Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Throw Underwear At Me!

I was folding clothes today, and Nolan and Delaney were playing nicely with several balloons from Nolan's birthday party. Something needed to be done about this peace and quiet. I was bored.

Since underwear doesn't really need to be folded, I tossed a clean pair of Nolan's Lightning McQueen tighty whities at his face.

No response.

Thirty seconds later, I connected with another pair right between his eyes.

"Huh? What was that?" he said.

Without me saying a word or turning to face him, another hits him. Finally realizing what is happening, he takes action and builds a blockade with the balloons.

"Dada! Throw another underwear at me!"

I say nothing.

"Throw underwear at my face!" he repeats. "Dada! Throw underwear at my face!" I keep silent, although very tempted to explode with laughter at his requests.

Attempting another tactic, he tries, "Daddy, may you please throw underwear at me?"

"Me too!" Delaney finally chimes in.


Friday, December 25, 2015

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Eva is Growing Fast!

Here are a few pics of her growing... she's almost 5 months already!





Saturday, November 14, 2015

Nolan Is Already A Teenager

"Daddy, what are you doing?"

"I'm cleaning the toilet, Nolan."

"Why are you cleaning the toilet?"

"Because we poop in it and it's gross and needs to be cleaned. It's dirty," I said.

"Oh okay," said Nolan.

"I clean it once a month and one day when you are older, I'll make you do it and you probably won't like it."

"But I want to do it now!" he exclaimed.

"Well you're too young right now, and when you're a teenager, you won't want to."

Nolan replied, "But I am a teenager."


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Eva Joy Riedl

For those of you who haven't heard already, Eva Joy Riedl was born just about a month ago! Jen did an amazing job giving birth to her, and she was thankful to be done with pregnancy during such a hot summer. Eva was actually born on the day after that 103 degree day in late July.

Nolan and Delaney are thrilled to finally meet Eva, as we have been talking it up with them for a long time now. I've been trying to make sure to give them tons of attention to match all the attention Eva is getting, although I think most of the attention she is getting comes from her two older siblings. :-)

Thanks again so much for everyone who has helped us out as we adjust to having three kids! We are pumped for this cute little girl's future and all the bumps along the way.

--Aaron





2015-08-25

Friday, August 21, 2015

The Screwtape Letters

I finally finished reading The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis! After many years of wanting to read it, and many years of it collecting dust on my nightstand, and eventually realizing I would be more likely to finish it via audiobook, I checked it out of our fantastic Multnomah County Library. Just a few days listening to it on my phone was all I needed to feel a huge weight lifted off my shoulders! I wrote my favorite parts below. For those of you who don't know the plot of the book, it is about a demon writing letters to his nephew about how to best tempt his patient (human) and ultimately their desire to lead him to hell. Such a great book.

-----

"Before I knew where I was I saw my twenty years' work beginning to totter. If I had lost my head and begun to attempt a defense by argument I should have been undone. But I was not such a fool. I struck instantly at the part of the man which I had best under my control and suggested that it was just about time he had some lunch." (Letter 1)

"Let him think how much he dislikes it. Let him assume that she knows how annoying it is and does it to annoy--if you know your job he will not notice the immense probability of the assumption. And, of course, never let him suspect that he has tones and looks which similarly annoy her. As he cannot see or hear himself, this is easily managed." (Letter 3)

"My dear Wormwood, you mentioned casually in your last letter that the patient has continued to attend one church, and one only, since he was converted, and that he is not wholly pleased with it. ... Do you realize that unless it is due to indifference it is a very bad thing? Surely you know that if a man can't be cured of churchgoing, the next best thing is to send him all over the neighborhood looking for the church that 'suits' him until he becomes a taster or connoisseur of churches. ... Being a unity of place and not of likings, [the church] brings people of different classes and psychology together in the kind of unity that [God] desires. ... The search for a 'suitable' church makes the man a critic, where [God] wants him to be a pupil." (Letter 16)

