I am taking a bit of my own advice (and Mom’s) and letting myself let go this weekend. Ever since the launch of “The God Box” in mid April, I have been going 100 mph every single day trying to do all I can to make it fly. And when I think back on it, I’ve kind of been at this pace since that first “God Box” article in Real Simple in November 2010. And I need a break.

So I am heading out of town with a longtime friend for some girlfriend R and R, to a place where they discourage email, twitter, cellphones and civilization in general. I know I will sneak some peeks, but my goal is to rest, reflect and refresh. As my wish for you, I want to share a beautiful email I just received from a lovely woman named Carolyn Sayres. Carolyn attended the event that I presented last night in NY to benefit my alma mater Saint Joseph’s University’s SheUnited program for women. I had shared the story of my Mom and our farewell of love, “Hands on.”

Here is what she wrote:

“Your presentation was incredibly moving and I felt that all of us in the room were joined together by a common bond.  I was reminded of something my mother would always say to me when we were leaving each other:  ‘Mizpah – May the Lord watch between me and thee while we are apart one from the other.’

I was reminded at how these seemingly little things are sometimes the biggest expressions of Love.  Thank you for reminding me of this.


Caroline Sayres


So to all, Mizpah and Hands on!

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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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For anyone who asks if God exists, presenting the tree peony. These miraculous beauties appeared this week in my garden–like blushing dancers awaiting their ovation. Brava to spring!

I added this picture my on @Pinterest here.  Join me there.

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Week One and Running!

Happy earth day everyone! Good thing it’s the weekend or I’d never get caught up on all the God Box to do’s. I know Mom would say, “Give yourself a break,” but I can’t when the book is bubbling with such great news.After last Monday night’s party in New York for friends and family, and my trip to Pittsburgh for the speech at Chatham University followed by a performance of The God Box play at Adat Shalon synagogue, I headed back to New York and straight into shopping fever. The Wall St Journal was coming to my house to shoot me in my Mother’s garden and I had to look casual but ideally cute. Ever try to shop for relaxed clothes when you are half asleep?

After smiling into the camera a zillion times (actually for me, the harder thing was not smiling!), I’ve got blogs to write, tweets to tweet and more packing to do for next week’s trip to Chicago.

But the best news is that the book is really moving up the ranks in amazon ( we hit the # 6 spot among all spiritual books this week) and Barnes and Noble stores have already been re-ordering. So that energizes me all over again! It amazes me how the story of something so simple appeals to so many…and has so many moving parts behind it. And so many loving hands on the God Box team to make it all happen smoothly. Monday night, we celebrate together! So, Mom, guess my feet will keep running for now…for you!

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Right now I can hear my Mom’s voice in my ears as I watch the clock and calendar move toward April 17, the official publication date of “The God Box.“A watched pot never boils.” “Let it go. Give it to God.” “Put it in the God Box.”

Mom knew when she saw my foot tapping wildly under the desk (just as hers did, by the way!), that I was anxiously trying to make something happen. I am guilty of trying to press my willpower into service when I really, really want something. And here’s what I really hope for right now. I really hope that this little book will go straight to the hearts of millions of people. I hope in some way it will bring comfort and peace to those who have lost someone they love…that it will bring needed relief and smiles to a worried world…and that it might inspire others to start their own God Box ritual and legacy. I hope that its success will contribute in a big way to the war against cancer—where I am dedicating the proceeds, among other local causes. And most of all, I hope for something that I will just have to trust comes true: that Mom will be proud and know that I have tried to tell her story with the best I’ve got.

All that said, the only way that all this can happen is if people buy the book. (Sharing your copy is wonderful, but everyone ought to have their own!). So, as is tradition on ‘Opening Day’ of a new book, I ask that tomorrow you invite your personal social circles to order it on amazon http://www.amazon.com/The-God-Box-Sharing-Mothers/dp/1608323609/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1334601082&sr=1-1 .

Or ask them to head to their local Barnes and Noble and find it on the big Inspirational Mother’s Day table (tell them to order more if they are sold out!)or for bulk quantities, go to 800 CEOREAD.com for discounted quantities and great service for groups: http://800ceoread.com/book/search/KW/DE/Hardcover%2CPaperback%2CMass+Market+Paperbound/The+God+Box+Quinlan/1

Every book bought that day drives the opening rankings which is what inspires booksellers, media folks and others to pay attention and build greater reach.

And if your pals like the book, please ask if they’d post a review on amazon.com, again invaluable for readers.

More than anything, I want to say thank you to an amazing group of people who have been by my side, guardian angels, day by day for months bringing their own creativity and heart and skill to the launch of this labor of love: Chelsea Castner, Lissa Lowe, Rachel Cost, Jennie Willink, Susan Kittenplan, Martha Wollner, Kristin Brewer, Michael Sullivan, David Broad, Tony Chow, Phillip Ting, Dennis Clevenger, Julie Vetter, Jude Lutge, Kathryn Whyte, Mark Laita, Beth Feldman, Leslie Norden, Maggie Howley, Bryan Carroll, Lari Bishop, Sheila Parr, Alan Grimes, Jenn McMurray, Abby Kitten and Tanya Hall and likely many hands that touched this book with their talent. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, Hands on, Mary Lou.

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FROM @PINTEREST: Morning walk with Ghandi

I took this photo this morning of the lovely sculpture of Ghandi striding through the Union Square garden in NYC. Peaceful, calming,hopeful in springtime.

