Saturday, January 02, 2016


In 2015 I...
...went to Disneyworld twice.  
...saw significant broadened ministry opportunities through camp/conference speaking and DYM authorship. 
...experienced one of the more powerful cross-generational moments of my life at Brown City Camp. 
...found myself in major moments of insecurities, uncertainty, and angst. 
...experienced the hardest season of ministry in my life from Winter through Spring. 
...sent all my kids to school in the Fall (the youngest just twice a week and in the mornings). 
...sensed clarity from God on a very tough and heartbreaking decision. 
...sensed the whisper of God leading me to anither adoption adventure. 
... saw the move of God as he brought our 4th child into our home. 
...watched as the people of God came behind the calling of God for our adoption through prayer support and resources. 
...experienced my 20th re-birthday in my relationship with Jesus. 
...fell more in love with my wife than ever before. 
...fell more in love with Jesus than ever before. 

Thursday, December 24, 2015

LOVE - A Christmas Eve Advent Service Reading

I shared this tonight as a part of our Christmas Eve Services at NMC...

Love… It’s one of the most powerful forces this world has ever seen.  In fact, in 1 Corinthians 13:8 Paul makes the bold statement that “Love conquers all.”

Really? In a giant grudge match against every virtue and vice this world has to offer, LOVE walks away with the Championship belt? According to scripture… YES.

But, what exactly is love?
We use the word a lot… maybe too much and to the point that the love that Paul is talking about gets lost in our culture. I mean, in one breath I can say, “I love my wife and children.” and yet in another breath I would say, “I love donuts?”

One exercise I’ll often do with students is ask them to choose which statement (and they can only choose one) is most accurate.
Statement 1: Love is a feeling.
Statement 2: Love is a choice.
Statement 3: Love is an action.

More times than not, the most popular choice is statement 1: Love is a feeling. It makes sense, right? I mean, an emotionally driven, hormonally hopped up teenager who lives in a culture that has made billions of dollars on the concept of “love at first sight” has to go with love as a feeling.

Yet, any of us who have gotten married need only about 30 days (or maybe even 30 hours) to know that love has to run deeper than a feeling for it to last and reach its full potential.

So which is the more accurate statement?
Is it Statement 2: Love is a choice?
Or Statement 3: Love is an action?

Honestly, it’s a trick question. I don’t think we can fully understand love until we put all three together.

 42 days ago, I was standing in a hospital in another state, holding my newborn son for the first time. It had been a whirlwind 24 hours… actually; it had been a whirlwind 5 months leading to the point where we were going to adopt this little guy. In that moment, I knew this to be true…

A deep FEELING we couldn’t shake had driven Janelle and me to this point.
We were making the CHOICE to adopt.
We took ACTION by going to great lengths to unite with and bring him home.
It was all driven in LOVE.
I think that’s a great love story.

BUT, I think the Advent Story… the story of the coming of Christ, is an even greater love story marked by a FEELING, a CHOICE, and an ACTION.

Our creator,
FEELING great love for His creation,
Made the loving CHOICE to take on human form,
Then, in love, he took ACTION for you and I by carrying our sin on the cross.

That’s the kind of love story that does more than make billions of dollars. 
It’s actually the kind of love story that conquers ALL.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Message from 12/6

I had the opportunity to preach in our main services Sunday, December 6.  It was a part of our "Anchored" series, where we are taking a look at four angelic statements made in the Christmas Story.  I took week 2: "The Lord is with you."
I had the opportunity to share our most recent adoption story, rewrite and sing a song, do a little happy dance, and talk about the difference between hearing and owning the promises of God.  Good times.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Photography That Funds Adoptions


Parents with athletes (of all ages),
Here's an incredible opportunity to get some great action photos of your student athlete AND help us in funding our adoption!
In mid-October, Judd Johnson contacted us with an opportunity to be one of his sponsored families through Leverage Photography. It's a crazy family connection as Judd's father was the Pastor who dedicated me as a child. I love what Judd does. He leverages his passion and gift for sports photography to help families in their adoption efforts.

Here's how it works. You contact Judd to come and take photos of a sporting event. You get really fantastic photos of your kid (check the website and page out), and your payment goes directly to Lifesong for Orphans into our (other the other Leverage families... your choice) account.

