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The God Box

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When Mary Lou Quinlan’s beloved mother, Mary Finlayson, dies, her family is bereft—until Mary Lou searches for her mother’s “God Box,” her private cache of notes to God on behalf of family, friends and strangers. To Mary Lou’s amazement, she finds not one but ten boxes stuffed with hundreds of tiny petitions that spanned the last twenty years of her mother’s life.

Note by note, Mary Lou unearths a treasure of her mother’s wishes and worries and insight. Mary asked God for everything from the right flooring for her daughter’s home to a cure for her own blood cancer. Her requests, penned on scraps of paper, were presented without expectation—the ultimate expression of letting go.

Follow Mary Lou’s emotional journey as she uncovers her mother’s innermost thoughts—nostalgic, surprising and even a bit shocking. As she recalls life with the woman who was her best friend, Mary Lou also discovers her own more empathetic, engaged self—the woman her mother had believed in all along.

Poignantly written and beautifully designed, The God Box is a gift for every mother, every daughter, every person who, regardless of beliefs, trusts in the permanence of love and the power of family.

112 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 2012

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About the author

Mary Lou Quinlan

8 books9 followers
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.

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5 stars
209 (29%)
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262 (37%)
3 stars
171 (24%)
2 stars
43 (6%)
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14 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 154 reviews
Profile Image for Glenajo.
471 reviews7 followers
April 16, 2012
Visible Act of Let Go, Let God.

For over twenty years, Mary, Mary Lou Quinlin's mother, made a habit of jotting down her prayers and placing them in a box that she called her God Box. This was her way of physically acting out the habit of giving control to God over all the concerns that filled her prayers. After her death, the family went through the boxes discovering how Mary used her God Boxes to help her minister to her family and others through her prayers, and the gift of listening. In the book, the reader meets Mary Finlayson and her family, and hears how one mother met daily problems with prayer and strength to raise her family.

This is a beautiful story of a mother that relies on God to help her raise her children and actively listen to others, as well as a daughter’s move through the grieving process. Toward the end of the story Mary Lou begins her own God Box, and sees the reasoning as she grows closer to God

Received Galley from NetGalley.com
Profile Image for Shauna.
233 reviews
May 4, 2012
Won this on a GoodReads Giveaway. I read this book in one sitting, in about an hour. It is very well written, reminded me slightly of The Wednesday Letters.

I am not close to my mother. I don't think she was ready to be a mom when she had me. She and my dad divorced when I was young and my mom started dating and lived her "teen" years when I was living mine. I think this is one of the reasons we are not close. I am now grown and have 4 kids of my own. I think I am a pretty good mom, but this book wants me to be a better one. It has great advice for teaching your children to be good people.

My husband and I have been married for almost 14 years now and the advice that Mary Lou's father gave her for a successful marriage do not apply in mine. We broke two of the three rules! :) We have vacationed with other couples and have had fun, we have most definatley talked about each other's family (never anything to bad though), happily, we both take responsibility for making the marriage work.

Though, Mary Lou's mother was Catholic, she would have made a great Mormon. I think the older Mary beleives she will be with her family forever, even in Heaven, this is a firm belief of Mormon families. I can just imagine the work the Finlayson's are doing in Heaven, I am sure they are every bit as busy there as they were on earth, probably more so.

Thank you Mary for the book, it was a good read and I will definatley borrow my copy out so others can enjoy.
65 reviews8 followers
June 15, 2012
This is a beautifully written book that is going to be kept on my top shelf;)
The book itself is gorgeous and has stunning pictures, beautiful cover, and is just a treasure!
It was a tad bit awkward, reading such intimate memories of the author's mother who passed away, I felt so sad and yet so full of joy and still can't get over how very sweet, these little notes that her mother kept around were. Just a wonderful story and I admire this author for writing such a heartfelt book about her own personal difficulties.
I love the idea of a God Box and wish I would have started this years ago, but it is never to late to start one of your own! What better way to help others, keep your faith and share these special little notes for years to come.
I enjoyed this book entirely the whole way through, and although I have never lost anybody so terribly close, yet, I will be returning back to this book, because it is not only an intimate look into the author's life, and her mother's, but a book of healing, moving forward, and turning such a devastating event into a way to reaffirm your beliefs and to smile.
Her mother was a beautiful soul, inside and out, and this book will have you looking into your own heart and remembering that life is very short. I want very much to start a God Box of my own for my own children to see and read, rather then just wish and pray these hopes for others and our family, it would mean so much to our children if they could have something to read and look at when we are gone. I see how this has helped this family through such a rough time!!
Thank goodness for this book, as it is filled with wonderful ideas, inspiration, and takes you through the healing process.
You will not want to lend your copy of The God Box to anybody, unless you know for sure they will return it, I would suggest purchasing it as a gift for anybody who has or is going through such a tragic event in their lives. It makes an excellent gift and hopefully will spark their imagination and lead them to start keeping little notes for God. (Their families, children, will thank them)

