Letters to the God Box: The gift of giving and letting go

This letter from Janice meant so much to me. I’m so grateful when Mom’s story touches others..

 

“Hello!

My mother died one week ago and my coping mechanism has always been reading.  Since  she was 85 years old with some young grandchildren whose parents were concerned about how much to allow them to be involved, I went to the bookstore. In addition to buying many children’s books, I found The God Box.  I read it overnight and finished it in church the next day.  What a treasure!   I have since purchased 6 copies as gifts to siblings and many friends.  Wish I had known of this book years ago.

There are only 2 entries in my God Box since this week, but I have to say, I do feel some relief.  There is incredible sadness over my mother’s very peaceful, quick death, but I just think that the lessons will help in all aspects of my life. Your book was a gift to me and I thank you for that.

Most sincerely,
Janice Malavarca”

 

If you have a story to share please write to me at hello@theGodBoxproject.com or please post comments here! 

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Letters to the God Box: Coping with a mother’s death

Sometimes I receive letters from other daughters who tell me stories of the “Mary” in their life, often strikingly similar to my Mom. This story is one of those. Grab a tissue.

I am hoping to meet up with Jennifer when I present the play in the Ft. Myers area next spring on behalf of the Shellpoint hospice where Mom died.

“Dear Mary Lou,

I just read The God Box.  Thank you.  I’m amazed at the similarities in our lives and would like to share them with you.

My mother’s name was Josephine Maye. She was a devout Catholic and was a Franciscan nun for 6 years before she met my Dad.  Some of her friends called her Mary Jo.  Shortly before she passed away in May, 2010, she told me that she named me Mary after Mother Mary, since she was named after Joseph.  My name is Mary Jennifer Kirchman but I always went by my middle name.

My Mom and I were best friends.   I’m an only child and have no children and my Mom and I were all we had.  I always strived to be a perfect daughter, and as my Mom lay dying, she told me I had been a perfect daughter.  My Mom and I loved watching movies together and eating out, especially Mexican food and margaritas.  I don’t think it’s a coincidence that she died on May 5, Cinco de Mayo (month of May, her middle name being Maye).  She also loved the song “Spanish Eyes”.

Your Mom’s first letter was dated August 7, my birthday.  My Mom’s God Box was that she kept all the letters and postcards I ever sent her.  Some are over 30 years old.  She also saved my most precious baby clothes.  I found these in a box after she passed, all starched and in perfect condition.  My Mom and I also had a “more”.  I would say “I love you much” and she’d say “I love you more”.  Her last words to me were “Me more” after I told her “I love you much”.

I attended Catholic grade school and high school.  My Mom and I always went to Mass together.  And I too wore the veil.  I also drifted away from the Church after my Dad died.  I was angry at God and had had enough of his promises.  However, God used my second husband to bring me back to my faith, and I know my Mom was very happy about this.  My marriage didn’t last, but my faith is stronger than ever.  I go to Mass at least once a week and went to Confession for the first time in 30 years.  I even make rosaries.

My Mom also didn’t care for cooking.  I grew up on grilled cheese sandwiches and microwaved dinners.  Your Mom’s autobiography had a picture of my favorite flower on it, a daisy.  But one thing in your book that made me gasp was that they lived at Shell Point in Fort Myers.  My Mom and I also live in Fort Myers.  My family moved here in 1978.  My Dad and Grandmother are buried here.  My Mom is at home with me, (cremated) in a house we used to share.  I have no living relatives, am single with no kids.  But my Mom’s love and spirit is always with me.  And I’m most proud in this life that I had her for my Mom and that I was her love and joy.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.  I’ve never written to anyone like this before but your book touched my soul.  I think my Mom would be happy I read it and wrote you.

Love and prayers,
Jennifer”

 

I would love to hear your stories, please write to me at hello@theGodBoxproject.com or post comments here!

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Letters to the God Box: How The God Box Helped Through Trials

I love receiving letters like these, it makes me so grateful when Mom’s story touches others..

 

“Dear Mary Lou,

I picked up the God Box book as a gift for my son’s phenomenal third grade teacher,  Joan, who has been teaching for over 30 years.  Her mom is 91 and she has been very ill this past year.  Her mom – Anne, says a rosary each day and has been doing so since the age of 20.  I have a special fondness for the Blessed Mother and was so touched to hear this.  I believe Anne is still alive.  I thought your book may help Joan through her mom’s transition to heaven, whenever that may be.  It may be a while as I recall a day toward the end of the school year when I asked Joan about her mom just after they shared a discussion about possibly moving her mom to a facility where she could receive constant care.  Anne’s response to her daughter was along the lines of although she seemed to be ready for heaven, God still had special plans for her.  I am hopeful that Joan has read your book over the summer and that it brings her some comfort.

