When it comes to the end of a school year, every student has mixed thoughts. Some are happy, some are sad, and some are just downright stressed. This is an example of my thoughts over the course of a few days.
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It used to be my favorite day of the week, you took that away too.
It used to be my favorite day of the week.
You would wake me as I put on my church dress. You didn't go with me, but you dropped me off in that old beat up red Ford. After church was over, you would pick me up and we would go home and make sandwiches for everyone. Those old paper plates were so easy to clean up, but this mess you made isn't. I am stained.
And I can't stop remembering Sunday.
I used to love sitting out on a porch right before a storm begins and just feeling the pressure of the rain in the air before it even falls, and feeling the cold breeze get caught in my throat. But now all I think about is you and me sitting outside that one afternoon before that storm. I remember what we were wearing and the colors of grey in the sky. That storm never really ended did it?
I used to adore the vast depths of the ocean, you took me there for the first time. I remember throwing that frisbee in the air and watching the wind guide it into his little hands. Now his hands aren't so little and you only taught him how to drop things.
I remember the freedom I felt riding on your small bass fishing boat on Brookville Lake. You would open it all the way up and the front end of the boat wasn't even touching the water. I would close my eyes and I swear it felt like I was flying. Now my feet can't find the ground.
I used to beg you to let me ride with you every time you drove. You would put the windows were down as we blared country music and shouted the lyrics with all of our might. Now I can't go on drives alone without feeling you in the seat next to me. Those songs never end.
I actually used to enjoy the smell gas at a gas station when you pulled over and let me pump. Now I push my car as far as it can go on empty because the smell makes me sick to my stomach.
I used to walk with you as push mowed all the land we had behind our little green house on East Street. It took hours but I loved every minute of it. Ironically now, I am so allergic to grass I have to hide from it.
You used to let me light the match and bring the flame to your cigerette as you let the smoke fill your lungs. Now mine are full of the same smoke and I've been gasping for fresh air since you left.
You used to lend my your log johns and camo overalls before we left int he early hours of the morning to hunt for deer. You kept me warm in the thick inches of snow. Now I feel naked and I can't seem to find warmth.
I used to love the autumn season, when the leaves would fall in the most beautiful colors. Now I can't help but feel like they have been thrown from their branches and left alone to fall hard to the lonely ground on earth to never return to comfort.
A town that I used to call home, is now a burial ground of a woman you were supposed to save. Now I cannot return without the fear of running into my demons and ghosts of my past.
The word family used to mean the world to me and now it has become a one word joke. One that was never actually funny.
The saddest word in the world is "almost."
She almost held on.
He almost tried again.
She almost asked for help.
He almost found love.
She almost had a family.
He almost stopped her.
She almost waited.
He almost lived.
They almost made it.
We almost fixed it.
I almost forgot about Sunday.
There's something special about you, I can't quite put my finger on it.
My time spent with you is always among the happiest. There is just something so warm and calming in your embrace.
There's something so special about you, August. Something I can't quite put my finger on.
The sun seems to shine a bit differently.
You can almost feel the air turn a little crisp.
You're the last hope of summer but the beginning excitement of fall.
I celebrate a new year of life within your walls!
It taught me to reminisce on the good times spent here.
Finishing up the last bit of summer, getting my last travels in.
School is starting and you get to see all of the people you love whom you didn't get to be with throughout the summer.
It's the middle of the year, but it's also a new beginning.
Life is just joyous during your time.
It makes me look forward to what is to come and be thankful for what has past.
They say August babies feel all their emotions a little bit better than others; maybe that's why we are so in love with you.
Not much makes me happier than you. Thank you for blessing me this month, and thank you for bringing me fall.
Thank you for all that you are, August.
Your August baby.
The longest-running male character in a live-action television series, ICE T's Fin Tutuola has seen it all.
Originally set to be a recurring character a the beginning of season 2 to replace Monique Jeffries, Ice T was later signed on to play Fin Tutuola as the main character and the rest is history.
He has become the longest-running male character in television history in a live-action primetime series.
20. "No Surrender" (Season 18, Episode 12)
Fin is taken back to his army roots when he must visit his former military precinct when an army ranger is sexually assaulted. We learn more about Fin's time with the military and his perspective on it.
19. "At Midnight In Manhattan" (Season 21, Episode 5)
In an episode where SVU handled three different cases at the same time, Fin connects to a mother and son who are being physically abused by her boyfriend.
