The Goal by Pastor Bill Reid

God's Grace and Light fills my life

God’s Grace and Light fills my life

 There has been so much anger and even hatred directed towards God lately and I just am not able to understand it.  I’ve had my fair share of struggles certainly; we all have.  Jesus told us to expect that.  This I know.  But I also know that my heavenly father is the most awesome God!  It will forever be that I have decided to follow Jesus.  No going back!  My pastor’s message for this Sunday, “The Goal,” is an excellent reminder that I wanted to share with you. Pastor Bill’s Bulletin Blurb follows:

 

As we approach Christmas, it is so easy for us to take our eyes off the goal of what the holiday means. We forget about celebrating what God has done for us, becoming a man and dying on Calvary’s cross. Maybe it’s not that we forget, but that we are so bombarded by the worldly view of Christmas, that the Christ child seems to be just one more add-on to an already too busy schedule. Perhaps we need to be reminded about what Paul tells us in Philippians 3:14 – I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Our goal at Christmas is to celebrate Jesus and the gift of life he has brought to us.

Augustine wrote, “To fall in love with God is the greatest romance; to seek him the greatest adventure, to find him the greatest human achievement.” Maybe the three thoughts in this brief quote are what we need to help us keep our Christmas season focused on Christ.

We need to fall in love with God. I am afraid that for many of us, our relationship with God is nothing more than a passing acquaintance. We know him in our head, we have prayed the sinner’s prayer; but we have never fallen in love with Jesus. When we love a person, that individual becomes the most important part of our life. If we truly loved Jesus, the celebration of his birth would be in the forefront of our holiday festivities.

At Christmas, we seek a lot of things: presents, time with family, good food, time off from work, parties, and more. In I Chronicles 16:11, the writer reminds us to “seek his face continuously.” Christmas is a time for us to seek God. To draw ourselves into closer relationship with him; to express our gratitude for his wonderful gift; to praise him for being a benevolent God; these can only be done by making him the most important part of what we seek in the holiday season.

Christmas is a time for people who have a personal relationship with Jesus. If you have never had the opportunity to invite him into your life, this Christmas season would be a great time to do so. Or, maybe you have a family member or friend who is not part of God’s family. This would be the best of times to help them know Jesus as Lord, and experience the real meaning of the Christmas season.

I encourage you to stay focused this Christmas on the real meaning of the season.

Love,
Pastor Bill

Please join us any Sunday at 11 AM at Neil Avenue Baptist Church.  We are close by to The Ohio State University campus.  If you want to leave a comment, please scroll down below.

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And He Sat Down at the Right Hand of God: Loving the Lord

Sanctuary at Neil AvenueI worked to graduate college and find good employment and then, it was all taken away from me. More bittersweet days. The days when I could compose eloquent text are just gone from me now, but this I do remember. The hour I first believed was on a Thanksgiving morning. And it was the most beautiful morning when I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior.  I have been loving the Lord for several decades now and because of that my heart now sings!  Below is the post of the day I first believed:

Singing A New Song: The Hour I First Believed

About a year and a half after my disability began, I returned to college with the goal of finally graduating and ultimately, of finding employment as a college graduate.  While I was a student, I was very busy with school activities. I never even suspected the hour I first believed.  Never Ever!

After I had graduated from the university, my activities came to an abrupt end.  My life involved waking up and getting on the Internet.  I would do that for roughly twelve hours then go back to bed.  And the next day, I got to do it all over again.

After several months of that, I was bored out of my mind.  It just so happened that a ministry group from a local church had been coming to my apartment complex for the past several years.  A young woman about my age had been cleaning at my apartment during this time.  We enjoyed each other’s company and always had a good time together. If I ever had any “church” questions, she would always be able to answer them, but I really wasn’t that interested in church.  It was more my way of trying to placate her.

I had mentioned to her how completely bored I was and she volunteered to take me to church with her.  It wasn’t that I wanted to go to church to hear the word or anything; it was just that I wanted to get out of my apartment. So, I agreed to go.