** I received a copy of this book in return for my honest review**
2 reviews1 follower
April 23, 2012
My thoughts:
I knew I would relate well with the author since I had lost my mom to cancer in 2002. No matter what your age is or the age of your mother, losing my mom was the hardest thing I have ever endured. The reason this book grabbed my attention was simply relating to the lost feeling right after Mary Lou's mother passed away. It is such a fog and you hope to see the one you love walking down the stairs or see them where ever you remember them most. Mary Lou was in the midst of preparing for the funeral when her brother mentioned the God Box and Mary and the family went searching to find it. Mary found it but also 9 more! A total of 10 God Boxes from the last 20 years. This story is such an encouragement which reminded me to "surrender." Surrender every worry, illness, question, or what ever it may be give it to God since he knows best. That is just want Mary Lou's mother did. If she was out to eat with a friend and they had a pain she would find the receipt write down the need and trust God to handle it. Once she placed it in the box it was like her faith rose and she was saying "I no longer will carry this burden as I will place my trust in God." I LOVE THAT! This story was a very quick read as I read it in one day in two 45 minute sessions. I appreciate the challenge from the author to do a God Box not sure in which way but I absolutely love the idea. I think the biggest reason is just leaving something for my kids to go through and see how God worked things out, healed people, and other testimonies!
If you are looking for a great gift for your mom for Mother's Day then I suggest this nice book!
Stay encouraged by joining one or all of the God Boxes social networks:
Website: http://www.thegodboxproject.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/godboxproject
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/theGodBoxpro...
Pintrest: http://pinterest.com/marylouquinlan/
Profile Image for Angieleigh.
689 reviews124 followers
April 28, 2012
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my review. All thoughts and opinions are mine and I wasn't required to give a positive review if I didn't care for the book.

Having just finished The God Box, I want to jump in my truck and drive up to my mother's house to give her a big hug and share with her all of the emotions I felt while reading this memoir.

And to start my own God Box.

Mary Lou's proudest achievement wasn't her career, her marriage, or even being a friend. It was being the best daughter she could possibly be to her parents. Shortly after her mother dies from a stroke, Mary Lou, her brother Jack, and their father search out the oft-talked about God Box that Mary {their beloved mother//wife} Mary had kept prayer slips in. Looking in the most unlikely of places, Mary Lou finds not one, but ten non-descript boxes filled with the every worry and thought for everyone Mary had come in contact with.

The most inspiring thought I take away from this book is to offer up my worries and cares to God and then let them go. He is always listening and He does answer prayers. Though I may continue to struggle on this journey of letting things go, I will work hard to offer up a prayer and then let it go. Whatever happens, happens.

Grab a cup of coffee {or tea}, find a quiet, comfortable spot and settle down with this quick, but inspiring book. Before you know it, you'll be looking for your own box to store slips of prayers in.

Even if you're not religious or believe in something different, Mary Lou urges everyone to write down a care or worry, slip it into the box, and then release it. It's the greatest lesson her mother taught her.
Profile Image for Lisa B..
1,268 reviews6 followers
March 22, 2012
This is a nice little book of 122 pages, with a big message. The author’s Mom would put notes in a box as a request to God to take care of her own or someone else’s troubles – an illness, a lost job, maybe a job interview or a sick loved one. The rule was that once in the box, the issue had to be “let go” and turned over to God. Still want to worry about it? Think you can handle this better than God? Out comes the note (or that was the threat).
I like the book for its strong message about having faith in a higher power. That there are situations in life we can’t control, so we should just let it go and believe that that God will take care of things. I’m a bit of a control freak. I often tell people that while I can turn things over to God, I will often say – now that I’ve given it to you, let me tell you how I would like you to handle it!
At the end, the author suggests that readers consider starting their own God box. Simple – a jar or shoe box. Fancy – a hand carved wood or fancy inlay box. High tech – she has a website for posting anonymous thoughts. I know I have issues that would go in a God box – do you?
Thank you to NetGalley and Greenleaf Book Group for allowing me to read this book in exchange for my unbiased review.
The books publications date is April 17, 2012.
Profile Image for Eustacia Tan.
Author 15 books254 followers
April 10, 2012
Ever feel like you have a problem so huge you don't know what to do? Well, give it up to God. To be specific, put in in your "God Box". The whole aim of this rather short book (around 120 pages in ebook format) is to explain about the God Box.

The God Box is simply the box that the author's mother uses to place her prayers for people in it. It sounds like a simple concept, but by exploring her mother's God Box, the author discovers how the box helps her to express things like Faith, Love, Compassion, etc.

