One of the things that is really fun about this cruise is that I am one of the kids on the ship. Seriously…I’m pretty sure that there are about 5% of us that are under 65. And at 56, it’s sort of nice to feel like one of the young kids. I have not seen a single child on the cruise. That’s a little weird. I’ve seen maybe 4-5 couples in their 30s, but if there are any younger ones I haven’t seen it. It’s okay, though. It makes for quiet days and even quieter nights, as they all turn in early!

I have met some really interesting people. Most of you know that I chat with anyone who will chat back. I’ve hit a couple of “No speaka Anglish,” but for the most part these are people just enjoying their retirement. I am amazed at the trips they are going on. I met a couple last night that are cruising to Rome, then spending 6 weeks in different parts of Italy, and then cruising home on the QE2. Wow. And they do this every spring. I wanted to ask what they did before they retired, but figured we aren’t that close of friends yet.

But that brings me to today’s story. On Thursday while we were waiting to get into our cabins, I met a couple from New Jersey named Lou and Ev. Lou worked in sales his entire life, and then left that and opened a deli. Lou is a great caricature of a New Jersey deli owner. His accent is thick and he talks loud and a lot. He is so excited about this trip. They are doing back to back cruises, staying on this ship from Rome to cruise Italy and then flying home to New Jersey.

So, Lou is a guy that’s worked hard all his life and is enjoying his retirement. He has grown grandkids that he is very proud of (I have complete info on each of them…he is really proud!) But it’s what he said to me about retirement that really made me think.

He said, “You know, you’ve never seen a hearse pulling a Uhaul. You can’t take it with you, so you might as well enjoy it.”

No, Lou, I’ve never seen a hearse pulling a Uhaul.

But it started me thinking about the analogy. We really do leave here with a Uhaul full of stuff attached to our lives. I’m not talking about cars and homes and boats. I’m talking about our legacy.

Most of you know that my husband’s mantra was “Finish Strong.” I have it tattooed in his handwriting on my wrist to continually remind me of the importance of it. At his death in 2011, he had no idea of the legacy that he had built. I had no idea of the legacy that he had built. Then all the stories started arriving in the form of letters and cards and emails and phone calls. These were not “Sorry for your loss “ stories. These were stories of life change because Keith had taken the time to listen to the Lord and follow his direction to meet people and their needs.

So many of them were stories that I didn’t know…Keith leading people to the Lord, talking someone out of committing suicide, praying with a family at their time of loss, praying with people who were terrified of surgery, counseling broken marriages, crying with grief-stricken parents. Keith wrapped the arms of Jesus around people wherever he went. He watched for opportunities to share Christ’s love and when the door opened he walked through it.

Keith’s Uhaul was full. Not with stuff, but with lives that had been changed because of his obedience.

Hebrews 12:1 says that we are surrounded by a great crowd of witnesses. These witnesses are cheering us to the finish line of the race of life. I know there is debate as to who these veterans of the faith are. But I like to picture Keith cheering and encouraging all those many lives that he touched. Encouraging them to finish strong.

And he can cheer…those of you that ever watched an Alabama football game with him know he can cheer!

Cheering for the contents of his Uhaul.

I’m gonna take some time today to think about what all is being stuffed in my Uhaul.

“Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.” Matthew 6:19-21

Blessings, my friends!

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