Things We Love About Lincoln: Pioneers Park

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy downtown Lincoln and think it offers a nice array of restaurants, bars and activity.  I like that it’s compact and you can pretty much walk anywhere you want within the downtown area.  It may not be huge, but there are enough really good spots that I’m happy going back to again and again.  

But what I really love about living in Lincoln is how easy it is to get out in the middle of nowhere, even on the outskirts of the city.  A good example is Pioneers Park.  It has pretty much everything a good park should have--playground area and ballfield, shaded running trails, cool sculptures, lake with ducks, sledding hill, and lots of open grassy space.  It also has things most parks don’t have -- a live herd of buffalo, extensive nature center, giant Indian statue, golf course, outdoor concerts, and a windblown stretch of prairie.  

Briefly put, Pioneers Park and the surrounding area has never let me down.

It also has terrain.  Meaning, you can stand on a hill above the trees and see sunsets, or lie on the grass and see stars.   And it’s a pretty big park, so it’s not too hard to find solitude there, if that’s what you’re looking for.  

For the runners out there, this is a perfect park for you to do that “hilly” run that shows up on your training schedule.  Where else in town can you get in a good scenic six-mile run without backtracking or running in a dizzying circle?  

A quick word of warning about the wildlife--they have been known to roam freely, on occasion. Watch out for frogs during certain parts of the summer.  When they leave their nursery pond and make the arduous trek through the fence and across the road to the swampy area nearby, it takes more than the average defensive driving to avoid them.  I’ve also had a chance encounter with a giant snapping turtle wandering up the hill from his pond.  Rest assured, he will only go to the effort of snapping at you if you get in his face. Fortunately, the buffalo and the elk seem pretty content with their habitat.

If you’re looking for fun stuff to do with a group of friends, there’s that too!  The Pinewood Bowl outdoor concert series has picked up in the last few years, drawing some great bands like Counting Crows, My Morning Jacket, Alice in Chains, and the Lumineers, to name a few.  

The park is quite happily situated across Van Dorn Street from Lee’s Chicken, a fine home-style fried chicken restaurant with lots of country charm (and tasty food!)  During the summer, C and L Dairy Sweet is open on the same intersection, for all your ice cream and slushee needs.  

Briefly put, Pioneers Park and the surrounding area has never let me down.  There is so much more to love about Lincoln, but for anyone else who sometimes feels the need for space, now you know of one really good place to get a lot of it.

Photo Credit: Valerie Jensen

Lincoln, Let's Celebrate Mom


Happy Mother's Day.

Mother's Day is this coming Sunday. In Lincoln, there are a few events this Mother's Day worth mentioning:

  • The Center for People in Need is hosting a special event Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. which will allow low-income children ages 2 to 18 to choose gifts for their mothers. Volunteers will help wrap the gifts and make Mother's Day cards.

  • The Lincoln Children's Zoo is giving mothers free admission or one free train ticket on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. to commemorate their special day.

  • The Pioneers Park Nature Center will host a Mother's Day breakfast and bird walk from 8-10 a.m. Sunday. Afterward, there will be a breakfast of rolls, fruit and beverages. Call 402-471-7895 for more information.


How Exactly Did Mother's Day Begin?

Mother's Day is this Sunday. This popular holiday is celebrated throughout the world, at different times of the year, and in different ways.

The holiday has its early roots in ancient Greece and Rome, where citizens honored the mother goddesses Rhea and Cybele.

Great Britain and other parts of Europe recognized “Mothering Sunday,” where people would return to their 'mother church' during Lent for a special service. Over time, this celebration became more secular, with children presenting their mothers with flowers and various gifts. This tradition faded in popularity, until the advent of the American version of Mother's Day.

The holiday we celebrate today originated with Anna Jarvis, who evolved her mother Ann Reeves Jarvis' 'Mother's Day Work Clubs,' an organization with the goal of teaching mothers to properly care for their children, and 'Mother's Friendship Day,' which organized mothers to promote reconciliation between the North and South during Civil War times.

