How to be an Adult by Rebecca Bustamante

These are, in my experience, essential rules for being a worthy and respected adult now-a-days. You're welcome to go off course, but you most likely won't have very many fans. And we all need people to like us, right?

1. Move out of your mom's basement. It's convenient, and free, and you can pass it off like you have your own space, but if you're over 24 and you want to look like you have your life together, don't tell people you still live in your mothers house. Or, if you decide to stay, do what I did and tell people that you live in your mom's house because your parents really need your help. That changes your image from freeloading loser to responsible, selfless adult. It really doesn't matter if it's true, your mom won't ever rat you out anyways.

 

2. Don't have kids while still living in your mother's house “helping” her. Especially not if you live in your brother's room, and you're married. Actually, a general rule for being a successful adult: don't be married and living in your parent's house. You'll catch a bad rep, I promise. If this is your scenario though, don't fret. Just tell people you're saving up to buy a house. You'll buy yourself some time and save your image. Again, responsible adult.

 

3. After high school, go to college. Immediately. Don't take a year off, don't consider your options, definitely don't just go get a job. Just go to college. And finish in four years. Five years is acceptable but six years means you're just messing around now. If you find yourself rounding that sixth year with no end in sight, add a baby to the mix. Then you get to blame it all on them and people think you're a.) an adult and b.) a really wonderful mother, er.. I mean, person.

 

4. I read a a sign outside of a daycare that said Children make your life important. If you find yourself climbing the twenties ladder and your life lacks importance, go ahead and have a kid. The truth is, you really need something important to happen at this crucial “quarter of your life gone” milestone. I actually didn't even realize my life lacked importance before I had kids until I read that sign. Then I realized, Wow, my life IS more important! Of course, your kid won't get the memo and he or she will treat you like any other regular adult tasked with the responsibility of the survival of their entire human life. But don't worry about that, having a kid will impress all the people out there who are judging the lack of importance in your life.

 

5. If you are trying to figure out what to study in college, stay away from the arts. Nothing in the world makes you look like less of an adult than art school. When people ask me what I'm studying, and I respond with “Photography”, their eyebrows furrow towards the center of their face and the upper lip on one side of their mouth perks up in mild disgust as their head jerks back revealing a tiny double chin. Then they remember I can see their face and it drops into a mildly amused smile as they politely respond, “oooh.... that's nice. As long as you finish school, that's what's important.” And the boldest adults and rudest peers keep their disgust face on and say “You don't need a degree for photography!”

 

Take it from me, if you're trying to be respected and loved by society, avoid art school at all costs.

 

6. I was offered a job on the spot at a used kids clothing store once but I couldn't take it. I had organized all of the clothes I was purchasing by size, color, and type, and had taken all 60 hangers off before I reached the counter and had organized those type as well. The lady practically begged me to work there part time but I had to say no. I was over 25 and it was retail. No way, Jose. Avoid retail after 25, God forbid an ex walk in and see you ringing people up! It doesn't matter if you're making money and providing for your family! Pass that opportunity right up.

 

7. In order to really pull off being an adult, you're going to have to change some outward things about yourself. No self respecting, almost 30 year old, buys clothes from the same stores they did as a 22 year old. Ripped up jeans? What are you, 5? Crop tops? Converse? Baggy clothes? Leather pants? Get rid of it all. T-shirts with designs, garbage. Funky jewelry, useless. Shorts, mini-skirts, leather jackets, wrist bands, basketball shoes.... none of that is necessary where you're headed. Straight to the professional aisles, grab those solid color blouses and high waist-ed jeans. Lace up your running shoes and throw on a rain coat. White socks and cotton underwear, pale nail polish and brown bobby pins, black leather gloves and earth toned winter coats. Dresses that accent your sophistication, and shoes that soothe your sole. Down with the young, in with the old, it's time to show the world who you really are. It's time to dress your age!

 

8. One more thing I'll say about adulthood, and that's the end of my list. If you want to be an adult, you need to change inside. This is the tricky one and the one most people struggle with. When you were a kid, you talked like a kid and ate like a kid and acted like a kid. But now that you're an adult, you have to change all of that. Your vocabulary, your interests, your food preferences. It all needs to go. You need to start prioritizing, and making lists. Lists to remember the things you can't help but forget, and lists to remember the things you have to do. Lists for your kids and lists about lists.

