When Mary Lou Quinlan’s beloved mother, Mary Finlayson, dies, her family is left bereft—until Quinlan finds her mother’s “God Box,” or rather, boxes. These simple containers are stuffed with tiny notes written by Mary, asking and praying for everything from the right flooring for her daughter’s new home to a cure for her own blood cancer. Mary’s petitions are presented with love and without expectation. Note by note, Quinlan unearths insights into her mother’s compassion, faith, and perseverance, and revelations of her innermost thoughts—nostalgic, surprising, and even a bit shocking. And through the journey, the author discovers her own more empathetic, more engaged self—the woman her mother had believed in all along.
It is usually hard to find a book that both my mother and I enjoy reading and passing along to each other, but The God Box was a book that we both couldn't put down, and couldn't stop talking about. This book shares a bond between a mother and daughter, as the mother leaves heartfelt prayers and well wishes for those she cares about. I really hoped my mother would enjoy this book, as she is one of the most caring people I know, but also spends countless hours in a day worrying about her three grown children, and now grandchildren, in addition to other family and friends. It is hard for her to let things go and leave them up to God. Since reading this book, she has begun her own God Box, and has found it to be a great release. Even though she still worries, like all moms do, she says once she jots down a prayer or hope for others and adds it to the box, she doesn't let the thought consume her anymore. It has only been a week since she began keeping a God Box, with a shoe box, and she is almost full to the brim with notes. She says that the simple jotting down of her thoughts and emotions about a person she cares so deeply for, but feels powerless in certain outcomes, really does bring a sense of peace over her, letting her step aside and let the man upstairs handle.
Being a mother of two young girls, and a cancer survivor, I, too, have found that having a God Box has helped strengthen my spiritual bond with God and shown me that there are things that I have to leave up to God to handle. Being raised by a strong woman who tried tirelessly to keep the family strong and problems at bay, I, too, grew up trying to solve everyone's problems, or at least lessen their load. In time, I found myself being consumed with worrying and disappoint and frustrations, when things didn't work out. And, when I was diagnosed with cancer back in 2008, I stepped back and questioned God and wondered why he put this obstacle in my way. But, four years later, I am stronger person because of this bump in the road, and have 2 beautiful and healthy daughters to show for my courage and strength. And, now when I find things beyond my control consuming my thoughts, I simply jot them down on a piece of paper and add to my God Box. In doing so, I am letting God know that I turning this over to him to handle, and know he will. I don't want to make myself sick of worrying, nor do I want to just forget about my concerns.
My mother will not share what she has written and stored in her God box, but I know down the road, I will have the opportunity to read her notes, as will my daughters, and these messages and hopes will remind me of the strong and caring mother she was, and of the type of mother I am trying to be.
With Mother's Day right around the corner, why not pick up a copy of this book to give o your mother. It is never to later (or early) to start a God Box. And, after you and your mother read this book, it will surely give you something to talk about, and help strengthen your mother-daughter bond, as it has done with my mother and I. Who knew a book could be so powerful, yet so enjoyable? I couldn't put the book down once I began reading it, and loved seeing the personal notes and family photos scattered throughout this book. These additions added to the personal feel of this heartwarming story, told by a daughter, who truly loved and admired her mother.
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About the Author:
Mary Lou Quinlan has written inspirational features for Real Simple, O, the Oprah Magazine, and MORE, and other magazines and, is the author of the books Just Ask a Woman, Time Off for Good Behavior, and What She’s Not Telling You. She is the nation’s leading expert on female consumer behavior.
As the founder and CEO of marketing consultancy Just Ask a Woman and Mary Lou Quinlan & Co., she has interviewed thousands of women about their lives. Mary Lou has keynoted hundreds of conferences around the country; has appeared on television programs such as The CBS Early Show, Good Morning America, and the Today Show; and has been profiled in The New York Times, the Wall St. Journal, and USA Today as well as many other media outlets.
Mary Lou is Jesuit-educated with an MBA from Fordham University. She also holds an honorary doctorate in Communications from her alma mater, Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia where she earned a BA in English.
She and her husband, Joe Quinlan, live in New York City and Bucks County, Pennsylvania along with their dog, Rocky.
Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book by the publisher, in order to write up an honest review. The views above are mine and mine alone.