Tera also serves as graphic designer and writer for FRUIT.
and is the Executive Director of Freestyle
Ministries. She has been working with youth in the juvenile
justice system in various roles since 1999.
Graphic & Web Design
Chad oversees graphic elements of both print and online
versions of FRUIT. magazine. Chad is a freelance videographer,
video editor, graphics designer, web designer, and
Learn more: chadswigart.com
Devotional: Fruit of the Vine
Barrell is the Juvenile Justice Ministry Director for Youth
For Christ Houston, which provides a myriad of enrichment
activities, bible studies, and mentoring for youth throughout
Learn more: facebook.com/YFCJJM/
Columnist: Hey Ladies
Julie is an attorney and director of Free The Captives - an
organization that fights human trafficking and helps girls who
have been involved in prostitution, stripping, and
Learn more: freethecaptives.org
Columnist: Gangs 2 Glory
James is the founder of Alternative Behavior, an agency that
specializes in street gang education. He also serves as the
Gang Programs Coordinator for the Harris County Juvenile
Learn more: alternativebehavior.org
Katharyn is a twenty-something pursuing her dream job
as a writer. She lives in Denver, Colorado and loves the
mountains, and finds joy in her family, community, and Jesus.
Follow her blog: hercrown.wordpress.com
Editor in Chief: Tera Swigart
Contributing Editors: Kay Guerrero,
Barbara Howard, Richard Howard,
Katharyn Schrader, Louis Skipper
Contributing Writers: James Odom,
Barrell Richardson, Katharyn Schrader,
Tera Swigart, Julie Waters
Graphic Design: Chad Swigart, Tera Swigart
FRUIT. Magazine is a publication of
Freestyle Ministries, Inc. a non-profit 501(c)3
whose mission is to equip and encourage
at-risk youth and youth within the juvenile
justice system to grow spiritually, develop
and maintain positive lifestyles, and use their
God-given gifts and talents to create change
in their generation.
FRUIT. is distributed free of charge and is
designed to promote reading and writing
skills, good decision making, creativity, and
spiritual growth in its readers.
If you are interested in supporting Freestyle
Ministries, Inc., please donate online at:
producefruit.org, or you can send a check to:
Freestyle Ministries, P.O. Box 580668,
Houston, TX 77258. We will provide you
with a copy of FRUIT. magazine as a thank
you for your gift!
Here at Freestyle Ministries, we love to hear
from our readers! If you have any questions,
suggestions, or prayer requests please contact
us and we will get back to you soon.
Freestyle Ministries, Inc.
P.O. Box 580668
Web Address: producefruit.org
- C O N T E N T S -
Art and Writing of Our Readers
fresh picks music & book reviews
feature story hope stronger than scars
The Story of Marion Myers Hollins by Katharyn Schrader
fruit of the vine devotional
What’cha Looking At? by Barrell Richardson
hey ladies for our female readers
Your Body is a Temple: Protect It by Julie Waters
Gangs 2 Glory column
What Race are You Running? by James Odom
clean healthy living
Alleviate Depression Naturally? by Tera Swigart
inbox letters from Texas inmates
Suicide is Not The Answer
BECOME A FRUIT. MAGAZINE
thank you! individual and ministry partners
U T H
is a publication
C O N
U L T
A N T
We rely entirely on donations to design, publish, and
distribute each issue of FRUIT. magazine.
We appreciate all of our partners and are incredibly grateful!
We need YOUR help to make the best possible magazine for youth across Texas!
We are looking for youth ages 11 - 19 to join the FRUIT. volunteer team.
Dave & Bobbie Armstrong All you need to do is fill out the form below and mail it to:
Logan & Savethrie Freestyle Asari Ministries, P.O. Box 580668, Houston, TX 77258
Lester If it is & too Raynita difficult Curry to write on this paper or if you need more space, simply write your
Jackie name, Freeman address, and answers on your own paper and mail it to the address above.
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a special thank you for your help we will send you a commemorative
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PLEASE PRINT CLEARLY
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1. Share what your favorite parts of FRUIT. magazine are and why.
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5. Share any ideas you have to improve FRUIT. magazine.
WHY I STARTED
F R U I T M A G A Z I N E
just wanted to take a minute to tell you why I started FRUIT. magazine. As a teenager, I witnessed many of my
friends struggle with depression, loneliness, and anger. Many of them had serious issues at home with absent,
abusive, or drug/alcohol addicted parents. I saw them (and sometimes myself) turn to drugs, gangs, sex, running away
from home, cutting, etc. to deal with these feelings and problems. I still have countless letters from friends that grew
up in juvenile facilities and group homes - missing dances, friendships, family, and freedom. I witnessed broken-hearted
family and friends at way too many funerals for people who died way too young due to drug overdoses, drunk driving,
gang violence, and suicides. It was surreal. In the midst of all this turmoil, I was lucky to have two amazing parents
who prayed for me and my friends, welcomed them into our home, and taught me to seek God during those times. I
still made lots of mistakes, but I had a solid foundation to go back to.
When I was 19 years old, I lost one of my best friends. We had been close since we were six years old, playing together
at school and home. We grew up together. He spent a lot of time “locked up” and was finally out and I thought the
worst was over, but then he died of a drug overdose. I was devastated. I was done. One day, while I was walking and
praying, I told God that I just wanted to be free from the hurt. I told Him I was tired of being angry at Him and that
I wanted Him to clean me from all those ugly feelings. At that very moment it started raining! It was overcast and you
may call it coincidence but in my heart, I knew it was an answer to prayer. He was listening. I walked home like a kid,
splashing in puddles and enjoying the rain rather than hiding from it. My dad came out and joined me. Anyway, that
day I realized that I could become bitter and cynical about all I had seen or I could do something to try and prevent
other people from having to go through it.
I began mentoring and teaching art at the Fort Bend County Detention Center at 19 years old and later worked for
them planning enrichment activities and teaching life skills. Then I went to school and became a Chemical Dependency
Counselor and worked as a counselor at three different Harris County juvenile facilities. It was there that God gave me
the dream for FRUIT. magazine - to reach as many of these young men and women as I could and share with them
hope, encouragement, resources, and gang and drug education in a way that they would hopefully receive and consider
it. On top of that, God gave me the vision of publishing their art and writing so they could feel proud of themselves
for doing something positive and so that they could use their mistakes to help their peers.
I have now been working with youth in the juvenile justice system
for 16 years. I love these kids. You wouldn’t believe some of their
stories - makes my past look like a fairy tale. So, I appreciate every
encouragement and every cent that you give to allow me to continue
working with them. This magazine is my heart and my passion. All
the glory goes to God; He has surprised me every step of the way!
P.O. Box 580668
Houston, TX 77258
produce! art & writing of our readers
Matthew 7:20 says, “Thus by their fruit you will recognize them.”
We want YOU to “produce fruit” by creating artwork and writing
to be published in our next issue! This is a great way to glorify God
with your talents and to encourage others. If your work is published in
FRUIT., we will mail you a copy of the magazine to have as a keepsake!
If you would like to submit any art or writing to be published in FRUIT.,
please complete a submission form and mail it along with your art/writing
to: Freestyle Ministries, P.O. Box 580668, Houston, TX, 77258.
