a blog about the book, "Smart Girl, Stupid World" by Sarah Siegand

“Staying Humble” (Excerpt from Ch. 10) February 17, 2011

Filed under: Final Chapter: Smarter, Wiser (Excerpt) — Sarah Siegand @ 2:18 am

The more you learn about God’s ways of wisdom, the more momentum your life will gain. You will find relationships are more fruitful, and you will experience the blessing of promotion and success as your “smart girl” skills develop.


Let me give you one word of caution. Stay humble. Recognize that God is the source of whatever measure of wisdom you may walk in. You might see others making mistakes, and you will be tempted to view them through the eyes of judgment, as if you are superior to them for not making those same poor choices. Remember that pride always leads to your destruction. As much as I hope you make great choices and follow God’s truth to build a life of wisdom, I also hope you will see struggling women around you with the compassion of Christ. They may not know the hope of the gospel—share it with them. They may not see themselves as valuable, making them unable to recognize their unhealthy habits in reaching for significance. Speak value to those women. Ask God to help you see and love others the way he sees and loves them.


When I was a teenager I had so much pride in my own virginity that I couldn’t see people accurately who had already had sex. I didn’t see the hurts they carried from the failed attempts to feel loved or satisfy their desires. I had so much pride, that I wasn’t vigilant enough in guarding my own heart and mind from temptation when the time came. I thought I was indestructible. My own virgin pride caused me to be blind to the reality that I was just as vulnerable to sin as other people, and I could be easily swayed when I allowed myself to get too emotionally attached in relationships. I was shocked at my own lustful desires!


When I mentor young ladies, there are often lots of skeletons that need to come out of the closet right up front. The mistakes of their pasts are met with the utmost of grace and mercy as we begin our relationship. And as they are finding their way to a new place of spiritual growth, there are always pitfalls and setbacks that need to be talked through and processed. Again, there is much grace. This young woman is still learning how to walk the narrow road.


This might be a gross analogy to you, but it’s kind of like potty training a child. At first, you are giving lots of instruction, lots of encouragement, and you are happy just to have her realize that she just pooped in her pants. The next phase is helping her realize how nice it is to have dry, clean underwear. She’s rewarded for staying dry. And finally, the rewards from mommy go away as she learns to take care of her own bodily functions… the reward is now just being a member of the big-girl-club and being able to listen to her own body.  But what do you do when your child refuses to poop on the potty and says things like “You can’t make me!” The attitude has to be disciplined. If they refuse to learn how to poop on the potty and they turn four, then five, then six… well, that’s just wrong. The grace you gave them at the beginning when they were learning the ropes is gone. Now they are dealing with your very tough love to teach them the right thing, and trust me, after six years of diapers you would be one desperate woman to get them to learn that lesson!


When you are walking life out with others, you may see them make mistakes that frustrate you. At first, you are called to gently help them learn and grow to the next phase of their development. If they continue to flounder, your approach may need to grow more direct. If after a prolonged season someone you know refuses to grow or receive truth, you need to pray about whether your relationship with her is fruitful. I’m not saying you cut her off, but you need to know what God thinks about it, and seek counsel from others who can help you see his perspective objectively. It’s possible that you don’t have a place to speak into her life anymore, and you may need to pull back and just pray.


Walking in humility toward others means you see yourself as vulnerable to sin the same way they are. It does not mean never taking a stand against sin. There are friendships in my life that are now at a distance because clearly that person does not want to live their life God’s way, and they aren’t interested in whatever encouragement I may have to offer otherwise. I’m not going to chase them down with the truth, but I’m not going to look down on them either. My responsibility before the Lord is to pray for them and to have healthy boundaries in place to keep myself and my family from being negatively affected by their sinful choices. And I remind myself that if it weren’t for the grace of God, I would probably be in their same shoes and much worse. It helps me to see them accurately, and it motivates me to pray for them. One of the greatest joys I could possibly have was seeing someone who I thought was long gone yield herself fully to Christ and find forgiveness and healing for the things she had done. “Lord, help me to be patient with others as they grow, just like you are patient with me.”


“Even When it’s Hard” (Excerpt from Ch. 9)

Filed under: Ch. 9: Smart Girls Never Give Up (Excerpt) — Sarah Siegand @ 1:19 am

Miriam was just 19 years old when she attended a party with co-workers. She drank only a single glass of wine (legal in the country where she lived), yet she had no recollection of the rest of the night. Details from others helped her piece together events that led her to believe her drink had been spiked with a drug, and that she had been date-raped by someone she knew. A few weeks later, she found out she was pregnant and her suspicions were confirmed.


