The official blog of author Jean Marie Bauhaus

Category: Life Page 2 of 5

Why I No Longer Have Anything to Do With the Enneagram

The Enneagram — which is ostensibly a personality framework that categorizes humans into nine “types” — has been rising in popularity for a while now, especially in Christian circles, and it exploded in the last two or three years to the point that it’s everywhere now. If you haven’t at least heard of it (and I’m sorry to say that some of you reading this might have heard about it from me), then you’re probably leading an even more low-tech and secluded lifestyle than I am.

I first heard of it several years ago when a certain Christian writer I used to follow and her circle of online friends (the same circle of people, by the way, who led me to sign up to that Yoga with Adrienne challenge) began gushing over how great it is and how much it changed their lives and improved their relationships. I checked into it back then, mainly because I was a Myers-Briggs fan and have always been a sucker for a good personality test, and honestly, at the time I didn’t get it. The website I looked at struck me as incredibly new agey, and the types all seemed so vague that I could see myself in all of them. It really seemed odd to me that these Christian women were so in love with it and actively promoting it, but I shrugged it off and moved on.

But then 2018 happened, a year that started with the rug getting pulled out from under me in a big way. Certain events and revelations shook the foundations on which I’d built my life and my identity. I mean, I knew that ultimately my identity was found in Christ, but I guess that was still head-knowledge more than heart-knowledge. And in everything I researched and studied trying to understand my family, the more I realized I didn’t really even know myself.

In other words, I was vulnerable, and vulnerable people tend to be suggestible. And there’s also the thing — I’m sure there’s probably a word for it, but I can’t think of one — where repeated exposure to something wears down your resistance. The Enneagram explosion was beginning in a big way, and it seemed like everyone, everywhere, including people I respected and trusted, was talking about their type.

I was still skeptical about it, mainly because every time I’d looked into it I had such a hard time pinning down my own type. And then I read a book on personality tests by Anne Bogel, a.k.a The Modern Mrs. Darcy. I found I had a lot in common with her, and she turned out to have the same Myers-Briggs type as me. In the chapter on the Enneagram, she described her own tendencies and how they fit this certain type, and for the first time something clicked.

From there I immediately checked out The Road Back to You by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile, the book that undoubtedly served as the gateway to this thing for many unsuspecting Christians. It paints a much different picture of the Enneagram than that new-agey website that first introduced me to it. According to Cron and Stabile, the Enneagram was actually invented by the early Catholic church and used in training priests. There’s a whole thing about the types corresponding to the Seven Deadly Sins (plus two more that got added later), and it’s all about identifying your core sin and learning how to overcome it — in Enneagram parlance, progressing from unhealthy to healthy.

By the time I finished the book, I had unquestionably identified myself as a type Nine, and I felt like I understood myself in a way I never had before. So much about my behavior and tendencies made sense. What’s more, I’d also pegged my husband’s type and felt I understood him on a whole new level.

I’m not gonna lie. I got a lot of benefits from this new knowledge. I recognized that I still carried a lot of pent-up rage from my chaotic and dysfunctional childhood, and that I needed to find healthy ways to get that out of my system. I recognized my tendency to “merge” with others — to not always know where I end and they begin, which can make me easily influenced and can also make it hard to know what I actually think or want without getting away and spending time by myself to figure it out. I recognized that my tendency to go along to get along was often laziness, and sometimes passive-aggression, and that not speaking my mind or standing up for myself was only adding to my pent-up rage. I recognized my “core sin” of Sloth and how I’d sleep-walked through so much of my life, avoiding conflict like the plague and always taking the path of least resistance.

And that new level of self-awareness really did help me confront and grow out of these unhealthy tendencies.

I also felt like I understood my husband better, and as a result was able to love him better. That’s actually how this system gets sold in churches, as a tool to become more compassionate and to better understand and love your neighbor.

That all sounds wonderful, right? So then, what’s the problem?

For me, initially, the problem soon became that the Enneagram (and not the Bible) became the lens through which I viewed everything and everyone. Instead of simply seeing other people as fellow humans made in God’s image, I began trying to type everyone I knew. Every time my husband did something that irritated me, I’d shake my head quietly to myself and mutter, “[type] is gonna [type]” — effectively reducing him from a fearfully and wonderfully made man who was given to be my leader and protector to a number on a chart, and telling myself in the process that I was being more understanding and loving by doing so.

Worse, I became overly-focused on myself and my personal growth and development. I also became more confrontational, which sometimes was indeed healthier, but sometimes it was just giving free reign to my flesh under the guise of “personal growth.” On this supposed journey to being a healthier person, I spent more time reading about the Enneagram, scrolling Enneagram accounts on Instagram, listening to Enneagram podcasts, etc. than I spent reading my Bible. I evangelized about the Enneagram and its benefits more than I think I had ever actively evangelized about Jesus.

In short, it became itself an idol, as well as a pathway to making myself an idol.

