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It’s not often that I have dreams that I remember, much less dreams that feel significant in my heart, but in January of 2011, a memorable dream set the course for my year.

In this dream I walked into a room and it was filled with glittering wrapped gifts.  I was blown away by the beauty of the packages and the amount of them.  They were stacked up high, layers upon layers of gorgeous gifts.  I looked around and saw Jesus in the room, and He graciously indicated that these were intended for me.  I didn’t know exactly what to make of all this.  I was shocked and excited…like a child on Christmas morning, but also a bit unsure of whether or not I could believe such an image to be true for my life.

After all, life was, well, normal life.  There wasn’t much sparkly and glittery about my present outlook on life, nor was there any real hope of glitter in the near future.  At the time I had 2 kids under 2 and under, and one on the way.  I had school deadlines looming overhead and a traveling salesman for a husband.  We had recently moved to the area from out-of-state, so we were the new kids on the block without any roots or relationships.  While I was optimistic about our new start in a new place with new friends and many unknowns, God’s goodness to me in this past year has been more than i could have ever asked for or imagined.  That is so like Him.  He is, after all, the giver of all good gifts.

As I look back, 2011 has reflected the reality of that dream in countless ways.  I have the biggest gift of the year asleep next to me at the moment.  We found out we were pregnant at the beginning of January, around the same time as that dream.  When asking God about the new year, God spoke to me that 2011 was going to be marked by JOY…and so it has been.  Our baby girl has been an unmatched gift of grace and refreshment.  Her name means “the Father’s joy”.

Our church and our growing friendships in a place that has only been home for a year are gifts we are forever grateful for.  Our church family has spring-boarded us deeper into our callings and pursuit of God.  Our faith-level has increased and we are seeing more of God’s gracious love and power at work since knowing and walking with this church.  (this photo is part of the worship team from our church)

My relationship with my husband has grown deeper and wider in love, respect and unity.  He is the love of my life, and I pinch myself when I look at him and realize he still makes my heart melt.   Over the past year we have both discovered new ways to minister, give and invest in God’s unique calling on our lives.  To put it simply, life is just better with him.

My kids have grown physically, as well as spiritually, even in their tender young ages of 2 and 3.  They speak of the Father’s love, forgiveness and of God’s power to heal and make well.  They love each other and they have a heart for people.  I am amazed at their capacity to know God, to see God, to love God and to receive His love.

The gifts of God in my life have been physical in nature, as well as spiritual, both monumental and microscopic.  There have been gifts that speak to my heart that no one around me would have noticed, and through them He consistently reminds me of His faithfulness and His goodness.  My heart has expanded in understanding more of His character, and my trust in Him has grown as a result.

This month I completed my Masters, which has been three years of a gift in my life.  I have also been blessed to find a way to offer my life to others through this blog, which I consider a special gift that only God knew I would need and value.

I could go on for days about the many gifts, both large and small, that have come from the Father’s hand into my life this year, but what I wanted to emphasize most in this post is the goodness of God in all things.  His goodness is constant and limitless.  His gifts are all around.  It is up to us to open our eyes to see it.

I have learned this year that knowing God’s goodness is not about noticing what we don’t have, but it is about seeing what we do have and giving thanks for it.  As our lens change and we begin seeing from a place of thankfulness and awareness of God’s presence, we open ourselves to even more of His goodness.  It has a snowball effect of blessing not only in our lives but in those around us.

It is fitting that the two books I happen to be reading as I close out the year both have the word “gifts” in their titles.  “One Thousand Gifts” by Ann Voskamp and “A Good and Perfect Gift” by Amy Julia Becker.  Both highly recommended!!

As you look back on 2011, what has been a consistent theme that highlights God’s activity in your life?