Dieting is hard work!  I’m six months in and have totally plateaued!  My coach is patiently waiting for me to get a revelation that ‘food is just fuel’.  Uggh! I still see food as the centrepiece of celebration, the source of stress relief, the common shared experience of building relationship, the desirable measure by which to channel my hormone-fuelled emotional range, the significant distraction in preventing me from murdering people I love, an ultimate necessity in expressing my hospitality gifting, and a vital avenue for harnessing my creativity.  But no, apparently it’s just fuel.  And I’m getting in trouble because I forgot to weigh in this morning. She will give me the inspirational talk (ie. the lecture) about how I must prioritise my health, how self-care is important, how achieving my goal only happens when I commit myself to the daily disciplines and make them predictable patterns.  And I will put the cookie down, sighing deeply, and work on getting my steps up for another day. I hate that she’s right. But my body is rather grateful. Most women I talk to have the same struggle with prioritising their own health. For lots of reasons I don’t need to explain, because they are many, and they are complex, and they’re actually pretty good.  But we still need to encourage one another to have another go because eventually it sticks and we finally do something that adds great benefit to our lives and flows out to everyone we share those lives with. The spiritual parallels are pretty obvious too.  Taking time out to do anything for ourselves is an instant guilt trigger!  Yet many of us do some of the most important seasons of our lives running on empty. I would really like to champion a culture amongst women that helps us support and encourage one another to make the right investments into our health.  If we are to be Spirit-led women, investments into our spiritual health are absolutely vital.  What does that look like for you?  Do you have a predictable pattern of making time for spiritual retreat in your day/week/year?  One of the predictable patterns for retreat that I’ve tried to encourage for myself and for others, is going on a Connect Weekend.  I’m always amazed at how God so graciously attends to the stuff that accumulates in our hearts and minds.  He can set things in order in a moment that have caused nothing but internal chaos for years.  When we set aside time for Him to speak to us, He comes swiftly  – “with healing on His wings!”  After all, we are women with a lot of things to do and a lot of places to be –  God gets us! We’re entering the winter season.  In the winter, everything in nature seems to grind to halt.  Yet, what can’t be seen is the deepening of the root systems of trees, getting ready for the summer to come.  I like to think of Connect Weekends as a way of getting our roots healthy and deep.  I would like to share the testimony of one of our girls that just shows the faithfulness of God in responding to our commitment to draw aside and spend time with Him: “Two weeks prior to the Connect Weekend, I agreed to go.  I was exhausted, desperate and terrified.  I had just separated again from my abusive husband.  As I was driving away from our house to my sister’s house, bawling my eyes out, I cried out to God saying, “I don’t have a theology for this marriage not working!”  I slept at my sister’s house for two weeks and began attending Hawkesbury Church where I was so surrounded with love. I went to the Connect Weekend a mess.  A huge, blubbering, desperate, rejected, insecure, depressed mess.  The Friday night of Connect, I found out my husband was seeing someone else.  I thought I would die.  I eagerly went to the Connect Weekend the following morning because I knew Jesus was going to speak to me.  He did, through the sessions, through the prayer ministry – over and over and over again, the Lord washed over me. In one of the prayer sessions, I remembered being sexually abused.  The penny dropped – the deepest rejection of all my life was healed.  And the burden of this was lifted. The next day, I found out my husband was unfaithful.  Despite that, I felt lighter, free-er – more whole than ever before.  That weekend was one of the most important moments in the history of my life.  It sparked what was the hardest but BEST and most rewarding and joyful years of my life.  I was a new woman!  I came to the Connect weekend the following year and sat under Holy Spirit teaching and was able to learn and receive and enjoy.  I am positioning myself to help others and feeling Holy  Spirit’s nudge to look out for others now, to position my hand to help other women who may be in the fight of their lives.  So grateful for these weekends.” How beautiful is that testimony?  How powerful and kind and steadfast is our God?!Make sure you take the time and opportunity to get away with Jesus this year.  You’re worth the investment. x