I LOVE WHAT JUDD DOES! He lives out a message I regularly preach to see people gain awareness of the greatest opportunities/needs in the world then give sacrificially of your time, talents and treasures to address those needs. We are so humbled and honored to have him working with us and investing in our son!

Although High School sports tends to be the primary clientele, he can do other sports teams (Upward, Middle School, etc.) as well. If interested, check out Leverage's facebook page ( or the website ( for information and to contact Judd.

One special note, we just received word this week from Lifesong for Orphans that they are giving us a $3000 matching grant. This means they match every dollar given into our account up to $3000. So, if you were a pay $40 for your kid with a "team shoot," it will equal $80 for our adoption!

Again, contact Judd for more info and feel free to share this with those you know who have student athletes in the Michiana/Warsaw/Fort Wayne area! 

Monday, November 30, 2015

What's In A Name?

With each of our kids we have made it a point for either a first or middle name to have some level of connection to the people who have walked in and through our life and left a profound impact.  The other name tie into their story in some way.

Katylynn: Named after 5 different Kate-style named friends and students who are very dear to us.
Ivy: The name her birth mom gave her.

Moses: Obvious correlations to OT Moses story.
Andrew: 4 different Drews/Andrews who are dear to us.

Keiralee: Aboriginal for miracle baby
Joy: Middle name of Kristy Mikel, one of Janelle's best friends and a major support to our journey.

So, what is the story behind our newest addition?
The birth mother made it clear to us that she would like us to name the baby. To be completely honest, we hadn't had a lot of conversation to that point.  We found out we had a boy early morning.  As we talked it through, the name just rang true... Malachi Davis.

Malachi is Hebrew for messenger of God... We are taking a little translation freedom (forgive me Dr Carpenter) over the fact we received a crazy message that showed up on our phones that on our phone giving us about 8 hours notice of his birth. We also loved the thought of having 2 boys with an biblical "M" name.
Davis:  When I started at NMC in an internship my Sophomore year, I walked timidly into a room full of 8th Grade guys.  One of those guys was quick to introduce himself.  "I'm Dave."  The kid was sharp... a clear leader.  David Cramer was the first middle school guy and eventually high school guy I had the privilege of investing in.  Somewhere along the way I started calling him Davis Cravis.  I ended up really liking the name Davis as a nod to Mr Cramer.  Also, David is the name of Janelle's father.

I pray this little messenger of God will grow to be the man of depth and character that is present in his grandfather and an student I now call friend.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Insignificant Places That Now Have Significance

Some of the biggest milestones in my life have taken place in very odd places.  For example, I proposed to Janelle in a hotel parking lot just outside Denver, CO.  I had a different spot picked out.  It was a nice park in the evening, but after a sprinkler system scared us off, I had to improvise.

All last week I dreamed up what it would be like to walk Malachi through the doors of our house to introduce him to the other three kids.  We would walk him in his car seat into the middle of the family room.  Janelle would pull him out as their awestruck eyes would lock in on his tiny frame.  Introductions would be made as we all huddled in and Janelle's dad or some other bystander would snap photos.

It didn't quite work out that way.  Because we were given permission to leave the state Malachi was born in but not allowed to enter Indiana, we decided to rent a car and make the drive to the Ohio/Indiana border.  Once near the border, our options were limited, so we decided a McDonald's (free wifi)  would be the best spot for Janelle and Malachi to camp out and wait while I drove into Fort Wayne to meet up with the kids and pick up our van from my in-laws.  To add to the drama, the snow started heavily kicking in just as I left for Indiana.

The excitement of my kids on the drive into Ohio included them changing the lyrics to the songs we were listening ("I gotta feeling, that we are going to to meet Malachi" to the tunes of the Black  Eyed Peas).   It took me about 3x longer than planned to do the trip.  In my white-knuckled driving (nearly went off the road twice with the kids in the back seat) I completely forgot to give Janelle the heads up to let her know we had arrived.

The reunion was not the picturesque scene I had in my head, but it was no less perfect. 

