Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Baby Shower

selecting just the right pieces for a kit
Ah, friends. My heart is so full. Today the ladies at my church packed SIXTY EIGHT baby care kits! Each kit contains:
two t-shirts
two gowns or jammies
two blankets
four cloth diapers
one jacket
two pairs of socks
one hand towel
two bars of soap
two diaper pins
kits ready to be shipped

Once Lutheran World Relief ships them wherever they are most needed, sixty eight babies will be clean and clothed thanks to sweet friends and family near and far and the selfless ladies I worship with every week.

I miss Maren so much. All the "what might have been" dreams and "why us?" questions are still so fresh and painful. I wish things could have been different. I wish she were still here with us. But I'm so thankful for the impact she made on so many people, and I'm thankful that little lives around the world continue to be blessed by her.

"Angel Gowns"
I got one more tear-inducing surprise this week from my sister-in-law Jenni's mom Jan. She made the beautiful christening gown we dressed Maren in when she was born and that she wore again for her burial. It meant so much to us to have such a beautiful dress for such a beautiful girl. Jan sent a picture this week of clothes she made for her hospital's "Angel Gowns" program in memory of Maren; if there's a baby like Maren who will only be here for a short time, or who was born too soon or died before birth, he or she will have one of these sweet wraps or dresses to wear. She said she's praying they'll just stay in the box forever and never be needed. I'm praying that along with her, but I'm so thankful Maren inspired Jan to do something so wonderful. I know these babies' parents will be so appreciative.

So thank you, friends. As I head off to bed tonight, I am so thankful for you. Thank you for helping me honor Maren, and thank you for blessing babies all over the world.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

A Baby Shower for Maren

If there's anything positive that has come from losing Maren, it is this: my own suffering has made me much more aware of other hurting mothers.
When I think of the mothers who watch their children die a little every day due to starvation, I can't imagine what those women are going through. The video of this boy who was pulled from the rubble in Aleppo made me cry. There is so much suffering in the world, and most of the time I feel like there's nothing I can do. My prayers seem like too little, and calling my elected officials doesn't seem like enough either. I want to swoop in and rescue those sweet children and bring them all home. 

I have insurance and retirement accounts with a financial institution called Thrivent. Every year, I can apply for $250 to do something good for someone else. When thinking about how I wanted to use my grant this year, I strongly felt I wanted to do something to honor Maren. We may not be the richest folks around, but the fact of the matter is that Maren would have had everything she needed if she had lived. She would never have wanted for food or clothes or good medical care. It is a luxury I take for granted. I would guess most of you do, too. I wanted to do something for other babies and mothers who don't have that privilege.

The ladies at my church are helping me do something to help those babies and mothers on a small scale. We never had a baby shower for Maren, but they're helping me put on a baby shower at the end of January with all the gifts collected going to moms and babies in need around the world. Lutheran World Relief will distribute all the baby kits we make to mothers in emergency situations. It still doesn't seem like enough, but it's something; it tells that mom, "We see you. We love you. We're sorry you're going through this. We're praying for you."

If you'd like to join me, please click here to see the list of items that go into a baby kit. I made a little Amazon wish list you can see here for inspiration. Feel free to purchase items anywhere you want -- those are just ideas and examples. You can even go dig through those tubs in your basement if you'd like; as long as items are in like-new condition (as most used baby clothes are!), they'll be great for some other little one on the other side of the world.

Join me in honoring Maren . . . and your children and grandchildren, too. Let's show our gratitude for our children and our situations by doing something for other moms in situations far out of their control. Thank you so much!

Tiffany Roiseland
655 S. Governor St.
Iowa City, IA 52240

Sunday, June 19, 2016


It's hard to believe it's been two months since Maren was born. Sometimes it feels like yesterday. Sometimes it feels like years ago. Sometimes it feels like it was only a dream.

A good friend reminded me there's no rule book when it comes to grief. There's no set way of grieving you must follow or a timeline for when it needs to be finished. Another friend said sometimes it feels worse as time goes by because your loved one is more quickly forgotten by people who weren't as close to her while the wound is still deep and fresh for you. I'm blessed to have such friends.

