Who Is Your Hero?

Version 2

In my fiction stories, I often put average people in situations of peril where the vast majority of people around them would crumble under similar circumstances. In reality, most people would actually succumb under such compelling life and death conditions. But it doesn’t take a calamity, a natural disaster or an attack by terrorists to propel a seemingly innocuous person into the realm of being a hero.

Our society makes heroes out to be super human, often possessing a power, or an extraordinary skill, or at the very least a mask and a cape. Although this is a glorified portrait of the stereotype, those with impressionable minds see the caped wonders as the only saviors from earth’s peril and having moral majority on being a savior.

In my first book in the Worst Case Scenario series I attribute my talents as gifts of God, and leave the reader with this final acknowledgment: Heroes will rise, Heroes will fall, Jesus is my hero, and He has risen.

You may retort my statement by reminding me that it is very easy for me to pick Jesus as my hero, and you would be right. You see, Jesus is something to strive for, a deeper understanding, He is a path to the rewards of a better life.

But, finding heroes in our daily lives is easier than you might think. If we all could slow down the pace of our lives and push away the entrapment of mindless tasks that steal our time, then you might be surprised just how many heroes there are around you that are working their own small miracles.

So sit and think for a few seconds, close your eyes if you need to, and think, who do I know that are heroes around me? Go ahead, take a minute, I’ll wait. Seriously, take thirty seconds, close your eyes, and think about the heroes in your existence.

Hopefully you thought of a few people in your life, or those that may pass through your life. It could have been a teacher, a parent, your sibling or simply someone that made a difference in the existence of others. If I may, let me tell you about a few heroes that have been revealed to me over the last few days.

I’m currently spending a week on mission in Honduras with nine other Americans. We have all been here before at one time or anther. We all speak some level of Spanish and we all love the opportunity to serve at the orphanage located next to a neighborhood controlled by gangs.

It is in these areas, the narrow lines of distinction between what is right and what is wrong, that I find everyday heroes. One such group is a special unit of the Honduran Federal police. Based on programs developed in the USA and implemented by the US State Department, these men and women are trained to serve in the schools and in the communities to help provide a choice between the short and violent life in a gang, and the life of continued education and opportunity.

You may scoff at such an idea because it has been in practice in the States for years, but in a third world country, where stability is ever changing and 63% of Hondurans live in poverty, and the police are stereotypically corrupt, this kind of change is along the lines of culture shock. What makes it even more appreciated is that half of the police in this service are women.

When we asked the women officers about the challenges of being a woman in a society that does not value women as much as men, they surprised us with the revelation that women officers are actually more accepted in the families and communities than their male counterparts. Imagine that, in a society that does not value woman, they are the ones that are able to break through and have the most success.

This small group serves in the worst sections of the city, trying to convince young men and women that there is hope for their future and that the lure of crime and violence is a trapdoor to a life cut short.

Are these people heroes? Absolutely.

This week, we had the opportunity to visit a project founded by a man struck by the horrors of children living on the street. These children range from five to adulthood, they are alone, where the only thing to look forward to is getting high by sniffing shoe glue out of a plastic soda bottle. These are societies forgotten. They are the torn fibers on societies fabric of life, and no one would miss them if they simply disappeared.

According to the Tegucigalpa based project, almost 90% of kids that live on the street use the shoe glue on a daily basis. It is how they cope, how they pass the time, how they stop the hunger pains. Ironically, these are the children that even the gangs don’t want to recruit into their organizations because the children’s loyalties would not be to the gang, it would be to the glue.

The Micah Project’s mission it to help these boys by inserting themselves at the street level. They provide organized areas for the boys to gather, to play soccer and where they can get to know and trust each other. It is through this level of trust that new fabric is added to their existence and the ropes of a lifeline are spun. Eventually, through counseling and friendship, the boys realize that there is a life better than a dollar’s worth of yellow glue at the bottom of a plastic bottle, and they choose to enter the Project’s program.

Is there always success? No, but for the most part, yes. Are these people, the ones that dedicate their lives to pulling the lowest of us out of the mire and clay, heroes? Absolutely.

Later in the week we had the privilege to listen to a 20 year old man name Marvin, who described his attempt to enter the United States illegally. When he was 17 he set off from Honduras and was in Mexico within a few days. While in Mexico, humanity as we know it, broke down. Marvin described tales of torture, dismemberment, kidnapping, illegal organ harvesting, extortion, murder, rape, and a life constantly on the run from the ones that perpetrated most of the violence, the ‘coyotes’.

