Letters to The God Box

Mom liked to keep her God Boxes handy—even if that meant crossing state lines! She kept boxes in Florida where she and Dad lived in the wintertime, but also in her bedroom in our Pennsylvania house where they stayed each summer.

Wendy Parsons of Jenkintown, PA sent in her story that takes ‘God Box geography’ to a new level. Here’s what she wrote.

“The gift of my God box is peace of mind.  I actually have two God boxes — one at home in my kitchen and the other at work in my office.  They cover the two main arenas of my life — family and  career. 

I keep my family God box in my kitchen because we spend so much time together there–cooking, eating, checking email, helping with homework and just catching up with each other.

I often put in prayers of thanks for the many little and big blessings of my life.  We also put in special requests — if one of my daughters is having a struggle with a particular challenge at school, or if we need guidance on making a decision, we write a prayer asking for wisdom.    I also include prayers for my friends who need help, assurances, or just the experience of extra love in their lives.  

I have another God box at the office in which I place prayers for the success of my work, my colleagues’ work, and for the good outcome of any problems that arise.  My God boxes are a way for me to have conversations with God and keep me connected with my divine guidance and bigger truths of my life. This has opened up the whole heart experience of feeling more gratitude and consolation. 

Thanks for sharing, Wendy!

Do you have a story to share about lessons learned from your Mom or loved one…or experiences with your God Box? Send them to me at marylou@theGodBoxproject.com–along with photos or videos –and we can post with your permission.

 

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Loving Hands Around the World

When my Mom and I used to say “hands on”, we didn’t realize what that would mean for The God Box project. Literally dozens of hands came together to create what has become a book, a play, a growing movement. As handmade as the team was, and as serendipitous as the ways we came together, this project turned out to be one of the most powerful workplace models I have ever been part of. The challenge: how could we gather the best talent in a fluid, virtual, global way so that The God Box project would reflect the most creative and artistic craftsmanship we could find? I hope you will enjoy this piece that just hit Forbes.com that gives credit to the wonderful partners who made this dream come true.

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Letters to The God Box

Over the past month, I have been receiving beautiful letters from readers and keepers of God Boxes. This week, I received one from a woman named Sheila McCarthy. Sheila, who lives in a retirement community of 70,000 in Central Florida, describes herself as a 66 year old grandmother of ten and a mother of four grown children. I would describe her as “loving”.

Here is an excerpt of her letter to me:

Hello

I just wanted to tell you how deeply touched I was by your beautiful tribute to your mother.

Your book was a gift to me from my nephew and I will treasure it always.  I also have a God Box and have had it for over a year.  My God Box is also filled with short notes to God for petitions about my family and extended family. It’s a square velvet box that I keep on my dresser and it was given to me by a very special friend of mine. Ironically, when I first saw a copy of your book, I purchased it for this friend. 

I have always been very spiritual and with such a large family, there have been so many prayer requests.  I’ve been thrilled to have a place to “offer up” my requests and then to “let go.”  It has been a great help to me. I am a product of 12 years of Catholic school and the need to turn to God in times of concern is second nature to me.

I loved your tribute to your mother.  God bless you!

Sheila McCarthy

The Villages, Fl

 

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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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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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Family in Love

Growing up, my Dad always said, “Never miss a chance to celebrate” so it was fitting to throw a family and friends party to give “The God Box” a proper launch. About 45 wonderful people gathered in our apartment in New York for drinks, memories and toasts to the new little book of love.
I asked Jack what Mom would say if she were there. “She’d be thrilled,” Jack said. “Because it’s all about her!”
The God Box is all about her but it is also about the bonds of family, the power of believing and the lifelong lessons of love and letting go. And this book and the companion performance are also about helping to end the scourge of cancer that has taken so much from so many.
On my way to Pittsburgh to start the tour of love, with a speech at Chatham College in the morning on Wednesday and later that night, a performance of the play at Adat Shalom Synagogue in Cheswick at 7PM. That is open to the public and a ticket includes both the play and my donated book, with all proceeds going to the Jewish Family and Childrens Services.
Excited to share my story, my family…and especially, my Mom with the world.
And you can help! Please order a book on amazon today (ow.ly/akQwN)or pop into Barnes and Noble. Let’s make The God Box a record breaker in the inspiration department!

