Author Archives: Andrew & Cristina

Laying low….

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For the past month, we’ve tried to return to a sense of normalcy and stability.

Besides the numerous weekly doctors visits for Andrew Joseph and Maria Isabella, we’ve been laying low. In an attempt to spend some quality time with our family, I’ve put together a few videos. Enjoy!

Sobre Andrew Joseph

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Crei que era importante darse mas detalles sobre Andrew Joseph, su condición fisica y también pedir oraciones sobre los próximos días y semanas.

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Primero, quisiera compartir un video que hice, que graba Bella, mientras la soprendimos con Andrew Joseph llegando a la casa del hospital ayer. Bella tenia un gripe y tos ayer (si, yo se, que nuestra familia no es muy puntual, jaja) así que tuvo que ponerse una mascarilla……sabiamos que iba querer besar su hermanito tanto. Pues anteriormente, estuviéramos un poco mas libre con los gérmenes (el necesita desarrollar su sistema inmunologico, verdad? ) pero con la vigilancia constante de Andrew Joseph y su cerebro….tuvimos que tener mas cuidado! Pues, mira el video:

Pues, los detalles. Como mencione arriba, nuestra familia no es puntual para nada. La ultima vez que Bella fue hospitalizada (ya estamos por las 12 vez) fue el 4 de Julio….y los doctores nos burlaron: “Wow….ustedes les gusta venir durante las fiestas!” y nos comenzo a contar las veces anteriores…..el 4 de Julio, el mismo cumpleaños de Bella, el día de Accion de Gracias……etcetera. Básicamente, si hay una fiesta nacional….puedes contar que estaremos en el hospital. En estos casos, Cristina y yo nos miramos…..con una sonrisa en la cara, viendo hacia el cielo….y nos decimos “Señor! Claro que así es la vida!”

Volvemos al presente con Andrew Joseph. El 8 de Septiembre de 2015. Fecha perfecta, verdad?

Pues….menos el hecho de que Bella tenia una cirugía (de 5 horas) programada para 10 de Septiembre. Para darles una mejor idea: Cristina tendría su Cesaria el Martes, 8 de Septiembre…..Andrew Joseph tendría su cirugía el 9 de Septiembre…..y Bella tendría su cirugía el 10 de Septiembre. GRACIAS AL SENOR que los dos hospitals, el hospital de niños y el hospital de Norfolk, están conectado.

Ah! para ser las cosas mas caóticas…..(porque mi esposa le encanta hacer mi vida muy fácil), mi esposa no pudo tener una Cesaria típica……..pues, debido a la cirugía que tuvo en 2012, su utero estaba en condición frágil (pues una cesaria deja el utero con una incision pequeña……la cirugía que tuvo Cristina dejo su utero con dos incisiones grandes)….que significa que durante sus próximos embarazos, siempre sera de “alto riesgo” y su recuperación después de un nacimiento seria brutal. Y fue brutal. Pues….por la gracia de Dios, yo pude ayudarle subir y bajar de su cama después de la Cesaria……y entre eso, correr a la sala de Cuido Intensivo donde estaba Andrew Joseph.

Gracias a Dios, nuestro cirujano (quien hemos conocido a través de Bella) estuvo disponible durante la noche y pudo observar Andrew Joseph antes de hacer su cirugía. Miren este video para una explicación de lo que hicieron a Andrew Joseph:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_MaRhpBo6A

Por la providencia de Dios, nuestro amigo sacerdote, Padre John Peck, pudo llegar tan temprano ese día para bautizar a Andrew Joseph, y nuestra familia pudo estar presente:

Según el cirujano, la cirugia para reparar la cuerda espinal de Andrew Joseph fue super bien. De hecho….el cirujano, quien es muy conocido y celebrado en este region, dijo que la situación de Andrew Joseph fue “extraño”. Pareció sorprendido por la función de Andrew Joseph (orinando, dando patadas, etcetera).

Mientras todo eso, Cristina estaba en el otro hospital, tratando de recuperar de su cirugía también. Que difícil……detener a su esposa, cuando quiere ver su hijo, porque no puede hacer el esfuerzo todavía. Una de las cosas mas difíciles que he hecho en toda mi vida.

