about. The process of laboring over a book proposal helped me to find so much more clarity on my subject, so I would say take your time and make sure you know what you’re saying. And pray, pray, pray through the whole process, trusting God to do what HE wants even if it’s not what you want.

Q: Why is this topic important to you

Parks:  As mentioned above, in the past I haven’t felt like I just had to write anything. I never thought, “I’m going to write a book one day.” But a year ago my mom and I were having coffee and talking about weddings and it just became clear that there are not many resources out there for believers trying to plan gospel-centered weddings. At the same time I had attended a couple of weddings that were just so beautifully Christ centric and more a celebration of God’s love than only human love, and I wished I could have seen that before I planned my own wedding. So we said, “Hey, we could write a blog about this. Or a book.” And it seemed crazy at the time, but the next thing we knew we were working on a proposal and getting an agent and it was actually happening.

Q: Briefly tell us your testimony.

Parks: I was saved as a young child, growing up in a Christian home. But I was very much a people-pleaser, focused on earning the praise of man rather than praising God. The Lord worked in my heart through a couple of experiences. First, before my senior year of high school I spent two weeks at Summit Ministries in Colorado and for the first time saw kids my age who loved God more than anything and were not living for the praise of the culture, but rather to transform culture with the gracious message of the gospel. Secondly, the Lord has grown my husband and me tremendously over the past several years in our home church. We understand grace in a way neither of us did before, and by that amazing grace we are able to live with eternity in view.

Q: What is your favorite leisure activity?

Parks: My husband is kind of a movie snob and he is always bringing home some obscure foreign film with a redemptive message from the library. So two or three times a month we will sit down and watch one of these “films” and then discuss it. Although I have to admit sometimes it’s just too obscure for me so I also enjoy going out with sweet friends and giving Erik time to watch the latest Korean masterpiece.

Q: What is your favorite passage or book of the Bible?

Parks: This is always a hard question for me, and usually the answer is whatever I have studied lately. I have spent a lot of time over the past few weeks studying Luke 15, specifically the story of the prodigal son. The Lord has graciously used it to teach me the difference between serving Him out of love (specifically with an understanding of His love for me), rather than slaving to earn something from Him. I think if we could see the younger son go back to work for his father we would see the sharp contrast between his joyful work in light of finally understanding the father’s love, versus the older son’s bitter slaving to receive his father’s wealth and favor. This is a picture I need to see daily.

Q:  Anything else you want to add?

Parks: I just want to say how grateful I am for this great network of writers and bloggers. It has been a joy to get to know other writers over the past few months and I’m excited to see God working in and through all of you. While my book is very much a niche product, so many of you are writing things that are daily hitting home for me and drawing me to the foot of the cross. So thank you!

 More about Catherine

During naptimes and between loads of laundry Catherine Parks is a writer. Most of the time, though, she’s going back and forth between pretending to be a cheetah wrangler and a super-hero with her two small kiddos. Along with her husband, Erik, she’s blessed to be a member of Community Bible Church in Nashville, TN. Catherine has a BA in English literature and a writing minor from Bryan College and is finally putting the degree to work in a book collaboration with her mom, Linda Strode. You can find Parks blogging at “Don’t Waste Your Wedding” found at www.catherinestrodeparks.com.

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One Comment to “New Voices: Catherine Parks”

  1. […] you’re curious about the book and the writing process, my new friend Trillia has graciously featured me in her series on new female authors. Check it out here and be sure to read this post about […]