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

“The Inconsequential” (Excerpt From Ch. 3) February 16, 2011

Filed under: Ch. 3: Smart Girls Realize The Price (Excerpt) — Sarah Siegand @ 11:08 pm

Most people acknowledge the high stakes of big decisions like marriage. But what about the choices that seem “inconsequential,” meaning there are no consequences? Most people, even Christians, see certain choices as hinging on their own responsibility, and others – the bigees – as ones to get God involved in.  It’s like they’re saying, “Thanks big guy… I got this one.”  How does that work when each choice you make leads to bigger and higher-stakes choices down the road?


For example, when I was a teenager, I didn’t ask God who or if I should date. I asked my girlfriends, of course. I wanted to know what they thought of Mr. Hottie-face. With their approval, I felt totally justified in jumping into relationship after relationship.


So when my senior prom came around and I didn’t have a date, I didn’t think twice about letting a friend set me up with a boy I didn’t even know. Why not? He was a Christian, sort of. It’s just one date, a little dancing, what could go wrong? Never once did it occur to me to ask God what he thought of the whole idea.


So, I went to prom with someone I barely knew. And that night was the beginning of a relationship that lasted a few years and eventually started steering towards marriage. Not as romantic as it sounds. Those years were the most spiritually confusing years of my life. I knew I was out of God’s will, I knew I could not marry this boy as I had promised, but I loved the way he loved me. I had trusted friends speak hard truth to me about the relationship, and I refused to listen. My heart grew further and further away from the Lord as my relationship with this young man grew more intense emotionally and physically. Through it all, I was a wreck. I was convicted at every turn but too afraid to give up and give in to God.


Finally, at my best friend’s wedding, I had a miraculous intervention by the Holy Spirit. As I watched the bride and groom pledge their lives to each other for the King and the Kingdom, I realized this type of celebrated and Godly relationship was not in my future because I was disobeying God. I had a ministry call on my life and my boyfriend had no desire for that. I went from that wedding ceremony with the resolve to not throw away God’s destiny for me, and not to be part of helping someone else do the same.


In the months that followed, my heart changed radically. I broke off the relationship, as brutal as that felt, and began to hear God speak to me again. I finally felt clear direction from the Lord about things I had been very confused about earlier. God led me to work for a ministry in Oklahoma for my last summer before college graduation, and it was there I eventually met my Jesse (my soul mate and husband).


I remember being in a post office in Tulsa and writing the date at the top of a check… May 4, 1996. Instantly I realized it was the date I had set to marry my previous boyfriend. I burst into tears, right there in the line for my stamps. I knew God had delivered me (and him!) from a disastrous future. Instead of being in a white dress, about to pledge my life to the wrong man…on May 4, 1996, I bought stamps, had an uneventful afternoon, watched a movie, and fell asleep in the apartment I rented by myself with a very clear conscience and a sense of destiny.


Some may say that things all worked out in the long run, so who cares if I was in a wrong relationship for a couple of years?  I am convinced that God’s perfect will was for me to meet my husband without the baggage I obtained through that long season of disobedience. Although I had fully repented, it would take me five years into my marriage to work through the strongholds that had formed in my mind because of the moral compromises I had allowed myself to make.  So you see, my prom date choice really did matter. The small choices you face are just as important as the ones you may classify as “big.”  All of the choices after the small ones get harder and harder.


“Humility Before Honor” (Excerpt from Ch. 2)

Filed under: Ch. 2: Smart Girls Get Honest (Excerpt) — Sarah Siegand @ 3:00 am

The Bible says in Proverbs 15:33, “The reverent and worshipful fear of the Lord brings instruction in wisdom, and humility comes before honor.” (AMP) When you care about what God thinks of your choices, wisdom comes freely. Another amazing verse to live by is 1 Peter 5:6, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” (NIV) I have learned, and have often taught my children and those I mentor, if you don’t humble yourself willingly, you will be humbled… by life if by nothing else.


