This weekend we were in Iowa celebrating my niece's graduation. Actually, she graduates next weekend, but she's also involved in a few state track meet events that same weekend, so her party was this weekend. High school graduation parties are a big deal in Iowa. The party involves a "shrine" to the graduate (pictures, awards, etc.--a small portion of which is shown here), gift giving (which seemed like pretty much people are just giving cards--presumably with money--in her area) and plenty of food (either small meat and cheese sandwiches with various salads and a cake or some creative theme--my niece had a chocolate fountain with various dip-able foods).

Because her cousin was also graduating, they both had their parties together at the same time. They were expecting around 250 people. I'm not sure if quite that many showed up, but it was a lot.

We don't have many rites of passage in our culture. High school graduation is one of the few. It should be a big deal. Generally, most schools in Iowa--the smaller ones at least--don't celebrate other steps (ie. Kindergarten graduation, 6th grade graduation, middle school graduation). So after thirteen years of school, and essentially becoming an adult--going off on your own--it's a noteworthy time to celebrate. 

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Tonight at church (we got back to Minneapolis with just a few minutes to unpack the car and get ready!) friends had their youngest son dedicated. It's another milestone of sorts--not that the child does anything to accomplish it other than being born. But it's a rite of passage nonetheless.

It's a big step for parents to dedicate their child. Essentially, they're saying, "God, you've given us this child to take care of as best we can, but ultimately the child is Yours. Whatever plans we have for this child take the back seat to Your plans. We know that someday we have to let go and give this child up to You."

I appreciate that along with the child's family, extended family, and family friends that we as the church body affirm the blessing of the child in our midst. We commit to being a part of their development.

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It's good to mark milestones in life. Especially in children. We need to celebrate children more. Not to build up their self-esteem, boost their ego, or pamper them; but because there are steps towards living an independent, interconnected life that are work marking. They need to know they're doing things well and that they have the support of many people who love them. 

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