Israel Biruk: 4 Years Old!


You are FOUR YEARS OLD! This has probably been the longest year and you certainly LOOK like a four year old now. You're wearing 4T clothes and you are getting really heavy and big. Israel, you are the friendliest, most charming kid I know. You wave "hi" to all the people on the streets of New York. You had our college students in Alabama absolutely smitten with you. You give snuggles and big smiles to your friends. You can grin with your eyes closed, face to the sky, and get absolutely anything you want. You say "awww" when you snuggle someone or one of your puppies.

Your favorite toys are your Learning frog puppies (you have two, and they have been your favorite since you were a baby!). You were obsessed with Elmo for a long time and this summer you switched to Mickey (Kickey Mo) and you are Ob.Sessed. with Kickey! We had a Mickey birthday party this year. You love looking at books, toys and love the "Hot Dog" song! You are still scared of the stuffed animal version. Your obsession begins every morning and ends at night. You want Mickey or Puppy as soon as your eyes open, and you say "Night night Kickey" or puppy every night as we are tucking you in. Sometimes it is a battle to convince you that you don't need to watch TV all the time... you love watching the SAME episode of mickey on repeat. It used to be this one particular episode of Elmo, and now it is one episode of Mickey. You love repetition!

You are on the path of rapid development. This spring you started walking on your own in the walker! This summer you started cruising along furniture, and you can pull to stand. You love pulling up to your knees and you will touch anything you can get your hands on. That means cups, mugs of "Hot" aka coffee, and any remote controls are not safe if you see them. We are SO proud of the milestones you accomplished this year. You are a hard working kid and you have therapy so much now (3 PT, 3 ST, and 2 OT per week!) and we can tell a difference. You are becoming very verbal - my favorite thing is you now say "I'm scared." That is a big milestone to acknowledge a real feeling! You pick up on new words almost every week. You even tell us "poop" when you or Edith poops :). You know the difference between hot and cold.

Your sister Edith is your best friend. You say "night night Baby" at night and you follow her around all day. You guys get into mischief together like when you sneak into the bathroom and toilet paper the whole place. You love bathtime and splashing her.

You are a good eater, and you have gained a lot of weight this year. You love cookies and cake and you know exactly where the bakery on our block is. You point out all of the trains and buses when you see them (you know what the subway train stations look like) and "train" and "bah" are two new words since we moved to New York! You love to ride on the subway when it is in motion but you shake and your lip quivers. You don't like when it stops and the door opens!

Israel, these past four years have been so good and very hard. You have brought us more joy and more happy tears than I could have expected as a mom. You have made my heart ache for redemption and the renewal of all things through Christ. You have made me toughen up and fight for you with an attitude at times. You have made us think we might go crazy and that we aren't strong enough or patient enough at times... but even in the really hard days (and there are really hard days!) we wouldn't trade you for anything. Yes, we do pray for miracles and I wish that you were healthy and "normal" sometimes. I wish that things came easy for you, especially now that you are bigger and your peers aren't as kind. I wish I could protect you from bullies and that you would never feel excluded or different. But I know that there is a purpose in this. There has to be! God's glory is being made known through a little four year old Ethiopian-American. God is using you to bring hope to others, joy to strangers, and sanctification to your parents! :) Israel, there are days where I wonder why God chose us to be your parents, because I don't feel equipped or good enough. Then there are days that I get the chance to fight for you, and I feel so incredibly honored to be your mom and that God believes that I can do it.

I can't help but think of a brave woman across the world who brought you into this world four years ago. She is a part of our story too, buddy. And four years ago she looked at your tiny face and I'm sure she had a million hopes for you. I can't help but think about what a sovereign God we have and how it is so humbling to think that you were born in a tiny village in Africa and yet here you are in my apartment now, mine to kiss at night and carry up and down the stairs. You have changed me so much in the last four years. Four years ago I was a mom-to-be, pregnant with anticipation of a little baby in Ethiopia who might need a mommy. I wanted to be a mom so bad. I had so many ideas of what my life as a mom would be, and they have all turned out different. But I'm thankful for YOU, son.

You've already changed our world, and you're impacting the lives around you every day. You have brought us so much giggles and so much hope. We won't stop hoping for you, Israel. Happy birthday little man. What a life-changing four years it has been! Can't wait to see the big milestones ahead this year and beyond.

Love, Mama


  1. So great Rebekah. We are grateful that God has brought him and your whole family into our lives. I can't wait to be around for more milestones as he grows. Keep being real with God and staying close to him. It's the best source of strength when feeling depleted. Thankful for you!


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