Inspiration and Sadness

During my breaks at work, I like to peruse the articles on Yahoo!  It clears my brain (or perhaps numbs it, depending on what I choose to read.)

This week, I read an inspirational story about author Kathryn Stockett.  If you haven’t heard of her, you just might live in a cave deeper than the one I’m holed up in.  She’s the author of The Help, which was made into a movie just released a few days ago.

I haven’t read The Help, but I plan to – especially after knowing what she went through to get her book published.  I sent out queries on my first novel.  I honestly don’t know how many for sure, but I’m guessing around thirty.  Kathryn Stockett claims to have received sixty rejections from literary agents.  Sixty.  And she didn’t give up.  I am in awe.

Over five years, she edited and revised the novel – it had become an obsession of sorts.  She persevered and succeeded.  Her story gives me hope that I might catch my dream – when I apply myself.

~

image by John Moore - Getty Images

As I previously mentioned, I live in a cave.  Okay, I live in a house, but I’m fairly insulated from the happenings of the world.  I’m familiar with the domestic affairs, like the stock market roller coaster, debt downgrading and politics as usual, but I’m not as familiar with global issues.

I read two disturbing stories that brought tears to my eyes, which was embarrassing because nothing good ever comes from tears shed within cubicle walls.  The first story reported that two mothers in Kenya got in a fist fight because one cut in line as they waited for their children to be treated for malnutrition. The second story was also about Kenya.  This time, I read about how families are unable to care for all of their children, so the ones who are too sick are left to die.

A three-year-old weighing less than thirteen pounds is heartbreaking.  My own children weighed that at two months old.  They have never passed out from hunger or even missed a meal.  I have never had to wait in line for hours to get medical treatment for anything, much less a supplement for malnutrition.   And, thankfully, I’ve not be faced with the wrenching decision of leaving a child to die in hopes that others would survive.

With the stock market fluctuations, I’ve grown more concerned about 401K balances and the ripples that are bound to shake the economy in the coming months.  Money is not abundant, but we have a house to live in, water to drink and enough food to eat.  The plight of those in Africa puts my worries in perspective – they are miniscule in comparison.

Click to hear “My Own Little World” by Matthew West.   It is a song about what we see when we look beyond ourselves, and it rings true for me.

What inspired you or saddened you this week?  What do you think of “The Help” (book or movie)?  How connected to world events (including the famine) are you?  Please share your thoughts 🙂

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28 thoughts on “Inspiration and Sadness

  1. sufilight August 14, 2011 / 1:32 AM

    It’s odd, but during the past fews days I keep coming across Youtubes, and articles of the plight of the hungry in Kenya and it’s heartbreaking. It definitely puts things in perspective for me, to appreciate what I have even more.

    I confess I live in a cave, have not heard of “The Help” until I read your blog. 🙂

    • jannatwrites August 14, 2011 / 9:08 PM

      Hi, Sufilight – I’m glad you visited my blog!

      Living in a cave has the side effect of filtering out the “bad” news, which feels nice sometimes. I viewed a slideshow of pictures from Kenya and the photos are just awful. I cried for the malnourished children whose skin sagged on their bones and my heart ached for the parents burying their children. The conditions they live in are beyond anything I’ve ever seen in the States.

  2. Carol Ann Hoel August 14, 2011 / 4:27 AM

    I am aware that famine in the world, especially Africa, is horrible. It makes me cry out to the Lord for His mercy and grace to flow out on our globe. Many missionaries spend their lives helping, but in comparison to the need, it’s a drop in the bucket. I put “The Help” on my wish list. Thank you for the recommendation. I use my wish list whenever I finish a book. I look on my wish list to find my next book to read. Blessings to you, Janna…

    • jannatwrites August 14, 2011 / 9:17 PM

      I first heard about The Help from a comment Pattyabr made here recently. The library here had over thirty holds on the book, so I don’t know if I’ll give in and buy it before my turn comes up or not. School starts tomorrow, so I may not have time to read for a while now anyway!

      The pictures I saw yesterday were filled with sorrow and pain. I know God has a plan, but this a time when I don’t understand. Thirty-thousand children dying in ninety days is such a heartbreaking number.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughs, Carol. I’m glad you were able to stop by today.

  3. Richard W Scott August 14, 2011 / 7:50 AM

    This is an excellent question, a good one for people in general, but especially useful for writers who must constantly look for ways to deliver both inspiration and sadness to a reading audience.

    So, let me say that as for inspiration this week, your post, this very post, I find inspiring.

    The point you make–and make well–about hunger hits home as well.

    I cannot count the number of times people I know declare that they are starving. I know it is only a turn of phrase, but it makes me angry. I am not wealthy, probably never will be, and most of the people I know are in similar financial straits… but starving? I don’t think so.