The mother, Joelle initially refused to work with Fin and SVU, unwilling to have her boyfriend, Leon, imprisoned for attacking her. Fin later convinces her to cooperate for the sake of her son, Andre, in which she agrees to take Leon to trial.
18. "Denial" (Season 3, Episode 21)
Fin takes a special interest in a case involving a junkie rape victim with more demons than most and connects with her. We see a side of Fin where he empathizes with the rape victim, only for her to spin up lie after lie.
17. "Undercover" (Season 9, Episode 15)
Although this episode is a big one for Benson, who shines undercover, let's not forget Fin was also undercover with her as a prison guard and comes to Benson's rescue when she is almost raped by the corrupt guard who was suspected of raping female inmates.
16. "Intimidation Game" (Season 16, Episode 14)
In this wild episode, a video game enthusiast who kidnapped a woman is up on a rooftop with Carisi and Rollins. Fin rushes out to the rooftop and as the criminal turns at him with the gun, he shoots him dead to the ground.
He was put on unpaid administrative leave, but Benson told him it was a good shoot and to keep his gun and badge.
15. "Outsider" (Season 8, Episode 12)
Fin teams up with Brooklyn SVU detective Chester Lake in the investigation involving the brutal rape of a friend of Ken, Fin's son.
This episode is a strong one for Fin and shows his good partnership win Lake before they eventually become partners in season 9.
14. "Screwed" (Season 8, Episode 22)
Tensions between Fin and his family when his ex-wife's son goes on trial for rape and murder and digs into the past of the SVU detectives to use in his defense in this interesting season finale.
13. "Guardian" (Season 19, Episode 21)
When a brother claims his sister was gang raped, Fin takes a personal interest in the case, seeing the family comes from the projects, rooting to his own history.
12. "Manhunt" (Season 2, Episode 18)
One of the best qualities of Fin from the early seasons was his great chemistry and partnership with Detective John Munch. In this episode, Fin and Munch go on a manhunt together through upstate New York to catch a serial rapist/murderer before he crosses the border into Canada.
11. "Learning Curve" (Season 13, Episode 21)
Fin's son returns when his fiancé is brutally assaulted by a street gang which proves to be the latest crime in a series of hate crimes against gay men. Once again, Fin must work with his son to help solve a crime, as well as come to terms with who his son is and learn to be ok with that.
10. "Gone Fishin" (Season 19, Episode 1)
After tracking down a rape suspect from six years prior all the way to Cuba, Fin basically kidnaps Byron Marks in Havana and brings him to New York City, causing a political tug-of-war for Benson and Barba. Seeing how far Fin will go to ensure justice is served, offers a new perspective to his character we hadn't seen before.
9. "The Things We Have To Lose" (Season 21, Episode 20)
When the abusive boyfriend of a former victim is released from prison, Fin makes it his biggest mission to watch after Leon Fuller, and protect his family from him. He even goes to the extent to give the young boy Andre a phone.
When he is called by Andre to the apartment, tensions arise between Leon and his family where Fin is forced to shoot him dead to the ground. He later tells Benson that no kid should ever have to see a parent die.
It takes an even more emotional toll on Fin, when he is surprised to realize that Leon's former girlfriend is suing him for wrongful death.
8. "Brothel" (Season 20, Episode 15)
The death of a prostitute at a brothel leads SVU to team up with the Vice Unit, as Fin reunites with Sergeant Phoebe Baker, his former partner from narcotics in which they shared a romantic relationship together.
When suspicions arise that Baker could be a mole, Fin defends his former partner. He later asks her out on a date, but she declines, saying she's seeing someone else now. This episode shows us a part of Fin's love life and past we hadn't seen before.
7. "Presumed Guilty" (Season 14, Episode 10)
After his ex-brother-in-law is arrested for the brutal attack of a priest, Fin works with SVU to clear his name despite his past criminal record, because he believes he's innocent.
This leads the squad to uncover a church scandal where we see Fin work greatly with Rollins, where he even invites her to a family dinner at the end of the episode.
6. "Venom" (Season 7, Episode 18)
Fin's son, Ken, becomes the prime suspect in a homicide investigation, which leads to a rollercoaster ride into Fin's family issues, where it is revealed his ex-wife was raped by her own father and had a child, Darius.
