Six Reflections From My Trip Back To England

Yesterday, I returned from a twelve day trip back to England to visit my family and friends. We took the whole family to see my mom who is failing in health with stage 5 Alzheimer’s. (Maybe I will blog about this trip another time…)

To be honest, I did not think too much about ministry while I was gone since it was a busy trip. However, I always find that being away gives me a good time to reflect on the areas on my life I would like to give greater emphasis and commitment to.



Here are six areas of my life I reflected on while I was away. I believe they will continue to help me build a healthy foundation as a pastor:

  1. Greater Intentional Quiet Times and Bible Study. While I was away in the UK, I got to grab a coffee with friend and mentor Chris Knowles. Chris was the guy who came alongside me when I was a fairly new Christian in my early twenties. He was the guy I met with to study God’s Word and share life together. Last week as I met with Chris, it is evident he is still deeply committed to God’s Word and Prayer. Over this summer, I am committed to digging deeper and following Chris’ lead. 
  2. Intentional Marriage / Family Times. Being on vacation for twelve days made me more aware than ever how much I enjoy my wife and kids. However, looking back on my last year, I realize that my marriage and family has not always received the best of me. Yes, I have scheduled them in and we have done many wonderful things together, but I have often been tired and lacking energy for those times. Investing in my wife and kids means I need to bring the best of myself to them, not the tired left overs. Now that I am done with my masters, (I finished in May), I hope to give greater focus, time, and energy to my family. How about you?
  3. Improved Health and Fitness. After being on vacation in England, eating curry at least five times, Fish n’ Chips three times, (yes I was counting), and eating many of my favorite English snacks, I realize I have some catching up to do in the health and fitness department. However, meeting with my uncle Tony last week helped me realize the importance of health and fitness for the short and long-term. Growing up as a kid, I saw my uncle run marathons, play numerous sports, and always busy and energized for his carpentry business. As we talked last week, I was captured by the importance of staying healthy for the short and long-term.
  4. Increased Personal Reading and Learning. I’ll admit it, I have not read nearly enough in the last year. Again, my masters degree has taken me away from reading books that can increase my knowledge base and inspire me personally. While I read many good books for my masters, they were often rushed and I did not feel like I had the time to think about and process what was being read. Over the summer, there are 4-5 books I am committed to reading. Perhaps I will do some book reviews here on the blog too? What good books would you recommend?
  5. Friends, Community, and Accountability. During our time away I was able to meet stay with friends and meet friends and mentors from my life in England. What is incredible is the way we continue our conversations from years ago without missing a beat. Our life circumstances have changed, but who we are has not changed drastically. These people are still some of my best friends and mentors. Taking time to catch up, share life and memories was an incredible blessing to me. However, it made me realize how much I have miss these kinds of friendships. Ministry, family, and busyness can often mean that our friendships and mentors get back seat in our schedules. However, I would assert that we all need friends and mentors outside of ministry and family. In the coming months, I know I need to invest more in my friends here in the U.S… I need them, and they need me…
  6. Family is Precious. My mom has stage 5 Alzheimer’s which means she currently is losing her short-term memory. Next she will likely lose her ability to remember people and places. The last twelve days allowed myself, my wife, and my kids to see her and enjoy being with her… There’s more I could say, but simply I would say this: Life is short, make the most of the ones you love. Make the phone call, make the trip, forgive the past…

What would you add to this list? What vacations do you have coming up? What have you been learning recently about yourself? 

Phil <><

P.S – This post was written with jetlag! Apologies for typos etc…


  • Tom Beeghly

    Great thoughts, Phil!

  • philbell

    Tom, thanks!

  • ScottTinman

    Sounds like a great trip and time to evaluate and re-focus…hope to be one of those in #5 now that we aren’t too far away from each other…just maybe not fish n chips?

  • philbell

    For sure my friend. I have a mission trip coming up. Let’s shoot for July sometime.