8 Things You Didn’t Know About Black Fatherhood

By Deanna Johnson Cauthen

Deanna Cauthen is as a contributing writer for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Decatur Dispatch and Tucker Times news magazines, publications of Hometown Newspapers.

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As we celebrate Father’s Day, I wanted to find a way to honor the many African-American fathers who sacrifice and support their families each day. I felt particularly burdened to write a word of encouragement since many of us have been deeply hurt and discouraged by the unjust killings of several African-American men by the police.

Unfortunately, society’s perception of Black men and their role as fathers is a dismal one. So often, the only pictures we see of African-American men are the ones painted by the ugly images of the media. This, along with the prejudices that have been passed down from generation to generation about African-Americans in general and Black men in particular, has added to the misconception people have about them.

I’ve been fortunate, however, to witness some of the best of what Black fatherhood has to offer. Despite the odds, I have watched these men serve their families and contribute in countless ways to their communities and I’d like to share eight things with you that I’ve observed.

1. Most African-American fathers are very nurturing to their children.

A C.D.C. report issued in December 2013 found that Black fathers were the most involved with their children daily, on a number of measures than any other group of fathers — and in many cases, that was among fathers who didn’t live with their children, as well as those who did.

I remember how my heart melted the first time I saw Andrew look at our daughter, Adrianna, shortly after she was born.  I could clearly see that he was awestruck and he has been that way ever since. He regularly spends time talking with her, supports all of her interests, and even at age 15, he faithfully tucks her into bed at night.

But his love isn’t limited by biology. It’s been extended over and over again to his three stepchildren, the grandchildren that he’s helping to raise and the hundreds of youth he’s mentored during his 23+ years of youth ministry.

2. Black fathers carry a particularly heavy load and need support and encouragement from their community.

Woven into the very fabric of American thinking is a longstanding, pernicious attitude that African-American men are inherently bad and there’s been a long history of efforts to rob Black males of fidelity and honor. The prejudices are so pervasive that many African-Americans themselves have unconsciously internalized and accepted much of this poisonous mindset.

Battling these negative attitudes, along with the responsibility of caring for a family, can be a daunting task. These men need the support of a caring community.

You might be asking yourself, “Where are all these good Black men?” The answer is that they are all around you, but you need to open your eyes and see them. They’re the guys who pick up your trash, the dentist that cleans your teeth, the mechanic who fixes your brakes, the principal at the local high school, the coach who mentors your child’s sports team, and the co-worker at the next cubicle. The list goes on and on.

As a community, we can help bridge the gap and bring healing and restoration when we choose to cross racial boundaries and enter into the world of an African-American family. If you are of another race, I challenge you to invite a family of color to your house for a meal and get to know them better. It will go a long way to breaking down old stereotypes.

3. Good Black fathers are not an anomaly.

As amazing and wonderful as my husband, Andrew, is he is not an anomaly. I come from a long legacy of Black men who are wonderful fathers including my dad, brothers, uncles, father-in-law, and brother-in-laws. Furthermore, I’ve been fortunate to be in friendships with several wonderful Black men and their families.

Not only do these men tend to the needs of their immediate families and would move heaven and earth to provide and protect, but many of them help their extended families, volunteer in the community and regularly serve at their places of worship.

4. Black fathers want to be the leader for their family and desperately need their wives or significant other to support them.

In a report entitled “The Negro Family” written 50 years ago, Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan states that “…the Negro community has been forced into a matriarchal structure which…seriously retards the progress of the group as a whole, and imposes a crushing burden on the Negro male and, in consequence, on a great many Negro women as well.”

Because of this breakdown of the African-American family, some women have come from homes where there was no male leadership. As a result, it can be very difficult for a woman to trust a man to lead a family, but we must allow our men to be restored to their rightful place.

As a divorcee who had to be head of household and primary provider, I know how hard it is to lead a family. It was a relief for me to be able to turn the reigns over to Andrew. He has a servant’s heart and his leadership, along with my wisdom, support, and prayers, has enabled our family to accomplish great things.

5. Contrary to popular belief, African-American fathers are not deserting their children.

Josh Levs, author of the book, “All In,” points out this fact in a chapter in the book titled “How Black Dads Are Doing Best of All (But There’s Still a Crisis).” One fact that Levs quickly establishes is that most Black fathers in America live with their children: “There are about 2.5 million Black fathers living with their children and about 1.7 million living apart from them.” Admittedly, not all of these fathers are married to the mothers of their children, but that is a far cry from abandonment.