You can use the submission form in this issue or download a submission
form from our website: producefruit.org. You can also scan and
e-mail your work and form to Tera Swigart at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
ALSO, WRITE US WITH ANY QUESTIONS OR PRAYER REQUESTS.
We have lots of people ready to pray for you and answer any questions
you may have!
ARMONDO ANDREW, 17
CLEO, 16 CLEO, 16
MY PAST HAS BEEN BAD
My past has been bad and it makes me sad,
But the future can be good - I used to fight for the hood.
When I be sitting in that cell – it felt like I was in hell.
But when I open up my Bible it brings me joy
Like when I was a little boy
I know I’m a sinner but I’m gonna be a winner.
My life has been terrible
But the clothes that I had on my back were wearable.
Life isn’t fair sometimes.
People don’t care when you going to court in shackles
– people just stare.
How could I be so heartless?
It’s weird ‘cause when I was hittin’ licks I was fearless
But now I’m tryin’ to change my life. I be cryin’ at nightwishin’
I was with my family, that I’ll get out of TYC
And soon be free again. Never gonna get in trouble again
– I’ma win. I’m never gonna sin from this point on.
INTO MY HEART
As I sit here I think of my past, how I’m in jail cuz of my
choice to do crime, I contemplate what my parents say.
Why couldn’t I lead a good life? But, when I let Jesus
into my heart, my sins were instantly forgotten. My soul
was cleansed and made pure by the blood of God’s only
I was given light and life through Jesus Christ - the Lord,
the glorious Savior. Now I must read the Holy Bible –
and apply it to my daily behavior.
TO MY FRIENDS,
Jesus is the best man in the world, all you have to do is
seek him. If He can change my life, he can change yours
also. I started smoking when I was twelve, jumped off
the porch at a young age. Didn’t care about God, my
savior, until I came to jail. I can’t tell you how good His
word is, you have to see for yourselves. But, I promise
you, once you pick up the book of LIFE, you won’t
wanna put it down.
We all need to make a change in our life. Stop this smoking,
drinking, sex and violence. This world is becoming a
dangerous place to live and the only way you can see this
happening is by picking up the Bible and reading and
understanding it. Make a change in life, be a leader – not
always a follower. I was a follower but God helped me to
8 7 a leader. God bless y’all!
THINGS I WAS DOIN’ IN THE STREETS
I am locked up. I have been here for 10 months,
charged with a serious crime. You may wonder
how I got here. 10 months ago on October 31st,
on Halloween day, my life changed forever. I was
with some people that I used to call friends – but
they were really not my friends. We were drinking
and getting high, then later that day we did something
I wish I never would have done – it’s in my
head like it was yesterday. I wish I could take it
back, but I understand that I did something bad
and if I have to do some time, I’m going to do it.
I wasn’t bad overnight - we used to smoke marijuana.
I thought that was cool but it really was to
make me fit in with them fools. I wanted to smoke
more and more. I didn’t care what other people
or my mom said. So one day, I just ran away from
home. I was just doing what I wanted to do. I was
breaking into people’s houses and stores. I was doing
a lot of drugs and bad stuff and I didn’t care.
I was just high every day. The streets and drugs
didn’t give me nothing good. I was a part of a
gang. The gang didn’t bring me nothing good. A
lot of my friends, my real friends, were killed and
I used to talk bad of my mom. My mom, she did
everything for me but I didn’t do nothing for her
– just bad stuff. Now that I’m locked up, my mom
is the only one with me, helping me.
When I first got here I didn’t believe in God and
now I do. God and your family are the only ones
who are going to be with you when something bad
happens. It’s not too late to change. When I get
out of here I am going to change and be with my
family and the people I love the most. My life has
changed a lot because of the drugs and gangs. My
baby girl just died like two months ago and I was
really hurt and I wanted to help others to stay out
the streets because I know how it feels to be in
the streets – smoking and doing other stuff. I just
wanted to say that it is not too late to change. I
also wanted to say sorry to my mom for all the bad
things I did. Te quiero mucho. So for those of you
that want to change, it’s not too late.
I want to share something with those who are
still doing all that wrong stuff because God has
opened my eyes to see the reality. I was one of
those persons that would spend most of the time
(or all the time) in the streets doing drugs, hanging
out with bad influences, doing bad stuff and being
on the run and all of that. I would do the stuff I
would set myself to do and still do things wrong.
It wasn’t ‘til one night I was walking with one of
my “friends” and we saw a truck started with nobody
inside and I told my friend that we could
get the job done – I was willing to risk it without
knowing where I was going to end up. When I attempted
to take the car, the cops got me, arrested
me, and took me to jail. I did not only face that
charge, but a drug charge as well.
After I got released, I kept doing the same stuff
and a couple of weeks later, I got caught up again
and did more time than what I thought I was going
to. But this time I decided to change for myself,
for good because I realized that all that stuff
I used to do, all those years I wasted on the streets,
on drugs, on all that nonsense, was worthless because
I realized that if I didn’t change I would end
up locked up for life or dead. I wasn’t always that
bad kid, I used to be good, I attended church, went
to school, etc. But if you hang around those that
are doing wrong you will eventually get caught up.
Now, I couldn’t change on my own. God has been
there for me to help me achieve it. I am a new
creation in Jesus Christ. He helps me with my everyday
struggle and helps me stay on track.
I also wanted to change because I realized the pain
I was causing my family and especially my beautiful
momma. I seen my mom cry and I couldn’t
take it. It broke me on the inside, I felt like I was
dying. I made a decision and a promise to myself,
my mom and to God, that I would make my
momma happy, I would make her proud, that she
would cry – but not of pain but of joy. I will walk
on stage and receive my diploma and whenever I
turn to look at her, I will see tears rolling down
her cheeks thinking to herself, “My son made it.”
I want my momma to live a joyful life but I was
doing the opposite back then. But now, I got a
promise to make come true, I will not disappoint
my mom or God – I will make my momma happy.
I’m locked up, sitting in the unit
thinking about my life.
Locked up in a cell
got me thinking more than twice
I did something wrong,
now it’s time to pay the price!!
I just want to tell all the people
reading this right now
To make the right choice – I know how you feel!
I have been locked up more than 9 times – now
I’m over here being locked up since 2015 – that’s a
year and two months and finally going home.
All this time makes me realize all the bad stuff I
was doing before and all the people that just tell
me that they was my “Homeboys.”
They ain’t real – they fake!!
I been locked up all this time and none of them
have written me a single letter or called my mom
to see how I’m doing. All this time I thought they
was real but they really ain’t – they just want you
to be like them. I’m not telling you what to do or
how to live your life, I’m just tellin’ you now the
choice is yours; it’s up to you
But just think about all the harm you are doing
to your family!! And never forget God’s always
gon’ be there for you no matter what – He’s ready
when you’re ready.
I’m stuck in the system and I can’t get out.
Sitting on my cell with a lot to think about.
Sometimes I wanna run and get away from this
But I can’t get out because these brick walls are
making me stay.
