Enhanced – read by the author

Faith Filled Family typography

with Steve Demme

The Family That Stays Together Stays Together

“You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.
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.”

–Deuteronomy 6:5-7

seeking to obey and practice these truths which God laid out for families, my wife and I sought to be intentional in being with our children to do life together as a family. At the time, we were not cognizant that shared experiences are the commonality which is the basis of lasting relationships, but forty years later, our family still shares meals together, works together, plays together, and worships together, with the additional blessings of grandchildren!

Here are some activities and disciplines that we practiced that I hope will encourage you in developing your own family rhythms.
Eat Together
We ate meals together. This was once an accepted practice in most American homes, but one which is now a challenge to maintain. Fight for it. There are studies which have found that most values are transmitted around the dinner table. Sharing a meal with no electronics, having edifying conversation, and processing life together may be one of the most important activities of the day.
Play Together
Board games, card games, croquet in the yard, riding bikes around the neighborhood or on bike trails, going on hikes at nearby parks, playing disc golf, or hide-and-seek in the house with the lights turned off—all were wonderful times of merriment and laughter. We also flew kites, played a lot of mini-golf, had rubber band wars, built a big pool for swimming, jumped on the trampoline, and even played paintball with other families.

Sandi and I sought to make our home the fun place where other children would want to come and hang out. The pool was a significant investment, but it was a wonderful addition to our home and also served the dual purpose of being the baptistry for our local church. We lived several hours from a beach or even a freshwater lake, so we “brought the mountain to Mohammad.” laughing emoji

Learn Together

Our second son, Ethan, gives a workshop called, “Homeschooling, How I Survived It.” He has observed that one of the negatives of being homeschooled is that school is never over!!

He tells the story of me driving our van and pulling onto the shoulder of the road to read an historical marker… which I still do. While I was reading, I heard a quiet voice from the back seat reminding me that they had already studied history that day.

On another occasion, I called our four boys outside at night. They ran out in hopes of playing monster or some other game in the dark. Instead, I whipped out a flashlight and taught them how to find the North Star by using the two pointer stars at the end of the Big Dipper. Learning in our home was a lifestyle, not a set period of time relegated to the morning hours each day.

Read Books Together
Sandi and I are avid readers and hoped to pass this on to our sons, so we encouraged our children to read individually. We also read many books aloud as a family. Sandi read all of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books, as well as those by Louisa Mae Alcott. I read the Narnia books for a season before our children went to bed at night. Two favorites of our family are Summer of the Monkeys by Wilson Rawls (who also wrote Where the Red Fern Grows) and Little Britches by Ralph Moody.

One unexpected fruit of reading the same books and later, watching the same videos together, was that we found we understood each other’s illustrations and comments in our conversations. We had been developing our family chemistry and didn’t even know it. On one occasion, a friend was going on a trip with us. While we were sitting together, he leaned over and began rubbing his ear. He then said, “I can’t hear out of my right ear!” Joseph leaned over and said, “I’ll love you George Bailey until the day I die!” The timing was perfect. I understood the connection and laughed for several minutes. If you have watched “It’s a Wonderful Life,” you understand.

Rest Together
Each week God has set aside one day to rest. These are excellent times to go for hikes, play games together, and read books as a family.

When the boys were young, I would get up early, make them breakfast, and then take them to the local library. We enjoyed reading books there, checking out new ones, and on the way home would stop at a playground or visit friends. This afforded Sandi quality time to sleep in, read her Bible, and journal to recharge her batteries in a quiet home. After lunch she would entertain the boys while I had a much needed nap and did some reading. Of course, these rhythms changed during the different seasons of life, but as in almost everything I have mentioned, we are grateful that God helped us to intentionally build our family chemistry by investing in these times and activities.

Learn About Each Other
As I traveled to conferences, I had opportunities to listen to other speakers. At one convention I learned about understanding the way we are each wired which could help us adapt to each other and learn from each other. We bought personality tests, read about the different types, and learned to adapt to the strengths and weaknesses of each personality. This knowledge led to some significant breakthroughs as my wife (who did the majority of the teaching) interacted with each of the boys who were all wired differently.

As the years rolled on, it was clear who the extroverts and introverts were in the home. The extroverts were comfortable winging life and not making plans. They enjoyed going on open-ended Saturday excursions. The introverts liked to make a plan and stick to it. We each had lots of opportunities to be considerate and adapt!

Work Together
When we were able to finally purchase a home, it was a fixer-upper. It took us six years to finish it and in the process we did a lot of construction projects. This was even before YouTube! We built retaining walls, vinyl fences, hung drywall, painted, built decks, and laid flooring. These were projects where we all contributed both our time and talents.
a family enjoys a meal together outdoors
Worship Together
One of my fondest recollections is studying God’s Word as a family unit. Several mornings a week, I gathered the troops with a loud whistle. When we were quietly seated, we would pray and ask God to teach us. Then, we would each read about three verses until we had finished one chapter.

When our children were younger, we read to them. When they were older, we acquired Bibles in large print and read with them. If we had time, we would go around the circle and share one insight we had received that morning. If we had a few more minutes, we sang a hymn. Then I would close in prayer and we would begin our day.

We were faithful attendees at our local church and the whole family sat together at the Sunday morning service. The boys learned to sit quietly and listen at home, and this practice translated to them benefiting from and participating in the main worship time.

I Love Us!
A good friend once walked into his home in the middle of the afternoon and found everything in disarray. His wife was frazzled, the laundry had not been done, and the children were homeschooling in their pajamas. He smiled, spread out his arms and announced, “I love us!” His wife looked at him in disbelief and said, “Really?” He smiled and said, “Yes. I love our family just the way we are.”

“I heard a wise saying that ‘comparison is the enemy of vision.’ Instead of comparing ourselves to others, let’s trust God to give us a special vision for our family and develop our own flavor. In this way we can glorify God and build our one-of-a-kind family.”

May God help us to be content and appreciate who we are and what we have. Each of our homes has a unique flavor which God designed when he formed each member and then placed them in one family. I heard a wise saying that “comparison is the enemy of vision.” Instead of comparing ourselves to others, let’s trust God to give us a special vision for our family and develop our own flavor. In this way we can glorify God and build our one-of-a-kind family.

As we do, we are giving our children a stable, constant, loving home where they can develop deep roots. Sandi was the primary architect of developing and following through on many traditions which we still are doing several decades later. I honor her wisdom and dedication in setting this course for our family. On more than one occasion we remarked that we saw our role as parents to give them roots and encourage their wings.

Final Thoughts
Consider these passages from Paul and Peter, “Above all these things put on love.” (Colossians 3:14) “Love one another from the heart fervently.” (1 Peter 1:22) As wonderful as doing life together is, it is even better when coming from a loving heart.

I have prayed many many times for God to turn my heart to Him, and then to my family. When our hearts have been turned toward those nearest and dearest to us, we will find lots of ways to express that love in our daily life. “He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers.” (Malachi 4:6)

Additional Resources at BuildingFaithFamilies.org:

Choose the videos tab at the top and find similar talks by scrolling down the page to The Family That Stays Together Stays Together and Understanding One Another and Building Each Other Up.

Find twenty short videos on ideas for Family Activities at:

May God bless us each as we glorify God in our families.
Steve Demme

teve Demme and his wife Sandra have been married since 1979. They have been blessed with four sons, three lovely daughters-in-law, and six special grandchildren. Their fourth son has Downs Syndrome and lives with them in Lititz, PA. Steve has served in full or part-time pastoral ministry for many years after graduating from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He is the creator of Math-U-See and the founder of Building Faith Families.