I began to see this and feel convicted about it around the same time last year that God convicted me for my involvement in yoga. But it didn’t stop there. As I began to repent and step back and take a second look at the Enneagram and whether it truly belonged in my life as a Christian, God revealed some things to me about this supposed Christian personality framework. And once again, he used ex-New Age guru turned Christian Doreen Virtue to do so. Thanks to her, here’s what I learned:

  • That my original impressions about the Enneagram being New Age were correct. There’s nothing Christian or ancient about its origins. Everything in The Road Back to You about its Catholic background is false. The authors may or may not know this. I don’t believe they set out purposefully to deceive, but that they themselves are deceived.
  • G.I. Gurdjieff, a Greek-Armenian mystic and spiritual guru, first came up with the Enneagram diagram, the weird nine-poined star within a circle, in the late 1800s. He saw it as the eye through which all the secret laws of the universe could be seen. This was later expanded on by his students and disciples, although none of them came up with the nine types that characterize the modern Enneagram.
  • In the middle of the last century, these concepts surrounding this symbol were further developed and expanded by Oscar Ichazo, a Chilean shaman and occultist whose new additions to the Enneagram came through tripping out on psychedelic drugs and contacting a spirit identifying itself as Metatron.
  • It was one of his students, fellow occultist and psychiatrist Claudio Naranjo, who invented the nine types and popularized the Enneagram. Here is a video of him freely admitting that he fabricated the ancient origins of the Enneagram for marketing purposes, and also that he received the nine types through automatic writing (if you don’t know what that is, it’s where someone sits down with a pen and paper and then channels a demon to take over their body and write a message):
  • The Enneagram has been introduced into the Church by Richard Rohr. Richard Rohr is an excommunicated priest as well as a heretical false teacher who teaches, among other blatant heresies, universalism (i.e. that all roads lead to God and Heaven) and Christ consciousness (the teaching that Jesus was not God, but he was simply a man who had accessed this new age concept of “the mind of Christ” that is a universal force that we can all connect with if we become enlightened enough, and therefore we can all become Christ).
  • Both Ian Cron and Suzanne Stabile are devotees and disciples of Richard Rohr (a long and growing list of prominent progressive and “exvangelical” church leaders that also includes people like Henri Nouwen, Dallas Willard, Jen Hatmaker, Sarah Bessey and, sadly and most recently, Kevin Max of DC Talk fame).

You can read more about the occult origins of the Enneagram here, as well as watch the full interview with Claudio Naranjo. And here is the Doreen Virtue video that got me to looking into this stuff in the first place.

Once I learned all of this, I repented for my involvement in the Enneagram and immediately ceased having anything to do with it. I quietly unsubbed from all Enneagram-related content and accounts. I shared the above video in my Instagram stories, but my following there is so small and the number of followers who actually look at my stories is a tiny, tiny subset, so that hardly counts as a public denunciation.

So I’m officially denouncing it here, and I am truly, deeply sorry to anyone who was led into this occult, New Age deception by my own enthusiasm about the Enneagram. I can only pray that God will forgive me for leading anyone astray, and I hope that you’ll turn back and forgive me, too.

Sadly, there are a lot of Christians out there who are so hooked on the Enneagram that despite being made aware of this information, they simply don’t care. I’ve heard and seen claims that God can redeem it for good, but that’s not how this works. God tells us to shun the occult and flee from evil. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that he’ll redeem it and use it to bless and minister to his people. Covering it in a Christian veneer is simply wrapping it in sheep’s clothing. It’s a trap. Ultimately it’s going to do far more harm than good.

But what about all the good, all the growth and healing and marital improvement that came from it?

For one thing, the good was far outweighed by the bad. If you read my yoga post, then you saw how much benefit I got out of doing yoga, right up until it opened a door for a poltergeist to invade my home and harass us. As a self-help tool, it can certainly help you identify areas you need to work on, but I promise you you’ll get far, far more inner healing and effective, lasting transformation from taking all that time you spend studying the Enneagram and instead spend it studying and meditating on God’s word.

Recently I saw someone refer to the Enneagram as “Horoscopes for Christians” and I think I agree with that assessment. I believe it’s a Trojan horse that’s getting Christians to focus on themselves and their relationships instead of on growing in sanctification and the knowledge of Jesus and his word. It’s also introducing a lot of vulnerable believers to the teachings of Richard Rohr and leading them down this whole road of “deconstructing” their faith and ultimately falling away from it.

The Enneagram is a trap. Please stay away from it.

Image by Personality Hacker on Flicker | CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

For Caleb

He was a cute baby with an enormous head.

But he would grow into it, and as he grew and found his words it soon became clear that that big head housed a big brain, full of big ideas.

First cousin once removed, he was my cousin’s little miracle baby. More like a nephew to me than a cousin.

My aunt–his grandma–told me once that he liked talking to me because I spoke to him like an equal. This funny little kid with the big vocabulary who loved to say shocking things and get a rise out of people. I think he liked me because he couldn’t shock me, because I shared his twisted sense of humor and affinity for horror.

