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Spring 2015 Update

It’s been a busy winter and I’ve been away from the blog. My latest book, The Daring Heart of David Livingstone, released this fall. Since then, I’ve been busy promoting the book and speaking various places. Even before that book hit shelves, I had already inked the next book (due fall 2017), but I’ve been fully immersed in research and writing with every moment I can find. This is all, of course, in addition to my teaching and law responsibilities, including a month spent teaching in Europe.

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So, the blog has not had much attention. With limited hours to write each day, I keep my attention on books and articles.

I decided, however, to document a few side projects in the works.  I’ll probably write a few blog posts related to the prairie restoration project we have on our land in Worthington, our bees, and an initiative I’m starting to bring my Business Law course online.

Stay tuned!

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The Daring Heart of David Livingstone — Out Sept. 23

I’m proud to tell you about my latest book, The Daring Heart of David Livingstone: Exile, African Slavery, and the Publicity Stunt that Saved Millions.  I came across Livingstone’s story on one of my trips to Africa.  What captivated me was his passionate interest in ending the slave trade–a purpose he would eventually give his life to see accomplished.  I went looking for a book on this aspect of his life… and I found none.  I’m thrilled to share this with you–the lost story of a man who might stand as one of our heroes of faith and humanity.

Get the Book
Get the book today!

From Inside the Book:

In the century since his death, David Livingstone’s life has been recast, rewoven, and retold as the rugged adventure of a patriotic scientist on the dangerous road to discovery. He has been alternately painted as a real-life Indiana Jones and a one-man Lewis and Clark. Livingstone has been secularized, lionized . . . and misunderstood.

Most consistently overlooked (or ignored) in accounts of Livingstone’s life is the contribution he made to the abolition of the slave trade in Africa–and the Christian faith that drove his efforts. The Daring Heart of David Livingstone removes the veil that history has cast over the faith of a valiant Christian believer.

The quest for the source of the Nile will forever be associated with David Livingstone, and his adventures in the name of scientific ambition certainly make for a compelling story. Equally compelling, however, and far more important, is the story of African liberty, freedom, and redemption that this flawed foreigner left in the wake of his death.

Here, finally, is David Livingstone’s complete story: the story of a man of great faith, fallen in his humanity but driven by his belief in the sanctity of God’s creation. Though few could ever match his wonder at the natural world, it was his horror at human enslavement that propelled him in his most courageous, longsuffering work.

Get the book today!

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Thailand Update – #1 – First Few Days in Chiang Mai

So far, so good in Thailand.  This is trip seven or eight to Thailand (enough that I’ve lost count), but definitely one of the best so far.  Every time I make the trip with others, I fine tune things a bit and the itinerary has come together particularly well this year.

Bob Cochran and I arrived in Thailand last Wednesday night.  On Thursday, Bob surprised me by responding with a resounding “Yes!” to my inquiry on whether he would be up for renting motorbikes.  We had a meeting with some friends outside of town, which included a former UN Chief to Burma.

On the way to the meeting, we stopped by the home of my good friend Ami.  One of the highlights of any trip for me is getting to visit her at least once a year.  She’s gown up fast in the last 5 years!

Our meeting was particularly interesting, especially learning how the UN conducts diplomacy and the positions they take.  After the meeting, I jumped into a soccer game with Karen leaders visiting the area.

The next day, Bob and I met with one of the heads of Chiang Mai University’s law school.  They are looking for exchange opportunities for their students to study in the U.S.

Post meeting, we went out to the zip lines outside of town—Flight of the Gibbon.  I had done flight of the Gibbon two years ago, but it doubled in size since then.  It’s a lot of fun and arguably better than Costa Rica’s zip lines.  They also built various “tree houses,” which I found inspiring and made me wish I had a tree to build a tree house in—a nice big platform up in the trees where you can sit and hangout.

That evening, I picked up the students at the airport.  One of my favorite parts of the trip is arriving early and picking up the students.  It allows me to get settled, then re-begin the adventure with others.

The next morning, we headed up the mountain to Doi Suthep, a famous temple above Chiang Mai.  It’s a good intro to Thailand and gives a sense of the implications of Buddhism in the culture.

After Doi Suthep, we immediately drove out of town and a ranch owned by some of our friends.  The ranch is a highlight for me on every trip to Thailand—hiking, horses, swimming, and soccer.   As the students said, it’s like going to summer camp!  More important than the much-needed recreation after two full days of travel, we received detailed briefings on the Burma situation, the ceasefire, and the work of various regional organizations including my favorite organization, Free Burma Rangers.

Well, I’m going to have to end with this even though I’m a few days behind.  We’re down at the Burma border heading to a refugee camp momentarily.  There is much more to come!

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Does a Triathlon Wetsuit Really Make You Faster?

