A New Year’s Eve Wish for You

Have you heard about the Wishing Wall in Times Square?  People are writing wishes for a new job (or just any job), a new mate or whatever onto a wall of paper which will be cut into confetti and shot into the sky at midnight.

It’s a sweet idea, like wishing on coins in a fountain or candles on a birthday cake or a dandelion puff in the breeze. But as lovely as these traditions are, there’s something a little lonely about it all. Once whispered, our wishes vanish into the air. Does anybody hear?

I believe this is why my mother kept her God Box as the place for her hopes and fears and worries. She handwrote her concerns—big and small—onto pieces of paper as letters to God and tucked them inside, into stronger Hands. Once she let go, she knew she was not alone. What her God Box practice gave Mom – more lasting than a birthday candle or confetti — was comfort and peace, hope and release.

What more could I wish you for 2013?

Maybe tonight, when the clock strikes twelve, you’ll share a kiss or a toast, and you’ll give the God Box a try. Truly Happy New Year, my friends.

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Noah: The Power of Loving More

At his funeral, slain kindergartner Noah Pozner’s courageous Mom Veronique recalled that as she tucked her little boy into bed, she said, “I love you.” And Noah would answer “Not as much as I love you.” How can someone speak about such unspeakable loss? Veronique did it at the hardest possible moment– to keep Noah’s spirit alive. Sharing stories of those we have lost is a step toward healing our broken hearts. I do that with my memories of Mom.  Like Noah and his Mom, we had our own language. We would be talking and one of us would say “More” and then the other would say, “more” again and again, riding over each other. It meant “I love YOU more.” May we never, ever forget what we have lost.

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Letters to The God Box: A hopeful way to honor Mom

What a touching letter I received from Jim…a beautiful way to love and remember your mother at the holidays.
“Mary Lou,
Wanted to let you know that I presented my wife and sisters with  copies of The God Box and their own personal God Boxes that I had made from the dress our Mothers wore to our wedding. Needless to save there were some tears of joy shed around the table. This was our First Annual “Let’s Celebrate Mary Party” as this is the first Christmas without her and her birthday is December 18; she would have been 91. Now you have God Boxes throughout the tristate area. I have attached some pictures so you can see the festivities-they were thrilled to hear you also were a “Cardinal Dougherty” girl!
Merry Christmas From The Curtin Family!”

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In my words, with love for the holidays

Just in time for Christmas, we’re happy to present “The God Box” audio book from Brilliance Audio. I recorded this two disc set a couple of months ago as a way to spread the love to those who prefer to listen on the road, on the run or just on their own. Brilliance asked me to ‘audition’ to be me and I tried my best and had a lovely time recording it. You can order it in time for gift-giving by clicking right here on amazon and also listen to a sample to check it out.  Great stocking stuffer for that special someone who needs a little faith, love and letting go this holiday.

 

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Letting Go of an Angel

I don’t know what the hardest job in the world might be but it’s fair to say that serving as chaplain in the oncology ward of a children’s hospital is right up there.  I can only imagine the strength it takes to comfort parents facing their child’s fight with cancer. Yet an angel did that job every day for 20 years—with joy. Her name was Sister Alice Edward Strogen (r), SSJ, Oncology Chaplain of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, known locally as CHOP. “Jolly” was how her office mate Helen Stermel described her. I’d suggest “Saint.”

If you don’t know much about nuns, here’s a thumbnail. They work tirelessly in schools, in hospitals, in some of the most desperate circumstances—not for money or praise, but for others. Many work well into their 80s and 90s, devoted to God. I was taught by the Sisters of St. Joseph. I know these women. They are invincible.

I never met Sister Alice but she ‘met’ me when she attended my performance of “The God Box” on November 16, held to raise dollars for the retired sisters in the St. Joseph Villa in Flourtown, PA.  That night as I looked out from the stage, the audience was so darkly lit, I couldn’t see a single face. But that weekend, I received an enthusiastic letter from Sister Alice.

“Your dear mother, Mary, continues to have an impact on so many people!” she wrote. “I think that your mother’s legacy…her faith…her hope and her love… have so much to offer each one of us. Her most profound gift to us is the art of learning how to let go. I have said for years that I believe that this is what life is all about…learning how to let go!”

Sister and I wrote back and forth for a week, both of us so excited about bringing the show to Children’s Hospital. I couldn’t wait to meet her. But last Wednesday, Cindy Schmus, a nurse practitioner at CHOP, wrote to tell me that her dear friend Sister Alice, only 65 years old, had suddenly died of a massive heart attack. Cindy wrote that Sister spent her last hour, talking about sharing The God Box with patients and parents to help them cope.

I keep re-reading Sister Alice’s letters to me:

“I, too, believe that God brings people together and makes things happen…that’s why we have to learn to let go and open ourselves to God’s ideas for our lives…just like your mother did!”

Her funeral service is being held today at the Villa at 12:30PM. I know that the chapel will be packed with heartbroken souls trying to hold on to her. I won’t let go of my commitment to Sister Alice. I will figure out how to bring “The God Box” to the families and staff of CHOP. Rest in eternal peace, sweet angel. It’s only fair after doing the hardest job on earth.

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sample chapter
Enjoy a free selected chapter from The God Box.
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reading group guide
Invite your book club to join this engaging conversation about Mary Lou’s book.
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printable mini cards
Share these mini note cards or write notes for your God Box.
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mobile app
The God Box app makes it easy to write notes on the go.
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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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  • "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"
  • "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
  • "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 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"
  • "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"
  • "A beautiful story of love, faith and family. It reads like an intimate, familiar prayer."
    – ELIZABETH GILBERT, AUTHOR OF "EAT, PRAY, LOVE"

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

December 18, 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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