The first time I was invited to a baby shower for a teenage mom, I was in emotional turmoil the whole time. This young woman was a Christian, and everyone around her seemed to be just tickled to be throwing a party for her. I was a young adult, so I hadn’t experienced this kind of thing before and didn’t know how to process what I was feeling. I knew that God loved this girl and wanted her baby to be provided for, yet I felt weird ooh-ing and ahh-ing over every baby outfit she unwrapped. Now that I have a good 10 years of learning to give me perspective on the event, I realize why I felt so weird.


The teenage mom we were supposed to be celebrating was still living in rebellion to God sexually with her boyfriend. She was refusing God’s blessing by not walking in obedience to his command for sexual purity, yet soliciting the blessings of friends and family out of sheer need for financial support. She was not living in a place of humility, where she knowingly identified her supreme need for God and her church to help her. Honor had come before humility, instead of humility leading to honor, and that upsets the order of God’s Kingdom.


It would have been very different if this girl had become pregnant and had a complete turnaround in her heart, accepting her mistake and vowing to walk out the road to motherhood with reverence to the Lord and his guidelines for her life. How I wish she had had parents who were spiritually mature enough to coach her through such a delicate set of circumstances. Had she been my daughter, I would have helped her begin the party with some words of gratitude and humility, thanking everyone for their grace and forgiveness to come alongside her in this season of repentance and restoration. Sadly, most parents don’t even think that way, so why would I expect their children to?


I wish I could tell you that this teenager grew up to live an obedient Christian life, despite the challenges of being a young single mother.  Unfortunately, she is now a single mother of two, is no longer in church, and does not seem to be in fellowship with God.


**The rest of Chapter Two will be available for download soon. Check back for more information.**


“Stupid Is As Stupid Does” (Excerpt from Ch. 1)

Filed under: Ch. 1: Get Smart (Excerpt) — Sarah Siegand @ 1:38 am

I was barely 17 years old, and boy was I dumb. The fact that I was a good Christian girl who abstained from everything and made straight A’s made my stupidity even more unbelievable. How could a girl with such a promising future find herself hundreds of miles from home, alone with a boy in his bedroom (a boy with not-so-great intentions, mind you), no parents in sight, and all because of an “innocent” lie?


Our high school speech team was at a big out-of-state tournament, and I “innocently” asked my coach if I could stay at my “cousin’s” house in that same city, instead of staying with the team at the hotel. My “cousin” wasn’t my cousin at all, but a boy named Mike, who I had met at a music camp during the previous summer break.  I barely knew him except from a few phone calls and one short visit with two of my girlfriends a few months before.


I know, I know… it looks completely suspicious. Honestly, I had no intentions of doing anything with Mike beyond staying in his family’s guest room and eating some of his cereal in the morning. Yes, I was the typical girl who would make youth pastors and parents roll their eyes and say, “Hellooo! What were you thinking?”  How could I have missed the likelihood that maybe this boy was expecting something out of the overnight stay?  How could I have lied about it in the first place? After all, I was the poster-child for a fine, upstanding young lady. I was a church-going Christian who bragged about my virginity and didn’t drink, smoke or party.


Somehow I was oblivious to the idea that Mike wanted to jump me. I know, it’s very hard to believe.  But I was.  Honestly, I just liked the attention he gave me, and I thought spending extra time with him would give me plenty of it. When my “aha!” moment came, I suddenly saw what a dangerous position I had put myself in.  Mike and I were sitting on his bed looking at pictures in a photo album, his parents already sound asleep, and he suggested we take a dip in his hot tub.


“I didn’t bring a bathing suit,” I told him dismissively. And then he just looked at me, uncaring, with a mischievous grin.  I finally got it, and then… I totally panicked.


I was caught between feelings of, “How could I be so stupid?” and “I gotta look cool.” My panic stole whatever courage I might have had.  Oh how I wish I would have said, “Look, creep, my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, and you better keep your impure thoughts and intentions to yourself!” Instead, I floundered through some lame excuse about how I didn’t think I could do that because some other guy had emotionally scarred me by trying to move too fast. I tried to get the sympathy vote by looking like a poor damsel in distress, but instead I looked (you guessed it) plain stupid! I knew my excuse looked ridiculous, and I hated myself for not telling the truth anyway. Thankfully, he got the hint and we both went off to sleep in our separate rooms without so much as a hug. Crisis averted, let the self-loathing begin.


