On Blessing My iPhone and Our 30th Anniversary Cruise

by | Oct 17, 2022 | Extended Family | 18 comments

Our 30th Anniversary Cruise
Merchandise is Here!

I’m baaaaccckkkk!!

Hello! It’s Sheila back on the blog today, after returning from our trip of a lifetime for our 30th anniversary and 50th birthday (both belated because of COVID).

Many thanks to Rebecca and Connor for holding down the fort while we were gone!

Tammy (a great friend and my right-hand employee) and her husband also joined us for our Mediterranean cruise, as did my mom. Then Keith and I stayed in Italy for a week and went to a small town up in the Alps just to hike. It was quite inexpensive and a great way to end the cruise.

When I was younger, I always thought it would be so romantic to spend my 25th anniversary in Venice.

We didn’t make it at 25 years, but we started our cruise in Venice for our 30th.

Can I share some highlights about our time away?

First, let’s talk dancing.

One of the reasons that Keith and I love Holland America is that they have ballroom dancing every night, and we love ballroom dancing (we learned how taking in person lessons, but then we got a lot better with Passion4Dancing’s online lessons, which is what we use now regularly. We try to practice a few times a week and learn new steps all the time. It’s super easy and each lesson is just a few minutes long!).

This time we just had fun with it, and didn’t care if we looked a little bit stupid as we were practising a step. And it was really fun! I just think dancing is super romantic, and we are getting better at it. It’s nice to have things you do as a couple which just are super romantic!

(And here we are on one of the formal nights right by the dance floor! I texted this pic to Katie so she’d be proud that I curled my hair). 

 

Now let’s talk Israel.

We spent two days in Israel, and went on tours that lasted about 12 hours each day. It was absolutely exhausting! I had so many fans from Israel say that they had hoped to meet up with me, but there was honestly no time. We had a great time in Capernaum especially, though, and I’m sure we’ll get back one day!

The part that really stood out to me was the north, where Jesus spent so much of his time. We saw the ruins of the synagogue in Capernaum where he preached his first sermon, and we saw the terrain where Jesus would have walked (and I don’t think I’ve ever been that hot in my life–it was over 40 degrees Celsius that day). And here I am at the Jordan River–though north of where Jesus was baptized. 

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We also saw how Israel is using the land that looks so inhospitable to grow some amazing farms, and I found that really inspring.

Jerusalem was important–but different than I thought it would be.

The overall impression I got was that it was so small. You think of Jerusalem as being larger than life, but the whole country is small, and the Old City of Jerusalem especially. We walked through markets and we visited several important sites.

 

One church was supposedly on the site of Gethsemane (I say supposedly because I don’t know how they would actually know that), and it was moving to be able to touch the stone where Jesus allegedly prayed the night before he was betrayed. My mother and Keith had the opportunity to touch it together, and that was something that Keith said he will never forget.

We also visited the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which is claimed to contain both the rock of the hill where Jesus was crucified, and the tomb where he was lain.

It was very busy and very decorated and touristy. Honestly, I would have preferred it not be a church and just have the bare rocks with some plaques explaining what they think happened where, so you could see it the way that Jesus would have seen it.

Now we get to the point where you can judge whether I was sacreligious or not.

They had us go to tourist shops before we visited the church so that people could buy necklaces to turn into holy relics. In the church is the stone where Jesus’ body was purported to have been put when he was taken off of the cross. People are supposed to put pieces of jewelry on the stone to turn them into holy relics.

I just couldn’t do it. But as I knelt down to touch it I decided to put my iPhone on it. And I prayed for Jesus to bless my Instagram account, and that it would bring people to a clear picture of who Jesus was and a relationship with Him.

So I did mean it! But I found the whole thing strange and it seemed commercial to me. When I texted my daughters about blessing my iPhone they thought that was typical me–whatever they mean by that!

The Western Wall was also very moving.

The Western Wall of the Old City is the closest that you can come to the last temple that was torn down (there’s a big mosque on the temple site now). So it is the holiest site to Jewish people who pray there (sometimes it’s incorrectly called The Wailing Wall, we were told).

Men and women have to go up to it separately, and my mother and I managed to touch it. When I did, I prayed for my children and grandchildren (including any future ones); I prayed for this ministry; I prayed for my own spiritual life, that I would feel Jesus personally again (It’s been a rough go the last few years as we’ve had disappointment after disappointment from those we thought cared about the sheep). I found just touching the wall actually more meaningful than many of the big elaborate churches.

 

The big lesson I learned while I was away: It’s okay to rely on community.

While the trip was amazing, and while I will remember many different things for the rest of my life, it was also very challenging personally. I’ve always had issues with traveling and I don’t adjust to different time zones well. My system gets seriously messed up and it often takes quite a while to kick in again.

