May Hitouts Notice

Hullo, everyone!

I’m here to put up a notice that I’ll be on a short hitout during May–and here are the reasons.

i. In which I get a new job

Yes, that’s right! I’m now happily working at a tutoring centre that offers anything from phonics to college prep (like the SATs and the ACTs). I love this job because I love studying and helping others find joy in it, but it’s a lot of work–and not to mention I have classes on Saturdays. So, until I get used to the routine and finish my training, I don’t think it’s realistic for me to be posting on Saturdays. And as you might know, Saturdays are special days for me–so I would like to continue blogging on that day. Hopefully, I’ll be back by the end of this month to tell you all about May in my Afternoon Tea post.

ii. In which I try to write. To the end.

Another thing I’m attempting this month is to finish my 0.5 draft of Osthauptstadt. I’ve been working on and off on this WIP, and I think if I push through, I might be able to finish this draft…

Which is kind of a big deal.

Okay, every WIP that has a tentative “The End” is a big deal, but this one especially–it was the WIP I started during the pandemic which sort of grew with me throughout that time. Also, I haven’t been able to see a WIP to the end in about three years. ( ; ›ω‹ )

So, (again), hopefully, I will be able to keep plugging away at my draft till I reach the end.

iii. In which I try to re-focus my total brand identity.

Recently, I found Notion, the dream online journal/planner/organizer thing I totally didn’t know I needed. While sorting out my tasks on there (like work, school, &c.), I realised it’s been a long due to taking a review on what I do here on the blog as SJ Barnard–and elsewhere.

I love blogging, and as it’s something that sparks joy inside me, I will continue doing it. But I think I need to reassess where I’m at and also have more cohesiveness on places like IG (which I disappear off from on a regular basis).

But overall, thank you for being an SJ reader & being patient with me as I figure things out! I will see you at the end of May. ⸜( ´ ꒳ ` )⸝♡︎

 April ‘22 Afternoon Tea with SJ

Good Afternoon!

Saturday is always like a Sabbath to me, and I’m always really thankful & overjoyed when the week reaches Saturday…it’s probably my favourite day of the week!

I was actually debating whether or not to write this post today because I have a midterm in the afternoon (on Saturday, I’ll add once again), and it’s my comp-sci one that I’ve been dreading since the start of this term. 

But. 

Instead of having another cram session, I’ve decided to let go & trust God…I’ve studied for it and done the best I can for it. I just have to trust in that. 

So here I am! I’m so excited to share my April with you…

-March Afternoon Tea ‘22 Setting-

Location: sunny garden with spring flowers

Tea: strawberry-rose-champagne, sakura-blossom, apple-vinegar elderflower

Offered with: sakura mont blanc, amazake-pudding, sakura cider jello

Bibliotheca 

I wasn’t planning to get a lot of reading down, and I was right–April was a slower reading month than usual. But I did read a lot of academic essays which was kind of fun on the retrospective. ⸜( ´ ꒳ ` )⸝

  1. Chinmoku (Silence) – Shusaku Endo
  2. Following in Van Gough’s Footsteps – Maha Harada
  3. The Last Graduate – Naomi Novik
  4. Why We Watch Anime – Ryota Fujitsu
  5. Reading While Black
  6. Kamen no Kokuhaku (Confessions of a Mask) – Yukio Mishima

Currently Reading: Subculture Literature Theory, The Living Thoughts of Kierkegaard

Media 

I wholeheartedly endorsed the sakura-themed sweets and first-ever sakura blossom tea! (Also a fun fact: In Japanese elementary schools–or at least the one I used to go to–we have an unofficial sakura-catching competition. The person who catches the most sakura gets to eat it!) 

Music 

This month, I listened to a lot more music than I usually do. It’s probably because my stress level was record-breakingly high from exam seasons, IDK…

I also want to get into Black Pink for some strange reason? So, I’ve started listening to them…(But I wouldn’t say I know a lot about them yet! I’m like a neophyte-fan, maybe??)

Practising: The Rumbling, Sakamu, Miracle Link Ring!

Listening to:  King Gnu, Buckingham (Wednesday Campanella), Glue

Movie/TV Shows 

Because I was busy with uni (trying not to die, TBH), I didn’t have a lot of chance to watch movies or tv shows…

Except.

I

FINALLY

GOT TO 

SEE 

JUJUTSU KAISEN 0 IN THE THEATRES!!!!!!!!