I did something wrong – now it’s time to pay the
Now I’m flippin’ the script ‘cause I have to stay
Not only for myself,
But mainly for my mom…
It’s a struggle everyday,
But I know everything is gonna be okay.
Now, I just pray to God and
Ask for forgiveness and one more last chance.
DAQUALYN, 16 GERARDO, 16
JESSE, 16 STEVEN, 17 TRAVION, 16
TRAVION, Sergio, 15 16
THOMAS TRAVION, 16
JESSIE JUAN, 17
NOEL, 14 TRISTAN, 16
SAMUEL, 17 SAMUEL, 17
TYLER, 16 S.L., 16
1. What organization can you call if you or someone you love is having suicidal thoughts? (PG 22)
2. How old was Marion Hollins when she first thought of committing suicide? (PG 21)
3. Fill in the blank: “You should treat your body with respect and .” (PG 27)
4. Fill in the blank: “With each choice we make, there are obstacles and .” (PG 28)
5. What did James Odom ask you to ask yourself? Fill in the blank: “What am I ?”(PG 29)
1. What is the last name of the female musician we recommended? (PG 18)
2. What fueled Marion Hollins’ depression? (PG 22)
3. The book in the Bible that has the verse, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper
you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (PG 24)
4. Who gives us the to ability to understand God’s word and to view our circumstances as God does? (PG 25)
5. The prophet in the Bible who prayed, ‘Open his eyes, LORD, so that he may see.” (PG 25)
6. What is Tip 3 for alleviating Depression naturally? (PG 31)
7. Which vitamin “helps boost your immune system, which helps give you energy and an overall feeling of well-being.
It has also been shown to help with a more restful sleep.” (PG 32)
8.Finish the Lecrae Quote: “If you live for people’s acceptance, you’ll die from their .” (PG 19)
ACROSS: 1.SUICIDELIFELINE 2.SIX 3.HONOR 4.SACRIFICES 5.ACCOMPLISHING/ DOWN: 1.DAIGLE 2.HOPELESSNESS 3.JEREMIAH 4.HOLYSPIRIT 5.ELISHA 6.MEDITATION 7.VITAMINC 8.REJECTION
For only five dollars per copy, you can provide the youth
you serve with FRUIT. magazine - an excellent resource
to inspire, educate, equip, and encourage them to make
positive lifestyle changes and to use their God-given gifts
and abilities to create change in their communities.
We currently have nine juvenile justice facilities in need of
sponsorship. These include:
Harris County Leadership Academy
Harris County BBRC
Dallas County Henry Wade Juvenile Center
Galveston County Juvenile Detention
Ron Jackson State Juvenile Correction
Giddings State School
Gainesville State School
Montgomery County Juvenile Detention
McLennan County State Juvenile Correction
Please consider ordering copies of FRUIT.magazine for
your facility/organization or make a difference in your
community by sponsoring one of the facilities listed above!
If you are interested in ordering or sponsoring, contact
Tera Swigart: email@example.com, 832-423-3126
fresh picks music reviews
THE 6 TH
Genre: Hip Hop
HOW CAN IT BE
Artist: Lauren Daigle
I’m a huge Lecrae fan and feel he and Trip put out the
best Christian Rap out there. The 6th, in my book, has
added Flame to the elite group. The cream of the crop
got thicker since this release...granted his other stuff
has been great but this is the most complete album
I’ve heard from him.
Flame grabbed my attention with the very first song
and held it till the tracks went silent. I love Flame’s
delivery, not fast or quick, but deliberate and almost
in a way that makes you feel his emotion-filled beliefs
through his words. You gotta check this album out if
you even “kinda” like rap music... or are simply trying
to get closer to God. Flame will walk you through
some pitfalls and questions Christians face that can’t
help but assist you in your walk.
I pray Flame is gifted from God to keep producing
truth for years to come.
Lauren Daigle’s latest album, How Can It Be, is one of
the best female Christian albums in a long, long time.
The music is beautiful and her lyrics are raw, personal,
and refreshingly unique compared to the typical Christian
God has used the trials in her life as a teenager to prepare
her for creating this worship CD. There is not a single song
on this album that you will not love. It’s not elevator music,
but soulful, contemporary, and fresh. Lauren Daigle
reminds me of Adele or Amy Whinehouse with her sultry
nightclub voice yet it’s uniquely Lauren Daigle and completely
She is best know for the title track “How Can It Be”
which is an introspective examination of personal
failure in light of God’s goodness. This track won the
KLove Fan Award for best worship song of 2015. We
will not be suprised to see her bring home a Grammy!
ook reviews fresh picks
Author: Clayton Geoffreys
“If you live for people’s acceptance, you’ll die from
their rejection.” Two-time Grammy winning hip hop
artist, Lecrae, learned this lesson through more than
his share of adversity—childhood abuse, drugs and
alcoholism, a stint in rehab, an abortion, and an
unsuccessful suicide attempt.
This short unauthorized biography will be very interesting
for sports fans and those that just like a good
inspirational story. The book follows Curry from childhood,
showing how he became one of the greatest
shooters of all time and shares several surprises
along the way.
Along the way, Lecrae attained an unwavering faith in
Jesus and began looking to God for affirmation. Now
as a chart-topping industry anomaly, he has learned
to ignore the haters and make peace with his craft.
The rap artist holds nothing back as he divulges the
most sensitive details of his life, answers his critics,
shares intimate handwritten journal entries, and powerfully
models how to be a Christian in a secular age.
This is the story of one man’s journey to faith and
freedom. This is a great read and awesome way to
learn about the man behind the music.
His devotion to Christ and personal integrity is inspiring.
Curry’s parents taught him to prioritize faith, family,
and academics above everything else - including
sports - Curry still clings to these priorities today.
Curry is a devoted follower of Christ who displays
his unselfishness on and off the basketball court. He
even writes Bible verses on his basketball shoes! The
legendary player feels God wanted to use him in the
league to show that not all successful athletes live the
celebrity lifestyle that comes with all the money and
fame. We definitely recommend this book!
M Y E R S
H O L L I N S
“Praise God,” she
says, “that he cut
her face instead
of cutting her
neck. I saw the
bone in her face.”
Marion was just a
child and shared a room
with her two brothers on
the night their father took a
garden hoe to their mom’s face.
“My mother was a beautiful
woman, but that incident left her
scarred for the rest of her life.”
And it just added to the scars
already damaging Marion’s heart.
Marion remembers being six years old the first time
she walked into the kitchen on a mission to end her
life. She didn’t skip or twirl around like little girls
are supposed to; she was looking for a knife.
She gingerly carried the dangerous device to the bathroom and proceeded
to press the blade into her little wrists. “Depression hit me at an early age,” she
confesses. “I had already been through so much. I had seen so much. Every day
I went to school with my fingers crossed, praying that my mom would be alive
when we got home.”
Marion and her brothers would return home from school to find their mom alive
but not living much of a life — covered in bruises from her husband’s brutalities.
Little Marion lived in fear.
“I never knew when he was going to come home drunk, tearing up the house. Whenever he was
home I would stay near the boys,” she remembers. “I lived in a world of dishes crashing, mother
screaming, children waking from their sleep.” And that’s not a world anyone should live in
— especially a child.