    I hear people talk about fasting, when they actually mean they missed breakfast.

    Frankly, I’ve never been hungry, really hungry, in my life. I don’t know anyone who has.

    Don’t get me wrong, I do know hunger exists in this country. And knowing it wounds me, and should wound every citizen. Many of my friends (and I) routinely give to charities to help resolve the problem, and I appreciate them more for their act, but many of these are the ones who proclaim personal starvation.

    I wonder what it would be like in this country, if every healthy citizen had to go 5 days without food? I wonder if that would change the way we look at things?

    • jannatwrites August 14, 2011 / 9:47 PM

      Richard, I am humbled that my post provided inspiration. I read the news stories and knew things were bad, but the photos are what got to me. I am haunted by the gaunt faces, sagging skin over ribs, and pleading eyes. Their eyes… There were over 500, but I wouldn’t have seen anything through my tears anyway.

      I admit that I have procaimed I was “starving”, but I don’t think I will make that statement again, because though I may be hungry, I’m certainly nowhere near starving. Your suggestion of going five days without food would get the point across. I’ve missed meals here and there (and am cranky when I do so), but I’ve never even gone a full day without food.

      I’ve also given to charities, but I get frustrated when it seems like aid isn’t getting to the people who need it, or an unreasonable amount goes to “overhead expenses and administration.” I’ve got some research to do on this.

      Thank you for taking the time to read and share your thoughts on the famine.

  4. chlost August 14, 2011 / 7:55 AM

    Saw the movie this week with my mom. She commented several times that living in “the North”, she was totally unaware of how things were in the southern U.S. during the 50’s and 60’s. They were caught up in their own lives, just as we are today. We had both read the book and loved it. The movie was pretty close to the book. I think that young people need to read this book and see the movie. They seem to have no sense of how things were in this country just a generation ago. We also do not see much of how desperate things are in other parts of the world. Young people in particular seem so focused on their own lives-fashion, celebrities, friends-that they have lost the big picture of our world.
    There is a photo essay about places where children sleep that is quite eye-opening, as well- here is the link: http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/44077710/from/ET/?beginSlide=1

    • jannatwrites August 14, 2011 / 10:06 PM

      I plan on reading the book and seeing the movie too. A friend and I plan on going over Labor Day weekend.

      Our family has lived in the west for several generations. For a time in the 1980’s, an aunt and uncle lived in Georgia. We stayed for a month-long visit there and I never could put words to describe it, but it just felt ‘different’. I like the relaxed feel of the other side of the country myself 🙂

      I agree that we are self-absorbed. I get caught up in the day-to-day family stuff (not so much fashion and celebrities though – not impressed at all.) It takes a conscious effort to step back and take in a wider view. I need to do that more often.

      Thanks for the link, Chlost. It was quite interesting. Some of the places didn’t look fit for habitation. On the other end of the spectrum, I believe that it’s not healthy for a child to get everything that he/she wants. Just another thing to support the reality that “life isn’t fair.”

  5. pattyabr August 14, 2011 / 7:59 AM

    I finally read The Help and I read it while I was riding the bus for my transportation this summer. I would like to see the movie but I am not sure that my emotions will be the same as they were when I read the book. I was flat out afraid for Skeeter, Minnie and the rest of the maids while I was reading the book. I was about the age of those children the maids were caring for at that time in the 60s. I knew Mississippi was the most prejudice riddled state in the country but I never realized how much until I read that book.

    You will come out of you cave someday. Just keep praying while you are in there.

    • jannatwrites August 14, 2011 / 10:14 PM

      Your recent comment was the first time I had heard about The Help, and now it seems like it’s everywhere! I plan to see the movie and read the book, though I’m not sure in which order it will happen. I wasn’t around in the sixties, but I’ve read enough history to know it was a volatile time – especially in the South.

      I will continue to pray while I’m huddled in my cave. I’ll pop my head out once in a while so I don’t completely lose touch with reality.

      Thanks for sharing your comment, Patty.

  6. nrhatch August 14, 2011 / 8:36 AM

    Remembering to be grateful for all that we have is one way to inspire ourselves to do and be more.

    That said, until people who cannot afford children stop having children . . . we will continue to be saddened by the children who receive inadequate food, shelter, guidance and medical care.

    Maybe God should prevent a few more pregnancies???

    • jannatwrites August 14, 2011 / 10:25 PM

      Fewer children would make sense, but many years ago, I talked to some low-income people who ended up with more children because they couldn’t afford the birth control. I know, a child is waaaay more expensive than birth control, but it happens. Too many children is a consequence of our own actions, done of our own free will. God can’t exactly step in and clean up this mess without cleaning up the rest of what’s wrong in the world (also largely because of our poor choices.)