But, in Marvin’s struggles for survival, there was one man who rose above the temptations of easy prey, and offered a helping hand. The man owned a restaurant south of Mexico City, and he took Marvin in, gave him a job and helped him financially stabilize before he was strong enough to continue.

Was this man a hero for undertaking such an act of kindness? Absolutely.

In past blogs, and in my book Underlying Grace, I have written about El Hogar. This wonderful place, grounded by the grace of God, is an oasis in a sea of chaotic flux and poverty. El Hogar take in abandoned and hopelessly poor children in Honduras, and provides a loving home and education. El Hogar becomes the parent and the teacher to those that would never have one without the program. But it is more than a parent and a teacher, the children that grow up here are now part of a larger family, with brothers, sisters and teachers that love and nourish their physical, mental and spiritual needs.

The program runs on a staff that takes a lower level of pay and long hard hours. They do what they do for the love of the children, and they feel that God opens their hearts for a lifetime of work.

Are the men and women that give their entire lives so that these children can have the opportunity at a meaningful life, heroes? Absolutely.

During this week, we have had a lot of discussions about who is our favorite superhero. More often than not you will hear, Batman, Superman, Iron Man, and the list goes on and on. But I challenge you to look beyond the movie screen fiction and see the real heroes in your life. On my mission team I see nine other beautiful people, and they are all heroes to the children of this place.

Matthew West, a singer song writer, has a song called, ‘Do Something.’ In his piercing lyrics Matthew wakes up one day and sees people stricken with poverty and the world falling apart. Out of anger, he asks God why He doesn’t do something about the situation in the world. God answers him by saying that He did do something…He says, “I created you.”

So, I will ask you, is it time for you to do something? Is it time for you put on a cape and mask and become a hero to someone? If that is what it takes, then absolutely!

To learn more about the Micah Project: www.micahprojecthonduras.org

To learn more about El Hogar: www.elhogar.org

Peace,

Allen

Books by G. Allen Mercer:

Worst Case Scenario

Worst Case Scenario: Bug Out, Book 2

Worst Case Scenario: Invasion, Book 3

Worst Case Scenario: The State, Book 4

Worst Case Scenario: Militia, Book 5

Worst Case Scenario: War Dawgs, Book 6

 

Collapsing World: Book 1

 

Underlying Grace

Mighty To Save: Book 2 The Underlying Grace Series

 

Follow G. Allen Mercer:

www.GAllenMercer.com

www.facebook.com/GAllenMercer  

www.twitter.com/GAllenMercer

Blogging at: www.allenmercer.wordpress.com

 

The Rip Current of Evil

It is Good Friday and I have just spent a wonderful day on the Gulf of Mexico with my wife and daughter. I have never been somewhere else besides home during Holy Week. At first I was apprehensive about this change, but realized that God put this wonderful feature, called the ocean, in our life for our enjoyment.

rip-current2And it was this wonderful ocean, and a great conversation with my wife on the rental condo balcony that got me thinking about something that has been eating away at me for years.

I really never had a name for this thing that I have been feeling, but when talking about it I would flail my hands around wildly with an expression on my face that said, ‘don’t you get what I’m thinking?’ What I was thinking about was this ever present thing called doubt, pain, carnage…it’s called evil.

I mean, I look at all of these things and wonder, ‘it’s not JUST the media that has an agenda and is presenting stories and events that negatively impact our lives. Is it?’

I mean, why does a business owner, a family that owns a pizza shop, have to have death threats against him and his family just because they were asked a hypothetical question about hosting a wedding for a gay couple? And why do we have to accept an agreement as gospel with a country that holds the destruction of another country as their doctrine, as policy for our country? (I’m talking about Iran and Israel and our blind acceptance that these people are gong to do what they promise…after having a ‘Kill America’ parade earlier this week.) Just saying.

So, back to the ocean and my point. I really think that we have slowly been sucked into a Rip Current of Evil in this world. The waves of life keep crashing, but our legs are being pulled out from beneath us and we are being dragged out further into the depths.

Not a pleasant visual, but think about it. ISIS has beheaded hundreds of Christians…I said HUNDREDS! They are selling children and women with the hopes of having new ISIS members, new babies, to take up the cause. They are teaching children that it is OKAY to pull the trigger to kill people that don’t think/act/look like/worship like them…human beings.

