“Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” Proverbs 31 describes a virtuous woman, a woman who is loved by her children, friends, and community. A woman who delivers an encouraging work to everyone she meets and is there to lend a hand or listening ear to those in need. A woman revered by her husband, but in this case, for a brief period. Most of all, she is a woman who fears the Lord like no other, and you know that when she says she will pray for you, she will. This woman is my grandmother, Kittie Camp.
“An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain. She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.” (Proverbs 31:10-12, ESV) Kittie Sarah Crenshaw was united in holy matrimony to Luther Glen, or L.G., Camp, Jr., on October 19, 1947. They welcomed four children: Luther, Jeanette, Jeff, and Carl. She maintained her growing household with love and care, all the while supporting her husband in his call to preach the gospel. His desire and passion for ministry brought them to several churches throughout the United States, from Kreole, Mississippi, to Klamath, California, and to Grand Bay, Alabama. Her faith and unwavering support for L.G. continued, helping him to raise their children to know the love of their parents and the love of Christ. L.G. went to be with Jesus on December 16, 1966, but his legacy lives on through the wife he left behind. Nearly 50 years after his death, Kittie sings the praises of the man she loved and the grandfather I never knew, yet I feel like I know through the memories shared by her and by my mother.
“She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.” (Proverbs 31:27, ESV) After L.G.’s death, she was left to raise her four children alone. With help from God, family, friends, and church members, she set up house and provided for her family, and has continued to do so for her children, eight grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren. Many holidays, birthdays, and family get-togethers are spent in the living room of her house, small but large in love and memories. Absolutely no one can top her gumbo or her chicken cacciatore!
“She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hand to the needy…she opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.” (Proverbs 31:20, 26) Kittie made her living as a schoolteacher for a number of years, and to this day, many of her former students will recognize her and speak to her in passing. She may not remember them all, but she always speaks with a smile on her face and an encouraging word. Though she retired from teaching in 1993, she has never stopped “teaching”. A lesson can always be learned in a conversation on the phone or out on a warm Grand Bay day. Her kindness and willingness to spread not just knowledge, but the Word of God, has led her in various trips to Guatemala and even to China in 1997, where she taught English for a summer. She is never one to shy away from a friend or family member in need, whether it be a physical need or advice. I can remember many times going to my grandmother, knowing that she would have just the right Bible verse or word that her hurting granddaughter needed to hear.
“Her lamp does not go out at night…her children rise up and call her blessed.” (Proverbs 31:18b, 28a, ESV) My grandmother always has her Bible open, be it on her lap, on the kitchen counter, or in the car on a long trip. She is a godly woman, much more than I could ever be. Even in the dark of night or a dark place in life, the light of her faith still shines within her. “A merry heart doeth good like medicine…” (Proverbs 17:22a, ESV), the first verse I remember her sharing with me, as I think about the woman who God has brought through a heartbreaking tragedy so many years ago. Her love for her family and her Jesus is strong, a calming influence to me and my family, and every prayer she speaks is literally music to our ears.
“Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all…give her the fruit of her hands, and let her works praise her in the gates.” (Proverbs 31:29, 31, ESV) Nearly 89 years of life is not enough to describe this beautiful woman. God has blessed her with mostly good health, still able to work at the church and teach Sunday School. She is the faithful matriarch of a family who loves her very much and the bearer of a godly legacy that is being passed down to her grandchildren. Surely, there are many women who have come and gone in the circle of life who have exhibited the traits of the Proverbs 31 woman. Through the eyes of a proud granddaughter, you, Kittie Camp, surpass them all.