Best of 2017

As 2017 comes to a close, I find myself reflecting on all the many moments that have happened. It is hard to believe all of it fits into one year. Busy is an understatement, but I am so grateful for every moment…

Along with teaching at two colleges and holding communication contracts for several companies, I’ve been able to  photograph more than ever before this year.

A spur of the moment photo shoot turned into some of my proudest pictures to date. These sheep in fog pictures went on to win three contests and are going to hang in my future office.


It wasn’t all animal and farm pictures, though. I was able to take pictures of some very dear people. From the engagement of Brooks and Jennifer…dsc_0774

To Jennifer’s bridal portraits a few months later…


I was so excited to photograph some amazing college seniors like Alec who graduated from UMO with a agri-business degree. He is now in the middle of an MBA at Methodist and will start a new job in the beginning of the year! Where did my little brother go?



There were also several NCSU graduates like Cary…


And Bradley…


Garrett also graduated with his master’s degree after spending countless hours crunching numbers and writing a thesis. He didn’t walk the stage, but that’s alright…18156656_1861747867172347_6783422891837931030_o

I’m still just as proud and was able to go back to campus to take engagement pictures of his roommate Colin and his fiance Mallory.


I also was able to capture some real cuties…


And real beauties…


As well as some amazing people…





A new favorite subject to photograph has been bling…


My favorite bling of all, though, is my own…


One of the biggest moments of 2017 was when Garrett asked me to be his wife at Bear Island after a kayak trip…


Oh what an adventure that kayaking trip turned out to be (read the full story here). Wedding planning has been in full-force and we can’t wait for our next adventure after May 19, 2018 when we are married! 2017 held more adventures then a sparkly kayaking trip.


An adventure to Vegas and the Grand Canyon with Garrett’s family was, well, grand…



A less desert adventure came when the Linton clan visited Virginia Beach. Views, lighthouses, and waves made for an amazing vacation…


Of course, there was also the annual Kerr Lake trip too. It was paradise.

kerrkerr fam

An adventure to South Carolina to visit Kayla turned into a weekend of sweet surprises from my maid of honor…


Adventures in Atlanta with friends to celebrate Kena and William’s wedding was ever so much fun…


I went to a total of 8 weddings this year. It is that season in life, and it is so wonderful to see those I love find forever love.

It wasn’t all warm weather and blissful weddings, though. There were some bitterly cold days this winter. My caption on Instagram of this pic said “I’m not made for the cold” Little did I know, I’d be moving to Nebraska a little over a year later where the temperature is currently -17 at night. Be careful what you say.


Feeding livestock was an everyday affair–snow, rain, or shine. It was certainly worth it to see my boys rewarded for their hard work, well and fun…


Isaac won Reserve Champion Market Hog at the Wayne County Show and Sale…


Another big win came at the NC State Fair when our sheep Georgette won Grand Champion Supreme Ewe, NC Born and Bred Champion, and Champion Fleece. Georgette was born and raised on our farm.


Each of the boys won grand or reserve champion sheep showman too, and Isaac bought Astrid, his prized sheep…


Speaking of new animals, Callie Cat was rescued and has become my joy. She may be spoiled–complete with 9 collars.


Hellos are always much more enjoyable than good-byes. After traveling over half the country, I dropped Garrett off in Nebraska to attend PhD school at UNL. Distance hasn’t been easy, but so worth it…


I feel as if there are a thousand and one moments I should include here. However, this post is already long, and I can’t justify 365 days worth of reports. I will leave you with two final photos that show the love that I have been surrounded with this year, and the love that will forever surround me in future years.





Linton Family | VA Beach

On our recent spring break trip to Virginia beach, we had a photo shoot at First Landing State Park. The original plan was to take beach pictures, but alas, my vision of sunset beach pictures were thwarted by awful wind. So, we regrouped the next day and found a much less windy location. Mom always likes to get annual pictures to update her wall in the living room, and we always have a good time while taking the pictures.



Behind the Scenes


Virginia Beach, VA | Linton Family Spring Break

It is amazing what a four day vacation does for the body and soul. For once, all of our spring breaks aligned on the same week, so the whole family took a trip to Virginia for a getaway. We started with a stay at Great Wolf Den Lodge and then traveled to Virginia Beach.

