Daily Cup of Encouragement

Announcing the Stepmom Retreat

Join us September 27 – 29, 2013 in Dallas for a weekend you will never forget!

One of my favorite types of emails to get from a stepmom reads something like this…. “I’m so grateful to know I’m not the only one feeling this way. Since connecting with other stepmoms I don’t feel alone anymore.”  You are not alone and now you have an opportunity to attend a national Stepmom Retreat and gain valuable tools and connect in person. There is power in community and the Stepmom Retreat offers help, healing and hope. You’ll also leave feeling refreshed and with friends who you can continue to walk the journey with.

We all spend money for insurance to protect our valuable assets like our home, car, jewelry. Our most valuable treasure is our family and a retreat like this in a priceless investment in you, your marriage and your family.

I am so excited to be a part of the Stepmom Retreat. Here are all the details:


Visit www.BlendedandBonded.com to register and take a peek at the agenda.  Here’s some helpful info on the retreat by Laura Petherbridge:

Who should attend this stepmom retreat?

This retreat is for any woman who is dating, engaged or married to a man with children of ANY age (even adult kids). PLUS it’s a great event for single parent moms because if they remarry they will form a stepfamily. Four of the five stepmom hosts have a ministry to stepmoms. The fifth is an amazing magazine filled with practical tips for stepmoms.

Why is there a need for a stepmom retreat? 

Stepmoms often feel confused, ashamed and fearful about the complex issues associated with a stepfamily. They often don’t tell their husband or even a best friend how they are feeling deep inside. The loneliness and feeling of being “outside the family circle” is real and significant.

Why are so many stepmoms shocked by the complex issues they are encountering? Didn’t they recognize these problems beforehand? 

One reason is that it’s human nature to ignore problems and believe that “love will conquer all.” Another is that the kids often don’t protest the marriage until afterwards. And a third reason is because couples inaccurately assume that if the couple is happy, the kids will be too. Basically “They didn’t know—what they didn’t know.”

What topics will be covered at the Stepmom Retreat?

We will tackle the common issues stepmoms face such as: overcoming the day-to-day frustrations of stepfamily living,  co-parenting between 2 homes, and the levels of step parenting authority. In addition, we will address unique issues such as : the childless stepmom, the full time stepmom, how to blend yours, mine and ours, what to do when the former spouse is difficult, and husbands who parent out of guilt.

How will a stepmom benefit from The Stepmom Retreat?

This event will allow a stepmom to mingle with other stepmoms and learn how her feeling are normal, and that she is not alone. It will also help her to hear honesty from experienced transparent stepmoms who have survived stepfamily living, and now thrive. We even have a panel of Dads joining us to share the male perspective. Our goal is to provide help, healing and hope!

Will you be joining us? Would love to hear your thoughts on the retreat? What would you love to see? Who would you love to meet? What would make the perfect stepmom retreat for you? Don’t be bashful ladies… please share! Hint, Hint… this makes a great Mother’s Day gift. Note that early bird registration ends June 1st.… tickets are selling and there are limited seats. Get yours today! Can’t wait to say hi in person and hug…. it’s going to feel like a family reunion (borrowing this term from a dear friend who referred to the retreat as such. She is so right!).

It’s a new year! A time when we think about new beginnings. The reality is that every day is a new beginning. A time to start afresh. We all make mistakes and we need to give ourselves grace and move on. Yet many of us often find ourselves dealing with some pretty heavy stuff and we need daily inspiration and encouragement to help lift us up. Dusting ourselves off each morning just isn’t enough.

We all need inspiration to get through our days and just like we are all different so are the things that inspire us.

Some of us are inspired by uplifting quotes, listening to music, reading books, praying, connecting with others. writing, attending seminars, etc…. Some women like to be around others when they are down while other women prefer solitude to reflect and become refreshed.

Regardless of what inspires you it’s important to ensure you are feeding your need to be inspired.

In the coming weeks, I’m going to be focusing on different ways to get inspired and connected and offer practical tips and tools for everyone for every type of inspiration. In addition, I’ll be getting more personal and sharing some of my own personal struggles and the different things that help inspire me along the way. Personally, I’ve found that different challenges in my life require different types of inspiration and support.

