Wednesday, April 27, 2016

What Even Money Can't Buy

I can’t imagine a time in my life where “I can’t wait to save money for 6 months so I can spend it all on a three day get-a-way!” would be an exciting statement to make. Just thinking about that makes my stomach turn. But it seems this is the reality we face in today’s economy; counting dollars and cents, hoping we can squeeze in a little bit of fun without experiencing financial ruin. Is there a better way to get away without drastically cutting budgets or giving up things that are considered necessities on a daily basis? I would say there is.

Being a family with 5 kids, my wife and I are ALWAYS looking for ways to beat the economic rat race. It’s been years since we have taken a ”typical” vacation. If I am being honest though, our kids don’t know the difference. It’s not that they wouldn’t absolutely LOVE a trip to a major theme park, or a week long beach excursion. Tangibly speaking, it’s merely unfeasible for our not so little family. Even so, I want to be intentional when instilling intelligent use of resources in the eyes of my children. I want them to understand that managing money doesn't have to be about doing without now so we can spend a bunch of money later; that true wealth can be found in the simplicity of things that cost (almost) nothing.

Something my children meet with eagerness is being woken up early on a Saturday morning to a surprise mini road trip. We typically like to keep these trips under 2 hours one way. Last weekend, we decided to drive to a town we have passed many times, but have yet to explore. During our visit, we discovered a city park sitting on 140 beautiful acres. We drove through the entire place letting the kids scout out their favorite play area. They quickly made friends with the other children around them, and they played to their hearts’ content. After a couple hours of wearing themselves out, we treated them to some frozen slushes. Belly laughs and delight filled the van on the way home. It didn’t cost much, the entire adventure under $50, but they loved it and they always anticipate the opportunity to do it again.

One thing I never want to do is take these trips for granted. They never cease to refocus my priorities. There’s no stress in finding an extra dime to spend. There are no real time restraints or anxiety driven schedules. It’s fun. I get to enjoy the relationships I’m developing with the people who matter most to me. I don’t want the burden of having to impress my kids with impermanent material goods. I refuse to let society put a ticket price on happiness. Whether in want or in need, I want my kids to understand that joy comes from what’s inside our hearts; To know the love of each other’s company. There’s no money in the world that can manufacture that feeling. For that reason alone, it’s enough!

Chris Moss, with his wife Tiffany, keep company with five lively children. He currently resides on the outskirts of St. Louis, Missouri. Chris is the Missional Co-Founder of the grass-roots community organization The Serve Movement. He's a writer, a dreamer, and a voice for the underdog. He can be reached for comment or question at or on Facebook (

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Father and Son

Kevin Weaver (Dad): Recently, my middle son, now a married father of two, as well as an Army infantry officer with the 101st Airborne, sat down and penned some thoughts regarding his upbringing, as well as my involvement in it. I am going to be honest, I was taken aback by his somewhat rave review. In hindsight, it would appear that I was some sort of super hero to the boy, when in truth, I often failed…miserably. This same child challenged me more than my other two boys, combined, and I went to bed, many a night, feeling I had been too hard on him. I don’t share his musings to prove what a great dad I was, I share it as a testament to the fact that even though we often believe we are doing nothing but failing our kids, the good stuff is still taking root. Hopefully, you will be encouraged, and not discouraged, by what my son has to say. And perhaps his account proves what my wife and I like to say, “Sometimes, you feel that your kids turn out well in spite of you, not because of you.” Kevin Weaver

Keith Weaver (Son): A father holds his family accountable and must show his children that there are consequences for our actions. I think this is especially important for a father to teach to his sons. With my dad there was no question where the line was drawn, and when the line was crossed my brothers and I knew we had made a mistake. Wrongful action equals consequence, no question about it.

I don’t remember testing my father or pushing the limit to see how much we could get away with. He did an incredible job proving the disciplinary action my brothers and I received was because he loved us and that he was going to do everything in his power to help us become the men God made us to be. No matter how old we got, my dad relentlessly pursued doing what he needed to do to teach us a lesson if we messed up or acted out of selfish reasons. After every punishment we received my father always told us he loved us and why he held us accountable.

We so lack this kind of discipline in our society today. My generation is often so far removed from giving the slightest care as to how their actions can affect others, and even themselves for that matter. I’m generalizing but it seems to me that there are a minority my age, who know how to show respect and think before acting out of emotion (most of the time). Above all we need to know how and why God wants us to live a certain way and abstain from certain actions. I strive to hold my own son and daughter accountable for their actions according to God’s standard as my father did for me. I cannot stress how important the disciplinary action I received from my dad was in shaping me into the man I am today.

