In-Home Session, Birmingham, AL | Rachael + Ethan

Seven years ago on a Sunday morning, I introduced myself to Rachael (go visit her Instagram RIGHT NOW and then come right back). Rach was wearing a neon yellow shirt to advertise for our church’s University Ministry’s annual Pancake Study Break, and I was excited to welcome her back to Shades. She and Ethan had grown up there and both began on staff that spring, and I had started attending as a freshman at Samford. It was a fairly normal meeting. But that was the beginning of my dearest friendships.

Shortly after meeting, Rachael asked if I would be in a discipleship group she was leading. Ethan and Rach graciously opened their home to four of us every Sunday night for the next three years and cooked for us, shielded me from their dog (I used to barricade myself with pillows on their sofa, haha!) and provided listening ears and sound advice.

I always looked up to Rach, even then. She pours herself out for others, can turn a trash bag into a piece of art (she hasn’t tried it to my knowledge but I believe it) and provides wise counsel because of her Biblical knowledge and pattern of following Jesus. She walked with me through ups and downs in college, then after I graduated we hung out occasionally. She’s probably just finding this out, but I desperately wanted to be her best friend. However, we were in quite different life phases at 22 and 25 so I didn’t want to bug her, haha! We call those few years “the lost years” as a joke… but I’m so glad for what happened next! About two years ago, she joined a discipleship group I was in… as a peer this time. It felt like a full circle moment, and the rest is quite literally history in our friend book.

Rachael wrote this about me for my birthday and I literally just wanna say DITTO TO EVERYTHING about her. Technically this is plagiarism but we’re friends so it’s all good 😉

“She’s become an extension of mine and Ethan’s lives in the most natural and beautiful way. We work together almost every day. We’ve spent the better part of the last year and a half together, daily learning, laughing, crying, and growing in the Word in a different capacity. And I am better because of it. I love Jesus more because of this girl right here. She’s like a sister, a friend, and an accountability partner all rolled into one sweet, hilarious, thoughtful soul that makes me smile, serves me well, and pushes me to love Jesus more. Here’s to a new year of seeing God’s faithfulness, growing in community, eating good food, trying new things, and getting to live this little life we share together.” 

Sister. Friend. Accountability partner. Work buddy. All those things and more.

I know most of this blog has been about Rach, but Ethan has been an equal encouragement in my life. He’s one of the most compassionately direct people I know with a gift to speak truth in love. We’re all called to that as believers, but Ethan always has a refreshing way of seeing the 30,000 foot view and ability to gently call that to attention. If you’ve never had the thrill of watching Ethan’s films, CLICK HERE NOW and you won’t regret it. As much as Rach has walked with me in years past, so has Ethan. They open their home willingly, treat me as family, invite me to do the most routine daily tasks and are the most generous people I’ve ever met.

I love these two (and Lainey) with all my heart! Rach and Ethan, you’re a gift in my life and I’m thankful to have a front row seat to your marriage. As I watch you interact, communicate, serve, love, laugh and give weekly, I’m storing things in my figurative basket for the future. I’m going to be a better wife because I’ve learned from you both. This session was a great honour… it wouldn’t be Milner Manor without a can of La Croix, Avett Brothers in the background, Lainey running around, coffee poured in illustrated mugs and, of course, the one wheel.


Rach talks some on her Instagram about how washing dishes has been sanctifying. So it was fun to document this. Also this is a shameless plug for Well Watered Women mugs because Rach is their creative director and she’s the best.

The mastermind behind everything that happens visually at Shades Mountain Baptist. Ethan is the most talented person I know!

Love you two with all my heart! Check out the following websites + accounts to follow some of my favourite things + people!

Ethan Milner filmmaking | Rachael Milner | Shades Mountain | Samford University | Well Watered Women