Teeth, Trees, and Trust


After four months of teething, Matthew and I were surprised a few days ago to find two little, razor-sharp chompers emerging from Liliana’s soft red gums. We were so excited that we were jumping up and down and swinging her around. Okay, so maybe that was just me.

She, of course, had no idea why I was so happy. It didn’t matter. I had been on the lookout for teeth for 2/3 of her life, and now they were finally making their appearance.

Sometimes we don’t know why things hurt, but in the end all of our experiences can help us to grow, even if we might not realize it.


On another note, on Thursday my mother-in-law babysat for Matthew and I while we went on an adventure. I am so thankful she did, because we had so much fun.

My in-laws live in a beautiful wooded area on a huge plot of land which is divided among my mother-in-law, her parents and two of her sisters. This is super-convenient and fun because it means that family is all around and whenever the kids want to play with their cousins, they just have to walk down a wooded trail. There are a few small creeks tracing the land, and there is plenty of wildlife to see.

There is a larger river in the area, too. It is not so deep that the water level often rises above my head when I stand on my tiptoes, but it is big enough to paddle downstream in kayaks.

This was our adventure yesterday. We started on Matthew’s grandparents’ property, but we didn’t really have much of a plan. We just went.

We quickly realized that this would not be an easy trip. Every dozen yards or so there were tree branches clawing at the surface of the water, but we were feeling adventurous so we went on.

We took turns going first and laughed at ourselves and each other as we constantly got caught on the branches. A few times, we felt like we were playing limbo. Once, towards the beginning, Matthew almost capsized trying to get under an extra thick limb, and later on I almost flipped about three times. Each obstacle was a puzzle, and we worked through our challenges as a team, although we operated separately.

About 3/4 of the way through our trip, we zoomed under a fallen tree and found ourselves about five yards away from another person! He was standing a little ways away from the bank in wading boots, a fishing pole in hand, and he seemed just as surprised as we were. He was a very pleasant person, and after chatting for a few minutes while we worked our way around a submerged log, he wished us good luck and we said goodbye.

Eventually, we decided that we were done kayaking. It happened rather suddenly, at the same time, for no particular reason except that we were both dirty and we wanted showers. We had no idea where we were of course, so we grounded our kayaks on the same shore which we had used to start our adventure and hopped out. Matthew was slightly farther downstream than I was, and one of those little creeks parted the land between us.

“You’ll have to cross it,” he told me.


“Because you’re on an island.”

“You’re on an island,” I told him, teasing. I had no idea if that was true or not, I just wanted to say something to be silly.

We were already a little ways away from the larger river, so I put my kayak on the bank of the little stream and tried to push off while Matthew laughed at me. I’m sure I looked very funny trying to paddle sand. Of course, it was much too shallow to paddle across, but it was also much too wide to leap. I would either have to push the kayak across and wade through it, or carry my kayak all the way back to the river. I pushed the kayak to Matthew, but I still had my paddle. I decided to take off one shoe and hop across, using my paddle as a walking stick.

As soon as I took one step into the river, I realized that wasn’t going to work. I was instantly calf deep in sand, and there was no going back. My paddle was stuck and so was I. I had no choice but to step with my other foot, which was still wearing a shoe. I did, and somehow made my way across the stream, jumping through the water, yelling, “I’m stuck!” for the entire seven feet.

Matthew helped me up the bank on the other side, but he said, “Go fast!” because I accidentally stepped on top of a hidden snake hole. Thankfully, the snake was either sleeping or felt sorry for me because he didn’t even come out of the hole.

My one shoe was soaked now, and so I simply took it off and we continued. Matthew carried the front halves of the kayaks and I carried the backs as we wandered in the same general direction we had just left. The river we had followed had had many bends many little tributaries so we couldn’t go in a straight line. Of course, we didn’t have a phone either because we didn’t want to get it wet, so we walked along the tributary I had just crossed.

We quickly found out that Matthew had, in fact, been on an island as well.

The banks of the stream were now much higher because we were much farther away from the main river. Fortunately, there was a large trunk connecting the two banks. Matthew walked across the trunk, I sent the kayaks over the river, and then I went to cross the tree.

“Be careful,” he told me, “Don’t step on the poop.”

Sure enough, right in the middle of the trunk where there was a perfect spot to step, some animal had decided to drop a large present. I felt like I was dancing as I jumped around it and tried to keep my balance. It was a good thing he had warned me because if he hadn’t, I would have had a lot more to worry about than the wet shoes in my kayak.

After we were safely across, I decided I wanted to be in the front so I could see where I was stepping, but I ended up needing to put my shoes back on anyways because the vegetation suddenly became more hostile as soil gave way to pine needles and thorns. We made our way to a telephone pole because we thought the line would eventually lead us to a road. The ground was open, but far from level, and as we walked towards the next hill, we realized we couldn’t see where the slope in front of us ended.

“I hope there’s a road there,” Matthew said.

Being in front, I had a little better view of the end of the hill.

“I don’t think it’s a road…”

It was another river.

We decided to try to find our way back to his grandparents’ house and started heading back towards the main river. As we went up another hill, however, I saw something that changed our minds.

“There’s a house!”

“Really?!” he asked.


As we got a little closer, I realized something else.

“It’s your parents’ house!”


We set the kayaks in the grass and went inside to freshen up.



We had no idea where we were headed that day, just as Liliana has no idea why her gums are sore. Even when we don’t know where we are headed or what we are doing, we can still trust that eventually, things will work out. We are exactly where we are meant to be.