This older blog reminds me of the beauty, individuality and unity of my family.

Vicki Dominguez

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This airplane hangs on my huge wrap around porch. It hangs there as a symbol. I remember rummaging through Ross, my discount department store of choice, for decorations that would fit my family. Things that represented us.

Our uniqueness.

Our individuality.

The Dominguez clan. A tribe of various voices with one heart. A love expressed in ten different ways, yet love all the same. A HOPE that glistens and shines even through adversity. That’s us.

That airplane is us.

A simple relic of vision that takes flight. A dream that risks rain and wind to get to its destination. A faith that glides above the clouds, with our Captain keeping us in flight.

An airplane.

It takes us from where we once were to where we are now. From a distant reality to a known existence. That plane is us.

Different destinations. Distant destinies. Yet all in one piece.

That…

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Love Lets Go

(after use, please put it backin its proper place)The man who offered his genes to bring me into existence was never a part of my life. I lived many years of my life believing that he never gave me anything. It was difficult for me to think of just one good thing about him. I wasted so many years searching for a vital gift from him, all the while ignoring the fact that I have some pretty amazing siblings! We have different mothers, but his blood runs through our veins. Together, we are his lineage.

Each of my siblings have warmed my heart.IMG_3830

My brother Omar is like a personal body guard. His outward demeanor is that of a super hero, yet inside he is a teddy bear. He’s strong, yet gentle. A lover of his family and a strong defender of what he believes is truth. His lovely children have made an honored aunt and great aunt.IMG_3758

My sister Shakeerah, God rest her soul, spent hours at a time talking with me over the phone. She and I opened up to one another in so many special ways. I’m sure that she is with Christ now, I remember our conversations about Him and the prayers she prayed with me. She left us sweet treasures which make me an extremely proud aunt.

My sister Javonta isn’t really the eldest, but I would never tell her that to her face! She, at a very young age, stood up to the plate to raise our younger sisters. I have deep admiration and respect for her. If a prize existed for the “Best Big Sister” she should win it. Her daughters are precious too and one of them recently made me a great aunt!

Then there is my baby sister Nikki.

I remember her calling me from college to talk about her dreams. Now she is all grownIMG_5098up and it doesn’t really seem like she is that much younger than me. When I’m in Virginia, she surrenders to the seven hour drive from New Jersey to spend time with me. She speaks my love language loud and clear! Its no big deal for her to change into something comfortable and to snuggle up under the covers on my bed to talk and to laugh with me. We actually spent her last trip to Virginia that way. She even endured my PureFlix movies! We enjoyed our time together as we all overfed ourselves on ice cream and junk food. Nikki usually comes to visit with my niece Shardonay whom is sure to create smiles on my face. It brings me so much joy to watch Starr, Soli and Shardonay enjoy life together. IMG_3762

At some point in the day, we all sat around the kitchen table telling funny stories. I was sure to chime in a scripture each time I felt one was needed. Nikki turned to me and gave me one of those looks that clearly spoke Vicki.Please.Shut.Up, then she proceeded to say, “Vicki, you are like a breath of fresh air. At the same time, you are suffocating!”26168827_1646248845441309_3444479528534303367_nI became silent for a moment. I had to process. In a split second I realized she was right. I looked at her and bursted out in laughter. We all laughed. My response was real as I agreed with Nikki. I can be suffocating at times. Prior to my sister’s proclamation, I believed my way of suffocating was love.

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Yet, the New Oxford American Dictionary defines Suffocate as follows: to die or cause to die from lack of air or inability to breathe or to feel or cause to feel trapped and oppressed. Hmmmm….that doesn’t sound like love.

Love gives life.

Love allows its object to breathe.

I’ve realized that love releases and that love sets free.

Love doesn’t hold so tight that it’s victim feels trapped. Love opens the door and freely allows it’s Love to leave and believes that it’s power is strong enough to bring that one back.

God loves me like that.

He lets me choose.

IMG_3760He keeps loving me, even when I don’t make the right choice. His confidence in the Author of that Love allows Him to let go. He doesn’t smother.

The more I ponder His love, the more I realize I have not loved correctly.

I have not released enough.

I have not let go enough.

You see, Love frees people to be who they choose to be. Love does not require a change in behavior in order to operate. 

Love persists to love.

Love is powerful when done correctly.

In taking yet another look at the love chapter in I Corinthians 13, I’m stuck at verse one. “If I could speak all the languages of the earth and angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.” Why would we even need to speak all of the languages of the earth if we aren’t willing to love those who speak those languages?

Like the good homeschool mom I am, I made most of my eight children memorize 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 and recite it often. I put in their heads, but didn’t always do a great job  at modeling it for their hearts. I’m not beating myself up here, I’m simply exposing a truth about myself that needed God’s intervention.

