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Doug Durham


A few years ago, Doug Durham was spending a lot of time at the Haymarket Scooters. It was close to his office and a convenient place to meet with his employees.

After one of his many meetings, a barista asked him what he did for a living. Apparently, she and her coworkers had been making guesses about Doug’s work based on his frequent visits to the shop.

Doug explained that he was a software engineer at a local startup and was meeting with interns and employees to teach/mentor them as they pursued similar career paths.

The barista laughed and said none of them would have guessed he was involved in something so technical, the general consensus was that Doug was a youth pastor.

Doug laughed at their guess, but said it seemed like an extremely logical guess based on their perspective. This exchange got him thinking about perspective, and how his own perspective has changed over time.

Perspective isn’t just something you get or stumble upon, he said, it’s something that’s gained through various experiences and life changes. It’s something that Doug has thought a lot about as he’s transitioned from a college student, to an air force officer, a software engineer, husband, father and mentor.

Doug’s story starts in Nebraska. It’s where he grew up, went to school and started to match his skills with his passions. He sort of fell into the engineering field because it seemed interesting to him – plus, it didn’t require foreign language classes.

Going to college wasn’t a family tradition, his parents didn’t have degrees and Doug worked hard to pay his way through school. That was, until he discovered an application for the Air National Guard. In joining, Doug could pay for school, gain career experience and travel, which seemed like the perfect combination for his curious young mind.

He graduated and figured out how to put his engineering skills to work by moving to St. Louis to work as a systems engineer.

For much of his early career, Doug said he operated with a strong feeling of inadequacy. He felt like he was in over his head and feared being ‘found out’ or viewed as a fraud if he made a mistake. This mindset emotionally handicapped Doug as he moved up in various companies and grew in his skills and knowledge of the industry.

While he was living in St. Louis, the opportunity presented itself for Doug to return to his home state. There’s just something about Nebraska that he missed and he knew it’s where he wanted to raise his family and put down roots.

He moved to Lincoln and started working with small software companies. Doug enjoyed the process of helping find efficient uses for software and maximizing the potential of software engineers. His skills and passions began to line up even more when he met Steve Kiene, a self-proclaimed software geek and local advocate, and they worked together to launch eSellerate in 1999, and more recently, Nebraska Global’s Don’t Panic Labs in 2010.

As Doug continued to carve out a space for himself in Lincoln, he started to take a closer look at himself in light of his work. He was gaining perspective and starting to put the pieces together.

He realized that the fear-mode he often operated out of was a bad case of the imposter syndrome – which was actually pointed out by one of his kids. Doug knew what it was, but had never put a label on the feelings he’d experienced. For such a long time, Doug had seen this as a weakness, a handicap to his job, but naming and accepting his self-doubt made him start to see things differently. He started to feel more confident in his skills, and even comfortable in his own skin.

Doug realized that while self-doubt was a hurdle in his path, it has also allowed him to openly accept criticism, recognize when he’s wrong, work hard to earn trust and collaborate well with others. It wasn’t just a barrier to his work, it was a part of who he was as a co-worker, friend and boss.

He also realized his desire to please others and work hard were two traits passed down from his father. Doug said his mom would often talk about how his dad didn’t make much money building houses. He spent too much time perfecting each detail and undercharging for his work. He was honest, full of integrity and modest about his character.

Doug said his dad didn’t go out of his way to teach him to value the same things he did, but his actions forever shaped the way Doug sees his work, loves his family and lives his life.

He said his dad always did the right thing, and he’s hoping to follow in his footsteps.

When Doug thinks about how his story has progressed so far, he said it feels more like an unknown journey than a well-planned trip. On his journey, Doug has learned how to live his life by standing by his convictions, acting with integrity, being himself and caring well for others.

He’s learned the value of perspective, of seeing himself and his story from different angles and understanding the beauty of change.

John Fulwider


When John Fulwider walks into Leadbelly, the bartender starts making his favorite drink—an Old Fashioned.

While it might seem a small thing to be a regular at a local restaurant, John has aspired to that title for years.

As a kid, John never spent more than three years in any one place. His father’s Air Force career led his family to Texas, Florida, Nebraska, Germany, Virginia, Germany again, Nebraska again, and finally Lincoln.

It’s in Lincoln where John’s story really starts to take shape.

“Lincoln has given me my beautiful wife, my education, my children, my church community, the launching place of my businesses,” John said.