"Members of His faction have frequently admitted that if ever we came to understand what [God] means by love, the war would be over and we should re-enter Heaven. And there lies the great task. We know that He cannot really love: nobody can: it doesn't make sense. If we could only find out what He is really up to! Hypothesis after hypothesis has been tried, and still we can't find out. Yet we must never lose hope; more and more complicated theories, fuller and fuller collections of data, richer rewards for researchers who make progress, more and more terrible punishments for those who fail--all this, pursued and accelerated to the very end of time, cannot, surely, fail to succeed." (Letter 19)

"Superstitions, if not recognized as such, can be awakened. The point is to keep him feeling that he has something, other than God and courage [God] supplies, to fall back on, so that what was intended to be a total commitment to duty becomes honeycombed all through with little unconscious reservations." (Letter 29)

"The paradoxical thing is that moderate fatigue is a better soil for peevishness than absolute exhaustion. This depends partly on physical causes, but partly on something else. It is not fatigue simply as such that produces the anger, but unexpected demands on a man already tired. Whatever men expect they soon come to think they have a right to: the sense of disappointment can, with very little skill on our part, be turned into a sense of injury." (Letter 30)

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Calm Down, Buddy!

The morning that Eva was born did not go smoothly. Nolan misunderstood where we were going that day. He thought we were going to his friend's house. However, we were actually thinking it might be the day that Jen would GO INTO LABOR.

We already had an appointment scheduled to visit Jen's midwife, since Eva was 1 week late past her due date. A double whammy made it worse when Nolan wanted me to wear socks and shoes instead of flip flops (you know, the important details! haha). So, with time ticking and sad-and-extraordinarily-depressed-Nolan refusing to hear any of our positive encouragements or pleas, we crammed him into the car kicking and screaming. After all, Jen started having contractions and might actually GO INTO LABOR!!!

He hasn't melted down like this in a long time. All the way to the Providence Maternal Care Clinic in inner SE Portland. Jen took the calm and cool Delaney into the waiting room and eventually the appointment, while Nolan and I stayed out in the hallway. Yep, he was still crying. We thought the toys in the waiting room might calm him down, but no way.

Often when I am parenting, flashes of Nanny 911 or Supernanny flood my brain. I loved those shows. I remember a few particular episodes when they instructed the parents to have their child sit on a mat if they need to calm down, and if they get off the mat, physically put them back on it. Over and over until they give up and stay. And so I did.

I was prepared for this battle to go on forever, but thankfully, after just about a dozen times, Nolan collapsed and decided to roll himself up in the mat. Yeah, it was probably dirty, but oh well. He actually calmed down! Something about being in his cocoon, his own little world where nobody was watching him and there was nowhere to run. As seen in the picture I took of him, I'm wondering if I can use this method of calming the next time any of our kids throws a fit at home! Sometimes the most helpful tools are just lying there in front of me!

After about 15 minutes just enjoying the silence, we had a father-son chat, laughed about the squares on the floor, and went into the waiting room and played with toys.

Then Eva was born about 10 hours later! :-)

Thursday, July 16, 2015

She wants cake. Right now.

"Delaney, do you want chicken nuggets for dinner?" asked Mom.

With a furrowed brow and a demanding attitude she replied, "No. Just cake. Right now."

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

VIDEO: Jen reads Ten Apples Up On Top to Nolan and Delaney

One lovely evening, as we were getting Nolan and Delaney ready for bed, Jen began to read them a book. There's nothing like a good book to calm two kids down and ease them into sleepy-time. However, this particular night did not prove to be so calming.

Jen reads Ten Apples Up On Top to Nolan and Delaney - Mr. Riedl on YouTube



Filmed 5/7/2015

Friday, July 10, 2015

Why We Moved to East Portland

We used to live in Southwest Portland. Southwest is known for its hills, peaceful neighborhoods, and low crime rates. We now live in East Portland. The east side is known for its lack of sidewalks, cheaper housing, and higher crime rates. 

So, why did we choose to live in East Portland?

Many people we know seem to be a bit confused as to why we moved to a neighborhood that would definitely not be considered "family-friendly," especially when we are expecting our third child to be born anytime now. In fact, we really want to live here. There are a number of reasons why: God has called us to be here, we were priced out of our old apartment, and we have community here. 