El Jueves, dos dias después del nacimiento de Andrew Joseph, Bella fue hospitalizada para su cirugía. Para una cirugía seria, Bella hizo muy bien……pero fue la medicina que le afecto tan mal! Cuando despertó, en vez de estar adormecida, Bella tuvo mucha energía! Ella me decía cosas como “Papi, quiero jugar…..no se que quiero jugar….pero quiero jugar!”

Finalmente, Bella y yo nos dormimos a las 11:30 de la noche…..y Bella pudo salir del hospital el día siguiente. Gracias a Dios por mis suegros…que nos ayudaron durante los siguientes días de recuperación.

Pues, para Andrew Joseph, las semanas después de su cirugía, no paso mucho…..que era una bendición. Pues, con Espina Bifida, hay algunas cosas que son dañadas y que los doctores necesitan vigilar. Una cosa tiene que ver con las caderas, piernas y pies. Aunque hay una debilidad en movimiento, Andrew Joseph mueve sus piernas y cadera. También, una de las cosas afectas son las riñones…..que tiene que ver con la capacidad de orinar.

Una de las cosas mas “a riesgo” para Andrew Joseph es su cabeza y cerebro. La cabeza de Andrew Joseph es un poco mas grande de lo normal….igual a Bella. Pero la cabeza de Bella dejo de crecer y, gracias a Dios, nunca necesito una cirugía. El cirujano de ambos Bella y Andrew Joseph, lo esta vigilando…..y por esa vigilancia, pedimos muchas oraciones.

Pedimos oración por su cabeza……estaremos visitando el cirujano una vez por semana durante las próximas semanas…….por los próximos meses, hasta que estemos en lo “seguro”.

Pues….para nosotros como padres, estaremos disfrutando nuestros hijos mientras se enamoran de uno a otro. Es una cosa llevar su primer hijo a la casa…..es otro ver su primer hijo enamorarse de su segundo hijo. El mundo de Bella se ha cambiando por siempre…..su hermano es la niña de sus ojos…….y ella daría su mundo para hacerle feliz.

Oh Senor…..tus caminos son tan diferentes a los mios….pero son tan Buenos!

Ahora….si alguien conocen un programa u organización que puede ayudarnos conseguir un ‘minivan’, déjanos saber…..que lo necesitamos! Estos niños ya no caben en nuestro carro!

Como ser alcanzado por un rayo, por segunda vez…..

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Eso nos dijeron los doctors el 29 de Abril, este año.

“No tiene una mutación genetica? Seguros?”

Como son más altos los cielos que la tierra, así son mis caminos más altos que sus caminos, y mis pensamientos más que sus pensamientos.

Antes que todo, quiero pedir perdón por no haber actualizado este blog mas antes. Por alguna razón, (que sea el deseo para la privacidad o soledad durante los últimos meses difíciles) hemos sido un poco mas resistente de compartir mucho de nuestra jornada durante este embarazo con nuestro hijo, comparado de lo que hicimos con Bella en el ano 2012.

Pues….para actualizarles con todo. El 29 de Abril, fuimos para una ultrasonido rutina y nos dieron noticias inesperadas. Digo inesperadas porque creiamos que “supimos” a lo que nos habíamos metido con esta embarazo. Pues, con la espina bifida de Bella, el simple pensamiento de dla posibilidad de un “defecto” fue TAN fuera de nuestra realidad y pensamiento (por ignorancia o pura falta de ser expuestos al concepto), que no sabíamos que esperar o no esperar. Después de la diagnóstica, hicieron varios exámenes y determinaron que no fue una cosa genética, ni una mutación con el acido folico. Con el embarazo de Andrew Joseph, nos preguntaron sobre los embarazos anteriores y la información, según la Academia Americana de Pediatras dice “entre las parejas en EEUU que han tenido un niño con un defecto del tubo neurológico, el riesgo de ocurrir de nuevo es entre 2% y 3% en los embarazos siguientes.”

Pero, Sus Pensamientos son mas altos que nuestros pensamientos. Cuando el técnico de ultrasonido reconoció el defecto en la cuerda espinal de nuestro hijo, su reacción fue increíble. “Esto es como ser alcanzado por un rayo, por segunda vez! Yo ni se que decirles a ustedes….”