Well, the first Sunday that I went to church, I just loved what I was hearing!  In his sermon, the pastor kept saying that God has a special plan for you.  I knew very little about Jesus and the Bible at that time and I wanted to learn more.

I am a former English major and the one person that I knew who had written on both English and Christianity was CS Lewis.  He piqued my curiosity regarding God with his apologetic “Mere Christianity.”  A friend from church gave me an old copy of “Joni” that she had and a whole new world opened up for me.  I loved learning about God; I loved reading about God; I loved going to church each Sunday, but I just was not ready to take that final leap of faith.  Throughout this time, I would hear the idea that God has a special plan for you seemingly everywhere. For me, it became a recurring theme.

But, I still was not willing to make that ultimate commitment for Christ. Believers would always talk about that one awesome day when Jesus entered their heart, but it just wasn’t happening for me.

One night, I had been involved in an online discussion about Jack Kevorkian.  At that time, he was actively involved in supposed “mercy killings.”  A lady with Multiple Sclerosis, who expected her condition to progressively deteriorate, opted for Dr. Kevorkian to help her with an assisted suicide.

This seemed fundamentally wrong to me on several levels and I voiced my objections to her final decision.  I mentioned that after my near-death disabling experience there was nothing that I wanted more than to be alive.  Because I nearly died, I have learned to appreciate my gift of life.

A short while later, I received an email response from a radical extremist who used a lot of hate language.  One thing that he said was that he hoped that I would be “sterilized so that I wouldn’t pollute the gene pool.”  I was terrified.  I was afraid to go out of my apartment because I expected some radical lunatic to perform a “mercy killing” extermination on me!  The only relief that I got that night was when I was finally able to fall asleep.

I woke up the next morning, which was Thanksgiving morning of 1998, and I had another email from an address that I did not recognize.  At first, I considered deleting it because I assumed it was from some other person who wanted to tell me how wrong I was.  But, I thought that wouldn’t be right.  I said what I had wanted to say and now I had to listen to any other opposing opinions.  So, I opened the email.

Only it wasn’t from someone who was telling me how wrong I was.  It was from a woman who told me that she had never thought of assisted suicide in that way.  She said some other kind things, but she ended her message with “God has a special plan for you.”

With tears in my eyes,  that was the awesome hour and day that I first believed.  I knew it wasn’t just a recurring theme; it seemed to me that God was personally telling me that He had a special plan for me.  Because of that Thanksgiving morning in 1998, I now am singing a new song unto the Lord!

Do you have a comment?  I would appreciate it if you would scroll down to the bottom of the page and leave a comment. 

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Autumn Glory

The autumn is my favorite time of year. There is just something about the crispness in the air and I have always loved the rustling and the crackling of fallen leaves. Even though it means winter is on its way, and my wheelchair and I no longer look forward to snow, I still do love the autumn glory.

When I was eighteen, I was going to school in central Ohio.  I had two suitemates, one from Texas and one from Arizona.

They had never actually experienced “fall.” I can still remember the complete joy they shared when they came into our dorm room with golden leaves in their hands. To them, it was a unique experience. They had seen the pictures, but never experienced the reality.

The holly in our front yard are also enjoying this time of year, even though it is not really their season yet.

The holly in our front yard are also enjoying this time of year, even though it is not really their season yet.

Well, I only have photos to show you, but I hope that you will be able to appreciate these pictures, also.

It IS the season for fire bushes!

It IS the season for fire bushes!

 

A golden tree in our front yard.

A golden tree in our front yard.

The view across our street.

The view across our street.

Just beautiful!

Just beautiful!

 

My husband always wants that dramatic angle!

My husband always wants that dramatic angle!

Behold the birds of the heaven, that they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; and your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are not ye of much more value then they? Matthew 6:26

Behold the birds of the heaven, that they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; and your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are not ye of much more value then they? Matthew 6:26

That is a view of my neighborhood today! It is just beautiful in Ohio at this time.

 

Autumn_at_Our-House_2015-10-24_049Neil-Avenue-Baptist-Church_Autumn_2015-10-24_027

Even the trees appear to be dancing to the season!

