Stay the Course

NIGHT LIKE FOR COUPLES

“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” Mark 10:14

I f we believe that the eternal souls of our children hang in the balance, why would we take a casual approach to parenting? If our eyes are fully opened to this awesome assignment, why would we ignore and neglect so great an opportunity? The Good News provides the only satisfactory explanation for why we’re here and where we’re going. When we accept our spiritual responsibility as parents, our entire family is likely to follow our example into eternity: “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household” (Acts 16:31).

Are you the parents of young children or a houseful of teenagers? We understand how difficult it is for you to keep this eternal perspective in mind as you race through your days. We encourage you not to let yourselves become discouraged with the responsibility of parenting. Yes, it is incredibly difficult, and at times you’ll feel like throwing in the towel. But we beg you to stay the course! Get on your knees before the Lord and ask for His strength and wisdom. Finish the job to which He has called you!

There is no more important task in this life.

Just between us…

  • Can we be more intentional in introducing our children to Jesus Christ?
  • How can we keep eternal priorities foremost in our minds?
  • Is there a pressing need we can pray about together tonight?

Lord, nothing will count more in eternity than that we’ve been faithful parents who have helped usher our children into Your presence. Give us strength and wisdom for this task. By Your Spirit, draw our children to You. Amen.

  • From Night Light For Couples, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson
    Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reserved.

Living in the Present

NIGHT LIKE FOR PARENTS

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair. 2 Corinthians 4:8

Author Donna Partow writes that her unemployed husband, Cameron, began a job search with high hopes. But the “Aha!” of finding a new job never came. Cameron networked; he knocked on doors; he circled want ads. He even dialed job hot lines until midnight each evening. Then he began to bog down emotionally. He and Donna would tell their daughter, “Well, honey, I wish we could do such and such, but we’ll just have to wait until Daddy gets a job.”

Suddenly Cameron and Donna realized that they had put life on hold, freeze-framing every fun moment until their hard times passed. They resolved that day to live in the present regardless of their situation. They began going out for fast food like other families, although they’d buy only one item each. They maintained a busy social life and did inexpensive but meaningful activities together as a family. Most importantly, they refused to give in to despair and depression.

Such measures, of course, don’t bring employment or relieve financial strain—but they sure beat self-pity and despondency. The apostle Paul encouraged new believers with a reminder of when they “joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property” because of their faith (Hebrews 10:34). Likewise, let’s remember the joy we always have in Christ—no matter what the circumstances.

Before you say good night…

Are you putting parts of your lives “on hold” because of hard times?

How can you help your family enjoy life despite any current trials?

Father, we thank You for Your provision for our needs and for forgiveness of sins. Grant us Your joy and peace, no matter what our daily challenges, and help us to always place our trust in You. Amen.

  • From Night Light For Parents, by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson
    Copyright © 2000 by James Dobson, Inc. All rights reserved.

5 Things You Never Knew About the Atacama Desert

We know there are questions around travel amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Read our note here.

The Atacama Desert in Chile, one of the world’s oldest deserts, is also one of the driest places on Earth. While parts of Antarctica have never recorded any precipitation, the Atacama’s rainfall statistics are still quite impressive. Until the early 1970s, some parts of the desert hadn’t seen rainfall for around four hundred years. It’s rare to see heavy rainfall even now (though occasionally flash flooding can occur), and when it does, it’s a spectacular sight. The desert blooms, transforming into a beautiful carpet of wildflowers. But even when there isn’t, the vivid colors of its mineral-rich rock and intense hues of its lagoons and salt flats make this a truly breathtaking place. Here are five things you never knew about the Atacama Desert.

NASA Uses the Desert to Mimic Mars

Valley of Death or Mars Valley in Atacama Desert Chile
Credit: sunsinger/ Shutterstock

When NASA decided to look for life on Mars, it started right here on Earth. In fact, one of the Atacama’s most famous valleys – Valle de Marte – translates to Mars Valley due to its resemblance to the red planet. The rough rocky surface, characterized by bumpy nodules of rock salt or halite, is as close as you’ll get without setting off for space. The Atacama Rover Astrobiology Drilling Studies project, or ARADS for short, has conducted a series of experiments in the region, from growing trees to testing vehicles. (While it’s one of the driest places on Earth, Mars is estimated to have a staggering thousand times less water than even the driest parts of the Atacama.)

