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Counsels for the Church

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    Mrs. E. G. White as Others Knew Her

    Having learned of the unusual experience of Mrs. White in being the messenger of the Lord, some have asked, what kind of person was she? Did she have the same problems that we have? Was she wealthy, or was she poor? Did she ever smile?CCh 19.6

    Mrs. White was a thoughtful mother. She was a careful housewife. She was a genial hostess, often entertaining church members in her home. She was a helpful neighbor. She was a woman of conviction, pleasant of disposition, gentle in her manner and voice. There was no place in her experience for a long-faced, smileless, joyless religion. One felt at perfect ease in her presence. Perhaps the best way to get acquainted with Mrs. White is to call at her home in 1859, the first year she kept a day-by-day diary account.CCh 19.7

    We find that the Whites lived in the outskirts of Battle Creek, in a little cottage on a large lot, giving opportunity for a garden, a few fruit trees, a cow, some chickens, and a place for their sons to work and play. Mrs. White at the time was thirty-one years of age. James White was thirty-six. There were at that time three boys in the home, four, nine, and twelve years of age.CCh 20.1

    We would find a good Christian young woman in the home employed to assist with the housework, for Mrs. White often was away from home and was often busy with her speaking and writing. Yet Mrs. White carried the responsibilities of the home, the cooking, the cleaning, the washing, and the sewing. On some days she would go down to the publishing house, where she had a quiet place to write. Other days we find her in the garden, planting flowers and vegetables, and at times exchanging flower plants with the neighbors. She was determined to make home just as pleasant as she could for her family, that the children might ever consider home the most desirable place to be.CCh 20.2

    Ellen White was a careful buyer, and the Adventist neighbors were happy when they could go shopping with her, for she knew values. Her mother had been a very practical woman and had taught her daughters many valuable lessons. She found that poorly made things were in the long run much more expensive than good quality merchandise.CCh 20.3

    Sabbath was made the most pleasant day of the week for the children. Of course the family would attend the church service, and if Elder and Mrs. White were free from speaking responsibilities, the family would sit together during the service. For dinner there would be some choice dish not had on other days, and then, if it was a pleasant day, Mrs. White would walk with the children in the woods or by the river, and they would observe the beauties of nature and study the created works of God. If the day was rainy or cold, she would gather the children around the fire in the house and read to them, often reading from materials she had gathered from here and there as she made her journeys. Some of these stories were later printed in books so other parents might have them to read to their children.CCh 20.4

    Mrs. White was not too well at this time, and she often fainted during the day, but this did not deter her from going forward with her work in the home as well as her work for the Lord. A few years later, in 1863, she was given a vision concerning health and the care of the sick. She was shown in vision the proper clothes to wear, the food to eat, the necessity of proper exercise and rest, as well as the importance of trust in God in order to maintain a strong, healthy body.CCh 20.5

    The light from God concerning diet, and the harmfulness of flesh food, cut right across Mrs. White's own personal opinion that flesh meat was essential to health and strength. With the light of the vision to illuminate her mind, she instructed the girl who assisted in preparing the food for the family to put on the table only the wholesome, simple foods made from grains, vegetables, nuts, milk, cream, and eggs. There was an abundance of fruit. At that time the White family adopted essentially a vegetarian diet. In the year 1894 Ellen White banished meat from her table completely. The health reform was a great blessing to the White family, as it has been to thousands of Adventist families around the world.CCh 20.6

    After the vision on health reform in 1863, and the adoption of the simple methods of treating the sick, the Whites were often called upon by their neighbors in times of illness to help in giving treatments, and the Lord greatly blessed their efforts. At other times the sick were brought to their home and tenderly cared for until they had made a full recovery.CCh 21.1

    Mrs. White enjoyed periods of relaxation and recreation, whether in the mountains, on some lake, or on the open water. In midlife, while she was living near the Pacific Press in Northern California, it was proposed that a day be spent in rest and recreation. Mrs. White, with her home and office family, were asked to join the publishing house family, and she readily accepted the invitation. Her husband was in the east on denominational business. It is in a letter to him that we find her account of this experience.CCh 21.2