BOOM! Como un ‘shock’. Recuerdos corrieron en mi mente, de muchas noches llorando, sin dormir. Muchos días gastados en la oficina del doctor, ellos explicando todas las cosas que nuestra hija no podrá hacer, o aun, el dolor en ver a mi hija sufrir tantas infecciones, cirugías o limitaciones físicas, todos que viene con tener un hijo con ‘necesidades especiales’.

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Por algunos dias después de escuchar las noticias, Cristina y yo nos pusimos “fuera del contacto”. Fue un sentimiento diferente que la ultima vez con Bella…..un ‘shock’ diferente…..un vente “que cambia la vida” diferente. Como lo haremos esta vez? Como soportaremos todo esta vez? Olvidándonos de todo sentido egoísta, ‘como manejaremos todo, fisicamente?’ Cristina ya estaba sufriendo fisicamente con los 2-3 citas medicas semanales, citas de terapia física y viajes mensuales a la sala de emergencia a las 3 de la mañana. Pues no fue algo de quererno querer…..porque con mucho gozo aceptaríamos la responsabilidad….pues, fue una pregunta de como.

Tal como hace El Señor…..aun que no nos habla con esa voz fuerte que quisiéramos escuchar…..El Señor siempre metió su mano entre nosotros, tras todo el camino. Aun el mismo día terrible en que nos dieron las noticias que nuestro hijo tendría la misma discapacidad de nuestra hija, Sus Manos nos guiaron. Cuando salimos de nuestra cita y para programar la próxima cita, la enfermera dijo “solo tengo disponible el 13 de Mayo…..no se si eso les conviene”. Si…..13 de Mayo…..la fiesta de Nuestra Señora de Fatima……quien habíamos acercado tanto durante el año anterior.  Sobre los próximos meses, Dios también mando otros señales de su amor y atención para nuestra pequeña familia.

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La lista de ejemplos sigue…..y semana tras semana, El Senior mando sus mensajeros (pues, sin saber ellos!) para recordarnos, que en nuestros momentos mas oscuros, que El esta encargado y esta con nosotros.

Jesus, en Ti confio 

Pues en verdad…..que mas existe en la vida….sino esta frase? Jesus, en Ti confio! Sin importar nuestras planes, esperanzas y aun oraciones……que significan si no están apoyado y acompañados por Su Voluntad?

Pues antes de que nos dimos cuenta, el verano se iba terminando….y el nacimiento de Andrew Joseph se acercaba.

Last picture of our family before the new addition!

Después de algunos sustos asociado con el embarazo de alto-riesgo (Cristina fue vigilado debido a la cirugía que tuvo en 2012 con Bella), la fecha fue puesta para Septiembre. Nuestros corazones llenos de gozo…..y Bella, que ya no podia esperar conocer su hermano…..que “tiene espina bifida….como yo”

Don't be fooled....this C-Section was no joke....and the recovery was more brutal than I've seen from most natural births.

No te enganes…..la recuperación de esta Cesaría fue mas brutal que muchos nacimientos naturals

Después de una Cesaria dura (debido a la condición muy frágil del utero de Cristina), seguido por una recuperación aun mas difícil, nuestro hijo Andrew Joseph, nació al mundo. Nacido el día 8 de Septiembre (el cumpleaños de Nuestra Señora!), la fecha no se podia ser mas apropiado……pues Nuestra Señora nos acompaño durante los últimos meses, esperando nuestro hijo que un día tendría que sufrir mucho en esta vida.

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Cansado de tantas inyecciones……

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Durmiendo por tanta leche……

El problema con espina bifida es que, después de su nacimiento, una cirugía a la cuerda espinal es necesario….lo mas pronto posible. Así que, 12 horas después de que nazca, Andrew Joseph fue bautizado por nuestro amigo Padre John Peck, y luego llevado a la sala de cirugía.

Pues, aqui estamos…..10 días luego…..vigilando a nuestro pequeño hombre mientras se sane de su cirugía. También, con el defecto espina bifida existe el riesgo de hydrocephalo, o líquido cefalo-raquídeo que puede causar presión y después…..la necesidad para un reemplazo de articulación (una cirugía en el cerebro).

Aqui estamos….en el hospital todos los días, regresando a la casa por noche….sufriendo la noche porque anhelamos que este en la casa con nosotros.