Although she was a born-again Christian and raised in a Christian family with strong values and beliefs, Miriam thought seriously about abortion. She said she was afraid that her child would look like her rapist.  She had made her mind up that abortion was the most compassionate choice, but then, with her hospital gown already on, God intervened. Miriam had a moment of clarity where she felt a sudden rush of God’s love for her child, and she couldn’t go through with it.


Carrying her baby full-term meant another hard choice: parenting or adoption. Miriam sensed that God wanted her to parent her child, despite the lifetime of consequence that would bring. She became a single parent at the age of 19. She chose to walk in obedience to the Lord’s calling, even though it would be difficult.


Now she is in her late twenties and has a daughter who is eight years old, who does indeed look like the man who raped Miriam. She says that the love she feels for her child now far supersedes the love she felt for her the day she chose to keep her. Today, Miriam is a member of the British police force, and is making a difference in her community and in the life of a precious little girl.


Miriam gave God the opportunity to grow her through an unexpected and undeserved circumstance. Did God cause her to be raped so he could grow her? Certainly not! I’m sure he shared the tears she cried as she realized what had happened to her. But he did most certainly rescue her from a lifetime of regret and emotional trauma over an abortion.


God is not committed to our comfort, he is committed to our growth. Countless times in scripture we see those who are obedient to him suffer devastating circumstances. But we also see them being promoted, preserved, and rescued when they respond to the devastation appropriately. I think of Joseph who was abandoned and sold into slavery by his brothers and spent years in prison for no good reason. Yet God had a plan of redemption, and he raised Joseph to a place of great influence. When we remain obedient to him in the midst of the pain, he can and will turn the most difficult circumstances into pathways that lead to growth and success.


“Attitude is Everything” (Excerpt from Ch. 8)

Filed under: Ch. 8: Smart Girls Take Cover (Excerpt) — Sarah Siegand @ 1:11 am

Having the practical boundaries of rules and accountability in your life will help protect you from your own poor decisions. But they cannot prevent you from them entirely, because in every situation, sin is your choice—yours and yours alone. Even a life hemmed in by boundaries can become eaten up with a rebellious heart. Maybe you come from a home where your parents were extremely strict and you had rules up the wazoo. I’ve seen both good and bad fruit come from strict homes, and the deciding factor is usually a young person’s attitude, not the parents (aren’t you surprised?).


One girl I know has two of the strictest parents I’ve ever met, but I have never heard her bad mouth her parents or complain. In fact, when she was given the choice to move into the dorms of the college a few blocks from her house, she chose to continue living at home to save money. Most people would have been out the door in a heartbeat, but this young lady had kept her heart right toward her parents. In fact, I will not be surprised in the least to watch her go on to be a huge success in her life because she has honored her parents as her spiritual authority, even when their rules may have seemed overwhelming to her at the time. “Honor your father and mother that it might go well with you.” (Matthew 19:19, NKJV).


Rules, boundaries, accountability that hurts at times, these things are not always fun. Allowing yourself to be subject to the wisdom and authority of others may not always be an easy experience. If you don’t guard your heart against rebellion, it won’t matter what rules you do or don’t keep. Your own rebellion will lead you down a path of stupidity before you know it.


For example, a young lady came to me once and asked me to keep her accountable in a certain area. I observed her life and met with her weekly. I saw several issues in her daily decisions that created very convenient “loopholes” to disobey the guidelines we had come up with to help her walk free. Being my blunt self, I confronted her on these loopholes and strongly encouraged her to cut off the behavior that I knew would only prolong her struggle. She sweetly said she’d consider what I said and thanked me for my “advice.”


Every week it was the same, and her stories only got worse and worse about how she had fallen in sin. She was in bondage to that sin for nearly a decade, and it greatly derailed and delayed her destiny in the Lord. She had a rebellious heart, disguised in a sweet demeanor. She thought she had everyone convinced that her intentions were honorable (even herself). However, I didn’t see her choosing obedience so she could find freedom. Her problem was not an issue of self-control, it was an issue of pride. Deep down, she thought she could figure it out herself.


This is important to understand: submitting to another person’s authority isn’t simply asking them what they think about your actions or decisions. Submitting is actually being willing to walk in obedience to the Biblical truth that someone in authority over you has challenged you with, even if it’s the opposite of what your flesh wants. It’s putting your trust in their wisdom concerning Biblical living, and giving weight to what they hear from Holy Spirit concerning your situation. It’s being big enough to realize that this person may see things from a more clear and mature perspective than you do (especially if sin has deceived you!). Going through the motions of “seeking counsel” is not going to help you one bit. Only if you receive the counsel with a humble heart and walk in scriptural obedience can you actually benefit from it.


