… And I Shall Dwell in the House of the Lord Forever Psalm 23:6b

In 2001, I was asked to serve on a committee to explore the feasibility of a columbarium for our church. It did not seem to be a Calling, rather a wonderful opportunity for my family and church family "…to dwell in the house of the Lord forever." This is where I want my family to come to remember me, their heritage, and our Lord's many blessings.

Month after month, minister after minister, we prayerfully asked the Lord for guidance. Sometimes my husband looked at the notebooks on my desk and said, "Joy, if y'all don't get this columbarium built, I am going to end up on the shelf with Molly." Molly was our precious lab whose cremains are on a shelf in our den, nestled among the duck decoys.

In June 2010, a final report was submitted to the Strategic Planning Committee. The study committee's work was finished—time to step away.

Though the committee had disbanded, committee member Lynn Edwards had not given up her Calling. On the evening of January 7, 2012, I would later learn, she asked Darwin Simpson for help, believing that his leadership would help the columbarium become a reality.

Less than 48 hours later, my husband died suddenly. I would have to place his urn next to Molly.

Apparently, the Holy Spirit was ready to move this project along. Special people with special gifts were called to build this garden, this sacred space for meditation, and this final resting place.

Eventually, I was asked to serve on the committee. This time it was a Calling. A beautiful plan unfolded, and friends began vying for spaces to be near each other for eternity—on these holy grounds, as well as in heaven.

I am grateful that Sammy's ashes finally rest in our columbarium, facing the West doors where he faithfully greeted at 8:45 services. This Easter will be a special blessing to those of us who have loved ones there.

It is often in retrospect that I recognize the work and Calling of the Holy Spirit. My prayer is for each of us to be open to Christ's Callings to serve and carry out His work.

About the Contributor

Joy Shackelford is a lifelong member of First Presbyterian. She has served in many aspects in the life of this congregation. She is an inactive Elder and has served on several committees in the presbytery. Currently, she serves on the Sanctuary Guild and in a variety of other ways. She enjoys walking, yoga, traveling, watching the sun rise over the ocean, and spending time with grandchildren.