In our own country, politicians at the highest levels of office gleefully admit that they lied about things to further their own political agenda…not for the betterment of the country, or the down trodden, but to keep them and their own ilk in power. I should say, that this happens on both sides of the aisle.

So, like the giant waves that my daughter and I were riding on our boogie boards this afternoon, every time we put our feet down to the sandy bottom, we had to fight the rip current…is that what we need to do now with society? Do we really ride the surface with glee and then once the ride stops realize that we have moved further down the beach…further towards evil?

I don’t know, but I fear that the answer is, ‘yes.’ It pains me to say that. I am an optimist by nature. Which goes counter to my book series, Worst Case Scenario…I get that. But it also sails true with my Underlying Grace series; even though we have seen the worst, there is always something better waiting.

So, I have to believe that with every rip tide or rip current of evil there is a greater current of grace that will wipe away the effects of crashing waves and create a current that will circle the world with warmth, grace and love. After all, it’s Good Friday. I can think of no greater current to be trapped in than that of love by our Creator!

Surf’s up!

Peace,

Allen

Books by G. Allen Mercer:

Worst Case Scenario

Worst Case Scenario: Bug Out, Book 2

Worst Case Scenario: Invasion, Book 3

Underlying Grace

Mighty To Save: The Underlying Grace Series (June 2015)

Justin Flowers and the Orb of Time (Rerelease August 2015)

 

Follow G. Allen Mercer:

www.GAllenMercer.com

www.facebook.com/GAllenMercer  

www.twitter.com/GAllenMercer

Blogging at: www.allenmercer.wordpress.com

Midnight Writer: Don’t Quit Your Day Job

Are you working for your passion?
Are you working for your passion?

Don’t quit your day job. You’ve heard this advice before.

Should you take this advice? Perhaps, then again, perhaps not. You see, creative writing is my passion. Publishing stories about people and events that only exist in my mind is how I deal with the pressures of the day job. So, should I quit my day job to be a full time writer and kiss those pressures goodbye? Well, let’s look at some things, because you might be asking yourself a very similar question.

Time: I’ve been asked this question repeatedly through the years, ‘when do you find time to write?’ My answer is rooted in the timelessness of the answer. Since writing is my passion, I make the time.

I wrote most of my first published book at the kitchen table after the family had turned in for the night. Sure I was tired too, but when you are doing something that you are passionate about…it’s just not work.

Now, numerous years later, I have several books published with three separate series crossing three different genres. I consider myself a professional author, as well as an industrial corporate sales executive. Call it a dual identity if you like, but in reality I could not have one career without the other.

Process: I have approached this transition from midnight writer to trending author by applying the lessons I learned in the business world to the art of writing. I use my marketing skills, honed by working with large public manufacturing companies, to creatively stay ahead of the market and craft what I think people want to read.  Apparently corporate process has a place next to creative expression!

Rewards: As I have progressed, both in job title and book titles, I can easily see that one career calls to me above the other. But, make no mistake; I have no expectation of ditching my corporate career. In fact, I find myself working harder than ever. I am very good at what I do and enjoy outstripping my competition on a regular basis. I also appreciate the experiences of working with diverse people and, of course, the financial rewards allow me to sit at the kitchen table after everyone has gone to bed.

Sounds like, in my case, I have my answer.

So, should you quit your day job?

Not up to me to decide.

But, perhaps the question is, should you find ways to turn your passion into the job you love? I would have to say, if it’s your passion, then you might want to figure out how to burn a little midnight oil.

Books by G. Allen Mercer:

Worst Case Scenario

Worst Case Scenario: Bug Out, Book 2

Worst Case Scenario: Invasion, Book 3

Underlying Grace

Mighty To Save: The Underlying Grace Series (June 2015)

Justin Flowers and the Orb of Time (Re-release August 2015)

 

Follow G. Allen Mercer:

www.GAllenMercer.com

www.faceb

ook.com/GAllenMercer  

www.twitter.com/GAllenMercer

Blogging at: www.allenmercer.wordpress.com

A Close Moment with God on American Idol?

Often times you don’t know that God’s about to do something to you until after it’s happened.

Garrett2I meet with this great group of guys every Friday morning over breakfast. We discuss how we’re trying to live a life centered around God by our actions and what we study. One of the highlights of the discussion usually focuses on our ‘closest moment to God.’