“The Diamond in You” (Excerpt from Ch. 7) February 16, 2011

Filed under: Ch. 7: Smart Girls Guard Their Hearts (Excerpt) — Sarah Siegand @ 11:51 pm

Several years ago, I heard a life-changing message from a woman named Wanda Turner. She had been in pastoral ministry for decades, survived the infidelity and premature death of her first husband, and believed in the faithfulness of God no matter what season she found herself in.  I was smart enough to get the recording of a message she preached at a women’s conference, sensing that I would need its timeless truths. Since then, that recording has been duplicated many times over by myself and others, and found it’s way into women’s hands of all walks of life, all over the globe. We refer to it as “the diamond message.”


Here’s the gist of it. You are valuable. You are God’s precious jewel, worth far more than any diamond or precious stone. Miss Wanda, in her delightful banter, describes the diamonds in the display windows at jewelry stores as “a bunch of junk” because of all the lights, glass and mirrors it takes to make them brilliant enough to attract you. The really good stuff, the most expensive in the store, is kept in the back, locked in a safe on some dark velvet.  That’s YOU.


Does the diamond get to set it’s worth? No, the owner does—he decides. And if a half-working man (or BOY) tries to come in and buy a valuable diamond, the owner is going to ask him, “How much are you willing to pay?” The right answer is not “Well, can’t I get a discount for going to church twice a year? I mean, I’m working on getting some money together and everything, but I just don’t know yet.” The owner will reply, “She’s not the one for you,” and put you back in the safe because you’re precious.


One of my favorite quotes from the diamond message: “Don’t go on sale for a man who can’t afford you.” God sets your price, not you. He’s the one who gives consent for you to come out of the safe. And if you really do leave it up to him, he’ll make sure you come out only for a man who is willing to pay full price for you!


When you understand your value to God, your choices in life will reflect that value. Girls who know what they are worth are far less likely to throw their hearts away for a ridiculous high school romance. Smart girls realize the price God paid to ransom them from sin and spiritual darkness. They are guided by a sense of God’s purpose for them, and they know that there is no room for wasted days as they move toward that purpose.


“One Night of Poor Judgment” (Excerpt from Ch. 6)

Filed under: Ch. 6: Smart Girls Take The Long View (Excerpt) — Sarah Siegand @ 11:36 pm

Katie was a young woman with a seemingly bright future. At 22 years of age, she was the reigning Miss Nevada, about to compete in the Miss USA pageant. Suddenly raunchy pictures of her surfaced on the internet, and Katie’s world came to a crashing halt. Photos of her topless and simulating sexual acts with others, caused her to be stripped of her crown and publicly humiliated by the media, who were all-too-willing to rip her to shreds.


Katie hoped to receive mercy from the Miss USA organization (run by billionaire Donald Trump), and made a public apology to that end. She claimed the photos were taken during an isolated incident from her teenage years. “I am so sorry this happened,” she said. “So many of us don’t realize how our actions, even one night of poor judgment, can affect the rest of our lives.” How true.


When the news broke about Mr. Trump’s decision, I watched curiously for Katie’s reaction. I wondered how it would all play out and what kind of character she would display. She was not given mercy by Donald Trump, and boy oh boy did that make her upset, which didn’t surprise me. Even during her original apology press conference, the lesson she urged young women to learn from her mistake was to “Never let your guard down about being photographed.” What?!? How about “Don’t engage in promiscuous behavior that compromises your value and dignity as a woman.” How about, “Live in the light and own the mistakes of your past, or they will find you anyway.” Nope. Instead she basically counseled the young women of America to not get caught on film. Ridiculous.


A few years passed and another young beauty pageant contestant found herself in hot water over a similar situation, but this time the young lady was allowed to keep her crown for whatever reason. Of course, the media turned to the former Miss Nevada, our dear Katie, for a statement. I hoped that maybe a few years of life on the “other” side of fame had helped Katie learn how to present herself more maturely. I was disappointed. Katie indicated how furious she was at the unfair treatment, and then pointed a finger of blame at Donald Trump saying she hoped he knew what he had “put her through” these past few years. What? She was the one who got naked and crazy, not him. Sadly, she failed to see that she was living with the consequences of her own decisions. Her fate was the result of her own foolishness, and Donald Trump had every right to pull her crown.