Unsurprisingly, the Atacama Desert’s otherworldly landscape has made it the choice of several filmmakers, too, including the British series Space Odyssey: Voyage to the Planets and the 2008 James Bond film Quantum of Solace (though not as Mars).

It’s One of the Best Places in the World for Stargazing

Woman standing in Atacama Desert with stars above
Credit: Anastasiia Shavshyna/ iStock

This remote, high-altitude locale — reaching elevations of 13,000 feet — also happens to be one of the best on the planet to observe the night sky. On average, the Atacama Desert experiences 330 cloud-free nights every year, a fact not overlooked by the world’s top astronomers. If you’re used to stargazing from a town or city, the sight of so many stars glittering against a pitch black sky is sure to be jaw-dropping. Stargazing tours depart from the main tourist town of San Pedro de Atacama to an array of nearby telescopes, where an astronomer guide will help you spot constellations, nebulae and even the rings around Saturn.

Scientists flock here too. On the Chajnantor Plateau, the Atacama Large Millimeter Array, or ALMA for short, boasts a collection of 66 radio antennas — making it the largest radio telescope in the world. Collectively, those antennas are capable of identifying an object the size of a golf ball from a distance of nine miles.

The European Southern Observatory operates another two sites in Chile’s Atacama Desert, at La Silla and Paranal. They’re also building what’s known as the Extremely Large Telescope (ELT), which should be able to collect 100 million times more light than the human eye, enabling it to search for planets circling stars and help boost understanding of black holes and galaxies.

It’s One of the Driest Places on Earth — But the Fauna Is Surprisingly Diverse

Mountainous landscape in the Andes mountains in the Atacama desert, Chile
Credit: Brunomili/ iStock

Visitors to the Atacama Desert are often taken aback at just how much wildlife can exist in what appears to be such an inhospitable place. But there are places where rainfall is sufficient to support vegetation and animals, including wild Andean foxes which live off lizards and small rodents. The viscacha, a type of chinchilla, can also be seen. Herders tend flocks of llamas, bringing them down to mountain lakes to graze. Their wild cousins, vicuñas and guanacos, are harder to locate, but migrate towards water sources.

Birdlife is also abundant. Some of those dazzling high altitude lakes and salt flats boast colorful flocks of flamingos. Where the desert meets the coast, Humboldt penguins nest in cliffs overlooking the ocean. Hummingbirds visit seasonally, drawn by nectar, seeds and insects. When there’s sufficient water to bring out the blooms on the region’s flowers, you might even spot birds of prey such as burrowing owls.

Water Is Harvested from Fog to Grow Crops — And Even Brew Beer

Coast of Atacama Desert with clouds in distance
Credit: Erlantz Pérez Rodríguez/ iStock

Around a million people live in the Atacama Desert, many of them making a living from copper or lithium mining or from tourism. But while the annual rainfall is less than one millimeter per year, some residents manage to grow crops via an ingenious method of fog harvesting called “camanchaca.” Near the coast, parts of the Atacama Desert are susceptible to thick fog, which rolls in off the Pacific Ocean. In the 1950s, a scientist called Carlos Espinosa Arancibia came up with the idea of a fog catcher — basically, a net with holes to capture the water vapor, which would collect  and drip down the netting into a channel underneath. From there, the moisture could be piped to where it was needed and used to irrigate crops. Since then, research has continued and at the Atrapaniebla (Fog Catcher) Brewery in Peña Blanca, this precious water has even been used to make beer. The owners claim it is the only beer in the world to be produced in this way.

It’s Home to Mummies That Are Older than Egypt

Mummy found in the Atacama Desert
Credit: Pavel Svoboda Photography/ Shutterstock

If you thought the mummies in Egypt’s ancient pyramids were the oldest on the planet, think again. The oldest Chinchorro mummy, the Acha man, dates back to approximately 7020 B.C., several thousand years before the first of the Egyptian mummies.

Around a third of these mummies, like Acha man, were mummified naturally, with the dry desert climate helping to preserve the bodies. Later, embalmers replaced internal organs with animal hair and created a clay mask in place of what would have been skin and flesh. Unusually, the Chinchorro people didn’t reserve mummification for royalty, nor did they favor one sex over the other. Archaeologists have recovered 282 Chinchorro mummies from the Atacama since the first discovery just over a century ago.