Anna Jarvis achieved financial backing from department store owner John Wanamaker in 1908 to organize and promote the first Mother's Day celebration at a West Virginia church. On the same day, thousands gathered at Wanamaker’s store in Philadelphia to celebrate this new holiday.

After a tireless letter writing campaign to newspapers and politicians to argue for a special day to honor motherhood, by 1912, many states had adopted Mother's Day as an annual holiday. In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a decree officially declaring Mother's Day the second Sunday in May.

Ironically, as the Mother's Day holiday became more popular, and ultimately more commercialized, Jarvis denounced the holiday and campaigned to have it stricken from the calendar.

As Jarvis' last efforts were not successful, Mother's Day is immensely popular, and is recognized in both secular and religious ways. In the United States, giving mom flowers and gifts, and treating her to a meal are common. In churches, mothers are sometimes recognized with a single flower, and some use it as a time to dedicate children.

Photo Credit: Anne Roberts

Looking for Something to do Sunday?

Have you ever wondered why the first Sunday of every May it is incredibly hard to drive anywhere in Lincoln without being delayed by an enormous amount of runners? If you have, you know where this is going. If you haven't....I probably just jinxed you and you'll find out tomorrow (you are welcome). Tomorrow marks another year of the Lincoln Marathon, and if you have never experienced this event, you should come out and join the fun tomorrow morning.

This Sunday thousands of feet will pound the pavement of Lincoln’s streets.The 37th Annual Lincoln Marathon will commence at 7am on May 4 at the University of Nebraska – Lincoln City Campus. The course spans all across Lincoln, beginning at 16th and K and ending at Memorial Stadium.

While the course is clearly marked, here are some fun landmarks of Lincoln for the strolling spectator to enjoy along the way:

  • The State Capitol

  • South Street (grab a cup of coffee at Meadowlark Coffee & Espresso as you cheer the first round of runners on!)

  • Lincoln Country Club

  • Sunken Gardens

  • Antelope Park

  • Holmes Lake

  • Union College (grab the second round of coffee from The Mill across the street)

  • Memorial Stadium

The number of entrants totals 12,500, and that doesn’t even account for all the spectators who will be cheering them on. (Fun fact for your weekend: The marathon usually sells out within hours on opening entry day.) Every year hundreds of friends, family and volunteers create an atmosphere of camaraderie that help inspire the runners to race over 26 miles, or 13 miles for the half marathon runners.

For more detailed information about the schedule, awards, and even the weather, visit the website!

Photo Credit: Stuart Grout

The Haymarket Farmer's Market: The Sneak Peak

In a few short days, the Haymarket will be transformed and filled again with the sights, smells and sounds of the Farmer’s Market.  It will start at 8 a.m. on Saturday, May 3 when Louie blows the opening whistle.

Some things to look forward to this year:

  • Buffalo is back! Randy and Jane Miller, of Miller Bison Inc. in Adams, will have bison meat for sale.

  • Manila Bay's lumpias (veggie egg rolls) and spring rolls, hot out of the fryer

  • To her fellow chocolate hounds, Linda recommends chocolate cupcakes and huge chocolate and peanut butter rice krispie treats from PJ Baby Cakes, and Michelle with Biscotti Mommy specializes in a variety of flavors of biscotti

  • Louie recommends Gary Zicafoose's “Maizingly Sweet” sweet corn, as well as sweet corn sold by the Daniels family (affectionately known as the “melon girls”)

  • Louie's tried beef jerky from just about everybody over the years and keeps coming back to the jerky made by Willis, from Frank's Smokehouse in Wilber.  His colaches are excellent too.

  • Among my personal favorites are Ty Gardner's Wisconsin Cheese booth—where you can find really delicious “squeaky” cheese curds, among other cheesy goodness

What’s the Harvest Schedule?