Let’s go back to something that Katie said that made a lot of sense. “So many of us don’t realize how our actions, even one night of poor judgment, can affect the rest of our lives.”  If you really understood where life would take you in God’s perfect will, you wouldn’t make decisions that could potentially compromise that destiny.


Instead of seizing a moment of risk for the thrill of danger that today has to offer, allow yourself to take the long view of your life. You identified some of the purposes that your life potentially holds at the end of the first chapter. What will you have to sacrifice in order to see those purposes realized?


“A Second Chance” (Excerpt from Ch. 5)

Filed under: Ch. 5: Smart Girls Know Who They Are (Excerpt) — Sarah Siegand @ 11:28 pm

Some people go to church their whole life but still don’t know what it means to be in Christ, or what it means to be all God created them to be. Kristen Anderson was a teenager like that. She was smart and popular, had a great family, and grew up in church. But when tragedy came her way as a 17-year-old through several deaths of friends and also the death of her grandmother, Kristen found herself depressed and hopeless, without any understanding that God would help her through the pain.


Kristen snuck out of her home one night to hang out with a friend and on her way back home, a sudden and truly demonic thought entered her mind. As she approached a set of train tracks near her house, with the sound of an approaching engine ringing out in the night, she envisioned ending her life by getting in front of that train. She said she just wanted her emotional pain to end. Impulsively, she laid down on the tracks as the sound of the locomotive drew nearer. With more weight and wind than she could have imagined, the train passed over her, 33 freight cars… and then it stopped. Kristen wasn’t sure if she was dead or alive, but when she opened her eyes and looked around, she saw her own legs laying behind her about 10 feet away. The train had severed her legs but she was still alive.


Obviously, that event was the beginning of a whole new level of pain for Kristen. Talk about life-changing. The story is gruesome, but it does have a happy ending. God used other Christians to help Kristen understand His love for her in her recovery, and to see that he saved her life that night. In an interview with The 700 Club, Kristen said, “I came to the understanding that I would have been sent to hell if I died. So I realized at that moment that God had given me a second chance to go to Heaven and spend eternity with Him.” What a merciful God.


Today, Kristen speaks as a confident, godly young woman. She does not have legs, but she has Christ, and her countenance radiates His life. She started Reaching You Ministries, and is using her life to bring hope to others who are battling depression and suicidal thoughts.


Before her suicide attempt, Kristen did not know who she was meant to be, and was willing to lose it all because it didn’t seem worth having. Today she knows the forgiveness of God, who He has called her to be, and the security and peace found through a relationship with him.  Far from her former self, she is not floundering in depression, doubt, and anxiety. She has flourished like a plant finally rooted in healthy soil. She is in Christ, and she’s living differently because of it.


“You Don’t Need Your Eye” (Excerpts from Ch. 4)

Filed under: Ch. 4: Smart Girls Fear the Lord (Excerpt) — Sarah Siegand @ 11:16 pm

Jesus said, “If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. (Matthew 5:29, NKJV)


Now that got me to thinking one day. I was talking to my son about the lengths God expects us to go to so we can eradicate sin from our lives, and this scripture came to mind. Plucking your eye out is pretty radical. And gross. And, well, hard to explain to others. Think about it. “What happened to you?” they ask. “Well,” you say, “I kept looking at pornography, so I decided to gouge out my eye to help me live clean.”


If something in your life is causing you to sin, the only reasonable solution for you to be free is to do something radical. Most women are completely unwilling to do that. I remember confronting a young woman about spending time with people who she knew were bad influences, enticing her to dabble with pot and alcohol. This wasn’t some degenerate who just couldn’t get clean. This was a young woman with a call on her life between semesters at Bible College who had been sober for over a year. I told her that she was putting her future in jeopardy, not just the “destiny” part, but her relationship with the Lord. I asked her point blank if she was willing to give up her so-called “friendships” in order to get free. She lowered her eyes in shame and shrugged. (That’s a “no,” by the way.) My first thought was, “Have you no fear of the Lord?” I didn’t even say it. The answer was obvious.


If you fear the Lord and care about pleasing him more than pleasing yourself or others, you’ll love obedience and right-living more than your own comfort. Do you need your eyes to live? No, you don’t. Living with one eye would be uncomfortable and probably a little embarrassing at times, but it would be worth the discomfort and embarrassment if it kept you from throwing your relationship with God away. Jesus is bringing that point home. He’s not seriously encouraging you to mutilate yourself, he’s provoking you to evaluate your attitude toward obeying God. Do you love your sin more than you love God? What are you willing to give up in order to live right?


Do you fear the Lord?