Life At Elmshaven

In many ways, Elmshaven was one of the most special homes Ellen White lived in. She spent the last 15 years of her life there dividing her time between spending time with her grandchildren, contributing to the community and writing. But perhaps the most significant thing about her time at Elmshaven were her experiences with God. It was here that she heard the voice of God speaking to her and was ministered to by heavenly angels.

On the night of the 2nd of March 1907, Ellen woke to find her room full of light. She seemed to be surrounded by a pure white cloud edged with deep pink. As she listened, transfixed by the brightness of the cloud, she heard angels singing to her. When the music ended she heard a voice speaking to her saying “Fear not; I am your Saviour. Holy angels are all about you.” For a moment she thought she was in heaven and that her work on earth. Voicing these thoughts she asked “ Is this indeed heaven? Am I one of God’s little children and shall  I always have this peace?” to which the voice replied “You work in not yet done”

Often God spoke to her in the stillness of the night through visions and dreams when he mind was free from cares and distractions. When the vision faded Ellen would get dressed, reach for the kerosene lamp by her bed and quietly make her way down the long hall, past the silent rooms of the sleeping household to her writing room. Here she would settle in her writing chair and record what she had seen and heard. During her time at Elmshaven Ellen wrote countless personal testimonies, letters and several books which would go on to make a difference in the lives of so many people.

But as much as she was the messenger of the Lord and enjoyed special communion with heaven she was also a mother and grandmother. She loved spending time with her grandchildren but she put firm boundaries in place to ensure that her time with them would not encroach on her work for God. One of Ellen White’s firmest rules was that she should not be disturbed while she was writing, even by her grandchildren. Her assistant, nurse, and friend, Sara McEnterfer was in charge of enforcing this rule and making sure that she could carry on her work without interruption. Buther resourceful grandchildren soon figured out a way to steal a march on Sarah and gain access to grandma. 

They discovered a back stairway that led them up to her writing room without detection. Soon the eager grandchildren and the doting but focused grandmother came an unspoken mutual agreement. If, when they reached the door, grandma Elen was writing they would patiently wait by the door till she laid down her pen. That was their secret signal. The moment grandma laid down her pen they knew they could flood into the room and command her undivided attention for a few minutes and they relished the opportunity. 

The arrangement worked perfectly. The children were happy because they had unhindered access to grandma. Grandma was happy because she got to see the children frequently and Sarah was happy because ignorance is bliss.

It’s amazing how Ellen was able to find the delicate balance between being the messenger of the Lord and nurturing loving and meaningful relationships within her family circle. As much as she was ready to rebuke she was also ready to lend a hand to heal and restore.

Finding balance in life is often a difficult feat to accomplish. Most of us swing one way or another, spending fleeting moments in the centre as we pass through to the other extreme. But life is all about balance and if there is one thing that we learn from Ellen White it is this; it is possible to occupy the intersection between direct, unhindered communion with God and meaningful connection with our fellowmen. It’s all about balance.

Further Reading

  • White, A.L. (1981) – Ellen White: The Early Elmshaven Years
  • White, A.L. (1982) – Ellen White: The Later Elmshaven Years