  • May:  Asparagus, Herbs, Lettuce, Rhubarb, Spinach, Turnips, Radishes

  • June-July:  Strawberries, Blackberries, Raspberries, Beets, Broccoli, Cabbage, Carrots, Eggplant, Garlic, Green Beans, Herbs, Lettuce, Muskmelon, Onions, Peas, Peppers, Potatoes, Squash, Sweet Corn, Tomatoes, Zucchini

  • August:  Apples, Grapes, Watermelon, most vegetables

  • September-October: Gourds, Pumpkins, most vegetables


For more information:

Photo Credit: Chris Martino

The Haymarket Farmer's Market: The Tradition Continues

There's a timeless feel to what goes on among the old warehouse buildings down in the Haymarket on Saturdays during the summer and fall—a local community coming together, folks from both the city and the farm, enjoying the exchange of hand-crafted and homegrown goods. Every Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon, from May 3 through the summer and fall, the streets of the Haymarket will once again close to traffic and fill with local produce, fresh-baked goods and crafts, and of course, the crowds of people who thrive on the festive atmosphere that surrounds the Haymarket Farmer's Market.  

Anyone who grew up on or near a farm, or who has benefited from a friend's over-abundant garden knows that there is something special about produce that was in the ground just a day or so ago.  You can expect a different flavor from zucchini that has dirt still clinging to it or a tomato that smells pungently like....a tomato.  Farmers and gardeners from all over the area get up at the crack of dawn to load their trucks with fresh seasonal produce, and some of the favorites (like sweet corn) can go pretty fast.  

Louie Hanson and his wife Arla, of Fairbury, started bringing their metal crafts and custom lawn signs to sell at the market in 2002, and the appeal of the farmer's market is no mystery to him.  “I'm sure it's relaxing for people who have to work in an office all week to come and get a good dose of the outdoors.  We don't understand that, living in the country, but for us it's our excuse to go to the big city, catch up with the people we know, and of course make a little money on the side.”

Louie and Arla drive from Fairbury as early as 5:30 a.m. to ensure lots of time to set up and shoot the breeze before the opening whistle blows at 8:00.  Louie has become such a fixture at the market that manager Linda Hubka designated him the official opening whistle-blower.

Linda Hubka, the on-site market manager, stands in the Haymarket where the streets will begin to be lined with tents.

Linda Hubka, the on-site market manager, stands in the Haymarket where the streets will begin to be lined with tents.

Linda came on board as the on-site market manager in 2001, and she and business manager Jeff Cunningham have since worked tirelessly to preserve the tradition while allowing the market to grow and adapt to the city as it changes.  The last few years those changes have come in the form of construction on the Pinnacle Bank Arena and West Haymarket development.  Before it was the Railyard, the block northwest of the market was a big parking lot they could use, and they feel that loss keenly.  On the flipside, the farmer's market now has the go-ahead to expand into Canopy Street if needed, although Linda's not sure how much of that new space will be filled this year.

Even the inconveniences of construction and volatile weather haven't frustrated the momentum of the farmer's market, in Linda's experience.  “One of the biggest surprises is how well we get through the challenges.  We've set up in rain that turned into a downpour, then stood in water nearly up to our knees watching flats of plants go floating by.”  With 24 markets to schedule every year from May through October, in a state where weather is unpredictable at best, they have never canceled.  Rain or shine, the tents go up, and people do come.

Photo Credit: Christina Case

The Haymarket Farmer's Market: One of Lincoln's Original Traditions

The Haymarket Farmer’s Market represents an open-air market tradition that has been revived just within the last 30 years.  The original Lincoln “farmer's market” was in existence in 1867.  That was the year that the Nebraska Territory officially became a state and Lancaster, a small town of about 2,000, came out on top in the political fight with Omaha to move the location of the state capitol.  (Lancaster was actually renamed after recently-assassinated President Lincoln under the influence of Omaha supporters, who hoped it would create opposition to the move, since many people south of the Platte River had been sympathetic to the Confederacy).  

At the time, Market Square, the block between O and P streets from 9th to 10th, served as an outdoor market for produce and livestock and became a central gathering place for the growing community, as well as a camping ground for the wagon-loads of immigrants passing through on their way west.  A decade later the city moved the market a few blocks north and named the area Haymarket Square, in order to make space for the post office and courthouse that the federal government decided to erect.  