First and foremost, God has made it clear to us that He wants us here. We are members of a great church in Portland, Imago Dei Community. We have loved what God is doing through this group ever since we have lived in the city. The church is located in inner Southeast Portland, within walking distance of the river. Imago decided to form an Eastside campus at about the same time we were thinking about moving out of our 2-bedroom apartment in Southwest. Jen and I both felt like the Holy Spirit was telling us that we were being called back to the east side. We used to live at Burnside and 143rd before we had kids and before my teaching jobs moved our family around to different locations in the state. God was apparently providing a path for us to return.

East Portland has been often regarded as "neglected" by city officials and is arguably one of the most needy areas of Multnomah County. As the diagram to the right shows, crime is relatively high in this area, and we moved smack dab into one of those red spots, which indicates that residential robberies is "well above average." The funny thing about this not seeming like a "family-friendly" area is that many young families actually live in East Portland. 28% of the city's total population lives here, but it is home to 37% of the city's school-age children (source). We have an opportunity to make a difference here. God is at work on the east side, and we want to be a part of it. James wrote that faith without works is dead. We believe that God love the people in this part of the city just as much as any other area. If there is a need for help, then my question is... why aren't more Christians coming to live here? We want to act in response to our faith, so to us, this is a no-brainer.

"East PDX is Getting Poorer and Angrier"
Secondly, we live in East Portland because we were priced out of Southwest. Our rent kept increasing more and more each year in the 2-bedroom apartment we lived in previously. Living in Multnomah Village was an ideal location because I was able to walk to work, it was equidistant between my parents and our friends, and we were a stone's throw from an I-5 on-ramp. However, with our third child due to be born this summer, we knew two bedrooms would be too cramped. We couldn't find any affordable 3-bedroom apartments in Southwest, so we knew we had to look elsewhere. East Portland is known for its cheaper housing, and since we already knew the area, it seemed natural to look there. The unfortunate reality that many struggling families find themselves in is that if they have to move to a particular area, then other costs increase. For example, now that we live on the east side, I have to commute to work. We needed to get another car and pay for the gas and insurance that goes with it (I would love to take TriMet, but three hours round trip each day would be suicide for Riedl family morale).

To be completely honest, we actually feel like we fit in here, financially speaking. Our neighbors on the east side drive crappy cars, are on food stamps, and have a hard time making ends meet. We are in the same boat. Like many low-income families, we are struggling to keep our heads above water. We feel like we can identify with a lot of the difficulties people face in our neighborhood. In Southwest Portland, we felt like outsiders.

The third reason we really want to be in East Portland is that we have community here. Living in the Glenfair Neighborhood before we had kids, we helped start the Glenfair Community Garden, which was a great way to meet our neighbors and help those who can benefit from fresh produce. We got to know people in the area from church, grew to be friends, and now hope to do more of the same, especially now that Imago has an Eastside campus. We now live in the Powellhurst-Gilbert Neighborhood, just off 122nd and Division. Driving down Division in this area certainly isn't as welcoming as driving down Capitol Hwy in Multnomah Village. They are polar opposites.

East Portland is also known for being more culturally diverse. According to the image to the right, the black, Asian, and Hispanic populations have been increasing while the white population is decreasing. Imago Eastside seeks to also be intentionally diverse--not just another white church in a diverse neighborhood--rather, a body representing the area it is located. There are already more races and ethnicities represented than the typical Portland church, which is something I am proud to say I'm a part of. With all the racial issues surrounding our country at a time like this with Ferguson, Baltimore, and Charleston, we want to be a part of what is going on. We don't want to just look from afar and spit out our opinion from time to time, thinking that words are enough to make a difference. No. It takes more than just words. It takes action.

Since action is what makes a difference rather than just talking about it, that is where I begin to wrap this up. We know that we want to be where the problems are so we can help make a difference. However, we are not done by just moving here. This is only the beginning. We need to step outside of our apartment and meet people. We need to remember their names and get to know them. Our goal in life is to love God and love our neighbors. We need to find a place or a way to volunteer regularly. There are other churches and non-profits who are already here following God's call to help their neighbors and we need to find them and work together. There is so much pain in this world and it's so much more apparent here than it is in Southwest. Christ has led us into a place that is uncomfortable, and that's a good thing.