Whether you are looking to loose something like weight or negative feelings or looking to gain something like a support network or positive attitude…. you need to be inspired, encouraged and supported on your journey.

Life is a journey and one that regardless of what inspires you is best traveled with those who are on the same path. Together we learn and grow and support.

Hope you’ll join me and be inspired!


Would love for you to share what types of things inspire you? Share what type of support are you looking for.

Attitude. It’s a powerful force in my life and in your life. If left to my own mindless thoughts, I could spend my time complaining about all the things “I have to deal with.” This type of thinking would only leave me feeling powerless, hopeless and without any choices. That is truly false thinking. I know it’s a fact that I can’t control the people and situations in my life but I CAN control my attitude towards it all.  

Controlling my attitude doesn’t make my problems go away but having a positive attitude leaves me feeling powerful, hopeful and with choices on how to respond.  Let me think, if I have to choose between;

powerless or powerful

hopeless or hopeful

without choices or full of choices

I have to go with the latter in each set and the only way I can get there is by controlling my attitude.

I’ve learned a lot about myself and about life in my role as stepmom and one big truth I’ve learned is this; the more I try and control someone or something the more control it has over me!

I don’t want to give anyone or any situation power over me and my emotions.

New Year’s Resolutions are great but the most important thing to remember is the fact that we all have the resolve to accomplish whatever we put our mind to. If we choose to have a positive attitude, we can have one.

On New Year’s Eve, I’d like to share this powerful message from Charles Swindoll with you. My husband re-shared it with me today. May we all have a positively focused attitude in 2013!



Charles Swindoll

 ”The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life.  Attitude, to me, is more important than facts.  It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think, say or do.  It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill.  It will make or break a company… a church… a home.  The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we embrace for that day.  We cannot change our past… we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way.  We cannot change the inevitable.  The only thing we can do is play the one string we have, and that is our attitude… I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.

And so it is with you… we are in charge of our Attitudes”


I know that 2013 is going to have challenges for me. Lord knows 2012 brought a hefty share but my resolve is that I will work to have a positive attitude through it and forgive myself when I don’t and start over the next day.

Are you with me?

dis·en·gage  (dsn-gj)

v. dis·en·gageddis·en·gag·ingdis·en·gag·es

1. To release from something that holds fast, connects, or entangles.

2. To release (oneself) from an engagement, pledge, or obligation.

To free or detach oneself; withdraw.

from freedictionary.com

“Disengage from the situation!”Just disengage from your stepchild if they are causing you pain!” “I would just disengage from my husband if he was acting like that.

These are common tid bits of advice that stepmoms receive. But the bigger question is:

“How do you disengage and still stay connected?”

While disengaging from someone or something does lessen the pain it doesn’t solve the problem that is causing you to want to disengage. As the definition states above, disengage involves withdrawing and how can you have a healthy and fulfilling marriage if you are disengaging from your husband and/or the child he brought into your marriage.  

Do you stop asking about their day? Do you stop talking to your husband about their child and the struggle that brings you pain? Do you stop going to soccer games or parent teacher conferences to avoid confrontation from their mom? Just how do you disengage? Walking away from the pain may make the daily ride “easier” but it doesn’t address the struggles causing the pain and it isn’t drawing you closer to your husband nor his children.

When we disengage a few things can happen. The biggest drawback in my opinion is the hardening of your heart. When you disengage from a person or situation that is causing you pain, you often start to slowly put up a wall. You withdraw emotionally even if you are physically present and that can present it’s own issues. Sure you are still loving that person but you are loving them from a distance. You are lessening your vulnerability to be hurt. That may sound great… no pain… but when you want to give and receive unconditional love you have to be vulnerable. When you are married… you are vulnerable. When you are a parent…. you are vulnerable.

In my journey as a stepmom, disengaging from negative comments (not the person) is the best disengagement! And I speak from experience. Years back, I tried disengaging from my youngest stepdaughter and it didn’t work. Her struggles continued, her roller coaster of emotions continued. My disengagement did not erase the impact her choices were having on the family and on me and her father. Me not asking her about what was going on at school might have helped me not physically feel sick when I would hear the answer but it was like walking around my family room in the dark: the toys were still strewn everywhere, there was dust on the TV but I just couldn’t see it in the dark.