Pedimos sus oraciones por Andrew Joseph……para que pueda llegar a la casa.

Pues ahora esta noche, su herida se esta sanando y na habido el derrame de liquido que pensaron después de la cirugía. Los doctores no están tan preocupados.

Pido perdón por esto – ha sido una actualización muy larga…pero es la mejor manera que conozco. Sepan pues que sus oraciones nos apoya mas de lo que imagina. Su apoyo generoso durante la jornada de Bella y ahora, ha sido una consolación para nosotros.

Somos bendecidos con un Dios amoroso con una comunidad de fieles que nos aman y nos apoyan.

Por favor, si tienen algunas preguntas o comentarios, siéntanse libres de mandar un email a Andrew.Pocta@missioners.org y lo compartiré con Cristina.

Estaremos en contacto mientras comenzamos este nuevo capitulo de nuestra vida!

En Cristo,

Andrew, Cristina, Maria Isabella and Andrew Joseph Pocta

On Andrew Joseph

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I thought it’d be important to give a bit more detail on Andrew Joseph, his physical condition and some continual prayer requests that we’d like to ask of you.

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First, we’d like to show you a video we captured of Bella being surprised by Andrew Joseph, when he came home from the hospital yesterday. Bella had a really bad cold yesterday (yes, I know, our family is great with timing. ha.) so we had her wearing a hospital mask because we knew that she’d want to hold and kiss all over her baby brother. Normally, we’d be ok with it (heck, he needs to build a good immune system, right?!) but with his current condition and the constant monitoring of his brain, we need to be extra careful. Check it out:

So, the details. As I jokingly mentioned above, our family is terrible with timing. The last time Bella was admitted overnight at the ER (which we’re going for #12 at this point) was on the 4th of July and the doctors joked: “wow, you guys love to come in on national holidays!” and he proceeded to remind us that Bella has had urinary tract infections OR kidney infections on 1) July 4th 2)her birthday and 3) Thanksgiving……. over the past 2 years. So basically, on any given holiday…..when we find ourselves in the emergency room…..Cristina and I simply look at each other, with a smirk on our face, looking up at heaven…..and both say, “well, of course!”

Flash forward to Andrew Joseph’s birth. September 8, 2015! The perfect date! Right?!

Except for the fact that Bella’s 5+ hour bladder surgery (to help prevent the recurrent UTIs) was scheduled for September 10th. Just to give you an idea: Cristina would undergo a C-Section on Tuesday, September 8th…..Andrew Joseph, 12 hours after his birth, would undergo his Spina Bifida repair surgery on September 9th, and Bella would be under the knife for 5+ hours the following day, September 10th. THANK GOD that the two hospitals, Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters and Norfolk General Hospital, are connected!

Also…….to make things more interesting/chaotic (because my wife and kids love to make my life easy) my wife didn’t have your typical C-Section. Because of the fetal surgery that she underwent in 2012, her uterus is in precarious condition (a typical C-Section leaves a small incision on one side of the uterus – Cristina’s fetal surgery and following C-Section left 2 large incisions on hers)  which means she was high risk and her recovery would be brutal. It was. So……by the grace of God, I was able to help her get in and out of bed during the first 12 hours of recovery, while also running to the NICU across the street to be with Andrew Joseph.

Thanks be to God, our surgeon (who we’ve come to know well through Bella’s brain scans) was able to be on call overnight and monitored Andrew Joseph before planning his surgery the following morning. Check out this video for an explanation of the surgery that was performed: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_MaRhpBo6A

Providentially, our priest, Fr. John Peck OSB, was able to make it to the NICU early enough that morning to baptize Andrew Joseph, and most of our family was able to witness:

According to the neurosurgeon, the surgery to repair Andrew Joseph’s Spina Bifida lesion went exceptionally well. In fact, the surgeon, who is well known and lauded in this general region for this kind of work, found Andrew Joseph’s spina bifida to be “bizarre”. He seemed surprised by Andrew Joseph’s function (urination, feet kicking, etc) based on where his spinal damage was.

Meanwhile, mom was down the hall attempting to recover….while dying to take the long trek to visit her newborn son. Talk about painful……restraining your wife from seeing her son because of the potential damage that could occur to her uterus. One of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.