6. Most African-American fathers, despite disadvantages, work and take care of their kids.

According to the Census Bureau 2013 American Community Survey, 67% of African-American males ages 16 to 64 are in the labor force. Although the participation rate for Black males is less than the ‘all male’ population rate of 80%, you must take into account that historically African-American males have lagged behind in education which significantly affects employment opportunities. My father was a prime example of this.

As a self-taught electrician with barely a high school education, my daddy struggled to make a living. Additionally, during the fifties and sixties, there was still a lot of discrimination and it was difficult for a Black man to get licensed and employed as a certified electrician.

Because of that, he resorted to doing odd jobs here and there. Sometimes, we would go with him to a job site and wait in the car while he worked. My mother would read to us and we ate sandwiches and finally, after what seemed like an eternity, Daddy would return with a little money in his hand and we would all go home. He, along with the help of my mother, always made sure that we had a house, a car, clothes, and food.

Although my husband has a degree in English from Clemson University and has worked as a reporter for several years, Andrew had his challenges with employment, as well. Shortly after we married, the company he worked for downsized, and he ended up losing his job. As if that wasn’t stressful enough, he now had the responsibility of providing for me and the three children from my previous marriage, and we were expecting our first child together.

Although he vigorously applied for several jobs in his industry, nothing came through and he ended up having to work two part-time jobs in order to support us. He did that for several years until he was finally able to land a position as a reporter with a newspaper.  Andrew’s top priority was finding a job and earning a living for his family and he did whatever he had to do to make that happen.

7. More African-American fathers are getting a better education.

Nearly 62% of Black men earned their high school diploma in 2010, according to a 2013 Education Week report and, according to BlackDemographics.com, in 2013 about 48% of Black men 25 and older attended college, although only 17% of them earned a Bachelor’s degree.

8. Some African-American dads who have failed their families want to make amends, and need to be given the chance to do so.

Let’s face it. Some of our Black dads have screwed up royally. For one reason or another, they were absent from their children’s lives and this has caused untold amounts of pain and grief.

Of course, those early years of parenting can never be regained. However, as Maya Angelou said, “When you know better, do better.” I have personally seen some of these men doing that.

Understandably, because of the hurt that they’ve caused, sometimes their efforts are not well received by their children and former spouses or partners. As someone who has walked through this, I would like to offer a few words of advice.

To the dads out there who are trying to reconnect with their kids and repair damaged relationships, I encourage you to be patient. You cannot undo years of absenteeism and neglect in a few weeks or months. It takes time to build trust. Be honest about your mistakes and don’t make excuses.

To the children and former spouses or partners of these broken relationships, I ask you to consider the fact that most of these men were ill-prepared for the rigors of parenting. Many of them had poor or nonexistent male role models themselves. Choose to forgive, not for their sake, but for yours and let the healing process begin.

To all the African-American dads out there who get it right, thank you. We love and appreciate you. Today is your day. Celebrate!

 

 

 

 

What God’s Gonna Say When My Mama Gets to Heaven

 

One day, mama will enter through those the pearly gates of gold

Into heaven and all its splendor as the scriptures have foretold

The angels will see her coming and they’ll run to her and cheer

They’ll lead her to the Throne of Grace and say “Look, Joanna’s here.”

 

God will look up from his work, on his face they’ll be a smile

“Girl, come sit down next to me”, he’ll say. “Let’s talk a little while.”

Let’s take some time and review your life and all that you have done

Let’s recount all of the battles that I’ve fought for you and won.

 

I formed you in your mother’s womb and gave you your first breath

I  watched you grow and protected you from an untimely death

As a child, you and your twin sister had to struggle to survive

It was me who whispered in your ear, “Don’t worry, I’ll provide.

 

At school, you loved to do your work; you took it seriously

And I gifted you especially for math and Chemistry

You wanted to become a nurse, but instead became a wife

I blessed your union and over time you began to birth new life

 

Your duties as a wife and mom became your new career

And you served your family faithfully each and every year.

You trained your children and taught them to obey the “Golden Rule”

And every week you took them to church and Sunday School

 

When your family needed money, you helped and went to work

You used your skills and took a job as a library clerk

But then your husband, Richard, died and that was such a blow

You fell into a deep, dark place; your heart had sunk so low

 

But there’s no place where you can go where I am not there, too

The darkness is as light to me and I have perfect view

I was there, I saw your tears and heard your painful groans

It was me who whispered in your ear, “You are not alone.

