Megan Smalley is the CEO of the popular online shop, Scarlet & Gold, the author of Give Grace, and the creator of the Overcome Journal. She grew up as a pastor’s kid, and while the foundation of faith she was given is so important, it’s the fires she’s faced that have refined her heart and given her an unshakeable faith.
Megan walked a hard road in pursuit of her lifelong dream to have children, and she’s now Mom to three boys, who she affectionately calls “The Bad Business Club.” Megan’s journey to motherhood is only one piece of her story that’s given her an important voice in the space of learning to overcome the hard stuff. She encourages women to overcome trials in their own lives and to give and receive grace in the process through her speaking, writing, and inspirational products.
She lives in Alabama, ten hours away from her home state of Texas, where she and her husband Blake, a basketball coach, raise their young boys, twins Stisher and Eli and little baby James.
She shared her parenting perspective with our Fearless Mom community as we head into Mother’s Day Weekend:
Growing up, I loved celebrating Mother’s Day. Every year, I created a card or a homemade present for my mom. My siblings and I even tried to give her the greatest gift of all: no fighting. This rarely lasted longer than an hour. Going to church was also part of our Mother’s Day celebration. I remember watching with pride as my mom stood up when the pastor recognized all mothers. Little did I know that Mother’s Day would become a very painful holiday for me one day.
As a child and teenager, I had a pretty easy life. Everything we needed was provided for us, and we never truly wanted for much. For years, I never experienced loss of any kind. I realize now that at the time I didn’t understand brokenness, and I didn’t know how to be sensitive to others’ feelings. All that changed two years into marriage.
When Blake and I decided to start a family, I thought it would go as planned like everything else in my life. But, it didn’t. I will never forget the moment I heard the doctor say the words, “IVF is your only chance to have a baby.” As his voice faded away, I thought, This cannot be my life. At twenty-seven, I was healthy and exhibited no signs or family history of infertility whatsoever. This was NOT supposed to be my story.
Looking back, God knew exactly what He was doing when He set my feet on that broken road. He wanted me to trust Him, to know that He had my back. I wish I could tell you that’s exactly what I did, but it wasn’t. Instead of resting in God and allowing Him to lead me through the fire, I fought tooth and nail for some semblance of control. I grieved deeply. I was angry that His plans looked different from mine, plans that felt so unfair. I looked around me and wondered why everyone else was having baby showers and getting recognized in church on Mother’s Day. I was devastated that we would have to pay thousands of dollars to do something other people do for free! I didn’t understand why the biggest desire of my heart was suddenly shut behind a locked door. I convinced myself that God was punishing me for all the sins of my past—yes, even the time I wore my sister’s brand new dress without asking her first, knowing how mad she would be!
I refused to believe this was going to be our story. I begged God to change things. I pleaded with Him to take the pain away and to answer our prayers. I did literally everything except to stand on what I believed to be true: that God’s plans are always better than our plans, that His grace is sufficient at all times and for all things.
Underneath all the craziness and chaos, God was teaching me something. I might not have had much grace for God and His plans, but He had grace in abundance for me. While I was questioning and yelling and doubting, He was whispering His truth into my heart, saying, “Just wait. Just watch. Let Me show you what I have in store for you. It’s better than anything you’ve ever imagined.”
It took me a while to hear it and even longer to accept it, but it was worth it. Every tear, every heartbreak, every moment of doubt—they were all worth it because they changed me, shaped me, and made me into the woman I am today. The woman who knows, deep down in her bones, what I only believed before.
During our four-year journey through infertility, we lost four babies, experienced lots of uncertainty, lost friends, felt misunderstood, took leaps of faith, made hard decisions, and lots more. Through it all, I have learned so much. The Lord has opened my heart and my eyes to see the suffering of others like never before. Through my trial, I have gained a new level of empathy for people who, like me during those years, want to celebrate Mother’s Day but cannot find a way to see past the pain.
Mother’s Day is a paradox: It’s a joyous occasion and a painful reminder for so many. A reminder of the mother who is no longer at the table because she is in heaven. A reminder of the child, whose first word “Mama” still echoes in the house where he no longer lives. A reminder of the empty womb that may never be filled, the “Mommy” hat that may never be worn. You see, for many women, Mother’s Day seems like a “cool kids only” club. If you don’t have a baby to bounce on your hip or the perfect family photo, you don’t get to be in the club. But friends, that’s not what this day should be like.
As we approach Mother’s Day, I want to challenge you to step outside the box and think about the people in your life who don’t wear the hat of traditional motherhood. Someone who has lost a child. Someone who is a mother in her heart but hasn’t been blessed with an earthly baby. Someone who is like a mother to so many kids that aren’t her own. Someone who grieves the loss of her own mother. Someone who has experienced miscarriage and yearns to see the face of her heavenly babies. Someone who is waiting to bring her baby home. I want you to find that person in your life and reach out. Include them in the celebration and find a way to honor them. Why? Because that is grace. And that is love. And that is what Mother’s Day is really all about.
Let’s tear down the traditional walls of this day and spread grace around like confetti. Let’s give hugs. Let’s send thoughtful notes. Let’s text someone who is hurting. Let’s be sensitive with social media. Let’s invite someone who feels left out into the club. Let’s step outside our comfort zone and love those around us, even if we don’t know what to say. You never know what someone else is struggling with, and Mother’s Day is a great opportunity to make a huge impact on someone’s heart. You can do this!
If you want to know more about my story or are interested in resources I have created please check out Give Grace, my recent book, and Overcome, a journal for anyone walking a hard road. Both of these resources can be found at www.megansmalley.com.