Love Like a Blanket

ruthiemartin

PC: Ruthie Martin

You know what I love most about fall? Curling up in a blanket with a cup of tea in the evening. Don’t get me wrong, I love summertime. It’s sun-shiney, full of campfires, nights on the town with friends, traveling to beaches and cities… But now… the leaves are orange and red. The days are short. The the air is chilly. And fall lends to an increased number of quiet evenings at home. Some days.

With the chilly weather, nothing beats my flannel blanket, a new book, and hot cup of tea. Sigh. Down time.

That said, my job keeps me on the go most of the time this time of the year. I work in sports TV production for a Big Ten team: the Penn State Nittany Lions. The past two months have really been a blur of football games, booking shoots, edits, show builds, directing interns, and emails such as “where is the missing DVD file?” or “why is this video not posted to YouTube yet?”

I love what I do! But still…

As I push through this blur, most days with a smile and an underlying headache, I’ve really had to check myself… Where are my priorities? Who am I relying on?

Seriously. As work as taken over, I feel like I’ve been messing up BIG time in my relationships with both God and people – First, a misunderstanding with a friend of almost a decade led to a hurtful friend breakup. Then, missing Bible Study for the past month because of the heavy workload. And in between, disregarding texts and calls from girlfriends joking that “meh, I don’t need a social life right now.”

So, it was an evening to myself a couple of days ago, when I chose to curl up in that flannel, fall time blanket I mentioned earlier, with a hot cup of tea, when I realized pretty quickly that I’ve been running on spiritual fumes- smiling away the hurts and ignoring the bruises.

Sipping on my mug of tea and pulling the blanket tighter around myself, I finally opened up to the Lord… confessing my actions and questioning others’. Instead of a rebuke, my good, good Father draped His arms of love around me in a whisper and embrace warmer and thicker than any blanket on a chilly fall evening.

His love transcends the ups and downs of life and relationships. Mistakes big or small. Good-byes that don’t make sense. Loneliness despite the busyness. The whole spectrum of emotions that act as guides throughout our days. And the icing of joys and successes in the mix.

He knows all. Sees all. Understands all. And is just WAITING for you and I to fall back into His love and let Him wrap us up in peace and love.

Unlike people who sometimes sprint and other times mosey in and out of your life for a season, be it 1 year or 10 years, God will never leave you nor forsake you. And nothing can separate you from His love, despite what you might feel in any given moment.

So this fall season God is teaching me to stop, confess, and let Him love me as no one else can.

 And that is better than a flannel blanket or cup of tea, on a chilly fall night, could ever be.

Time

Time

There is always something on my mind to write about, but lately, after a campfire and a death, I’ve been thinking mostly of time.

The passing of time. The ebb and flow as time brings us new experiences and change. How time makes everything seem the same.

I sat out by my campfire last weekend. My mom is moving to a new town, selling her home, and as I live with her I am moving too. Not with her, I’m getting my own place once more, but it is new change in my life as we move from summer to fall shortly.

As I sat by the campfire crackling on the warm summer night, I listened to the cicadas in the trees all around me, and night owls hooting here and there. I looked up to the sky that was black and full of glimmering stars. And I relished the heat of the rocks on my bare feet that surrounded the fire, keeping my toes warm as a breeze passed by.

I’ve been doing this since I can remember my first summer campout. The stars, black sky, cicadas, crickets and grasshoppers, lightning bugs… I’m older now, sure but there is timelessness to campfires that make me feel small, young like a child, and old like I’m 60 with the weight of the world on my shoulders all at the same time.

Time passes from person to person. Generation to generation. And in that time we only have so many days and hours to laugh, dream, plan, go on vacation, work, study, read, and make friendships and relationships with the people around us.

Time is short when you’re old. Time is long when you’re young. Time is lonely when you’re sad. Time is so full that your chest bubbles and tears come out of your eyes in laughter when you’re with those you love most…

The campfire was a weekend ago but the death was a day ago.

The death of a beloved friend and coworker at my office at WPSU Sports. He was an encourager, leader, and hard worker. He laughed easily and worked swiftly. He was patient with me “the new girl” for a year, until the department started bringing in more people. He was a rock. I went to him for many things throughout the day. Advice on work, a break if I needed it, and help for any little issue that I wasn’t sure how to handle.

It’s hard to believe I will be walking into that office tomorrow, the next day, the day after, and even going to these fall Penn State Football games without him.

He reached out to me and made me feel included when I first joined the team last fall. He made my ideas seem relevant. We laughed at some of my questions. And even when he was stressed, he would hop over to my station and computer to help if I ever needed it.

Time is funny because though we’ve only worked together for a year he became a solid work friend in that time.

And he doesn’t even know it.

I never really told him how much he meant. Yes, a sincere word here and there, but nothing weird because I didn’t know how real to get with my co-workers and friends. Even after months I still felt like the new girl, which I haven’t been for quite some time.

This past Friday when I left the office he wasn’t around. (He had already left for a weekend wedding, which he told me about last spring! I remember that convo too… We were on a break in the lunchroom in April, talking about the weddings we were in this summer and friends getting married at our age. He told me he hoped the wedding that he was the best man wouldn’t be over a football weekend.)

Anyways, this Friday I was leaving for a triathlon, which he asked me all kinds of questions about the day before as he left for a wedding. I was going to text him, “Hey have fun at your friends wedding this weekend and good luck on your best man’s speech.” I honestly was excited to hear how it went come Monday. But I didn’t text him. Because I thought, “naw, I’ll see him Monday, I don’t want to bother him today.”

Time is short. Time changes things quickly. Because who knew that that Friday, one minute he would be breathing and the next gone.