I spent time with him when I could. We always tried to make him feel welcome, wanted. I spoiled him with gifts alongside my actual nephews. He liked books, and that made him a kindred spirit. At ten, Matt and I took him out for an afternoon of ski ball and a movie, after talking about doing so for far too long. The movie was the prequel/remake of The Thing. He actually did manage to shock me by telling us he’d read Who Goes There, the short story on which the original movie was based.

At ten. I didn’t read that story until I was in college.

We wanted to take him out more. We planned to. But plans always fell through, and we got busy with life, and he got busy with being a teenager.

Another ten, tumultuous years went by. We’d see him now and then at family gatherings, always shocked at how much older he looked, how much taller he’d grown. He became more withdrawn, not so ready for conversation. He didn’t have it easy. The deck was stacked heavily against him. But he tried. And he grew into a young man who was sweet-natured and kind-hearted, who loved his mama, and his grandma, and the Lord.

Five days ago, he was taken from us. Violently. Senselessly. Unfairly.

It’s tempting to ask why. But the only why that really matters is that evil is real, and it likes to prey on the sweet-natured and kind-hearted.

I wish we’d taken him out more. That we’d made more of an effort to stay in his life. Maybe it would have made a difference. Probably not. But at least we’d have more memories with him.

As it is, I’ll always remember that cute kid with the big brain and the big ideas, and the gleeful little giggle when he managed to get that rise he was looking for.

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. 12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.

13 It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak, 14 because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you to himself. 15 All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God.

16 Therefore we do not lose heart.

–2 Corinthians 4:8-16 (emphasis mine)

Love you, Caleb. See you on the other side.


If you would like to contribute to the GoFundMe campaign to help cover Caleb’s funeral costs, please click here. Thank you.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
Why I stopped doing yoga

Why I Stopped Doing Yoga

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

First off, I want to head off this whole series with a disclaimer: this is my testimony, sharing my own personal convictions and experiences. I’m not the Holy Spirit, nor am I trying to be. It’s not my aim to push my convictions onto anyone else. If you disagree with them, peace be with you. My only goal is to share where God is leading me and what He’s been doing in my life, in the hopes that it will give my fellow Believers something to think about and inspire them to draw closer to Him.

Now then.

Before I talk about what led me to stop doing yoga, let’s talk about what led me into it in the first place.

I had flirted with yoga off and on over the years. Way back when VCRs were still a thing and I was still struggling with my weight, I purchased a Yoga for Weight Loss VHS tape and actually did the workout regularly for months. It was a pretty benign workout that, other than a little bit of talk here and there about rooting into the earth and the standard Namaste salutation at the end, didn’t have anything overtly new agey enough to raise my hackles. When a church friend of my mom’s criticized me for doing yoga and warned me that I was participating in pagan worship and opening a spiritual doorway, I, like many Christian yoga enthusiasts, rolled my eyes (I mean, not to her face; I was polite about it) and insisted that there’s nothing inherently pagan or dangerous about stretching and that you can’t inadvertently or unwittingly worship demons–a position I continued to hold until a little over a year ago.

Nevertheless, I eventually got a DVD player and some Pilates DVDs, my VCR broke, and yoga fell off my workout radar.

Fast forward to the start of 2019. Not only had yoga become increasingly mainstream and popular, but it was also widely accepted in the Church–not just accepted, but actively promoted, with many churches offering “Holy Yoga” classes and Christian yoga instructors proliferating YouTube. Many of the Christian influencers I followed on Instagram were getting into yoga and loving it. What’s more, as someone with PCOS, I was constantly seeing yoga recommended as a great, healing exercise for PCOS sufferers.

I was at a highly vulnerable point in my life. I’d just survived one of my hardest years, which started with my mom having a stroke and ended with a major move to a new state where the only soul I knew was my husband. In between, my world had imploded as I realized how deeply the dysfunction ran in my family and narratives I’d bought into my entire life were stripped away, and my identity along with them. I’d figured out that I still suffered from childhood trauma and that it was making me sick. I was worn out, depressed, chronically ill, and desperate for healing. Of course, I prayed daily and spent time in the word, but I felt like that wasn’t enough. I needed to heal my trauma, I needed to quiet my mind and ground my body in the present reality, and I needed to move in gentle ways that would alleviate stress and not add to it.

Yoga seemed like the perfect fit. So I pulled up those Christian yoga channels on YouTube and got started. And I loved it. Within a few months I lost that last stubborn 20 pounds that had refused for years to come off, I felt more centered and balanced, I was strong and flexible and had more energy… what’s not to love?

I should add that I also prayed about it before I got started. My beliefs about yoga hadn’t changed, but enough of a seed of doubt had been planted that I wanted to make sure I wasn’t going to do anything that wasn’t pleasing to God. But I admit that I didn’t pray long about it. Pretty much, I said one prayer, basically asking for permission, and came away thinking of meat sacrificed to idols, and that yoga falls into that category. In other words, I once again settled in my conscience that the devil doesn’t own breathing and stretching and that there isn’t anything inherently pagan or worshipful about this type of exercise, and it’s a matter of Christian liberty.