I’m not a swimmer. I never had swimming lessons and I’m not sure I swam a full lap in a pool until I was 24. But I love the water, and I’ve got wetsuits galore. From thick surfing wetsuits to padded wakeboarding wetsuits to shortys, I’ve got neoprene for almost any occasion.

When I started triathlon, I cringed at the thought of buying another wetsuit. I went the first two seasons in my full-length surfing wetsuit. I’d look around at all the other triathletes in their shiny triathlon-specific wetsuits and think, “Those chumps will buy anything.”

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Start of my first race ever–looking tough in a surf wetsuit.

In my second season, I started a Master’s swim class. I quickly learned I needed to unlearn everything. In races, my surfing suit felt like it was squeezing my chest, and I grew to hate swimming in a wetsuit. With only a few days before my biggest race of the year, a pro triathlete casually told me I was crazy for swimming in that. I gave in and rush ordered a triathlon wetsuit.

Needless to say, it felt fast—and I could breath freely. Or was it my imagination—a placebo effect. Was I faster with a wetsuit? Was the tri suit faster than my surf suit? Open water is deceiving: I wanted scientific proof. I went looking for answer, but when I couldn’t find it, I created my own test.

The Test

To determine if I was faster with a tri suit, I decided I would compare my 100m swim in jammers, a triathlon wetsuit, and a surf wetsuit (in that order). I’d swim in a 25m pool with substantial rest between sets. I record to the quantitative and qualitative data to find my best time, my average time, and how I felt in each circumstance. Swimming with a Masters class 2-3 times per week, I’ve acquired an acute sense for my swim.

Wetsuit Speed Results

I’m not a fast swimmer. But, I’ve done hundreds of 100m sets, so I knew my average was right about 1:30. My personal best timed was 1:24. In my test, I opened up with a 1:30, then pushed harder on my second set a new personal best at 1:23. I repeated the 1:23. It was a good strong swim day. Average: 1:25.

Next, let both wetsuits get waterlogged to represent being in water awhile. If you ever want a good way to blow 30 minutes imitating a struggling seal calf, try putting on a wet triathlon suit while you’re in the pool.

Pool 2

First set with the triathlon suit felt considerably more buyout—I had to work much less to stay afloat. I felt fast—but was it really? Finished set 1 and looked at the clock: 1:10. Wow! The next two came within seconds of the first. Average: 1:12.

Finally, the surf wetsuit. Immediately, it felt slow—like I had a drag chute attached. I couldn’t move my arms, it was hard to breath, and I started to overheat. But surely it was fast. Then, the times came in: Slower than my standard, wetsuit-less swim. I was shocked.

The Wetsuit Verdict

The results surprised me. I suspected the triathlon wetsuit would not be quite so fast. At 10-15 seconds per 100 meters, that could take off a minute or more even in a sprint. Shredding that amount of time for not additional effort is well worth the investment.

I was even more surprised that the surf wetsuit was slower on average than my standard swim. While it was only a second or two behind, it the perceived additional effort was completely ruled it out.

Bottom line: I’m sticking to my triathlon wetsuit.

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Back from Tahiti and Back on the Grid

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We are back from a fantastic trip to Tahiti, Moorea, and Bora Bora!

While one never knows what to expect traveling, one of my expectations was that we would have Internet access.  We did not.  Well, we could have, but we would have needed to take out a loan for it!  We’re talking $10 or more for 10 minutes–outrageous.  Unfortunately, that meant no updates from abroad as we hoped.  But, even though we couldn’t post, we were writing them, so I’ll be posting a few highlights and photos over the next few days.

Keep an eye out!

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Thank You for Joining Us!

Many thanks to all who joined us yesterday at the wedding and reception.  It was a fantastic day and we feel so blessed to have so many wonderful friends.  We will continue to keep you posted on this blog about our secret honeymoon destination and the other adventures we take in life.  Please keep in touch with us!

With gratitude,

Lisa & Jay

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Event Tuesday in MN: Relief for Burma

 

 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

7:30 – 9:00 p.m.

First Baptist Church of Worthington

Main Sanctuary

FREE admission

If you will be in or near Worthington, Minnesota, on Tuesday, July 19, we are hosting “Relief for Burma: An Evening with Dave Eubank of the Free Burma Rangers.”  Join us and friends from the Karen community for a wonderful and inspiring evening with Dave Eubank and the Free Burma Rangers..

In 1997, a former Army Ranger and ordained pastor started the Free Burma Rangers in response to a particularly ruthless Army offensive against the Karen people. Join us for an evening with Dave Eubank, founder and leader of Free Burma Rangers (FBR), as he reports on the relief effort for the people of Burma.  Free Burma Rangers strives to bring hope and love to people inside Burma’s war zones.  Since its inception, Free Burma Ranger teams have treated over 360,000 patients and helped over 750,000 people.

