Memorial Service for Lia Jean Barton
Good afternoon. I want to thank each of you for being here today to comfort this family. Your presence means a lot to this family and so do your prayers. I am David Henderson and I pastor Eagle's Landing Church her in Port Richey.
Psalm 22:1-11 (Living) My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why do you refuse to help me or even to listen to my groans?  Day and night I keep on weeping, crying for your help, but there is no reply--  for you are holy. The praises of our fathers surrounded your throne; they trusted you and you delivered them.   You heard their cries for help and saved them; they were never disappointed when they sought your aid.
 Lord, how you have helped me before!  You took me safely from my mother's womb and brought me through the years of infancy.  I have depended upon you since birth; you have always been my God. Don't leave me now, for trouble is near and no one else can possibly help.
Prayer. Heavenly Father we come to you today because we know that you alone can help us because you understand everything that we feel today and everything this family is experiencing. You are a God who has feelings….the scripture tells us you love us, the scripture reminds us that you have experienced every feeling we have and so we know that you understand today. Heavenly Father today we all grieve. We ask for your comfort and peace to be with this family and also with each of these friends who are here today. Give them understanding that grows each day, give them a greater trust in you and grant each one your peace and hope. In Jesus name. Amen.
About 20 years ago we were living in KY and decided to take a family vacation there and some of the state we had not seen. One of the places we went to was mammoth cave. We took a tour that lasted an hour or so. When we first went in the tour guide was holding a candle. It wasn=t very large but it provided enough light for us to be able to see. He told us to gather close together because the lights were about to go out. He then blew the candle out and it was the darkest place I had ever been. He said now hold your hand up in front of your face….none of us could see it. My 2 youngest children were 4 and 6 at the time...one was standing on 1 side of me and 1 on the other and the first thing I felt was 2 little hands grab mine.
When we lose someone we love it is though the lights go out. For a few moments we cannot see clearly…..we are in the dark….it is as though time stands still and we need a hand to hold on to. There is a certain denial that sets in because we just cannot believe it. And sometimes it takes a while before the darkness goes away. Jesus tells us in the New Testament that He is the Light of the World. Listen to what the scripture says about this light.
John 8:12 (NIV) When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."
John 12:46 (NIV) I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.
For Lia Jean Barton, she had some struggles in her life. All of us do. And the things that have happened in recent days do not describe all that she was in her lifetime. She had many good things in her life and we need to remember those today. She had a husband, Richard who loved her very much. Her son, William, 11 years of age who she loved and was very proud of. She will be deeply missed by all of her family as well as her friends.
Today we want to celebrate the life that Lia lived. We want to remember who she was in those moments. She and Richard started dating when they were 15. They married at 19 and have been together ever since. They waited ten years and then had their only son, William.
Lia was know for a number of things. She had a beautiful smile that will always be remembered. A laugh that was contagious. She was funny. She also was direct... to the point. She would tell you what was on her heart. If she liked you she would let you know ..... if she didn’t....well. :) She liked to stay busy. She had different interests that occupied some of her time. On Facebook she posted numerous interests ... Marilyn Monroe, Dr. Phil, she enjoyed learning about new things, she loved the beach, especially Siesta Key, she enjoyed cooking ... she had a gift of hospitality .... taking care of people. She also really liked to travel when they had the opportunity. Richard told me that if they had the resources they would probably have traveled all the time.
They were able to go on a cruise, able to go to Brazil...the Cayman Islands. These were highlights for both of them. One of her prized treasures was their 1970 green Monte Carlo. That was the year they were married.
Her FaceBook also reminds us that she loved animals. wanted to save the whales. She got wrapped up in certain causes like that.
More recently she had started school at PHCC and was studying Psychology. She was doing very well. She was inducted into two Honor societies for her scholarship. Psi Beta and Phi beta Kappa Honor Societies. She was very proud of that. The plaques are displayed in their home.