“Lincoln has given me a place to set down roots and call home. That’s something I’ve never had before.”

He came to Lincoln to attend the University of Nebraska, where he graduated with his bachelor’s degree in journalism. John laughed about the fact that he spent far more time reporting for The Daily Nebraskan than actually going to his classes.

Internships and jobs at the Associated Press, Lincoln Journal Star, and The Wall Street Journal came before John took the leap to a startup internet newspaper, Nebraska StatePaper. The startup folded after a few years and John began looking for his next adventure, which led him to graduate school.

“Most grad students are people who loved school,” he said. “But I hated school!”

Two mentors made him love graduate school. D’Andra Orey inspired John’s love of political science, while Denise Bulling encouraged John to turn his research into his second business. She also handed him his first client, so John worked half his time on getting a tenure-track professorship, and half his time building his business.

“I had Plan A for academics and plan C for consulting, and no Plan B, because who needs one?” John joked. Plan A didn’t work out—he came in second in a job search at Texas Christian University—so he cried in his beer for seven days before closing the door on university teaching work and taking his consulting business full time.

Seven years later, John had pivoted his business many times to end up with executive coaching, planning and team-building services for housing, community, and economic development organizations nationwide. He was away from his family more than he liked and it was starting to wear on all of them.

At one point, John got seriously ill while on a business trip and so on top of being away from his wife and two young daughters for six days, he had to quarantine himself from the girls for another week at home. It was miserable, he said, and it was at that point that he decided he didn’t want to travel for work any more.

John launched his third business to focus only on working with entrepreneurial businesses in Lincoln and sixty miles around, allowing him to focus his energy on Lincoln and his family.

There’s a lot of moving parts to John’s story. A lot about his family, his work and his community that he loves to share about with anyone who will listen.

He said so much of his story has been about finding his place, digging deep, putting down roots and experiencing a deep sense of joy in being known. John said that because he moved so often as a kid, he had a hard time making friends. He said he only had one friend at each place he lived, and had to find a new one each time he and his family packed up and moved to their next assignment.

But finding his place in Lincoln has meant the world to him. He’s in awe of the fact that his kids will go to the same high school that his wife attended, that he lives in a neighborhood filled with friends and that he can rattle off his favorite local restaurants and haunts at the drop of a hat.

John loves walking in to Leadbelly and knowing the bartender remembers his favorite drink. He loves anything and everything local, but mostly he just loves knowing Lincoln is his place. It’s a place he knows, a place he calls home and place that knows him.

Glen Parks


Glen Parks sat down in the cafeteria at the Nebraska State Capitol and folded his hands on the table in front of him.

“Well, where should I start?” he said.

Glen’s story is complicated. It involves a lot of countries, a lot of jobs and a lot of moving. But it’s a story that’s landed him and his family back in Lincoln – a place they didn’t really imagine their story playing out.

Glen’s parents were missionaries who were based out of Nebraska, but lived internationally in places like the Philippines for much of his childhood.

Living abroad was a natural part of Glen’s life and it was a common denominator when he met his wife, Bec, during college. The couple loved exploring new cultures together and imagined their life would eventually take them abroad.

Glen said shortly after they were married he vividly remembers sitting in a coffee shop with Bec and another young couple dreaming about their futures. The four of them decided they wanted to do something big, something that involved working to end sex trafficking in countries like India and Nepal. So right then and there they made a pact to make their dreams more than just words.

It was an exciting and sobering moment, Glen said. It felt like their lives had just changed, and in many ways they had.

The two couples went their separate ways but met up once a year for the next four years to continue planning.

At this point, Glen was finishing up law school at UNL while their friends were based in India working with the International Justice Mission (IJM) doing human trafficking work.

It was a strange period of waiting, Glen said, because while they were excited about possibility of moving and working in another country, their family was starting to settle in Lincoln. 

But in 2006 the right time finally came for Glen and Bec to move their family to India, and they were relieved to do the work they’d dreamed of in that coffee shop.

It was a difficult transition. They uprooted their lives, Glen left a great job, and they moved – but they knew the timing and the purpose was right for their family.

Over the next four years Glen watched as their dream turned into a reality. He headed up the legal department of their new firm and slowly built relationships that allowed their team to rescue girls from sex trafficking and prosecute brothel owners.

It was satisfying work that engaged Glen’s legal skills, critical thinking and passion, but he was also in awe of what he was seeing happen to his family.