“The pressure of all of that combined was just too
much,” she says. “I didn’t want to live anymore because
I was tired of the emotional trauma I was going
through. I was trying to be strong for so long.”
That’s when the depression started leading to suicidal
thoughts: “I can’t be strong anymore so I just want it
to end.” What was supposed to be a secure and
peaceful time in her formative years was actually a
time of fear and darkness.
M A R I O N ’ S D E P R E S S I O N
THREATENED TO SHORTEN HER
T I M E O N T H I S E A R T H .
B U T W H A T F U E L E D
H E R D E P R E S S I O N ?
H O P E L E S S N E S S
“I didn’t know why I was here,” she says. “I felt invisible.
I was always scared to death, and no one understood
what I was going through. I was hopeless.”
The lack of hope in her life fueled her depression. The
introduction of hope to her life is what pulled her out. “I
didn’t know anything about God,” she admits. “But as I
got older, my grandmother taught me about Christ and
his love. His forgiveness. I started getting a little bit
stronger because I believed that there was something
out there more powerful than I could understand.”
For someone who spent many years battling depression
and suicidal thoughts, Marion knows that only
one thing truly saved her from her darkness: having
access to hope.“I grew up in impossible situations,
just like a lot of youth today,” she says. “But thankfully,
I had that one person who had hope, who had an attachment
to something bigger.”
“No matter what your situation is,” she promises, “you
can make it out — and not just physically, but mentally
and emotionally as well. No, it’s not going to be
easy. You have to relearn everything. You have to be
a fighter. There’s a bigger calling on all your lives; you
have to believe in something bigger than you. Even in
the midst of all of your pain, God is in that. He is going
to turn it around. He is present; He can save your
soul. He can pull you out of despair, but you have to
believe it to receive it. Without Him it’s almost impossible
to make it.”
Now a real estate agent, administrative assistant,
and author, Marion has six children and three grandchildren.
“I’m a walking testimony of having lived the
street life and now doing something positive with my
life,” she says. But things aren’t perfect; it doesn’t
work that way. To this day, she sometimes struggles
“I’m not going to say I’m one hundred percent,” she
admits. “Everyone has to manage their emotions. If I
go back to my past for too long, I experience the guilt
I’ve been freed from so many times before.”
The key, always, is clinging to hope. “I just have to
pray myself out of it,” she says. “I cry out to God and
I regroup. I can’t give up. I won’t give up. My purpose
is bigger than even what I can see. That’s why I tell
Marion is dedicating the rest of her life to sharing that
hope with youth who are growing up in the ghetto just
like she did. In her book, Ghetto’s Forgotten Daughters,
she shares her whole story — including how she
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HAVE YOU BEEN INVOLVED
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fruit of the vine devotional by barrell richardson
W h a t c h a
L o o k i n ’ A t ?
What’s good family? Hey I got a question for you…..Whatcha lookin at? For some of us, that’s what we ask someone
who is staring, “mean mugging,” or looking at us in a way that makes us feel uncomfortable. And when we’re the ones
being asked that question, we tend to feel like we are being called out or disrespected. If you are anything like I used to be,
the automatic answer to that question is an aggressive, “I’M LOOKIN AT YOU!!” Lol, you know that’s what we do. I know
how this question may come across, but I’m still seriously asking you today - this very moment, real-talk right now as you are
reading this - “Whatcha lookin’ at?”
Whether you know it or not, lil homie, your answer to that question is incredibly important. The answer to that question
shapes our perspective and actions - not just for today, but it also shapes how we view our future as well. So I’m going to ask
you again, in your current situation - whatever it may be - what are you looking at? Do you view your situation as hopeless?
Do you view it as an end to the plans and dreams you had for yourself? Do you see it as punishment for past mistakes? What
do you see when you look in the mirror? Success? Failure? Potential? Whatcha lookin at?
I know many don’t want to answer or even think about that question. There have been times in my life when the answer to
that question was painful. It was so painful because I was looking through the wrong lenses. I was viewing it from my limited
vision instead of viewing it through Gods eyes! Just like when a person wears glasses to correct their vision if they don’t have
their glasses on, or have the wrong lenses, everything will be blurry and can even cause more damage to their eyesight. But with
the proper lenses, they can see with vivid clarity. It’s the same with how we view life. From our flawed human perspective, our
circumstances can appear skewed - based on past hurts, mistakes, and failures. If we don’t change our perspective we will never
see the beautiful life filled with hope and joy that God has prepared for us. It’s not that it isn’t there…it just that we don’t see it.
God has made it pretty clear in His Word how He views our future when we follow Him. Jeremiah 29:11 says,“‘For I know
the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give
you hope and a future.’” God has plans for us and they’re not based on anything we do or don’t do, they’re based on what
He wants to do for His children!! So, you wanna know how you can see yourself how God sees you, right? Good question …
man y’all are smart! Surprisingly, the answer to that question is fairly simple. To know God’s plans for us, which will begin to
eshape our perspective and view of our lives, selves, and situations, we first have to have a relationship with Him. The only
way to start that relationship is by recognizing that you have sinned and that there is a penalty to be paid for that sin. You
need to ask forgiveness for those sins and turn away from them, believing that Jesus is the Son of God who paid the price for
your sins when He died on the cross and that He rose again three days later so that we can have eternal life in Heaven. For all
those who repent and believe will become God’s children (Galatians 3:26) and will receive the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13)
who gives us the power to change, to communicate with God, to understand His Word, and to view our circumstances as God
does. Once you are a child of God, you still have to put in the time to grow - spending time with God continually - reading
the Bible, praying, and spending time with other believers. The more time you spend with God, the more you will see how
God can use your circumstances to grow you into the strong person He created you to be. You will learn how valuable and
precious you are to Him.
Listen, I hear you - many of you are thinking, Brother B, I hear you, but you don’t understand all the bad I’ve done and all the people I’ve
hurt! How could God truly have good plans for me after I’ve done all of that? I still make mistakes constantly, so why would God want to do good
for me? I hear what you saying but I just can’t see it or believe it’s true for me. I hear you Fam, and trust me, I’ve asked those same questions
myself many times. So let’s do this: turn your Bible to 2 Kings, Chapter 6. Peep verses 8-17:
“Now the king of Aram was at war with Israel. After conferring with his officers, he said, ‘I will
set up my camp in such and such a place.’ The man of God sent word to the king of Israel: ‘Beware
of passing that place, because the Arameans are going down there.’ So the king of Israel
checked on the place indicated by the man of God. Time and again Elisha warned the king, so
that he was on his guard in such places. This enraged the king of Aram. He summoned his officers
and demanded of them, ‘Tell me! Which of us is on the side of the king of Israel?’ ‘None
of us, my lord the king,’ said one of his officers, ‘but Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells
the king of Israel the very words you speak in your bedroom.’ ‘Go, find out where he is,’ the king
ordered, ‘so I can send men and capture him.’ The report came back: ‘He is in Dothan.’ Then he
sent horses and chariots and a strong force there. They went by night and surrounded the city.