Darius who hates Fin, was the true culprit of the crime and confessed it to his half-brother, Ken, who protected him.
5. "Diss" (Season 20, Episode 22)
Fin's ties to a suspect take him off the case, leading to the reveal that his mother was killed right in front of him when he was a young boy. This was something unknown about Fin's history in an episode featuring a real-life friend of Ice T: Snoop Dog.
Fin eventually covers up for his past friend and walks away at the end as if nothing ever happened, showing his personal loyalties might sometimes overshadow those to the police department.
4. "Poisoned Motive" (Season 14, Episode 22)
When Detective Rollins is shot with a sniper while exiting the precinct, Fin's past as a narcotics officer emerge when the daughter of his former partner, who took a bullet for him, seeks revenge on him and his new partner, Rollins.
This leads to a hostage situation with Fin and his ex-partner's daughter in which he is forced to defuse, feeling everything is his fault.
3. "Strain" (Season 7, Episode 5)
While working a case with Benson involving the murder of two gay men at a circus party, Fin learns that his son Ken is gay and has difficulty accepting it. He must later come to accept him as he assists him and Benson in the investigation.
At the end of the case, where Fin is shocked to see the killer's father plead for reduced sentencing, he calls Ken on the phone in efforts to reconcile his relationship with him.
2. "Anchor" (Season 11, Episode 10)
Fin takes the lead on a case to find a racist targeting the children of local immigrants, even clashing with a local celebrity over the matter. Fin's son, Ken, then gets involved in the case when he defends the local celebrity, once again causing tensions between the two.
We see Fin struggle with himself when he is unable to find the killer early on in the episode, but then we see him in full force with passion and what makes him a great detective. This case drives him because of the racism that still exists out there in society, from all shapes and forms.
1. "Haunted" (Season 6, Episode 10)
In what might be the biggest episode of the series for Fin, he gets caught off-duty in a convenience store robbery where he is forced to shoot and kill two teenage boys becoming wounded himself.
Fin becomes reunited with his son, Ken after Manu years, but is later accused of being a dirty cop for not helping the daughter of a woman he knew from his undercover days in narcotics.
Fin later finds her murdered after trying to find her daughter. Exonerated from the convenience store shooting when the robber's gun is found by video camera footage, Fin was hailed a hero, but the fact that he killed two teenagers haunted him to his core.
I learned the hard way that loving Jesus is more than a feeling.
2 Timothy 4:7 reads, "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith."
To me, this is one of the most powerful verses in the bible. And a rather accurate metaphor as well. A relationship with the Lord has never been described as "easy." It is exactly what is described in that verse; a fight. A fight against the world, against society, against what would be considered "normal." Again I will say, the fight is not easy. There was no pretext that life immediately turns into this blissful, stress-free experience when you encounter Jesus. That isn't what Christianity is about. But at one point in my life, that is exactly what I wanted and expected out of it.
My life has never been very difficult. I went through the struggles of school, relationships, family issues, and things that everyone faces. I was saved on August 3rd, 2015 on a camping trip with my youth group. I considered myself to be on a "spiritual high" for the next few months, and that was exactly what it was. I felt God's presence with me everywhere I went. I guess that's the immediate aftermath of salvation for most people. As soon as that high wore off though, I felt more confused than ever before. Where did God go? Why can't I feel Him anymore? Has He left me? What am I doing wrong? I didn't understand why I felt just as alone as I had before.
That feeling of betrayal continued for months. After finally opening up to a few close friends who had strong relationships with Jesus, I understood what my problems were (yes, it was more than one). First of all, knowing God is not based on a feeling. If it was based on a feeling, God would have had to come down and swoon me and make me fall in love with Him. Obviously, He didn't. I choose to love Him every single day because of who He is and all He has done to give me life.
Second, I was not trusting Him with my whole heart. Once again, because I could not "feel" Him with me, I assumed He was not. But He was and he always is. I have to trust that no matter how far away He seems, He is really right there next to me. Read the book of Esther. God is never mentioned, but it's completely obvious He has total control over all of it. Finally, I learned that I was not seeking Him. How can you have a relationship with someone without ever spending time with them? Reading my bible, praying, and just listening to Him were things I had to start doing.
Realizing all of this had a tremendous effect on my relationship with Jesus and on my life in general. Did all of my problems disappear? No. Was my life totally stress free? Absolutely not. But I trust Him. I trust that His plans are greater than my own and they will fall into place according to His will. It is a fight. There will be obstacles and people who try to bring you down.