So it’s all good, right?

Fast forward again another year, to January 2020, in those innocent days when rumors of a viral outbreak in China still seemed far away and unthreatening and I thought the election would be the most stressful thing going on that year. All those Instagram influencers I followed? They were all signing on for a month-long yoga challenge with an instructor named Adrienne. I’d been slacking on my yoga practice through the holidays and wanted to get back into my health groove, so I signed on as well. I’d done a few of Adrienne’s lessons on YouTube before, so I was familiar with her. I liked her well enough, even though she was a little more New Agey and woo woo than the other instructors I’d followed. I shrugged off all her talk about chakras and simply didn’t participate in the moves that she promised would open my third eye. It was fine.

Or so I told myself.

Now here’s where things get crazy. Around this time, we started having what I would call spooky incidents around the house. Things we could dismiss at first. A strange noise here, a bottle falling over by itself in the shower there, our live Christmas tree propped firmly in the corner waiting to be set up and decorated suddenly pitching forward and falling over… there had to be a rational explanation for all these things. Even as my husband and I sat in the kitchen one night and watched as the lid to our Pyrex baking dish slowly slid forward by itself and then fell on the floor, we found a way to explain it away.

And then something happened that we could neither dismiss nor explain. One night I got woken up by a bang so loud I thought a tree had fallen on the house. It sounded like it was right next to my head. We were sleeping in separate rooms at the time, because I would have to stay up late to give our Chihuahua his heart meds, and Matt was such a light sleeper, so Pete and I just slept on the guest bed in my office.

The bed was against the wall that was shared with the guest bathroom. On the other side of the wall, pretty well aligned with where my head would be, sat the crate that we keep our cat in at night.

Like I said, I thought something must have fallen on the house. The noise I heard sounded like an explosion next to my head, and it also shook me. So I got up to investigate. I looked all over, inside and out, and couldn’t find anything that could have caused that ruckus. Finally, I shrugged it off and decided to use the bathroom before I went back to bed. I’d worry about it in the morning.

So I went in the bathroom–and saw the cat crate pushed away from the wall, skewed catty-corner from its previous position, her food and water dishes on top having skidded to the edge, and our kitty Boudicca looking out at me with a terrified expression on her face.

Y’all. I don’t know what did that, but you better believe I prayed over my house and everyone in it and asked the Lord to rebuke anything that didn’t belong there before I went back to bed.

The next day, I started praying long and hard about what was going on and asked the Lord to show me anything in my life that could be inviting anything into my home that didn’t belong there. Immediately I became strongly convicted about the yoga I’d been doing and felt that I needed to stop. So I did, and I repented for doing it in the first place. And the strange activity stopped.

But the conviction didn’t. That’s when the Lord started opening my eyes to how truly spiritually dangerous yoga was for me to practice. Coincidentally, if you believe in coincidence, which I don’t, right when all of this was happening, Allie Stuckey interviewed a former New Ager turned Christian on her Relatable podcast. In this episode, Doreen Virtue explained how certain yoga poses, particularly those involved in the Sun Salutation, as well as the Warrior poses, act out a battle between Hindu gods, and how these poses are inextricably linked to Hindu worship practices. She warned that these poses can an often do open a door to unsavory spiritual forces to come into your life and oppress you. I’d heard all of this before, and scoffed. But this time, I felt convicted with a sense of certainty that what she was saying was true.

That was the first domino. Once it tipped over, more would fall with it. But I’ll save those for another post.

Coffee Talk: Beating Writer’s Block and an Update on my Mom

Hello there, book and coffee (or tea) loving compatriots. I hope you have your beverage ready, because what a week it’s been.

I really wanted to follow up my last post this week by diving in to my personal experiences, starting with why I quit doing yoga. But I’ve been handed back-to-back(-to-back) articles to write, and those take precedence. So does my novel, which I’m finally working on again! I’m just working in quick sprints here and there, but it’s adding up and I’m making forward progress, which is the goal. The hardest part, as with most things in life, was just to get started. Following Anne Lamott’s advice and giving myself a teeny tiny goal and permission for it to be terrible were the keys to getting over that hurdle and overcoming the block.

Other than all the writing, we’ve been doing our daily training of Dixie, who is still sharp-toothed and a bit rough around the edges, but is beginning to shape up into a very good girl. I think she has the makings of an excellent dog. I hope I’m right, because at three months old she’s already at least thirty pounds, so if I’m wrong we’re all going to be in big trouble.

And we’ve also been racing the rain to keep the huge lawn under control and prepare our garden beds, which are both big jobs in and of themselves. Even as I grab a few quick minutes to write this post, I need to get out there and get some weed-eating done while Mr. B does the mowing.

I’m mainly here today because I wanted to give everyone an update on my mom. She was admitted back to the hospital last night. She’s been battling severe stomach issues since her last hospital stay, and apparently last night her heart rate got up to 180, so they admitted her to the heart hospital for monitoring.