Even the trees appear to be dancing to the season!

Going to our church; close by to the Ohio State University

Going to our church; close by to the Ohio State University

Truly autumn glory!

Truly autumn glory!

 

I just love the autumn glory in my home state! What’s your favorite season? Please scroll down to the bottom of the page to leave a comment. We all would love to hear from you.

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The Beginning of My New Life: “For all the blessings I can not see”

A Gift, Freely Given

Each day is a gift; that’s why they call it the “present.”

I was just tinkering around my blog when I came across this post.  While I do remember this incident, it is just too easy to forget the lesson I inferred from that day. It was my starting over again day.  The beginning of my new life.  I didn’t know it then, but it was. My original post follows:

 

I borrowed part of that line from Don Moen’s song, “Thank you, Lord.”  We sang that song at church last Sunday and I was reminded of the importance of giving the Lord credit for His many blessings in my life.

An online friend spoke of a “mirror of thanksgiving” but unfortunately our gratitude is often as opaque as a rock.  The daily stress and strains of our lives have a way of speeding out of control and all too often coming to a cataclysmic crash.

How typical is it to forget about rejoicing in the present and only remembering to grumble because that guy in traffic cut you off or that lady at the grocery store bumped into you as she raced by?  Sometimes, it seems that we have no reason to focus on the positive.

In the hospital and shortly after my brain hemorrhage when I thought that I could do nothing, I still remember the therapist that came into my room and showed me that I could cross my arms “Indian style.”

My left arm was drawn up at the elbow and totally immobile, but I was able to move my right arm.  Because of that, I was still able to cross my arms like I always had.

I was so excited because I thought then that the life I had known had been taken away; it was not gone, merely modified.

For me, this was a gift given to me.  My physical abilities had changed, but they were not completely gone.  I went from being expected to die, to beginning to live again.

It was a change and change is always a good thing.  Change is easier when it is done in small steps.

What I mean is that regaining my physical ability required much work.  I wish I had been able to jump up and go on with my life, but that was not the case.  It required daily therapy and continual exercise.

Twenty-five years later, those days of therapy at the rehabilitation hospital are only a distant memory.

But from each small step, we need to find a reason to be grateful.  To focus on the positive is a choice that you must make for yourself.  For me, it started with crossing my arms.

I never want to forget those days only because it reminds me of what I have to be thankful for today.

What’s your opinion?  Please scroll down to the bottom of the page to leave a comment.  I would love to hear from you.

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My Prince in Slightly Rusty Armor

My Prince in Slightly Rusty ArmorHe was driving a white sedan rather than riding a white stallion.  Recently, I went to a store down the street and about half way home on my return trip, I realized that the charge on my power wheelchair battery was quickly losing power.  I knew I was in a pickle, but I had no choice but to continue to my house and hope that I could get there.  When suddenly, from a faraway land (well, ok, it was a suburb nearby), my prince in slightly rusty armor rode to my rescue and helped me to reach my final destination; or, get home!

It turns out that my prince was actually my husband.  Robert had felt sick that day and left work early.

I knew that I was having chair trouble and I actually had my battery charger with me, but I was on a city street and there was not an electrical outlet anywhere to be found.

The street that goes to our house has a slight incline to it.  When my battery charge is low, any incline can make it impossible to move forward.

So, it seemed like I was moving about one inch a minute.  At a snail’s pace.

I have discovered that when my battery charge is low, for whatever reason, my chair will go better if I can turn around and go big wheel first.  Because of that, I was driving up the hill backwards.  All in an effort to get myself home.

My vision is poor anyway and driving up the street backwards didn’t help any.  I had just spun myself around in a forward position, when I noticed a white sedan stopped right in front of me.  Then a man in a dark blue shirt jumped out of the car and I figured it was a police officer offering me assistance.

And the man says, “Raeanne, do you need help?”  I looked up and instantly I knew it was Robert!  My hero!  I had been rescued!

