A Mother’s Prayer and a Daughter’s Dream: The God Box just made the New York Times bestsellers list!

Mom would say, “I told you so.” Dad would say, “We’ve got to celebrate!” and I am saying….”I am overwhelmed, over the moon and overflowing with gratitude”. The spark behind this heartfelt book is Mom, her faith, her hope, her compassion and her wonderful life lessons. But what also has helped the book shine is the incredible team of creative, marketing, media, design, publicity, film-making, app-making, site-building, event-planning and theatre-directing people I love. And speaking of love, I send all hugs to my husband Joe Quinlan, brother Jack and his wife Sandy, daughters Kelley and Meghan who lived this story with me. And to so many family, friends, neighbors who cheered on the little box that could.


The list is the one dated May 27th, so will share a photo but until then, this link  tells the story. Thank you, Mom for keeping me in the God Box. Look what you and God have created!

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One Day at a Time

Most mornings on the way to work, I buy coffee from Nasir who parks his pushcart at the corner of 9th and Broadway. If you aren’t in NYC, picture a metal cart about five feet across, six feet tall and two feet deep that contains not only the proprietor, but coffee/tea/racks of jelly donuts and bagels, cups, ice and a heater to keep him warm in frigid temps.

This morning I noticed that Nasir had really slimmed down. “How do you stay that way?” I asked, while inhaling the fragrance of a just baked croissant. “Let me tell you,” he said. “Last year, I went to the doctor and my cholesterol was 247 and he warned me to exercise or else. So I started to park my pushcart on the sidewalk earlier and then run back and forth between 8th and 9th street. First I could only do it once. Then 20 minutes.  Now I run a 100 times back and forth every day and my cholesterol is down to 140.” So every morning at dawn, he runs…and it began one block at a time.

Nasir’s story made me think of the God Box.  I’ve heard some people say, that it’s hard to remember to put a message in. I know it’s hard for me, and actually I imagine it’s easier just to keep on worrying and noodling things in my head. (For hours! Why does that make sense?) But if I think of it, as one note at a time, maybe I could learn to ask more often and feel that relief of letting go. One block. One prayer. One smart coffee pal of mine.

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One month. 6,000 books already sold. And almost as many undone to do’s.

First, the good news! “The God Box” launched exactly one month ago today and it is flying off the shelves, both in stores and online and off– an amazing start. Mom’s little box seems to be touching so many and we hope that those who received it as a gift for Mother’s Day yesterday might want to buy copies for friends, family and just anyone who needs the love tucked inside. I traveled to Philadelphia (multiple times), Charlotte, Portland, OR, Pittsburgh, Chicago, and of course, held a bunch of NY events, spoke to at least 25 different audiences, visited bookstores to sign, tweeted, FB’d, blogged, appeared on a dozen radio shows and a couple TV programs, logged thousands of miles and breathed a couple of times. We are so excited and raring to go!

Now, the bad news of what it means to go on a book ‘tour’ of my own design. (Aren’t we our own worst boss?) Here is the list of what I haven’t done for a solid month.

  1. Exercise
  2. Make the bed
  3. Eat salad and drink water
  4. Read the paper with Rocky my dog on my lap (a favorite morning ritual)
  5. Go to yoga class
  6. Fill the car with gas (see yesterday’s post)
  7. Sleep much
  8. Take my winter clothes out of my drawers and closets despite 80 degree temps
  9. Skip dessert
  10. Do you see a pattern here?

So, starting today, for the next phase of what I hope is a lifelong journey with “The God Box”, I went to the gym, made the bed, sat with Rocky, ate oatmeal with skim milk(ok, it’s a start), and had a great night’s sleep. Still stuff on the list but don’t we all have that? What’s on your to do list?