The Free Burma Rangers is a multi-ethnic humanitarian service movement.  They bring help, hope and love to people in the war zones of Burma.  Ethnic pro-democracy groups send teams to FBR to be trained, supplied and sent into the areas under attack to provide emergency medical care, shelter, food, clothing and human rights documentation.  The teams also operate a communication and information network inside Burma that provides real time information from areas under attack.

Learn more about the event and the Free Burma Rangers on the “Relief for Burma” event page.

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Four Tips That Work for Me on the Mental Side of Public Speaking

Yesterday I spoke at the California Club in downtown LA.  The club is a prestigious invitation only venue for members and those who meet the qualifications naturally match its prestige.  The group consisted of around 50 individuals and the bios I heard were impressive: CEO, judges, entrepreneurs, and so forth.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t there to pitch a business plan!  When you stand up in front of a group of highly successful individuals, there’s little margin for error—you’ve got to bring your top game.

 

For a very long time to come, I will be a student of the art of public speaking.  Recently, I asked a friend whose husband is well known, highly respected public speaker if he had always been so good in front of people.  “Oh, no!” she exclaimed.  “It took a long time.”  I found that encouraging.  While I’ve got a lot to learn, I think I’ve gotten better over the last few years.  What I’ve noticed more than anything is that I’ve improved my mental game.

 

Like many people, I used to be frightened by public speaking.  Almost deathly so.  Yet, I knew it was something I wanted and had to fix.  I remember one time, in the middle of a law school moot court argument, I looked down, lost my place, and completely froze up.  Why?  There was no reason for it—it was simply mental.

 

Since then, I’ve developed a number of tricks that have alleviated mental blunders, but also displayed how powerful the mind is.

 

1)   Remove the chance for freezing: I prefer listening to speakers who don’t use notes (or at least sparingly).  Yet, there’s a strong tendency for those who don’t use notes to ramble or lack structure.  My risk—a greater risk—is that I’ll forget what I want to say.  When I give a presentation, I create two versions of notes.  The first version has the main points of every sentence.  The second version outlines the main points in the paragraph.  I work off the first version and have the second for back up – I could pull it out and practically read it in a pinch.  What astonishes me is that I’ve never once needed the long draft and a hardly use the short draft.  If I went up without notes, I couldn’t do it, but knowing it’s puts my mind at ease.

 

2)   Remove dangerous variables:  In college, I gave a relatively short talk once and voice completely went out midway through.  I had nothing around to drink.  I’ve had this happen almost every time I speak publicly for anything longer than 5 minutes.  If you and I had an hour-long conversation, my voice would be fine.  I’ve never figured out why increase numbers people affect my voice.  Now, I bring water with every time I speak.  What surprises me, though, is that as long as there is water there on the podium, I never have  a problem! 

 

3)   Practice, practice:  If I make a presentation cold, it’s almost always mediocre with an abnormal number of “ums.”  If I run through it once, I get some of the kinks out, but it’s rough.  If I run through it twice, I’m golden.  Two is my magic number.

 

4)   Talk myself up: Finally, and maybe more importantly, is that I convince myself to be confident.  Even after I started speaking more regularly, I would get really nervous.  Now, I hardly ever do.  What’s worked more than anything is that I convince myself to act confident.  If I act confident, I speak confident.  Someone told me today that I had “stature”—I’m not exactly sure what that means, but I think it’s good.  Just changing my internal posture made all the difference in taking away the butterflies.

 

I made these four observations today and realized how they have changed my mental approach to speaking.

 

What works for you?

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A Conversation on Religious Freedom – Interview with Congressman Frank Wolf

In recent years, the world has watched the brutal clashes between religions in Jos, Nigeria, and Orissa, India.  We have heard, firsthand, the stories of the persecution of house churches in China, the Baha’is in Iran, and the recent bombings of Coptic Christian churches in Egypt.  There is growing concern over the lack of tolerance between faiths, particularly as the Muslim and Christian and secular worlds collide.

Despite all that's happening globally, we've largely overlooked the issue in recent years.  Other, sometimes "sexier" issues have been brought to the table first.  I hope we might reconsider the importance of what our founding fathers called "The First Freedom" — the freedom of conscience– the freedom to believe what you choose without the restriction of others.

At Pepperdine's Nootbaar Institute, we've been grappling with this topic and how a faith-based school should response.  In February, we organized a conference on international religious freedom to exploring the increasing prevalence of religious clashes and persecution throughout the world.  Our keynote speakers included Suzan Johnson-Cook, now Ambassador-At-Large for International Religious Freedom, and U.S. representative Frank Wolf.

During his visit, Wolf sat down to discuss key issues with Pepperdine’s Colleen Graffy, director of global programs, associate professor of law, and former deputy assistant secretary of state for public diplomacy for Europe and Eurasia at the U.S. State Department.