He drove the car home and returned to me and pushed me home.  Robert, my prince in slightly rusty armor!

Have you found your prince?  We would love to hear your story!  Scroll down to the bottom of the page and leave a comment. 

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Nothing In Common With Those People

Cross of Jesus at NABC

My husband and I have recently been going to a weekly small group study with a campus church group that is now sharing our church facility.  Their group is populated by recent university graduates and they are younger than Robert and I.  Much younger.  But the ladies have been discussing a book and there are usually snacks there, so I was interested.  Until last week.  After that evening’s study, when Robert and I got back into our car and prepared to leave, I exclaimed, “I’m not coming back; I have nothing in common with those people!”

And then I began to expound to my husband about the evening’s events.

The group had several new guests and we were asked to introduce our self and tell about how God had been working in our life.  OK, I can do that, I thought.

One young lady began by telling us of a personal activity that she had shared with her husband the week before.  It really did not seem like such an unusual event to me, but then again, she and I are just different in our experiences.

Another young lady then began telling us  about her life.  She went into detail about her junior year in high school and then followed it up with details about her senior year in high school.

For me, about all I can remember about high school is that I went and I did graduate.   High school for me was over thirty years ago and I certainly do not have vivid memories of the time I spent in secondary school!  Today, I have trouble remembering an hour ago, let alone over thirty years ago!

One young woman spoke of her father and the problems he was having with his health.  She mentioned that he was in his upper fifties.

It hit me like a brick right then when I realized that I am closer in age to her father, than her.  And she mentioned his age like he had been alive since the beginning of time!  At least, it seemed like that to me. I guess her father and I are both older than the hills in her mind!

Of the three women who spoke, everyone mentioned being a Christian since an early age.  It seemed as if they were saying, “I’ve been a Christian since I was three and a half weeks old.”  It wasn’t until after I had graduated from the university that I went to a church.  And even then, I was twenty-seven years old when I did start back to college!

After I had pleaded my case and told Robert why I did not intend to go back since I had nothing in common with those people, he said one thing to me.

He said, “You do have one thing in common.”  “What?” I blurted out.  He said, “Jesus – you have Jesus in common.”

My husband was so absolutely right!  We are all resting on the firm foundation of Christ.  How many times have I faced the fact that our ways are different?  That I do things differently than you do?  I have faced that fact over and over again; we are each different.  But with Jesus Christ, we are unified.    I share in their love for Christ.  He is God.  He is my God.  He is our God. And I do plan to continue sharing in the love of Jesus  with my new friends!

If you would like to add your own comment, please scroll down and leave your comment.  It would be appreciated by everyone.

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I Have Decided

My home church I can still remember the first time I attended a church service after I was disabled.  Because my life had changed and I now used a wheelchair, I felt as if I had been excluded from the able-bodied world.  That Sunday, when I first heard the pastor speak about Jesus, he said, again and again, that Jesus loved me.  That was news to me because I didn’t think anyone loved me anymore.  And when I began to read the bible, I found out it was true!  Jesus does love me; the bible tells me so. :) From the beginning, I knew I was included in God’s world.  Unfortunately, some congregations have been slow to realize this, but let me tell you about my church,  Neil Avenue Baptist Church.  I am an active participant at NABC.

At church yesterday, a friend gave me an article from the Columbus Dispatch about disabilities and churches.  The article told of how many churches are now focusing on including people with disabilities.  The heart of God’s word has always been focused on broken people.  I guess it is time for congregations to also accept this idea!

I require accessibility in order to attend a church and, in most cases, I have been able to find that.  At my present church, I am also an active participant in our weekly worship.  That is very important to me.  There are things that I can do to serve the Lord and my congregation has asked me to help.  I am always grateful to be included.

One time years ago, we were having a focus time at NABC and there was a group going from room to room at church and praying for God’s blessing on our efforts.  There is a second floor at NABC with a few classrooms up there.  I remember the pastor apologizing profusely to me because it was inaccessible.  I told him that all ground is accessible at the cross!  In other words, it did not matter to me if I were able to get to the second floor in the sanctuary because I know I will be able to get everywhere in God’s heavenly realm.