Haymarket Square continued to serve as a hay and livestock market until 1886, when it became the site of Lincoln’s first City Hall.  Lincoln exploded in growth throughout the 1880’s, due in large part to the railroad and the scores of manufacturing jobs that came along with it.  Several of the original warehouse and hotel buildings that characterize the Haymarket now have been preserved from Lincoln's boom town era (like the Creamery Building, Apothecary Building, and Lincoln Station.)

The Haymarket district was designated a landmark by the City of Lincoln in 1982, and began undergoing a process of revitalization.  As part of it, a small farmer's market that had started in another downtown location moved to the historic district around 1990 and has grown from about 10 vendors to over 200.

Think the history of the HayMarket Farmer's Market is great? Stay tuned to read how the Farmer's Market has grown to what we know today. To dive deeper into the history of the Lincoln HayMarket, check out:

Photo Credit: Hydephine

Lincoln Investing in More Technical Talent →

Mike Reinmiller, a member of the 2 Pillars community and lead developer with Honest Policy, was featured in the Lincoln Journal Star article about a class he'll teach in web development, coding and programming this summer based at Turbine Flats. The demand for programming and web development talent is great. To supplement the talent supply, classes such as the one that Mike will be leading are an avenue to better Lincoln companies and keep Lincolnites in Lincoln. Read the full article here.


What's So "Good" About Good Friday?


Good Friday is the day of the year where Christians remember and celebrate the death of Jesus.  Death isn't something that we typically celebrate, so… what is it that is so "good" about Good Friday?

To make sense of this, we need to understand something about sin, something about blood, and something about Jesus.


The Bible teaches that every single one of us is sinful.  This includes you and it includes me.  Biblically speaking, however, we're not just considered sinful because we don't do what we should do (sins of omission) and do do what we shouldn't do (sins of commission); rather, we're born sinful.  Sin therefore infects every aspect of who we are - our actions, thoughts, emotions - everything.  

Another way to say that is to say: we're not sinful because we sin, we sin because we're sinful.

The Bible further teaches that because of our sinfulness, we are at odds with God and that when we die, if our relationship with God is not repaired, that we will spend eternity apart from God in what the Bible calls hell.

Blood Must Be Shed

When it comes to repairing our relationship with God, the Bible teaches that we are not able to do that in-and-of ourselves because everything we do is tainted by our sinfulness.  What that means is that even our best efforts to seek God or please God are not enough to repair the broken relationship with God.  Nothing we do can repair it.

Going to church every week can't do it. Reading the Bible every day can't do it.  Praying every morning can't do it.  Alleviating poverty can't do it.  Nothing we do can repair our broken relationship with God.

Instead, the Bible teaches, blood must be shed.  In fact, as you read through the Old Testament, that's exactly what the sacrifice system is all about: making atonement.  Making atonement is just a fancy way of saying that it is through the sacrifice that God's wrath is removed for an offense against God (sin).  More simply: blood must be shed in order for the wrath of God which we deserve for our sin to be appeased.

Enter Jesus.


The Bible teaches that Jesus came to repair, once for all, the broken relationship between us and God.  That God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Jesus died for us (Romans 5:8).  That Jesus, the Son of God, was sent by the love of God the Father to rescue us in our brokenness and to repair our relationship.

When Jesus died on the cross on Good Friday, he put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.  Having come and having lived the perfect life, he died the perfect death, in our place for our sin.  It was the sacrifice to end all sacrifices and he did it for us.

And when we believe and trust in Jesus, this is effective for us.  Not only is the wrath of God due to us for our sin appeased, but we are forgiven, redeemed, and restored according to the riches of his grace which he lavishes upon us.  When you believe and trust in Jesus, your broken relationship is fully and finally repaired.

That's what is so good about Good Friday.  That's why we, as Christians, remember and celebrate this day.  