Though most people think I’m patient and kind, I’m sure the cashier at McDonalds thinks IMG_3759otherwise when they give me cold fries. Jealousy has also played out in my heart as I watched others dreams come true while I suffered and struggled over my own. I didn’t always rejoice in other’s achievements. I’ve most definitely boasted, especially when one of my kids got something right. Demanding my own way has really gotten me into trouble. Yikes! I’m only at verse five! Yup, I get irritable, especially when the males in my midst leave the toilet seat up or when my hubby lies on top of the covers for bed every. single. night. Just thinking about it makes my insides burn up! Is it really that hard to pull the covers down before getting into bed? I sure have kept some accounts of wrongs done to me, I had my ways of pay back. There has been a time or two when I was happy to see someone who hurt me fall. I’ve given up on a few things, I’ve lost faith and hope more than a couple of times and I haven’t always endured every circumstance.

I’ve learned to keep loving while I wait.

To be kind while I wait.

To not give in to jealousy while I wait.

To not boast with the intent to make others feel insignificant.

To rejoice with the accomplishments of all.

To not give ultimatums or to make demands.

To not smother my family and friends with my opinion and with my way of living.

To give those I love the chance to live how they choose.

I’ve chosen to not suffocate with my “perfect” way, instead I set everyone free to be who they are. I choose to love them that way.

IMG_3470I’ve even chosen to love the man whose blood runs through my veins. His body is in the ground, but I can still love him. My heart releases the “record of wrongs” I held against him. That powerful love causes me to recognize him as my father. I never had the chance to “do life” with him, yet a portion of his life resides within me. I love him. I’m grateful to him for giving me life and for allowing me the honor of sharing this earth with my siblings.

So love today. Love right now. Release. Let go. Get off of them. Let them be. Choose to love them as they are. God holds us tight, yet He lets us go. Better yet, He holds us tight in order to let us go. He is so confident in the power of His love, for He is love. That same Love will draw us back to Him. That same Love keeps us in Him.  

The Me Expedition, Part 4

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Lesson # 3-Life is never as bad as it appears.

  • Proverbs 18:21-The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.

I comfortably sat in my seat on our bus ride to Baltimore from Norfolk. This was a familiar ride as it usually saves us over $1,000 to the Dominican Republic when we travel this way.

I love simple things. Potted flowers, walks down my path on HOPE Mountain, unannounced visits from friends, a text from a loved one, coffee and tea pots with accompanying filled drinking vessels, hand me downs, scented candles and sweet smelling body wash, body lotion or perfume and long drives are all at the top of my “Life is good” list.

If you’d ask my husband, he would tell you that I’d prefer a drive in the country for a Mother’s Day gift over any present ever! I never tried to figure out why I’m wired this way, I’ve simply accepted myself and taught those who love me how to speak my love language.

Long drives help me to process life. I usually end a long drive with new resolve and a clearer view of life.

This drive was no different.

IMG_6823As the dark bus advanced to our destination, a corner to corner smile covered my face while scrolling through the pictures on my phone. Photos of those who are in my corner filled my albums. I laughed at videos of my daughter’s rendition of “The Greatest Showman”.

Then I stopped at the funny videos my friend sent me while she was at work. She speaks my love language fluently! When we returned to Virginia from the Dominican Republic, she quickly jumped in to help me fill my home with her hand me downs. Each room in my house was adorned with something of hers. My closet too! She kept me dressed nicely and smelling good! She chose to be a good friend to me despite an ugly falling out between us some years ago. That’s true love.

Photos of my dear auntie, the one who watches out for me, caught my attention. She personifies strength, dignity, family unity and provision. My heart feels full of warm, fuzzy love as I think of her. She has no problem reprimanding me for digging a ditch, all while pulling me out. She never let her disapproval of my actions keep her from standing for me, defending me and assisting me in reaching my goals. That’s true commitment.

I stopped at the photo of my eldest son’s wedding. The man of God that held him up before God as child was now holding him up before God at his wedding. I cried. I sat in the quiet for a moment and allowed my mind to grasp the immensity of the occasion. Though I left, this precious servant of God opened his arms to me. He was an oasis in the desert for Ruben and me during a very long drought. His pastoral staff, leaders and parishioners made me feel as if I had never left. They embraced me as if I had been there all along. That’s true fatherhood.

Love, commitment and my Father have brought me this far. God embodied those in my photos. It was truly Him who has been there for me all along and these pictures were proof. I began to realize once again that life really wasn’t as bad as it felt.


IMG_6822 The long bus ride to the airport was just what I needed to get my mind thinking in the right direction. Now at the gate, my body reminded me that I wasn’t well as painful cramps made me wish I had a shot of Demerol or Nubain. In the midst of the cramping, I thought of Lazarus. He apparently had a close connection with Jesus. Perhaps Jesus was his friend or a confidant. It seems he was definitely more than an acquaintance. I imagine that if his death came on slowly, he was sure his friend would show up. He knew Him as a healer. He knew that He was omniscient, Christ was aware of the situation.

So there he lay on his bed of death. More than likely grasping for air, yet assured in whom he believed. I wonder if he took his last breath holding on to the hope of his salvation. Whatever the case, Lazarus was now gone. Onlookers probably gossiped, “His friend was there for everyone but him.” His sisters were heartbroken, not only had they lost their brother, but their all powerful friend didn’t show up.