She met with her new cardiologist last week, who told her that she’s not a good candidate for open heart surgery to fix her leaky valve. They want to put her on a waiting list for a trial of a new device, a clamp that can close the enlarged opening and that can be inserted noninvasively, which all sounds good, except that there’s a two-year wait, and a leaky valve can lead to congestive heart failure if it’s not treated. All of that, plus they still want to check her for liver disease.

When I spoke with her the other day, she sounded weak, exhausted, and depressed. Which is all understandable, but it was hard to hear from a woman who has always been joyful and confident no matter what life has thrown at her. I think she’s in shock at realizing just how bad her health is. We all are. She’s always been healthy as a horse, has never smoked or drank alcohol, and was always so independent that we all, herself included, expected her to live into her hundreds and still be active. She turned 78 in December and here she is looking down the barrel at life-threatening health conditions that are draining her energy and making her dependent on my siblings.

Personally, of course I’m having a hard time with all of this, but it’s made even harder by the fact that I live so far away and can’t get to her. It’s just a hard situation all around. I really appreciate your prayers for all of us, and if you do pray, please pray that she won’t have to wait two years to have her heart repaired, and pray for her strength and joy to return as well as for her health to improve. And please pray for wisdom for her doctors and peace and comfort for my whole family.

And now I’ve got to get out there and take out my frustration on the grass before another afternoon of writing about dogs (which is not a bad gig if you can get it). Hopefully, that yoga article is coming soon.

Hope you’re having a relaxing weekend!

Photo by Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash

Check out My New Site — Same as the Old Site (A Quick Coffee Talk)

Welp, I’ve successfully transitioned to my new web host. I kept it simple and kept the same theme, so everything mostly looks the same, which I realize is very boring and unexciting from your end, but trust me, on this end it’s all very exciting. I’m getting reacquainted with the power WordPress plugins to make your site do just about anything you want it to do. One of these days I may get the courage to open up the CSS file and tinker around and see how much I still remember (and how much I’ve forgotten, and how much has changed) since my bygone web designer and WordPress developer days.

But right now I’m typing this in the classic WordPress editor, thanks to one of those aforementioned plugins, and I’m happy as a clam in wet sand.

Otherwise, there’s not a lot to report. Our Resurrection Sunday was quiet and subdued, but a lot of Easter chocolate was consumed in the Bauhaushold over the weekend; my birthday came and went without a lot of fanfare, but there was cake! And it was delish; Dixie’s ears are both doing their level best to stand up straight and it’s making her look much less puppyish and much more doglike, which breaks my heart a little; yard work is still dominating our time; and I’ve had more freelance work sent my way, putting the kibosh on my plans to dig back into my novel this week.

I don’t have an update on my mom — last I heard, she had some appointments this week to discuss options with her cardiologist and to get more tests done, but I haven’t talked to her since those appointments have taken place. She did say she was starting to feel stronger the last time I spoke with her, though, so that’s something to be thankful for. I know I don’t need to ask those of you who pray to keep her lifted up, so I’ll just say that I appreciate your prayers so much, and I know she does, too.

Next week’s agenda includes finishing my freelance article, taking Dixie for her second round of booster shots, and hopefully getting our raised beds built. And hopefully also diving back into Revolution Part Two. I don’t really have any weekend plans, but with rain on tomorrow’s forecast, I’m hoping to make it a day of rest.

Life is very full, and I’m very blessed, and also very tired. But I know this full season will pass and summer will be here before we know it and we’ll be able to ease into some slower rhythms that will make it easier to get to the things on my plate that aren’t marked “urgent and time sensitive.” At least that’s my hope, Lord willing.

I’ll leave you with another Dixie pic to brighten your Friday:

Coffee Talk: Puppy Edition (Because This is Our Life Now)

Hiya, folks. It’s been a minute. March got swallowed up inside a Dixie-shaped vaccuum. I tell you what, we knew getting a puppy would be a challenge, but we didn’t know we were getting such a high-strung puppy. Apparently, there are two main types of German shepherds, a fact that didn’t turn up in our initial research. The show line GSDs are your more classic-looking, laid-back ones who excel at obedience and make good pets.

And then there’s working line. Which is what Dixie is. These are the extremely driven GSDs who make good police and protection dogs. Which is good, because we wanted a protection dog. Working line GSDs also tend to be hardier and less prone to hip problems. All cool. But did I mention the extremely driven, aka extremely ENERGETIC, part? She’s also extremely bitey, but we’ve been reassured that this is mostly a puppy thing that she’ll eventually outgrow, and until then I just need to wear gloves if I don’t want my hands shredded.

So we got off to a rocky start with our little zoomie, fur-covered crocodile. But thankfully, we found an excellent online trainer who specializes in working line breeds, and his guidance already has worked wonders. If you’ve got a dog who’s a handful, especially a large breed, I highly, highly recommend Robert Cabral. His membership site is worth every penny, and he also has a YouTube channel.