      It’s a good idea to think of everything we have (rather than dwell on what we don’t have.) I agree that gratefulness can be an inspiration. I know it makes me feel full of hope and appreciation – which is a great way to start each day 🙂

      I appreciate you stopping by and sharing what inspires and saddens you, Nancy!

    • jannatwrites August 14, 2011 / 10:26 PM

      That is another sad statistic, Carl. A lot of families are missing loved ones right now.

  7. Debbie August 14, 2011 / 11:58 AM

    Hunger and poverty, especially when they involve children and very old people, are thankfully far removed from my world, Janna, but only by the grace of God. Sure, we all claim to be “poor” and “famished,” but we should be ashamed of ourselves for using terms so far removed from reality. Like others, I donate to causes I believe in that address these and similar issues, but it just seems like a drop in the bucket, sigh. Haven’t seen The Help yet, but I’m encouraged by Stockett’s perseverance. I gave up counting how many rejections I received and am focusing on moving forward regardless. One day I hope we both find the right agents and publishers for our work!

    • jannatwrites August 14, 2011 / 10:46 PM

      I avoided counting rejections because I’m filled with self-doubt anyway. Logically, I know that just because an agent passes on a submission, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad – it could mean there is a ton of material out there and something else caught his/her eye. Still, each rejection felt like a, “you stink…don’t quit your day job.” If it is meant to be, one day we will find the right agents/publishers 🙂

      It does seem like a drop in the bucket because the need is so great, however, some help is better than none at all.

      Thanks for visiting and sharing your thoughts, Debbie!

  8. pattisj August 14, 2011 / 8:02 PM

    I’ve been accused of living in a cave, but I’ve heard of “The Help,” that both the book and movie are good. I was saddened by the loss of members of Seal Team 6 this past week, many based in this area. I was inspired to read about Texas Gov. Rick Perry holding a prayer rally in his state. I receive ministry newsletters that share their work around the world.

    • jannatwrites August 14, 2011 / 10:49 PM

      News of the Seals loss reached my cave. I hate to hear about harm to any of the troops. I didn’t hear about Rick Perry, so I’ll have to check into that one. Cave news is sketchy, at best.

      Thanks for sharing what saddened and inspired you this week, Patti.

  9. dorcas August 14, 2011 / 11:48 PM

    My heart cries everytime I read news of famine and malnutrition. I don’t know what or how to make sense of all this, but I sincerely believe with all my heart, that ‘I am the hand that JEsus uses to let the people know, He cares’.

    Wish we could give and do more for them….

    • jannatwrites August 15, 2011 / 8:29 PM

      It seems you can relate to the helpless feeling I have. I like your statement about being the hand of Jesus…nice thought.

      I appreciate your visit and comment, Dorcas.

  10. cuhome August 15, 2011 / 12:27 AM

    Thank you for the reminder, which I need once in a while. I, too, can’t make sense of many atrocities and much of the grief in the world, but I do believe this: a ripple around the world can change the fate of everything half a world away. A kindness given, even a simple “You look beautiful today”, or “What a lovely warm smile you have”, can change a person’s life in ways we’ll never know. A gentle touch, that human connection, can alter a person’s entire life. Just a word. And it costs us nothing.

    • jannatwrites August 15, 2011 / 8:33 PM

      What a beautifully worded comment, Cuhome. It is easy to overlook the simple things that could brighten someone’s day, but you are so right that the impact can be great. Certainly worth making a conscious effort to do…

      I’m glad you read the post and decided to share your comment.

  11. SuziCate August 15, 2011 / 6:43 AM

    If you find you like “The Help”, read “Wench” by Doaln Perkins-Valdez (I think I have the author correct) I read it on my kindle this weekend while traveling, loved it as much as “The Help”.

    • jannatwrites August 15, 2011 / 8:36 PM

      I added this book to my list, SuziCate. Thanks for the suggestion!

  12. Tori Nelson August 15, 2011 / 7:51 AM

    Please read The Help. It is brilliant!

    • jannatwrites August 15, 2011 / 8:37 PM

      Oh, I will definitely read it, Tori. It’s just a matter of whether I can hold out for the library copy or cave in and purchase it 🙂

  13. bookjunkie September 15, 2011 / 12:39 AM

    I have been meaning to get a copy of The Help…now after reading your post, it’s an even greater compulsion.

    • jannatwrites September 15, 2011 / 8:28 PM

      I’d be curious to know your thoughts. It wasn’t a pretty time in American history, and I am interested to find out how the book portrays it.

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