I added this to my  on @Pinterest here. Join me there.

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DAY OF REST: On the road today with Joe and Rocky

Here is my backseat companion, Rocky. We are on our way to pick up Joe’s Mom and Dad in Levittown to go to Easter Mass and brunch and then heading up the NJ Turnpike to NYC to celebrate in New York with Joe’s sister Ginny, brother-in-law Tony and their children and grandkids (all our nieces, nephews, and great-nieces and nephews.) Easter peeps, here we come!

And in between, Rocky and I are studying my lines for upcoming performances of The God Box, my one woman, one act play. Well, I’m studying. Rocky is, well…resting!

What are your plans today? Enjoy in every way!

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DAY OF REST: No Choice

Sunday’s are always my clean up days. The kitchen, the closets, the garden. My puttering  and polishing instinct kick in and in an oddly busy way, I feel incredibly peaceful.

But this Sunday turned out differently than I expected. I thought that I would have received my new baby book yesterday but unfortunately, it didn’t arrive. Bummer. I tried to stare the Fed Ex truck into pulling into the driveway but it wasn’t to be. But I like to believe that things happen for a reason. Maybe if the book had come, right now I’d be obsessing over every page and image. Or I’d be thinking, “Why didn’t I write about that?” Or, “I wish I had added that friend’s name into the acknowledgements?”

That’s how my brain works. How could I have done it better?

So, maybe this is a sign from Mom. She would have said, “Maybe this was meant to be. Maybe you needed a day to just not do anything”. Okay, I accept that. Does cutting some forsythia to hurry spring into our house count? Looking forward to a fresh week of The God Box.

Patiently yours, Mary Lou

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MONDAYS WITH MOM: Mazda headache

When you read The God Box: Sharing my mother’s gift of faith, love and letting go, you are going to be treated to a dose of my mother’s handwriting AKA “chicken scratch.”  My Mom learned Gregg shorthand at West Catholic High School in the 1940s because that was how secretaries took dictation in the real Mad Men world. Her scribbles are sometimes hard to read, but her intent is clear. In her God Box, Mom was a woman on a mission. With her busy life, she just wanted help, answers, solace or just peace of mind…fast!

What I love about the sample note above is that it tells her backstory in so many ways. The paper was torn from a pad of freebie paper she picked up at a local print shop in Ft Myers. Got to love that she wrote a note to God on paper that says “You’re so special!”  In this particular instance, Mom is asking for intervention in an insurance dispute.

She and Dad had hit a deer while driving in Bucks County, PA (appropriately named) and the tow truck that dragged the Mazda (our car, by the way, which of course made Mom more frantic!), had scraped the back fender while towing. The insurer was only agreeing to cover the front dent from the deer blow and not the rear. So Mom took this piece of paper, which ironically had “Advil” already scrawled at the top—probably for the headache the issue was giving her—crossed it off her shopping list and instead wrote to God to put State Farm on notice.

Mom was so informal and familiar with God that she didn’t feel guilty about sending notes with cross-out’s as long as they were earnest requests. Asking and accepting were all that mattered. The sooner it was in the box, the sooner she could get on with her life. What a gift!

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DAY OF REST: Love and Light in the East Village


Joe and I met Patti Kelly by accident. But we have become long term friends on purpose.

Spring in the East Village is perfect for exploring the tiny nooks and crannies of what’s known as “Alphabet City”, the blocks of A, B and C and beyond, once the tenement homes of thousands of immigrants. Joe’s great grandparents lived there  in the 1850s and now we live nearby. Today it’s a mix of ultra hip, downtown grunge, dotted with NYU-everything and dozens of terrific little shops and cool restaurants. But it’s still got its edge. I once asked a vendor on St. Mark’s place where I could get a temporary tattoo and he practically seared me with his look of disdain. The East Village we love is as Joe likes to call it, heaven for teenagers.

Anyway, back to Patti. One night we wandered into the open door of Patti’s studio where her large black dog Moon keeps a watchful eye. Her glorious, colorful and cluttered studio was visual lightning on the dark block and so was she. A tiny spitfire of Irish New York, Patti is salt of the earth with a glimmer of mischief thrown in. We told her about our plain glass apartment transoms and our dreams of a special stained glass window. Patti nodded, offered suggestions…and then waited. And waited. It took us four years to find her again, this time, we were serious.

Our apartment overlooks a Gothic church and we felt that stained glass would be a great fit. The first window she designed incorporated not just a Frank Lloyd Wright-ish arts and crafts design, but tiny pieces of gray glass because it reminded her (and now us) of the shock of hair on the forehead of our loved but gone dog Dannyboy. This photo shows another example of her magic. Our friend architect Michael Margulies drew some sketches inspired by the famous Scottish father of arts and crafts design Rennie Mackintosh and we let Patti go loose. She designed this window, including the thistle, the Scottish national flower (my grandfather came to America from Glasgow at age 14.)

Patti is so talented and fun and so good inside and out. Together with Patti, we are happy to bring even a bit of beautiful light that lasts.

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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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  • "What a beautiful and profoundly human book....I will keep The God Box in my heart for a long, long time."
  • "A beautiful story of love, faith and family. It reads like an intimate, familiar prayer."
  • "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."
  • "A wonderful legacy…Keeping a God Box is an incredibly moving and hopeful ritual that we should all consider adding into our daily lives."
  • "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 courage and wisdom from the messages left in her mother’s God Box will inspire you to create a God Box of your own."

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

February 22, 2020
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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