Tuesday, April 28, 2020

A Unique History Study - The Hidden Message of the Great Seal {A Review}

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor compensated in any other way.

My oldest son was looking for something new to add to his self-directed US History studies this year when an opportunity to review 
The Hidden Message of the Great Seal: How Foundational Truth From The Dawn Of Liberty May Rescue A Republic In Peril
 came up. Thinking he might be interested in the book, I showed him the The Hidden Message, LLC website, and he said he'd like to get it. Thus, he's been reading the book regularly as a part of his studies, and I am handing this review over to him.


What Is The Hidden Message of the Great Seal?

The Hidden Message of the Great Seal
 by Michael is a 12 x 9 inch softcover book with glossy pages and an abundance of photographs, illustrations, and graphics. The physical size of the book makes it best for sitting at a table to read or laying on your bed to read.

Because each page is relatively large, the paragraphs are divided into narrow columns, which I find slightly annoying. It reminds me a textbook or the Bible.

It talks about a message hidden in the Seal of the United States - which is on every single dollar bill - that has been hidden for years and will help us as our country grows closer and closer to anarchy or totalitarian rule.

I believe the book is written as a thesis trying to inform us about facts and theories that the author believes they support.

Why Did I Choose to Read The Hidden Message of the Great Seal?

I chose to read this book because I am a lover of history, and I am trying to focus on U.S. History this year. I am a self-proclaimed young expert on Medieval History and the American Revolution so this book fit my interests well.

What Do I Think about The Hidden Message of the Great Seal So Far?

Due to the fact that I am trying to study each chapter deeply - taking notes (which is new for me) - and balancing my reading of history with my other studies, I have not finished the entire book.

I what I have read so far, The Hidden Message of the Great Seal has presented an interesting view of the founding of our nation which is not discussed in most history books. In its focus on the Seal, it discusses manuscripts, historical figures, theories, how the author came to think about the Seal, and why the Seal has contained such a deep secret for so long.

The book also contains a lot about God - lots of God. In fact, every chapter I have read so far has a quote from the Bible or a prayer of a Founding Father, which I find a bit much, although I do understand that the author is a devout Christian and so were many of the Founding Fathers.

I find the book interesting in its narrow focus of the Seal which broadens to include a lot of other history and theories. I plan to finish reading it.

Would I Recommend The Hidden Message of the Great Seal?

To be honest, I find the actual style of writing in the book to be mediocre (which I understand, because I find that writing excellent nonfiction is, in my opinion, far more difficult than writing captivating fiction). However, the topic of the book is quite interesting and original. So, yes, I would recommend The Hidden Message of the Great Seal to those who are interested in history, politics, or theology.


Having browsed The Hidden Message of the Great Seal myself, I am looking forward to when my son finishes it so I can read it to myself and/or to our younger children.

Having paged through the book, I already like that it promises a way for children and adults to learn more about Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams while focusing on such things as freedom, liberty, unity, providence, virtue, and truth as relates to the creation and message of the national seal.

The book's premise seems timely during this period of growing tension and uncertainty in our nation and world.

It is obvious to me that author Michael Kanis possesses
 a passion for encouraging people to preserve our country through a unified pursuit of virtue and hopes to guide readers to thoughts about what the founding fathers envisioned and how we can protect our nation so that it can shine as a light and blessing in our world

Learn More

Like many books, The Hidden Message of the Great Seal can be found on Amazon, however, for those that wish to purchase it direct from the website, thehiddenmessage.org, a coupon is offered through May 20, 2020.

To receive 50% off the book- and get free shipping as always offered, enter the coupon code  HOMESCHOOL at checkout.  The discount is good until 30 May 2020.

To see what 55 Homeschool Review families thought about 
The Hidden Message of the Great Seal, click through to find each family's review.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Remembering the Scruffy Hospitality of a St. Catherine of Siena Picnic & Play

As so may of us sit in social isolation, wondering when things might "get back to normal" and what the "new normal" might look like, sometimes, it is helpful to pause and just give thanks for the moment we are in - for the relative quiet that this time in history ca offer us.

It can also be enjoyable to walk down memory lane, recalling the altogether too often madcap mayhem that was everyday life not too long ago.

Tonight, I have been doing that, and ended up running into some notes that I wrote about how we celebrated St. Catherine of Siena's feast day last year.

