The sixth member in a family of five

Written by Kate Stevens
Published on January 26, 2021

I recently read an essay, “The Lives of Others,” from Joshua Gibbs about hospitality. As he was discussing hurdles for our lack of inviting people into our homes, he explained the “extra member of the family”—that is, the home itself. 

This is a created member—well, more like a conglomeration from the rest of us.

Our every day

All five of us—me, my husband, and our three daughters—have weird behaviors and ticks that we leave remnants of throughout our physical home. I say weird, but that would most likely only be to onlookers. 

  • Shoes scattered and gathered in nearly every corner
  • During daylight, all the blinds open to “sun the house”
  • During dusk and evening, lamps are used rather than overhead lights
  • Books, comic books, newspapers, sheets of music and lyrics, coloring pages, and even rogue homework can be found strewn about
  • Craft supplies out on desks, end tables, and the kitchen table: scissors, googly eyes, feathers, glue sticks…it really never ends
  • Music—there is always music.  Jazz while I cook.  Hymns when my husband is at the piano. A simple ditty when our oldest is practicing piano. Contemporary worship while we get ready for school and work in the morning. The girls have their own playlist for when they are playing legos upstairs (Queen, Rascal Flatts, Elton John, Van Morrison, Shane and Shane, the Frozen soundtrack…it’s pretty ridiculous). Acoustic covers if we’re entertaining another family
  • Cloth napkins instead of paper ones
  • A scantily clad four-year-old terrorizing our bearded lady, Penny, the one-year-old terrier
  • A collection of plants crowding open blinds, looking for their share of sun
  • Lately our yard is littered with bikes, scooters, and skateboards as the girls make more neighborhood friends

These are all so normal for our family that it took a long time to compose this list. It’s what we live in everyday. It’s the sixth member of our family.

But it’s not like we moved into this.  We didn’t invite these traits and habits into our home. We created this with little thoughtful effort on our parts.

Temporary desires, eternal realities

I would like for our sixth family member to be more organized and tidy.  The high traffic areas of our home collect a lot of stuff as we attend school, church functions, practices, and just simple, daily life. 

I would like to have some newer furniture and some updated appliances . We live very hard in whatever space we occupy!

But, on the other hand, I love that our sixth family member is safe and warm—full of life and vibrancy. My husband and I are intentional about our kingdom work, and most of that is done in our home where we strive to keep eternity in view with daughters.

Our children are not our center

Most of all, I love that our home is a mixture of all five of us and not just a direct upshot of our three girls. When the Lord called us to a season of children, we made goals for how we wanted our young family to operate.  One of those goals was that our children would not become the spotlight of everything we do. 

My husband leads us in a way that we aim to not be overwhelmed by their stuff, their emotions, or their childishness. 

So, we let them line up their toys from one end of the house to the next—but then teach them how to clean up properly and promptly.

We laugh when they laugh, but quickly reorder the waves of selfishness and grumbling.

We let them sing the same song for the upteenth time, with the hand motions, and the captive audience, and the ridiculous outfits—because they are children. And while they are not at the center of our lives, all these things play a part to create our sixth family member. And that member is valuable.

Our greatest work

The tidiness, organization, routine, and comfortability of the home are all significant—but all of these are meaningless if the center is devoid of enjoying the person of Jesus and his commands. 

The home is important, and as parents, we should do our greatest work there. Deuteronomy 6:6–7 says, “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”

We find this sixth member of our home, “Mercy”—so our four-year-old has named it, to be an act of worship in bringing God glory and enjoying him. 

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Kate Stevens

Kate Stevens is a worshiper, wife, and mom. By vocation, she teaches high school students English, Bible, and debate, and has been doing so for fourteen years.  In addition, she serves as a freelance editor.  You can read more from her as she develops her newly published blog: “HEM-ology: Somewhere between zoology and theology.”

Read more about Kate

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