Running through lawns is a thing of the past, now you mow them. Sprinklers and snow fights and tree climbing and endless conversations, those are for the young. You have better things to do, like clean your house, cook brown rice and spinach, pay your bills and call the doctor, customer service and the electrician. You don't have time to sleep in late, you need to go exercise in a gym, then wash your car, pay your mortgage and buy groceries.

Don't forget to cut the bushes, and clean the garbage can, fix the leak in the upstairs sink, wash your laundry and go to work. No time for endless laughter and playing on the couch, jumping on the bed or bathing until the water gets cold. Put down your books and pick up your tools. Your pillows are dirty, go buy new ones.

You like to draw? Get a job. You like to paint? Get a job. You like to tell stories? Go get a job. And then a house, and then a bigger house, and a family; But not because you share a love that can't help but grow, but because you should have a family. You're an adult. Then climb the corporate ladder and never look back down. Until you're old enough to have paid your debts and to own the adulthood you built for yourself. And then please, take a seat, by the window of opportunity, look on life and see it's beauty, and then never get up again.

Waiting. by Rebecca Bustamante

Last year, in the beginning of my final fall semester at Columbia College, I believe that God told me I was rushing through school. You can understand how hard to believe this was when you take into consideration the fact that I was going on 31 years old, and had been at Columbia for six years already. That’s four moves, a new house, and two kids worth of time. But I felt it, I knew inside that I needed to stop rushing, because I was going faster than I needed to be. So what did I do?

I ignored it. I went right on racing through school, leaving full sinks of dirty dishes, piles of unsorted messes, baskets of dirty laundry, and attention starved family members in my dust. After all, I was 30! Come on, that’s just… too old. I hired a nanny for my last semester, pulled up my boot straps, and dived in head first to finish the race I had started so long ago. Now I know that most people would be cheering me along, “no pain, no gain!” Or “sacrifice for a better future!” And I heard it all. People were rooting for me and excited for my final semester.

Three weeks in, I stared at myself in the mirror, with my acne covered, greasy haired, dark circled, tired face, and asked God why Columbia had always been so hard for me. Why did I not have peace there? Why did I forget who I was? How did I so easily forget my reflection every day?

Because, let me tell you, Columbia wasn’t easy for me. I felt alone, i didn’t fit in with the photo kids, I wasn’t inspiring, inspired, I felt like I had nothing to offer. I was insecure and soft spoken. I wasn’t me. And that day in the mirror, I heard one question:

“Are you in My will?”

When God asks a question, He isn’t unaware of the answer. The answer isn’t for His sake.

The full-steam-ahead engine finally broke down that day. And all I could do was repent. Because I knew. I had known for a long time. So on that day I told God that I wanted His will. And that semester I was told “two years”.

That’s all.

Wait, two years what?

Sure, I had an idea, I knew deep down what two years meant. But I didn’t fully understand it.

So here I am, six months after graduation, loans kicking in, diploma framed in my office, and no sign of a green light from God to go out and get a job. Now, I don’t believe that everyone needs a green light to go out and get a job. But I do. It’s what me and my Father talked about. His will, His plan.

Don’t get me wrong, tons of opportunities have come my way. And I’ve said yes, I’ve jumped aboard, I’ve planned ahead for the future. And every single door has closed in my face. Some the night before, some weeks after starting, some never took off.

Each disappointing “No” leaves me restless, seeking God’s arms, and each time He tells me the same thing, wait.

 

 

The funny thing about God is that He never leaves you there confused and alone, His voice is still there, it’s just quieter. Not very long ago, God brought me to this verse as I was asking Him what to do while I wait:

Psalm 1:1-3

Blessed is the man
   who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
   nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
2 but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
   and on his law he meditates day and night.

3 He is like a tree
   planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
   and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.

Verse 3 is pretty much the anthem of my life, I’ve had it taped to my mirror for two years now.  It’s one of those sentences that you read over and over, and it doesn’t quite stick, but you can’t move on, no matter how hard you try. All I knew was that I wanted to be the one who is like a tree, planted; that was my longing.

I never grasped it’s context though, because the one who is like a tree is the one who’s delight is in the law of the Lord, who meditates on it day and night. I was always missing those first verses, and those verses are key.

