Artist Living

Swimming with Sharks!

Me Ra Koh

A couple months ago Pascaline had a dream. She had a dream that we (me and her) were swimming with sharks. But let me back up.

For the last few years, Pascaline will wake up hearing her name called in the night. She answers but doesn’t hear anything in response. Brian and I think God is whispering her name. Her experience reminds us of Samuel in the bible. These occurrences come and go, and a couple months ago it started happening again. With Pascaline’s permission, I’ll share what happened next.

I asked Pascaline to do something for me. I told her how God often gives her mom pictures for people. Simple pictures. The kind that lets someone know God hasn’t forgot about their name. Maybe God wanted to give her a picture too. Maybe that is why she was hearing her name called. I wasn’t sure, but we could find out.

If she heard her name called again, I told her to assume the voice might be God and ask Him to give her a picture. “Let’s start with asking God to give you a picture for your mom,” I said. “I’m a safe person to learn with. Then we can talk about what it’s like when God gives us a picture for someone. How to know if it’s really God. How to know what to do with the picture.”

The next morning during breakfast, Pascaline said, “Mom, I got a picture for you last night. I heard the voice call my name again so I asked God to give me a picture for you. And He did!” As you can imagine, I was all ears!

“I had a picture of us swimming in the ocean together. We were playing in the waves and having so much fun. But then, four big sharks started to circle us, swimming around us. We were trapped. You got super scared and said we need to get out of the water and up on the beach where it’s safe. But I told you these are the sharks that only look scary but won’t hurt you. I told you that you didn’t need to be afraid of these sharks. We could keep playing. So we did.”

It is a beautiful, powerful picture. I have thought about this picture a number of times over the last few months. Different things have come up that have made me stressed and worried–caused me to feel threatened. And then I remember this picture and Pascaline saying “these are the sharks that only look scary but won’t hurt you…we could keep playing.”

This dream is an intimate gift that I know God gave to me through my little girl. What is even more amazing is being able to teach her that yes, God loves to speak to her. He loves to share things with her. He is only a whisper away.

As I flew home from Chicago Monday night, I thought of this picture. I thought of all the women who attended the workshop and the sharks that some of them face each day. I also thought of you–our wonderful blog readers. There are thousands of you that read this blog daily. Some of you I have met, and many of you I have yet to meet. But Monday night, I had a picture of your faces. My heart was stirred, and I felt like Pascaline’s picture might encourage you too.

There are so many sharks these days. Whether it’s the financial state of our country, health threats, marital stress, loss, fear, insecurity…the list goes on and on. And yet, I believe God wants to encourage you today. He wants you to know that even though those sharks are big and scary… even though you are encircled and trapped. Even though you feel like your life is at risk. “These are the sharks that only look scary but won’t hurt you.” You can rest. You can breathe deep. You can keep playing.

Whatever you are facing today. Whatever the sharks are that encircle you…I am praying you will feel that unreasonable freedom that allows the sharks to circle you, and yet doesn’t keep you from the freedom to keep playing.

Will you swim with me and Pascaline, as we swim with sharks?


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  1. Sandy says:

    thank you Me Ra for sharing! I sure needed it this morning.

  2. Sara Elliott says:

    Thank you….with tears in my eyes…thank you.

  3. Lauren says:

    Me Ra, that’s how I’ve felt lately. Like there are sharks circling me and I am just waiting for one of them to finally attack. Thank you SO MUCH for this… I am once again stunned beyond words. I’m going to try and rest in God’s peace now… it’s not easy but I’m tired of being afraid.

  4. Beth says:

    Wow! I love how God uses our children to teach truths to us! Their childlike faith allows God to speak to them in ways that we as “grown-up” have closed off. I love this visual example of our powerful Creator who wants to be so intimately involved in each of our lives! I can’t wait to share this with others!!

  5. Erin says:

    This was beautiful. Thank you.

  6. MeRa, thank you so much for sharing this story. God is our protector and this is a beautiful reminder for all of us to rest in Him. I am constantly trying to remind myself of this. But this is a great picture to call to mind.

  7. Kara says:

    Me Ra and Pascaline –
    Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful, encouraging story. Beautiful.
    I am on the verge of starting my own little photog biz, and the sharks are circling BIG time! ๐Ÿ™‚ Most of my sharks are self-doubting sharks. Thank you for this reminder to focus on the woman God has created me to be, and the gifts and strengths that He provides instead of the sharks that I allow to stray my vision and confidence.
    Blessings to you two!