Keep fighting the good fight, finish this race, and always keep the faith. The reward will be greater than anyone can imagine. There is a place for stress and a place from problems in my life. That place is in the hands of my Savior because He knows what to do with them better than I ever will.
Thank God for homegrown small towns, fried chicken, and cheap beer.
You either grew up in a small town or wish you did. The best memories come from a town with nothing but bars, churches, and cheap beer. Sure, there isn't much to do, but give us a dirt road, and we'll be perfectly content.
There are a few things that only people who grew up in a small town will understand. These songs perfectly sum up small-town life and all the first loves, beer, and memories that come with it.
1. "Small Town, USA" by Justin Moore
“Everybody knows me and I know them, and I believe that’s the way we were supposed to live.”
2. "Thank God for Hometowns" by Carrie Underwood
“‘Cause when you’re lost out in this crazy world, you got somewhere to go and get found — thank God for hometowns.”
3. “Give Me Back My Hometown” by Eric Church
“Damn, I used to love this view - sit here and drink a few. Main street and the high school lit up on Friday night."
4. “Famous in a Small Town” by Miranda Lambert
“Every last one, route one, rural heart’s got a story to tell. Every grandma, in-law, ex-girlfriend, knows you maybe a little too well. Whether you’re late for church or stuck in jail, hey, words gonna get around. Everybody dies famous in a small town.”
5. “Drinking Class” by Lee Brice
“I’m a member of a good timing crowd; we get rowdy, we get wild and loud. If you gotta label me, label me proud. I belong to the drinking class. Monday through Friday, man, we bust our back. So if you’re one of us, raise your glass — I belong to the drinking class.”
6. “Back Where I Come From” by Kenny Chesney
“Some say it’s a backward place, narrow minds on a narrow wage, but I make it a point to say, ‘That’s where I come from.’”
7. “My Town” by Montgomery Gentry
“Where I was born, where I was raised, where I keep all my yesterdays. Where I ran off cause I got mad, and I came to blows with my old man. Where I came back to settle down — this is where they’ll put me in the ground.”
8. “Hicktown” by Jason Aldean
“We got your country boys and your redneck girls. It’s the party heard around the world — right here in hicktown. Yeah, in hicktown, the whole town’s gettin' down.”
9. “These Are My People” by Rodney Atkins
“Just lovin’ and laughin’ and bustin’ our asses, and we call it all livin’ the dream. 'Cause these are my people; this is where I come from. We’re givin' this life everything we've got and then some. It ain't always pretty, but it’s real. It’s the way we were made, wouldn’t have it any other way."
10. “Front Porch Looking In” by Lonestar
“Now I look at my front porch and this panoramic view; I can sit and watch the fields fill up with rays of glowing sun or watch the moon lay on the fences like that’s where it was hung. My blessing are in front of me.”
11. “We Rode In Trucks” by Luke Bryan
“There’s a lot about life that we learned on the bus: how to lie, how to fight, how to kiss, how to cuss. The closer we sat to the back, the smarter we got."
12. “Dance Hall” by Danielle Bradbery
“The moon is out, the crickets loud, a train went by, but it’s gone now. So up and down the street, I sit and stare. You could say there’s not much here for us, nothing but a pile of dirt and dust.”
13. “Mayberry” by Rascal Flatts
“...sitting on the porch drinking ice-cold cherry Coke, where everything is black and white. Picking on a six string, where people pass by and you call them by their first name."
14. “Merry Go Round” by Kasey Musgraves
15. “Water Tower Town” by Scotty McCreery
“Friday night football is king, sweet tea goes good with anything, and the girls come out when the sun goes down. Nobody eats till we say amen, and everybody knows your mama’s name. You can see who loves who from miles around, in a water tower town.”
16. “Where I Come From” by Montgomery Gentry
“We may live our lives a little slower, but that don’t mean I wouldn’t be proud to show ya.”
“See that door right there, man, I swear, it ain’t never been locked, and I can guarantee that it never will.”
17. “Raised by a Good Time” by Steven Lee Olsen
“We were only 15 runnin’ from the blue 5-0, shotgunnin’ in the field with the beams down low. Growing up fast where there ain’t no roads in the heat of the summer night."