Ok God, I read you loud and clear. I will wait, in you I will delight, in your Word I will find life.

 

 

It’s not easy, waiting, sitting around asking God why other people can just jump and follow their dreams, why they don’t have to second guess, why they don’t have to wait. I am watching my friends careers blow up, I’m rejoicing in their successes and seeing their hard work produce bountiful fruit. They’re not sitting around asking God if they can, they just do.

God should I send out my resume? No.

God should I look for work on the weekends? No.

God should I be updating my site and promoting myself? No.

One night I was up until midnight trying to update my website to include photography from weddings and events I had photographed. My plan was to apply to a Wedding photography company; their site said that I pick my hours and work as much as I want. Perfect! As I was changing the entire layout of my website, my daughter woke up. She had a nightmare and wouldn’t settle back down. She was hysterical and I stood in her room with her for an hour until she fell back asleep.

And then I heard God say,

“You need to be waiting.”

I wasn’t waiting, I was planning, I was preparing, I was getting ready, I was applying. But not waiting.

But we need more income God.

“Wait.”

But I can work, I want to work.

“Wait.”

But none of this makes sense!

“Wait."

Sigh. Fine. I’m coming to realize that I really suck at waiting. I’m kind of a brat actually. But at the end of the day, if God says wait, why should I be afraid? Every fear I have comes from an external source: I’m too old, everyone is so successful already, I don’t even have a foot in the door, my life looks so boring, I’ve achieved nothing compared to everyone else, I need more money to buy stuff… did I mention that I want more money?

But inside, when I meditate on God’s word, and sit with Him to talk, I feel free. I don’t have all of these external problems. I’m assured and confident in God’s promises and His word in my life.

 

 

In 1 Samuel 16 it says:

11 Then Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all your sons here?” And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, but behold, he is keeping the sheep.”

When God anoints David to be king, he is the smallest of his family, he is most likely the weakest of his brothers because it was very common for the weaker family members to tend to the sheep. But he is also not even considered. Jesse doesn’t think for a moment to go call in his younger son, because surely it can’t be him. But there’s more in this small sentence that God wanted me to know.

One writer put it like this, “David was out tending to the livelihood of his family.”

David was making sure that his family’s livelihood was secured, protected, and tended to… that’s me. That’s what I’m doing. Those words were for me. And God was confirming that I am right where I need to be.

My family needs me.

We are in a place in history where self comes before all others, where we give our talents, our callings, and our gifts precedence over even our children, and definitely over our marriages, because God gave us this and we can’t just sit on it. We have to reach the nations, we have to sacrifice even our mothers and sons, our calling is too great. I’m too creative, I must work, I can’t live without doing this, insert any other phrase that we so commonly use when excusing our absence in our family’s life.

And what did David do after he was anointed as king?

He kept right on tending to the sheep, until King Saul called him to play an instrument that would soothe his tormented soul. David didn’t jump right into kingship. He had to wait. About 20 years, after being anointed, until he was finally King over all of Israel.

And that’s about as far as I am in this waiting period, and researching David’s waiting period. I plan to write through this season of my life, and if it goes somewhere, or not, that’s OK. I will simply plant myself next to the stream of living water, and let fruit grow in it’s season.

That’s my whole plan, that’s all I am sure of.

David wrote a big part of the psalms in the bible and as I read through his own words while he waited, I am relieved to know that I am not the first person who has experienced God’s plan through waiting.

Psalm 27: 13-14

13 I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord
   in the land of the living!
14 Wait for the Lord;
   be strong, and let your heart take courage;
   wait for the Lord!

Annabelle. by Rebecca Bustamante

My daughter doesn’t like it when I’m too affectionate with her. It stunts her independence so she squirms like a wiggly worn out of my grasp if I hold on for a moment too long.

She was born independent, came out sunny side up just because she wanted to. Her lungs were filled with fluid as she laid on the small table with a quiet but determined nurse by her side and we had no idea something was very wrong. That’s how independent she is, wouldn’t let us fight her first battle with her. Had to do it on her own.

And you haven’t heard a war cry until you’ve tried to do something for Annabelle that she thinks she can do on her own. You might as well tie her to a rock and throw her in the ocean if you dare zip up her sweater, she’d prefer the former. She is strong and fierce and confident beyond learned behavior.