When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with
horses and chariots had surrounded the city. ‘Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?’ the servant
asked. ‘Don’t be afraid,’ the prophet answered. ‘Those who are with us are more than those
who are with them.’ And Elisha prayed, ‘Open his eyes, LORD, so that he may see.’ Then the
LORD opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots
of fire all around Elisha.”
You see Fam, sometimes you have to trust what God and others can see for you until you can see it for yourself. It’s called faith!
What I and hundreds of others who are praying for you see for your future is a life filled with joy, purpose, success, strength,
and inspiration for others. Your triumph in your circumstances through your relationship with Jesus will inspire others if you
will allow him to mold you and bless you the way he longs to. Family, you may not know it yet, but you are a success story in
the making - That’s what I’m lookin at......YOU!!!!
Okay fam, I gotta go, before you all get me in trouble with Tera for making this too long. You know Tera - the Founder of
FRUIT. magazine? C’mon Fam, check the front cover and catch up. Smh! Real-talk though…..I luv ya Fam and until we get a
chance to talk again…keep pushin!
In His grip, Barrell
hey ladies column for our female readers
Julie Waters, Attorney and Director of Free the Captives
This article is being written to keep girls OUT of the life
– out of prostitution and sex trafficking. If you, for one
minute, think pimpin’ or being with a pimp is cool, I hope this
article makes you think twice. You don’t want to come even
close to this danger. Once you get in it, it will mess up your
entire life. If you have already been in the life, don’t give up.
There is hope, and there is a way out. (Read to the end.)
There are many reasons why girls get into the life. A dude said
he loved you. He said you could make lots of money together
and that you would never need to worry about anything again.
You wanted away from the rules of your mama. She never lets
you do anything. So you run away from home, and you run to
him. Turns out that dude was a pimp.
Or you are locked up in detention, and this girl starts talking
to you. She tells you about her dude and how they make a lot
of money together. “It’s real easy and fun. I can hook you up.
Call me when you get out,” she says. You like her. She’s nice to
you and listens to all of your problems. You feel like you have
nowhere to go or no one to talk to when you get out so you
do call her when you are in the free. She is more than happy
to come pick you up.
Whatever the reason, once you are in the game, it is hard to
get out. If you’ve been doing this since you were 12 or 14
years old, you feel like you don’t know anything else. It is all
you are used to - the fast life, the drugs, the excitement, the
illusion of money. But then you begin to realize, this life is not
for you. You don’t like being used and abused. You don’t like
being in jail. You don’t like giving all your money to him. You
are tired. Your body is tired. Your mind is tired. And maybe
you’ve become pregnant and you realize you want something
more for you and your baby.
So you decide to leave. Leaving can be easy or really hard. It
depends on your pimp and that issue is a whole other article.
But let’s just say your pimp lets you leave and now you are
free to do whatever you want. You want to start a new life.
You want to do things the right way. This is where things get
tough, especially if you don’t have a good support system.
When you start your new life, you are probably going to want
a job. It is hard to go from making $200 or $500 a night to
making $7.25 per-hour (minimum wage). And that is if you
can find a job!! Many of the girls I work with have a hard
time finding places that are even hiring. Applying online is
not enough; you have to go in person and talk to the manager.
It is easy to get discouraged when you apply to a ton of jobs
online and no one ever calls you. At this point, it would seem
really easy to call your dude and to go back to prostitution.
That money seems easy. But I want you to remember the true
cost. You were created by God. Did you know that your body
is special? In the Bible it is called a temple. “Don’t you realize
that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you
and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself,
for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor
God with your body” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20.
A temple is a special place, a holy place. During Jesus’ time,
the temple was a place where people came to worship God.
People treated the temple with respect and honor. Therefore,
if your body is a temple like this verse says, you should treat
your body with respect and honor.
Furthermore, this verse says that God paid a high price for
you. You may think you made a lot of money when you were
with your pimp, but the price God paid was even higher.
When this verse talks about God paying a high price, it is
referring to Jesus dying on the cross for you. God allowed
his son, Jesus, to die for you and me. His death on the cross
is priceless. This means that you are worth more than $500 a
night. Jesus died for you. There is no amount of money that
you can earn in a night that is worth more than what Jesus did
for you. So honor God with your body. Do not go back to
that life no matter how hard things seem. You are worth so
Girl, Jesus loves you. No matter what has happened in your
past, He loves you. And because of that you can face this new
life – no matter how hard it seems. You are not alone. You are
loved. You are special.
And as for that job…well, I can try to help you with that. I
have a job program for girls in the Houston area who have
been involved in sex trafficking and prostitution. It is called
New Creations, and the girls make amazing, beautiful candles.
You get paid for making candles and also learn how to interview,
write a resume, and much more. New Creations is a
great way to get job experience.
At Free the Captives, we help with many things - tutoring,
shelter, groceries, mentoring, and more. But the one thing that
we do that the girls really like the most is our job program. So
if you are interested, you can call me at (281) 901-0794 and
be sure to leave a message. You can also text that number.
Remember, your body is a temple! You deserve respect and
honor, no matter what you’ve been through.
-Julie Waters is a lawyer who started the nonprofit, Free the Captives, to help
girls involved in prostitution and stripping in Houston, TX to rebuild their lives.
GANGS 2 GLORY column by james odom
Ever sign up for a race? I recently signed up and
ran two (OCR) Obstacle Course Races. They’re
definitely a challenge because not only are you
running a 5k, but you’re expected to overcome obstacles
along the way. When I registered for these
races, I knew a few things would come with my registration.
I got an entry to participate, a t-shirt, and
also a medal upon completion. They were definitely
worth the time and effort it took to prepare for them,
plus it felt good to accomplish something I’d worked
so hard for.
love in a relationship. The races we run are called
life choices, and with each choice we make, there
are obstacles and sacrifices.
I thought about the analogy of running races when I
went to visit a young man who was shot in the head.
He too signed up for a race, the gang. Much like myself,
he knew what came with his registration only
instead of receiving a t-shirt and medal, he received
a gunshot wound to the head that left him unconscious
in the hospital fighting for his life.
As I completed each race, I posted pictures of myself
on Facebook. In some of the photos, I was covered
in mud, swimming under barricades, crossing lakes,
and jumping over logs on fire. People started commenting
on my newsfeed and asking why I would
do something like that. They didn’t understand why
someone would make so many sacrifices to train for
a race that tortured them.
When someone makes the decision to join a gang,
deep down inside they’re aware of the consequences
that come with membership. I remember when I
joined a gang at 14 years old; I was always aware of
the danger but never once did I think it would happen
to me. It wasn’t until my best friend got paralyzed
before I started thinking about the choices I
was making in life.
Truth is, life is a race. We all sign up and make sacrifices
for something… endless nights of studying to
graduate or get a degree, long hours on the job to
get a paycheck, or investing time in someone to find
As I looked down at this kid lying motionless in the
Intensive Care Unit, I wondered what his decision
would have been if he could have predicted the
outcome. I’m sure he would have chosen another
oute, a safer route, one that ensured success and
put smiles on his loved ones’ faces. Instead, tears
filled the room as everyone struggled to recognize
the person they loved so dearly.