How the God Box works is that you have a simple box (or any box you like), and you place your prayers in it. In this way, it's an action to show that you're not going to worry about it anymore and you're giving it up to God.

I don't actually know what else to say about this book. The concept of the God Box is used to draw out the relationship between the mom and everyone else (but especially the mother and the daughter). It really is a very sweet book.

Disclaimer: I got this book from NetGalley in return for a free and honest review.

(First posted at Inside the mind of a Bibliophile )
Profile Image for Lormac.
509 reviews63 followers
July 22, 2013
This is not a book for everyone, although everyone would probably be served by the message of this book. Severely cynical types, stay away!!

Mary Lou Quinlan's late mother, Mary,is really the centerpiece of this little book. A devout Catholic, when confronted with a problem (or concerned about someone else's problem), Mary would scribble a short note to God and put it in a little box she called the "God Box." She did this to symbolize that she knew she was generally powerless to solve the problem, and that she had faith in a higher being who could. It became an exercise in letting go of the problem, and it also became a symbol of love - when Mary put you in her God Box, you felt her love for you. After her death, her family found the box(es) and it served the purpose of helping them deal with her death by having written proof (as it were) of her love for them.

Even if you are not particularly religious, this exercise of recognizing your limitations but also recognizing your desire to support your loved ones in a physical manifestation is a positive thing, and for that reason, I woudl recommend this book to anyone who is open-minded.

I received this book when I attended a reading of this book by the author with my own mother. Really, it was much more a multi-media re-telling of her mother's story than a straight-forward book reading, and the presentation provided a better picture of Quinlan's family than the book does, so if you ever have a chance to attend one of these presentations (Quinlan does them all over the country as fund-raisers for local hospices and charities), choose to go.
Profile Image for JJ W..
940 reviews56 followers
July 16, 2012
It was pretty obvious that this volume was put together with layout help from a magazine employee (RealSmart), because it felt like a magazine--artsy photo layouts interspersed with the text, lines of emphasis brought out in larger font (which I really am not a fan of, by the by; if I've read the regular text, I don't want to read it again in excerpts on the same page), and gloss over the whole. It's a very quick read, an interesting idea, and very much like a Hallmark film to give you the warm fuzzies.
One of my biggest blocks to really liking this (other than it being, well, warm and fuzzy) is that I can't wrap my head around the relationship of Quinlan and her mom. My mother and I don't really get along that well, so to read about a mom basically one step below God (if that many) in her daughter's eyes was weird and fantastical to me.
So the verdict is that it's cute. There's no profit in going to this on a theological level, or a psychological level, because that's not what it's meant for. It's a celebration of the love of a woman for her friends and family, and that's just nice.
Profile Image for Noelle.
109 reviews4 followers
October 15, 2013
Honestly, the original concept and idea of the "God Box" is lovely and the fact that the author would want to eulogize her mother by writing such a book touches the heart. However, that being said, she should have waited until AFTER her mother passed away to read her eulogy to her! "I had already written Mom's eulogy and had read it to her while she lay in a hospice room. It's not that I wanted to jinx her. I just wanted her to hear how much we loved her."-(Quinlan, 15, 17). Quite insensitive on the part of her daughter to not think how that might feel to her dying mother. She may as well have just whipped out a copy of "As I Lay Dying" and read that to her as a bedside story.
So thus, all things considered, the book only rates two stars in my opinion. Death is a very difficult subject to deal with, but some empathy, any empathy goes a long way. Unfortunately I feel that the book fell short in that area.
Profile Image for Vicki.
2,153 reviews84 followers
November 2, 2012
This book is such a great "find" and one that I am sure the Lord led me to read.

My own mother passed away four years ago, nearly five, and what I wouldn't give to have something of this nature to read from her own penmanship and thoughts.

The author's mother passed away and she had left a "God Box" in which she had left notes of praises and requests/prayers for God. I actually have my own prayer journal, but I like the idea of a special box to leave behind for my own children and grandchildren to find one day when I am gone.

Mary Lou's mother simply wrote her notes to God on whatever she could get her hands hold of, so to speak. But what a memory and legacy to leave behind.

I think whether or not you are Christian makes no difference as to if you'd enjoy this book. It's not a long book. Warning: if you've lost a loved one, you just might need tissue.
Profile Image for Diane.
352 reviews14 followers
June 1, 2013
I wanted to like this book better than I did. I think it is such a great idea, that you would have a box of prayers. And the backstory of finding her mother's many many boxes of prayers is also wonderful. The daily and ordinary concerns with which her mother filled the box felt sacramental.

But the author's mother felt almost a little too idealized. Other than her mother not being a good cook, she seemed just about perfect. it would felt a little ore real if there had been even a few moments of friction.

Still, the idea of a god box is worth emulating.
Profile Image for Renee.
196 reviews
January 20, 2013
A very easy, quick read. Wasn't sure what to expect but this book is a beautiful tribute to the author's mother.

