Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Take Me Out to the Ballgame

****Click on the pics to get a larger view. For some reason, photobucket either made them thumbnails or larger than my computer screen.****

This past weekend we happened to be blessed with four tickets to the Cardinals vs. Cubs game. I say blessed, but on the other hand, when I looked at my checking account, it became quite the burden. Do we go and enjoy the game or do we do the responsible thing and say, “It’s nice to receive these, but there is no way we can go unless we put ourselves in debt”?

Of course we did what any responsible American would do – we charged the whole event. I mean how often is one given the opportunity to watch a professional game with the kids without selling your right arm, just to see the game up close and personal?

We did try to economize as much as possible however. First we detailed to the kids our need to be frugal. After telling them that we could go if we were thrifty, I looked straight at my son and said, “That means you don’t ask for lots of things.” He nodded and said, “Got it! … Can we go to McDonald’s?”

That boy has a mind like a steel trap, I’m telling you…

We ate breakfast in the car ever so early on Saturday – praise God for donuts! And we took as many snacks as I could fit in my bag. After the four hour car trip to St. Louis, we started looking for a cheap place to lunch because this I know: do not try to eat at a ballgame if you are attempting to save anything.

Can I just share how surprised I was at not finding a fast food place that was open before the game? I’m talking a burger and fries joint. After cruising the one ways for a while, we discovered a Wendy’s, so my daughter and I jumped out to get the food to go. As Mr. Right pulled away, I realized I left my cell phone in the car. Dumb move on my part, especially when we walked up to Wendy’s and THEN realized it was closed.

I prayed that God would reveal a fast food place to me quickly so that when we got back into the car, we would have something to eat in our hands. I looked around and discovered a Lion’s Choice. Never having been there, I hoped that it would fit the bill. Next thing we knew, my daughter and I were delivering roast beef sandwiches to everyone. They were pretty good, too – on the smallish side, but tasty none the less.

After parking the car and filling our tummies, we were off to join the throng of fans heading to the game. This game was toted as the hottest ticket in town, especially since there has been a long time rivalry between the two clubs. It was amazing how packed the new stadium was. Over 47 thousand in attendance that day. Wow.

As we approached the seats, we realized that we were practically sitting on the field, right beside first base and next to the dugout. I kid you not; we could practically spit on the any of the players if we were so inclined, which we were not because we actually have been taught good manners. It was that close though.

We had prepared for rain the entire game since the weather indicated that kind of downpour. Umbrellas – check. Waterproof bag – check. Remind the kids that getting wet is part of the fun – check. Not wearing a white shirt – double check. We were ready for anything.

What we enjoyed was a hot afternoon with no direct sun. My son kept asking when it was going to rain because he was (his word) HOT! God did bless us with lots of clouds and a nice breeze after a while. We just reminded the kids of some of the other times we had been out and burning, so the cloud cover and the breeze that cooled us every so often was to be greatly appreciated.

Mr. Right and I enjoyed the game. We enjoyed seeing the players bat, watching the outfielders catch the pop flies and watching some amazing plays. Our daughter enjoyed being with us, but I could tell that being there wasn’t her favorite thing in the world. For the most part, she kept a great attitude and had a good time.

My son, I have discovered, could careless about sports or watching them in person. He kept sending little reminders such as “If we were at home, we could watch this on TV” or “I can’t wait to go swimming at the hotel.” Or my favorite: At the 7th inning stretch, when everyone was getting up and moving around, my son’s face brightened up and gleefully inquired, “Is it time to go?!” Oh the joy for him when we gathered our things to leave three innings later. (It was a really short game too! Only two hours long… imagine what he would have to endure if it was a really active game!)

Although the game was pretty calm, it was exciting in that it came down to the bottom of the 9th inning. The score was 1-1, and I fully expected this game to go into overtime. The first Card had a single and then stole 2nd base. The second Card struck out. The third man up managed to hit a single, but the man on 2nd easily ran in for the winning run. That made it a thrilling finish to the even game. We were cheering and jumping and high-fiving each other. My son was high-fiving because it was finally time to leave.

One thing that I thought was wonderful was something that happened after the game. There had been a raffle to benefit a children’s hospital, and if you won, you would receive the shirt off of a player’s back. All the winners trotted out and each player came out, took off his jersey, signed it and handed it to the person holding the corresponding jersey number. The last one to give out his shirt was Bennett, the player who caused the winning run. You should have heard the stadium erupt! Such a great way to support a needy cause and to bring some continuing excitement to the fans!

Much to the joy of my children, we made it to the hotel to swim and then we at a enjoyable restaurant called “The Old Spaghetti Factory.” The food was good and the price was extremely reasonable, plus everyone had ice cream as part of the complete meal deal that the restaurant included. The kids were talking about going back to it again as we were leaving the place, so you know it made a great impression on them.

Sunday found us talking about God and His beautiful nature, about how it is our responsibilities to help those in need (we saw a few homeless under the bridges) and about how our God is bigger than the Arch we were going to see. You really can take any situation and point it towards God.

The kids enjoyed seeing the arch, although they were disappointed that we didn’t go up it. (That silly thing called lack of funds kept getting in our way.) My daughter wasn’t going to let that disturb her. She said we should just take the stairs to the top. And she meant it. I told her that although the determination was admirable, we didn’t have the time to get even halfway up before we had to leave. But I do believe that we have a new short vacation idea for the future.

I’m thanking God for His wonderful blessings of being able to attend the game, being with my family and to appreciate His answer to my prayers, especially the one that I prayed about not fretting over the expense of it all. He is so very good indeed!


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