I stared at him, bothered by the environment. He had
no clue who was coming to see him, who was praying
over him, or the countless times officers visited
his bedside hoping for an opportunity to ask questions
about the shooting. His eyes never opened,
his body never moved, and stiches ran across the
front and top of his swollen head. The only sound in
the room was the beeping from the machines keeping
I feel prompted to tell you that life doesn’t have to be
like this. This doesn’t have to be your race! Competing
in the wrong event ends in tragedy. I would like
to challenge you to think about what you’re investing
in. Ask yourself, “What am I accomplishing?” If you
train to be a gang member, will that make your family
proud, will you feel successful one day? Take it
from someone who has crossed the finish line: when
you run the right race, there is no better feeling than
looking at the smiles on your loved ones’ faces.
Much like myself,
he knew what
came with his
registration - only
instead of receiving
a t-shirt and medal,
he received a
gunshot wound to
the head that left
in the hospital,
fighting for his life.
clean healthy living by tera swigart
TIP 1: EXERCISE
W H E T H E R Y O U H A V E S E R I O U S D E P R E S S I O N
BEING TREATED BY MEDICATIONS AND COUNSELING
OR IF YOU ARE GOING THROUGH A TIME OF
GRIEF, MILD DEPRESSION, OR EVEN JUST FEELING
HOMESICK, WE HAVE SOME GREAT TIPS TO HELP
R E L I E V E T H E S E S Y M P T O M S O N Y O U R O W N
OR ALONG WITH YOUR CURRENT TREATMENT.
Exercise is one of the best ways to get you feeling happier and healthier fast. Aerobic exercise increases serotonin levels
(hormones that make you feel happier naturally). All exercise will help you feel healthier, and healthier people have a more
overall feeling of wellbeing. It can also help you get into a positive routine, channeling some of those negative emotions
and releasing them in a much healthier way. We know that it can be challenging to get exercise while in a juvenile facility. Try
some of these ideas – with the permission of the staff and your doctor, of course!
WARM UP: Warm up exercises help to get the body loose and heart rate up. Run in place for thirty seconds, jumping jacks
for 30 seconds, stand forward and with arms out twist back and forth, large forward arm circles for 15 seconds, then reverse
for 15 seconds. Be sure to stretch your arms, legs, back and neck after warm up to prevent injuries during workout.
BURPEES: Burpees are a great overall exercise that can be done in small spaces: From a standing position squat down, drop
your hands to the ground and jump your feet back to assume a push-up position. Do a push-up. Jump your legs forward to
between your hands then jump up into the air bringing your knees to your chest and your hands into the air over your head.
PUSHUPS: Try a variety of pushups, Military, Wide, Staggered, Incline, Decline. Make it a game: Get a deck of cards and
some sort of receptacle. Sitting some distance from the target toss a card attempting to land it in the receptacle. If the card
doesn’t make it and lands face up this is how many push-ups you will be doing. (Face cards equal 10.) Do the whole deck.
Repeat if you’re a tough guy or gal (or if you are aces at tossing cards).
TRICEPS DIPS: Work the opposing muscle group by placing your hands on your bed, while facing away from the bed with
feet on ground, lift your body up and down. You can increase by straightening legs or placing legs on a chair.
SQUATS: This is another space saver exercise. Try wall squats – put your back against the wall and squat as if sitting in
a chair and see how long you can hold it. Another option is a jump squat- Squat from a standing position until your
fingertips touch the floor and then explode upwards, leaving the floor and raising your arms into the air. Repeat. Your
quads will start burning quicker than you probably expect.
JUMP LUNGE: From a lunge position (one foot out in front of you, knee at 90 degree angle, back foot behind you,
knee bent toward the ground) jump upward bringing both feet off the ground at the same time and switch your stance
ending in a lunge position with your other foot now in the front. The speed and number of reps are up to you.
CORE: Try holding a plank pose (hands in pushup position, feet and legs straight behind you, your back straight).
Throw in some crunches and leg lifts – lie flat on your back. Keeping your legs straight and toes pointed, lift one leg up
and do crunches, alternate legs.
COOL DOWN: Be sure to cool down, drink tons of water and stretch well. Yoga is excellent for reducing stress! If
something hurts, stop immediately – do not push yourself. The idea is to stay active – not to get hurt.
JOIN A TEAM: Sports are a great way to get consistent physical activity and build healthy relationships. Basketball,
for example, is GREAT aerobic exercise and usually is fun and can take your mind off what is bothering you.
TIP 2: TALK TO SOMEONE POSITIVE
Recognize the people around you who seem to bring you down – avoid if you can. Find someone who you look up
to or who is positive and spend time with him or her. Talk to your caseworker, counselor, youth pastor, or a favorite
teacher. Talking through your problems can help you get a better perspective and feel less alone. Try calling Teen Line
where teenagers help other teenagers: (800) TLC-TEEN or text TEEN to 839863.
TIP 3: MEDITATION
Meditation is a great way to relax when you feel sadness (or any negative emotion) creeping up on you. Now I know
some of you guys are thinking, yeah right, but if you try it, you will be amazed at how much it can relax you and get
your mind off all the junk. Also, you can do it without anyone realizing you are doing it. I’m not talking about the type
of meditation where you “empty your mind” but the type where you focus your mind on something positive. I will line
out some options for you to try.
SIMPLE BREATHING EXERCISE: Sitting on the floor with your legs crossed, straighten your spine as much as you
can and look straight ahead, or lie flat on your back with your legs straight, uncrossed and your arms at your sides with
your palms facing up. Relax your stomach and shoulders. Then begin breathing slowly. Breathe in through your nose
and out through your mouth (remember to keep your stomach and shoulders relaxed!). You can close your eyes, or if
you feel uncomfortable doing that, just focus on one spot in front of you. (If you are in class you can still practice this
while sitting in your chair).
Count up to five as you breathe in and then count to five as you breathe out. After doing that a couple of times, count
to seven. Increase the number until you count to 10 or 12 (in and out). As you breathe in, you should feel your stomach
rise, and as you breathe out, you should feel it fall.
As you breathe in, try saying to yourself (silently so you don’t look crazy), “breathe in peace, calm, relaxation” and as
you breathe out, say to yourself, “breathe out anger, frustration, fear” (or whatever negative emotion you want to release).
This is a great time to ask God to remove those feelings from you as you breathe out and to replace them with
positive feelings as you breathe in.
SIMPLE BREATHING EXERCISE WITH VISUALIZATION: After you have mastered the simple breathing exercise,
you can add visualization. I will share with you one of my favorite things to visualize while meditating, give it a try!
Lie on your back and slow your breathing (as described above), close your eyes and visualize that you are lying on the
beach. There is no one around for miles, just you. (Don’t go adding someone else to this!) Imagine what it would feel
like lying on a big beach towel on the sand. Imagine how it would feel with the sun against your skin with a nice cool
breeze blowing by.
Now, imagine what it looks like. The sand is white, the sky is blue with just a few small white fluffy clouds, the water is
crystal clear and the waves are crashing against the beach. After you have done that, imagine what you would hear, the
sound of the waves, wind, and the cries of a few seagulls. Continue by imagining the way it might smell, like salt water
and sand. Then just lie back and enjoy- if you stick to it, you will find yourself feeling very relaxed and peaceful. You
can picture any place that makes you feel peaceful.
