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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What’s in your God Box?

 

Last night in Lake Forest, I was so grateful to perform The God Box on behalf of the BCureful Foundation. Photos coming of the beautiful, packed house who came to the show filled with love for the host and mom in charge Julie Scroggins of Waukegan, Illinois. With her trusty genius artistic friend Teddi, look at the God Box centerpieces she created with antique boxes, each holding one of my Mom’s little messages. Pure joy! What do you place in your God Box?

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A Bouquet for Mom

When I turned 21, I gave my mother a bouquet of 21 daisies, each marking a happy and grateful year since she gave birth to me…I figured October 22 was kind of her birth-day, too. Daisies reminded me of the simple childlike love that I felt for her from day one. When Mom wrote her own memoir called “Mary’s Beautiful Memories,” she put daisies on the cover, perhaps as a wink back at me?

This week in Chicago, I will perform “The God Box, A Daughter’s Story”  as a way of taking her gift forward. This photo was shot during last Sunday’s show at Saint Joseph’s University. I hope you will join me at future performances or maybe, if you still have your Mom, you’ll give her a thank you bouquet just because.

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Letters to The God Box: Heaven Sent

I received these wonderful words from Britta Jicks whose memories of her Mom and whose approach to the God Box might just make your day. Made mine!

Dear Mary Lou,

My Mom was a kindred spirit much like yours and my best friend. I was so upset on Saturday. It was the first time her birthday came since her passing on March 3, 2012. I was there to do the hospice for her at her home along with my siblings. Anyway a wave of depression settled on me, and I needed an answer. I found it in the God Box on Sunday with your app suggestion.

I am carved of the same cloth as your Mom… I attract people and listen but I always prayed and then didn’t let go. That has been me since college, eventually leading me to a break down at age 21. I had been listening and worrying for all my sorority sisters, they felt better but I held the weight of all on my shoulders. My Mom knew, because I have had this my whole life…

When my Mom was diagnosed with AML, I quit telling her all the problems/prayers I started talking to Jesus/God. Before I had told Mom and after I’d share or she would share we would pray and she was my prayer release. We would, and when we came up with a plan/prayer, we’d say,”The rat is on the wheel” and then laugh. I have found cards, notes, stories etc from my Mom too. Thank you for sharing your Mom and helping me find a way to let go and let God. The notebooks and journals…I never felt that I had let go. I do in this way, I love it and it was so great to have this blessing from your Mom. Thanks Mary Lou.

Your sister in Christ,

Britta Jicks

God Bless

PS I told my Bible study group about the God Box.. They are very excited about it too. My husband is writing his prayers and putting them in there too. There is something about the act of putting your prayers into the box that frees you. My husband cracked me up, he said, “Oh I like that!” Then later, after I put his prayer in the box, he said “Well, what I really want to see is just how you plan on mailing that box to God?” I said, “Oh silly, it’s God! He already has it, it’s as good as mailed.”

 

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A Skype book party and a question to ponder

 

Last night I joined in a book discussion with the wonderful women of the Berwyn Presbyterian Church in Berwyn Heights, Maryland, just outside Washington DC…without even leaving NYC.  Denise Troeschel had written and asked if I could speak with them about “The God Box” so we set up a Sunday night Skype call.

Denise (who was born exactly three days before me and whose mother had the exact same handwriting as mine!) was a terrific host. She even made a God Box out of a cigar box, big enough to hold lots of prayers.

I loved hearing examples of other mothers and families and the way they loved and what they missed and remembered. Here’s one question they asked that stopped me in my tracks: “Since your Mom is gone, if you could ask her one more thing, what would it be? “

I am still thinking about that. Curious, how would you answer that question?

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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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Feeling Free Inside the Box

Since writing “The God Box”, I have heard from so many people who share stories of their own families and God Box experiences and one of them is Jen Santoro– a mom, writer, volunteer, planner and all around terrific human being.  Jen, who has her own blog www.prosewithpoise.wordpress.com, met with me to talk about her upcoming plans for a charitable fundraiser on behalf of the Amanda Styles Cirelli Foundation. I am hoping to present “The God Box” play at their event this coming November. But Jen was so compelling, I wanted to give her this stage to tell her own story and I invited her to be our first video blogger “Outside the Box.” Meet a fabulous person and a new friend, Jen Santoro here:  Feeling Free Inside the Box

A little more background on Jenifer Santoro:
Jenifer Santoro is a writer, daughter, wife and stay at home mother of two.  A woman grounded in her christian faith, Jenifer uses her God Box as a means to surrender her thoughts, concerns and prayers to God.  Another major component of her God Box, though, is the appreciation she has for God’s favor.  As much as her Box is used for requests, it is equally filled with notes of gratitude for all of the blessings in her life.  Since reading Mary Lou’s story, Jenifer has been able to incorporate two of her life’s loves, faith and writing, together in a way that frees her from worry and uneasiness.  When it goes it the Box, it goes to God, and there is nothing He can’t handle.  When not working on her novel about faith and forgiveness, Jenifer writes about “Words with Gratitude, Grace and Gumption” and can be followed at www.prosewithpoise.wordpress.com.

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Stitched with LOVE

Helen Wolf, an amazing writer, quilter and teacher wrote to me about a three day show called the Quilt and Garden Festival at the Pearl S. Buck Center in Perkasie, PA. Helen, who loved The God Box book decided to take the concept into her own hands–literally! She made a quilt that was a fabric God Box and invited attendees to place their own notes inside. We contributed books to the event to support the center…the result? Dozens of prayers slipped inside and as many hearts, lifted!

Helen wrote, “We had a very nice response to the quilt and box today and many people wrote on the slips.  Many people either had heard about the book or had read it.”

Hoping to teach a writing class with Helen at Delaware Valley Community College in the Fall and also to skype into her group of writers who quilt!

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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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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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  • "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 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"
  • "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 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

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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