I’m so excited about today’s post!!
Today I’m starting what I hope will be a monthly series, featuring women who demonstrate some quality of the excellent wife praised in Proverbs 31. I am inspired when I read about this early-rising, enterprising woman who serves her family with joy and confidence. But to emulate her in any way, I need help from the Lord and from my sisters in Christ (especially with the early-rising part). My prayer is that this series will inspire my sisters to rely on God’s power in becoming more excellent wives.
My friend Suzanne Vel has very generously agreed to be the first interviewee. Suzanne and her husband Randy have three precious daughters, and serve their local church in various ways, including teaching Financial Peace University. Suzanne also works on staff at the church, and she is studying very hard to take the Certified Financial Planner exam.
When I think of Suzanne, the word “encourager” comes to mind. She speaks candidly about her struggles as well as her victories, smiling through it all and helping others to see God in every situation. It was not easy to choose one verse from Proverbs 31 to be the focus of this interview, and you will soon see why. Suzanne does look well to the ways of her household (v. 27), but she also extends her hands to the poor (v. 20), and is teaching her children about kindness (v. 26). I finally decided to use verse 11 for the title: “The heart of her husband trusts in her.” I think he would agree!
When did you start walking with Jesus? Would you mind sharing your testimony?
“I was introduced to Jesus by my husband on our second date. It was the first time I had ever driven around the [Washington] DC Beltway, and he chose that moment to introduce me to my Lord and Savior. Driving around the crazy Beltway, I found out who Jesus was and what He had done for me. My heart was tender and it was easy for me accept this truth; my only concern was for my parents and brother who are still to this day not saved. I was 21 years old at the time and in between my junior and senior years of college. I was raised by good people who decided that they were not interested in religion for themselves or their children, so therefore they never took me or my brother to church. Funny enough, both my brother and I had friends who took us to church with them. My best friend in elementary school invited me to vacation Bible school (VBS) and to church with her family a couple of times. One time, my brother had a friend to our house for the weekend and the parents insisted that their son needed to go to church, so my parents dropped my brother and me off with him for the service.”
How long have you been married?
“We just celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary on October 5th.”
For what are you most grateful in your relationship?
“That we really enjoy each other’s company. We are good friends, make each other laugh out loud often, and love to hang out as a family.”
How do you and your husband make financial decisions? Do you have any “rules,” for example, about when to consult each other about purchases?
“My husband has complete faith in my decisions and ability to handle our finances. I would like his input at times and he will give it to me when I ask. I wish that we were the type of people that sat down and had budget meetings or discussed the nitty gritty details, but that is just not who he is. On the positive side of things, he never, ever gets upset about money. When I come to him and say, our expenses are crazy this month and the money stinks, he says that it’s just money, and don’t worry about it. Life’s too short, God will take care of us. His faith is what keeps him calm and he helps me grow by watching how he reacts to all situations.”
What tools, if any (e.g., pencil and paper, envelopes, software) do you use to manage your finances?
“I like to use Quicken for the day-to-day, to see how the money is, and mytotalmoneymakeover.com budget software for our monthly budget plan. When unexpected expenses come up and I get frustrated, then all that discipline gets thrown out the window and I decide it’s better to trust in God’s plans than to try to figure out how I am going to make every last penny work.”
You and your family seem to take great joy in sharing your blessings. Are there one or two experiences that especially moved you to praise the Lord?
“The desire we have to share with others comes from the fact that we do not believe any of the blessings are ours to hoard. Whatever we have is God’s, and however He wants us to share is fine with us. I love that this attitude has been passed on to our kids, and they, too, like to give more than receive. My favorite memory is of when my girls gave their summer earnings to Goats for Ghana through our church’s VBS program. They were going to earn $100 apiece for doing homework-type things over the summer. When I explained the plan of the church to send goats to Ghana, and how much that goat would help a family, the girls on their own offered to give up their money to the mission.”
How did you come to teaching a Financial Peace University (FPU) class with your husband? Is that something you would have pictured yourself doing, say, four years ago?
“Teaching FPU was a total God thing. I had recently become completely overwhelmed with our financial situation. One morning I simply prayed to God that He should take over our finances. I was done. Very soon after, God led me to the Christian bookstore and Dave Ramsey’s book, The Total Money Makeover. After reading the book in one day, I was excited and hooked on the plan. I shared with my husband and he was in agreement that we should give this a try. After we had some success on our own, I really wanted to take the FPU class. Then we found out that our church was offering the program. When I reached out to our pastor, I found out that they needed one more set of teachers and we were hooked. It is great to teach on something that you know works because it has worked for you.”
What motivated you to pursue becoming a Certified Financial Planner?
“I wanted to know more about financial planning so that I could help the members of our FPU classes in a more concrete way. There are a lot of hurting people in the world that need help with their finances. Just being an FPU coordinator didn’t feel like enough and I wanted to be able to say I had the education to back up the advice I was giving.”
You also seem to be very passionate about being a good steward of your health and encouraging others to do the same. How and when did that start?
“This started with the adoption of our puppy, Kipper. Funny enough, the rescue said he would be a small dog, and what we thought we were getting would not have been good for all the running I do with him now. Instead, we got a dog that grew and grew and is now my number one running partner. He knows the word ‘run’ and he knows what I wear to run and he is ready to go, rain or shine, morning or night. I love the good health and happiness I get from exercise and I know that God wants all of us to treat our bodies well, so I offer my support and advice to anyone who wants to be encouraged to get in shape and feel great about themselves, too.”
What Suzanne humbly neglected to mention is that in the past couple of years, she has run MULTIPLE marathons, including the Marine Corps Marathon last October, raising money for children with disabilities. Next month, Suzanne will run in the New York City Marathon, in support of Team for Kids. This organization provides free and low-cost health and fitness programs to under-served children in schools and community centers in New York City, across the United States, and around the world. Go Suzanne! We will be cheering and praying for you!!
Do you have any words of encouragement for wives who would like to learn more about finances but feel intimidated or overwhelmed?
“Knowledge is power and fear is not from the Lord. If you are afraid, it’s because you don’t know what you are going to find out, and that is not a healthy position for you to be in. Take the time to understand your situation so that you can offer support to your husband as he works so hard to provide for his family. If you are a stay-at-home mom, your support could be shopping wisely, cutting coupons, and shopping for the kids’ clothes at consignment sales. Cutting costs, making the home a peaceful enjoyable place to come home to, and providing loving support to your spouse are worth more than a lot of paychecks you could bring in the door.”
Is there anything else you would like to share?
“Give it all to God. Everything is His anyway. The sooner you decide that you aren’t in control and that God is, the sooner you can lean on Him and really flourish.”
I’m so grateful to the whole Vel family for being willing to share about their lives. And I give thanks to God for what He is doing in and through them. May they continue to flourish!
Thanks for stopping by,