As the cramping increased, I wondered if God could hear my prayers. By now I was back on HOPE Mountain in the Dominican Republic. Ruben lined the front of our house with potted flowers that brought color to my dark soul. It felt good to be home. I’ve grown accustomed to the rooster’s crow well before dawn. The hammocks provided the rest my aching body required and the daily sun nourished me.

I spent several hours a day in prayer, but the cramping only became worse. Teams were visiting that month providing the help our ministry needed. They also spent a great deal of time praying for me. Family and friends around the globe petitioned the Father as well, but I kept getting worse.

I was so weak, it took almost all of my energy to walk downstairs. Some days, I could only stay in my bed. The back labor like pains were intense! Yet, I believed.

I chose to cling on to what I knew to be truth. By His stripes I am healed, though it doesn’t feel like it.

Reasons to stress surrounded me, but I made a deliberate choice to not stress on a daily basis.

I took time to breathe.

I took time to write.

I took time to worship.

I was intentional. I had a responsibility in all of this. I was determined to do my part well.

I wanted to believe God for something extremely big, for something I could never do myself. I was willing to go through the process of watching my faith unfold into a beautiful expression of His perfect will for my life. 

I wasn’t “naming and claiming” I was simply choosing to believe what He told me to believe. I was simply asking Him to do what He told me He would do.


As I lived with pain each day, I chose to see myself seated in heavenly places with Christ. The more I chose to see myself this way, the more I began to believe that life wasn’t as horrible as it seemed and the more I began to feel better.

We had a long drive back to Virginia as we flew into Fort Lauderdale. Another long drive to help me process. I remembered God’s word. It was hard to focus because my back hurt more and more each day. I wanted to focus on the back pain, but I fought hard to think about God’s love expressed to me through the photos on my phone. I battled my mind to believe His promises.

Little by little I began to feel better.

IMG_6625“Honey, I don’t have any pain at all! Maybe the cyst is gone and it was nothing. Let’s believe God for that. Will you pray with me?” We’ve prayed and believed before to no avail. I trusted God before and it didn’t work out. Yet, I wasn’t swayed. I would keep trusting Him. My sweetie was worn out. He had recently recovered from his own ordeal and he has a huge workload in the Dominican Republic that he put on hold for my health. Plus, he had just driven all the way from Fort Lauderdale to Virginia. He wasn’t sure about the future, but he managed to smile for me and held out his hand. He closed his eyes and bowed his head, “Father, your word is true. Please come through. Please heal Vicki Lord. In Jesus’ name.”

He slipped on his sweater, opened the door and led me to the car for my appointment. I could see the concern on his face, but he was good at trying to hide it. I didn’t want him to think about it too much, so I talked about everything other than my health on the drive to the Gynecologist’s office.

I fell back slowly on the exam table. The ultrasound technician declared, “Your left ovary looks great!” She proceeded to check the right ovary. She pushed and squeezed enough to bring tears to my eyes, but she remained silent.

The doctor spoke with Ruben this time, “The good news is that the complex cyst on the left ovary is gone,” then she turned to me, “but there is a new cyst growing on your right ovary. It’s not complex, but it can change like last time. More than likely you will keep developing complex cysts. Since your cancer screening came back normal, surgery is up to you. However, I am going to set you up for more tests.”

I wasn’t thrilled about a probe fishing inside me, “Is that necessary? It’s just a cyst.”

“It’s up to you. I just want to make sure we see everything. Surgery is also an option for peace of mind sake.”

I was at peace. I refused the probe and the surgery. 

I went to another GYN two days later for a second opinion, mostly to set my mind completely at ease and to make my family happy. I’ve always developed cysts on my ovaries, I couldn’t understand why this time it was such a big deal.

Another ultrasound, more pain!

“I don’t see anything. Your ovaries look perfect,” the tech exclaimed, “look for yourself,” she pointed to the large screen on the wall, “there is nothing there.”

I was shocked.

No cysts at all.

The doctor helped me to understand the difference between complex cyst and follicles on the ovaries. She told me not to worry, but to come back in three months to check again.

I feel better each day.

I still have lower back pain that is equivalent to early back labor and my breasts still hurt a little. Most days migraines invade my head as they make an entrance over my right eye.

I’m still praying. I’m still declaring. I’m still believing.

I’ll have to get my kidneys checked now and take more tests for my cardiologist, but no matter how they come back, I’ll cling to what I believe. My Savior will save me.


I walk out of my tomb as my Savior calls my name, like Lazarus. I come out all wrapped up. Just. Like. I. Am. I have to inch along all wrapped up like this, but the cloths are coming off.

I choose to see life from a heavenly perspective.

I see myself as my God sees me.

He reassures me. He has awakened me. He is my HOPE. He draws me closer to Himself as I face myself.

Life is way better than what is displayed before my natural eyes. I see life beyond my five senses and I grasp on to the powerful love of my forever, faithful, consistent friend Jesus!

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The end!

The ME Expedition, Part 3

Lesson 2: It is okay to let others in. 

Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken. Ephesians 4:9-12

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“How long has this been going on,” my gynecologist seemed concerned.

“I’ve been cramping for a few months now, but it is a lot worse now. I feel as if I’m about to go into labor. The lower back pain and bloating is becoming unbearable.”

“Anything else?’ she was taking notes.

“Actually yes,” I touched my forehead right above my right eye, “the migraines are back,” I truly felt defeated. “The exhaustion is intense, I just want to sleep all day.”

“You haven’t been here since August, it’s now February. You really needed to return sooner. Have you forgotten about the cyst on your ovaries? We need to see how that is doing,” she was a little stern.

I felt like a student who had forgotten to study for an important test and now sat before  her proctor, “I completely forgot about the cyst.”

“Your family history concerns me. It’s important for you to take anything out of the ordinary seriously,” she quickly stood up and walked towards the door, “I need to set you up for an ultrasound, please be here early tomorrow morning for the test.”

I immediately realized that I was experiencing the symptoms of ovarian cancer. I remember reading about it extensively when my grandmother was diagnosed. I kept my composure. Selina was with me and I didn’t want her to worry about nothing.

The doctor interrupted my thoughts, “We will do preliminary blood work today, follow me please.”

I obediently held out my arm as her sweet technician drew my blood. Selina drove me home. We both sat quietly in the car.

I was up early for my ultrasound. The transvaginal ultrasound was extremely painful! This was not my first time lying on a table for this exam, but it never hurt before. I literally cried when the technician left the room.

I managed to drive home. I made another text video for my children after I wiped my tears, “Glorify God in all you do guys. Don’t walk away from Him no matter what comes your way.”


I met with my therapist that afternoon. I drove myself to the appointment and didn’t tell anyone where I was going. I felt like Lazarus probably felt while facing death. He was more than likely on his death bed, expecting his friend Jesus to show up, yet He never came.

Stress felt like death to me.

“God, please help me. Lord, carry this burden. God, I really don’t think that I can take anymore of this.” I prayed constantly. I expected my Savior to save me, but He didn’t seem to be present. It was as if the cloths to wrap my body and the casket were near.

I pushed the elevator button to reach my counselor’s office. I’d been here before. She walked me through a terrible bout of post-pardum depression after the twins were born twenty-three years ago. In fact, I still rely on those learned techniques today.

She also helped Ruben and me during a season of extreme burnout. Since she already knows me and is a believer, I chose her as the mental health provider my doctor wanted me to see for stress.

As I sat in the waiting area, I could feel stress as if it were tangible. I didn’t feel hopeless. I didn’t feel depressed. I had been there before. I didn’t even feel defeated. I simply felt as if I were holding up heavy weights alone and the pressure was coming down on me. 

The door opened, “Hello Vicki,” her smile felt welcoming. I expected her to have a weary look on her face because I was there again. Instead she was happy to see me.

My body relaxed on the all familiar sofa as her calming voice reassured my restless soul, “You are not alone Vicki.”

Life has really thrown me a few curve balls that I just couldn’t catch any more. Misunderstandings, gossip, lies, betrayal and a bit of back stabbing had taken its toll on me. My reaction to it all had began to cost me dearly. My traction for walking uphill was slipping  greatly.

The fighter that lives within me refused to relinquish her weapons. Press on- move on-embrace the battle- don’t quit had all become my motivators. I convinced myself that I didn’t need anyone and that I could do this alone.

Live-Life-Alone. 

In-My-Shell.

Behind-My-Curtains.

It was on me, so I believed, and I come from a long line of brave warrior females-I could do this!

Believing these lies led me to the sofa in my counselor’s office.

I had decided to not hide behind the curtain with my counselor. It was time to come out of that protective shell that was not fulfilling its purpose. I didn’t feel safe behind my walls anymore. I had come to realize that my hiding places had built prisons of shame, guilt and emotional distress. It was time to come out of jail.

I knew that God was with me, even though I couldn’t feel Him.

I knew that my family was on my side, even though they were occupied.

I knew that my spiritual covering was for me, even though they were busy.

I knew that my friends were my battle buddies, even though I’d more than likely driven them crazy lately.

Now my counselor was sitting there reminding me of her support too. I wasn’t alone.

I could see the masses of angels that fought for me. I wasn’t alone.

So, I took a chance on what I believed. I decided to go all in.

Tears began to roll down my cheeks, “I can’t keep doing this alone. I failed so many times before. I really don’t know how to let people in.”

Pretty soon, her box of white tissues was emptying as the makeup on my face colored them all to a beautiful mahogany.

“Take the negative thought and capture it Vicki. Then make yourself do something else. Get your mind off the negative thought,” she beautifully engaged me with her soul searching eyes, “I understand you. You did what you had to do. You did your best.” Her soothing voice relaxed my being and ushered in the relief I needed.

She taught me how to breathe correctly when feeling overwhelmed, “Breathe in, 1-2-3-4-5. Fill your gut with air, breathe out, swing your head, 1-2–3-4-5.”

She ended our session with prayer. I felt more relaxed than ever, yet alive and full of vigor.

I drove home with a new sense of reality. Far too often, we carry burdens not designed for us to carry. The weight of unnecessary burdens was the root to the physical, financial,  relationship and spiritual demise I now endured.

