photography

Pleasing. Learning. Redefining.

Last fall, after a few years of going to my church, Hope, on my breaks from college and a few months of being back since graduation, I decided to officially become a member. At Hope, that means taking a two-day class and learning everything you might want to know about the church. We sat at circle tables, and a girl sat next to me with her haven as our table filled up with a bunch of twentysomethings. That girl was Ashley. 

She was outgoing and bubbly and kept conversation alive at our table of random people and I knew I wanted to be friends with her right then. Ash and her husband, Tyler, talked about their photography business and I definitely went home that night and stalked their website thoroughly. They are an awesome team and they shoot incredible pictures of engagements and weddings and more. If you don't keep up with Herrinton Weddings on Facebook and their website already, here's a shameless plug telling you to GO DO IT. 

The first time we hung out, Ashley came over to my parents' house with a bunch of her crafting supplies and we made a huge mess of the kitchen table making cards to mail to friends. It was so much fun getting to share a common interest with a new friend and get to just chat for hours while we crafted. I hardly knew her at that point, but we had so much fun just hanging out.

Then, at some point last winter, Ashley and I met up at my favorite Starbucks in Carytown to chat. This girl seriously has a heart of gold, and I saw that in her from the very beginning. She loves the Lord wholeheartedly and loves people (even people she just meets!) so well, and it's such a beautiful thing to see. She has the biggest smile and laughs easily and often in a way that just makes you feel so at ease around her.  

We connected over conversations about social work since she was working on her Masters and I was working at a human services nonprofit she knew about. We talked about our community groups and what God had been teaching us through living life alongside those groups of people. We talked about boys, our blogs, everything. In just that little coffee date, I felt like I really got to know the real, true Ashley with no guards up. She is so genuine all the time, from the way she writes blog posts about her life, marriage, and work (you will feel like you know the Herrintons and are best friends with them just after reading a few posts!), to the way she serves around Hope and loves on students, to the way she connects with the brides and couples they work with...this girl is a gem.

If you've browsed around my website at all, you've seen pictures by Ashley-- yet another example of her sweet, servant heart. In the off-season of shooting weddings, she wanted to keep up with photography and improving her (already awesome) skills, so she offered to take pictures and headshots of me for my site. I was blown away by the generous offer and also so excited to see her work her magic! I absolutely love all of the pictures she got, but loved even more just wandering around Shockoe Bottom with her and having a blast in front of her camera. She made it so much fun and effortless, even though I usually act really awkwardly which never makes for good pictures!

In just this first year of knowing Ashley, I have absolutely grown to call her a true friend. She is passionate about Jesus and serving Him in every aspect of her life. She is dedicated to her work (and schoolwork) even in the times where it can be stressful or chaotic. She is gorgeous and legitimately could be a J. Crew or Ann Taylor model...not kidding. Girl has the best/cutest wardrobe and always looks perfectly put together-- a true talent. She loves so well and pours into people selflessly. She is hilarious and so much fun to be around, and even just passing her briefly in the hallways at Hope brightens my day.

I could go on and on. This girl is one of the very best and I'm so thankful for how that membership class at Hope brought us together and made this sweet friendship possible! 

Here is Ashley's story.


My name is Ashley. I am a 24-year-old grad student at Liberty University, pursing my masters in Marriage and Family therapy. I also run a wedding photography & videography business with my husband, Tyler, properly named Herrinton Weddings. This story you’re seeking is not one that depicts my life story, or my conversion of faith, yet one that is continuously being written by a God that desires the best for me and calls me to turn from the things that distract me from Him.  

I grew up in a small country town surrounded by nothing but trees and fresh mountain air. I was a twin and my sister and I lived a normal twin life. There was much competition, however unspoken it may have been, we both felt it. This competitive routine caught me firmly in the people-pleasing trap. I did things I thought would bring attention to my successes and minimize my failures. Because in the world of pleasing you do little to upset those around you. You also wear pride like a badge of honor. I was a “good girl” and never did anything “wrong” which kept my pleasing stature highly elevated.

Now, 6 years after my high school graduation, 3 years after my college graduation, and a year and a half into my master’s degree, I find myself still on this people-pleasing journey. A journey with more heartbreak and disappointment than you’d probably understand. Being a people pleaser robs my life of margin and the ability to say “no” when I know I should. It breeds discontentment and constant striving for something. People pleasing limits rest, masks pride, and drowns my soul.

The journey of breaking off this unhealthy habit has not been a long one. For years I simply thought I was confident, independent, and strong. However, in searching the depths of my soul throughout this past year, I found it. People pleasing.

I remember walking through a season with a dear friend in college about her struggle with people pleasing. I remember wondering what made her feel different or feel like it was truly something she wrestled with. And as much as I talked to her about it, I never considered it for myself.