18. “17” by Cross Canadian Ragweed
“Running from your folks, running from the law. Running from love, running from your fears, running from it all. You keep on running boy, you run yourself in the ground. You’re always 17 in your hometown.”
19. “American Kids” by Kenny Chesney
“We were Jesus save me, blue jean baby, born in the USA. Trailer park, truck stop, faded little map dots from New York to LA. We were teenage dreamin’, front seat leanin', baby, come give me a kiss.”
20. “Homegrown” by Zac Brown Band
“I got some good friends that live down the street, got a good lookin’ woman with her arms ‘round me. I live in a small town where it feels like home. I’ve got everything I need and nothin’ that I don’t.”
21. “Tattoos on this Town” by Jason Aldean
“There ain’t a corner of this hallowed ground that we ain’t laughed or cried on. It’s where we loved, lived, and learned a lot of stuff. It’s everything we’re made of.”
22. “Them Boys” by Brantley Gilbert
It’s too early for school to let out, and the Pastor's boy just threw a cigarette out. I sure hope that ain't beer in those cups, 'cause our star quarterback is turnin' them up."
23. “Dirt Road” by Kip Moore
“Unless it’s got a dirt road leading down to a fishing hole, with a little piece of moonlight, a couple cans of Bud Light, where I can cuddle with my baby and I can pull her real close; no, I don’t wanna go unless heaven’s got a dirt road.”
24. “Drinking Town with a Football Problem” by Billy Currington
“We still tell the same old story, relive former glory. Went to state in nineteen-four; we got a trophy in the school hallway; the kids pass it by each day. We’re a drinking town with a football problem with two main things we all have in common: we love ‘em both and don’t want to solve ‘em.”
25. “Dirt Road Anthem” by Jason Aldean
“Back in the day, pop’s farm was the place to go. Load the truck up, hit the dirt road. Jump the barbwire, spread the word, light the bonfire, then call the girls. The king in the can and the Marlboro man."
26. “The Way I Talk” by Morgan Wallen
“It’s 'Yessir, no ma’am, y’all come back now.' Fighting words if you run my last name down. I ain’t ashamed, matter of fact, I’m damn proud of the way I talk."
27. “Small Town Southern Man” by Alan Jackson
“Callous hands told the story for this small town Southern man."
"You can break the back, but you can’t break the spirit of a small town Southern man.”
28. “Rain is a Good Thing” by Luke Bryan
“Backroads are boggin’ up, my buddies pile up in my truck, we hunt our hunnies down, we take ‘em into town, and start washin’ all our worries down the drain.”
29. “Underage” by Kelsea Ballerini
"Time feels like it’s always on our side, so we fill it up with midnight drives and lies to your mama when she asks you where you’ve been. You hide your smile and say anywhere but with him, ‘cause you know when she was seventeen she was doing the same damn thing.”
30. "This Kind of Town" by Justin Moore
"In this kind of town, people stay together. Nobody leaves unless they leave forever.""Girls will outdrink ya, boys will out hank ya. Tie a yellow ribbon on a tree to say 'thank you.'"
31. “That’s What I Love About Sunday” by Craig Morgan
"Go home into your blue jeans; have some chicken and some baked beans. Pick a backyard football team, and not do much of anything.”
32. “Good Direction” by Billy Currington
“I told her way up yonder past the caution light, there’s a little country store with an old Coke sign; you gotta stop in and ask Miss Bell for some of her sweet tea."
33. “Chicken Fried” by Zac Brown Band
“Cold beer on a Friday night, a pair of jeans that fit just right, and the radio up. Well, I was raised up beneath the shade of a Georgia pine and that’s home, you know. Sweet tea, pecan pie, and homemade wine, where the peaches grow."
34. “Meanwhile Back at Mama's” by Tim McGraw
“I miss a little dirt on the road; I miss corn growin’ in a row. I miss being somebody everybody knows; there, everybody knows everybody. I miss those small town routes, walkin' around in muddy boots and the sound of rain on an old tin roof."
35. “Back on the Ground” by Scotty McCreery
“Ain’t it funny how it all comes back around? I remember when I couldn’t wait to get out of her hair and ditch this town; I was restless and time to move on. Now, it’s any reason to go back home."
1. Brittany Morgan,National Writer's Society
2. Radhi,SUNY Stony Brook
3. Kristen Haddox, Penn State University
4. Jennifer Kustanovich, SUNY Stony Brook
5. Clare Regelbrugge, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign