Nov 18, 2014

San Jose, California Portraits: The Torres-Laxa Family

I share these photos and this story with a heart that has been changed and moved by this beautiful family right here.
These are my best friends and their parents.
Tito Ramon and Tita Rose have shared a beautiful 12 years of marriage and have found themselves facing the hardest year yet. Tito Ramon was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer back in March this year and together they have remained incredibly strong in their marriage, and steadfast in their faith.
And these two gorgeous gals,
These are my sisters, my best friends.

They have two of the sweetest, biggest, most beautiful hearts of anyone I know. "As iron sharpens iron", these two have helped sharpen me for most of my life. Treating me as their "baby sister" in everything. Rio Joy {left} is all sugar and spice and everything nice. She is the most joyful person I know, seriously no one is more joyful than Rio. And Rio has a heart & passion for missions, for serving others, with a love for our Heavenly Father that radiates into all that she does. As for {Ate} Rachelle , she loves people better than anyone I know.   She loves with a selflessness, genuineness, thoughtfulness and with a loyalty only few know how to give.

I'll be honest, I would have never let them leave and move to San Jose, CA if I had it my way. But God had bigger plans for best friends, and now in the most difficult of seasons I know why they had to move there.
Though cancer happens to one person, in a family ... it's as if it happens to them all.

They brace the turbulent waves of intense information, medications, endless doctor appointments, and the aggressive changes in the small "day to day" things together, for the weight is too heavy for one to carry alone.
Sometime last month I was moved to start praying for a trip to go out to San Jose. I didn't have a specific need nor agenda, but Rio called me that very day with a heavy heart for her family, asking if I would do them the honor of taking their family photos in this season. About three weeks after that conversation I took a morning flight out to California and did just that. 
My trip out there was not one filled with sightseeing, instead my trip was filled with many home cooked meals, long-honest-teary-eyed conversations, lots of laughter, prayer and endless beautiful California sunshine. 
My favorite memory there was the 20 mins it took to capture these heartwarming photos.
During my stay Tito Ramon wasn't strong enough to leave home for more than his appointments because of a new, chronic cough that has taken residence in his daily activities. But on this perfect afternoon he mustered up all the strength he could and we adventured into their surrounding neighborhood.
I don't think I've ever loved my job more.
It's not very often that I travel without my husband. Usually separation takes a toll on my heart, but this trip did our marriage a kindness I would not have experienced if I stayed home. Watching Tito Ramon and Tita Rose remain strong for one another, and endure together was a sight that will always stay with me, and has since shown me a level of this covenant love we call marriage, that I don't yet know.
As Tita Rose continues to "lay down her life" to honor, respect, care for, and love her husband through sickness, she truly displays the Proverbs 31 woman. She's inspired me to love my husband even better, with more grace and kindness even when times are good.
As for Tito Ramon and my best friends. Tito Ramon is actually their step dad but if you didn't know that, you might have never known it, given the closeness and the love that is so tangible and real between them.

In their home "family is family, is family".
Love knows no titles, or bounds.
Tito Ramon,
Thank you for loving and caring for three of my favorite women! Their obvious love for you speaks volumes of the loving, generous, fun, God fearing, caring man that you are. Thank you for always treating me like your "third daughter" any time I visit or have traveled with your family. Above everything else, your unshakable faith and love for our Heavenly Father coupled with your unbreakable joy has fortified my own walk with God. Your testimony is so beautiful and powerful, thank you for allowing me the honor of spending a week there to love on you and your family, as well as be loved and encouraged in return. 

As Rio so eloquently put it, "Seeing the peace of Christ rule in your heart" despite all that you face , reflects the power, glory, and beauty of our Saviors' work in your life. You are constantly on my mind and in my prayers and I know our God is greater! 
My dearest sisters, your unshakable faith and your love for your parents humbles me to no end.
You know how much I miss you both, but soon I'll be with you guys again!
Dear Mama Rose,
I love you so much and have missed you beyond words. Thank you for sharing your heart with me while I was there. Thank you for trusting me to cook {despite how much food I'd end up making hahah}, but thank you for also encouraging me as a wife through how your love and care for your family. You are a "rare and beautiful treasure", and God sees all that you do and delights in the mother, woman and wife that you are. I love you mommy # 2!

I love you and I miss you family!

In all things, to God be the glory.

If you could do me the kindness of partnering with me in pray for comfort, healing, joy, and wisdom for their whole family in this time, I would be endlessly grateful.

To read about their journey & walk along side them in this time:
Please visit Rio's "Walkin' With Joy" blog.

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