I have since bought several more copies to share with friends who are going through difficult times now.

It has also brought incredible comfort to me.  After I finished your book, our family was struck with many challenging situations.  I truly believe that it was God’s plan that I read your book as a way to let me know that although there would be some dark days ahead, God had better plans for me than I could imagine.

My mom was recently hospitalized for three weeks due to OCD, anxiety and depression.  Although a woman of great faith she has struggled for years.  She has tremendous difficulty letting go and letting God truly guide her.  She was just released a week ago and has still had some challenges.  I am encouraged that she will slowly recover and be able to be more faith filled.  I think your book will be a blessing for her.  After reading your book, I sometimes wished that I had a mom as strong as your mom to guide me as many times I have felt like a mother to my mom.  But I now understand that God has different plans for us and we need to let go and follow them.  Thank you for helping me to better understand this.

Two weeks ago today, my husband was laid off.  He did not see this coming as he had just booked a trip to Disney World for our family around Christmas.  He was shattered.  I however had great peace.  I knew the stress of his job was killing him physically and emotionally.  I even asked during the weeks prior what I should do about his mom should he die.  I wasn’t sure I could handle the grief of losing him while raising our two sons without him and take care of his ailing mother.  I truly believe that your book somehow inspired me to look at things differently.  I did not fall apart when he told me he lost his job, I actually felt blessed.  So many miracles have happened since then, that I am certain that this is God’s plan.

I see that you will be at St. Joseph’s University in the coming weeks.  I hope to meet you then if possible to thank you personally for touching me in such a special way.

Thank you so much for reading my story and I hope to meet you in person.

Gratefully,

Bernadette”

If you have a story to share please write to me at hello@theGodBoxproject.com or please post comments here! 

 

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Mom on TV



This week I was so happy to join Audra Lowe on Better TV. Audra wrote to me that she loved the book and had started her own God Box. (She said it was already full!) She even downloaded the app.

What I love about sharing Mom’s story is that it seems to touch people no matter how sophisticated or breezy they seem to be. Everyone has something they want to ask, a need that cries to be filled.

On set, Audra kept calling me “Mary” and the first couple of times, I corrected her to say ” Mary Lou.” But later, I just let it go. No name means more to me.

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Falling into my mother’s footsteps

There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t see some glimpse of my mother in me. But breaking my foot on a New York sidewalk is too close for comfort. Last week I cracked my 5th metatarsal when I leapt to save my little dog Rocky from the jaws of a mastiff that Rocky had—somewhat impertinently!—sniffed.  Now I am dragging an UGG-ly boot around Manhattan that cannot be made to look cute no matter what I do with it. My mother would understand.

When Mom first visited me and Joe in New York City, she sprained her ankle on a cracked sidewalk. (She also had a bracelet stolen by the elderly lady she stooped to help on the street, but it was the 70s.) Dad, who never believed anything hurt, propped Mom up in the backseat of their car, stuck her leg out the window to chill in the sleet all the way home on the Jersey Turnpike.  (Ice and elevate, right?)

A couple years later, Mom sprained her ankle again, this time at home in Philadelphia. She was trying to stay off it but Dad wanted her to ‘get her mobility back’ as he said. “Hey, Mary, let’s take a walk  outside.” Begrudgingly, Mom hobbled to the door, took one step out and sprained the other one. Not a high point in our family’s medical history.

So, in honor of Mom, I will grin and bear it. And be glad that at least it’s not sleeting and I’ve got an elevator, a cab and if necessary, will hitch a ride on Rocky. It’s the least he can do!

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press & praise
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  • "A wonderful legacy…Keeping a God Box is an incredibly moving and hopeful ritual that we should all consider adding into our daily lives."
    – REBA, MUSICIAN, AUTHOR, ACTRESS
  • "A beautiful story of love, faith and family. It reads like an intimate, familiar prayer."
    – ELIZABETH GILBERT, AUTHOR OF "EAT, PRAY, LOVE"
  • "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."
    – JIM LEHRER, EXECUTIVE EDITOR OF PBS NEWSHOUR
  • "What a beautiful and profoundly human book....I will keep The God Box in my heart for a long, long time."
    – LAURA SCHROFF, AUTHOR OF "THE INVISIBLE THREAD"
  • "Mary Lou Quinlan shares her mother’s handmade and heartfelt gift of how to persist, believe and move forward with joy."
    – LEE WOODRUFF, AUTHOR OF "IN AN INSTANT"
  • "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."
    – GAIL SHEEHY, AUTHOR OF "PASSAGES IN CAREGIVING"
  • "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."
    – JEFFREY ZASLOW, COAUTHOR OF "THE LAST LECTURE"

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

December 15, 2017
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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