For me, disengagement made me feel worse. I disbanded that approach and did some soul searching. I want to be there and help and if it hurts to do that then I have to work through that. The best thing was for me is to put distance between hurtful things said and done and how I choose to process it.

Here are some truths about being a stepmom that remind me to not take things personally and help me disengage from the hurtful words not the person hurting:

My success as a stepmom is not tied to my stepchild’s choices and behavior. Measure your success as a stepmother by the love you give not by the response you get back. Because divorce and/or death of a parent is loss for a child, they are often operating from a place of pain. While remarriage is a second chance at love for you and your husband, it’s a reminder to a child that mom and dad will never be together again. We know that hurting people hurt others and often kids are operating from a place of pain. It doesn’t give them a license to say or do hurtful things but it can help you understand that their choices and behavior are not tied to your role as stepmom.

Hurting people hurt others. Disengage from the hurt not the hurting person. As mentioned above, separate the hurt from the hurting person. Have boundaries and consequences for poor choices. We can choose to withdraw from the person causing the pain but if we are committed to staying in our marriage than withdrawing and hardening our hearts will not build into a marriage that we want to grow and flourish.

While someone’s choices may impact me, they are just that – SOMEONE ELSE’s choices and I am not responsible for their choices. Do not take on another’s choices as your own. We may hear “you ruined my life,” “you took my dad away,” “my life would be perfect if you weren’t in it,” “if you cared about me, you’d leave me alone,” and more from our stepkids and we may hear even worse from their mother. Remember: these are their words not your doing. Do not take in these words as truth of who you are.

My value is not tied to another person’s opinion of me. While we should be open to honest feedback about ourselves, feedback and bashing are two different things. Do not measure your value by others. At Church this past Sunday, our pastor shared these words “your value is not tied to your valuables.” So true. Our value comes from the one who created us and God loves us all. He sees us as the beautiful creations He made us to be.

“You don’t always get back what you give!” (this is a little gem of a phrase I just learned from my friend Lisa on Twitter). Lisa said it so well. And this may be one of the hardest stepmom truths to swallow and accept. We give and we give and as stepmoms (and I would say parents in general) we may not get back all that we give but we are called to give anyway. When we give to give and not expect anything in return, it helps.

Hope these truths I’ve come to know help. While disengaging would numb the pain we feel it would also serve to numb our relationships and wouldn’t solve the problem bringing the pain. If anything we could have more issues as our withdrawing would impact our marriage and relationships.

“An engaged woman is always more agreeable than a disengaged. She is satisfied with herself. Her cares are over, and she feels that she may exert all her powers of pleasing without suspicion. All is safe with a lady engaged; no harm can be done.” Jane Austen


Would love to hear your thoughts on disengaging? Have you found yourself disengaging from a situation or person in your stepfamily? What tips would you share? What did you think of the stepmom truths shared? Are they helpful to you? As we share with one another and have open and honest dialogue as stepmoms we continue to grow, support and encourage one another.

 Look forward to hearing your take on disengaging! Let’s talk….


In honor of National Stepfamily Day (September 16th), I wanted to share this Prayer For A Blended Family with you. My husband gave me this framed prayer on our fifth wedding anniversary. It hangs proudly in our kitchen and I smile every time I read it. It is my hope that this prayer will be a blessing to you. Being the stepmother in a blended family brings both joys and challenges. It is my sincere hope that you will celebrate the blessings of your family today!


Prayer for a Blended Family


Lord, in Your providence,

You have provided the family

as a place where people can

experience love, learn important

life lessons, and find unequaled


May Your design be reflected

in this new family.

I pray that You would unite and

bind this family together;

even in togetherness, may there

be space to be individuals.

Help each person to love, respect,

and encourage others

within the family.

May the care and hospitality

within the family be extended

to those outside; that others

might see Your presence.

Artist: Kathy Seek; Writer: Chelle, Letters from the Heart: Prayer For A Blended Family


National Stepfamily Day is celebrated annually on September 16th and was founded by Christy Borgeld in 1997.