In the end I'm reminded it is not the place that carries the weight to the most significant moments in life but the people and purpose of the moment.  In fact, the place could be extremely insignificant, but suddenly, because of what has happened in that place, it is forever significant to you and your story.  It is then the type of place where every time you see it, you are catapulted back to that significant moment  in time and flooded with the best of memories... like a seemingly insignificant McDonald's in Van Wert, OH will be to the Prenkert 6 from this day forward.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

A 4th Miracle Story - Baby Malachi

In July, we sensed a stirring from God that there was room in our family for another miracle story.
In August, we began to do some research on domestic adoption options.
In early September, we began the steps with an organization.
On November 5, our adoption profile went live.
A part of why we went with this organization was due to the speed they are able to match adoptive families with newborn orphans.  Still, we had been told the average wait time would be 4-13 months.

Wednesday Night, November 11, after putting our kids down for bed, we received a call from our client liaison. "I have a birth mother who has selected you... and she is in labor right now... How soon can you get to __________?"*

After minutes of prayer (yes, minutes... we didn't have time for more than that) and seeking some wise counsel, we took to a step of faith like we feel this journey has been marked by all along.

On one hour of sleep we set off on a whirlwind trip of flights and car rides.  We walked into the hospital at approximately 3 pm Thursday, November 12 to meet the birth mom and our BABY BOY!

How do you sum up the moment where you walk into the room to see the child you are to call your son and the brave woman who is making one of, if not the, toughest choices in her life?
It is impossible. 
So, it happened.
After some shared time together, the birth mom asked if we had a name selected.  We informed her, Malachi Davis Prenkert.  She loved it.
Malachi Davis Prenkert. Born 11/12/15
About an hour later, we were handed baby and guided to another hospital room to begin care.  We did not have legal custodial rights, but birth mom wanted us to take over in care asap to begin the bonding process.

In that room, we were able to FaceTime back home to the kids and introduce them to their baby brother.  Feeding, burping and diaper changes began as we spent the first night of our son's life in the hospital with him.

Friday, November 13 was marked by meetings with social worker, birth mom, and lawyers to sign over custodial rights. By Friday evening we had full custodial rights and were discharged from the hospital.
Friday Night, November 13 was spent in a Holiday Inn near the hospital with our son. Due to interstate adoption law, we had to go through a waiting period until governmental consent for him to leave the state as well as consent from our homestate (Indiana) to enter is granted.  We were told this process could take 7-14 days.

As only God could design, there were several unique factors that allowed for a meaningful and comfortable wait over the week to follow.
  1. My mom and the amazing Kristy Mikel arranged a care structure for our three kids back home.  Regular FaceTime appointments allowed for us to interact with them and they with us/their baby brother. 
  2. We had family connections inside the state that allowed for lots of good connections and a place to stay Saturday-Sunday (Nov. 14-15).
  3. Janelle's parents were vacationing nearby.  They were able to meet their 2-day old grandson and spend a couple days with us.
  4. A family friend made a completely furnished home available to us while we waited and bonded with our little dude.
  5. Still other significant acts of support and generosity that are either not my place to share or not quite ready to share.
 We received word Friday, November 20 that we could leave Malachi's birth state, but did not have permission to enter Indiana yet.  We wouldn't until after the weekend.  Itching to unite our entire family, we made the decision to rent a car and started the drive home that evening. 
On Saturday, November 21, I dropped Janelle off at just outside the Indian border, drove into Fort Wayne (in some pretty nasty snow), dropped off our rental car at the airport, and picked up our van (from my in-laws) with the kids in it! We, very carefully (almost went of the road twice) made our way into Ohio where the 6 of us were united together.
Our First Family Photoa
Our 1st "Family of 6" Photo
Currently, we are hanging out in a hotel... a complete family of 6 containing 4 unique and amazing miracle stories that can call me Daddy.

**UPDATE: We received permission Monday 11/23 to return to Indiana and are now home.****

We invite you to rejoice with us that a brave birth mom chose life and chose us. Pray for the health of baby Malachi and the bonding process with us. Pray for the other three kids as they get acclimated to a new addition.  Pray for the continued adoptive process.

It has been a whirlwind. 
It has contained God's fingerprints all over it.  
We deserve none of it.
We praise God for every aspect of it.
We continue to walk by faith.