It amazes me how different beaches can be from place to place. We had never been to Virginia Beach, and it was definitely different than NC beaches or even Myrtle Beach. We had a great trip exploring the area, climbing lighthouses, and simply enjoying family time. Of course, pictures are better than words, so here are a few photos from our trip.


The boardwalk is filled with art and statues. This is Neptune and probably the most popular.


One of my favorite places we went to along the boardwalk was the Old Coast Guard Station. Daddy served in the Coast Guard for several years. When the lady at the museum found out he had served, they gave us free admission to the museum. How awesome is that?! There were a lot of really cool exhibits. Dad’s favorite was the “Bear” which was the ship he served on.



Keeping with a military theme, we went to Fort Story and climbed Cape Henry Lighthouse. Before we could climb the lighthouse, though, we had to be searched as it is an active duty base. I’m happy to report that we were allowed on base without incident. We also behaved while on base and did not get kicked off. We also got our exercise climbing the many stairs, but it was so worth it.



Cape Henry was the first federally funded lighthouse. George Washington issued the project, and it cost $17,000 back then. After serving for more than 100 years, a new one was built beside it.



You cannot climb the new lighthouse, but you can climb the old one. So, up we went.


After climbing lighthouses, we ate lunch on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel (best French dip sandwich ever!)


Once we got to the other side of the bay, we went hiking and discovered an old WWII bunker.

In the bunker was a giant canon that could shoot 25 miles.


Past the bunker was an old cemetery and a beautiful view of a marsh.



It was a fabulous four days. We ended the trip with a photo shoot at First Landing State Park. We laughed until we cried. Family time is always amazing!

When Your Life Plan Goes in the Trash

“If you wanna hear God laugh, tell him your plans.”-Iyanla Vanzant


I’m a planner. I want all my ducks in a row, and I can get cranky if one steps out of line. But, I’ve come to learn, that plans are not all they are cracked up to be…my plans aren’t anyway.

My master plan was in place. I’d get my bachelor’s degree, meet the love of my life, go on to get my master’s degree, and get married. Perhaps, I would get my doctorate, but if I didn’t, I’d have a full-time job waiting for me upon graduating with my masters. I’d move out and get a place of my own. Then, set life to cruise control. Pretty good plan, huh?

My master plan is essentially non-existent now.

So, what happened? Why is my carefully designed life plan obsolete now? Because, it was MY plan, and as much effort, thought, and emotion went into that plan, it wasn’t good enough. I just didn’t know it.

I thought I knew exactly what I wanted, but how can you know exactly what you want when you don’t know all the options? I thought I had the perfect plan, but I didn’t. God did. He knew that there was a far better plan than the seemingly fabulous one I had concocted.

Don’t get me wrong, God didn’t do away with everything in my plan. I got my degrees. I met my man. The rest, though…well, let’s just say when God heard my plans, he laughed and turned me down a different path.

Before graduating with my master’s, I started panicking about getting a job. So, I began to scour the internet. I deliberated so hard about applying for several jobs, but ultimately, I just didn’t. As May got closer, I got a job lead. I interviewed. I was offered the job-a full time job. A good job. But, instead of jumping up and down, I had a nagging feeling of doubt. I cried. I prayed. I talked it out with those closest to me. Then, I turned the full-time position down. I turned my back on my master plan, and I am so glad I did.

Since then, I have been given so many opportunities that have been the perfect fit for me… opportunities that I didn’t know existed. Someone else did, though.

In the months since graduating, I have been asked countless times, “what are you doing now?” Good question. I’m teaching Presentational Speaking at my alma mater, Campbell University, a dream of mine since graduating there.


I am also teaching Intro to Communications at Wilson Community College (yes, I drive a lot). I am Director of Engagement for NC Farm Families, where I fight for an industry that I love and combine my love of agriculture with communications (bonus: I’ve been on TV but my autographs aren’t worth much).


I have also snagged several contract jobs–all with agricultural emphasis and communication. In case you were wondering, I’m balancing a total of 5 different jobs.