Listen to the full interview

GRAFFY: Why should Americans care about international religious freedom?

WOLF: Ronald Reagan said the words in the Constitution and in the Declaration of Independence were really a covenant for the entire world, not just for the people in Philadelphia in 1776, or 1787 in the Constitution: “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men and women are created equal, endowed by their Creator, by God.” America has been in the forefront of human rights and religious freedom, whether it be standing up against Communism or speaking out on behalf of the persecuted in Sudan.

In the Bible there are so many passages about the persecuted and the oppressed; Jesus talks more about the poor than almost any other issue. If you take your faith seriously, not just selectively, then I think America, and all of us, are obligated to care about the oppression. It is something very important that we should be doing.

GRAFFY: What can Congress do?

WOLF: Congress can do a lot of things. We have a Religious Freedom Commission that I helped set up about 10 years ago. I also have a bill in to create a special envoy to advocate for religious minorities in the Middle East—to advocate both within our own government and to advocate with other governments. For instance, the Christian community in Iraq before the war was about 1.5 million. Right now they’re down to about 400,000 to 500,000. Other than Israel, more Biblical activity took place in Iraq than any other country. Abraham was from Iraq. Rebecca was from Iraq. Jacob and the 12 tribes lived in Iraq. We have an obligation.

We now have a bipartisan coalition pushing to pass the bill to create a special envoy similar to what President Bush did when he had the special envoy with John Danforth to work on Sudan. This would be the same type of operation, same caliber of person, whose number one job would be to advocate for religious minorities, but mainly Christians, in the Middle East, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. There is a lot that Congress can do to advocate for people of faith, of all faiths.

GRAFFY: How did you first become interested in this?

WOLF: I had not traveled out of the country, except for Canada once, before I got elected to Congress. In 1984 my best friend in Congress, a liberal Democrat congressman named Tony Hall, urged me to go to Ethiopia, where they suffered a major famine. I naively jumped on an airplane and went up to a camp in Alma-Ata, run by World Vision and Mother Theresa. I got waylaid there. Every morning I saw many young people who had died overnight. That trip opened up my eyes to things that I had never known were taking place.

In 1985 Congressman Hall and I went to Romania under the Ceausescu administration; they were bulldozing churches, persecuting Christians, doing terrible things. I went to Sudan in 1989. The war between the Muslim north and Christian south went on for over 20 years. I saw the persecution, the hunger, and the famine, and I developed a love affair, if you will, for southern Sudan, particularly for the people in the villages. A week working in a feeding center in a Sudanese refugee camp is a life-changing experience. Had I not gone to Ethiopia, and had I not gone to Romania, and had I not gone to Sudan, my life and time of service in Congress would be totally different.

GRAFFY: What is your message to those considering public service?

WOLF: They ought to consider running for office because chances are they’re just as good as the congressman or senator in office. I wanted to be in Congress since the third grade, but I stuttered very badly and people told me that I could never run for office. But I did. I lost in ’76, I lost in ’78, I won in ’80, and I’ll just tell you, you ought to follow your heart.

If you really care about these issues—human rights, religious freedom, whatever the case may be—being involved in public service is very important. You’re not going to get the big bucks that you’d get at a Wall Street law firm, but you’ll get the satisfaction that I think you really can’t get from a Wall Street law firm. I urge people to go ahead and do it, and you know what?— they really very well might win.

Representative Frank Wolf represents the 10th District of Virginia, and is serving his 16th term in Congress. He is cochair of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, a bipartisan organization of Congress that works to raise awareness about international human rights issues. Wolf sits on the Appropriations Committee and serves on the Transportation and Housing and Urban Development Subcommittee.

Listen to the full interview

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Freedom and the Press

After some days of travel (and a few days of rest), it's good to be back in the saddle at work.  For those of you who followed along with our trip, it was busy, but a great success.  I, on the other hand, am still exhausted.  Seems like every time I travel overseas (which is often), I come back with some physical ailment–this time a cold.

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I took this photo of our traveling companion, Eric, reading the Ugandan Saturday newspaper, a day after we finished this year's juvenile justice project.  If you've follow along, you may know that we took on the cases of about 14 children imprisoned in Uganda (in what they call a "remand home").  We prepared the cases and set them up so that the Ugandan legal system could effectively process the cases from there.  In a system where there is extensive backlog, children can easily get lost.

If you've not seen the film I made last year, watch "The Masindi Project."

Like the front page of the newspaper, I like to think that we helped "resist injustice" in Uganda.  I will keep you posted as we learn how the kids' cases are resolved.  We are also hoping that we created a model for justice that the Ugandans can carry forward without us.

An new film, currently titled "Remand" is in production.  Watch for it in upcoming weeks.

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