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I have six or seven really bad jokes that I use when working with clients in my office or training in the workplace. One is "If vegetarians eat vegetables, what do humanitarians eat?" OK, I said it was bad but trust me I have worse.

I start this column on this note for two reasons. First because the topics of my last two columns were much heavier than most, and second because our guest columnists were the 2001 Farmington Chamber of Commerce Humanitarians of the Year. Jim and Kay Baker are well known in our community, primarily because they have served together at Navajo Ministries for 40 years.

Jim and Kay have recently downsized their roles at Navajo Ministries and wrote a book about the very interesting experiences they encountered along their journey. They will be holding a book signing event at Hastings on from 5 to 7 p.m. Aug. 14. I thoroughly enjoyed reading "The Baker's Dozen and Then Some" and believe you will also.

I asked Jim and Kay to share some thoughts with us about lessons they have learned about marriage. They will be sharing more thoughts at 6 p.m. tomorrow, Aug. 7 on TWOgether as ONE. You can hear the interview on KLJH 107.1FM.

Lessons on marriage

It's always interesting to hear how married couples met. Kay and I met in a church in Lancaster, Pa. I was aging out of the nursery as she was coming in. We weren't childhood sweethearts but did begin dating in high school. It was the beginning of a relationship that developed over the next four years.

Kay says, "As we prepared for our Spring wedding, Jim continued to set aside any extra funds to be used for our housing when we got married in 1969. He was actually able to save up enough money so we could provide a down payment on the construction of a new house on Pleasant View Drive. Two years later we were blessed with a baby daughter. Surrounded by loving family, a good job and a wonderful church, we were content with life — but then, God started to mess with us."

God's "messing" would become His message of hope that He wanted us to share with Navajo boys and girls here in Farmington. During our 12 years of serving as house-parents we were blessed to parent 35 children (including our newborn son) at Navajo Missions, now known as Navajo Ministries. At times, we really were a "Baker's Dozen" family.

We have just celebrated 40 years of ministry together at Navajo Ministries. We often get the question, "How were you able to work together as a couple raising kids and directing a multi-faceted ministry for all those years?"

First of all, we knew that God had called us as a team, as partners to this ministry. Because of that, when the times got tough, we knew that God would provide us with the strength and perseverance to remain faithful to that calling. Perhaps this word "partners" will provide some insight that we have attributed to our longevity in full-time ministry together:

Prayerful: We end our day with a brief time of conversational prayer with one another. Notice I said, "brief." After a busy day, a long prayer time could easily become a one-voice prayer with the other nodding off in agreement.

Attentive: It is important to consider one another's needs over our own. It's important to learn your spouse's "love language" and speak it fluently. Gary Chapman's book, "5 Love Languages" will help you discover your mate's language if you're not sure.

Reliable: There are many untrustworthy people in our lives. We need to know that the one who said, "In sickness and in health, with riches or in poverty" will be faithful to carry through with those words when the need arises.

Teachable: We each have gifts and talents that compliment our marriage. The one who likes to balance the checkbook may not be the one who teaches a child to balance that two-wheeled bicycle. Be ready to teach and learn.

Nice: What a simple little word, but oh so vital in this crazy world we live in. Someone said, "Be nice to the ones you know. If it weren't for them, you would be a complete stranger."

Enjoyable: We're reminded in God's Word that a "happy heart does good like a medicine ..." It's so important for couples to enjoy each other. A chuckle or a giggle sometimes overflows into a belly laugh. That's a medicine that will often provide a long and happy life together.

Respectful: As partners we need to affirm our respect for each other in the words we speak and the actions we show. Our spouse needs to know that we have their back.

Selfless: It's important to make sure that our spouse knows that we are willing to focus less on ourselves and more to the one God has provided as our partner in life.

Now, after 40 years of ministry together, we share a small office at Navajo Ministries. Oh, and our titles are co-directors of the Partnership Ministry. We continue where we started… a partnership made in heaven!

Ron Price is the co-founder and executive director of the Four Corners Coalition for Marriage & Family, a 501(c)3 organization dedicated to strengthening and equipping marriages and families in the Four Corners.

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