Monday, June 15, 2015

Who Spilled This?!

One evening last week Jen and I found some food spilled all over the floor while both kids were playing in the other room. Jen called out to them, "Who spilled this all over the floor?!"

Nolan promptly replied, "Delaney did it. Not I."

We immediately burst out laughing after hearing his unusual choice of grammar in his response. Nolan started laughing too, realizing he had said something funny, and continued repeating, "Not I! Not I! Not I!" over and over again.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Kids, Chores, and God

Nolan is at the age where he loves to help me with chores, no matter what it is that I am doing. "Daddy, can I help?" is a question I hear almost every day from him. If I had all the time in the world, I would have him help me with everything that I do, not only because I love his natural curiosity and desire to learn, but also because I simply love being with him.

However, when I include Nolan in whatever chore that I am doing (i.e., unloading the dishwasher, sweeping the floor, folding laundry, etc.), it almost always takes much longer than if I just did it myself. Since he is four years old, it takes time to teach him, reteach him, train him, practice with him, watch him, talk him through it, and then once we are finished doing it together, I often need to redo it all myself anyway if I need it done correctly. If I include my son with my work, it always takes longer, and the work is never done perfectly.

This is just like our Father in heaven. I visualize God looking down on us, seeing all the pain in the world and Him working in the lives of the people all across the city. However, the awesome thing about God is that He actually includes us in his work! God doesn't need us to help. He could get His work done a lot sooner if He didn't include us in the work He is doing in our city. We make mistakes when we help Him, but He is patient and talks us through it. Sometimes He just watches us and sees how we do on our own. And most importantly, we can talk to Him through the process. He listens to us and speaks into our lives. God is our Daddy who lets us help Him with His work.

The best part is that Nolan thinks he is actually helping me with my chores! It's hilarious! When I tell him we are finished, I say "thanks so much for helping" and he skips away with a big grin on his face. He is certainly doing his best, but is that really making a difference from my perspective? No way! I just love being with him, and it's the same with God. Am I really making a difference in the work that God is doing? Not at all. He just loves being with me.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Five seconds later = disaster!

Delaney was having a marvelous time on the swing when we went to my grandparents' 65th anniversary party a few weeks ago. She is such a daring, risky 2-year old who already loves heights and adventure! This picture captures it all: her cuteness, her joy, her adventurous spirit, and her independence.

However, we certainly had a parenting fail about 5 seconds after I took this photo. We probably should have given her a warning. What actually happened was that we said, "Time to go!" and immediately took her off the swing. She screamed like it was the end of the world.

It is amazing how one second a beautiful little girl can take a beautiful little photo that is one of my favorites, and then the next second she is out of control, displaying her true selfish desires for the entire world to see. What a cute little bundle of humanity.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

It's A GIRL!!!

We went to have our ultrasound appointment check-up and we found out we are growing a little baby girl!!!

We picked names awhile time ago, but now we can officially call her Eva Joy Riedl. Nolan and Delaney are excited to have a little sister, although Nolan said he wanted a brother. :-) He'll get over it.

God's miracle of life is so amazing, and we feel so blessed that He has given us the responsibility to care for another one of His children. We truly believe that these kids are not ours. They are His, and we are only caring for them for a short time. He has awesome plans for them, and we pray that they would grow up to love Him and love others the way that we try our best to do with our lives.

Eva is due to breathe air for the first time at the end of July!

Moving to Imago Dei's Eastside Campus

We had another gathering tonight for Imago Dei Community's Eastside Campus, which is launching slowly but surely. Pastor Eric Knox is leading us to the Hazelwood Neighborhood in East Portland. We are currently meeting monthly in a lecture hall in David Douglas High School.

