Part One: A Change of Heart

I tried writing this post two weeks ago. I started it. Then I scrapped it. Then I started again. Now it is completely different from what it was and I am just praying that it is all that it should be. I am also praying that you read these words with an open heart and a willingness to listen to my thoughts.

It’s easy for me to judge, as video #7 is sweeping across social media channels. In this video, the heart is still beating. And I want to throw up at the injustice of it all.

These videos…..they are actually nothing new. The abortion industry has thrived in our country for decades. Actually, let’s back that up. The abortion industry has thrived in our world for centuries. It may not have always been legal, it may not have always been a thriving profit-building industry, but there is nothing new under the sun and that includes abortion. These videos are just bringing to light the most horrific tragedy legalized in our country that we have largely refused to acknowledge.

And it’s easy to judge. Oh God, it’s so easy.

This month marks three years since Roman and I first tried to start our family. I sit at my computer 24 weeks pregnant today with a little boy. He kicks and rolls over and punches and plays. He goes to sleep when I sing to him. He is now capable of conscious thought and had a heartbeat before I even knew he was alive. From walking out of the darkness of infertility into this truly miraculous journey of becoming mommy, it is so stinkin’ easy for me to judge.

I hear about video #6 where the doctor says “oh look, another boy” and I literally want to vomit. Because the little boy they are ripping apart is the same age as mine. Just days ago he was playing and tumbling and sucking his thumb like my tiny Jackson. My mom cries after my 18 week ultrasound when we first discovered this miracle was a son. “How could anyone watch that screen or hear that heartbeat and want to destroy that life?” And I understand her angry tears because they are screaming out in my heart as well.

Baby C

Yes, it’s easy to judge and get angry and spew hateful words at the injustice of it all.

But just because it’s easy doesn’t make it right.

Did you know that 1 in 3 women in America have had an abortion? There could easily be friends or family members of yours—people in your workplace or online social media circle who have had an abortion. People who know you go to church and “love the Lord,” who then watch your activities on social media and feel the shame and guilt your words heap on their heads.

And oh God, we ought to feel the injustice we bring on them with our own actions.

There is a time and a place for everything, don’t get me wrong. Should we contact our legislators and cry for the defunding of Planned Parenthood and all other abortion industries? Absolutely. Should we place a high value on candidates running for election next year who understand the sanctity of life? You bet. As Christians we should be stepping up and taking an active role in the political direction of our country.

But we should always do so with kindness.

If the posts you share on Facebook and the words you speak to others are not filtered with love and kindness and with the intention of sharing God’s heart, then they should not be said or shared.

I read a post two weeks ago by Ann Voskamp and it has simmered in my heart ever since. We as the Church have the Spirit-given power to halt the abortion industry in our country. It doesn’t come from being nasty on social media or arguing around the coffee maker at work. It doesn’t even come from calling senators or voting next year. It comes from being who we are called to be.

Because I have a husband and parents and family and a church and friends and literally everything I could ever need. But my sister who is lost and confused and pregnant with no one to look after her? The one who walks into a church looking for love and acceptance and only gets whispers and silent accusations? She feels like she has no other option. She has nothing and she is terrified and the one place where she should receive refuge only dishes out more shame and guilt.

The doctor who exclaims “it’s another boy!” as he dissects the face and cuts out the brain? He has been so terribly deceived into believing that the little baby boy had no right to live. He believes in his science and doesn’t see the value of unborn life. He will pay an eternal and terrible price {the same price that we ourselves deserve for our own sins} if no one will speak the Truth to him in love.

We have got to, got to, handle this issue with grace and love and we must always remember that we are largely dealing with the lost, deceived and broken. We cannot call for the end of abortion if we are unwilling to care for single mothers who have no resources and no hope. We cannot call for the end of abortion while being hateful to those who have already made that choice {because these sisters often battle intense depression and guilt and desperately need grace and forgiveness.} We cannot call for the end of abortion while refusing to care for those children in our communities who are neglected and forgotten.

We cannot say that all life is sacred while we treat our hurting neighbors like dirt.

What Ann suggested in her post and what I am now suggesting is not easy for me.  Remember my admission earlier? I am battling the same anger and judgment that you are. I have battled through infertility and am now living through the joy of a miracle and there is a large part of my heart that honestly does not want to try to place myself in someone else’s shoes. But I cannot be hard-hearted and unforgiving while expecting the Lord to change my country. I have to make a change. I have to open up my hands that clench so tight to my opinions and be willing to listen and learn and then I have to be willing to actually do something to help.