It is difficult to understand many of the things that we face in this life. We cannot help it but we often ask why things happen as they do. Paul the apostle said And now we see thru a dark glass…..it's not clear but one day we will see face to face...he was saying it is not all clear now but one day it will be...there are things we do not understand right now but one day we will understand. Today we must trust these things to a God who is much bigger than us, who loves us and will see us through.
One of the questions that Job asked was this, “if a man dies will he live again?” There is nothing that will push a person more to ask a question like that than when they are confronted by trouble. When we face problems of this magnitude we want to know what does the future hold for me? Is this life all there is? If I die will I live again? In the last week that Jesus spent here on earth the disciples asked him many questions. He had explained to the disciples over and over that there would come a time when He would have to go away.… He would go to the cross and face crucifixion…. His own death. He told them repeatedly that He would rise from the grave on the 3rd day after His death. But they still missed this. The Bible even tells us that when the disciples got to the empty tomb that they saw the grave clothes lying there that they wondered what had happened. Still they did not realize Jesus was alive. It is the same question Job asked 2000 years before this … if a man dies will he live again?
In the New Testament we find an answer to this Old Testament question. If a man dies will he live again? The setting is this. Lazarus has just died. He was a very good friend to Jesus. When Jesus would pass through the area where he lived he would stop and stay with Lazarus and his sisters Mary and Martha. Jesus is comforting his sisters and he gives them these words … Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though He dies and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.”
He then asked them the question … do you believe this? I would ask you the same question here today. Do you believe this? Because if you do and you place your faith in Jesus Christ then you will spend all of eternity with Him. If a man dies and will he live again? The answer is yes if he believes.
Grief counselors will tell you that there are at least 3 things that we must do or pay attention to when we go through the valley of the shadow of death. Three things that can help us.
(1) time -doesn't usually happen quickly...the grief process takes time…..so don=t try to rush it...sometimes a few months....sometimes a few years. It is different with each person.
(2) tears. Jesus wept.
(3) talk- share memories, stories, talk is therapeutic.
When we lose someone, especially in this way it takes some time before we can focus on God and begin to work through our grief. All of us need to remember that often in us, and often in others to a degree that we don’t even comprehend , there is a weakness that is beyond our control; a problem, a pain, despair, that is completely blocked from us and we cannot get through to that individual. We cannot penetrate their darkness nor can we understand it.
What has happened to each of you is almost unexplainable. When someone chooses death over life it tears us apart. We have more questions than answers. The family of a suicide victim carries a very special/unique kind of grief. One mother whose son took his life compared it to carrying a book bag loaded with large rocks. One day the book bag seems to be filled with regret, one day it seems to be filled with failure and another day it seems to be filled with guilt. But no matter what’s in it, the book bag always weighs her down. So as we struggle with all of this families and friends sometimes take on the horrible feeling that they have failed in some way. We deal with guilt, we may even become angry.
So what do we do and how do we respond?
One thing we cannot do is to be judgmental. We do not know what pressures Lia was facing. Burdens perhaps of which we had no knowledge. Tension, depression, unresolved guilt, loneliness ....all of these can play a part. If someone has a chemical imbalance it can cause people to lose their best judgment and at those moments they make decisions that they would never make in their better moments. So we must be understanding. The best thing we can do today is to remember Lia for who she was in her better moments. Wife. Mother. Daughter. Friend. These are the thoughts that will help us get through this difficult time.
Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help. I am truly sorry for your loss and assure you of my continued prayers on your behalf.
Prayer...heavenly Father we are reminded of the time that your friend Lazarus died and we find the simple words in the scripture that tell us that you wept. We are grateful that you are a God that has feelings...one that cares for us in our darkest moments…. one who knows all our feelings ...all our needs and you have the answers and the hope that we need. Today I pray for each member of this family asking you to comfort them guide them and help them though this difficult time. I pray that would you show then just how real that you are and how much you love them and that they would sense your presence with them in a powerful way today and in the months to come. I pray for your comfort and for your blessings on them...in Jesus name....Amen.