Celebrate With Us

If you'd like to learn more about Good Friday or simply need a place to remember and celebrate it, we invite you to join us this Friday at 6:30pm for a one-hour worship gathering at the 2 Pillars Church building on the corner of 15th and South.

Photo Credit: Jason St Peter


Now that the NCAA Tournament is over, and the dust has settled, let's take time to reflect on this new Nebraska basketball phenomenon and what it means for Lincoln.  As a relative newbie to Nebraska, it didn't take long for me to get caught up in the excitement that is Husker football. Having no prior allegiance to any football team, college or otherwise, it was easy to drink that red Kool-aid and shout "Go Big Red!" The same rang true as 'Nebrasketball' swept over the city this season, and I was hooked.  

Pinnacle Bank Arena  

Pinnacle Bank Arena 

Before I get started, though, I want to get one thing out of the way. Pinnacle Bank Arena ... have we decided what to call it yet? Personally, I prefer The Vault to PBA, so that's what I'm using in hopes that it will gain traction.

Before Coach Miles, I only attended one UNL Men's Basketball game. It was well-attended, but for someone who knows nothing but the basics about basketball, it wasn't very fun. I couldn't tell you who we played or whether we won. It is no secret that Coach Miles was brought in to build this program, but I don't know anyone who expected the kind of season we experienced this year to happen so soon. My first basketball experience at The Vault was when we beat Illinois. To say that the atmosphere was exponentially more intoxicating would be an understatement.

I love Nebraska football as much as the next guy, but there is something in the air at The Vault during a basketball game that cannot be rivaled. Does a roof make that big of a difference? Or is it the inherent excitement that comes with being the under-dog who keeps coming out on top? I'm putting my money on the latter because Devaney didn't have the same magic. Whatever the source, there is an intimacy and enthusiasm at The Vault that I have not experienced at other college sporting events. That excitement is not merely contained by The Vault, though. It spills over into the quickly developing West Haymarket area without abandon.

Canopy Street

Canopy Street

It is a little known fact that early in the season, if you were to approach the entrance to The Vault after half-time, you could get in for the remainder of the game without a ticket. For the last home game, we met some friends for dinner across the street from The Vault, waited until after half-time and made our attempt with no luck. Disappointed, but not defeated, we made our way over to Canopy Street. We spent the remainder of the game outside with hundreds of other fans who watched, screamed, cheered and chanted as though we were court-side. It was an amazing experience I am eager to repeat

So, what happens now?  As we settle into the post-season for basketball, heading into the Spring Game and impending football season, Nebrasketball seems so quickly forgotten. Is it already a thing of the past? I think not. I think Coach Miles and his team of underclassmen are just getting started. In his unfortunately titled piece on, senior writer Tom Dienhart writes, "With this coach, with this fan base and with those sparkling facilities, Nebrasketball appears to be on solid footing for the future. It’s going to be fun to see how far Miles can take this program." This newly converted basketball fan couldn't agree more.

Photo credit: Sarah Frederick

Stabat Mater

Less than a week away from the performance, I am finding the true heart and soul of Stabat Mater. Consequently, I am also getting a glimpse of the heart and soul of Antonín Dvořák.. And Mary, mother of Jesus

Singing with the Abendmusik Chorus - and with Doane Choir as a senior in college - has always been challenging and rewarding. It’s hard work and I highly recommend it. There’s just something about singing with 30+ other people that teaches me to be aware of my surroundings, makes me want to succeed and follow instruction, yet flourish in my own way. A crowd of people learning the same work of art so well that we can reproduce it, and reproduce it well, is a feat that always amazes me.

I have had the great privilege of singing with the Abendmusik Chorus at First Plymouth Church since last fall. Our director, Tom Trenney, has led us through a trying and growing journey to learn Stabat Mater. His insight, experience and teaching ability have transformed us. We walked into rehearsal in February as individuals, each with our own problems, our own egos and, admittedly, varying degrees of familiarity with the piece. When we walk up to the front of First Plymouth on Sunday, we will be one body brought together by one woman, whose heart broke for her dying son, the Lord, who paved our way to paradise.