I like to think that all of those Single & Independent songs by “strong female” archetypes, were written with Annabelle as their muse. She probably, if born in the right era, would’ve single handed-ly started the feminist movement because she hates people opening doors for her.
“I could do it!”

And you should see her when she’s sick, she transforms from a tip toed gymnast into an iron beast. Once, she threw up at least a dozen times, and each time as her throat lurched and prepared for the rancid ejection, she stared at me, locked eye to eye, head held high, as sour hot liquid spewed from her mouth.
She didn’t shed a tear or grip fiercely to the sides of the bucket like her older brother, she just sat straight up, straight faced, as her stomach rejected whatever poison tainted her little body.
My daughter is resilient.

But, unknown to many, she has this little spot under her chin, it’s very tricky to find, and if you get it wrong you won’t get a second chance. It’s plump and squishy and just about the softest skin she’s got; located right in the shadow of her neck. It’s her sweet spot. And there’s only one who’s aim is always right, who knows just the right moment and just the right place to reach out and poke this hyper-sensitive Achilles heel of a spot; to elicit the most joyful of squeals and hearty laughs known to man. Who never falters and never fails.

Her daddy.

She is strong but He is stronger. Her yells are thunderous, but His quiet calm is louder. She bolts away quickly when filled with anger, but His giant arms grab quicker. And she wrestles and struggles and kicks and fights, but His massive arms hold her small frame tighter, His grasp just right.
He never hurts her,
His aim is to calm, not quench, as He settles her down even in the wildest of rages.
His words speak sternly but His eyes love adoringly. Because He is proud and amused by her young untamed roaring fire.

He grounds her wild confidence; lets her run loose just far enough to feel free but keeps her just close enough to be protected.
She learns hard, she falls bloody, and she fails dejectedly,
but she can always find her composure, in His presence.
Whether on 7am grumbly belly mornings with a mane untamed
or on 2am thirsty, pitch-black, scared nights.
Because in His arms,
though initially she battles against His might,
naively mistaking His protection for restriction,
she is His child, she is safe, and she is free.

Dinner Time by Rebecca Bustamante

My mom hates cooking. Seriously.

There are no days that she slaves over the stove just for the thrill of it.

And yet, she has had these crazy, unexplained, completely erratic-yet-phenomenon moments of joyful cooking.

“I have the biggest craving for grilled cheese,” I mentioned one fall evening after the sun had already set. The next thing I knew we were at Jewel buying three loaves of bread, butter, and handfuls of single sliced Kraft cheese. My mom turned on the stove and spent the next hour as if she was in a grilled cheese factory. She plopped butter in the pan and twirled it around by it's handle until it was completely melted, then she dropped the already buttered bread down on the pan, topped it with a slice of cheese and another buttered slice of bread and smashed it down. The sizzling butter yelled whenever she put her force down on the grilled cheese sandwich to make it as flat as paper. Flip, and smash. The next side of buttered bread received the same scorching heat to it's delicate buttery flesh and also hardened into a crispy buttery surface. As soon as a grilled cheese was done, it was gone, me and my brothers had formed our own assembly line of grilled cheese devour-ores. My dad had his own plate right next to my mom and neither plate was empty for long. I think I must have eaten six grilled cheese sandwiches, easily. And that sounds like a lot for an 80 pound girl but the truth is, we hadn't eaten anything that day, or the day before. So it made sense.

Once, my mom made a giant bowl of fruit salad because my brother Cesar said he was hot and didn't want to eat anything heavy that night. She must have spent $80 dollars on this giant fruit salad, and the equally giant bowls she bought to house the fruit. Another assembly line of fruit chopping was created on this day, and every fruit the grocery store carried went into this fruit salad. Chunks of watermelon, slices of apples, loose grapes, slimy kiwi, pieces of cantaloupe, slivers of mango, halves of strawberries, diced pears, segments of oranges, bits of bananas, everything.

Another time, my dad mentioned liking the Burger King original chicken sandwich after one opened up in our neighborhood and my mom bought Burger King, whenever we had money for dinner, for two months straight. She didn't stop until she found me outside crying when she came to take my order.

“I hate Burger King mom!”

That was the end of that. Whatever we wanted was what my mom made or bought. Chinese food? Popeye's? Burgers? Grilled hot dogs?

“What do you guys want for dinner?”

That was the million dollar question.