Once Upon a Christmas Tale – 2014 Christmas Card

The following is a tale not altogether false. For other Christmas card letters, see 2010’s Christmas Epistle, the in-between years, or the 2015 Christmas Thriller.


Once Upon a Christmas Tale

Once upon a time in a land far, far away lived a young prince. Times were good in the land, and the king and queen were fair, loving people. The prince enjoyed all the pleasantries of royalty, spending his days coercing others to do his bidding. Subjects of his majesty included several ladies of the realm who were under a deep enchantment of his–some kind of dark magic. Entranced by his magical cuteness, they showered him with gifts and fulfilled his every whim. Where he pointed, there they carried him. What he asked of them, they provided.

“Foosnacks,” he would say, and they would come running with 8 varieties of fruit snacks.

“Oh my prince, I can never refuse your magical cuteness!” they would say, bowing.

The king and queen were puzzled. “What has come over the ladies of the realm? What kind of sorcery has infiltrated our land? It must be stopped!”

So, the king and queen set out on a journey. They searched high and low for answers. They must break this spell, or their prince would grow to be an entitled, spoiled brat who would never be able to run his own realm some day.

They questioned the sages and asked for wisdom.

“Discipline. Love and discipline.” was the sages’ answer.

“Or, perhaps,” said one wise, old man–the oldest of all (this old man, with gaunt yet somehow cheerful eyes, always had the best answers, and he was most respected in the land)–“perhaps he is suffering the wicked witch’s curse of over-exposure. Perhaps as the only prince in the land, he thinks he deserves preferential treatment.”

The sage beckoned for the king to come closer. “Let me give you one suggestion that might help. Now, this piece of advice will change your life forever, so heed it carefully. Many a man’s kingdom has crumbled because he was unable to bear the weight of this new responsibility. And, if handled improperly, not only will the young prince’s life not improve, but other lives will be hurt, as well.”

The king said, “I am ready, oh sage. Tell on. I am in dire straights as my son is the sole focus of so many women’s pampering ways. I must do whatever I can to break this cuteness curse. What is your suggestion, oh wise one?”

“Lean closer, son.” the sage said.

The king bent down, placing his ear near the old man’s mouth. The king could smell the sage’s aged breath. He felt the tickle of the stray whiskers protruding from the sage’s tangled mop of hair cascading from his face.

“You must…” he started, his voice growing ever softer, as if he was trying to hide his words from the evil sorcerer’s ears. “You must have another child.”

“That’s the answer, oh wise one? Do you think that will cure my son?”

“It can only help divert the singular attention given him; it will not cure him completely. The rest is up to you, as parents,” the sage answered.

The king and queen took the old man’s advice, and soon after (March 7, 2014, to be precise), on a beautiful Spring morning, a tiny princess was born–Charlotte Elaine. The kingdom rejoiced. Great jubilation erupted and pink was splattered everywhere. All of a sudden, the prince’s cuteness curse was lifted. Attention was diverted elsewhere–onto the princess–and the kingdom was once again happy.

The success of the plan did not last forever, though. With the eruption of pink items–toys of all sorts, clothes of all sizes, blankets of all thicknesses–another problem arose. The king and queen soon realized that their castle was soon to be outgrown. Having lived in the 2-bedroom castle provided them upon first arriving in the land, the king knew a change must come. With a princess on the way and all the goods that come with princesses, a larger castle must be acquired.

They began their hunt at the end of the summer, and within two months they had selected on a new castle, got approved for an astronomical loan (might look into raising the taxes), packed, and moved into their new castle–a humble (humble by king’s standards, that is), 3-bedroom, 2-bath, 3-car garage 1450 sq. ft. castle.

They soon made the castle their home, and are working on the sages’ original advice–love and discipline the prince and princess to guard against the return of the evil selfishness curse.

Info Version (*snore)

For you less imaginative readers, here’s the boring accountant version (sorry, boring accountants):

The past year was eventful for our family. Abe turned 2 and his vocabulary has exploded. He loves to read books and has finally come into his own in the wrestling arena. The cousins and uncles made sure of that. “Terrible 2’s” have not happened–he is a joy to be with, and SO funny!

Charlotte was born and changed everything about our schedule. She’s a little cutie with a big “Gumby” smile (if you can break it out of her). She just started to crawl–look out now!

For us (Ryan and Jamie), life has been different in a good way. We have transitioned more of our time to family things as the kids get older and more abundant. Doubling the number of kids in one year is demanding on a mom and dad, but we’re up to it. We’re shooting for twins next to keep up the trend. I hope the trend stops after that… we couldn’t handle octuplets.

Jamie has been at home more as she is working only one morning a week at church now. We are still looking for a new secretary at our church so we can officially fire Jamie.

When we got into our new house (October), Jamie took about 13 minutes to get it settled and feeling like home. We moved on a Saturday and had no problems finding our stuff for the next morning’s services. Jamie’s a champ packer and house-settler.

At the end of summer, Ryan was approached about teaching a Bible class at a local Christian high school, so he assembled some notes and threw another little book together as the class textbook (search for “Ryan Rench” or “BIBS Big Idea Bible Study” on He began teaching daily (except Thursdays) at the end of October, and is praying the juniors and seniors in his class learn to read and understand God’s Word for themselves.

At church, we are still working with youth and music. We are enjoying the fruit of 4 years of ministering with the teens as we have seen several attend Bible college and several others still in church after graduation. We are hosting our second custom summer camp this year with Pastor Jason Gaddis preaching for us–our highlight of the year.

We are all about training others to outpace us–kids, teens and church staff–so our lives and ministries are about teaching, modeling, and then enforcing. We have learned a lot about a lot this year, and it has all been good.

Finally, we have definitely had time for fun this year, too. We took a short family trip to Laughlin and took jet-skis up the river there. We vacationed in Indy with Jamie’s family and enjoyed time in Stillwater catching up with old friends for a week’s revival. We did a few little day trips and had fun with our kids day by day.

Seriously… life has been great, and this past year has been among the best. While busy, it has been filled  with God’s blessings of family, ministry, and even material blessings.

I always tell our teens–God wants what’s best for you even more than you want what’s best for you. We are living in God’s bountiful blessings day by day, and it’s all by His grace that we can live.