Typically, a ‘closest moment’ involves a charitable act, the experience during a worship service, or an encounter with someone special where faith or love was discussed. My closest moment was different; it involved American Idol, social media and a giant extended family.

Last night my family gathered around the TV to watch the Nashville auditions of American Idol. We knew exactly which contestant we were looking for. We were looking for a young man in a cowboy hat and dark sunglasses; we were looking for my cousin, Garrett Miles.

We had already seen the video of Garrett’s audition, and knew that the outcome was favorable, but to actually watch it on the show was phenomenal! Garrett did a fantastic job of just being himself. He’s a supremely talented young man with a country voice that is pure and a guitar talent that is graceful. Oh, yea, he is also blind; but that’s not what this blog entry is about.

My closest moment to God came in the minutes and hours after Garrett’s audition aired. It was incredible to see all parts of my extended family focus on one individual, one event and one purpose. Social media exploded with all of us cousins, brothers and sisters, mostly from different cities and states, coming together to drive awareness about a man that is not afraid to say that his blindness is not a barrier, or that his talent is God given.

In a past blog posts from 2014 I wrote about one of my other cousins on the other side of my family that is deaf…I discussed the common languages of love and laughter, but I was reminded last night that I should have also included song and music as common languages.

Psalm 40:3 says, “He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our Lord.”

So, a blind 25-year-old man, through music and song, made three entertainment superstars and the rest of America, love, laugh and find a common language. I’d call that a hymn of praise!

After watching Garrett sing and then seeing him embraced by the love of his family after he received the ‘Golden Ticket,’ I am pretty sure that God has ways of bringing us all together for close moments; even on American Idol.

#teamgarrett #americanidol #garrettmiles

Peace,  G. Allen Mercer

G. Allen Mercer is an author with a ‘heart on fire’ to write about God’s grace in a factual and fiction genre.

Learn more at:   http://www.GAllenMercer.com

http://www.facebook.com/GAllenMercer (Please LIKE)

Get the book: Underlying Grace here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IDL4KQ8

Book 2 News: Might to Save, the sequel to Underlying Grace will be released February 2015

Also, the first three (3) books of the new action adventure series; Worst Case Scenario will be released March 2015.

Where am I in line with God?

Everyday we are in some sort of line. When we commute to work we sit in lines of never ending traffic. We queue up to buy our first, or second cup of coffee. And, if you have been to a sporting event, concert or your kid’s school play, there is inevitably a line for the bathroom. Our society is ruled by fake velvet ropes that traverse us back and forth until we reach some destination.

So, do you think you’re judged by where you are in line?

Where are you in GOD's line?
Where are you in GOD’s line?

I guess it depends on what you’re doing, where you are in the line, and why you are there in the first place. Also, should we expect something for our patience, or should we be willing to give something once we reach the end of a line?

Matthew talks about this a little, when he relates a parable by Jesus. In essence, a vineyard owner hires people throughout the day to work in his fields for a day’s wage. At the end of the workday, he pays the workers that he hired last, first…and at the same wage as the workers that have been toiling all day in his field. They are lined up and told that the last will go first and the first will go last. (Matthew 20:1-16)

Can you imagine what the guy at the end of the line, who had been breaking his back in the hot sun all day, thought about this arrangement? I can.

Can you also imagine what the first guy was thinking? I can too.

What about the guy in the middle? Is he just happy to be there, and wants the guy behind him to pipe down? I don’t know?

What I do know is that, after tossing this scripture around at our bible study this morning, it really got me thinking about where I was in God’s line.

Am I last? Am I in the middle? What do I have to do to move up or down in the line? I really don’t know where I am in His line. These questions concerned me as I sat in a line of traffic.

And then, as I tried to put myself in the minds of all the characters of this parable, it hit me. This ‘daily wage’ that the workers were waiting on was not money, or things, or cups of coffee. It was God’s grace.

I had missed it at first, but God’s grace is central to my beliefs and my worship; and that was the missing piece. Here it is.

God’s grace, or ‘daily wage’, is given through worship, or a ‘day’s work’.

Every Sunday, I kneel with my fellow Christians, hold out my hands and receive the Sacraments of Christ. And you know what, we’re in a line…not a line of depth and length, but a line of equality. We are left to right and right to left, all receiving the same ‘day’s wage’ of Christ’s sacrifice for us.

Christ has already waited in the line for us. His line was a means to an end. His line showed us the way. Like we Christian’s stretch out along the altar rail, so did Christ stretch out his arms and accept us through His actions.

I challenge you to read that scripture today, or tonight and ask yourself some of the same questions. See what you come up with.

So, back to my original concern…where am I in line with God?

Thanks to Christ, I think I am in front, with you, and everyone else. Not bad for a ‘day’s work.’

Peace,

Allen

G. Allen Mercer is an author with a ‘heart on fire’ to write about God’s grace in a factual and fiction genre.

Learn more at:

www.GAllenMercer.com

www.facebook.com/GAllenMercer (Please LIKE)

www.amazon.com/dp/B00IDL4KQ8

Customer Service is Slang for…

So, a priest, a race-car driver and a customer service representative all die in the same bus crash. They’re all standing at the gates of Heaven, waiting to talk to St. Peter, when the Priest strikes up a conversation with the racecar driver and the customer service rep.

God and Customer Service
God and Customer Service

…Ahhh, who am I kidding? This joke isn’t real! No one actually thinks the customer service rep is going to make it to Heaven?

Actually, yea, I do.

I know that these people endure the brunt of our frustrations in their profession. And, I know that, for the most part, they seem to take it in stride. Think about this. They have no idea why your boss chewed you out today, why one of the kids threw up in the back seat on the way home from school, and why your spouse decided that tonight, of all nights, they were going to work late!

For the most part, customer service reps (CSRs for short) are answering the phone hoping to talk to a sweet grandma who wants to share her recipe for chocolate cake made out of sugar…and then topped with more sugar, which is coated in a layer of melt in your mouth, warm chocolate. Yummm…. Don’t we all want that call?

Instead, they get us. They get angry, kid puked in my purse, dog chewed my original foam 1991 Braves Tomahawk, why in the world is my cable TV gone out again…call.

Here is the funny thing about all of this, somewhere between chocolate and a foam filled Fido, there is God.

“What?” You are probably thinking? “Mercer, you’re out of your mind! This was such a good, sarcastic, chocolate filled blog, and then you had to go and bring God into it! You might’ve just as easily made a Star Wars pun instead!”

Well, you might think this, but let me tell you how I see it.

CSRs go into this job for a few reasons:

  1. They need a job, and who in their right mind would want to take a telephone job where people are inclined to yell at you?
  2. They have some sick sense of power and feel that they can see eye to eye with the Gatekeeper from Ghost Busters.
  3. The job is an entry into the company that they want to work with in another capacity.
  4. They actually feel that they can make a difference in peoples lives, and this is the best use of their ‘people person’ skills.
  5. They actually need to provide for their family, and this is the only way they can find to do just that.

So, how does God fit into this? Well, the way I see it is that God wants us all to succeed. He wants us all to find our own path; and somewhere along this perfect timing thing that He has, he wants us all to have this human interaction, this level of emotion, this sense of dependence, this hope and even this sense of disappointment. And perhaps, the person on the other end of the line can help us with all of these.

Hummm…those things sound a little bit like the adjectives of Jesus…interaction, emotion, dependence, disappointment and finally hope.

Crazy correlation, I know, but, after my wife was just told by a CSR with our cable provider that we should leave our TV on so that we would know when the TV service had been restored, we decided to laugh. Laughter is the building block for hope…sound familiar. Don’t you think Jesus laughed at the absurdity of some of the people He knew…talk about a guy in the ultimate roll of a CSR!

So, yes, I missed the opportunity to spin a great Star Wars pun in my blog. But, I think I can use one in reverse.

“Fear is the path to the dark side…fear leads to anger…anger leads to hate…hate leads to suffering.” Master Yoda, The Phantom Menace

So, is God all around this?

Press 1, to speak to a Customer Service Representative.

Press 2, to Laugh.

Press 3, for Hope.

 

Peace,

Allen Mercer

PS: I know several CSRs in real life. They are awesome, hardworking professionals that take a great deal of life’s ugliness and disappointments and turn it into chocolate cake covered in sugar. They do NOT get the credit that they are due.

Allen Mercer is an author with a ‘heart on fire’ to write about God’s grace in a factual and fiction genre. Learn more at:

http://www.GAllenMercer.com

http://www.facebook.com/GAllenMercer (Please LIKE)

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IDL4KQ8 (Get your book here!)