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Puzzling Out Where Stories Collide

The man who designed the cover of The Green Ember is named Paul Boekell. In fact, after an early version of the design, I asked Paul to make the author name just a bit bigger. “I think I know what Sam is after,” he said. “This will definitely be the final version.” So with some excitement, I clicked on the attachment. This is what I saw.
Awesome, right? I laughed so hard when I saw this that I nearly busted an actual, for realsies, literal gut. Only one gut, but still, you need every single gut you have in order to thrive, according to Science.


I have known Paul for most of my life. He was a fellow MK (missionary kid) and we shared plenty of awkward mission’s conferences as kids. I broke his wrist in a pickup game of basketball over 20 years ago (he was guarding me too close). And I’ve been imposing duties on him for the last few, but not “dead-guy duties.” Yet. He’s the (alive) guy responsible for all those beautiful text and image treatments we feature at Story Warren every Tuesday. He’s a pastor in a church where men wear flannel a lot. He’s an amazing photographer. He took the picture of me that I use everywhere, including on my book’s back cover. Paul is a good man, a godly man, and someone I’m very grateful to have for a friend. His story and mine cross in several places. I’m grateful for these intersections.

Now his story, and that of his wife and kids, is about to cross with another soul. A soul far away from their home in West Virginia.

boekells read
I’m really exited about this. Paul and his wife Sarah Beth are adopting a little girl from Columbia. They have three boys now, so this precious girl will be their first daughter. This story is about that girl. About this family. But there’s more.


“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.”
(Ephesians 1:3-6 ESV)


For the Boekells, it’s about more than the amazing love they have for this girl, more than rescuing her from being an orphan and adding to their own family. It’s not less than that, but it’s more. They are living a story, a story that is a sign of The Story. And The Story, where it involves people, is about adoption. In love.


So, as you no doubt know, it’s crazy expensive to adopt internationally. This is going to cost the Boekells ca. $41,000. They are raising money. I think it would be a great way use your money. For $20, you can share in their story by becoming a part of the puzzle. Here’s Paul…


– We have purchased a 500 piece puzzle in hopes that family and friends interested in supporting our adoption will “purchase” all of the pieces – the


 pieces will then represent those who helped bring our daughter home, those who are forever a part of our story.
– Each piece is a minimum donation of $20. You may choose to be one piece of the puzzle or several – completely up to you!
– YOUR name (or chosen word/initials) will be written on the back of each piece you represent.
– Here’s the fun part…Once completed, the puzzle is going to be hung in our little girl’s room as a beautiful keepsake of this adoption story we are living out. Even better, the frame will be double sided! So, we’ll be able to take it off the wall, turn it around, and point out to our daughter the names of all you wonderful folks that helped bring her home, that helped make our family possible. How amazing is that?!
Since you are reading this here, it means that your story and my story, for some reason in some way, is intersecting. I’m glad for that. Thank you! And now it’s intersecting with the Boekell’s story. Why? Maybe in part to bring a little girl from Columbia to West Virginia to become a beloved daughter in a home imbued with the light and love of Christ.


So, join in, yeah? If the Lord is calling you to it in joy, be a part of the puzzle.
(Here’s a link to their site. You can also join their journey on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter.)



  1. I finished reading The Green Ember just a few weeks ago with my daughter. We loved it and can’t wait for the next one. Thank you and thank you to Sara from Read-Out-Loud….she is great!
    I will be buying a piece of the puzzle to help your friends. I spent my first 16 years in Colombia. Amazing country, wonderful people. Thanks again!

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