God definitely made it clear to Jen and I that we are supposed to move back to East Portland after moving away to go to Ontario, Oregon and then to where we are now in SW Portland in order to find a solid teaching job for me. Now, since I have a secure job teaching at a private school in SW, we have the freedom to move anywhere we want (in other words, SW Portland is too expensive and we need to move somewhere cheaper and with more room for when our new baby is born, and besides, we miss the comforting Friday night sirens in East Portland too much). Lol

In all honesty, we really have a heart for East Portland and all the crap going on over there between it and Gresham. Before Nolan and Delaney existed, we were really enjoying starting the Glenfair Community Garden, which we helped our friends from Glenfair Church build from scratch. It was such an awesome way to get to know our neighbors and build community. We hope to do more of that in the future when we move back, including getting more involved with East Portland Neighborhood Office (EPNO) and whatever neighborhood association corresponds to wherever we end up living.

The leadership team for Imago Dei Eastside has a great heart for really wanting to help those who are already living their lives in East Portland without trying to change them into something they aren't. We want to build relationships and help them discover their assets and use those to their advantage in order to allow them to be successful with their immediate needs, and through that they will receive Jesus' love through us. We are partnering with SecondStories.org to learn more about how to build relationships and being WITH them rather than just doing things for them.

As for Sunday services, it is really up in the air right now. We need people to step up and volunteer in order to get a weekly service going. I will be leading the production of audio/video, slides, etc. while Jen will be working with the nursery and preschool kiddos. It is very strange to be in a small church type setting again, even smaller than when we were at Origins in Ontario. We definitely know this is where we want to be, since we want God to stretch us and use us to glorify His name in one of the most diverse, low-income, and neglected areas in the Portland area. God is already doing awesome things. We are just joining in!

Oh yeah... and we also still need to actually move there. Our lease ends in a few months, so, if anyone hears of any inexpensive 3-bedroom  houses or apartments for rent, we're hoping to find a place before our baby pops out in July! Hopefully by the end of June we'll be settling into a new place! Crazy changes ahead!! We are looking forward to where God is leading us. We are up for anything, good or bad... as long as we are loving God and loving others, we know we are on the right path!

Lenten Learning

Jen and I have been thinking about the Easter Bunny and all those crappy traditions that have nothing to do with Jesus, and we decided to do something during Lent that actually means something. 

For us, as adults, the season of Lent is a great time to give up something special to us as a sacrifice in order to spend more time focusing on Jesus. However, for Nolan (4 years old) and Delaney (2 years old), we feel like they are too young to really understand the depth of sacrifice.

We decided to start a tradition called "Lenten Learning", which is a time of teaching our kids about Jesus during the season of Lent in a fun and memorable way, much like the season of Advent. Our Advent calendar was a fun way of counting down the days until Christmas, celebrating Jesus' birthday. This "Lenten Learning" calendar is just something we quickly put together one night, compiling a bunch of stories about Jesus as He grew up from a boy, what He did, things He said, people He healed, eventually leading up to His death and resurrection!

Easter is just as much of a miracle to be anticipated and celebrated as Christmas is, so we are looking forward to talking about one thing each night at the dinner table, writing a quick Post-It note of what we learned, and then compiling all of them on a green cross cut out of construction paper hanging from our dining room wall. We are looking forward to the end when it is all full of colorful Post-Its, when we celebrate Jesus' sacrifice for us on the cross and conquering death by coming back to life!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Just out of prison

On a dark, drizzly night off East Burnside Street, I got off the bus to transfer. I was immediately greeted with a "Hey bro!" I met Gabriel, a 25 year old, at a bus stop just off the Burnside Bridge. He asked me for the time, and rather quickly the conversation transformed to him telling me he just got out of prison and was on parole. He showed me his ankle bracelet.

We talked for a long time. He mentioned how earlier that day he restrained himself when he wanted to pummel some guys who called him a retard. He was so proud of himself for not hitting them. We talked a lot about self control and the importance of thinking before speaking. I showed him my tattoo ("fewer words"), told him how I struggle with keeping my mouth shut when I'm with my wife, and we shared some laughs about how difficult relationships can be.

He said God has been so faithful to him. He has never given up on him. I told him the reason I was on the bus was that I was actually headed to church. We laughed some more.

>> Cross-posted from my TriMet Travels blog

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Pick A Book, Nolan!

Jen recently said to Nolan, "Pick a quick book, Nolan. Then after we read it, you're going to bed."

With a big smile on his face, he brings her our Bible and asks, "Is this a quick book mommy?"

Thursday, January 1, 2015