*We are still leaving the state where Malachi was born off any public spaces of the internet in order to respect the continued process involved. Also, to be clear, the timing of this process (from time of application to match to bringing baby home and being selected by a birth mom on the evening of her going into labor) is far from normal. Then again, it is very hard to explain a "normal" adoptive process.  Every one is filled with it's own twists and turns... both positive and negative.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Story Behind the Shirt

In an effort to raise funds for the adoption of our 4th Child, we are selling T-shirts that tell our story. 
This t-shirt is my design and it tells my portion of the story.

I was on an airplane somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean October 2006 when I wrote the phrase for the first time. Janelle and I had (along with Caleb 'Biz' Bislow) just finished up speaking at a Youth Camp outside Calcutta India. I was processing through the incredible opportunities God had granted me and wrestling with the enormous needs present in the world. I wanted to do something, but this time it was different.

This time I felt so insignificant in it all. In that feeling, I was also able to come to grips with that fact that so much of my life to that point had been caught up in meaning and significance... or to put it more clearly, I was convinced that my meaning would come when I was seen as someone significant. If I could become some kind of Christian All-star then I would know I had arrived with God.

On that airplane, a very subtle but significant change of focus began. What if, rather than getting caught up in my significance, I would get caught up in giving my life toward the things that God saw as significant? I wrote it out in a simple declaration:


This became a somewhat of a life mission for me from that point forward. I'm not that special (in fact I'm kind of a big tool), but I believe God has allowed me to be a part of some pretty significant things for the sake of His Kingdom with my life. The opportunity to be an adoptive father ranks near the top.

You can purchase this shirt and others in Janelle's etsy store YippaDeeSkip or you can connect in person with us to make a purchase:

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Isaiah 1:17 and the Prenkert Family

In our Student Ministries, the hope is for the 2015-16 school year is to be marked by this verse (Isaiah 1:17).  As our staff prayed for direction and we began to run the concept of a school year where we declare to the the oppressed, orphans and widows can find peace in the statement "You Are Not Alone," we became convinced God was in it.  At Summer Camp, Tim and I presented the vision for the year and then gave the specific challenge to everyone in the tent, "What if you took Isaiah 1:17 personal?  What would it look like for you in the next year?"

As we sat in that tent and a stream of students came up to the mic to declare their personal "What if's" (and, wow, were there some powerful ones), I got a text from Janelle, who was sitting in the tent, that pretty much confirmed what I already knew God was leading us toward...

To back up a little, I had been wrestling with the personal application of the challenge all day.  There was nothing specific jumping out at me.  I've had some amazing opportunities to live out the call to SEEK JUSTICE with all three groups (oppressed, orphan, widow) mentioned in Isaiah 1:17.  Janelle and I daily look into the eyes of two amazing kids who remind us why it is worth "taking up the cause of the orphan."  In fact, as I meditated on the scripture and asked the Lord where he was leading me, I jokingly said, "God, I think I'm pretty much up to my neck when it comes to that!"  Janelle and my conversations had us to the point where we felt our family was "complete" (aka... "I'm not sure we can handle another one.")  So, my mind jumped to the other categories.  In what specific and radical way was God calling me to help the oppressed or fight for the rights of the widow.  And as I prayed and sought the Lord... nothing.

Back to the text from Janelle in the middle of that tent with 250 of my HSM friends.  I look down at my screen and read the words Janelle wrote and knew the reason I was being met with silence was because I had been focusing on the wrong category.

Janelle's text: "What if we adopt again?"

I snuck away from the front of the tent and we talked and prayed.  The same stirring was there with me but our recent conversations had led so far from that thought that.  We were so done with diapers.  The shift from 1 to 3 kids in under a year nearly killed us (and I'm almost talking litterally).  I was ready to get my kids in school and get my Thursdays (day off) back to myself.
I think I was dismissing the initial thoughts of another adoption as hype or maybe (more likely) I was afraid.  Either way, we prayed returned from camp committed to continued prayer and starting the exploratory process.  Through a series of events and conversations, God has made it clear... there's a fourth miracle story to be told with the Prenkert family.

We are pursuing a newborn domestic adoption.  