We’ve had Dixie about a month now, and we’re finally settling in and starting to enjoy each other. She’s already a whiz at some commands, but a work in progress with others. She’s starting to catch on to how fetch works and she’ll do just about anything for a treat. Best of all, she’s only needing one middle of the night potty break and is staying quiet in her crate (mostly) until we wake up in the morning. Praise hands!

I can’t get over how much she’s already grown and changed in the last month. She’s already looking like a miniature German shepherd. The bottom left pic above was taken last week. Those ears are trying so hard to stand up straight. As of this morning, one ear is standing straight up and the other is still drooping at the tip. It’s adorable and I need to be sure to get a picture before they change again. Before this pic was taken, she went through an awkward phase where one drooped forward and the other flopped sideways, and I’m heartbroken that I didn’t get a pic.

So last month, as I said, was pretty much consumed by our new puppy. I also squeezed in a couple of freelance assignments (hallelujah!), and we got out and got yard work done when Dixie was sleeping and it wasn’t raining. Also, my mom is dealing with some major health stuff that landed her in the hospital this week. She’s home now, but she’s got a leaky heart valve for which they’re still going over treatment options. They also suspect she somehow has liver disease, but they’re prioritizing dealing with her heart before they go down that avenue. In short, March was a stressful, exhausting month in which no unpaid writing happened, not counting the last post I did here early on.

But it’s a new month — my birthday month, no less — and it’s kicking off with a weekend that’s all about life triumphing over death, light overcoming darkness, and good utterly defeating evil. I’m going to take the weekend off to celebrate the resurrection of my Lord and Savior, as well as my birthday, and then next week I’m going to do my utter best to resurrect my novel-in-progress and get it finished. I don’t know how this will work between puppy training, walks, yard work, freelancing and prepping and planting our new garden beds (we ended up canceling our chicken order because that just felt like too much to deal with right now), but I’ll work it in somehow.

And on an administrative note, WordPress.com made some changes since my last post and took away the option to switch from their highly PITA block editor to their classic editor. My paid hosting account here is up for renewal, and I’ve been kicking around the idea of switching back to self-hosted WordPress. This development might push me over the edge into that decision. Which means there might be a brand new website coming soon! Stay tuned.

Here’s hoping to get back to posting regular updates!

Coffee Talk: Disappointment, Made Better by Sunshine

Remember those exciting decisions we made a few weeks back that I was looking forward to revealing this week?

Welp, things didn’t go as planned. But when do they ever, really?

Our first decision was to get some chickens. More specifically, we decided to put in an order for 15 buff orpington chicks (14 laying hens and one rooster), which were to arrive this week.  We placed the order and then went out and got everything we needed to raise them, and were all set to receive them this week. Instead, we received a notice that the USPS extended last week’s weather-induced embargo on live animal shipping to the end of this week, in order to let them catch up on undelivered mail.

So now we won’t be getting our chicks until April. Which means no eggs until next fall at the earliest. Le sigh.

On the plus side, this gives us more time to figure out our chicken coop/tractor design and what we’re going to do about predators, and also now we won’t have to house juvenile chickens inside until it’s warm enough to put them outside.

So that’s one disappointment. And that decision had led to our second decision, which was to be our solution to the predator problem: getting a livestock guardian dog. You guys, we had decided to get a puppy. Specifically, we were all set to get an Anatolian shepherd puppy.

But for a variety of reasons, that also ended up falling through. There were just too many obstacles that kept cropping up that ultimately convinced us that it’s not the right time yet, and also that perhaps that’s not the right breed. And while I can see now that it’s for the best that things didn’t work out, I was pretty torn up about it when it became clear that it wasn’t going to happen.

Not that we won’t be getting another dog, or perhaps even a puppy, at some point. We’re keeping an eye on the local shelters for something suitable, and we haven’t completely ruled out an Anatolian when another one becomes available. But it won’t be that sweet girl that we had our eye on and were all ready to bring home, and I’m sad about that.

Also, today marks three months since Pete’s passing, so there are mixed emotions. We still miss the heck out of him and, truth be told, we aren’t quite ready to move on to a new pup just yet. We’re trusting in God’s timing and praying that he’ll lead us to the right dog at the right time. He’s got an excellent track record of bringing us excellent dogs at just the right time, so we just need to be patient and trust that he’ll do it again.

Besides, Boudicca is enjoying the heck out of being an only furbaby for the time being. She’s getting spoiled rotten.

So it’s been a week full of disappointment, but there’s been cause for rejoicing, too. The weather thawed out, the last two days have been spring-like and full of sunshine, we got our well fixed and our water restored yesterday, and today I took my first shower in *mumblety* days.

In lieu of all the animal wrangling we thought we’d be doing this week, we’ve been cleaning and organizing, and I’ve been busy marketing myself and reaching out to potential clients. I’m still waiting for my newest client to start sending me work, and in the mean time I’ve been posting articles from my old freelance writing Substack to my Medium account. I finally signed up to the Medium Partner’s Program, which means my stories earn a little bit of money when paying members read them, so if you’ve got a paid Medium membership, spending some time reading my recent articles is an easy way you could help us out while we wait for new work to start coming in.