(Okay, enough of this nonsense. But you get the idea.)

Manga/Anime

And, if you are familiar with the recent anime releases, Spy x Family has officially started! I’ve been a fan since the start of the serialisation, so this is a very historical and dramatic moment for me. Also, GOLDEN KAMUY IS ENDING. I still can’t believe it…But the good news is, Young Jump (Tonari no Young Jump) is offering a free reading from start to finish. So, if you can read Japanese, now is the time to go read GK 😉 

& yet another thing. (I know, there’s more??)

My dad (who also happens to be into anime) has recently lent me his login info for anime websites, so now, *inserts evil laughter* I have infinite access to it. After uni ends, I’m planning to go on a binge if I can evade my siblings… (꜆꜄•ω•)꜆꜄꜆

Writing Life 

How about a glass of apple-vinegar elderflower tea? I just love elderflower because it gives me that spring-summer vibes I am perpetually falling in love with. ꒰ ∩´∇ `∩꒱

This month was supposed to be a typing month (i.e. that time when I type up my handwritten manuscripts). Needless to say, it’s still got a long way to go…I think I only managed a few chapters of Woodstone? But then again Woodstone is insanely long??

Hopefully, I’ll get more time to type up my draft so I can either continue on with this draft and/or work on another WIP from May when I’m planning to do more “serious” writing. (   ¯꒳¯ )b✧

Academics 

Oh, and have you tried the amazake pudding? Amazake is a kind of rice wine without alcohol that’s typically served on Girls’ Day (March 3rd) in Japan! It has a distinct flavour and some people find it too singular a taste, but I personally love it, not to mention it’s super healthy for you. 

As you might have already surmised, April is the end of term & the end of my first year at university. (Which is totally unbelievable, btw.) 

Things I’m Glad That’s Over:

  • Comp-sci project. Like, so done with significant computing and everything. 
  • Poli-sci finals. I was pretty confident about this one, except my grades were not what I expected it to be. Oh well…
  • Arts Academic Essay. This one is a whopping twenty-page long academic paper on Austen’s novel form and Emma. I want to burn it if I can. 

Overall, I’m so blessed that I could spend a year filled to the brim with learning, new opportunities & new people. It’s sad saying goodbye to some of them but I hope to see them again (perchance) somewhere on the vast campus. Also, I’m taking courses during the summer so I won’t completely laze off & forget how to study. 

(´ฅω•ฅ`)チラッ

Lifestyle & Living

My mental health sort of deteriorated towards the end of this month (aka this week, because of finals & stuff) and it hailed a lot? Like, I think we had a week where it was hailing non-stop, then become sunny, then thunderstorm-y. It’s usually really nice in April so I was not expecting this bizarre weather but go figure. Other than that, the cherry blossoms were dazzling as they are every year and I (probably) got a job at a tutoring centre so things are okay. (You know, when all things considered.)

And that’s life for me 🙂

And they shall fight against thee, and they shall not have the mastery; for I am with thee, saith the Lord, that I deliver thee. (And they shall fight against thee, but they shall not have the mastery; for I am with thee, saith the Lord, and I shall keep thee safe.)

(Jeremiah 1:19, WYC)

Thank you for reading! How was your April? Is it spring where you live? (And if so, do you like spring?) What are some things that happened this month that was exciting for you? Let me know in the comments below; I’d love to chat with you!

5 + 1 CS Lewis Books on my TBR/Re-Read

Hullo, world!

It’s a beautiful Saturday morning–a quiet, peaceful sort that reminds me of what Christ has done for us. I actually debated whether or not to write a blog post this week because it feels…a bit sacrilegious…then again, I realised it’s a good time to reflect a bit on the more theological-heavy readings I like to do!

*proceeds to haul out my stack of the CS Lewis library*

So I present to you, the 5 + 1 (shorter) CS Lewis books on my TBR/Re-Read shelf!

1. Miracles

‘The central miracle asserted by Christians is the Incarnation. They say that God became Man. Every other miracle prepares the way for this, or results from this.’

This is the key statement of ‘Miracles’, in which C. S. Lewis shows that a Christian must not only accept but rejoice in miracles as a testimony of the unique personal involvement of God in his creation.