 

I helped renew your courage and you again began to run,

the race that I ordained for you and that you had begun

You finished raising your young girls; got remarried to a chef

The two of you looked forward to the years that you had left

 

Your children, now, had children and you were blessed to see

Another generation and grow your family tree

Some grands you helped to raise and rear; helped others when in need,

But you shared your love with all of them and in their lives sowed seeds

 

Then, as time would have it, your sweet, twin sister died

You said goodbye to your best friend and once again you cried

But life continued to move on; you explored a new frontier

And at the age of 65, you started your school career

 

At school, you served the children and the teachers, too

And help them with their lessons and all they have to do

You loved the work you did each day, but I know that you got tired

And many days you wondered if you ever would retire

 

Again, you lost a husband. now, you were widowed twice.

The future seemed so lonely, you needed some advice.

You asked, “What lies ahead? What will my life now be?”

“Don’t worry about tomorrow,” I said.  “I’m your sufficiency.”

 

So you went about the business of completing final tasks

And faithfully you did them well, each thing that I had asked

And just like at the first, I was there for your last breath

It was me who whispered in your ear, “Don’t be afraid of death.

 

When God was finished with his talk, he took mama by the hand

And He gave her a personal tour around the Promise Land

They walked along an avenue, then down a tree-lined street

And came upon a mansion and there they made entry

 

Once inside the house they saw people everywhere

It was a huge celebration; a real upscale affair.

There was music, lots of food, that’s good, ‘cause mama loves to eat

God said, “Come here, Joanna. There’s some people you should meet.”

 

At first, she didn’t see them, she didn’t recognize

The outline of their faces, but then she saw their eyes

It was auntie and my grandma and then my father, too

They hugged and cried, and then they said, “We’ve been waiting here for you.”

 

They talked and laughed for quite some time, but then got up to leave

“Where are you going,”? Mama said. “Take me with you, please.”

Then God said, This house is yours. These people are just guests.

Come, relax, and sit down and enjoy your well-earned rest.

 

Remember how on Earth you said that you wanted a retreat–

How you were sick and tired of having to work all week.?

Well, this is it. Here you are. You have finally arrived.

And I’m giving you a chauffeur, cause I know you hate to drive.

 

Well done, my good and faithful servant. Today, new life begins.

No more struggles. You’re home at last. Now, come and enter in.

 

Embracing the Gift of Singleness

By Deanna Johnson Cauthen

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Some of you may be wondering why a happily married woman of almost 16 years is writing an article about being single. Well, the truth of the matter is, I haven’t always been happily married.  

I will spare you the sorted details, but let’s just say that my first marriage of 10 years did not work out, and at age 30, I was facing divorce along with the daunting task of supporting three young children. I had gotten married at the tender age of 20 years old, so I basically had been in a relationship all of my adult life and the idea of being single was not only scary but repulsive.  After all, who wants to be single, right?

I spent the first several months of my separation dreading singleness and living in denial. I  hoped against hope that things would work out with my former husband. It didn’t. After two years of being separated, my divorce became final and slowly the reality of the situation began to set in.  I was, now, unmarried, and the question became how was I going to handle it?

Well, the good news is that I not only survived, but I thrived during my time of singleness. The very thing that I despised, ended up being one of my life’s greatest gifts because it challenged me to do several things that up to that point I had not been doing.

Below are seven things I learned during my time as a single person. I encourage you to take some time and consider each of them to see how you can incorporate them into your life.
 

  1. I embraced my community.

During the five years that I was single, I discovered that there were a wealth of people who wanted to be there for me. Not only did I have a biological family who cared about me, but I had a church family which loved and helped me in practical ways. I  also began to talk to and form close, meaningful relationships with my neighbors, most of whom were older, and they nurtured me and my children.

Singleness does not have to equate to a life sentence of loneliness and relegate you into the shadows of society. Community is all around you–it’s your family, your church, your neighbors, the lady at the grocery store, the kid walking down the street. And, remember, being in community is a two-way street. It’s not just about getting support. You need to be giving back, as well. Consider becoming a volunteer with an organization. Start reaching out to the people around you and they will reach back.

  1. I engaged my brain and helped myself.  

One of the first decisions I had to make as a single mom was where I and my kids were going to live. I had a little money in savings, and with the help of my parents, I was able to purchase my first house. As a new homeowner, I was faced with fixing and maintaining things on a regular basis. I learned how to paint walls, repair broken window panes and screens, patch holes in the sheetrock, plant a garden, and a host of other things. I also learned how to make a budget and manage the money for my household.

