“. . . In the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert.” Isaiah 35:6
Inside the front cover is the handwritten note: “Christmas 1966, from Henry.” I now possess the small hardbound volume that my father gave Mother as a Christmas gift when I was six-years-old. That in and of itself is somewhat remarkable, but the more telling detail is from the moment Henry gave the book to Lois, it became her daily counselor and remained so until her death forty five years later. The volume rested usually atop a stack of telephone books that crested a turquoise vinyl covered metal step stool strategically located under the wall mounted telephone. At other times it lay on the corner of the kitchen table; but whether on the stool or tabletop, it always accompanied a dogeared leather Bible. In those early years, pyramids and camels adorned a glossy cover that protected its contents underneath. The dust jacket has long since gone the way of the camel caravan, but the clothbound volume remains. “Streams in the Desert” holds great importance for me because it served as Mom’s daily journal. She read a selection to begin each day, underscored a word now and then, and even added a handwritten note or date next to selected statements. I regain something of my mother as I read the scriptures, quotes, and author’s sentiments. Every entry opens up the past for me; I imagine what my mother thought and how she prayed as she considered that morning’s meditation. Lois Fowlkes put flesh and bone to the words written by missionary Lettie Cowman, and in so doing she became my own stream in the wilderness.
I am drawn to these devotions composed by one of my missionary heroes, primarily because they return me to the heart of my mother. For 2018, I have chosen to honor my mother’s daily practice and lasting legacy by selecting a portion of each day’s entry from “Streams in the Desert,” then adding my own thoughts to share with you. Along the way, I will include personal stories as well as tidbits concerning the author’s life. I invite you to join me for this journey through the past that leads to an enduring future.
“Today, dear friends, we stand upon the verge of the unknown. There lies before us the new year and we are going forth to possess it. Who can tell what we shall find? What new experiences, what changes shall come, what new needs shall arise? . . . All our supply is to come from the Lord. Here are springs that shall never run dry; here are fountains and springs that shall never be cut off. . . If He be the source of our mercies they can never fail us. No heat, no drought can parch that river, ‘the streams whereof make glad the city of God.’”