At Least Once

At least once in your life you need to get a good recording of Handel’s Messiah, listen all the way through it and then go back to the last two parts: Worthy is the Lamb followed by the Amen Chorus. Then, you need to be sure you’re all alone, turn off the lights, stand in the middle of the room, close your eyes and really, really listen to the music. Let it wash over you. Take in the words and feel the music. Listen to the tenors soaring. Be amazed by how much musical complexity can be given to one word. You will get a glimpse into heaven. Tradition says that Handel had visions of angelic beings while he composed Messiah. I believe it. This music transcends the physical realm.

(53) Worthy is the Lamb
Revelation 5:12, 13

12. Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. 13. . . . Blessing, and honour, glory and power, be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever. Amen.

Come quickly, Lord Jesus.


Christmas Letter 2008

Merry Christmas to you and yours from the Burley family!

2008 was a year full of LIFE and in the midst of it all, God was good and gracious and faithful. Here are some highlights from this year in the life of the Burley Boys and Burley Girlies:

• Keith started a new job in the Harding post office. It has been a great experience, not only because of having encouraging co-workers, but also having contact with Harding students, who we all believe are some of the best 18-22 year olds in the world! He has also helped plan a men’s retreat for our church which will be held in January 2009.

• In April, Lisa was able to accompany her sister Sheila for a week in Italy. A few weeks later she embarked on a work-related trip that started in San Francisco and ended at Pepperdine University in Malibu. Five of her co-workers were also on the trip and all have agreed it was definitely the trip of a lifetime! Finishing her master’s in August was the biggest stress relief of her year, but the highlight was helping her friend Jessie bring her first baby into the world! Casey Shayne Fulks was born the day before Thanksgiving and Lisa was able to help as a labor coach and be on the “other side” of birth for the first time. It was an amazing day!

• Becca finished her first year of college with a better GPA than either of her parents did! She is double majoring in English and History which means she will probably end up living in a cardboard box at some point in her life.  She began working in the serials department of Brackett Library in January, bought a Mac computer in September, and is looking forward to her semester in England in fall of 2009. It’s VERY hard to believe that our “baby” is turning 20 in May, but she is!

• Noelle is a junior at Searcy High and loves band. Marching season is always a highlight – this year’s theme was the music of Earth, Wind, and Fire. Searcy ballgames are very odd – the team has only won 4 games in 3 years, but the stands are still full until after the band marches. Yep! More people come to see the band than the ballgame. I’m amazed by Noelle’s ability to be in band, softball, and all AP and honors classes and still do well in school. She is such a hard worker and has wonderfully, supportive friends. And – of course – she’s still amazing and beautiful!

• Emily is in eighth grade at Searcy Junior High. In addition to band at school, she still enjoys the community drama group. In the spring, Kidstage did a production of Tom and Huck and did the musical “Bugsy” this summer. This fall she was asked to do a small duet piece with her friend Bradley that was showcased before the Dinner Theatre production of “Driving Miss Daisy.” Em stays busy with her friends and loves cell phones although she has yet to have one of her own!

• Caleb is in fifth grade at Southwest Middle School. He really likes his teachers and is one of only six boys in the fifth grade choir. He learned to play the flutophone in music class and we think that music will be a large part of his future. He is already asking to take the strings class next year so that he can learn to play the cello. He has FINALLY started to enjoy reading and highly recommends the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series to anyone who is looking for something to read. He also likes the Underlander Chronicles if you have time for even more.

• Daniel is in fourth grade at McRae Elementary. His music class has been learning to play the violin and he also loves to read. He finished 12 out of 13 books in the Series of Unfortunate Events. He loves to draw and frequently spins out ideas for comic strips and books of all sorts. He and Caleb have started a blog and would update it much more frequently if their mom were less distracted. He is very excited about The Tale of Despereaux movie, but recommends that you read the book first. He also recommends that you read The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo, who also wrote Tale of Despereaux.