On Thursday, two days after Andrew Joseph’s birth, Bella was admitted to the hospital for her surgery. As far as procedures go, Bella did incredibly well……….it was the morphine that they gave her that had some unexpected side-effects. As she came out of surgery at 2pm that afternoon, she was pumped-up and ready to play! So…..instead of getting some much needed rest that I was looking forward to, Bella had the opposite reaction….and proceeded to wake up from her nap, randomly, and say things like “Dad, this hospital is wonderful, isn’t it?!” “Dad……I want to play something with you. I don’t know what, but I want to play it.”

We finally passed out at 11:30pm that night…..and Bella was discharged the next morning. Thankfully, our in-laws and my parents were able to help with taking care of her over the following days during her home recovery.

As for Andrew Joseph, the weeks following his surgery were somewhat uneventful, which is a blessing. You see, with Spina Bifida, particularly the lesion that Andrew Joseph had, a few things are potentially damaged and need to be monitored. For one, the area most obviously effected is the motor function of the feet/legs/knees/hips. Although there is an apparent weakness in muscle movement, Andrew Joseph is able to move his legs and hips. Also, one of the common damages involves the kidney and bladder, which effects ones ability to void and urinate. Andrew Joseph seems to have a weak/disabled sphincter, but a strong urinary tract and is able to urinate.

One of the biggest “wild cards” for Andrew Joseph now is his head and brain. All humans have a bit of fluid in the brain, which keeps it suspended and properly “cushioned”. With Spina Bifida, there is an anticipated risk of abnormal fluid in the brain, specifically built-up in the ventricles….which is referred to as hydrocephalus.The medical response to hydrocephalus, when it begins to obstruct normal function (like sucking/swallowing, eye control, etc.) is a shunt.

Andrew Joseph’s ventricles are already a bit enlarged and continue to slowly grow. Bella’s brain did the same……but “plateaued” after a few months, and her function was never obstructed. Bella and Andrew Joseph’s neurosurgeon (the same doctor who operated on him) was heavily in tracking Bella’s progress back in 2012 (appointments every 2-3 weeks!). So here we are.

Our biggest request is that you pray for God’s Will and our vigilance, as parents, in monitoring Andrew Joseph’s head growth and hydrocephalus. We will be meeting with his neurosurgeon once a week for the next few weeks, and then once a month for the following 6-9 months, until he is clear.

As for us, we’ll enjoy our son and daughter as they fall in love with each other. It’s one thing to come home with your first child…….it’s a different thing to watch your first born enamored with the second. Bella’s world has now changed forever…..her brother is truly the apple of her eye…..and she would give her world to make him smile.

Oh Lord…….you may have different plans than mine…..but boy, are your plans Good! 

Now….if anyone knows of a program or organization that’ll help us find a minivan,  please let me know, we’ll need it! These kiddos and aren’t gonna fit in our car for much longer! 

Like being struck by lightning twice…..

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That was what the doctors told us on April 29th of this year.

“No genetic mutation? Are you sure?”

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.…

Before anything else, we’ve got to apologize to every for not having updated this blog over these past months. For some reason, (be it the desire for privacy or solitude during these difficult months since we got the news) we were reluctant to share so much of our daily/weekly journey during the pregnancy with our son, as we did with Bella back in 2012.

So…..to catch you up with things. On April 29th, we went in for a routine ultrasound and got quite the unexpected news. I say unexpected because we thought we ‘knew’ what we were getting in to with this pregnancy. You see with Bella’s spina bifida, the mere thought of a disability or birth defect was SO outside of the realm of possibilities (because of ignorance or lack of exposure to the concept), that we wouldn’t even know enough to expect or not expect anything. Following the diagnosis, multiple exams were done and it was determined that this was not a question of genetics or a mutation that would prevent Cristina from absorbing folate. When questioned about subsequent pregnancies, the information from the American Academy of Pediatrics: “Among US couples who have had a child with an NTD(Neural Tube Defect), the recurrence risk is 2% to 3% in subsequent pregnancies” 

But, His thoughts are greater than our thoughts. When the ultrasound technician recognized the spinal defect in our son, her reaction was priceless. “This is like being struck by lightning twice. I don’t even know what to say to you all.”