And when did sending a positive note, thought, or word to someone ever become bothersome??

People need that. We need each other…

Moving from summer video shoots to plans for Football and Basketball season, I pictured him there… Helping me with the interns, offering advice when unknowns come up, and even after-work drinks as a team, which we never did.

And like sitting by a campfire at 25 years old instead of being 6 years old, though everything is different in life and work, everything is the same.

The shows and video shoots will go on. The first PSU Football game on September 3 will start without him. He won’t be there to edit, direct, or step in with our already short-staffed office, yet all those things remain the same.

Working in video seems glamorous, but for as much as I take behind the scenes photos of the lights, cameras, audio equipment, and fun sets, I sometimes forget the people around me. That time moves quickly and those people who run the sets are more important than the show we produce.

Time is final. Fatal. But also doesn’t end. Time moves on. And as it does, I hope to remember John… He’s one of the main reasons why I liked going to work so much. I love the content, sure, but I love the team I get to work with. Each person special. Each person with gifts, talents, and capabilities. But especially John who at such a young age did so much for the people around him and the office we worked at.

With the ebb and flow of time, the next days and weeks won’t be easy because John’s story, his life, will be missed. Is already missed. A death too soon. A life too short. And a friend of mine swept away in the current of time.

But he still matters. His soul is in God’s hands, mercy, and grace. And though “time will tell” it doesn’t have the last say.

God does.

Football.

penn-state-football2

I grew up with brothers, four of them actually, and no sisters. But instead of knowing all the ins and outs of American Football, from living in a house of boys, I knew next to nothing of the game. I think it stemmed from seeing the guys and their friends watching a game, sitting down with them, and then trying to understand by asking tooooo many questions. Their aggression and “Shut Up” that they threw my way turned me off from learning much.

I never played football, so I didn’t learn it all at practice! The immature boys that they were didn’t have patience to help get me into the game and from elementary school till middle school, I don’t think I ever watched a full game.

I remember to this day, a conversation I had with a friend in third grade. I asked her, “Do you ever watch football?” “Yeah sometimes with my Dad.” “How do you know who to cheer for?” “I don’t know, I usually just cheer for whoever is losing because I feel bad for them.” I tried to take her advice, but I still didn’t get the perfect formations of men facing each other, charging into chaotic dog piles seconds later!

The first football game I watched the whole way through was the Patriots vs. Eagles Super Bowl game in February 2005. I was with my Dad traveling out of the country; that whole day he scouted out places and talked to locals about where to watch the game and to be honest I thought it was fun! I’ve made it a point to take part in whatever super bowl parties I could crash with friends through the years, but only because I’m an American and the Super Bowl is like a religion in the US.

But I still didn’t ask questions through all those years of Super Bowl parties.

I learned my lesson years before; you don’t get between a man and his game, unless you want to be yelled at.

Sad, but true.

Until recently.

After a year of networking to get my foot in the door for TV Production, I finally “settled” to look locally in the small town I’m from, State College, PA. Through friendly connections, I got an interview at WPSU for Sports Production. During the interview, the Producer asked me two questions I for sure thought would get me kicked off the site in a hot second.

“Wow, you have a lot of experience in production, we have students that come here with nothing. How much do you know about football?”

“Ha ha. Ummm. I know what a touch down is!”

“So not much?”

I shook my head, smiling, hoping to win him over still. “But I can learn! See, I have four brothers, I could sit down with any one of them and go over game stuff!” Really though, I was dubious with the flash backs from all the traumatic times I tried getting my football questions answered by the boys in the past.

But he didn’t have to know that.

“It really just comes down to vocabulary!” I persisted. “I’ve grown up around sports.” (True) “I’ve watched enough to know what’s important in a game. It’s all about vocabulary, and I’ll learn.”

He smiled at me. The interview continued. I left concerned.

That night I sat down to watch the episodes he emailed to me, from three sports shows that WPSU produces. After watching, I figured I didn’t have anything to lose and I emailed him exactly what I think of the shows and football… That there’s a lot more to the game (football, basketball, soccer, you name the sport) than just being on the field playing; there are players, coaches, and other aspects of their lives that are more important than just being an athlete.

The next day, the Producer emailed me to let me know I would be brought into WPSU as a Sports Production Intern to work on the show Unrivaled: The Penn State Football Story.

Whatttt?!

I’ve watched more games this season than the previous 6 years combined. At Beaver Stadium, I’ve stood on the field with players, coaches, and ESPN and BTN press. On my down time, I study the Penn State football players, and watch the shows we produce. I get a little bit tickled each game to watch the boys play and see how they do. And as I promised in that interview, I’m learning my vocabulary.

It’s all paying off, as 6 weeks into the internship I found out some pretty great news about my status of “Intern.”

But that story is for another time.

I’m putting the work in, seeing the results, and quite honestly, I’m proud of how I’ve embraced my time at WPSU. By working there, I see State College through a whole new lens, and this football season, I’m actually into it! The disdain for the school and people that obsess over their Blue and White team has ebbed away to appreciate the culture of college football everywhere, and to be proud to be a part of a certain PSU football show.

I’m learning that if you give something enough time, you might surprise yourself with what you come to appreciate… For too long I held the sport and Penn State at arms length, creating a very effective wedge between the people in this town and myself. My tastes buds are changing so that a game and a beer sound appealing. Except minus the beer. My taste buds aren’t changing that much, let’s not get crazy.

What was originally a last resort and shot in the dark, application and production interview, has turned into a new perspective, relationships, and way of life for me in State College… Oh, and I’m no longer afraid to ask questions.

What have you pushed away, that you could practice being open to, which might further your career, or simply create bonds with others?

Episode 6 from this season: