An Open Letter to James Dean

James,

My grandfather, Donald Price, was a bootlegger, gun-runner and a thief. He was the guy they called in when they needed someone skilled at picking locks. He was a “bad boy” to be sure. My grandfathers life story inspired my father, Jerry Price, to study psychology, specifically regarding the twistedness of our minds. I grew up sitting around the table with these men, gleaning wisdom and understanding the nuances regarding the depravity of the human condition. I set out to try their words and became quite good at conning others but in the end I found out what my grandfather and father already knew; that every con thinks they are unique and that belief sustains their duplicity. What I didn’t understand but do now is that the ultimate con is to con ones own self. My grandfather used to say, “you can’t con a con.”  Meaning, “I’ve been there, done that” and quiet frankly I can see right through you James. 

Even so, what you need to understand is that if you plan to continue to insert yourself into our daughters life that you are also inserting yourself into our lives. You can’t have one but not the other. So all these games you’ve been playing, deceiving one another, as well as, the community around you, needs to stop. It’s short sighted. 

During my pregnancy with my daughter, I glimpsed for the first time in my life, the future. Now mind you, she was conceived during a time in my life that was utterly dark. I was in the thick of my twistedness and like you James, I was short-sighted. I didn’t have a dream for my future, nor could I see past the immediate sense of pleasure and thirst for power that held me captive. None the less, God could see and knew that my daughter would be a life force of love and light and her birth would be my birth out of duplicity and into wholeness. Her birth was divine and from the moment she was conceived God placed his seal on her life for His glory.  

So, James, what you really need to understand is that when you initiate or for that matter, respond to my daughter’s initiation, that you are not just messing around with her, you are not just messing around with us as her family, but you are messing around with God’s plan for her life. And, my hunch is for your life too. The ancient text says, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline” (Prov. 1:7). My hope is that you are not a fool but one who is moldable, pliable and becoming all that you were created to be. So, live in the light but know that as long as I keep seeing you pop up in my daughter’s life that this mama is going to keep popping up in your life.

Sincerely,

Mama Holland

 

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Thy Kingdom Come

One beautifully sunny morning in Vietnam.

We were just leaving the beach when a woman, an old woman, carrying big baskets of fruit approached us in hopes of selling her goods but we had just finished lunch, so we smiled, shook our heads no thanks and kept walking.

However, our daughter and son were further behind us and we didn’t see her approach them. So when we turned too look back we were shocked to see our daughter wearing the old woman’s baskets and hat posing as Banjo took her photo. We rush over a little disappointed in our children. To our eyes, it looked as if our kids were exploiting the woman for photo op.

Later however, we found out that the woman actually initiated the process. Apparently, she came up to our kids, took her baskets off her shoulders and thrust it onto Graciana, simultaneously taking her hat off and putting it on Graciana’s head. She snatched Graciana’s camera out of her hand, fumbled around with it for a bit and then handed it to him demanding him to take a photo. This all happened in a matter of seconds and then we turned around.

imageWe obviously didn’t know the backstory so we rushed over thinking surely we should offer her money for this unique photo op. We thanked her and handed her 10,000 dong. Which is about $.50 USD. She took her hat and baskets off of Graciana and we thought the situation was dealt with, but then she began to demand we buy a coconut from her. She took out her machete to cut the coconut and then badgered us to take the coconut. We asked her how much and she mumbled a number we thought was 50,000. Which is above the usual asking price but we thought OK, well just take it and leave. So we handed her the 50,000, she took it but began to shake her head (and her machete) violently. She wrote in the sand 500,000, which is about $22 USD!

Thankfully, by that point, a guard, some of the staff, and our host, saw what was happening and came over to help us deal with the lady. She was angry that they came to our side and waved her machete at them, clenching her fists around the money we had already given her. We all just stood awe as our host dealt with her. She let the woman know that her manipulation was unacceptable and that we weren’t going to pay her. I think we were able to get the 10,000 back but she kept the 50,000. Which was fine, we kept the coconut. She made a sour face and played victim as we all walked away. We left totally bewildered but we weren’t bitter. Honestly the interaction was so swift that we really didn’t have much time to process what was even going on until we walked away.

There was a sadness that came over us for her. What drives an old woman to become a thief? That’s really what laid heavy on our hearts. She was just a sweet little old lady, in the twilight of her life, meant to be enjoying the fruit of her children and grandchildren but here she was stuck in what was probably a long standing cycle of twisted thinking, desperate and demanding. She was roaming this life like a thief in the dark.

It reminded me of another thief, my grandfather. Who was shot (bullet lodging an eighth of an inch from his heart) trying to rob a club in Indianapolis, IN. My father and his twin brother were only 30 days old. I’m sure it wasn’t the first time my paw paw participated in what he would call a “lead pipe synch.” It was just the first time he was caught. It was during is his capture and imprisonment however that his spirit was awakened and he made a decision to change the course of his life. He made a decision to no longer live for himself but for the one who created him. This decision drastically changed the course of my family, this decision and the follow through after gave my family life.

All I could think of after we left this lady was how her con, although sly was so desperate. How I wished I would have had time to catch myself during the interaction to speak truth in love, to let her know that she was wrong for preying on us, but that the deceitfulness in her heart was a burden she didn’t need to carry. I don’t know why or how it all works, this idea of awakening but I do know that I long to see thy kingdom come… And it is during these moments that my heart aches for it most.