I’m not lazy if I rest.

I must expose myself to the right people at the right time.

I have decided to trust God at a level I never even knew existed.

I’ve surrounded myself with voices of hope, those who are destiny propellers, those who choose to deeply see me and to consistently believe the best in me. 

I have decided to grow up.


I fell into bed once at home. I was more worried for Ruben, our children, my mom and my aunt than I was for myself.

I turned to my Abide app for meditation. The soothing music, scriptures and prayers gave me peace. I grabbed the negative thoughts and threw them aside. I focused my thoughts on the truth of His word, “I will live and not die, I will declare the glory of His name.”

There are still more children to help in the Dominican Republic. My husband still wants to plant more churches and he needs my help. There are still women caught in sex trafficking.

My daughters and daughter in laws will have children one day, I will need to help them.

I rose up, “I will not die. Stress will not overpower me. Ovarian cancer won’t touch me. Heart disease in any shape or form has no place in me.”

My prayers changed, “God, its by your stripes that I’m healed. You are my provider. You see what I’ve given and You said that it would be given back to me exponentially. I believe You God.”

I looked to the heavens, “I take down principalities of darkness in high places that think they have me! You must go in Jesus’ name. NOW!”

I chose to believe what God had promised me. I declared those promises out loud. I was convinced that God was up to something and that assured me.


I sat in the crowded waiting room for the third time that week. “Victoria Dominguez,” my gynecologist’s nurse called my name and I moved amongst the expectant moms. They reminded me of myself.

I used to only visit a GYN for pregnancy up until two years ago. I was cramping  like crazy and my belly kept growing. I had my tubes tied after my seventh pregnancy, but I was sure to be pregnant again.

I told everyone that we were having another baby. The growing belly, the pressure in my lower abdomen and the lower back pain only occurred during pregnancy.

My three daughters and I headed down our mountain in the Dominican Republic to see my gynecologist for the test results, “You are not pregnant Mrs. Dominguez,” she tried to comfort my saddened girls, “but you do have beautiful children.”

“So then why the growing belly and everything else?” I asked.

“Remember the small fibroid in May? It is now the size of a six month fetus.”

Within a few days, I had blood clots in my my leg again because the weight in my uterus had caused too much pressure on the May-Thurner weakened arteries and veins in my body. The pain had become unbearable. I could barely walk. The migraines were so bad that lumps were forming all over my head!

My doctor insisted on an emergency hysterectomy.

During my follow up visit she said they removed one fibroid from inside my uterus, but found six more growing outside, “You lost so much blood, so I had to leave your ovaries.”

Fast forward to now as I followed the nurse into my examination room with the words of my doctor lingering in my mind from my past surgery.

My ovaries are still hanging onto the ligaments my body provides. The only part of my reproductive system that remains is perfectly positioned for a cyst to grow. Perfectly positioned to cause me to suffer. Its interesting that the very things God used to create beautiful lives are the very things seemingly sucking out mine.

My doctor walked into the room, “The cyst isn’t the same as before,” her expression was serious, “We will need to take more tests.”

“Why?” I knew what she was thinking, I don’t know why I asked. I didn’t want that word to come out of her mouth.

“It could be ovarian cancer.”

“Its just a cyst. A cyst could cause my symptoms. I’m sure that I’m fine.”

“Yes, but your family history concerns me. We will take more blood today because there is one test in particular that you will need as the first step to ruling out this type of cancer and certain types of tumors. We will also need to have surgery as soon as possible.”

“But I need to get back to the Dominican Republic. I need to see our people there and my husband needs my help.”

“I’ll give you a month. I want you back here in a month.”

I extended my arm to her technician again, “Didn’t I just draw your blood yesterday?”

She was friendly and wanted to talk, but all my mind could see was my grandmother’s dying body from this same disease my doctor wants to rule out of my body. My mind wanted to wander in the misery of it all, but I chose to grab those negative thoughts and answered the technician.

“Yes, I’m here again.”

“This is just routine, don’t worry.”

I gave her a funny look. Did I look worried?

She smiled and walked me to the receptionist.

I had decided not to tell anyone. The lone rider in me tried to believe that walking this out alone was the best way to go. Then God spoke, “Vicki, this has all been an intense battle. It started a few years ago and if you want to be free, you will need to fight the right way. You have been under severe attacks on so many fronts. It is time to let people in. You need others to engage in this war with you.”

I drove home and sent another text video to my children, “God is in control, He gives us the victory. Trust Him today guys.”

I decided to obey God. I sent texts and emails to my children, a few family members, a small circle of friends and to my spiritual covering. It was a simple message, “The cyst on my ovary has changed and my doctor is testing to rule out ovarian cancer. Please pray.” I felt silly sending out a message like that, what if its nothing and I scare them all for no reason?

Yet, I believed that this battle would only be won by prayer and fasting. My anemic state wouldn’t allow me to fast, but I knew that the people who received this message would fast and pray. I needed to let them in.

Ruben had now been away from me for a month. We video chatted a few times a day every day, but I couldn’t bring myself to video chat about this. So I called, “Hi honey. I miss you.”