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My Secret Agent Man

Ok, this shot says it all. This is Joe and this is Old St. Joseph’s Church where we were married nearly 34 years ago. Last night, I was headed into a radio interview with Ralph Collier and his office is right next door to this lovely historic church on Willings Alley in Philadelphia, founded there by the Jesuits in 1834 who eventually founded my alma mater, Saint Joseph’s University.
No, Joe is not trying to break into the church to demand a refund or a return policy to give me back, though I wouldn’t blame him since I have been quite the handful with my constant tweeting, facebooking, radio interviewing and generally hyperventilating over the God Box launch. Hey, wait a minute, wasn’t the book supposed to be about me learning to let go?
Anyway, Joe scouted the church, found it locked, so I guess we are still hitched.

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Wowza, “The God Box” tops USA Today’s Mother’s Day Gift List

Wowza “The God Box” has been touted as the #1 book to buy this year for Mother’s Day in USA Today…but why stop at Mother’s Day? Mom would be so proud! http://mediagallery.usatoday.com/G3848


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Ever think you are becoming more and more like your Mom?

If you are facing Mother’s Day without your Mom, this blog that The New York Times featured today on Motherlode might help. I find that discovering more of my Mom in me, year by year, is a comfort and in a small way, like having her back again.http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/05/09/becoming-my-mom/

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Good news in the Media!

So happy to hear such great support and recommendations from America’s most loved and respected publications. See what the news and entertainment media has to say about The God Box!

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All about family: Family Circle!

Big thank you to Family Circle for including The God Box in the May issue under “Lit Crit” as recommended reading. So cool!

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A Book Party with a Soul, “The God Box” at Michael’s April 23rd

Ann Moore, a great friend and the former chair of TIME Inc, and me

The truth about NY book parties is that they sound glamorous and sometimes, on TV, they are portrayed that way. Who doesn’t remember Carrie’s book party on Sex and The City? But honestly, they are often sedate affairs where friends and media folks stop in for a quick air kiss, grab a book and head to their real destination, dinner out or home with family at the end of a long day. But I can truly say that the book party that Joe threw for me at Michael’s in NYC was an exception.

I felt so much love in that room. Longtime friends and neighbors, connections from our Irish-American world in NYC, from the theatre, from the blogosphere, from literary circles and film and many terrific supporters from the national media. The room was like one big hug. Just listen to this lovely story of the birth of the God Box from Ann Moore, a great friend and the former chair of TIME Inc. It’s amazing that the book’s very beginning as an article in Real Simple was triggered by the loss of another beautiful mother to cancer and the connection between her beautiful daughter Lily and me, when we were both still fresh with grief.

A party to toast “The God Box”

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sample chapter
Enjoy a free selected chapter from The God Box.

reading group guide
Invite your book club to join this engaging conversation about Mary Lou’s book.

printable mini cards
Share these mini note cards or write notes for your God Box.

mobile app
The God Box app makes it easy to write notes on the go.

giving back
Ask how Mary Lou can support your local cause with the book and play.
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Come meet Mary Lou and experience The God Box: A Daughter's Story at a venue near you.
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press & praise
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  • "In the slips of paper that carry this sweet story forward, we can see the love in our own families and the great possibilities of simple faith."
  • "The courage and wisdom from the messages left in her mother’s God Box will inspire you to create a God Box of your own."
  • "A beautiful story of love, faith and family. It reads like an intimate, familiar prayer."
  • "A wonderful legacy…Keeping a God Box is an incredibly moving and hopeful ritual that we should all consider adding into our daily lives."
  • "What a beautiful and profoundly human book....I will keep The God Box in my heart for a long, long time."
  • "Mary Lou Quinlan has told the story of her mother in a way that entertains, moves and inspires. The thoughts about life and values will stick with you forever."
  • "Mary Lou Quinlan shares her mother’s handmade and heartfelt gift of how to persist, believe and move forward with joy."

The God Box App is shiny new and ready to welcome your cares

November 28, 2023
by Mary Lou Quinlan

Since The God Box book was published in the spring of 2012, so many readers have told me that they started their own God Boxes. I love hearing stories of children creating God Boxes and married couples joining their prayer and cares in a family box. (And my mother would be thrilled!)  A 'real' God box is a constant reminder that we are not in control and that letting go is the first step to finding comfort, hope and relief for life's worries. But did you know that many thousands have gone virtual with their God boxes? To help the many busy ...

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