BAM! Like a ton of bricks. Flashbacks of nights spent crying ourselves to sleep, days spent in the hospital with doctors explaining all of the things our child wouldn’t be able to do, and even worse, the pain in watching your child as they suffer the countless infections, surgeries and physical limitations associated with being a “special needs” kid.

Andrew Joseph

For a few days, Cristina and I were MIA. It was a different feeling than last time….a different shock….a different ‘life-changing’ moment. How would we handle this? Moving beyond all selfish concerns or worries, how would we physically manage this? Cristina already physically struggled with the 2-3 weekly doctor’s appointments, physical therapy sessions and monthly trips to the ER at 3am. You see, it wasn’t about not wanting or being willing, joyfully to undertake such a responsibility…..it was simply the question of how. 

Just as He does….even when He doesn’t speak with that loud, booming voice we’d all love to hear……the Lord kept His Hands in the midst of everything along the way. Even the dreadful day in which we heard the news that our son would the same birth defect as our daughter, His Hands guided the way. As we walked out of our appointment to schedule a follow up, the scheduler said “All I’ve got open is May 13th….if that works for you”. Yep, May 13th – feast day of Our Lady of Fatima….who we had also grown close to over the previous year. Over the months, God also sent other signs of His love for our little family.

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Visiting with Cardinal Dolan in his Manhattan residence

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A joyful afternoon with the Sister of Life in New York City

This list goes on…….and week after week…..the Lord sent His messengers (unbeknownst to them!) to remind us, in our darkest moments of despair, that He was in charge and with us.

Jesus, I trust in you. 

Really…..what else exists in this life, if not this utterance? Jesus, I trust in you! No matter what I plan, hope, and pray for……what can it mean if not supported by trust in His Will?

So before we knew it, the summer was fading and his birth was approaching quickly.

Last picture of our family before the new addition!

Last picture of our family before the new addition!

After a few pre-term labor scares (Cristina was closely monitored due to the numerous incisions/scars on her uterus from fetal surgery in 2012), the date was set for early September. Joy overwhelmed our hearts….and Bella could not wait to meet her baby brother who “has spina bifida…..just like me!”

Don't be fooled....this C-Section was no joke....and the recovery was more brutal than I've seen from most natural births.

Don’t be fooled….this C-Section was no joke….and the recovery was more brutal than I’ve seen from most natural births.

After a rough C-Section (due to the delicate condition of Cristina’s uterus), followed by an even more brutal recovery, we welcomed our son, Andrew Joseph, into the world. Born on September 8th (Our Lady’s birthday!), the date couldn’t have been more appropriate……Our Lady had accompanied us during the previous months of awaiting a child who might have to endure a great amount of suffering in his life.

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Moments after his birth

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Getting settled in at the NICU

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sleeping peacefully

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Mom’s little man

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Watching over him

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Dad’s pride and joy

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Baptized on 9/10 by Father John Peck, OSB.

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Being prayed over by a dear friend

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Nona and T-Pa admiring their little miracle

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Grandpa’s proud that the name will be carried on!

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Sick and tired of being pricked by the nurses……

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Knocked out after some milk…..

The problem with myelomeningocele is that after birth, spinal surgery is necessary ASAP. So, within 12 hours of his birth, Andrew Joseph was baptized by our close friend, Fr. John Peck, and then whisked away for surgery.

And here we are…..10 days later…..monitoring our little man as he heals from his surgery. Included with this birth defect is the increased risk of hydrocephalus, or increased fluid in the brain that can cause pressure and eventually the need for a shunt.

This is where we are – at the hospital NICU all day and home at night…..suffering through sleep as we long to have him home with us.

We ask for your prayers as Andrew Joseph is monitored…..and then discharged to come home.

As of tonight, his wound is healing and although there has been an expected increase of fluid and pressure in his brain, the doctors are not extremely concerned.

I apologize for the lengthy post….but it was the only way to best update everyone on this blog. Know that we appreciate your prayers more than you could ever imagine. The generous outpouring of support during Bella’s journey and now the emails asking about our family now, have been a great consolation for us.

We are blessed to have such a loving God and tender community of faithful that love and care for us.

Please, if you have any questions or comments, feel free to email me at Andrew.Pocta@missioners.org and I will share it with Cristina.