  8. Denise says:

    I love how you interpret things in such a lovely way. When I read the first bit, my heart jumped into my throat because I used to hear my name called at night too. But I was terrified. I thought it was something totally sinister – pascaline is so lucky to have you to tell her it’s God whispering her name. I so wish I had thought the same thing. YES, I will swim around with those sharks with you both!!

  9. Kelli says:

    I love the clarity and honesty that children speak with. I often look at my husband after on of my little ones says something and we just smile and say, “ really is that simple.” Their view of the world isn’t skewed like an adults. I learn so much from them. That story was amazing Mera. I can just picture her saying that to you. I would have had tears in my eyes. Thank you for sharing such an intimate moment. I need these litte profound reminders all the time.

  10. Jaime says:

    awesome awesome thought. thank you both for sharing.

  11. jen s. says:

    thatz really awesome. last nite i dreamed SO much…that i can’t even make sense. hahahahah!!! but thanks for that picture…because itz true…i know we ALL have to be feeling a lil *scared* sometimes right now!!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. Anita says:

    Thank you so much for this. I needed to be reminded that the pictures that God gives me (especially those when the world is quiet at night) are things I need to remember and pursue.

  13. Sharon says:

    I’m speechless. Thank you so much for sharing with us.

  14. Dawn Beirnes says:

    what a beautiful and awesome daughter you have! My stress level, worries, anxiety have been at an all time high these past few weeks. Reading this made me get a sense of calm (even if only for a little while).

  15. jeramy says:

    i love this!

    how amazing that god speaks so poignantly through the eyes and mind of children. i think maybe they don’t quite have all the wax shoved in their ears like we do…makes it easier to hear. ๐Ÿ™‚

    this is a message for today. and for yesterday. and tomorrow. fear is often the greatest deterrent. let’s choose to fight fear. to turn our backs on it. take back the power that we’ve given it.

    thanks for the encouragement! have a great day!

  16. Amanda says:

    I was thinking exactly what Kara said. I am in the same place and have those same sharks. So thank you so much. What an inspiring story. And I too see pictures, tho I have never thought of them like that…as “pictures”…so this means even more to me then you can imagine. Thank you.

  17. Loree says:

    Thank you for sharing that! I also have tears in my eyes! What a wonderful reminder that He is right there! It keeps taking me to the verse in the Bible that says “Your sons and daughters will prophesy, Your young men will see visions, your old men dream dreams…..And whoever calls out for help to me, God, will be saved….I see that the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.”

    Again, thank you so much for sharing this, and Pascaline, for listening!

  18. Jennifer Marshall says:

    Me Ra, Candace sent this to me, so thanks to both of you. My mind and heart is so burdened recently by the division of the church in regards to tongues and gifts and the baptism of the Holy Spirit, and I’ve been so confused on what to believe, but I have to rest in knowing that this shark isn’t going to hurt me, so I can trust that God will use me and give me answers as I seek Him. Thank you!

  19. Nicky says:

    Wow!! Thank you so much for sharing this! So good to hear!

  20. I just love that so much! Recently the question was posed to me “What would your world look like if you approached everything in your life with Faith rather than Fear?” I have begun to do this and God is indeed always there to guide, lead, protect and teach me how to be a better,strong,wiser swimmer. Most of all I love that God is blessed and rejoices when we are brave enough to trust Him and keep on playing no matter what!

  21. Wow, thank you for sharing Pascaline’s picture with us. It’s just so amazing how God touches us in so many different ways. Bless you!

  22. Liza says:

    Ummm….so were you just reading my mind yesterday and decided to help me out by posting this blog post?
    Just wondering, because to let you know I am really freaking out right now.
    I have been waiting to attend a workshop since the very first one you did. I have kept running into financial obstacle after the next to where I have since been unable to attend. And this time is no exception. I was super psyched to go to Chicago…and then it sold out. =( But not to worry, you were doing yet another workshop here in Seattle! Since I already had the funds from the Chicago workshop, I quickly tried to register and when trying to purchase…it kept telling me there was an error. After emailing Brian and Genie about it, what happens? My computer crashes…again! When I am finally able to retrieve my email, it is too late and the $749 has now turned into $999…not that that is bad! I’m just venting! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Well bills came and obviously we all know what happened then…no workshop for me. =(
    So yesterday I see all the wonderful faces of the Chicago workshop and was so truly saddened to know that I was supposed to be there. (But also joyous because I know all the women had a FAB time!)
    I feel that everytime I get so close, something is there to stop me. Thank you for sharing this post to remind me to never lose faith and that God is only a whisper away.