Although naturally independent, up until this point, I had not made many decisions on my own. Because I married so young, I basically went from my parent’s house to my husband’s house. Being unattached was empowering because it forced me to stand on my own two feet and think of ways to help myself. It allowed me to tap into my own strengths, make decisions, and value and trust my own thoughts, abilities, and ideas.

  1. I took the time to address unfinished emotional business.

Singleness gave me the time that I needed to work through some of my own underlying emotional issues. There was a reason that my first marriage failed, and although my former husband had serious issues, I married him, which meant I had issues, too. I had entered the marriage prematurely trying to escape the pain of my past, but the marriage didn’t solve any of my original problems. At best, it served as a temporary distraction.

Being alone can feel scary, but resist the temptation to jump into the next relationship before you’re ready. I know people who have done this and it has resulted in a string of failed unions. Do the hard work required to get healthy. If it means getting professional therapy or joining a 12-step support group, do it. You’ll be glad you did.

  1. I stopped looking for people to complete me.

Here’s a news flash: No one can complete you. Only God can do that and there are no substitutes. Does God put people in our lives who can share life’s journey with us? Of course, he does, but that’s very different from the codependent, dysfunctional relationships that are played out in the media.

A friend of mine, who is also a math teacher, told me something a long time ago and I’ve never forgotten it. She said, A half times another half does not equal a whole, but a quarter.” When broken people get together, it just creates more brokenness.

  1. I found an accountability partner.

Like any good pilot, sometimes you need help navigating the journey of your life. This is where a good friend can be a priceless tool. My accountability partner was the person I went to when I was about to make an important life decision and I needed help applying the practical truths of scripture to the situation. Having this component in place was the single most important element for growth in my life.

The trick is finding someone in your life who is strong enough to tell you the truth when you need to hear it, but gentle enough to provide a crying shoulder, as well.  It needs to be someone who is spiritually mature and someone who has proven themselves trustworthy. Ask God to send them to you. He will.

Let me offer a word of caution, though. Because of the advisory role this person will be playing in your life, there may be a temptation to become overly dependent on them or to put them on a spiritual pedestal. Remember that they are just an instrument of grace in the hands of the Master and that God is the ultimate source for meeting your needs.

  1. I was willing to try new things.

During the five years that I was a single woman, I tried and learned more new things than at any of time in my adult life. In some ways, it was better than a college education.

It was during this time that I purchased and learned how to drive a stick-shift car, change a flat tire, ski down a mountain, and own and operate an office cleaning business. In the end, I discovered that I was stronger and more capable than I ever realized and that I had gifts and talents that I didn’t even know that I had.

I once heard it said, “That nothing beats a failure, but a try.” For those of you who’ve been shrinking back from doing the next thing, stop saying, ‘I can’t’ and get out there and try.

Cosmic Energy Fitness Studio Provides Support for a Stroke Survivor

doreen-ware-picBy Deanna Cauthen

Strokes kill more than 130,000 people a year, according to facts obtained from the Center for Disease Control. A stroke, which is also called a brain attack, occurs when a clot blocks the blood supply to the brain or when a blood vessel in the brain bursts. 

Recovery after a stroke can sometimes be a long, arduous process and many survivors don’t feel emotionally or physically ready to put on their running shoes and go jogging. However, exercise can be just what the doctor ordered and is very important for preventing a recurring stroke.

 

Such was the case with Doreen Ware who had a stroke in 2013 which rendered the left side of her body immobile. In 2014, after my stroke, I started walking at Northlake Mall,” said Ware. She explained that it was not too long after that when, Cosmic Energy Fitness Studio owner and personal trainer, Patrice Peters, started reaching out to her. 

It’s always wonderful when you see people investing in their lives no matter what form of exercise they choose,” said Peters.

 

Ware shared about how she made the transition from walking in the mall to working out with Peters. “One day, Patrice said, ‘Come on in’, said Ware. I told her, ‘I can’t do what they can do’ and she said, ‘Don’t do what they can do, do what you can do’. She even let me come for free, one day, just to try it out,” said Ware.

 

Ware stated that she began working out at Cosmic Energy Fitness Studio about three months ago and that she and Peters concentrate mainly on exercises that will increase her strength and endurance.

 

“Patrice will modify the exercises and will even get up underneath my left arm to lift it. She’s shorter than me so she, sometimes, has to stand on a chair to help me execute certain exercises. She is very encouraging,” said Ware.

