New Year- New Hope

Part 2 in the Series—The thought of a Spiritual IEP came to me like a ton of bricks while I was showering. You know-one of those amazing luxuries that I use to take for granted. It was nap time and both boys were sleeping- Praise Jesus! Then I called my mom and rambled on about these thoughts. I couldn’t get them out of my head. As a Special Education teacher prior to being a stay at home mom, I estimate that I have outlined, drafted and written more than 500 IEPs. An IEP is an Individualized Education Plans for students with disabilities. It’s their yearly plan that closely considers their strengths and weaknesses, learning styles and most critical areas of need.

The process accesses the educational curriculum with a strategic plan designed just for them. The goal is to help them to “level the learning field” to help them succeed. It includes a quick summary of their present level of performance. This includes their current strengths and weaknesses, with projected annual goals to help overcome those weaknesses. Those annual goals are carefully written to be measurable, and specific to the learner. The goals are closely monitored and are worked on daily. The IEP also includes carefully selected accommodations, tools and strategies that will help support the learner to reach those goals. Ultimately we are striving for an independent, self-advocating learner.  So, the thought I now can’t get out of my head is- why don’t I create spiritual IEPs for myself? Do I necessarily have a diagnosed disability? Well, yes, my state of sinfulness and the Old Adam lets me start with a flawed character. Also, my mom speaks of having a diagnosis of “Spiritual amnesia”. She can’t remember from one day to the next God’s goodness and grace. My dad talks about having Spiritual ADD- and the challenge of distraction. The genetic prognosis isn’t good for me. So, could an individualized spiritual plan help me? I could reflect on what my own weaknesses are, create measurable goals, and offer tools, strategies and accommodations. It is important to not move into the realm of thinking that I can make myself better in my personal goals of spiritual practices. That all comes from Jesus, and the power of the Holy Spirit at work in me. But, what if I were more diligent in taking the time for self- reflection, identifying my spiritual strengths and weaknesses? Can the Lord bless my efforts, the setting of goals to become closer to God? Could carefully selected accommodations, strategies and tools covered in prayer show me where God is leading?

The process accesses the educational curriculum with a strategic plan designed just for them. The goal is to help them to “level the learning field” to help them succeed. It includes a quick summary of their present level of performance. This includes their current strengths and weaknesses, with projected annual goals to help overcome those weaknesses. Those annual goals are carefully written to be measurable, and specific to the learner. The goals are closely monitored and are worked on daily. The IEP also includes carefully selected accommodations, tools and strategies that will help support the learner to reach those goals. Ultimately we are striving for an independent, self-advocating learner.

So, the thought I now can’t get out of my head is- why don’t I create spiritual IEPs for myself? Do I necessarily have a diagnosed disability? Well, yes, my state of sinfulness and the Old Adam lets me start with a flawed character. Also, my mom speaks of having a diagnosis of “Spiritual amnesia”. She can’t remember from one day to the next God’s goodness and grace. My dad talks about having Spiritual ADD- and the challenge of distraction. The genetic prognosis isn’t good for me. So, could an individualized spiritual plan help me? I could reflect on what my own weaknesses are, create measurable goals, and offer tools, strategies and accommodations. It is important to not move into the realm of thinking that I can make myself better in my personal goals of spiritual practices. That all comes from Jesus, and the power of the Holy Spirit at work in me. But, what if I were more diligent in taking the time for self- reflection, identifying my spiritual strengths and weaknesses? Can the Lord bless my efforts, the setting of goals to become closer to God? Could carefully selected accommodations, strategies and tools covered in prayer show me where God is leading?

When I was teaching my sweet students with special needs, their IEPs were always written with prayer and careful thought. How could I best meet the needs of my students? My goals, strategies and methods of teaching didn’t always work. That’s the point of an IEP. It’s a working document. It’s editable and open to addendums to tweak things to best fit the needs of a student. Why not be this intentional in my quest to refine and seek wisdom in my journey of learning about the King of Kings? How can I be the brightest of lights to others around me, so they can learn to know Jesus?  I believe a Spiritual IEP would benefit me in various ways. Such a tool would set aside time for prayerful self-evaluation and reflection. In what areas of spiritual practices is God calling me to begin or even improve? I may need to specifically identify spiritual needs and personal strengths and weaknesses. When I have a starting point, I can better discern where God is leading my journey with Him. People like me, may need a more concrete, mapped out plan. This can help me focus on one specific spiritual practice as I train to make those habitual daily routines. I believe I can benefit from finding the best way I learn. Then, I can select the right tools and accommodations to best support me in my spiritual disciplines journey. The best part is a spiritual IEP isn’t designed to be written in stone and not revised till the annual IEP meeting. It’s a working document. I select dates to review my goals. The best part is with God’s grace, I can start over again. It is also not about perfection, but about growth or movement.  You may not need a concrete, written out plan for working on your spiritual goals. We all have different needs in our spiritual walk and that discernment comes only from God. Prayerfully consider seeking out other spiritual practices that might bring blessing to your life. Next— Looking at Plans    Sara Wilson  Springfield, Virginia

When I was teaching my sweet students with special needs, their IEPs were always written with prayer and careful thought. How could I best meet the needs of my students? My goals, strategies and methods of teaching didn’t always work. That’s the point of an IEP. It’s a working document. It’s editable and open to addendums to tweak things to best fit the needs of a student. Why not be this intentional in my quest to refine and seek wisdom in my journey of learning about the King of Kings? How can I be the brightest of lights to others around me, so they can learn to know Jesus?

I believe a Spiritual IEP would benefit me in various ways. Such a tool would set aside time for prayerful self-evaluation and reflection. In what areas of spiritual practices is God calling me to begin or even improve? I may need to specifically identify spiritual needs and personal strengths and weaknesses. When I have a starting point, I can better discern where God is leading my journey with Him. People like me, may need a more concrete, mapped out plan. This can help me focus on one specific spiritual practice as I train to make those habitual daily routines. I believe I can benefit from finding the best way I learn. Then, I can select the right tools and accommodations to best support me in my spiritual disciplines journey. The best part is a spiritual IEP isn’t designed to be written in stone and not revised till the annual IEP meeting. It’s a working document. I select dates to review my goals. The best part is with God’s grace, I can start over again. It is also not about perfection, but about growth or movement.

You may not need a concrete, written out plan for working on your spiritual goals. We all have different needs in our spiritual walk and that discernment comes only from God. Prayerfully consider seeking out other spiritual practices that might bring blessing to your life. Next— Looking at Plans

Sara Wilson

Springfield, Virginia