The Still Waters Journey

The Journey of Hope Begins

Birth of the Still Waters Photo Oct. 28, 1995

The photo of the hidden panther reflection off Revelry Island on Lake Whatcom near Bellingham, Washington was taken with a disposable camera in 1995. I was walking with a heavy heart with my husband and son along the opposite shoreline. I had been broken, hopeless, and crying out to God for the last 3 years following a long separation from our daughter. I felt like my entire life had been turned upside down.

Through my tears I cried out to God, "WHY?"

I didn't know it then but the day I took this picture marked the beginning of a journey that took me through what I have grown to call the dark room of grieving and transformation!

The picture of the hidden panther reflection was taken on an unusually calm day, on a lake that is seldom still. I have since been told that a 10 minute window of time existed for the light to be in perfect harmony with its surroundings to create this picture-perfect gift from God called the "Still Waters".

The original Still Waters image:
brian and Denny walking the shore
across from Revelry Island, WA.

Beside the Still Waters - Camp Firwood - October 28, 1995

Hidden Panther Reflection Revealed - October 1998

The still waters photo hung on our refrigerator for three years before it finally fell to the kitchen floor revealing the hidden panther. Not seeing the significance of the hidden panther right away I felt like God had destroyed this beautiful photo of His peace symbolized by the still waters!

At that moment I heard a quiet voice inside my heart reminding me that I had a choice to make; I could focus on the light and allow God to carry me and my family through this trial or I could return to my "cell" of darkness and allow self-pity to drive me back to my bed of grief.

With renewed HOPE I chose life that day as I placed the picture back on the refrigerator, allowing God to carry us through the storm. I began to invest my "emptiness" outside my self as I trusted the outcome of my daughter to God.

Mom & Daughter restored 2003

Mom & Daughter restored 2003
Mom & Daughter restored 2003
By the grace of God we have been restored as a family when my daughter returned several years later. We celebrate relationships and a faithful God who keeps His promises to never leave us nor forsake us.

Return to the Still Waters 1999

We returned to Bellingham on July 7, 1999 after hearing the news of the three boys dying in the Olympic Pipe Line Company explosion.

More than 250,000 gallons of gasoline had leaked from the pipeline into Whatcom Creek (near where the Still Waters picture had been taken). A match had been lit, igniting the gasoline, resulting in the death of the 3 boys. If the match had not been lit the gasoline would have flowed into the Bellingham. These boys unknowingly saved the city of Belingham from much greater loss of life and destruction. Still hopelessness came over the heart of the community grieving for the children.

I drove through the streets that day, grieving for the loss of the children, until I found the location where I had taken the photo on the shore of Lake Whatcom 4 years earlier. As I stood near the calm water God reminded me that good will triumph over evil. I named the photo I had taken 4 years earlier "Still Waters", as a reflection of the HOPE that had settled in my heart.

I then drove around the tranquil lake searching for what was in the distance in the photol. It turned out to be a campground called "Camp Firwood." I was told the body of land in the middle of the lake that produced the panther reflection is called Revelry Island. It is an overnight campsite for children at the camp where decisions for Christ have been made for the past sixty years by many campers. Wade King, an 8 year old boy who lost his life in the pipe line explosion, had been a camper there!

Bellingham Herald & Spokesman Review run the front page story

Jan by the Still Waters
The Presence of Love - The Absence of Fear
I was restored to fullness of JOY that passes all understanding as I picked up my husband at the golf course and relayed the story. The employees of the golf course heard the story, saw the picture and called the newspaper. The Bellingham Herald quickly appeared on the scene and asked us to stay over so they could do a story of HOPE seen in this hidden picture for a hurting community!

Little did I know that this next stop at The Firs, (the largest Christian Retreat along the west coast) would be the "base camp" for the photo.

After we were interviewed by the Bellingham Herald reporters, they asked up to find a store/bookstore or whatever to "house" the picture so the community could purchase it with all proceeds going directly to the Camp for the kids.

It was quite a revelation to me when I ran my finger down the yellow pages in the phone book looking for a store when my finger stopped on the Firs! The Firs was located down the road about a half mile in an area of the bay called Sudden Valley! As it turned out, I had chosen this place to go visit inquiring about the picture placement — never knowing it was a Christian Retreat Bookstore or even partially connected with Camp Firwood. The Firs is the name of the encompassing Ministry.

As it all tuned out, I was greeted with a JOY that passes all understanding — Mark Watson not only welcomed me with open arms but the Firs and Camp Firwood became the center for the photo in Bellingham. Currently the photo is at this Christian retreat Bookstore and also on the lake at a Fishing resort (the proceeds from the purchase of the Still Waters photo is used to raise resources to help provide help in purchasing wigs for kids who have cancer).

"The young lions lack and suffer hunger, but they that seek the LORD shall not want any good thing." Psalm 34:10


In October 5, 2006 God allowed me to experience His presence first hand through the valley of the shadow of death with JOY when I was told I had pancreatic cancer and only a few months to live. I drew strength from God as He once again changed my attitude from a prison of fear to a heart of praise through the Miracle Of DEATH.

"Fear Not, for I am with you always!"  Isaiah 41:10

You can continue to read the journey of the Still Waters photo in other stories on this website. The ripple of hope continues to light a spark of HOPE across America and beyond.

Still Waters Creations
Copyright © 7-20-07
All Rights Reserved
Jan Foland