Glen watched his children love and embrace another culture, he watched his wife encourage women who had lived through horrific situations and he watched his family grow together.

That’s the thing about traveling abroad, Glen said, family is your constant.

In 2010, Glen made the difficult decision to step down from his role at the anti-trafficking firm he’d started. He and his friend had different visions for the firm and Glen decided he’d walk away instead of ruin a friendship.

But his family didn’t leave India. They stayed rooted in their community and Glen taught law classes at a local university. Their plan was to stay in India long-term, but during an 8-week family trip to the U.S. in July 2015 Glen’s visa was suddenly cancelled and his visa application was denied. Bec and the kids returned to India to pack up without Glen and a letter arrived in December telling the family they had one week to leave the country. 

So, they came back to Lincoln. Glen took a job at the Capitol working as a term-clerk for a Supreme Court Justice. It was work he was excited to take on, but the job had an expiration date – August 1, 2016.

So, once again, they were in adjustment mode.

Now what?

An uncertain future has been a consistent theme in Glen’s story. It’s not a surprise, and he’s used to doing his part and then trusting that all the pieces will come together.

But even though it’s not new territory, it’s still uncomfortable. Glen’s children are now 17, 16, 14 and 12 and they recently adopted a 11-year-old boy.

And yet Glen knows that another strong theme in his story has been sufficiency and grace. He’s seen situations turn around in ways he’s never imagined, he’s been offered jobs that are a perfect fit for his skills and he’s lived in places where his family has thrived despite immense difficulties.

Glen’s story has been about learning when to wait, go and stop. It’s been one with unplanned adventures and lots of growing, but all of it has taught Glen to be present in his current situation.

Right now, being present means leaning in to Lincoln. It’s not where he expected to be, and yet, he knows it’s where he and his family need to be. 

Amy Barrett


Amy Barrett has lived in the same house in Lincoln for 23 years.

She’s watched the neighborhood kids grow up, go to college and start families. She’s seen the trees in her backyard transform from small saplings into massive leaf monsters. And she’s seen herself change too.

When she moved into her house, Amy was far from home. Now, no place feels more like home than Lincoln, Nebraska.

Amy was born nearly 8,000 miles away from Lincoln in Manila, Philippines. She was one of eight children and grew up in a very traditional Filipino family.

When Amy was 17 she met and married her husband, Wayne, a native of Houston, Texas. It was a big deal that Amy dated and married a foreigner. Her parents were strict, and while Amy respected their wishes, she also liked to push the boundaries. She had a secret job, dated without her parents knowing and dreamed of someday leaving the Philippines.

After Amy and Wayne got married, they moved to Singapore for Wayne’s job in the oil industry. It was just the kind of excitement Amy had dreamed of experiencing.

Singapore was a city with lots of energy and diversity. Amy quickly made new friends with people from all over the world. She learned how to cook all types of ethnic food and was a sponge for information about her friends’ various cultures and traditions. It felt like Singapore was Amy’s new home.

But after having two children and being frequently on the move with Wayne’s job, they decided to move their family to Lincoln, Nebraska.

They landed in Lincoln during December of 1993 with no winter clothing, but they were anxious for a quieter and more stable place to raise their children. Amy plugged the boys into school and went to work making their new house into their permanent home.

It was a major adjustment. The boys missed their friends and it was a huge culture shift to move from a busy city like Singapore to the east side of Lincoln. But in a way only Amy could, she quickly went to work making new friends and carving out a place for her family in the community.

She found the people of Lincoln to be friendly and open, willing to share advice and connect with her family. It was refreshing despite all of the transitions her family had faced. Lincoln started to feel more like home.

Shortly before Amy’s 40th birthday, Wayne was diagnosed with lung cancer. He battled the disease for three months and then passed away suddenly.

Amy was shocked. The man who’d given her so much and loved her family well for more than half of her life was gone.

But Amy also isn’t one to give up. She was heartbroken by the loss of her husband, but she also had an amazing support group of friends that she’d built while they’d lived in Lincoln.

“It was hard, but it makes you stronger,” she said. “You survive.”

And that’s what Amy has done. A few years before Wayne died, Amy took classes to become a nail technician. Growing up with six sisters had taught Amy a thing or two about doing nails and the rest came naturally. She worked at a salon in town to make some extra money and loved the way it allowed her to socialize and do something she enjoyed.