What a riot!  What a real-life day!

I've never been one to attempt to spend much time making things picture perfect and blog beautiful as I share about our life and learning here - and, what follows, is anything but.  So, if you like posts replete with idealized life, just keep scrolling.

If you crave a sense of solidarity in "this is my real life", read on.  For I forewarn you: The memory of last year's St. Catherine of Siena feast day celebration is not blog beautiful nor picture perfect. Rather, it is real!  Very real.

A memory of how we roll here-  often with the real usurping the ideal, but blessings unfolding nonetheless.


Inspiration after Morning Mass Unfolds into Chaos and Clear Blessings with Some Scruffy Hospitality

What do you do when you are running on little sleep, navigating some of life's curve balls, and have a task list a mile long?

If you're me, you'll walk out of Mass on a sunny morning and follow a prompt from the Spirit to offer to host a last-minute St Catherine of Siena feast day gathering.

As you get word out to others to invite them to the gathering, you will think you have plenty of time to move through the necessary tasks of the day with an hour or more to spare in order to prep for the picnic potluck.

But, then, your day will go off course multiple times, and, after getting back on track to a degree, you will meander off course again. Indeed, you will lose track of time while out at a commitment, and return to your house 15 minutes before the potluck is set to begin.

As you pull up to your house, you will find someone already waiting for you.


With humility, you will then apologize for the mess you know is inside your house and ask your first guest to be patient while you run in and out to set up for the picnic.

Image may contain: kitchen and indoor
Yes, a homemade salt-oil-sugar free dressing was made among the mess in that Magic Bullet there.

Then, as you begin quick preparation, you will randomly remember that you forgot to return a library book that is due ASAP and will thank your eldest son who volunteers to bike the book down to the library.

You will then smile with gratitude at your daughter who you will notice has jumped right in making homemade pasta for the gathering.

Image may contain: Martianne Stanger, smiling, sitting and indoor
Love Her Helpfulness and Handiwork in the Kitchen

Meanwhile, as you bring things outside for the feast, you will discover that your chickens have gotten loose and run into the woods. Then, you will be enormously grateful for your youngest child who will bravely battle briers to attempt to catch and coral your runaway chickens.

Guest being ever so gracious and child and chickens in the woods, you will then field phone calls, check messages - including a missed ones from car dealers that you are praying will help land you a new vehicle because one of your family vehicles has died - and, concurrently, you will begin prepping food for potluck before pausing that task to help your youngest fetch the chickens...

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So not picture perfect - mess from the morning was added to with potluck prep mess - just keeping things real!

Chickens corralled, you will discover that one chicken somehow got a string wrapped countless times around its leg, so you, your son, and your wonderfully understanding first guest will team up to hold the chicken, try to untie the string, and, finally, use scissors to extract the chicken's leg from the string.

At this point, your oldest son - who happens to have an OCD thing going on - will come home from his library run and begin to worry about chicken germs, but, thankfully, he'll get over his concerns quickly.

Your daughter will pull through with a stellar homemade pasta.

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My sweet girl whipped some homemade pasta up quickly!

Then, other guests will arrive and graciously overlook the disaster of your house and help you see the beauty of blessings in it instead. 

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As moms lay out the meal outside, kids were happy inside.  I just love seeing various ages so content together.

Said guests will be laden with yummy dishes to share, and, you'll find out that one guest actually prayed the day prior for a chance to get together, and, then, felt prompted that very morning morning to make a random and rare Facebook check, seeing the last minute invite you felt prompted to make after Mass.

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Yum! Spaghetti squash brought by a friend.

Upon hearing this, you'll think, "Ah, God thing! Total God thing!"

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Vegan Pasta Sauce for the Italian Saint

Delicious food will be spread out, everyone will gather on blankets, and you'll pray, chat, and read about St. Catherine of Siena.

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A bit of beauty and some books to use during our saint celebration "circle" as we pray, read, and chat
Finally, the ideal becoming real...

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A little Italian veggie flag...

But just for a moment.

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A Quick Stigmata Salad
For, while you are leading the "saint day circle" of prayer and chatting, one small guest child will find a wagon your kids have left out, climb in it, go careening down your small side "cliff", causing all to turn with great worried intakes of breath.