The first phrase of Stabat Mater translates, “The grieving Mother stood beside the cross, weeping, while on it hung her son.” Even to those of us who don’t speak fluent Latin, the feelings of Mary are made clear in that moment by Dvořák’s emotive composing and our director’s thoughtful instruction. The first movement sweeps you up and carries you through the movements, the emotions, the prayers of Mary. But it ends with glorious hope. “When my body perishes, grant that my soul be given the glory of paradise. Amen.”

The Abendmusik Chorus will join with Doane Choir, the Wesleyan University Chorus and the Abendmusik Orchestra for this performance of Stabat Mater. I’ll be the one wearing a choir robe.


Stabat Mater (“Mother Mary at the Cross”) by Antonín Dvořák

4pm | Sunday April 6

First-Plymouth Congregational Church

20th & D Street

Tickets: $20 Adults | $18 Seniors | $10 Students


Love on the Run

Each year, Porridge Papers serves the city of Lincoln by hosting Love on the Run, a free event founded on the idea of giving love back to the local community. Last month marked the event's seventh straight year.

In the video above, Lincoln photographer David McGee captures some of the action from this year's event, including interviews with Porridge Papers owner, Christopher James, and other Love on the Run volunteers. 

As you'll see in the video, Love on the Run is a great event for the Lincoln community! If you haven't participated in years past, I suggest you take a few moments now to mark your calendar for 2015. It's only eleven months away, you know.

Until then, check out Porridge Papers and Love on the Run online:

Porridge Papers website

Porridge Papers Facebook page

Love on the Run website

Love on the Run Facebook page

Know Lincoln. Engage Lincoln. Champion Lincoln.


We love our city. That's what this new blog is about.

2 Pillars Church doesn't exist in a vacuum. Our people live in Lincoln, they work in Lincoln, and they go to school in Lincoln. They go out to eat in Lincoln restaurants, they meet for happy hour in Lincoln bars, they shop in Lincoln stores, they take their kids to play in Lincoln parks, they work out in Lincoln gyms, they run and bike on Lincoln trails, they attend concerts at Lincoln venues, and they volunteer in Lincoln organizations.

The Vision

Several months ago, a few of us from 2 Pillars began to pursue a vision for creating a digital space, the 2 Pillars blog, that would be about Lincoln and for Lincoln. It's common for a church to have a blog on it's website that's about church people and for church people. Of course, there's nothing wrong with that approach—we simply wanted to do something different and shift our focus away from ourselves and toward our city.

Well, here we are. We launched a new, redesigned website this week, and with it, we launch the 2 Pillars Blog. Over the coming days, weeks, and months we plan to post content with three main goals in mind: know Lincoln, engage Lincoln, and champion Lincoln.

Know Lincoln

We want to know Lincoln and its people better. So, as we explore our city, we'll let you know what we learn along the way. The possibilities are nearly endless here, but some examples of what we might highlight are local businesses and organizations, history and architecture, as well as events and people.

Engage Lincoln

I've pointed out that this isn't a blog about church people and for church people. That said, we won't refrain from writing about many of the topics you would expect from a church blog (e.g. Jesus, Christianity, the Bible, church). We will, however, write about them differently. Our goal here is to write in a way that engages those in our city who don't necessarily hang out at church on Sundays, know much about the Bible, identify with Jesus, or call themselves Christians.

Champion Lincoln

We bring a pro-Lincoln bias to the table and we do so unapologetically. We love our city and we intend to be champions for our city. Lincoln is a great place and we want others to know why. On the other hand, we know that Lincoln is not immune to brokenness. Lincoln has needs and we want to promote those needs as well.

Follow Us

So, we invite you follow along and check back regularly as members of the 2 Pillars community begin to make this vision for the 2 Pillars blog a reality. We hope you enjoy the content as much as we do producing it.

For regular updates, subscribe to the 2 Pillars blog via RSS or Email.