I learned a lot from doing the “Don’t Take Things Personally Challenge.”  And I’ve been using my knowledge every day to make life as a stepmom less emotionally taxing.

Today, gave me a great reason to pull out all my tools and find one I didn’t even know was in my toolbox. I got to discover another lesson I hadn’t realized I learned; I hold the power to control my thoughts.

And so the story goes, I have been having a great couple of weeks. I’ve really focused on not letting things get to me and it has made a huge difference for me.  My husband commented that he has noticed a new calmness about me. Good stuff. Today, it was put to the test.

My SD’s natural mom made all these promises and once again didn’t fill them. It has been about a month since she has last called my SD.  My SD was just at the point of giving over her anger and connecting with me again and then the phone rings. Guess who????  This is a cycle that I can recite verbatim; mom calls and makes promises, mom doesn’t keep promises, SD lashes out at me transferring all of her anger and frustration onto me, I deal with it, SD starts to diffuse and get over Mom’s continued failure, SD begins to warm up to me, mom calls, cycle restarts…….

Usually, after one of these call I feel terrible. I don’t even know what is said anymore (another lesson I learned from the challenge) but I’ve lived through the cycle for so long that I know what is coming.  I feel powerless. I feel a victim to the circumstances.  I feel like screaming.

But this time was different.

When my SD hung up the phone and was doing the “mom is gonna change this time” dance, I started to feel those powerless, victimized feelings I’ve felt in the past. But before I could take a drive down that road that only leads me to sadness and despair, I took a U turn and got on another path. I said I am not powerless. I can control how I react to this. I can choose to get all worked up and worry about the next few weeks or I can just be happy with me, my husband, and the many blessings in my life and live day to day in regards to my SD and her relationship with her mom.

I realized that I am GIVING my SD’s mom power when I ALLOW her behavior to negatively impact me and my thoughts. No more! I will not give my power away. I choose to focus on all the good in my life and not dwell on the chance that I’m going to have a tough go of it over the next few days.

I really don’t know what tomorrow holds for my SD and myself. But I do know that I hold the power to be happy. That I will not give my power to a woman who does not value the wonderful person she helped create 9 years ago. I refuse to allow her to ruin even one minute of my time thinking about what might happen.  Realistically, even if my SD lashes out at me over the next few days I know why. It doesn’t make it right for her to be so combative towards me but it helps me to understand that she’s not lashing out at me.  She’s really lashing out at her mother and she’s doing it through me as I’m the mom in the house.

I have the power to focus on me and how I will react to circumstances and I’m going to use it in a positive way.

If you want to read my learnings from the Don’t Take It Personally Challenge, visit www.thestepmomstoolbox.com to read my full article featured on the site.

Offering all my great smom friends free ground shipping on all products ordered through noon EST on Saturday, March 27th. No special code necessary.

Click here to access free ground shipping 

Do you want to send the message to a dear stepmom that she is the heart of her blended family? Or maybe you want to remind and encourage yourself. Whatever the case, the products in CafeSmom’s eshop are practical, affordable and of good quality.

When my stepdaughters were shopping for a Mother’s Day gift one year, they couldn’t find anything for me that said stepmom. That’s what prompted me to design and offer these products. Planning on adding additional products in the near future based on your feedback.

The travel mugs are the most popular choice. I use mine everyday and love when people ask me about it. Gives me an opportunity to debunk the evil stepmom myth! I take that opportunity every time I am presented with it!!!!

Would love your thoughts on my current selection? Your likes, dislikes, what you’d like me to offer. I want to hear it all.

Have a great day!

Download Free Affirmation Cards

affirmation cards.pdf


Okay girls, have I got a FREE gift for you (click the link just above this line to download the pdf).  I am challenging you all to take the 30 Day Affirmation Challenge. Peggy and Erin of The Stepmom’s Tool box Radio Show interviewed Tricia Powe from StepFamily Systems on Monday, March 15th. Tricia discussed the importance of stepmoms affirming themselves. At the end of the show, Peggy and Erin issued the 30 Day Affirmation Challenge.