I very much like the idea of The God Box and appreciate the author sharing her family's story.
4 reviews1 follower
May 16, 2012
This 'book' took less than an hour to read. This would be a lovely memento for family members. However,
it isn't for mass market. I won this book on Goodreads.
52 reviews3 followers
May 31, 2012
Very sweet and touching story about her mom's prayers which she put into the "God Box."
Profile Image for Mekelle Neathery.
3 reviews1 follower
July 1, 2012
Great story! Puts things into perspective and reminds us to not worry and trust in Him. Need to remind myself of that...
Profile Image for Monica H (TeaandBooks).
635 reviews48 followers
February 3, 2023
I enjoyed this small book that was a quick read for me.

The God Box is a touching story of one family and their relationship to each other as well as Mom often putting prayer messages in a God Box. Mary Lou's mom often sent up prayers for her family and for those she met along the way in life. She tucked her dated messages in a God Box and released her prayers and praises to God. They found several boxes when she passed away and were touched to read how much Mary talked to God and released prayers that the family never knew about through the years.
The family is Catholic so their beliefs may not be everyone's, but anyone of faith could do this. I love this idea and am considering implementing a God Box of my own. I think putting the prayer in a box could be releasing it from stress and worry when giving it to God. I don't often worry but sometimes I am tempted, like many people.

100 reviews2 followers
January 29, 2020
Our pastor brought this book up in church 2 weeks ago and I am so glad that I was able to borrow this book from the library. What a beautiful story of a mom’s faith and belief and letting go to let God handle, by placing her hen scratch prayers on receipts, scrap paper or whatever was available to her at the time to write on. As the story goes on, this woman passed this beautiful “tradition,” for lack of a better word, on to her daughter and her personality also took over in her daughter. What a beautiful legacy to pass on. If you need a little inspiration in your life, this is Book for you. Thank you Mary Lou for sharing your mother’s story.
Profile Image for Jessica.
9 reviews
February 3, 2017
This book reinforces the fact that God will take care of you (although you may not know the plan and feel like he is not, he is) you just need to let go of your concerns and put them in his hands. The only thing I didn't like about this book was that she often asked for help and didn't thank God for the good already received.
Profile Image for Cheryl Newton.
19 reviews1 follower
February 3, 2019
Read this book twice. Reading it at different times in my life brought different perspectives. At first, I thought it was a kind, sweet, enduring read. Now, reading it 3 years after the death of my own mother, it brings joy, a better approach to trials of daily living and a reminder to be more gentle with those I love.
Profile Image for Jenn O'Brien.
839 reviews15 followers
March 16, 2019
2.5 Stars. I think I was expecting a little more inspiration from this book rather than memories of the author's mother. I'm sure she was an amazing woman and had a special bond with her daughter. I enjoyed the concept behind the God Box until the "advertisement" at the end to visit the author's social media accounts.
Profile Image for Kim.
34 reviews
August 13, 2019
This was an uplifting story about love, hope & faith.
So many people will respond "You are in my prayers", "sending prayers"...Mary Lou's mom really took them to heart & to God. I love the simple idea of writing the prayers & by placing them in the box, she delivered them to God. "Let go, let God".
Profile Image for Denise D'angelo.
230 reviews
December 27, 2020
A beautiful book for appreciating your loved ones, how to let go of your stresses, and honoring those we've lost. This was a gift to me after I lost my husband, and I was so glad to have read it. It validated some feelings I've been holding onto and it's nice to know others share some same emotions. A comfort to read. Thank you Jessica!
May 10, 2022
This is a must read !!!!!! This book is a book to curl up with a cup of tea and enjoyed.
It is a fast read that has you slowing down and giving thought.
This tells a story of a Mothers Love. Faith. and caring for family. friends. and even strangers.
Please read this book! It WILL CHANGE YOU! and give you reminder of Faith Love Joy.
Profile Image for Cashie.
46 reviews1 follower
June 13, 2018
I thought this book was a really thought provoking way to practice the Christian faith. Short, simple, and down to earth, I found it to be a pleasant and inspirational read. I would definitely recommend reading!
Profile Image for Wendy.
313 reviews
December 22, 2021
Everyone needs a God Box! If you have prayers or concerns, you write it on a piece of paper and put it in your God Box for God to take care of. This is what the author’s mother did for many, many years, boxes and boxes full of prayer requests. What a wonderful example of faith!
375 reviews1 follower
January 3, 2017
A well written book about a mother daughter relationship and the finding of Mom,s many God boxes with prayers to God covering many years.
Profile Image for Laurie.
169 reviews1 follower
February 15, 2017
A very quick read ... this book reminded me of my mother so much ... and made me sniffle more than once ... <3
Displaying 1 - 30 of 154 reviews

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