“We set goals and work together to accomplish them. I’ve received her records from her physical therapist and have incorporated some of those exercises into her workout,” said Peters.

According to information received from EverydayHealth.com, exercising and staying physically active will not only help stroke survivors recover quicker, but it can help prevent a second one, because it:

  • Controls cholesterol levels. Keeping your cholesterol level low is very important if you want to prevent another stroke. Exercise increases “good” cholesterol.

  • Fights high blood pressure. By keeping your blood vessels working well, you can fight high blood pressure.

  • Controls weight. Many stroke survivors need to lose weight to reduce their risk of another stroke. Even if you’re already at a healthy weight, exercise will help with weight management.

  • Fights depression. Depression is common after a stroke and can make it hard for you to find the motivation to do anything, let alone get moving. But being physically active fights stress and depression, which in turn reduces your additional heart disease and stroke risk.

 

Ware said that she knows first-hand how difficult things can be after a stroke, but she emphasized that stroke survivors must be willing to play an active role in their own recovery. “You have to get up and try,” said Ware.

Confessions of a Half-Hearted Recycler

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I remember when we first got our recycling paraphernalia from the county sanitation department. Actually, we were supposed to get it five years before, but we didn’t want to pay the materials fee. However, when the county decided to waive the charge, we no longer had an excuse, so we dutifully placed our order and they promptly delivered the items to our front door.

At first, I was excited about recycling (I’m always excited when I get free things)–all those pretty, blue plastic bags and a nice, new bin with wheels and a pull cord, no less. Right then and there, I pledged, to my family and my God, that I would be the best recycler on Pinehill Drive. After all, I am the block captain.

We went straight away to our neighborhood Walmart and purchased two additional kitchen garbage cans, came home and immediately labeled them, “Plastics” and “Paper”. I even led the way and ceremoniously threw the first recycling items into the bins, officially christening them.

I felt a real sense of pride and self-righteousness that first Thursday morning as I hauled our recycling items to the curb. I carefully positioned the bag and the bin at the road and made a point of waving to the neighbors across the way as they left for work.  

Having the recycling bins was a status symbol, of sorts. Hardly anyone else on the street was doing it and I wanted them to see that I, their fearless leader, had taken the first step to making the world a better place to live.

Things were good for a couple of weeks or so, but it didn’t take long for my zeal for recycling to wear off. I quickly realized that recycling was not fun. It was work. I was being forced to think about my garbage. I didn’t like that. I didn’t like that at all.

Before the bags and the bins came, I could walk over to the garbage can, throw my trash away and leave without a thought. Now, I was faced with the task of designating pieces of rubbish to their rightful container. This was an emotional burden I was not prepared to bear.

There have been times when I defiantly threw my trash into the wrong bin, only to return hours later because of guilt, rummage through the cans, remove the misplaced pieces, and deposit them into their appropriate pail. The struggle is real, folks.

Recycling has even changed the way I view my vacations. It used to be that I looked forward to going on our annual family vacations to enjoy the majestic view of the mountains or to hear the soothing sounds of the waves crashing against the shores of the beach. These days, my main motivation for going on vacation is to get away from the recycling bins. It’s the one week out of the year when I’m free to throw my trash in whatever receptacle that I please.

The more that I think about it, the more I recognize that recycling does not fit in with my worldview. By nature, I am a fatalist. Do I really care about saving the earth? Not so much. We’re all going to die anyway. My body will decompose and return to the dust from which it came. That’s a form of recycling, isn’t it? I figure, I’ll just do all of mine on the back end.

So, I’m Not Dying?

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In the beginning, I didn’t know what the heck what happening to me.  I really thought that I was dying.  I mean, at one point, I had taken a pen and paper and was starting to write out my last will and testament.

My energy was gone and I struggled to do even the most basic things.  I was gaining more and more weight.  I had chronic sinus headaches and allergies.  My periods were heavier than ever and I was super anemic.  I was having trouble sleeping and my memory seemed to be slipping.  I was anxious and irritable and depression was starting to set in.  I felt fragile, desperate and very much out of control.

I would feel a pain and run to the computer to see if I could match the symptoms to a disease on WebMD.  There were days when I would diagnose myself with one disease in the morning only to have a completely different problem when my husband came home in the evening. On one particular day, I had Multiple Sclerosis, stage-three brain cancer, and Lupus all within a 24-hour period.  My poor husband didn’t know what to think of me. It was awful.