The interview with Tricia focused on two self-care components: self-assessments and affirmations. Being a stepmom is a tough job. It is important for us to POSITIVELY affirm ourselves and affirm the beliefs about ourselves that often get challenged by being a stepmom.

If you haven’t listened to the show, I would urge you to do so. You can listen to it on the site http://thestepmomstoolbox.com/

At the end of the program, Peggy mentioned that some women don’t like to write and/or may not know how to create affirmations for themselves. I

Because I believe so strongly in the power and importance of affirmations, and because I don’t want the fact that some women may be intimidated to write affirmations, I have put together 80 affirmation cards for you to download FREE! No excuses. So print out the cards, carry them in your purse, post them on your bathroom mirror, put them all over your computer monitor, etc…  Feel free to forward the file to all your friends.

The set of affirmation cards are a compilation of original affirmations, quotes and scripture verses for Christian stepmoms. Tricia suggested using these three types of affirmations for the challenge. I loved putting this together for you and I hope you will love using them too!

Peggy suggests that your affirmation cards should be the first thing you read in the morning and the last thing you read at night. I totally agree.

So, what are you waiting for? You’ve got the challenge and the affirmation cards. Now start affirming yourself. Today.

I would love to hear back from you. Tell me how you like the cards, how the challenge is going and how great you are feeling!  I believe this challenge will really be a gift you can give yourself.

I’m in this with you. My first affirmation: I trust my husband to parent his children. What’s your first affirmation?  Comment me back on the site or send directly to heather@cafesmom.com.

Visit Peggy Nolan’s website http://thestepmomstoolbox.com/. She’s got great information for us stepmoms and while you are there, read my story on her site. You’ll see a photo from our wedding. While we all know the Brady Bunch is a myth, the photograph captures the classic staircase photo we all remember from the show.

Thank you to Peggy for the post and for the wonderful introduction into our amazing stepmom community.

“A house divided against itself cannot stand” Abraham Lincoln.

On president’s day, I like to spend a few minutes reflecting on the life of Abraham Lincoln. He is my favorite US president. His words and the proclamations he made still impact our world in a positive way today.

The quote above has new meaning for me now that I am a stepmom. I see the rawness and honesty in his words. You see it too if you are in a stepfamily.  When you bring two families together you merge different family histories, personalities, ways of doing things, etc.  You often merge children who are resistant to the change. Who secretly or not so secretly desire for their biological parents to be together and they prepare to go to war against the enemy – their new stepparent.

There is no quick fix or sure fire solution for when siblings, spouses, stepparent and stepchild are at war but as we all know when anyone is not getting along, our homes feel divided and it is the stepmom who often feels the most despair and often times loses hope that their house can continue to stand if things don’t change.

The one thing we can do to ensure that our house does not crumble is to put our marriage first. This takes two people.  Both husband and wife need to put the marriage first. And as I offered advice to another stepmom at stepmommag.com, “putting your marriage first isn’t at the expense of your kids, it’s for their benefit.”  You may have a husband who you feel always puts his kids first. That’s a tough one. I would suggest that no matter how difficult it is that you lead by example. And it will be difficult to do this if you don’t feel the partnership. But I would urge you to give it a chance and commit to putting your marriage first and watch for a change of heart in your husband. Watch for it, don’t verbally demand it.

When kids see that their parents stand as a team, they see stability. Children in a remarriage have already suffered lose due to either death, divorce or an unstable parental relationship.  They may not like that they can’t play one against the other but they will appreciate the stability that a unified marriage offers.

When kids understand that their parent sees and doesn’t tolerate hurtful things that they do to their stepparent, the “abuse” usually stops or at the least lessens. And when a stepparent feels support from their spouse, it feels like the weight of their burdens has just been given wings.

I know as bio parents, we can be very protective of our children but we also have to realize that we have made a commitment to love, cherish and respect our spouse all the days of our life. In order to do that, we must stand united.

We will make honest Abe proud. For a united house will stand strong and weather the tides of trouble. As stepmoms, we know that storms blow in and out and a home built on a firm foundation of a committed and stable marriage will stand the test of time and that’s what we all want.

  • How do you handle division in your home? What advice can you offer others? What advice are you seeking? Please share - your comments are welcome.
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