So is buying my books, if any of them look good to you. Most of them are also available on Overdrive through your local library (did you know indie authors get paid when you check out their books through the library? The more you know…).

Of course, we’re both also always grateful to be supported through prayer.

Maybe it’s just the weather turning that’s making me optimistic, but I have a feeling things are going to get back on track and start going our way again soon. I hope. At any rate, barring any other unforeseen catastrophes, I can look forward to getting fluffy baby chickens for my birthday, and there still may be a puppy in our near future. And we need to get busy starting seeds and getting our garden beds ready for spring planting. And I’ve still got a novel to finish. So it’s not like there’s not plenty to keep us busy while we wait for things to work out.

How are you faring in the aftermath of Winterpocalypse ’21? Are you recovering, or are you still dealing with yuck? And how can I pray for you?

Coffee Talk: So Winter. Much Brrr.

When I sat down last Sunday with my bullet journal to plan my week, I knew I was going to be dealing with a high degree of unpredictability. Instead of listing out my usual weekly to do list, I instead listed out a few goals that I hoped I’d be able to get around to, along with an overriding goal: “Be Flexible!”

That willingness to be flexible and hold my goals loosely turned out to be a real asset in a week full of misadventures that included (thankfully brief) power outages, learning to use our kerosene heater (which didn’t come with a manual), exploding Pyrex, 2 AM hikes through the snow in sub-zero temperatures, getting lunged at by our new neighbor’s cranky, arthritic old pit bull, not a lot of sleep, and becoming reliant on baby wipes and dry shampoo. But despite all of that, we were a lot better off this week than a lot of people, so I have no complaints.

By the way, I’m praying for you, Texas. ♥

I did manage to get around to a few of my goals this week, including pitching another potential client, updating my pet blog, posting some articles to my Medium account, and applying to write for a publication there. As for the pet blog, I wrote a detailed content marketing and SEO guide for pet businesses, but the advice applies to any type of business (and to writing for the internet in general), so if that’s something you might be able to use, be sure to check it out.

As for making progress on the novel, that didn’t happen this week. A general rule for me and the way I’m wired is that novel writing just doesn’t happen when I’m in survival mode, and this week was primarily about surviving with all of our digits and our sanity intact. There were some touch-and-go times when losing said sanity was a greater danger than frostbite, but we managed to keep it along with all our fingers and toes.

As I write this, it’s a balmy 30 degrees outside, and melting snow is dripping from the roof. We’re in for one more night of single-digit temps, and then it’s supposed to start thawing out tomorrow. To say I’m looking forward to it is an understatement. I’ll just say I’m so, so very glad to live where this sort of cold is an anomaly (and Lord willing it will stay that way) and, when it does happen, it’s usually short-lived. Somebody remind me that I said this when it’s 100 degrees in July and I’m tempted to complain about the southern humidity.

Next week is bound to be another week requiring a high degree of flexibility, for reasons pertaining to one of those decisions I mentioned last week (if not to both of them). Probably not a lot of writing will get done, but I’ll give it a valiant effort. Hopefully, though, you can look forward to a big reveal by this time next week.

How are you coping with this week (or was it business as usual where you live)?

Photo by Alex on Unsplash

Coffee Talk: Novel Progress, Job Hunt Progress, and Secrets Brewin’ Around the Homestead

Since these updates are coming more randomly now, let’s try a new title.

Wow, you guys, last week was kind of a crazy one, and this week also got off to an unexpected start.  I can’t tell y’all too much about it — or rather, I don’t want to just yet — but I can say that decisions were made regarding the ol’ homestead that left us neck-deep in research and that are going to make our lives here at the Bauhaushold a little topsey turvey for a while. What those decisions were, I’m going to leave for a surprise. Suffice to say, we’ve got a lot to do in the coming weeks to get ready.

really wish I could tell you where we went and what we did yesterday, but that would spoil the best surprise. I’ll be sure to “circle back” to it when the time is right. I can tell you that it involved getting to know some more good people from our area and spending more than an hour outdoors in the freezing drizzle with an insufficient number of layers, and that when we got back I was slightly damp, covered in hair, and I couldn’t feel my feet. But I was also very excited about the future.

We had planned to get busy this week with some of our preparations, but full-on winter weather kicked in here and it looks like it’s going to be hanging around a while. So I’m trying to take advantage of being stuck indoors to make some progress on the writing and freelance job hunting front. As far as the latter goes, I’ve got some great news! I’ve been invited to join the content team for Care Credit, so they should start sending work my way soon.

So with one new steady corporate client secured, the goals I’m focusing on now are to find one or two more clients of that caliber, and to break into writing for trade magazines. To that end, one thing I actually managed to get done last week was set up this landing page for my services.