  23. Michele says:

    Thank you for sharing Me Ra and Pascaline! I am swimming with you.

  24. Bree says:

    Thank you so much for sharing such a uplifting story with us!

    P.S. If you desperately need to get rid of that spot to your Seattle workshop, I am definately running on empty and could use a visit back home! It would be a very Merry Christmas for me! WAHOO ๐Ÿ˜‰

  25. Beckie says:

    Thanks for sharing. Just what I needed!!!(:

  26. Katie Schoepflin says:

    Wow… my mind put pictures on the sharks’ faces instantly, all of these struggles I’m facing right now. I really needed to hear this and I can’t wait for Charlie to come home to share this amazing story. thank you, and thank your daughter!!! ๐Ÿ™‚

    and i’ll mention the one spot left for Seattle to the hubby ๐Ÿ™‚

  27. Donna says:

    WOW,WOW,WOW is all i can say and think at them moment. I have been reading your blog now for a few months But this post i have to say is the most touched i have felt in a long long time. As i sit here in the middle of a slide show project ,stuck and past due something like this is exactly what i needed to hear! Sure glad i stopped to read my email and try to regroup! Thank you for all your wonderful encouraging words and thoughts!!!

  28. Deb Thompson says:

    Thank you…for making my heart lighter…thank you. Hugs to Pascaline.

  29. Amanda Mays says:

    Oh Pascaline you are such a beautiful girl! Not just on the outside but on the inside too, just like your mommy!

    What a wonderful gift having a relationship with god is and yet a greater gift it is to be able to interpert the message and share it with others. Even in these uncertain times and with all the “sharks’ we all face on a daily basis we are all still blessed!

    …โ€œthese are the sharks that only look scary but wonโ€™t hurt youโ€ฆwe could keep playing.โ€… LOVE that you smart smart girl!

    Thank you so much for sharing you are a gift! =)

  30. charleystar says:

    Me Ra, you continue to inspire…
    thank you, thank you to Pascaline, & thank you to God.

  31. Laura says:

    What a wonderful story and I’m so glad you shared. Thank you Pascaline for saying yes and letting your mom blog this.

    I love that you guided her to ask for pictures. I love that she asked and I love that she received.

    What an awesome moment and I thank God for sharing that with you and you for sharing that with us.

    Love to all of you!

  32. Sue Christianson says:

    Wow Me Ra! It is always so exciting to hear what God is saying to our kids. You will treasure that forever. I pray that many lives are touched today because of your transparency and willingness to share with people what is going on in your life. You continue to minister to those around you! Amazing!
    Love, Sue

  33. LeeAnn says:

    What a wonderful an spiritual message! Thanks so much for posting that, I needed to hear that today. What a wonderful inspirational little girl Pascaline is, thank you both for that very sweet and powerful message..

    God Bless! ๐Ÿ™‚

  34. Thank you Me Ra, I really needed to hear this story today… ๐Ÿ™‚

  35. Dorian says:

    As always….. WOW and thank you.

    I love how you listen to your daughter.

  36. Wendy says:

    Wow, i needed this as well and strange enough, my 12 year old dd often says she hears someone calling her and I said she should say yes, here I am, is that You God. My children think I’m strange, but I printed off your post (hope you don’t mind) to show her … she’s a reader of note, so she’ll just love this.

    Well, thanks for this and for your awesome posts … I love reading your blog, I’m just bad at commenting.

    God bless

  37. Tamara says:

    Thank you. I will keep this picture with me.

  38. annie says:

    Me Ra, that was a beautiful story!

  39. Julie Watts says:

    I just have to laugh at how freakin’ wonderfully you handled the situation as a mother, and directed/framed Pascaline’s experience in love. Children are so brave and wise when we allow them to be!

    My son Drew told me of a dream where a pack of wolves were chasing after him. He got out his light saber and lightly tapped each one on the nose and they turned around and ran off. I was in awe of his bravery and wisedom to know, even while dreaming, that he could ward off fear with a PEACEFUL tap instead of, oh I don’t know, chopping the wolves to pieces!! lol

  40. Jamie says:

    What a lovely story, and you have shown such boldness, faith, and courage in sharing it with your wide readership. I am truly inspired.

  41. Me Ra says:

    What an amazing gift you have given me and Pascaline. I can’t wait to print your comments off and read them with Pascaline this weekend.