His raspy accented voice still sends chills through my being, “I miss you more baby. I want to see you, call me on the video.”

“Not this time. Listen honey, for a variety of reasons, my doctor is testing for cancer. Its a routine test and I’m sure we have nothing to worry about, but will you please pray? Please talk to the team leaders that are on HOPE Mountain and ask them to assign the teams to pray this month. Let them know that this month will be different than usual, not much community work or land detail. Please have them on prayer rotations 24 hours a day and prepare the atmosphere for me. The girls and I will be there soon.”

He was quiet. I recognized that silence. I was sad that we were here again.

“Honey, are you okay?”

“Yes,” I could envision him taking off his shirt to reveal his superman outfit, “we will pray. You will be fine. I can’t wait to see you.”

My sister in law called me later that evening to tell me that her baby brother was upset and demanded I tell her what was going on. So I told her. She assumed her big sister position and told me not to worry, “Vicki, no weapon formed against you will ever prosper. The enemy has wanted so badly to take you out because you are so powerful. You will not die. Do you understand me? You are healed. You are delivered. You are set free. I don’t want to ever hear that ugly word come out of your mouth again. Instead speak the truth from His word! Say, ‘I’m healed, I’m set free, I’m delivered.” I will instruct the pastors of our churches here to pray and I will pray. I won’t sleep. I won’t eat. I’ll do whatever I have to do, but you are healed and that is what we will say and that is what we will believe. Do you understand me?”

“Si, lo creo,” she always knows exactly how to set me back on track. She has become one of those who diligently holds up my arms when facing insurmountable circumstances. Our faith connected once again during that telephone call and I was reminded of the warriors who stand for me on the special island that brushes the waters of the Atlantic and the Caribbean.

I was eager to get back to the place where God had placed a huge burden on my heart to reach people for Him, but it had now become the place where He reached me. 

To be continued….

 

The Me Expedition Part 2

Lesson #1-Stress cannot be ignored, it must be faced and properly handled. 

“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” – John 14:27

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The Cardiologist had a look of concern on his face, “Your tests are showing normal parameters, but your heart rate is too fast, your blood count keeps decreasing and your blood pressure has dropped extremely low.”

“It’s Thanksgiving doctor, I promise to lie down at home. I would really like to celebrate my most favorite day of the year with my family,” I was determined to get out of that hospital.

Then he gave me that look again. It was kind of like the looks I’ve given my children when I gave them the permission to do something I really didn’t want them to do, “If I let you go home, you will have to come to my office immediately for a heart monitor,” he gave me a stern eye, “and you must take it easy until we get to the bottom of this. We aren’t done with all of your testing.”

It was as if his words went into one ear and quickly flew out of the other. I purposely held back the drive I’d have to take for my son’s upcoming wedding in Texas. I didn’t even let my family know how bad I was feeling.

Stress had now become a close acquaintance that was slowing tearing me down. 

Our finances were strained. Ensuring the care of the children at our centers, providing for our churches and property had now become a burden we could no longer carry. Misunderstandings with old friends had literally broken my heart. On top of it all, Ruben was also dealing with a a major health challenge.

I really tried my best to carry it all. I wanted to shoulder it the best I could, but I was dropping the ball. One ball at a time began to slip out of my hands and I responded by telling myself to keep trying. “You can do this Vicki. Don’t stop. Don’t slow down. Never let them see you weak.” Those lies guided me, along with the belief that I could do it all alone. “I don’t need help. People don’t understand me anyway. I’d rather be alone than with people who misinterpret me,” I thought this way daily.

So I told myself and everyone else that I was fine. But I wasn’t. Sadness crept in. I isolated myself. I made excuses to stay home from church. I backed away from people who tried their best to love me. I found refuge in my bed with the remote and the Hallmark channel.

Now I sat in my hospital bed, choosing to hold on to that lie. Not willing to face my shame, guilt and pain. I made a conscious choice to not accept what my body screamed at me.

I went home that day. I couldn’t balance myself well with my new crutches and fell again. This time I fell on the hard cement. I really wanted to cry, instead I laughed as Ruben nervously helped me up, “I’m fine honey,” I smiled. He wasn’t laughing.

I still couldn’t beat the exhaustion. My chest kept hurting. My blood pressure was now rising. Yet, I told myself that I was fine.

Our support wasn’t coming in as usual, but our centers still needed to continue. We were behind on our payments in the states too. On top of that stress, my son was about to get married practically on the other side of the country and I had to ensure that his rehearsal dinner was superb.

I felt horrible, but I easily hid the heart monitor and rode in the van on the 24 hour drive to Texas. A friend from Dallas drove down to the wedding venue to help me with the rehearsal dinner. Praise God for friends!

I was so sick, but no one knew how bad I felt. I laughed, I danced, I smiled and I posed all while hiding my heart monitor. Plus, I kept cramping. By now my breast were so tender, it hurt to wear my bra.

I wasn’t about to give in. I was sick so many times before. The torment that my family faces when I’m ill is way too emotionally taxing for me, so I decided that I was fine. “I’ll get through this, just keep moving,” I told myself.