Thankfully, however, the child's Guardian Angel will prevail and - praise God! - the child will be no worse for the wear  somehow having missed briers, rocks, and more!

Thus, eating, story, prayer, conversation, and play will continue.

In the end, you'll be delighted by your children's helpfulness and warmth - and comments from others about your children which remind you that the same children you chided earlier in the day for ill behaviors truly can be filled with wonderful joy, kindness, helpfulness, etc. Indeed, the experience will evidence that they are growing in virtue so much that they actually inspired one of your guests.  

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The big smile makes reality right!

And, so what started as an after-morning-Mass-inspiration, developed into a real mess, and then progressed onto a lovely time with fresh air, faith, friendship, and plenty of good food will leave you satiated.

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Safer wagon play...

You will know that you may have provided the scruffiest hospitality ever and that - although the day may have had plenty of imperfections and be ending before all your to dos are attended to - all is blessed.  For you listened to the Spirit prompt and it was good.

You will realize you did not take many photos, but that the night was replete with memories, so you'll write some out so as never to forget the extraordinary challenges an blessings of a rather ordinary day in your madcap life - the real within the ideal, and the Go(o)d part of everything.

Then, finally, you will go off to finish the sleep you never got night before thinking, What a day!  I have the fabulous friends, good kids, and so much to thank God for. St. Catherine of Siena, pray for us - and, thank for you every intercession you may have offered for me and for others today.


Whatever your Saint Catherine of Siena feast day observances bring this year, may you find beauty and blessings in them!

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Snack with St. Mark on April 25

Training Happy Hearts

The Feast of St. Mark, Evangelist, is coming up on April 25 and makes for a great occasion for snacking with the saints.

In our home, we'll likely be making a hummus and veggies winged lion to snack on as we did in years passed...

Or, I'll set out ingredients and ask the children to get creative making their own winged lions. 

You could do similarly with whatever ingredients you seem to have on hand.

Source: Wikipedia

Truly, there so many fun ways to make food lions, that I bet you can rustle up a St. Mark feast day with no trouble at all. Some inspiration might be:

A Prayer and Chat along with the Snack

After grace and before eating, the Collect Prayer would be appropriate to pray.

Source: Wikipedia

O God, who raised up Saint Mark, your Evangelist, and endowed him with the grace to preach the Gospel, grant, we pray, that we may so profit from his teaching as to follow faithfully in the footsteps of Christ. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

You might also read the biography and reflection at Franciscan Media which ends with:

Mark fulfilled in his life what every Christian is called to do: proclaim to all people the Good News that is the source of salvation. In particular, Mark’s way was by writing. Others may proclaim the Good News by music, drama, poetry, or by teaching children around a family table.

Then, ask how each person in the family has been and could go forth proclaiming the Good News.

Alternately, you might read the Loyola Press biography, keying into how St. Mark "
speaks to Christians about Jesus, who understands their difficulties and sufferings and will one day bring them to share with him eternal joy and glory."

Then, if appropriate, segue into conversation about the challenges that seem so prevalent in today's world, and, perhaps, even in our own homes and families. From there, move toward the idea that while it can be tempting to focus too long on such negatives, the better thing is to persevere with faith - turning our eyes towards Jesus, who loves us so. 

Maybe even chat about how, as it is put in a piece by
Relevant Radio, "We can look to St. Mark’s story of redemption and faith as an example that no matter how difficult things get, we shouldn’t give up spreading the Good News."

Learn More with St. Mark

If you'd like to extend your snack time to learning time, I have previously shared how we let St. Mark inspire eclectic learning in our home. You might also like to:

  • enjoy some art by coloring or painting coloring sheets with water colors. Both Schola Rosa and Waltzing Matilda have lovely ones.

May snacking with St. Mark bless you and yours and encourage you to come closer to Christ.

    I would love to hear about your favorite traditions, resources, and ideas related to St. Mark as well as any other Snacking with the Saint inspirations you might offer.

    Saint Mark, Evangelist, pray for us.

    Sunday, April 12, 2020

    Alleluia! He is Risen!


    He is risen!

    Happy Easter 2020 from our home to yours...

    And from our nature walk to yours, too.

    Wherever your path takes you this Easter season...

    ... may it give you cause for thanks and smiles.

    May moments to pause to play unfold...