I apologize for the electronic delivery of this letter, but I don’t foresee having the time or postage money to do traditional cards this year. I hope that all of you are doing well. It has been wonderful to reconnect with so many through Facebook and email. Isn’t this an amazing time of communication? It was good to see some familiar faces at the XEA alumni retreat in September and at the CCL conference in May. Over the years, God has blessed us repeatedly through the wonderful people he puts in our lives. Thank you for being one of those people, whether you are a part of our family or a friend. We would not be who we are without the people who are in our lives, supporting, encouraging, listening, and praying.

As always – if you’re in Searcy, let us know! We’d love to share a meal in our home, a cup of coffee at Midnight Oil or hours of conversation at the Underground.

Much love,
Keith, Lisa, Becca, Noelle, Emily, Caleb, and Daniel Burley

You can find Keith, Lisa, Becca, Noelle and Emily on Facebook. Lisa’s blog is located at and includes links to the blogs of several friends and family members. Merry Christmas!


This isn’t about the tv show, although it does start again next month.

This is about the things I’ve lost in the last couple of months.

  1. I lost my camera. I don’t know how because it has been my constant companion for the two years I’ve had it. It was a good camera and there’s no way I can afford to replace it. I miss it. I miss taking pictures and sharing them with others. It just isn’t there now.
  2. I lost my keys to my office. I have a loaner, but this is NOT GOOD! I’m pretty sure they’re in our other van — the one I don’t usually drive, but had to drive earlier this week. I can’t describe how much it throws me when I have to switch vehicles. I’ve checked coat pockets and pants pockets to no avail. Time now to go dig around in the other van and see if they’re there.
  3. Now I’ve lost my cell phone. I had it 3 days ago. It was in the pocket of my purse where it always stays. Then I had to go pick someone else in the — yep — other van and now the phone is nowhere to be found. Ugh.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but times like this really bother me! It isn’t that I’m connected to my things, but rather that I know I’m tired, distracted, and out of my usual places when I start misplacing things. I don’t like the feeling of not knowing where the tools of my daily life are.

I very regularly thank God for the beauty of being found. I know that once I was lost and that I still have a way of taking a very meandering path from time to time. And God found me. For a while I thought that I found him but really? He found me.

Perhaps some day soon I will experience the “HALLELUJAH!” moment of finding my camera, keys, or phone but praise God that He and I have already experienced our own “HALLELUJAH!” moment.

And that’s some pretty amazing grace.

As a word lover, Anglophile, and Christian — this made me sad.

Words Associated with Christianity and British History Taken out of Children’s Dictionary
by Julie Henry, Education Correspondent, 8 Dec 2008

Words associated with Christianity, the monarchy and British history have been dropped from a leading dictionary for children.

Oxford University Press has removed words like “aisle”, “bishop”, “chapel”, “empire” and “monarch” from its Junior Dictionary and replaced them with words like “blog”, “broadband” and “celebrity”. Dozens of words related to the countryside have also been culled.

The publisher claims the changes have been made to reflect the fact that Britain is a modern, multicultural, multifaith society.

But academics and head teachers said that the changes to the 10,000 word Junior Dictionary could mean that children lose touch with Britain’s heritage.

“We have a certain Christian narrative which has given meaning to us over the last 2,000 years. To say it is all relative and replaceable is questionable,” said Professor Alan Smithers, the director of the centre for education and employment at Buckingham University. “The word selections are a very interesting reflection of the way childhood is going, moving away from our spiritual background and the natural world and towards the world that information technology creates for us.”

An analysis of the word choices made by the dictionary lexicographers has revealed that entries from “abbey” to “willow” have been axed. Instead, words such as “MP3 player”, “voicemail” and “attachment” have taken their place.

Lisa Saunders, a worried mother who has painstakingly compared entries from the junior dictionaries, aimed at children aged seven or over, dating from 1978, 1995, 2000, 2002, 2003 and 2007, said she was “horrified” by the vast number of words that have been removed, most since 2003.

“The Christian faith still has a strong following,” she said. “To eradicate so many words associated with the Christianity will have a big effect on the numerous primary schools who use it.”

Ms Saunders realised words were being removed when she was helping her son with his homework and discovered that “moss” and “fern”, which were in editions up until 2003, were no longer listed.