It took me five long years to finally accept that I wasn’t dying and that what I was dealing with was perimenopause.

Sometimes, I think if I could go into hibernation, kind of like bears do in the winter, and take a break from everything—children, grandchildren, work, church, extended family—  I could wake up refreshed, renewed, and ready for next season in my life. It would be a sabbatical, of sorts. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on how you look at it, that is not going to happen, but at least I know, I’m not dying.

The Real ‘Women of the Year’: A Rebuttal

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By now, you’ve probably heard the stories surrounding Bruce Jenner’s sex change and the process he’s gone through to transform himself into “Caitlyn”.  When the story first broke, I made up my mind to ignore it and I was doing a pretty good job of it until I heard the news that “Caitlyn” had been awarded “Woman of the Year” by the popular magazine, Glamour.  

Initially, I was annoyed by the fact that Glamour had chosen to exploit the situation and use it as a cheap stunt to sell more magazines, but over the last several weeks, my annoyance has given way to anger and outrage.

I’m outraged not just for myself, but for all of my friends who are mothers, wives, daughters, and sisters and who selflessly and tirelessly serve in their calling as women each day. Yes, to be a woman is a divine calling and to applaud what Jenner has become, is to desecrate and degrade the authenticity of womanhood and make a mockery of the real struggles that so many of us face on a daily basis.

At age 50, I am in the throngs of menopause and struggle with my weight and other issues, as do many of my women friends. For me, it’s a challenge to balance all of my many duties with basic things like getting enough sleep, eating a well-balanced diet and doing regular exercise.

As the mother of three daughters, I have the additional responsibility of trying to stress to my girls that their worth is not based on how they look. We, as women, are regularly bombarded with the messages from the media that want us to compare ourselves with the airbrushed bodies of mannequin-like models. We have unrealistic expectations of ourselves and so we’re constantly struggling with our self-worth.

And isn’t it just like Enemy to use an imposter like Jenner to highjack the female agenda, catapult the transgender mandate into the headlines, and give them accolades and rewards for being “brave”.

History is full of women who were really brave–women, who despite their “weaker vessel” status, endured harsh and sometimes horrific circumstances to save not only themselves, but others.

Take for instance, Queen Esther, who risked her life and courageously spoke out to save the Jewish people from being annihilated. Fast forward some and let’s talk about Sacagawea, the Native American guide who accompanied Lewis and Clark and helped them open up the American frontier, Harriet Tubman and all the people she lead to freedom via the Underground Railroad, Florence Nightingale who was a pioneer in modern nursing, Marie Curie, the famous chemist and physicist who won the Nobel Peace Prize and made many advances for science, Helen Keller who was blind and deaf from the age of two, but who overcame her handicaps and became a champion for the rights of others with handicaps, Amelia Earhart, the first female aviator, Mother Theresa, who was literally, saint and Oprah Winfrey, who despite discrimination due to race and gender, rose through the ranks to become one of the most successful people in television broadcasting.

I could go on and on because there are literally thousands of women who deserve to be mentioned. And yet we dare to call Caitlyn Jenner “brave” because she now has to learn how to put on a dress and high-heeled shoes? The whole thing is nothing short of offensive and it makes my blood boil. To accept and affirm Caitlyn Jenner’s actions is to deny and degrade the organic essence of real womanhood.

Being a woman involves a whole lot more than dressing up, getting our hair and fingernails done, or putting on makeup. As 1 Peter 3:3 says, it’s more than “the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes.”  Ask any scientist and they will tell you that being a female is, literally, in our DNA, but beyond that, it’s a God-given calling that can’t be acquired or abolished by reconstructive surgery. Our bodies and minds are uniquely created and designed to perform certain tasks specific to our gender. We are an original design made by the Master and we cannot to be copied or manufactured by human hands.

And so, for all the women around the world who suffer with menstrual cramps each month and who deal with the severe anemia that comes as a result of the heavy bleeding, who have carried babies and bared down in labor to bring them into this world or who have died in childbirth trying, who have lost babies due to miscarriage, who agonize because of the pain of infertility, who have sat up nursing their infants in the middle of the night, who bear the battle scars of mastectomies or who lost their lives due to breast cancer, who struggle with hormonal imbalances and all of the changes that come with menopause, who have dealt with uterine fibroids, endometriosis, urinary tract infections, cervical, ovarian and uterine cancer, who struggled and conquered eating disorders, I salute and hereby declare you ‘Women of the Year”.