I'm slowly working my way through A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis. I've read and reread this passage that gives his thoughts on "getting over it":

“Getting over it so soon? But the words are ambiguous. To say the patient is getting over it after an operation for appendicitis is one thing; after he’s had his leg off is quite another. After that operation either the wounded stump heals or the man dies. If it heals, the fierce, continuous pain will stop. Presently he’ll get back his strength and be able to stump about on his wooden leg. He has ‘got over it.’ But he will probably have recurrent pains in the stump all his life, and perhaps pretty bad ones; and he will always be a one-legged man. There will be hardly any moment when he forgets it. Bathing, dressing, sitting down and getting up again, even lying in bed, will all be different. His whole way of life will be changed. All sorts of pleasures and activities that he once took for granted will have to be simply written off. Duties too. At present I am learning to get about on crutches. Perhaps I shall presently be given a wooden leg. But I shall never be a biped again.”

There was a night about a month ago when I looked in the mirror and had to look away. I looked so normal. I looked exactly like I did before I gave birth to Maren and then buried her less than a week later. It seemed like a betrayal -- like I should have some sort of visible scar or at the very least a Scarlet Letter-type badge that tells the world I bore a baby girl and she was beautiful and cherished. Instead I'm grocery shopping and helping at Vacation Bible School and spending time with friends and generally going about life in a way that probably looks like I'm "getting over it." But like C.S. Lewis says, I may be getting about, but I'll never be the same again.

And really? I'm okay with that. Because erasing the pain means erasing my baby girl, and it's not a trade-off I'd ever want to make. I heard "The Dance" by Garth Brooks on the radio a few weeks ago and thought, "Man, I haven't heard this song in years, and it takes on a whole new meaning after Maren." Holding you, I held everything. Yes, the tears are coming less frequently. Yes, it still hurts. But no, I have no regrets. I could have missed the pain, but I'd have had to miss the dance. I wouldn't trade my time with my sweet girl for anything.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

A God Moment

After a not-so-great day on Monday, we decided to take a little day trip on Tuesday. Maren was buried in a beautiful casket built by the brothers at New Melleray Abbey from trees grown in their forest, a ministry they provide free of charge to families who lose children. We drove there and saw where her little casket came from and thanked them for blessing our girl with such a gorgeous gift.

The "God moment" of the day came before we even got there, though. I'm always amazed at how He orchestrates things.

We stopped in a little town called Mt. Vernon for breakfast. We had to park halfway down the block, and as I got out of the car, I saw a t-shirt in the shop window that instantly made me think of Maren. At her visitation, someone called her "the little missionary." She touched so many people in the short time she lived, and she continues to help kids as memorials in her honor arrive in the mail every day for A Better Life for Kids. One person -- one tiny little person -- can do so much.

As we ate breakfast, I kept thinking about the shirt. I feared it would cost an arm and a leg, being in a little shop in a little town. Then I remembered that Sunday is Mother's Day, and I doubted Kevin had gotten me anything yet. I asked if he wanted to stop in and buy it for me for Mother's Day, and he was happy to oblige. (Trying to figure out what to get me for Christmas/my birthday/Mother's Day/etc. is torture for the poor guy.)

We stepped inside and I was totally thrown off -- I was expecting a boutiquey kind of shop, but instead I saw a wall of different t-shirt designs, a bunch of soaps, and something that looked like a big printing press. I looked around in confusion, wondering what I had just walked into. About that time, a guy our age appeared and explained they're a fundraising company, One Mission Fundraising. People from all over the country use their little shop to raise money for adoptions or youth group mission trips or whatever their need. Very cool. I picked out my t-shirt size and his wife fired up their t-shirt making machine.

As I paid, they asked which fundraiser I wanted to support with my purchase -- 40% of each sale goes to the person or group supported by the fundraiser. I did a shoulder shrug, not really sure who or what to support. Having found out earlier where we lived, he said, "How about No Foot Too Small? They're in Iowa City." My stomach did a little flip-flop. They raise money for research to end premature births and birth defects. They also support families who lose babies.