TIP 4: FOODS TO EAT
Eating a well-rounded diet filled with lean meats such as fish, turkey, and chicken, along with plenty of fruits and vegetables
and healthy carbs like brown rice, oats, whole grain breads and pastas is a great way to improve your mood.
SUPER FOODS: These foods are loaded with vitamins that help with an overall feeling of well-being. apples, broccoli,
sweet potatoes, spinach, kale, cabbage, avocado, blueberries, beans, walnuts, salmon, and dairy free chocolate.
TIP 5: FOODS TO AVOID
REFINED SUGAR: Refined sugar causes our blood glucose levels to plummet, resulting in a sugar hangover that disrupts
our mood, depletes our energy, and is linked to sleep disorders.
ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS: Aspartame blocks the production of the neurotransmitter serotonin and causes mood dips,
headaches, and insomnia. (Splenda appears safe for now.)
PROCESSED FOOD: White bread, doughnuts, canned meats (not tuna), or snack foods cause the same impact on your
blood sugar levels as eating a basket of jellybeans. Bagels are processed the same way donuts are. After the initial insulin
boost, you will end up fatigued, irritated, and blue.
HYDROGENATED OILS: Stay away from any fried foods. Anything that is cooked with hydrogenated oils and contains
trans fats could potentially contribute to depression. They can also cause health issues that will complicate depression.
FOODS HIGH IN SODIUM: Fat-free foods might be good for your waistline but not all that great for your emotions.
The excess sodium in these products can disrupt your neurological system, contributing to depression, and can lower your
immune system’s response and cause fatigue.
ALCOHOL: Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant. If you have a history of a mood disorder this can make it
much worse. Your central nervous system is responsible for taking in information through the senses, controlling motor
function, as well as thinking, understanding, and reasoning. It also controls emotion. Alcohol slows all this down, making
symptoms of depression much worse. It also can lead to addiction and major health issues. You need to deal with the underylying
causes of depression instead of covering them up.
CAFFEINE: According to some experts, even a modest amount of caffeine can contribute to depression and anxiety. Caffeine
disrupts sleep, making it more difficult to fall asleep and to stay asleep; those disturbances affect mood. It can cause
agitation, tremors, and nervousness. Energy drinks, particularly, are bad news as some of them contain the caffeine equivalent
of 14 cans of soda.
DRUGS: Many prescription and illicit drugs can actually cause you to use up large amounts of serotonin or dopamine and
cause feelings of depression. If you are taking prescribed meds, ask your doctor about this. If you have been abusing drugs,
then you need to quit. Remember that it takes time for your body to build the serotonin back up in your system.When these
are low, you may feel depressed and use again, but really you are only making the problem worse.
If you used one or more of these drugs you may feel sad and apathetic for several months. But it helps to understand that it
is a chemical problem in your brain and it will get better as everything gets back to normal… don’t give up and don’t relapse!
TIP 6: SUPPLEMENTS THAT CAN HELP
B VITAMINS: A deficiency in B vitamins such as folic acid and B12 can trigger depression in some people. You can take
a vitamin B supplement with the permission of your doctor - or eat foods that are rich in B vitamins to ward off anxiety.
These include chicken, leafy greens, peanuts, oranges and other citrus fruits, rice, nuts, and eggs.
VITAMIN D3: A deficiency in Vitamin D has been linked to Seasonal Affective Disorder. Many people are deficient in
Vitamin D and have no clue. So, get some sunshine! However, this still might not be enough. Talk to your doctor about testing
your vitamin D levels and he/she can give you a supplement and you will be feeling much better in no time!
VITAMIN C: Vitamin C is a great vitamin to take daily. It helps boost your immune system, which helps give you energy
and an overall feeling of well-being. It has also been shown to help with a more restful sleep.
HERBAL TEAS: There are several herbal teas that can help you to relax such as peppermint tea and chamomile tea. Green
tea is a great antioxidant that helps with overall health - but remember to get the caffeine free version.
TIP 7: STAY CLOSE TO GOD
Make some time at the VERY beginning of your day to read some scripture and pray. Ask God to guide your steps
throughout the day. Ask Him to help keep you from temptation and to remind you of all the blessings that you have. Ask
Him to teach you what He wants you to learn while being locked up so that this time spent away from family and friends
won’t be for nothing.
Then, throughout the day when you feel that negativity creeping in, just pray and ask for Him to help you. Consider inviting
others in your unit to participate – if the whole unit starts out on a good note, then all will go better for everyone. I worked
in one unit where this worked great! If you can play music try listening to your favoite praise band, or Christian rap/rock!
TIP 8: KEEP AN ATTITUDE OF THANKFULNESS
Try keeping a journal of everything you are thankful for throughout the day. Think of the smallest things you may take for
granted and write them down. Think back over your life about all the things that helped and encouraged you and write them
down. As you go through your day, when you find yourself grumbling or angry, remind yourself of others who have it far
worse than you and thank God for it.
Say thank you to the staff, friends, and family who have done something kind for you or your unit. Write letters to people in
the free that you never said thank you to. Having this attitude of thankfulness will keep you from those pity parties.
TIP 9: FIND WAYS TO HELP OTHERS
Do something to help someone else. Helping others helps keep your problems in perspective and helps you feel good about
yourself. Submitting work to FRUIT magazine - sharing your story so that other young men and women may learn from it
is a way to start. You can also be a positive role model to the people around you. If you are at home, try volunteering your
time at a local food pantry, homeless shelter, animal shelter, or with your home church. Not only will you feel better and will
be helping others, these things look great on your resume, college applications, and with probation officers.
TIP 10: LAUGH!
Read a funny book, watch a funny show, laugh with your friends. Try to develop a new hobby that you enjoy to fill your time.
Laughter really is great medicine. Just be sure not to laugh at the expense of others (unless they are laughing, too)!
“LAUGHTER HEALS ALL WOUNDS,
AND THAT’S ONE THING THAT
EVERYBODY SHARES. NO MATTER
WHAT YOU’RE GOING THROUGH,
IT MAKES YOU FORGET ABOUT
YOUR PROBLEMS. I THINK THE
WORLD SHOULD KEEP LAUGHING.”
- KEVIN HART33
inbox adult inmates share how to stay free
K I L L I N G H O P E
I’ve heard it said that the saddest death of all is the death of
hope. After nearly thirty years in this prison, I’ve seen too
many times the faces of men who lost all hope. They ended
their own lives while in a prison cell. They all had one thing in
common, the absence of hope.
Not only hope for them, but by taking their own life, they also
took the hope from those they left behind. Your fate and your
destiny are rarely all your own. No matter how alone you may
think you are, there’s always at least a small part of your existence
tied to someone else’s. It might be your family, friends,
or even a complete stranger – even in your most complete
loneliness, you still matter to someone. I’ve lost my hope too
many times to count in this place, but I refuse to give up the
chance to let someone receive hope through me. I experience
the hope I give in my wife’s love and my daughter’s smile. I
had to learn for myself how to find hope in other places or
other people when my own seemed lost or at least forgotten.