Yup, we know it sounds crazy, but God has made it so clear that we'll accept the crazy that it is. Here's some basic info we feel comfortable sharing at this point.
  • We are working with a group based in California who has connections with adoption agencies all over the continental U.S. This baby may be born in Indiana, Michigan, Texas, Mississippi, California, or 40 other potential states.
  • We've been given a timeline of 4-13 month from beginning the process to bringing a child home. We are approximately a month into that process at this point.
  • The baby will share the same skin color as his/her big brother (something Moses is incredibly excited about).
  • We are very excited, but it is a different kind of excitement than that of our previous 3 kids.  The only way I can explain it is (and I'm not convinced it's the perfect way to explain it) it's a much less selfish excitement than with the adoption of Katylynn and Moses and the birth of Keiralee. 
  • The costs are substantial and do involve a step of faith.  God has always proven faithful, and we are trusting he will continue to provide as we steward wisely and take sacrificial and creative steps.  At some point in the near future we will begin to roll some opportunities for those who desire to partner financially with us in the journey.
  • We told the kids the news about a month ago. They are "in."
    Kiki - She's pumped and won't shut up about it.  She's told far too many people that she was not supposed to, "We're adoteeing a baby brudder or seester."
    Moses - As mentioned, he's ecstatic.  Maybe my greatest highlight in this entire process was the night we told the kids over a family dinner.  The initial excitement had worn off and we were on to other points of conversation.  I looked at Moses and he was just sitting there, staring out the window with bright eyes and a smirk.  I asked him what was up and he just said... "Awesome!" Right on buddy.  Awesome.
    Katylynn - Upon hearing the news, she did her patented fist pump while yelling three times, "YES! YES! YES!"  Last week, she helped us prep a prayer room that we've set up at NMC in correlation with a current series on prayer.  In the room there is a spot for kids where you can draw something you're praying for.  This was my daughter's drawing:
Would you join Katylynn (and the rest of the Prenkert 5) in prayer as we take this step by step faith journey to become the Prenkert 6?

Monday, August 17, 2015

WDW Reflection: Primary Principles

Here are 5 principles you will find me returning to again and again when sharing opinions, tips and experiences concerning a Walt Disney World Vacation.  You will see me return to them again and again.
    Any destination guidebook to any location will push the value of doing your research and having a plan to make the most of your visit, but when it comes to a WDW vacation planning is essential.  I'm not one to say you HAVE to every single detail planned and mapped out complete with spreadsheets.  In fact, I think uber-planning has a significant downside as it can be a major setup for disappointment when things don't play out as planned.  Of course, it is possible  to show up to Disney with no tickets, no reservations and no game plan and have a good time, but it is highly unlikely while ensuring missed opportunities and higher expenses. 
    Disney's recent move My Magic Plus and Fastpass+ has ushered in a new age when it comes to planning.  I personally plan much more than I think the average vacationer needs to, but that's part of the joy for me.
  2. YOU WILL NOT FIND "CHEAP," BUT YOU CAN FIND "CHEAPER."Let's be clear, you're going to spend a lot of money at Walt Disney World.  Unless you win a free trip, you won't find yourself on low-budget WDW vacation.  There are definitely ways to save money though, and I spend a lot of time and posts walking through options to do so.
  3. TIME = MoneyThis simple "equation" is an essential cost/benefit tool when making your choices on your WDW vacation.  It's not always true, but often time saving opportunities and tactics will have a price tag attached to it.
  4. YOU CAN'T DO IT ALL. People are so baffled on how I could take so many trips over the years and spend so many days in the parks each trip.  The truth is that we do multiple new things every time we go. There is SO MUCH to do that you will have to make choices.  There will be a few times where the options will come down to a good choice/bad choice.  More times than not, it's the question of good choice/great choice.  The key is to enjoy all that you get to do, and let go of the things you couldn't do "this time" (that's how they get you back!)
  5. THE MAGIC IS A MOVING TARGET. "Disney Magic" is a phrase you'll hear a lot in correlation to a trip.  It's that "thing" that makes the vacation special.
    What would make a Disney Vacation magical for you?  I could easily ask 10 different people that question and get 10 different answers.  Some of this has to do with goals.  Meeting characters, escaping life back home, making the most of your $$, creating family memories... they all will play a role in this.  Even when I personally look at this, each trip has contained it's own "magical moments" and they had a lot to do with the timing and goals of that specific trip.