Using his characteristic lucidity and wit to develop his argument, Lewis challenges the rationalists, agnostics and deists on their own grounds and provides a poetic and joyous affirmation that miracles really do occur in our everyday lives.

I’ve read this book before, but I don’t remember much about it, only that it was (as usual) a really good book on miracles! So, it’s probably a good time to re-read it & make sure the thing stays in my head…(´∩ω∩`)

2. Reflections on the Psalms

Lewis writes here about the difficulties he has met or the joys he has gained in reading the Psalms. He points out that the Psalms are poems, intended to be sung, not doctrinal treatises or sermons. Proceeding with his characteristic grace, he guides readers through both the form and the meaning of these beloved passages in the Bible.

This book has been on my TBR for a long time…and now that I’m trying to memorise the Psalms, I think it’s worthwhile the read. 

Also, I must confess that I’ve avoided reading/thinking about Psalms for the longest time–I don’t hate it, but I had difficulties with it despite the number of times I’ve gone through it. I’m hoping this book and memorisation will cure me of this. ( ´•௰•`)

3. A Grief Observed

Written in longhand in notebooks that Lewis found in his home, A Grief Observed probes the “mad midnight moments” of Lewis’s mourning and loss, moments in which he questioned what he had previously believed about life and death, marriage, and even God. Indecision and self-pity assailed Lewis. “We are under the harrow and can’t escape,” he writes. “I know that the thing I want is exactly the thing I can never get. The old life, the jokes, the drinks, the arguments, the lovemaking, the tiny, heartbreaking commonplace.” Writing A Grief Observed as “a defense against total collapse, a safety valve,” he came to recognize that “bereavement is a universal and integral part of our experience of love.”

Lewis writes his statement of faith with precision, humor, and grace. Yet neither is Lewis reluctant to confess his continuing doubts and his awareness of his own human frailty. This is precisely the quality which suggests that A Grief Observed may become “among the great devotional books of our age.”

I feel like since most of the CS Lewis books are perpetually on my TBR/Re-Read shelf, my comments will start sounding the same– “it’s been on my TBR shelf, so I MUST read it!”

But for this book specifically, I have a vested interest even though I haven’t technically lost anyone close to me, my grandmother (in Japan) has been ill for a while now and it’s tough to be far away, knowing she can pass away any time without knowing the salvation found in Jesus. 

4. Till We Have Faces

In this timeless tale of two mortal princesses- one beautiful and one unattractive- C.S. Lewis reworks the classical myth of Cupid and Psyche into an enduring piece of contemporary fiction. This is the story of Orual, Psyche’s embittered and ugly older sister, who possessively and harmfully loves Psyche. Much to Orual’s frustration, Psyche is loved by Cupid, the god of love himself, setting the troubled Orual on a path of moral development.

Set against the backdrop of Glome, a barbaric, pre-Christian world, the struggles between sacred and profane love are illuminated as Orual learns that we cannot understand the intent of the gods “till we have faces” and sincerity in our souls and selves. 

I’ve read this book around three times now, and with every re-read, it becomes even deeper. I only own this as an eBook, so I’m seriously considering buying it so I can annotate it…٩(´꒳`)۶

5. The Weight of Glory

The classic Weight of Glory by C.S. Lewis, the most important Christian writer of the 20th century, contains nine sermons delivered by Lewis during World War Two. The nine addresses in Weight of Glory offer guidance, inspiration, and a compassionate apologetic for the Christian faith during a time of great doubt.

I’ve started reading this and school overwhelmed me, so I haven’t finished it. I think this book will be really relevant to me esp. given the politically charged atmosphere of Canada & the world these days. 

6. The Problem of Pain

For centuries Christians have questioned why, if God is good and all-powerful, he allows us to suffer pain. C.S. Lewis sets out to disentangle this knotty issue, but adds that, in the end, no intellectual solution can avoid the need for faith.

My brother bought this on our latest used-bookstore haul (you might remember it from two months ago) and he’s been telling me how good it is. (Although the point is kind of moot by now since we all agree that all CS Lewis books are THE classics.) So, as soon as he finishes it, I’ll probably beg him to lend it to me. (   ¯꒳¯ )b✧

And that sums up today for now!

Thank you for reading! How is your holy week going? Do you have any CS Lewis TBR/re-reads? What are some of your favourite CS Lewis books? (Or, a book you keep coming back to?) Let me know in the comments below; I’d love to chat with you!