I have decided to follow Jesus.  My church is small, both in floor space and in number of people.  When I was first asked to participate at Neil Avenue Baptist Church, I was so excited because I was being included.  The woman that had asked me to teach a bible study class said to me, “We are so small here, everybody has to do something!”  But, it meant so much to me that I had been included in their service.  Nearly fifteen years later, I still attend NABC each Sunday just because I am still included.

Are you looking for that place where everybody knows your name? We are centrally located in Columbus, Ohio and close by to The Ohio State University.  Join us any Sunday. If you would like to add your own comment, please scroll down and leave your comment.  It would be appreciated by everyone.

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I’ve Got You, Babe: Disability & Marriage Nine Years Later

Sign at our church, NABCThis Saturday will be the ninth anniversary of my first date with my husband.  When I remember that night, I still smile.  Even though I have recently been going through some rough times, my memories from that first date just make me happy.  Our plan for that night was to go to a local mall that neither of us had been to before.  Well, you know what they say about the best-laid plans.  Yep, that’s right.  We never did find the mall that night.   We drove around for three hours and shared the best conversation.  I don’t remember what we talked about, but we did decide to meet the next weekend and go to the mall again!  Or, to at least try. :)

My memories made me want to re-run the post I first wrote about meeting Robert.  Our first date; it was a very good night.  Here is a story about when the music first began for us…

“His Perfect Plan: Disability & Marriage”

I used to dream about meeting my “Prince Charming” when I was a little girl. I always thought someday – someday… But life had a way of intervening on my plans and things just did not go as I had planned. For instance, I never planned on my disability. But thankfully, God did have a perfect plan for me. And I have now met my Prince Charming and today, you could say that we are “living happily ever-after.” Love and marriage aren’t the only things that can go together!

I first learned about the Lord and then accepted Him as my personal savior in ’98.  Knowing Jesus brought such joy into my life.

One day, when I was at a public gym that I attend, a friend of mine, who was the director of the gym and also happened to be the then music director at my church, stopped me and asked if I ever intended to remarry.

I remember telling her that I had made my choice with my first husband and that it was such a poor choice.  I had no intention of choosing another partner.

I told her that I would only remarry if it were God’s choice for me.  With that, we said good-bye and I didn’t really think about it again.

Several weeks later, this man from church who was named Robert started emailing me at work.  I was working in an academic institution and it was during Summer break, so I had time to respond.

Our correspondence grew more regular and animated, but I still thought absolutely nothing of it.  Then one day, he emailed me and said, “Oh and by the way, Shirley told me that I should ask you out sometime.”  Ever so romantic, huh?

But I was very excited and I can remember squealing with delight at my desk.  We made plans for our first date.

We had every intention of going to this area mall, but neither of us had ever been there before. On that first date, we drove around looking for the mall for three hours.  We shared a very animated conversation, but never did find the mall.

The next weekend we tried again.  Robert did say that he had studied the directions, but our attempt to find the mall was still merely an effort in futility.  On our third date, we had more great conversation, but still no mall.  I think we finally made it to the mall on our fourth try.

Robert has always said that he fell in love with me on our first date, but since I was determined not to make a repeat mistake, it did take me three dates to make that commitment!

Dr. and Mrs. Robert H. Woodman: A Wedding Picture He proposed to me at our church’s Valentine’s Day dinner in February and we were married that June. Robert and I are an example of opposites attracting.  But, God did have a perfect plan in uniting us.  The most perfect way for me to describe Robert is as the man of my dreams.

If you would like to add your own comment, please scroll down and leave your own comment.  It would be appreciated by everyone who reads this post.

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My Master Tells Me to Wait: Waiting On the Lord

Waiting on the LordHave you ever felt like a dog with a treat balanced on your nose and your master is telling you to wait before you chomp on that treat? That is how I feel right now.  My patience has been running thin, but I still have to wait.  Waiting on the Lord often can become frustrating.

