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Originally published Friday, January 4, 2013 at 4:54 PM

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Re-gifting needn't be limited just to the holiday season

As 2013 begins, I've been thinking about another kind of re-gifting, one less likely to cause hurt feelings should the original giver find out.

Special to The Seattle Times

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It's something most of us do, but rarely admit. We re-gift. With December's presents opened, there may be a few things we're eyeing with someone else in mind for this New Year.

It's not that we mean to be ungrateful or rude. We just know Aunt Frieda will make better use of the latest thing-o-matic, especially since we already have three of them (which we never use) and hot-pink kitchen gadgets make us break out in hives.

As 2013 begins, I've been thinking about another kind of re-gifting, one less likely to cause hurt feelings should the original giver find out. Last year I was the recipient of many bountiful gifts — some made all the difference — and I want to pass them along to others in the coming 12 months. Here are three "re-gifts" I want to give away:

Caring words in crisis times. A year ago at this time was a season of great anxiety for our family. Our oldest daughter was just out of the hospital after fighting for her life due to complications from a surgery.

Many times during those months, it was the kind words of a friend — "I'm praying for your daughter, and for you ... " "What can I do to help? ... " "I've been thinking about you. How's it going?... " — words that provided hope enough for one more day.

Their words may have been spoken, written in a card or even posted in Facebook, but the effect was the same: a transfusion of encouragement and renewed strength. I was still in seminary then, and also writing a book, so other "grace words" were offered by those who released me from previous deadlines, sans guilt. "Just do what you need to do to help with your little grandgirls until their mommy gets better," they said, not realizing the huge weight they were lifting off my shoulders.

So this year, I will watch for those who are experiencing struggle or loss. I won't let worry that I'll say the wrong thing, or that what I say will be inadequate for their level of suffering, mute my compassion. I will re-gift the kind words offered to me and trust the hope I caught from others is still contagious.

Knowing someone believes in me. Throughout the course of a lifetime, we come upon opportunities, cleverly disguised as challenges that seem much too big for our abilities.

It's the easiest thing, in those circumstances, to politely decline and bow out, thinking that surely someone else will do a better job. Unless — and it's a huge "unless" — someone you respect believes in you. "Go for it! You can do this! I'm cheering you on!" they say.

There's a chapter called "First Clappers" in the book I just wrote for women in leadership. It's about early applauders in the crowd, those who dare to break the silence when everyone else is still deciding whether or not to express approval.

I've had some wonderful "first clappers" in my life this past year, but none more enthusiastic or persistent than my amazing husband, Don. Without him cheering me on, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have had the courage to take on various leadership roles, go back to school and get my doctorate (finally finishing it up!), become a life coach, write this column and now a book, speak to groups across the country, or venture into many other "too big" adventures.

In 2013, I will watch for those who are wondering whether or not to try their wings in a new undertaking. I will re-gift the "I believe in you" expressions, which gave me courage to try out dreams that seemed beyond my capacity. And yes, even if others are still silent, I will be an enthusiastic first clapper for the courageous beginners around me.

Faith living. As a follower of Jesus Christ, my life revolves around what it means (I'm still learning!) to put my trust in a loving God who breached our brokenness by sending His Son to take on humanity and redeem us from sin.

Yet even the faith I claim does not originate with me; it is a gift. A favorite Bible passage, Ephesians 2:8-9 (New International Version) says: "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast."

This extravagant gift of forgiveness, of a selfish heart set right, of soul peace in a maddeningly chaotic world, of hope for life in and beyond this life — this gift of faith is one I will spend the rest of my days re-gifting. And I'm pretty sure the original Giver won't mind one bit.

Jodi Detrick is a minister with the Northwest Ministry Network (Assemblies of God). She is also a public speaker, an author and a life coach. Readers may send feedback to faithcolumns@seattletimes.com

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