Facebook posts and blogs will only go so far. Until we as the Church rise up—united, in love—abortions will continue in America and across the world. This post is one of two parts. Part Two will include ways that we can actually get our hands dirty in our communities. But this part, Part One?  This part addresses our hearts. Because until our hearts are right our hands will not do the work of the Lord. And so I implore you, my dear reader-friends, to take stock of your heart. Read Ann’s post. Talk to the Lord about what you are feeling. Ask Him to give you a soft heart full of forgiveness and grace. And then start to ask Him how you can make a real difference.

We can end the injustice of abortion, but we’re going to have to get off our judgmental high-horse and work for the Kingdom.


Blame it on the Bump

Several days ago a sweet dear reader-friend sent me an e-mail. She wanted to check on me and Baby C since I hadn’t blogged in a while. Oh yes, blogging. I remember that was something I used to do all the time and really liked. {I mean, I still like it I just, nevermind. We’ll get to that later.} 
These days I blame most things on Baby C mostly because I can and it’s cute/funny.
Like how yesterday I forgot to buy one of the ingredients for a two-ingredient meal while I was in the grocery store. I walked into said grocery store for both ingredients….walked out with only one ingredient plus a box of cheesecake because I’m pregnant and wanted cheesecake. {Stop judging me.} So I said “hahahaha pregnancy brain is real” and walked back in to buy the other ingredient. And also pondered if I should buy more cheesecake. This is a perfect example of my imperfections for those of you who think I have life under control. Also, the two-ingredient meal was a box of jambalaya—for those who think I have some secret awesome healthy meal recipe hidden away. It is a box. With rice in it. That I slice up sausage and throw in there. Basically it is terrible for you but delicious and filling.

My new favorite phrase is: “This little baby has the energy of his father. He moves all the time and uses up whatever energy I have left.” So yes, Baby C basically gets blamed for everything right now. Except my lack of sleep—that is 100% my stupid cat’s fault but that is another story for another blog post that may or may not ever get written because I am sleepy always and forever. 

BUT. I am not in any way shape or form complaining about this pregnancy because this pregnancy has basically been awesome the entire time. Still no morning sickness. Minimum discomforts that can be handled with a Tylenol or some Tums. And a healthy baby boy that let me know with his constant kicking that he is happy and healthy and growing. YAY. I think I could just be pregnant forever. {NOT.} 

And yes, my dear readers, I did just say boy. I recognize that most of you follow me on social and may already know, but for those of you do not: WE ARE HAVING A BOY!!!! *throws confetti* His name will be Jackson, which means “God has shown favor.” Pretty perfect name for all of you who know our story of infertility. We are absolutely thrilled and I am already freaking out about what I am going to do with a sweaty little boy who thrives on making messes in my spotless house. {HAHAHAHA like my house is spotless with two cats and a dog and two humans living in it.}

Seriously though, I cannot get over how adorable his tiny little nose is. I’m totally obsessed with it.

Yes, things are quite well in the Casterline household. We cleaned out the guest bedroom to make room for Jackson’s nursery. It sort of looked like the apocalypse in my house that day and I drank a ton of coffee so I wouldn’t have an OCD-induced panic attack. Kidding. Sort of. I can’t wait to show you guys pictures of his nursery once it’s all set up. Right now it is just an empty room that the cats are absolutely amazed by. {Seriously, why are they so fascinated by nothing?}

Roman finished up all of his year-long training at his job so he is now ultra-official and I am all giddy and excited for him. He deserves 1,000 Oreos for all his hard work but Oreos are pricey and I need cheesecake so…….yea. 

We have logged approximately 1.3 billion miles on our car this summer {this may be a slight exaggeration} which is actually the true reason why I have been so absent from this blog. I actually have about seven posts written I just have not actually formatted them and scheduled them. Maybe that actually just means I am lazy. I don’t know. But after September life will drastically slow down for us because we aren’t going to be going much of anywhere. We may do one last big vacation in mid-October and then after that I will sit at home and stare at the wall and wait for my baby boy to get here in December. {Please for the love of all things holy do not be late, Mr. Jackson.}

I would promise you that my posting will be more regular in the future, but we both know the likelihood of that happening. I think at this point in life if I can manage to cook two or three non-box meals for dinner I will be golden. But be sure to follow me on Instagram if you would like {slightly} more regular baby updates, dog photos and selfies. In the meantime, please send me all of your delicious healthy recipes that will not take three hours to cook. 😉

Okay, so there is a quick run-down of Life with the Casterlines. {see what I did there??} How is everyone else doing? Have you guys gone on any cool vacations this summer? Approximately how many boxed dinners per week do you cook? Are you willing to mail me a home-made cheesecake? Tell me all the things about your life right now.