I teared up, knowing God made this happen. This couple had no idea we were on our way to see where our baby's casket was made. They didn't know we lost Maren just a week and a half ago. They couldn't know how perfect the suggestion was, and that by buying a t-shirt to remind me of my baby girl, I could also support other families who've lost their sweet children.

So today, instead of wallowing in sadness, I'm remembering the God who cares for and comforts me . . . and I'm so thankful for the ways He continues to surprise me.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Missing Maren

I'm having a rough morning. When I woke up, I thought, Two weeks ago at this time I was calling my mom and announcing, "You have a granddaughter! She's alive and she's beautiful!" But two short weeks later, here I am with empty arms. It seems like yesterday. It seems like a lifetime ago. People tell me it will get easier with time, and one day she won't be my first thought when I wake up in the morning.

As Maren was dying, I had a memory of a made-for-TV movie I watched when I was a kid. It was called Alex: The Life of a Child and was the true story of a little girl with Cystic Fibrosis. Craig T. Nelson from Coach played her dad, and the scene I remembered showed little Alex requesting root beer as she was dying. Of course there was none in the house, so her dad drove like a maniac to the closest store, then rushed home with it. She took a small sip, said, "Thank you, Daddy," and then died.

I remembered this because at one point I thought sweet Maren felt cold, so I asked Kevin to go and get her little hat. He did, and as he walked back toward us with it, he breathed warm air into it so it would be warm when he put it on her tiny head. For the rest of my life, I will remember that tender gesture. He was such a good daddy to her in the short time we had.

And as I think about those acts of love performed by earthy daddies for their little girls, I can't help but be thankful, because I know the love of earthly fathers is just a shadow of the love our Heavenly Father has for us. I know Maren has been shown even greater love in heaven since leaving us here on earth.

But I also have to remember he's not just Maren's Heavenly Father; he's my Heavenly Father, too. Through all of this, he's been beside me, arms wrapped around me, crying with me.

The sad truth about miracles is that they're like everything else in life -- once you've experienced one, you want more. After those three days, I wanted three more, and had I gotten three more, I would have wanted another three. I miss my girl. I try to focus on how wonderful those three days were. I try to remember I'll see her again. But right now, the hurt is what's bubbling to the top.

Friday, April 22, 2016


Maren Elizabeth Roiseland, daughter of Kevin and Tiffany Roiseland, burst into the world at 4:20am on Monday, April 18, 2016. She blessed her eternally grateful family with three and a half beautiful days before returning to her heavenly father on Thursday, April 21, 2016. During her short time on earth, she blessed her parents, brother, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins with the sweet gift of time. She inspired many by beating the odds and fighting 'til the very end.

During her nearly 38 weeks of life inside Mommy, Maren showed her love through lots of kicks, especially while reading stories with big brother James or when James sang Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star to her and kissed her good-night through Mommy's belly. After her arrival, she was lavished with his kisses, gentle touches, and announcements of "Baby Sister!" whenever he set eyes on her.

Maren's family will always remember her glorious hair, her perfect little fingers and toes, and her sweet, soft cheeks. She grew more and more beautiful every hour. For her three and a half days on earth, she felt nothing but pure love.

We imagine that upon entering heaven, her big brother Sam greeted her and yelled, "Come on, Maren! Come on!" then led the charge as they together ran into their Heavenly Father's arms.

Rest in peace, sweet girl. We love you.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Good-bye, Sweet Girl

The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord. Job 1:21

Our beautiful daughter Maren Elizabeth is now peacefully resting in her Father's arms. We are heartbroken but will be eternally grateful for the three precious days we spent adoring her gorgeous hair, curling her tiny fingers around ours, and stroking what were undoubtedly the softest cheeks in the world. We praise God for the gift of time.

Thank you for your prayers throughout our sweet girl's life. We have felt nothing but love and support, which helped us ensure those three precious days were filled with nothing but love for Maren. We are so thankful for you.