I recently started reading a book, Grace for the Good Girl by Emily P. Freeman with some dear friends in a book club that I just love. In one chapter she talks about hiding behind strength and responsibility. She shares, “for the girl who wears the mask of strength and responsibility, it is important to explore her perceptions of weakness. Consider what Jesus says about weakness. He chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise and the weak things of the world to shame the strong (1 Cor. 1:27). It doesn’t make sense to me and it isn’t the way I’d have done it. But it is the way of Jesus”.

This draws upon exactly why I never explored people pleasing in my life. I hate exemplifying my weaknesses. I hate failure. I hate doing the wrong thing. And more than anything, I really hate sin. The mask of strength and responsibility is easy to use to cover up those vulnerable places and draw upon the things that make other people happy. While limiting the need to live a healthy well balanced life with proper emotions. Dismantling all of this is quite a process. I’m relearning the line between reality and straight up emotion. Sorting through feelings and triggers of said feelings and sending up more prayers than I think I ever have.

People pleasing is drawn me closer to my savior because I’ve even more so realized my need for Him and invited me to a deeper journey that He’s asked me to walk. I’m excited and nervous about the ways in which he may write my future but I ready to de-mask and live fully and wholly as myself.


To read past Story Seeker posts, click here.

St. Christopher's Neighborhood

I've always loved fall (no secret there), but this year, nannying two little energetic boys has made me see the season in new ways. We go on a walk around their neighborhood almost every afternoon, racing scooters down hills and digging for worms or slugs and jumping on every crunchy leaf in sight. 

Every day, I'm learning to look up and look down and be present. I've seen beauty in places I might typically have overlooked, and I'm learning to embrace childlike curiosity and wonder in my life more.

All photos were taken on my iPhone.

A New Look (yes...again!)

photo by my sweet friend Ashley Herrinton of  Herrinton Weddings

photo by my sweet friend Ashley Herrinton of Herrinton Weddings

If you've been visiting this site for any length of time, you've probably seen it undergo some visual changes. By some, I really mean quite a lot. 

I'm never 100% satisfied with the look and feel of this site and my blog, and I'm constantly tweaking templates and making my own changes. I have this list of things in my mind that I want my site to be and have and do, and I finally decided it would be good to write them down.

  • I want my site to be clean, have lots of white space and be simple, calming and aesthetically pleasing.
  • I want navigation to be clear, easy and unobtrusive.
  • I want my personality to shine through each page, whether through words or images, and for people who visit here to leave feeling like they know the real Rachel, and that they've seen Jesus through that as well. I never want the glory to come back to me, but to Him alone.
  • I want my site to be easily adaptable to new things, whether that be a new page hosting posts about adventures I've had recently (RADventures is too good to pass up on, don't you think?!) or a shop someday (stay tuned...). I want it to be flexible and to grow as I do.
  • I want to create all content on my site, from photos to graphics to blog posts (with the exception of posts from guest bloggers!), so it's as true to me as it can be.

o, with all of this in mind, I spent my weekend browsing around and brainstorming and working on what I feel is a cohesive, authentic design for my site. I would love to get your feedback and hear what you think of all the new changes! I'm sure it will continue to evolve over time, but for now, this feels right. It's a blessing to have a tiny corner of the Internet to call mine, and I hope that you are encouraged by it every time you visit. I love having you here!

Favorites From This Week

Happy Friday! 

It is a beautiful day in Richmond and there's a magic in the air that comes with spring around here. Sunshine, warm weather, flowers blooming...YES. This past week has been a good one. I don't have words on my heart to write today, and I'm giving myself a little extra grace and saying that's okay. Instead, I just have pictures of things that brought me joy this week.

This is where I spend my days. I'm so thankful for a job I absolutely love, for the incredible staff of truly unwavering champions for children and families that I get to team up with, and for the constant blessing of using my talents and abilities to help change lives and make a difference in the world. I'm blown away every day but what goes on here and around the state in our offices. Check out more at  www.umfs.org 

This is where I spend my days. I'm so thankful for a job I absolutely love, for the incredible staff of truly unwavering champions for children and families that I get to team up with, and for the constant blessing of using my talents and abilities to help change lives and make a difference in the world. I'm blown away every day but what goes on here and around the state in our offices. Check out more at www.umfs.org 

 
Look at that adorable baby chick and tell me you wouldn't have fallen in love too. I'm vegan and don't eat anything animal related, but I'm seriously obsessed with the idea of raising chicks and selling their eggs. I met baby goats the day after this picture and fell in love with them too, and a future of living on a farm flashed before my eyes and freaked me out but was also really intriguing...stay tuned to see what happens there.

Look at that adorable baby chick and tell me you wouldn't have fallen in love too. I'm vegan and don't eat anything animal related, but I'm seriously obsessed with the idea of raising chicks and selling their eggs. I met baby goats the day after this picture and fell in love with them too, and a future of living on a farm flashed before my eyes and freaked me out but was also really intriguing...stay tuned to see what happens there.