“I decide to take a closer look and compare the new version to the other editions,” said the mother of four from Co Down, Northern Ireland. “I was completely horrified by the vast number of words which have been removed. We know that language moves on and we can’t be fuddy-duddy about it but you don’t cull hundreds of important words in order to get in a different set of ICT words.”

Anthony Seldon, the master of Wellington College, a leading private school in Berkshire, said: “I am stunned that words like “saint”, “buttercup”, “heather” and “sycamore” have all gone and I grieve it.

“I think as well as being descriptive, the Oxford Junior Dictionary, has to be prescriptive too, suggesting not just words that are used but words that should be used. It has a duty to keep these words within usage, not merely pander to an audience. We are looking at the loss of words of great beauty. I would rather have “marzipan” and “mistletoe” then “MP3 player.”

Oxford University Press, which produces the junior edition, selects words with the aid of the Children’s Corpus, a list of about 50 million words made up of general language, words from children’s books and terms related to the school curriculum. Lexicographers consider word frequency when making additions and deletions.

Vineeta Gupta, the head of children’s dictionaries at Oxford University Press, said: “We are limited by how big the dictionary can be – little hands must be able to handle it – but we produce 17 children’s dictionaries with different selections and numbers of words.

“When you look back at older versions of dictionaries, there were lots of examples of flowers for instance. That was because many children lived in semi-rural environments and saw the seasons. Nowadays, the environment has changed. We are also much more multicultural. People don’t go to Church as often as before. Our understanding of religion is within multiculturalism, which is why some words such as “Pentecost” or “Whitsun” would have been in 20 years ago but not now.”

She said children’s dictionaries were trialed in schools and advice taken from teachers. Many words are added to reflect the age-related school curriculum.

Words taken out:

Carol, cracker, holly, ivy, mistletoe

Dwarf, elf, goblin

Abbey, aisle, altar, bishop, chapel, christen, disciple, minister, monastery, monk, nun, nunnery, parish, pew, psalm, pulpit, saint, sin, devil, vicar

Coronation, duchess, duke, emperor, empire, monarch, decade

Adder, ass, beaver, boar, budgerigar, bullock, cheetah, colt, corgi, cygnet, doe, drake, ferret, gerbil, goldfish, guinea pig, hamster, heron, herring, kingfisher, lark, leopard, lobster, magpie, minnow, mussel, newt, otter, ox, oyster, panther, pelican, piglet, plaice, poodle, porcupine, porpoise, raven, spaniel, starling, stoat, stork, terrapin, thrush, weasel, wren.

Acorn, allotment, almond, apricot, ash, bacon, beech, beetroot, blackberry, blacksmith, bloom, bluebell, bramble, bran, bray, bridle, brook, buttercup, canary, canter, carnation, catkin, cauliflower, chestnut, clover, conker, county, cowslip, crocus, dandelion, diesel, fern, fungus, gooseberry, gorse, hazel, hazelnut, heather, holly, horse chestnut, ivy, lavender, leek, liquorice, manger, marzipan, melon, minnow, mint, nectar, nectarine, oats, pansy, parsnip, pasture, poppy, porridge, poultry, primrose, prune, radish, rhubarb, sheaf, spinach, sycamore, tulip, turnip, vine, violet, walnut, willow

Words put in:

Blog, broadband, MP3 player, voicemail, attachment, database, export, chatroom, bullet point, cut and paste, analogue

Celebrity, tolerant, vandalism, negotiate, interdependent, creep, citizenship, childhood, conflict, common sense, debate, EU, drought, brainy, boisterous, cautionary tale, bilingual, bungee jumping, committee, compulsory, cope, democratic, allergic, biodegradable, emotion, dyslexic, donate, endangered, Euro

Apparatus, food chain, incisor, square number, trapezium, alliteration, colloquial, idiom, curriculum, classify, chronological, block graph

Thanks to C for the forward.

Happy Ho Ho Ho to You!


If you want to hear the whole song, go buy Harry Connick, Jr.’s When My Heart Finds Christmas cd. It’s been a family favorite for us for years.

Just a side note: I’d forgotten how much fun he is to watch!

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