As far as the novel goes, I’m making progress in small bites, committed to working on it at least twenty minutes a day. I know that sounds short, but I can usually do a couple of pages in that length of time. In those short but consistent bursts of time, I finished the epilogue and then went back and finished the big scene I’d left off on. Now I’ve just got several short, action-packed scenes leading up to the final confrontation.

Somewhere in the midst of all of this I realized a few things. One is that I’m not wired to be a fast and prolific novelist, and I’m okay with that. Also, that I enjoy novel writing so much more when I’m not putting pressure on it to become my primary career. I labored for years thinking that was The Dream, and being constantly frustrated and disappointed at that not working out.

But these days, my dreams are looking a lot more like making a living doing tangible things that involve working with my hands in the real world, far from a keyboard, and I’m growing more and more at ease with the idea of my novel writing being a side gig, something I do mostly for fun and relaxation with the added benefit of bringing in a little extra income each month.

And the third thing I realized is that I’m happiest when my life is full and I have a variety of things to do. I think by now, as I edge ever closer to the end of my fourth decade, I know myself well enough to know that even if I was making a full-time living from my novels, I still wouldn’t want to do that all day and I would still need some variety in my life. There are a number of labels for this — scanner personality, multi-passionate, renaissance soul, ADD — and I’m learning to embrace it. An that’s sure making my life a lot more enjoyable than fighting it.

See also: learning to let go, go with the flow, be flexible, and trust in God’s timing, doing what I can each day and trusting Him for the rest.

Anyway, I can’t wait to reveal the things we’re getting ready for. One of them will be here in a couple of weeks, Lord willing, but we’re going to have to wait more than a month for the second thing, and that’s going to be the hardest secret to keep. So stay tuned (but feel free to guess what they might be). In the meantime, I’ll continue to get writing things done in between all the preparations.

Friday Update

Friday Update: Homestead Chores, Catnip and Freelance Writing Goals

Welp, this was not a good week for the novel. Today was a warmish and pretty day, so I scrapped all my writing plans for today and we went outside and “did the things” around the homestead. Said things included some minor repairs around the property, and gathering materials for what will eventually be our garden beds.

It also included discovering catnip! I’ve long suspected that the weed growing underneath our pole barn might be just that, based on the way our tabby, Boudicca, goes nuts every time I walk through it and track some in on my shoes, but I kept forgetting to check and make sure. Today I remembered, and sure enough, it’s catnip.

I picked a bunch to dry and, after rinsing it, gave her a tiny nibble — and created a monster. I had to hide the rest of it to keep it away from her until she calmed down. But I’ve been meaning to get some decent quality catnip to put inside the kick pillow I made for her a while back, so once this stuff dries out that’s where it’s headed, and she’ll be happy again.

I also discovered that I’m out of shape. I haven’t been walking since winter started, and I’m going to have to make myself get out there and start doing that again, as the weather permits. I know it’s so much better for my mood and my health once I get over the hurdle of going out in the cold.

As far as the work search goes, this week was mostly about laying ground work and coming up with a solid plan. I updated my long-neglected portfolios and reworked my bio to take the emphasis off of pet writing. I did send out a letter of introduction and a query letter, both of which I’m still waiting to hear back on, and I wrote and submitted an article on spec, which was promptly rejected, with helpful feedback. I appreciate both the feedback and the promptness, and now that article will find a home on Medium, if I don’t decide to shop it around a bit more first.

As far as the game plan, I will bore you with the details, because it’s my blog and I can, but you don’t have to stick around if you don’t want to.

I’ve set four goals to focus on: one, to find two or three more steady corporate/big brand clients; two, to broaden out my niches to include business-to-business writing, as well as content writing in the areas of personal finance, health and nutrition for humans, and writing and freelancing; three, to pursue ghostwriting, something I’ve kicked around in the past but have never gone after full bore; and four, to expand my pet writing niche to pet trade magazines.

My first goal is primary, and if I can manage to replace my previous corporate clients, then I can pretty much stop there, because that will supply all the work I need, although this time around I’ll also keep pitching and writing in other niches to keep some diversity in my portfolio and bring in extra income.

At any rate, until I get some steady work coming in, my plan is to spend an afternoon each day of the week on a single goal– corporate on Monday, pitching in other niches on Tuesday, networking in ghostwriting circles on Wednesday, and researching and pitching trade mags on Thursday. And then setting Fridays aside for novel writing and book marketing.

So that’s the plan, and it’s helping everything to feel more manageable. That doesn’t cover everything, though. I still need to create some business writing samples, update my LinkedIn profile, and I’m debating on whether to just do a landing page on this site for my freelance work or set up a separate website. I was planning to do the former, but now I’m leaning toward the latter. I’ll take the weekend to think about it and let you know what I decide.

None of last weekend’s plans panned out — instead of watching our movie, husband and I ended up just talking while he made enchiladas, about which I have zero complaints, on either count. So maybe we’ll pick back up with the Ring Council tomorrow. All I know for sure is that I need a break from being on this laptop.

I hope you and yours have an excellent weekend!

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