This time, though, my body just didn’t work. I couldn’t sleep–for the first two weeks I averaged about 4 1/2 hours a night. Sleeping pills weren’t knocking me out. Nothing seemed to work. And I had incredible stomach pains.

Of course, then I started spiralling downwards, blaming myself for being stressed (It didn’t turn out to be that–it was a food intolerance I didn’t realize I was exacerbating with the change in diet, and when Keith and I were off on our own I finally realized what was causing it, and fixed it).

You know when you’re so desperate to sleep that your eyes hurt, but you just can’t drift off?

Some nights I’d drift in and out, but I had a few nights when I was awake the entire night. And you pray and beg God to let you sleep, and beg God to fix the other issues.

And He doesn’t. (And I realize many of you are begging God for much more important things, so I don’t mean to minimize that).

One afternoon when I really hadn’t slept and was quite desperate, near the end of the cruise, Tammy and Keith spent the whole time trying to see if we could change our flights and come home a week early, when the cruise ended (rather than going to the Alps). It was a difficult thing, because our flights were booked using different points, and they were both on computers and on phones and on hold FOREVER.

It turns out we couldn’t switch it, and we just continued ahead.

But when I was at my worst, and I knew I was being difficult to be with, everyone just had such grace for me. And they tried to help–by going to the buffet to try to figure out what I could eat rather than to the dining room; by staying behind from some outings so I wouldn’t be alone; by just not treating me like I was wrecking things for everybody else.

At first I felt really awkward; I don’t like people taking care of me.

But then I realized they wanted to, and I just let them. And I thought–maybe this is how God answers prayers. Maybe this is what community is supposed to be. He doesn’t just “zap” you and make you all right; but by being in a healthy community, they can be strong for you when you are weak, and they can just be kind and make you feel like  you aren’t a burden.

I’m adjusting to the time being home actually not too badly, and can already feel everything else starting to work again, so my body is kicking back in. I won’t share too much of what was wrong, because I don’t actually want health advice (I think I’ve figured out most of the problem, and I have a good plan going forward). I just wanted to say that sometimes you need to let yourself lean on your husband, your mother, your best friends, because usually they honestly don’t mind (and I’m grateful to have ones that don’t mind!). And I hope I can be there for them sometimes, too.

 

It’s good to be home and I’m excited to be back in the swing of things! 

What do you think of my prayer over my iPhone? (I honestly don’t think it was sacreligious–I did mean it!). Have you ever had to rely on friends because you were so low? Let’s talk in the comments!

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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18 Comments

  1. Nessie

    1. You look absolutely fantastic and joyful, especially when you consider the lack of sleep and other struggles. Having chronic insomnia, I understand that frustration. I’m sure the effect was amplified due to traveling. Glad to hear you think you are on the right track for improving your health state.

    2. I don’t think I would feel comfortable praying over my phone on that stone, but I believe you had a worthy prayer for the use of it, and we are to use our possessions to bring others to know/serve God more so I don’t see anything sacreligious with that.

    3. Community is so important. I don’t have psychologically-healthy, reliable family in my life so having a faith community to rely on when going through things like illness, miscarriage, etc., is so important. I have been there for many people but it was much harder to allow them to be there for me. I had to learn humility and realize they were blessed by being able to help me. I shouldn’t ask God for provision and then say, “No,” to those He provides to care for me.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      This exactly! You said it so well: “I have been there for many people but it was much harder to allow them to be there for me. I had to learn humility and realize they were blessed by being able to help me. I shouldn’t ask God for provision and then say, “No,” to those He provides to care for me.”

      Reply
  2. Nathan

    So glad that you had a great trip and what wonderful pictures! Congratulations on your 30th and I hope you got over your illness! Also welcome back!

    Reply
  3. Nathan

    This is an off topic item, but it links to a post that you did a while back.

    I came across one of those online bible quizzes. It lured me in by saying “Most Christians can’t answer these”, and I felt challenged. I got 47 of 50 correct, but that wasn’t the interesting thing.

    Each question came with a hand drawn illustration. Three of them were pictures of the Garden of Eden, and in all three of them, it showed Adam AND Eve AND the fruit AND the tree AND the serpent all together. It reminded me of your post where you talked about how there’s an effort by some to recast the story and claim that only Eve was with the serpent at the time, ate the fruit on her own, then tricked Adam in to eating it later.

    I guess not everybody is falling for that!

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That is encouraging! I’m so glad.

      Reply
      • Jo

        I think that laying your phone down to pray those prayers was a vulnerable thing to do. Jesus knows our hearts. I love that. I also like what you said about relying on community. His doesn’t just zap us better. Having a mental illness for decades, I wish I felt safe with Christians and could trust their love and support of me rather than their desire to fix me with scriptures. When I do come across people I feel safe with, it is a treasure.. but still so hard to lean on.