We will be in touch as we embark on this new chapter of our lives!

In Christ,

Andrew, Cristina, Maria Isabella and Andrew Joseph Pocta

On Pope Francis and Mother Teresa….

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Below is a link to what I consider “Internet Treasure”…..something that Cristina and I stumbled upon one night after a close friend of ours gave us a chromecast device…..which one uses to beam or “cast” videos on to their television.

Alas, a midst all of the funny fluff, we found the original Mother Teresa of Calcutta documentary, in it’s entirety, on Youtube. Needless to say, although it was a week night, “let’s just watch a few minutes…..” quickly turned in to a prayerful meditation on Love.

Mother Teresa, for any of those who haven’t been with us since the inception of this blog, is one of our patrons. We didn’t choose her, she chose us. And in some of life’s most difficult moments, even when we probably tried to keep her out of things, (for fear of what she, one of our closest friends, might have asked of us) she always had a way of popping back up…..and asking us to give love to someone around us. You know, love…..the kind that hurts.

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You see, as I grew into adulthood and got onto my high horse during my time of new-found Faith “ownership”, (which for me, beyond simply defending Christ’s Bride, included a bit of my own pride) I would get really annoyed when those that sought to attack the Church’s teachings, would often use saints like Mother Teresa as a sort of justification for not sticking to Doctrine and just simply “loving everyone”. Although I had no way of articulating it at the time, I knew that so-called “love” to be exactly what Pope Francis condemned this past Saturday, at the close of the Synod. A “love that is tainted by:

“….a destructive tendency to goodness, that in the name of a deceptive mercy binds the wounds without first curing them and treating them; that treats the symptoms and not the causes and the roots.” – Pope Francis, 

Mother Teresa is not, nor ever was, all about that kind of “goodness”. The problem for most ultra-conservatives is that many, including Mother Teresa, chose not to explicitly preach and teach with theological words….but rather, to love. Truly love, with a love that suffers together…..a love that, when the timing (and one’s heart) is right, leaves the door open, ever so gently, for God to truly heal the deepest “causes and roots” of our own slavery to sin.

This is what Mother Teresa and now Pope Francis (along with MANY others in history) have been teaching us……and it’s a difficult teaching because it is UNCOMFORTABLE. We don’t “get the last word” in……and some times, that “surrender” of not getting the final word, takes everything out of us!

Sure, they can dine and carry-on with those who even appear to be “enemies” of Christ and His Church, but they know where they stand – firmly in Christ.

Pope Francis does an off-the-cuff interview and is asked a hypothetical question about someone suffering from SSA… .. and his response relates that if a person is seeking Christ and remaining chaste… (paraphrasing here) “Who is (he) to judge?”….the media goes WILD  “Pope Francis approves the gay lifestyle!” ……not quite. Shortly after the encounter, in one of his homilies at daily mass, he preaches about family and marriage only being between a man and a woman.

Mother Teresa spent hour upon hour being with the sick and dying, usually not explicitly nor deliberately teaching/converting them to the Catholic Faith, but then she spent hours in Adoration with Our Lord (every day) and countless people throughout the world convert to Catholicism through her example.

What’s my point? I’m not entirely sure…..but one thing I am sure of is that both Pope Francis and Mother Teresa know/knew WHO they live(d) for – Christ and His Bride. Although Pope Francis would never deliberately confuse anyone or desire for them to be unclear on Church Teaching, but it is as if he  is saying “I’t’s MUCH more important to me that each individual person walks away knowing that I love them and even more, that Christ loves them…..than it is for someone to be 100% educated on a doctrine or a dogma”

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It seems like every time the media interviews and confusions arise with Pope Francis, the Synod, prudential judgments made by Cardinals and Bishops (ie – St Patrick’s Day parade?), I hear a resounding “I just don’t know anymore” from my Catholic friends and family. I often have the same reaction.

Maybe, just maybe, Christ desires for me to be at an even deeper place than what I’ve been used to, than what I’m comfortable with. Maybe my response should be “I just don’t know anymore (about anything!). BUT, I trust.”

Besides, if I don’t know everything like I used to pridefully think I did, He is able to enter in and mold and guide me how He wants, not how I want Him to.