Keith: Unwavering Faith
Through all my father has done for me, and in spite of all the sacrifices he’s made, the most important thing he has done for our family is show us what it is to be a man of faith. Unwavering faith in God on display was, and is, something my life never lacked from my dad. He and my mom have tirelessly and continuously done all they can to further the Kingdom of God. How blessed am I to have a father who’s life’s work is to share God’s love with as many people as possible! His love for God and his love for people have been so evident my entire life.

I now strive to be even half the man of God my father is. He has shown how a man should treat his wife and how a father should raise his children and I pray that my family can experience what I’ve experienced through the example my father set for me.

Kevin: If my son’s thoughts prove anything, it proves this…our efforts, even the ones we think our substandard, seem to make a powerful impact if we do them in love!

Kevin Weaver, CEO of Network211 and father of three sons, lives with his wife KyAnne in Springfield, MO. He enjoys spending time with family, hunting and watching University of Kansas basketball with his boys! He can be reached at 

Keith Weaver is stationed at Ft. Campbell where he was recently recognized as an "Honor Grad" for Pathfinder School, one of the toughest in the Army.  He is currently the OIC of Headquarters Battalion, and serves as the Platoon Leader for the Recon Platoon.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Three Lessons on Money

A Broke Nation

Americans are up to their eyeballs in debt.  USA government debt tops $18 trillion (that’s with a “T”!).  Student loan debt is almost $1.4 Trillion.  Personal consumer debt hovers close to $3.5 Trillion.  Car loans: $1 Trillion.  Mortgages: $8.25 Trillion.  Total household average debt is over $130,000.  If we Americans can finance something—from sofas to sea crafts—we will!

A disturbing side trend is the paycheck-to-paycheck living of many American households.  The average American family has only around $4000 – $5000 saved, with 25% of households having no “rainy day” funds at all, and over one-third of households having no savings at all for retirement.

I look at this trend and immediately start thinking of my kids, twin sons aged 9 and a 5-year-old daughter.  As a Good Dad, what do I want my legacy to them to be, and how can I train them to make wise money decisions? 

I’ve found three lessons I want to be sure my kids know, so that when they grow older they will prosper and be able to help others regardless of what happens in the future.

Money Comes from Work
My kids don’t get an “allowance.”  Allowances are made for those who cannot help themselves.  My kids are all healthy, vibrant, and able, so there’s no need to make an allowance for any of them.

In our house, we pay commissions.  Work equals pay.  No work equals no pay.  There are also chores they do for no pay.  They’re part of the family and contribute time and talent because that’s what Whitings do.

Let’s not kid ourselves: the value of the work young kids do probably isn’t worth what we pay them, but that’s not the point.  The point is to teach them that money comes from work.  That always means trading something of value whether it is time, skill, labor, thinking, or a special talent to someone else in exchange for the value offered to another person.

Money is a Tool
Money by itself doesn’t do anything.  Financial advisor Dave Ramsey says that money is “amoral;” it isn’t good or evil.  He illustrates this with the story of a brick.  You can pick up a brick and smash a plate-glass window, or you can lay it together with other bricks and build a hospital.  The brick doesn’t care; it’s just a brick.

Good Dads don’t want their kids to be caught up in accumulating money for the sake of having a fat bank account, and we certainly don’t want to see them using money to hurt themselves or other people.  We want them to learn that money is a tool that has many worthy purposes. It’s up to them to decide how to use it wisely.

Using the “Money Tool”
Ask my kids what are the things we do with money and they’ll respond, “Spend some, save some, and give some.” 

Spending includes daily, weekly, and monthly expenses.  At their age, it’s mostly just fun stuff or special treats.  We still feed, house, clothe and provide them all the other standard daily living expenses.  What I hope to teach my kids is that there are choices to make when buying things they want.  Good Dads want to see their kids make wise, thoughtful choices on how they spend money, because we hope some day they’ll move out and we can turn their bedrooms into a nice office or media studio!  Well, maybe not, but we all want to see our little eaglettes fly and be free.

Saving is still at a fairly simple stage.  My kids have piggy banks at home, and every time they save up around $50 we move that into a bank savings account.  This is for bigger ticket purchases, such as a new video game system or an  i-Gadget.  What a great teachable moment!  We talk about how banks work, how interest accumulates on the balance, and the difference between deposits and withdrawals.  Most importantly, however, the kids are getting into the regular habit of saving a portion of each “payday.”  As they get older, we’ll start talking about the more complex aspect of saving, such as investing to grow wealth. 