    More than anything, I want our children to know that God not only loves them, but He knows their name. I want them to find a deep trust in that still quiet voice. But to have a deep trust, you’ve got to risk a little. I know that Pascaline felt like she was taking a risk that night when she went to bed. Neither of us expected her risk to have such an impact and touch so many. All your comments show us that this is true.

    Thank you so much for being vulnerable with us too.

    So glad to know Pascaline and I have company as we swim with the sharks. Love you! Me Ra

  42. tracie says:

    i’ve had to digest this post over the last day. at first, totally speechless. second, just processing it in amazing awe.

    awe in pascaline, awe in you, and most importantly … awe in our God.

    I get the Holy Ghost goose bumps every time i think of this post.

    absolutely amazing. Thank you to you both for sharing this very important life lesson with so many …

  43. Jennifer S says:

    Thank you Me Ra and Pascaline for sharing your special story. It speaks to how I feel right now. Thank you for the reminder not to be frightened by all of those sharks and to open my mind and heart to the messages God is trying to send me.

  44. Christine says:

    I love this image! While we didn’t exactly talk about sharks, a friend and I were having a conversation today about how we’ve not been so diligent with our positivity – that we’ve allowed external forces in the past few months bring us down from our usually optimistic place. We decided to play anyway. Even though we don’t always feel safe, we always are. Further, we can help other people to remember that they’re safe too.
    We’ll be swimming right along side you.

  45. Chrystal says:

    Me Ra,
    I read your blog today I (selfishly) feel this post was meant for me. Please give Pascaline a special hug from me tonight. I’m called “Mommy” by two, “Mrs. Tompkins” by 10, “Honey” by one, and “Chrystal” by many. Lately, I’ve been struggling with life…my teaching career (special education), my marriage, my children’s education, and my own health. (My photography and my children are putting a smile on my face.) I have felt hopeless and sad for many days UNTIL this moment. YOUR child’s innocent message from God has opened my eyes to what I’m feeling. Thank you for sharing this with all of us. I needed a “wake up” moment. Thank you again…I will return to work tomorrow and swim with the sharks, but this time I will have my FAITH surrounding me. I will keep teaching, living, loving, giving, and playing because those sharks will not hurt me. Thanks you again.


  46. Chrystal says:

    I hope you don’t mind…I just had to link back to your “Swimming with the Sharks” post today. This is a message that I felt needed to be shared.

  47. Jen MacNiven says:

    THank you to you, and Pascaline, for sharing your wisdom! My last two weeks have been challenging (ending of a 2.5 year relationship)and keeping even my head above water is challenging, let alone knowing that there are sharks out there. The fear of starting over again is indeed the shark infested water…but, I pray that those waters are full of nice, playful, handsome, loving, outgoing, awesome sharks!
    I definitely need to let my heart be quiet, to hear God whisper to me. The day to day bustle generates too much ‘noise’…and I thank you for reminding me to listen…and not to be afraid!
    Love you all!

  48. Wow. That was so powerful. God is so good and what a beautiful gift He gave you through your daughter. Amazing.

  49. Me Ra, You are such a beautiful soul. Your words touched my heart deeply today and I’m so honored to call you my friend. I believe you have a gift, a powerful gift, to touch the lives of so many people, especially women and give them the confidence that YES WE CAN. That we can be who we dream to be and that we can do what we want with our lives. Your words are so powerful and WOW the picture you have for Bob and I will never be forgotten. I know God is using you to work through us all. He believes in you so much to give you this incredible tool. I know you will do good MANY things with it.

    As we talked on the phone today, TRUST in the Lord, believe in yourself, put your hands behind your back (you know what I mean) and let God show you they way to what it is He has planned for you. You and Brian are awesome people and you have done everything you can to make good. Now trust in Him that He believes in you and wants an abundance of goodness for you. He will not fail either of you. I believe in Him.

    Love to you all… always!

    {{ hugs galore }}

    ~ Dawn, Bob, Bobby & Alli
    The Davis Family

  50. […] It’s been wonderful to look back at the different posts I’ve written.ย  As much as I love writing the Photo-Recipes and Photo Tips posts,ย  I treasure the posts under Personal Reflections and Inspiration for Artists.ย  In those categories lives the stories of all the nerves that were pulsing through me before my first Nate Berkus Show appearance. Or the posts about taking the kids to Thailand to live in the jungle (and how that has TRANSFORMED our family) to Dealing with Criticism, the Guilt and Lies Moms Face, Regaining Our Power When We Feel Powerless, a Woman’s Power During Uncertain Financial Times, Working at Not Judging Our First Flights and Learning How to Swim with Sharks. […]