I’ve counted the pills, I’ve held the razor, and I’ve tested the
sheets in those desperate moments of my life. But in the end,
I knew that my way out of my hopeless feeling would kill the
hope in others. The sadness I felt, or even the loneliness that
haunted me, would always be less than the hopelessness I’d
created in the hearts of those I love by ending my own life.
Life ain’t always fair and living ain’t always easy, but the worst
thing of all would be destroying the hope of others. I’m part
of a group called the Street Sweepers and we care about you
and our hope is that you will give yourselves the opportunity
to give hope and joy to your friends, family, and people you
haven’t even met yet – not take it away.
A G A M B L I N G M A N
Does the pain become too much to take? Do you wonder
how much more ‘til you break? You’ll be surprised at how
much a human can endure. I was ready to throw in the towel
years ago. But, no matter how much poison I poured into my
body, no matter how outrageous the odds I faced, I couldn’t
succeed. Thank God. Still, I now have more scars and chemical
imbalances than I know what to do with. But the fact remains
that God has a purpose for me. It’s up to me to fulfill it.
I remember one time I was going to attempt it. I had depression
that felt like a dagger in the heart that constantly digs. I
would beg God, “Make it quit.” And all I would get back was
silence. I was piling problems on top of problems - a rebel
stuck in disobedience. I would intend to repent again, but end
up recommitted to sin. The Lord saw my heart and He knew
my soul - my passions and ambitions for Him to use me. Still
I would end up wanting to end it all.
Dozens of days I’ve faced death in a haze – Razors, knives,
guns and chains – popping pills to kill pain. Over amping on
crank, running rampant on cocaine. Every morning, I woke
thinking I couldn’t face my mistakes. Another time when I
was on the brink, I had the pedal to the metal on streets. I
was a rebel unleashed - riding reckless in Texas. I’d been up
for almost two weeks – ready to die for my penance - going
120 as I weaved.
The last time I pumped the plunger and felt the frost rake
through my veins. I thought, ‘O God, please let it end. Don’t
let me wake from this binge.’ That time I saw Him in a vision:
It looked like Crystals - the bridge He was teaching me to
make, leading to a lavish estate. He told me that all the havoc
I’d lived through was allowed for me to partake – ‘cuz He
needed me to relate to you youth who would walk in my wake.
When things start going wrong and you don’t think you can
take anymore, you might need to check yourself. Hebrews
12:4-6 tells us that God disciplines us and corrects us because
He loves us. The ones who get away with everything are the
ones who should be worried. God doesn’t let us get away with
things because He has plans for our lives. You can be the one
to listen to another troubled spirit. You can be the one who
feeds a hungry stomach. Use your heart for God to gather
His lost children that only you know where to find. You’ll be
surprised at how filling a life with purpose can be.
My prayers are always with you. Every time I read your stories
in FRUIT. magazine, you have this 270 pound muscled
and tattooed “murderer” crying like a big ol’ baby. There IS
someone out there who cares. Even if it’s just some grizzly
In God’s love, L.B.
local flavor community resources
DRUG / ALCOHOL ABUSE
>ALANON / ALATEEN
For friends and family of drug/alcohol abusers.
Mental / Physical Health
>BELTWAY 8 SOUTH CRISIS PREGNANCY CENTER
The center provides free and confidential support services for
those involved in unplanned pregnancies. They also provide
classes in prenatal care, delivery, parenting, life skills, and Bible
>CRISIS INTERVENTION OF HOUSTON
TeenLine: 713-529-TEEN is a 24-hour crisis hotline for teens
to talk about their problems with other teens who are trained to
>CRISIS PREGNANCY HOTLINE
>FREE THE CAPTIVES
Free the Captives helps teenaged girls who have been involved
in sex trafficking, prostitution, and stripping. We help these girls
rebuild their lives by providing jobs, mentoring, tutoring, groceries,
furniture, spiritual support and more.
>MHMRA OF HARRIS COUNTY
If you are in a psychiatric emergency or need information,
please call 24 hours a day.
>NATIONAL SUICIDE PREVENTION LIFELINE
No matter what problems you are dealing with, they want to
help you find a reason to keep living. You’ll be connected to
a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area, 24
hours a day, 7 days a week.
Phone: 1(800) 273-8255
>TRIAD PREVENTION PROGRAM
TRIAD provides countywide prevention and early intervention
services to divert youth and families from involvement with the
CPS, mental health, and/or juvenile justice systems.
>UNITED WAY HELP LINE
2-1-1 Texas/United Way HELPLINE is 24 hours a day, 7 days a
week, in many languages. They have extensive resource lists
for help with whatever you may need: food, shelter, counseling,
parenting resources, etc. 2-1-1 also serves as a primary point of
contact during times of disaster.
>HOUSTON PUBLIC LIBRARIES
Get access to Internet, books, CDs, DVDs, and homework help.
Each week Elevate Church shares energetic worship and an inspiring
message from Lead Pastor, Brandon Barber. There is no dress code.
They believe God cares more about the condition of your heart than
your outward appearance. They know you will feel right at home.
Services are Sundays at 10am and 12pm.
Location: 333 South Jensen Dr, Houston, TX. 77003
>EYES ON ME RADIO
Eyes On Me Radio is a radio broadcast that promotes Houston
Christian Hip Hop music and fosters mature Christian dialogue in
order to encourage a Biblical lifestyle. The show is hosted by Tre9. DJ
Overflow is the program director.
The show is currently live on the air every Wednesday night from
11pm-12am on Houston 90.1 FM, Galveston 89.5 FM, and Goodrich/
Livingston 90.3 FM.
>EYES ON ME, INCORPORATED
Vision: Eyes On Me Inc. is committed to creating a positive environment
using Biblical principles and standards to shape youth culture
for lifelong success and stability in the world. This is led by Tre9 and
wife, Amanda Herring. Check out their website to see all they are doing
and to find a Hip Hop Hope night in your area!
NGEN radio is YOUR music experience. Playing the best in today’s
hit music from artists like Lecrae, TobyMac, Skillet, Switchfoot, and so
many more. You can listen online or on your phone: NGENradio.com
or live at: 89.3 KSBJ HD-2 (Houston), 92.5 KWUP HD-2 (Bryan/College
Station), 93.1 FM (Bryan/College Station).
>SPECIAL YOUTH SERVICES
The department of Special Youth Services provides pastoral care to
youth remanded to juvenile justice centers and placement facilities
within the Archdiocese of Galveston/Houston. Special Youth Services
also promotes and coordinates pastoral services to youth and their
families who are at a high risk of becoming involved with the juvenile
Ms. Franchelle Lee, Director, Phone: 713-741-8739
Deacon Daniel Gilbert, Pastoral Minister, Phone: 713-320-1915
>YOUTH FOR CHRIST
Youth For Christ seeks to engage youth within the juvenile justice
system in a variety of programing from Bible studies to
mentoring. They seek to establish relationships that will continue as
youth transition to their communities. Barrell Richardson is the Juvenile
Justice Ministry Director for Youth For Christ Houston.
Contact: 832-326-3202, firstname.lastname@example.org
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