Last Sunday, we watched a video series by Dr. David Jeremiah called “Spiritual Warfare.”  In his study, Dr. Jeremiah stresses the importance of personifying Satan.  If we picture him as a real enemy that every believer is constantly battling with, we will be better able to combat his constant harsh realities.  It also helps us to remember that greater is He that is in me, than he that is in the world.

Patience, when stretched thin, seems to be of little help.  At least for me, it seems that way.  How about you?  Well, I have put together a list of verses regarding waiting on the Lord.  Dr. Jeremiah also reminded each believer that Jesus has given us His peace.  When I focus on that fact, it does help.  Following are a list of verses that are excellent reminders during stressful times:

Isaiah 40:31 (NASB) Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NASB) 5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.

Psalm 33:20-21 (NASB) 20 Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our help and our shield. 21 For our heart rejoices in Him, because we trust in His holy name.

2 Peter 3:9  (NASB) 9 The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

Lamentations 3:25 (NASB) 25 The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him.

Matthew 6:33 (NASB) 33 But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Isaiah 30:18 (NASB) 18 Therefore the Lord longs to be gracious to you, and therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you. For the Lord is a God of justice; How blessed are all those who long for Him.

Psalm 130:5 (NASB) 5 I wait for the Lord, my soul does wait, and in His word do I hope.
Psalm 27:14 (NASB) 14 Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the Lord.

1 John 3:2 (NASB) 2 Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is.

Psalm 40:1-3 (NASB) I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined to me and heard my cry. 2 He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, and He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm. 3 He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God; many will see and fear and will trust in the Lord.

Lamentations 3:25 (NASB) 25 The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him.

What do you do when all you can do is wait?  Why don’t you tell us what helps?  Scroll down and leave your comment.  We would appreciate it.

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All Aboard: A 2014 Stop on the Underground Railroad

Sign at Levi Coffin HouseMy husband and I share an interest in Civil War history.  Robert grew up in Mississippi and I can remember that even in one of our first phone conversations I told him I was a lifelong Yankee.  And now, I am a Yankee woman that fell in love with a rebel!  Just kidding.  :-) Robert grew up in the South and knows all about that history, but I have wanted to show him about life in the North.  During the Civil War, that involved abolition in the North.  Last weekend, Robert and I made a 2014 stop on the underground railroad when we visited the home of Levi Coffin, who has been referred to as the president of the Underground Railroad.

Levi and Catherine Coffin were Quakers from North Carolina who came to Indiana with intentions of doing the Lord’s work.  Regardless of man-made federal laws, the Coffins chose to follow God’s law.

In Coffin’s own words, “the slaves fleeing from bondage would find a welcome and shelter at our house.”

For the twenty years that they lived in Newport, IN (now Fountain City), the Coffin family helped more than 2,000 escaping slaves reach freedom.

The Coffins, who had six children, lived in a two-story federal style home.  Interestingly enough, the first floor was completely accessible and required no adaptions for my wheelchair.

The doorways were very wide and spacious and built nearly two hundred years before the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act.  I will assume that he also wanted to allow wheelchair-users into his home!  I can only say, thank you, Mr. Coffin.

When Robert went up to the second floor, he took some videos for me to see.  I also want to share these videos with you. The one below is from the second floor of the Levi Coffin House.

That beautiful natural woodwork is throughout the house, but I was thinking, nearly two hundred years and no paint?  Well, our knowledgeable tour guide told us that over 100 gallons of stripper were used to remove all of the layers of paint from the woodwork.

When the restoration team finally exposed the tulip poplar wood, which happens to be the state tree, they could not bear to repaint it! See the next video from the second floor below:

In the Coffin house, the kitchen was in the basement.  This video is of their kitchen, plus a surprise to accommodate all of the unexpected “guests.”

For a link to the Coffin House, go to: http://www.waynet.org/levicoffin/

The Levi Coffin House was an excellent learning experience and just two hours from central Ohio.  It made for a great one-day trip.  To leave a comment, scroll down the page.  We would love to hear from you.

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