After Wayne died, Amy continued working to support herself and her sons. She quickly built up a steady flow of clients who appreciated her meticulous work and friendly personality. Amy said she’s had a few of the same clients for nearly 15 years.

That’s the thing, Amy is just one of those people who others can’t help but enjoy being around. She’s an outgoing and warm lady who likes hosting big dinner parties with lots of home-cooked food for all of her guests. These big meals remind her of her mother who would make enough food for the whole neighborhood, because, as her mother would say, ‘You never know who’ll stop by for dinner.’

Amy operates a lot like her mom in that way. She’s hospitable and easy-going, but she’s also not afraid of hard work. Her story has been about adventure and exploration, but also heartache and resilience.

The difficult parts of her story just make her more thankful for the good things she’s experienced. Things like meeting and marrying her second husband, Don, being a grandmother and even simple pleasures like gardening or catching up over drinks with a nail client.

Amy’s story starts with an adventurous girl who dreamed of leaving home. Now, her idea of home isn’t some exotic city, but a house in east Lincoln with her husband, her dogs and a whole lot of friends – and that’s just fine by Amy.

Jason and Cindy Nabb


There’s something about the Nabb’s house that just feels like home.

Maybe it’s the smell of freshly brewed coffee, the toddler teetering around with an orange in her hand, the two kiddos sitting at the dining room table working on their school work or the morning sunlight filtering into the living room where we sat and chatted.

By the end of our time together, I knew what made their home feel so welcoming – love. Now, before you jump to any conclusions or start asking about what philosophical kind of love I’m talking about, just read this story.

Jason and Cindy Nabb have been married for nearly 17 years. They have eight children ranging in age from 18 to almost 2 years old. But Jason and Cindy don’t have a typical love story, and certainly not a love story that they thought would lead them to where they are now.

“She was dating one of my friends when I met her,” said Jason, he and Cindy looked at each other and laughed.

That’s basically how their story went. They were two dysfunctional youngsters who had an extremely broken and dysfunctional relationship.

Their early love history had a weird pattern. Date, get engaged, break up, drink, date, break up, drink some more, don’t talk, get pregnant with somebody else, just friends, don’t talk.

Cindy said on the day they were supposed to get married (the first time) they met up and got coffee in Lincoln before she traveled to Minneapolis and Jason moved to Tulsa. They literally couldn’t have been going in more opposite directions.

But then Cindy gave birth to her baby, Olivia, and called Jason to tell him she had become a mommy. He got the message after he’d been at a Super Bowl party and thought to himself, ‘What am I doing?!’

The next year, on their would-have-been one-year anniversary, Jason asked Cindy to marry him in front of their entire church in Lincoln.

A year later, Jason started the paperwork to adopt Olivia.  

As Jason and Cindy told their story, I watched as their daughter Ashley sat quietly and listened. It didn’t look like the first time she’d heard this story, because she kept smiling, looking as if she was glad she knew the way the roller coaster of a tale would end.

But getting married wasn’t the end of Jason and Cindy’s love story. If anything it was the beginning. They went on to have five more biological children – Simon, Isaac, Meredith, Ashley and Sam – and a few weeks ago they adopted two more children from foster care.

The Nabbs have a full house, and you don’t even want to know their monthly grocery budget. Cindy said a lot of people who don’t know them look at her like she’s crazy to have this many children, but the people who know them understand that it just makes sense because they know Jason and Cindy.

When they bought their current house, they knew they wanted it to be a place they shared with others. Sure, they had a big family, but they also had extra room.

They opened up their basement to a single mom and her daughter who stayed with them for a season. It was a sad, difficult and messy situation, but it didn’t scare them out of serving.

“We want our kids to know that there’s a sacrifice that comes with serving,” Jason said. “There are people who need help and they’re worth sacrificing for.”

This is when the Nabbs seriously started considering foster care.  

“Especially coming from the backgrounds that we have…we feel so redeemed,” Cindy said. “Why wouldn’t we want to give that to someone else in return?”

After going through the process of getting licensed, the Nabbs received lots of calls for kids to be placed in their home. The call that led to a placement was for two sisters who were 3-months and 3-years-old.

And so it began. Therapy appointments, learning assessments, meeting with and encouraging the girls’ biological parents, talking through the situation with their children, praying.