Giving needs to be taught.  From an early age my kids have learned that part of each commission payday is set aside to give.  My wife and I discussed it and set the giving amount at $1 out of $5.  That’s 20%, a pretty hefty chunk!  Amazingly, my kids still have a healthy cushion of saving and spending money. Generous people are kind, thoughtful, and not self-seeking.  I believe people with those qualities will enjoy more opportunities in life because they learn to focus on other people, and that trait is rewarded whether one works for an employer or serves his or her own customers in a business.

As Good Dads, we want our kids to use the resources they’ve been given to provide for themselves and to grow into generous, kind people.  This kind of training doesn’t happen by accident, so it’s up to us to give them the solid foundation of financial responsibility.

Sid Whiting is the father of three and the husband of one. He lives with his wife Gail and their children in Springfield, Missouri. He also enjoys real estate investing, serving in the 135th Army Band as a percussionist and bass guitarist, and plays in the Praise Band "Soul Purpose" and the "Hallelujah Bells" hand bell choir.  He can be reached for comment or question at or on Facebook (

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Why I Learned from My Dad

Kevin:  Over the course of many years of parental investment, I have tried to calculate whether or not my fatherhood has made a difference in the life of my three boys.  Being fully aware of all my weaknesses, I have a tendency to remember the areas, and acts of fatherhood I'd like to take back.  However, I've been reminded that in spite our shortcomings, if we will "stay the course" and love our children, and lead them to a place life and growth with God, He is so faithful to fill in the gaps.  Recently, my son Keith, who serves as a 1st Lt. at the 101st Airborne, 2nd Battalion, 126 Headquarters Company, wrote a few words about his perspective on my influence in his life as a dad.  I'm very humbled by his words, and truly thankful that the seeds planted in his life are now producing a wonderful crop of success.  Be encouraged dads . . . our kids can succeed in spite of us, if we stay faithful!

Keith:    We have seen and continue to see massive changes in social policy issues, laws, leadership, and cultural norms that all contribute into shaping the American society as a whole. Some of the transformations are good; many are not. Unfortunately, the family unit has seen immense change, alteration and modification that I believe have led to massive deterioration in the well-being of our nation and our neighbors on a global level. I am blessed to have a father who has embodied what I believe God created man to be.

As a man my father has had, and continues to have, a vast impact on my life and development as a contributing member of world. He has taught me how important it is that we do not lose sight of what men and fathers are intended to be. Men lead their families in all facets of navigating life. They provide, love, protect, teach, mentor and continuously learn. A true man is the example his household follows. A true man understands that he must restrain  himself and fight if necessary. A man displays his faith puts God at the center of his home. Men guide and keep families together. Though there are a number of important values and character traits my father instilled in me and my brothers, a few are very defined and profound. Learning to work is one of those values.

My father made my brothers and I work. Through childhood this, at times, felt like a curse. I can distinctly remember the first occasion I truly worked, at the age of eight, moving hundreds of 10 to 15 pound rocks in a landscaping adventure. I recall having friends who couldn’t believe the “forced labor” in which I had to engage on a seemingly weekly basis. Of course, in adolescence with responsibilities for basic home maintenance, remodeling projects and chores, I felt like Pharaoh himself had me at the end of a whip building the Pyramids.  In reality my father’s generation would have thought my growing up was a vacation. Regardless, I always, for a brief moment, would step back when accomplishing some task with my father and watch in amazement at the level of determination, fortitude and drive for excellence he displayed when working. My father never cut corners and always found a way to exceed the vision he had for the end result of his work. To this day it seems like he can pretty much do anything and fix everything. Watching his example while working imprinted on me, and has allowed me to apply that same kind of drive and effort for excellence in all areas of my life. My experience working with my dad has shown me the kind of stewardship God expects from us, and the success I have experienced thus far professionally I can attribute greatly to my father and the way he taught me discipline in completing a job. 

Kevin Weaver, CEO of Network211 and father of three sons, lives with his wife KyAnne in Springfield, MO. He enjoys spending time with family, hunting and watching University of Kansas basketball with his boys! He can be reached at 

Keith Weaver is stationed at Ft. Campbell where he was recently recognized as an "Honor Grad" for Pathfinder School, one of the toughest in the Army.  He is currently the OIC of Headquarters Battalion, and serves as the Platoon Leader for the Recon Platoon.