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MONDAYS WITH MOM:The Sparkle in my Step

Do you believe that things happen for a reason? I do. Yesterday I started the day in overdrive. The book is one week from its official launch date and my head was spinning with undone “to do’s.” Did I finish revisions to my play script in time for my mid-day rehearsal? Did I remember to send advance books to friends? Did I write my Monday post for theGodBoxproject.com? No, no and no.

And the big question, did I have a pair of sparkly shoes that would save me from hemming my new dress that I planned to wear to the kickoff at the Coaches Vs Cancer Gala in Philadelphia this coming Saturday? No time. Shoe store closed till 10am. How to fill the precious seconds?

Every Monday, Union Square Park, right near our apartment, becomes a wonderful farmers’ market—flowers, fruits, vegetables. With the book in full bloom, I hadn’t visited it for a while, so I thought I’d walk around and sniff the goodness till DSW opened. That’s when I met Etta.

I had stopped at the wheatgrass stand. I don’t have a cat. I can’t believe people drink the stuff. I buy it as ‘grass decoration.’ (Don’t laugh, it’s only $3 a patch.) But this lovely older woman chatting with the wheatgrass guy, and she looked at me and said, “You have beautiful eyes.” Huh? Only my Mom would have said that to me. “Do you have a juicer?” she asked. “No, I don’t drink this,” I said. She was appalled when I said that I only bought it for its looks. “Give her a shot,” she said to the vendor. “This is Stewart, I am Etta.” And she handed me a plastic shot cup of green liquid. “This tastes like grass,” was the best I could offer. “Gets rid of toxins, swirl it around and it’s good for your gums, good energy!” she grinned.

Etta and I left together, talking and laughing. A new friend. She kept turning to smile and wave as she walked off. Me, too. And I walked back to the shoe store and bought these even though I was already happily walking a foot off the ground. Was it Etta? The wheatgrass chaser? Or…Mom?

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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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FUN FRIDAY: The Story behind “Hands On”

This week I am sending friends my first copies of “The God Box” and more often than not, I sign them, “Hands on, Mary Lou.” I guess that seems odd, compared to the typical “Enjoy!” or “Warm regards” but it means more to me. Because every time I sign a book, I think about Mom, the woman I will always love best.

Here’s an excerpt from the book that explains the story behind the phrase.

“For years, Mom and I shared a code for our closeness: “Hands on.” We ended every nightly phone call by pressing our palms to our receivers and saying “Hands on,” which meant that we were always together, even when living apart. She had retired to Florida with Dad twenty years before her death, and whenever I left her at the airport, I would drop my luggage on the curb and press my hand to her car window. She would place her palm on the inside glass, her fingers lined up against mine, and we’d both mouth the words, “Hands on.”

I whispered it to her that last sad night we had together.”

I just can’t say it (or sign it!) enough. Hands on, my friends.

 

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FUN FRIDAY: With God from Head to Toe

Okay, this is a bit of a stretch, but today I am working on God-themed projects day and night. By daylight, we are sending out our first e-newsletter about “The God Box” and responding to some wonderful early reviews.

Then after dark, Chelsea and I head to the premiere of “God Save My Shoes”, a new documentary about women’s infatuation with their shoes. Oddly enough, I am actually in the film. Most of the women in the film are head over heels (forgive me) for their Christian Louboutin’s, some squirreling away as many as 1200 pairs. I’m featured as a consumer expert, analyzing the psychology of why women feel the way they do about their shoes. The crew shot the interview in my office and I happened to mention women’s habits of stowing multiple backup shoes under their desks. The producer asked, “Do you have any? “  So I dove under my desk and came up with six motley pairs of shoes, ranging from sandals to sneakers to Croc’s, not exactly designer wear. That embarrassing discovery is in the movie!

So, what’s the connection between the two stories? Mom and I shoe-shopped all the time. We preferred discount stores so I loved to treat her to great deals that she could bring home to model for Dad. Even though Mom favored the comfy sandals that suited her Florida retired lifestyle, she always liked a little flash– the Lucite heel, the sparkly bling. Guess the connection is…a woman can never have too many shoes…or too much faith.

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press & praise
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  • "A beautiful story of love, faith and family. It reads like an intimate, familiar prayer."
    – ELIZABETH GILBERT, AUTHOR OF "EAT, PRAY, LOVE"
  • "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"
  • "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
  • "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
  • "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"
  • "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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