It was a hard situation to enter into. It was hard on their marriage and their family. It was sad to see the stories of two, young girls and their parents struggling and oftentimes failing, but it also showed and taught them how to love more deeply.

“I think of commitment as a synonym for love more than anything else,” Cindy said. “You don’t change your commitment to your kids or your spouse because circumstances change.”

It’s about choosing to love, despite your weaknesses.

Their love and decision to love led them to the courthouse on January 19, 2016 to make Crystal Elizabeth and Luna Isabel part of their family.

Jason and Cindy said they didn’t set out to adopt – they also didn’t set out to have six biological children – but that’s the beauty of it all, right?

They would be the first to tell you that they haven’t loved well at all times, they’re not perfect, but love is a big part of their story.

The Nabb’s story is one that’s about more than the mushy, gushy love that quickly feels artificial.

Their story is about an imperfect love for each other, the overwhelming love of their community and the unfailing love of a God who multiplies their love for one another.

Meg Hasselbalch


“I don’t really have much of a story,” said Meg Hasselbalch as she stood in Paper Kite, her little boutique sandwiched between other locally-owned shops on Prescott Avenue.

I smiled a little at her comment, because in my head her story was already taking shape. Meg has a story, even if to her it feels like she’s been ‘winging it’ most of her life.

Meg said she always felt like she was faking it. 

In college she jokingly referred to herself a “fake” art student, because she loved art, but never latched on to any one discipline like most other students.

When she discovered her love for boutique shops she got a job at a maternity boutique in San Francisco. People would often say to her, ‘Wait, you’re 22 and you don’t have any kids, but you work in a maternity store?’ Meg would respond with a quick, ‘Yep!’ and then go back to work.

That’s the thing about Meg, she’s present and focused on the task at hand. So despite the fact that working in a maternity shop wasn’t exactly what she pictured doing in her 20s, it was an important part of her story.

She loved working at the maternity boutique and her boss quickly became her mentor, inviting Meg to assist with buying, go to market and pick out items for the shop. The fake feeling was starting to wear off.

Four years later, Meg moved back home to Lincoln. She missed her family, her community and was ready to do something a little different.

She briefly worked in Omaha, designing extravagant window displays for Anthropologie and then came back to Lincoln when she heard about a shop on Prescott Avenue that was moving out of its space.

The name of the shop was Scout. Meg had kept her eye on this shop, thinking that someday it might be a place she could fill with her own ideas. She loved the little architectural touches, the cozy neighborhood where it was located…and the fact that Scout was her middle name.

It finally just fit.

Now, it wasn’t like all the pieces fell into place, but things did happen quickly. Meg ran the idea for her boutique by her friends, family and a financial advisor to see if it was just plain crazy or possible.  

She threw together a business plan and talked with her former boss and mentor.

She pieced together various word combinations to land on just the right name and feel for her shop.

It was like a dream, she said, a really stressful but beautiful dream. Meg said her family pitched in right away, painting her space and helping her decorate in record time. She stocked her shelves with gift items and clothing catered to ‘baby, home and her,’ and featured as many local and regional makers as possible.

And on October 1, 2013, Meg opened Paper Kite.

It was a whirlwind, but it was her whirlwind and she was so proud to call Paper Kite her own.

Three months later, Meg and her husband found out they were pregnant with their first child.

Cue whirlwind number two.

“What are we going to do?!” was Meg’s first thought. But in true Meg-style, she kept moving forward.

Battling morning sickness while working six to seven days a week was a full time job that kept Meg plenty busy until her daughter, Mary Frances, entered the world nearly a year to the day after she opened Paper Kite.

It was insane, Meg said, but it worked. She continued working with her dozing daughter snuggled with her in the shop.

People started coming to Paper Kite to see Mary Frances almost as much as to shop, and Meg realized she was well into the second year of owning her own shop. Paper Kite was busy, people loved her shop and Meg loved her job.

It was the right fit.

Meg wandered around her shop telling me about her favorite items and rearranging stacks of notecards or smoothing a sweet little baby outfit just to feel the soft cotton.

Meg said it was important to her that everything went together, even though she was selling everything from candles and cards to corn cob rattles and patterned leggings – it all needed to look like Paper Kite.

Meg’s story is like herself, humble and gracious. It’s about finding her place, mixing her loves and her skills and moving forward when the unexpected turns out better than you expected.

Paper Kite is Meg’s art. It’s not overly complicated – it’s simple, it’s beautiful and it’s hers.

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