I had so many plans for my trip to Texas. I would meet with some folks and try to work out an understanding of our recent disagreements. I would take the kids to visit our old home in Lancaster, Texas. I would go downtown Dallas and Fort Worth to show the girls the sights they weren’t able to enjoy as small children. I would take Starr to the Dallas Zoo to reminisce her childhood and the great memories we shared there.

But my body shut down. 

After the wedding, we drove to Grand Prairie to stay with my lifelong friends. All I could I do was to curl up on their couch. I moved from one sofa to another, then back to my bed during my entire visit!

We drove back to Virginia as I slept the entire trip, only to wake up at each stop to take a picture of myself in each state we crossed. I kept pushing and my body kept reacting.

“Your heart has premature contractions, your heart rate is too fast and now your blood pressure is too high,” the cardiologist looked bewildered. “We will have to try new medications and take a few more tests.” By now I was submissive.

Still not feeling well.

Sill cramping.

Still not balanced. I fell again coming down the stairs at my mom’s house.

My Primary Care Physician who happens to be an Internist and a Psychiatrist looked me in my eyes, “Mrs. Dominguez, we need to talk about stress,” she had my attention.

By now, all of my hair was gone and my nails were brittle. I had no energy. The headaches, neck pains, cramping and lower back pain had taken over. I couldn’t pretend anymore. She elaborated as to how stress has to express itself somehow and many times it does so in our physical health. She wouldn’t let me leave until I agreed to set up an appointment with a mental health provider to specifically deal with stress.

I wanted to cry, but I would not let myself do that in front of her. I waited until I was in the car.

To be continued…..

The ME Expedition Part 1

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Expedition:A journey or excursion undertaken for a specific purpose. Merriam Webster

I emerged from bed as usual that morning. As I grabbed my Bible and journal from the night stand, I felt a little weird. Exhaustion set in. I just wanted to get back in bed, but the fighter in me kept moving.

I made it to the kitchen where the puppies greeted me from their cage. My normal routine was to simply bend down to let them out into the yard every morning, but leaning over felt like a chore.

I dragged myself over to my imitation Keurig and slid my mug underneath. I thanked God there was already water in the pot because I really didn’t feel like walking over to the sink. Now, coffee in hand, my Bible, journal and iPhone (for music); I was on my way to my daily morning meeting with God.

I literally creeped up the stairs in search of a quiet spot. I sat and thanked God, still not understanding why I was exhausted. I felt a little cramping, but figured it was nothing. I had a partial hysterectomy, but my ovaries constantly let me know they still work fine! I assumed the cramping was just a normal part of ovulation.

I played my worship playlist and entered into His glorious presence as I fought sleep. I dove into His word and found hope, peace and encouragement for the moments of difficulty I was facing. The obstacles I had been dealt had now stretched into a long season whose purpose was to make my soul weary.

But God filled me with joy that morning. I felt a peace that I hadn’t experienced in a long time. I was so glad to bask in His love. 

Once I was done with my special time with God, I quickly jumped up from my recliner, grabbed my items and headed towards the stairs full of gratefulness for my newfound energy. I quickly moved towards the stairs, took a few steps down, then woke up to an aching pain in my left ankle.

I felt confused. How did I end up fallen on the stairs? I noticed my spilled coffee. My journals and bible were scattered. More confusion set in. I couldn’t stop sweating. I was nauseous, more than I had ever been. My head pounded. My chest felt like a ton of bricks suddenly landed on it. My nightgown was drenched in sweat at this point. I wanted to get up, but I couldn’t. I tried to cry out, but the words wouldn’t come out. My ankle hurt. Finally the words formed, “Honey, help, I fell. Someone help.”

Within seconds, my family surrounded me. Everyone with a phone. One calling my other children. Another calling 911. Another calling grandma.

“Do I look that bad?” I thought, “I only sprang my ankle.”

“I’m going to vomit,” Jojo held a bucket in my lap.

“Mom, you are drenched in sweat,” Selina fanned me and helped me with my robe as she spoke with the paramedics.

“I’m fine,” I whispered, “just help me up.”

Ruben ran to get dressed, “Don’t move her,” he yelled from the bedroom.

My baby girls, Starr and Soli sat at the top of the stairs and gazed in silence. I tried to reach out to them, “I’m fine. Don’t worry.”

Starr forced a smile, “I know mom.”

Solimar remained silent. She secured her face with her hands, but slowly moved them to caress mine.

The paramedics arrived. “I’m fine,” the words came out like whispers.

“We need to make sure ma’am,” the leader of the group demanded. “Hold on to my shoulder as my friend pulls you up, we need to get you on the gurney,” he was bossy and I didn’t like his tone.

I didn’t want to go to the hospital for a sprained ankle, so I deliberately resisted. “Ma’am, please let us help you,” he firmly pulled me up as his colleague grabbed me. Together, they somehow got me onto the gurney.

I began to feel better on the ride to the hospital. Selina sat near me as the paramedics checked my vital signs and asked me way too many questions. I just wanted to go back home to change. I realized that I was wearing my favorite nightgown-the one with holes all over! It was a moment of sheer embarrassment.