In the meantime, if you have the time, pray through this youtube treasure. No doctrine here, no mystical or fantastical miracles revealed at the end. Just pure, tough and real love. Perhaps that is what God wants us all to cling to?

The Latest Happenings….

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Wow! It’s been another long period since we updated this blog……and a lot sure has happened!

It was actually in returning home from New York City this past weekend that I felt inspired to update our blog and create this post. (and hopefully, be more consistent in it!) I’ll go in to more detail about NYC later in this post.

So, since our last update in April (right after our return from Honduras), it was as if Christ was calling us to truly learn to live our normal, routine family life. Yep, I’m talking about all of the small things: working a 9-5 job while Cristina stayed at home with Bella, then coming home to have dinner and spending the last couple of hours with Bella playing, coloring, bubble-bathing and saying our nigh-night prayers before bed. As Cristina puts it, Christ was “romancing us” in the beauty of simply-living and breathing.

Daddy and Bella reading

A lot less dramatic/exciting than one imagined their life would be after having spent years as a missionary in Honduras! But, alas, this is EXACTLY where Christ has us.

God speaks to us in the ordinary

God speaks to us in the ordinary.                         (Bella saying Grace before dinner)

You see, there is a really profound piece of advice I’ve gotten from a Catholic blogger I’ve been following for the past few months (charliej373.wordpress.com) . A former political consultant, Charlie has dedicated himself to giving a sort of spiritual direction to his readers as the events of the world unfold around us, (ISIS, Ebola, our Govt, etc etc etc) yet he reminds his readers that our call isn’t to await some huge world-changing CATASTROPHE or for the END OF THE WORLD, nor does he spend time focused on the panic or the fear that the world news could cause us. His daily reminder is that:

“The only thing that will put flesh on the bones of our plans is to relentlessly acknowledge God, take the next right step, and be a sign of hope to those around us.”

I digress.

As I was sharing, these past few months have served as a reflection on the importance of our home. Not only for Bella and her future siblings (God-willing), but for both Cristina and I as well. Cristina and I, since our youth and young-adulthood, recognize that God has molded our hearts and our calling to be outward-focused…..but over the years and through the process of spiritually maturing, (which seems to be slower than we’d like!) we see the importance of starting at home and creating a refuge there.

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This time has been full of laughter and of tears…..of days that fly by and days that seem like they will never end. In the midst of all of them is our life, for better or for worse. We’ve had 2nd birthday parties:

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…gone to Princess Parties:

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…enjoyed the beach:

“I got and in my baysoo”

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….visited old stomping-grounds:

Family selfie in Philadelphia

…..had a day at the zoo:

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…saw old friends (and future mother superior…?)

why so serious?

….got first Dominican-salon haircuts:

bella haircut

Don’t let the skin color fool you, this girl is half Carribean!

…hung out with cousins:

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…but most of the time, goofed-off:

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More than anything else, we’ve had days full of love. Mostly the fun, sloppy-wet-kiss-on-the-lips kind of love, but even the tough kind as well. It’s all good…..it’s all real….and in it is where we find God.

That brings us back to this past weekend in NYC….3 years after we lay prostrate before Our Lord in our wedding…..who would’ve known?

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This past weekend, Cristina and I were invited to speak at the 7th Annual Pro-Life Congress for the Spanish Office of the Archdiocese of NY. This time, we were actually invited to lead workshops, separately, regarding Masculine/Feminine Sexuality and it’s role in rebuilding a pro-life culture. It’s incredible to look back at our lives and think about the gift that is our sexuality. How many problems in our world could be traced back to that: the misuse of the sexual gift? I’d argue the vast majority. On the flip-side, how many victories have been won for God’s Glory because of a healthy and whole understanding of our sexuality? I’d say many more.

Our Corazon Puro friends at the Congress

It was a blessed time, and since the folks that put on the event are old colleagues (at the Archdiocese) and good friends (Catholic Marriage Movement from the Bronx) of ours, it was like being with family.

As you can imagine, Bella stole the show. I’m pretty sure that more people showed up for her than to participate in our workshops!

That’s all for now…..pray that I can update this more frequently – that really is my goal!

Please pray for this little family,

In Christ and Our Lady,

Andrew, Cristina and Maria Isabella Pocta