    After enjoying a wholesome lunch on the beach, the entire group went for a boat ride on San Francisco Bay. The captain of the sailing craft was a member of the church, and it was a pleasant afternoon. Then it was proposed that they go out into the open ocean. In recounting the experience Ellen White wrote:CCh 21.3

    “The waves ran high, and we were tossed up and down so very grandly. I was highly elevated in my feelings, but had no words to say to anyone. It was grand! The spray dashed over us. The wind was strong outside the golden gate, and I never enjoyed anything as much in my life!”CCh 21.4

    Then she observed the watchful eyes of the captain and the readiness of the crew to obey his commands, and she commented:CCh 21.5

    “God holds the winds in His hands. He controls the waters. We are mere specks upon the broad, deep waters of the Pacific; yet angels of heaven are sent to guard this little sailboat as it races over the waves. Oh, the wonderful works of God! So far beyond our understanding! At one glance He beholds the highest heavens and the midst of the sea!”CCh 21.6

    Mrs. White had early adopted an attitude of cheerfulness. One time she asked, “do you ever see me gloomy, desponding, complaining? I have a faith that forbids this. It is a misconception of the true ideal of Christian character and Christian service, that leads to these conclusions.... A hearty, willing service to Jesus produces a sunny religion. Those who follow Christ the most closely have not been gloomy.”CCh 21.7

    On another occasion she wrote: “In some cases the idea has been entertained that cheerfulness is inconsistent with the dignity of Christian character; but this is a mistake. Heaven is all joy.” She discovered that if you give smiles, smiles will be returned to you; if you speak kind words, kind words will be spoken in return.CCh 21.8

    Nevertheless there were times when she suffered a great deal. One such period occurred soon after she went to Australia to assist in the work there. She was very ill for nearly a year and suffered intensely. She was confined to her bed for months and could sleep but a few hours at night. Of this experience she wrote in a letter to a friend:CCh 22.1

    “When I first found myself in a state of helplessness, I deeply regretted having crossed the broad waters. Why was I not in America? Why at such expense was I in this country? Time and again I could have buried my face in the bed quilts and had a good cry. But I did not long indulge in this luxury of tears. I said to myself, Ellen G. White, what do you mean? Have you not come to Australia because you felt that it was your duty to go where the Conference judged it best for you to go? Has this not been your practice?CCh 22.2

    “I said, ‘yes.’CCh 22.3

    “Then why do you feel almost forsaken and discouraged? Is not this the enemy's work? I said, ‘I believe it is!’CCh 22.4

    “I dried my tears as quickly as possible and said, ‘It is enough. I will not look on the dark side any more. Live or die, I commit the keeping of my soul to him who died for me.’CCh 22.5

    “I then believed that the Lord would do all things well, and during this eight months of helplessness I have not had any despondency or doubt. I now look upon this matter as a part of the Lords’ great plan, for the good of His people here in this country, and for those in America, and for my good. I cannot explain why or how, but I believe it. And I am happy in my affliction. I can trust my Heavenly Father. I will not doubt His love.”CCh 22.6

    Mrs. White lived in her home in California during the last fifteen years of her life and, although she was growing older, she took an interest in the work about the little farm, and in the welfare of the families of those who assisted her in her work. We find her busy with her writing, often beginning soon after midnight, as she retired early. If it was a pleasant day, she would, if her work permitted, go for a little drive in the country, stopping to talk with a mother she might see in the garden or on the porch of a home she passed. Sometimes she found a need for food and clothes, and she would go home and get some things from her home supply. Years after her death she was remembered by the neighbors of the valley where she lived, as the little white-haired woman who always spoke lovingly of Jesus.CCh 22.7

    When she died, she had little more than the necessities and basic comforts of life. She was A Seventh-day Adventist Christian, trusting in the merits of her risen Lord and faithfully attempting to do the work the Lord assigned to her. Thus with the confidence in her heart she came to the close of a full life, consistent in her Christian experience.CCh 22.8

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