 

 
  This book  is awesome. It's written by two people I love and respect a TON, and not just because of the incredible, humble ways they lead HOPE Church. They are ridiculously real about faith and life with Jesus, and even as someone who has been a Christian as long as I can remember, this book really encouraged me and opened my eyes to new things about my faith. Order one on Amazon, it's only like $8 and I promise you will love it! A blog telling more about what I loved about Start Here is coming soon!

 This book is awesome. It's written by two people I love and respect a TON, and not just because of the incredible, humble ways they lead HOPE Church. They are ridiculously real about faith and life with Jesus, and even as someone who has been a Christian as long as I can remember, this book really encouraged me and opened my eyes to new things about my faith. Order one on Amazon, it's only like $8 and I promise you will love it! A blog telling more about what I loved about Start Here is coming soon!

 
I first enjoyed the glorious place that is Urban farmhouse when my beautiful and wonderful friend Vianne visited RVA for a day. The awesome atmosphere and delicious local food was made even better by the fact that a really talented musician was playing that night. As soon as he played a Ben Howard cover, I was sold, and I made sure I went back to hear him play agin the next week. Great background music for blog writing! Check  Sean Bendula out here!

I first enjoyed the glorious place that is Urban farmhouse when my beautiful and wonderful friend Vianne visited RVA for a day. The awesome atmosphere and delicious local food was made even better by the fact that a really talented musician was playing that night. As soon as he played a Ben Howard cover, I was sold, and I made sure I went back to hear him play agin the next week. Great background music for blog writing! Check Sean Bendula out here!

 
My goodness. Yes, I'm obsessed with sunsets and if you get sick of seeing them on Instagram, you probably shouldn't follow me. That's a friendly warning, because I post pictures of them OFTEN. I just love seeing the glory of my God on display like this. What a remarkable Artist. 

My goodness. Yes, I'm obsessed with sunsets and if you get sick of seeing them on Instagram, you probably shouldn't follow me. That's a friendly warning, because I post pictures of them OFTEN. I just love seeing the glory of my God on display like this. What a remarkable Artist. 

 
This Carytown bookstore, Chop Suey, is a great place to get lost, surrounded by countless old and new books just begging to be read and explored. A vegan cookbook that had been someone else's now is mine, along with a beautiful Flannery O'Connor book. Happy, happy girl.

This Carytown bookstore, Chop Suey, is a great place to get lost, surrounded by countless old and new books just begging to be read and explored. A vegan cookbook that had been someone else's now is mine, along with a beautiful Flannery O'Connor book. Happy, happy girl.

Go on an adventure this weekend. Go somewhere new and find wonder in the world around you. Happy weekend, friends! 


    

If you have no idea what this whole “Friday Freewrite” deal is, read this post. And then come back here, and read on. If you want, you can even join in on your own blog, too. Happy Friday! 

A Special Shout Out!

I am really thankful for genuine friends. I'm thankful for my church and for the connections I've made there, and for friendships that blossomed unexpectedly in that awesome building. I'm thankful for friends that give of their time and talents selflessly and love and encourage me so well.

This is really just a post of me bragging on one super sweet friend of mine, Ashley. She tells the story of how we met over on the blog she and her husband run-- give it a read to get the backstory. HOPE was where we first met, and I'm so glad we did!

Ash asked me a few weeks ago if she could take some pictures of me that they could feature on their blog, and I, of course, was so excited she asked! Her photography (as well as her husband's!) is AWESOME. So good. I was so honored she wanted to shoot me (with a camera, of course)! And I was also pretty stoked that I would be able to update my site and everything with new pictures.

Here are a few of my favorites from the day I spent wandering around Shockoe Bottom with Ash! You absolutely need to go check out their website and like them on Facebook to see all of the incredible work they do! With wedding season coming just around the corner, I promise you're going to want to see all of the beyond beautiful photos and videos they create.

Thank you so much for your sweet friendship, Ash. I'm so thankful I met you at HOPE in that membership class, and so thankful for your generosity in taking these awesome pictures! You are the best!

Welcome to a new world!

Hi! You found me! Same address, whole new website!

I made the switch and finally have a new cohesive website and blog, and I am so excited about it. In the years I've been blogging, I've bounced around on different hosts and sites, and I finally feel like I'm settling in to one that feels really, really good. I was in high school when I started blogging, so I knew less than nothing about what I was doing. Things got a little more put-together in college when I created a site to be my portfolio and help me get a big girl job, but it still wasn't everything I wanted it to be.

But now, here we are. I hope you like it. I know I do.

All the same things will be here, my blog will be here, but new things will be here too. You'll see more photography as I dabble in that. You'll see more doodles as I play with pen and paper. You'll see all sorts of things that are pieces of my heart and my life, and I'm excited to share them with you.

As always, I want to hear from you. Send me a message down below, tweet at me, write me a letter, whatever. I'm all about hearing people's stories and sharing mine, so let's do it!

Take a look around, and let me know what you think! Welcome to my new little world.

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