My chest began to hurt again, but I kept it to myself. I was sure it was nothing. I decided they would put a splint on my hurting ankle and I would be home in no time!

As I was rolled into the emergency room, the sweet nurse helped me into a new bed, then began to ask me all of the same questions I had just answered! I was tired again, “Can’t you ask them, they know the answers,” I referred to the paramedics.

“Your blood pressure is high, its it usually high?’

“My ankle hurts. Can you help my ankle? Yes, I’m on blood pressure meds. I don’t know why it’s hight now.”

My mom arrived. She took over. She is way more commanding than that bossy EMC! I knew that I was in trouble now! “Vicki, you need to tell the nurse everything. How did you fall? Why did you fall?” She was determined to get to the bottom of this. My mom knows how I don’t usually tell the doctor everything. She wasn’t about to let me get away with that.

“I don’t remember falling, I only remember waking up on the steps with spilled coffee on my robe-and a HURT ankle,” I just wanted them to take away the pain from my foot!

The nurse quickly hooked me up to an EKG. She and my mom talked as I prayed for some pain relief!

“Why are you hooking me up to an EKG for a sprained ankle?”

“You are telling me things that cause concern. The doctor will be in to explain.”

The nurse walked out and the counselor that dwells within my mom began to speak, “Vicki, why didn’t you tell the nurse that you didn’t remember falling?”

“Because I didn’t think that it mattered.”

She gave me one of those familiar, my-daughter-needs-psychotherapy-looks and rubbed my head.

The doctor stepped in, “Mrs. Dominguez, do you know what a heart attack means?”

I looked at Ruben’s face. He had been quiet throughout the entire ordeal. He usually processes in silence, but now his face began to speak volumes. I recognized that look. We’ve been down this road before. I wasn’t about to go there again.

“Sure doctor, but that’s not what happened to me,” I wanted him to understand that my Google medical education far outweighs the years he had spent in medical school.

He had a serious look on his face, “We will be keeping you here for a few more days for further testing. We are admitting you now.”

“But, my ankle hurts!”

“The X-Ray shows that your ankle is fine. I’m not the least bit concerned about your ankle,” he was not amused by my childish behavior.

The atmosphere was stiff. Ruben’s face. The doctor’s tone. My denial. 

My mom chimed in, “Funny how you wore your favorite night gown today!”

We needed the laugh, though I could feel Ruben’s concern through his smile.

Thus, began an expedition with Jesus that led me to a place within myself that needed to arise.

To be continued….

Beyond Moved

“You may choose to look the other way, but you can never say again that you did not know.” William Wilberforce

Two children are sold into the human sex trade every minute. According to the UN State of the World, nearly two million children are forced into the worldwide sex trade each year.

When we are in the states, we oftentimes travel to North Carolina to visit a few churches there who support our ministry. We usually drive, but this time we embarked upon our journey on a Greyhound bus. It really wasn’t as bad as I expected. The driver was polite and the other passengers were friendly.

My husband and I enjoyed the time together. Since we had taken a local route, our normal three hour drive advanced to six! Still, it wasn’t bad at all. We cuddled. We laughed. We even kissed in the dark.

Once we arrived at our destination, I made a quick stop in the ladies room. The moments spent in that restroom caused a major shift in my heart from hearing about sex trafficking to accepting its reality.

As I washed my hands, I couldn’t help but notice a flier taped to the mirror. It read in Spanish, “If you are here against your will, if you are being forced to have sex with anyone, please tear off the tab from the bottom of this flier and call us now.” My eyes lingered to the bottom of the flier where almost every tab was torn off.

I noticed the name of an Anti-Sex Traffic organization and it hit me like a brick! This is happening here too! 

I know, I’m late. I know, its been happening for a long time. I know, I should’ve known sooner. Truthfully, I didn’t.

But now I do!

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Since that fateful day of November, 2015 I’ve sincerely asked God to show me my role in all of this. I could sense His nudge when I saw the flier, but I didn’t know what the nudge meant.

Defeating thoughts took permanence in my mind, “Who are you to do anything about this?” “You already have enough to do.” “You don’t have any money!”

I tried to let those thoughts reign, but the Spirit within me was grieved by my doubt. God has called me to do something. So I’ve made it a habit to think and to believe the truth when doubt tries to rise up. “I am a child of the Most High God, fully equipped and capable to do whatever He calls me to.” “He orders my steps.” “God is is my provider.”

Listen, you can do the same.

We all must come together to end this terrible force in society.

I’m taking the necessary time to learn more. I’m spending more time in God’s presence to hear His voice. I’m visiting homes where women and children have been rescued. I’m looking victims in their eyes and allowing myself to bear the pain of their experiences as they share their testimonies with me. I’m reading everything that I can get my hands on that pertains to this issue.

I am beyond moved.

As the realization of all of this is in all of our faces, we cannot remain silent. We can’t pretend that the world is okay just because our own children are safe. We cannot take our freedom for granted.

We must be like the abolitionist of old. We must give our bodies, our hearts, our minds, and our all to end this atrocity.

So now that you know, what will you do?

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