        Reply
    • Tim

      On the flip side, I heard John Piper argue that *because* Adam was there at the time, a key theme of the story was how the serpent ‘circumvented rightful authority’ (paraphrase, not quote) by speaking to the woman instead of her husband, and Adam failed to exercise his authority by speaking up and going along with Eve.

      I’m summarising from memory here, so hopefully I’m not misrepresenting him. But even if you were fully on board with the complementarian view of marriage he’s assuming, I thought the rest was a bit of a stretch.

      Reply
      • Tim

        Probably obvious, but end of first paragraph should have said “Adam failed to exercise his authority by *not* speaking up and *instead* going along with Eve.”

        Reply
    • Barbara

      I think Eve and Adam were both intrigued about eating the fruit and Eve was the one bold enough to do it. Adam: well, if she tries it & doesn’t die, I’ll try it too. 😆

      Reply
  4. Jane Eyre

    What a great trip! Thank you for sharing the pictures and memories with us.

    Did you ask God to bless your phone, or the work you do with your phone as the tool?

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      The work I do with my phone! 🙂

      Reply
  5. Phil

    Hi Sheila. Glad you are back. I missed you actually. I have also been MIS around here while you were gone. I struggle with the season changes and shorter days. I have not been in a super great space but things are just fine. For whatever reason the last couple days my mood has improved. It is absolutely gorgeous where I am standing right now. I sent a picture to Grace of a lone tree that is in Perfect fall color with some leaves just laying in a perfect circle around it. So how did I get to this peaceful space? Weird prayer LOL. Just like your prayer over your iphone/instagram. Lately My prayers have been weird. Example: Since my oldest graduated high school and is now 18 we are having less and less family meals together. That was always something that has been special to me (most nights anyway). So last night we planned the family meal together and we picked a time just for him since he had to leave at a certain time. When he was called for dinner he said he was too busy. So I prayed for dinner and I inserted my resentment into the prayer. I said even bless his food too. After the prayer the rest of the family laughed at my prayer. My son showed up after prayer and everything was fine. You know what? I dont think God cares. It wasnt a santa clause prayer. God knew what I meant. I meant that I wishes my son was there for prayer as a family before dinner. That is what I meant! I truly believe that provided me and us peace. While I do have some beliefs about prayer and what it should be I do think on some level God just wants us to pray. Its like planting seeds for ourselves. Glad you are back and I hope you feel better real fast.

    Reply
  6. CMT

    Well, if asking for a blessing on a tool you use in the task you’re called to is sacrilegious, then turning a little charm into a holy relic by touching it to a rock probably is too. No disrespect to anybody whose tradition practices things like that. Its just that mine doesn’t, so to me the idea of a relic doesn’t have any resonance.

    Asking for a blessing on your phone is a little like praying in the spot where Jesus (maybe) was buried. The physical place or object doesnt matter in itself, its the symbolism and the emotional significance it has to the individual person. I don’t think that bothers God any. If it did he probably wouldn’t have given us bodies that live in the physical world, and brains that find these things moving and important.

    Reply
  7. Maria B.

    Thank you for sharing your trip with us! It was especially nice to hear about Jerusalem.

    Reply
  8. Tim

    I enjoyed this post! It was nice to see you and Keith in the same picture loving each other 🙂

    You blessing your phone made me laugh. And I think it was more meaningful than blessing a piece of jewelry.

    God is in three persons in relationship from all eternity. It’s no surprise that he made us need each other 🙂

    Reply
  9. Angela

    I love that CMT said: “I don’t think that bothers God any. If it did he probably wouldn’t have given us bodies that live in the physical world, and brains that find these things moving and important”
    -made me smile. And CMT is right.
    I don’t think it’s sacrilegious at all. I very much enjoyed this post because I feel like it was so tangible. I also think that putting your iphone on the stone is probably what the Holy Spirit spoke to you. Good for you! Thank you for sharing the details and the photos. Thank you for including us. This has been a true blessing. Happy anniversary, happy birthday and so glad y’all had fun!

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thank you, Angela!

      Reply
  10. Krystle M

    Reading this makes me think of the sermon I just heard at my church this week. We’re just starting the book of Ruth, and looking at it from a different perspective than I’ve heard before…. and trust me, I’ve been in church a long time and have heard almost all of it! But what was exciting about this sermon was that it was focused on the grief of Naomi and how we need to interact with those who are going through hard times, be it grief, illness or something else. You can see the sermon here because Pastor Dave truly says it best. https://youtu.be/nvaQi2GBbMk?t=2583

    Also, I don’t think it’s sacrilegious to bless your phone! At least no more than doing the same action with some other item. I think the act of prayer and of laying down something we tend to idolize is very important! Truly, we all probably need such a moment in our lives.

    Thank you for the work you do! I’m glad you got some time away. 🙂

    Reply

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