My photography was published in the Pork Report and even featured as the cover.

The path I’m on is a tad unconventional, but it is perfect for me. Because of this path, I have a lot more flexibility. I have been able to attend so many of Isaac and Gideon’s activities and competitions because of that flexibility. Because of this path, I didn’t have to choose a career; I get to do several. I couldn’t have chosen a better path for me. I didn’t choose it, but then again, I didn’t know it existed.

Come to find out, God knows me a lot better than I know myself. I’m doing everything I love. Does that mean this is what I’ll do for the rest of my life? Not necessarily. I’m not going to make those plans, though. I already did that once. Apparently, I’m not as good of a planner as I thought.  I will say, it drives me nuts, though. I’m a planner. So, not planning important things like my life, is hard. It takes a lot of trust, patience, and simply letting things go. That’s how I got onto the path I am now.

I wasn’t confident to make this step. It was scary as heck. I doubted–hardcore. I had told myself for so long what the plan was. It was hard to let MY master plan go, but I came to realize that the Master’s plan is way better.

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails”-Proverbs 19:21

Just Call Me Master Marisa|NCSU Graduation

Some of you may have heard, but I graduated…again. This time the powers to be decided that I was a master at communicating so gave me a piece of paper that said so.


After two years at NC State University, I met my goal of getting a master’s degree, and am officially an alumnus of the Wolfpack. Let me tell you, though, running with the pack was not always easy. However, I learned more than I ever thought possible–things that go beyond communication theory, research, and papers. Some of these lessons were small, and others were much larger. Most were learned somewhere between Coliseum Deck and Winston Hall.


  1. Always make a mental note of where you park your car in the parking deck–after a stressful first day of grad school, I couldn’t remember where I parked my car. I walked aimlessly around, praying and trying not to cry. Finally, Blueberry came into view and I drove off into the distance.
  2. You cannot possibly predict the many scenarios you’ll be faced with as a teacher–I thought I had imagined it all. I was wrong. Almost on a weekly basis, a new scenario came up that I had to scratch my head at and supply an answer. The things those students came up with never left a dull moment.
  3. Somehow the 6 flights of stairs never get easier–I just knew I’d be oober fit by the end of my 2 years. Alas, nothing changed.
  4. Even a communication major can do statistics–I suck at math. I don’t exaggerate either. Somehow, though, I chose to do a quantitative thesis filled with numbers, and finished it!
  5. You can research anything, so do what you love–If I was going to write more than 60 pages, it was going to be on something I liked. So, I chose pigs. It made the hours of writing and research much more enjoyable and exciting!
  6. Night classes will complicate your eating schedule–when classes start at 6 and go till 9, figuring out when to eat gets complicated. Cookout was my saving grace on the way home at night.
  7. It is possible to deal with a forest of papers and never get a paper cut–this is only a quarter of the papers over 2 years, but I’m proud to say, I never got a paper cut.


Of course there was a lot more that I learned. Like the first few days are scary and really hard. You wonder how the heck they let you in to this place, but soon enough, you find your way…and your confidence. You learn to prioritize the millions of readings and assignments. You may find yourself learning what to do in a tornado warning with your students. You will definitely know what late nights are, and the joys of finishing a paper.

And, now after all of the lessons, I now hold a Masters of Science in Communication. I couldn’t have done it without some dear people like my thesis committee. They put hours into proofing, editing, and guiding me. Without them, I wouldn’t have a thesis that encompassed 2 states, 300 participants, pigs, and communication. A huge thank you to Dr. Keyton, Dr. Taylor, and Dr. DeJoy, and all of the other professors I had along the way.

I certainly couldn’t have gotten through grad school without  my family. Their prayers and support got me through every paper, assignment, and long night. They were my lifesavers so many times.


Speaking of lifesavers, I would be lost somewhere in the one way streets of Raleigh if it wasn’t for Garrett. He helped me navigate Raleigh, answered my many statistics questions, listened to my struggles, and always reminded me to get lunch.


So, I’m done. I came. I worked. I graduated. Just call me Master Marisa. I’m off to the next chapter in life, but first here’s some pictures from graduation day!!