    May you travel safely even when things get mucky.

    And may Christ's light shine gloriously!

    We are so blessed. Hope shines forth always.

    Praise God for all good things!

    Sunday, April 5, 2020

    Join Me in Praying for Wayward Children This Easter...

    When I first had children I was not familiar with St. Ambrose, St. Monica, and St. Augustine were. Now, they are becoming my go-to intercessors.


    I have a wayward child.

    Yes. Despite a long-standing desire and effort to raise children that know and love God, I have a child that is rejecting our faith.

    It breaks my heart.


    Little has ever broken my heart more, and, as I head into my first Easter ever with a child that shuns our faith, it hurts more and more each day.

    Luckily, I know that I am not alone.

    Many mothers have faced this before. Many face it now. And more will face it in the future.

    It is a hard cross to carry, but is not one that we have to carry alone.

    God is with us. And, so are intercessors like St. Ambrose, St. Monica, and St. Augustine.

    If you don't know much about these, let me explain their connectedness to wayward children in a nutshell:

    St. Monica was the mother of a difficult child named Augustine. For over fifteen years, she cried countless tears and prayed prayer after prayer for his conversion, and, once, when she complained to St. Ambrose about Augustine, St. Ambrose told her, "Speak less to Augustine about God and more to God about Augustine."

    St. Monica took this advice, persisted in her prayer, and, eventually her prayers - and the friendship that Augustine and Ambrose struck up - paid off. With God's grace and mercy, Augustine not only converted, but became a saint and doctor of the church.

    One wayward child - three incredible saints close to the mind and heart for God that can intercede for us.

    So it is that I, though heartbroken, am encouraged.

    I know that wayward children can return to God. I know I am not alone. I know powerful intercessors are in heaven and that grace abounds.

    I also understand three lessons and am taking them to heart. Perhaps, if you have a wayward child, you might be convicted by these lessons, too:

    1. Pray. Persistently pray. More than you talk to your child about God, talk to God about your child. Your prayers are heard and your persistence won't go unrewarded. Our God is one of grace and mercy. Our God is bigger than our problems.

    2. Pray for an "Ambrose".  Perhaps frustration, misunderstanding, and more have built so much of a barrier between you and your child that your child can no longer hear truth from you. It happens.

    Don't fight it. Instead of shouting yourself hoarse without being heard, use your voice to pray for an "Ambrose" to enter your child's life. 

    that God will bring a person of faith into your child's life who your child can hear with greater openness than your child hears you. 

    Pray that just as God sent Ambrose to Augustine, He will send
    your child someone with the right combination of connection, heart, and motive to move your child back to God. It can happen. St. Augustine is proof!

    3. Ask for intercession for your child.  St. Monica knows our heartache. St. Ambrose knows how to reach wayward ones. St. Augustine knows the magnificent glory of conversion.Ask them to pray for your wayward child.

    Pray words like these:

    St. Ambrose, St. Monica, and St. Augustine, please intercede for my child.

    St. Ambrose, you know the way to a wayward child's heart. You nudged St. Augustine's heart towards God. Please intercede for my child. Please ask the Lord Jesus to soften my child's heart and to prompt someone like you to take interest in my child, to reach out and be heard by my child, to lead my child toward God.

    St. Monica, you know the heartbreak I feel.  You understand the hurting, hopeless despair that befalls a mother when her child rejects our loving God. You know the longing for a child to return wholeheartedly to Christ in His Church. Please, help me. Please help me persevere in prayer as you did. Please intercede, begging the Lord to send me the grace to love my child fully through this difficult period and to draw my child toward God in whatever ways I can - and, if I cannot - to send someone who can.

    Please, dear St. Monica, intercede that like your beloved Augustine, my child may come to know our loving God. 

    St. Augustine, you know what it is like to reject God, and you know what it is like to turn away from that rejection - to repent, and, then embrace God fully. Please intercede for my child. Please ask our Lord to send as much grace as is necessary for my child to hear God's call and to answer it. 

    This time is difficult and sometimes seems impossible to deal with, but with Christ, all things are possible, I know. You, dear Saints, know this, too. Thank you for your intercession.

    St. Ambrose, St. Monica, and St. Augustine, pray for my child and for all wayward children.

    Lord in Heaven, draw us to you.


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