Only after some time did I start to realize what else could have happened that night. What if Mike had started to reach for me? What if he had become forceful? Would I have been able to fend him off? Would I have just given in? After all, even though I definitely did not want to have sex with this boy, I certainly had a level of attraction for him or I wouldn’t have done so much lying to spend time with him. If he had made further advances, would I have just kept my mouth shut and followed his lead?


That night I barely escaped a potentially dangerous situation, suffering only humiliation. Unfortunately, I know many stories of young ladies who did not escape. Before my mother was married, a similar situation ended in an unplanned pregnancy and a secret adoption. The entire course of a young woman’s life can be derailed in moments like these.


Sadly, I went on to do many more stupid things throughout my adolescence and young adult years. Most of my stupidity had to do with boys, attention, and relationships. The fact that I survived those years spiritually is nothing short of a miracle to me. Thankfully, I had some great leaders in my life who were praying for me, even though they didn’t know all I was dabbling in (I kept those things secret, of course… isn’t that what all good Christian girls do?).


**The rest of Chapter One will be available by download soon. Check back for more information.**


Nine Years and Counting December 4, 2010

Filed under: Behind the Book — Sarah Siegand @ 7:18 pm

On my 29th birthday, I gave myself a gift. I set aside an entire day in my charming victorian rental home to begin a writing journey. Just me and my computer. No distractions. I first spent some time in prayer, asking God some big questions about what I was about to embark on.


I had all of these thoughts spinning in my head, and they all seemed to revolve around one central idea, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on how to articulate that idea. I knew I was supposed to write about all of these principles, values, and ideals that were beating down the door of my heart to get out. But I didn’t quite know how to start. Fingers on the keyboard. Deep breath. Blinking cursor.


A title? That seemed like a fitting start. My fingers lightly drummed the keys as I pondered, not quite typing yet. “What do you want me to say, Lord?”


And then, before I could even brainstorm, my fingers typed a working title that set into motion the framework for what would become a nine-year mission to complete. “I Will Not Be A Stupid Woman.” Yes, that was a very good start. I desperately wanted to help young women abandon stupidity in the pursuit of wisdom.


A book was conceived in my heart that day. It had existed only in the form of unfertilized seed until then. It’s almost as if the power of the Holy Spirit breathed it to life to begin gestation that brisk birthday morning. Little did I know the gestation period would be nine years instead of nine months. But I trusted that when development was complete, the book would be ready to brave the harsh world of scrutiny outside the womb of my computer’s hard drive.


Nine years is a long time. It’s not that I couldn’t think of what to say. I wrote the book almost entirely in the first six months. And then my husband and I embarked on a journey to move to Nashville, Tennessee. We became part of an amazing church, with a gifted pastor and teacher at the helm. I was growing spiritually healthy in areas I didn’t know needed health before. That’s when I realized I hadn’t said things in the book as clearly as they needed to be said. I was still learning so much from the wisdom of leaders who were pouring into me. I decided the book needed to be re-written with this newfound perspective I had.


So I started re-writing. At first, I was cutting, pasting, reorganizing and adding. But then I started to lose track of where things were a little bit, and there didn’t seem to be the continuity I had at first, even though the first draft was not as sound doctrinally as it needed to be.


Cue major life transition — surprise, I was pregnant! Okay, book to the back burner. Let the refining process of motherhood begin. A couple of years later, baby number two came. More refining.


I began to realize how much motherhood had changed me and grown me, and that it would add a greater depth of perspective to the subject matter of my book. Big sigh. Once again, I laid my manuscript on the altar of “not in my timing.” And my second rewrite began. This time, I started from scratch.


On this third manuscript, I had the benefit of time-gone-by underneath my understanding. God had narrowed my focus and clarity over the years. I now held treasured words of wisdom from seasoned leaders and mentors to give weight to the truths I was hoping to convey.


I had been transformed over the last nine years. And so had my working title, now reading, “Smart Girl, Stupid World – A Wisdom Guidebook for Young Women.” The message God put in my heart at 29 has only intensified. The urgency I feel to impart the tools of wisdom for young women is stronger than ever. Oh how I hate seeing young lives derailed by stupid choices that could have been avoided. I just can’t take it anymore, and God has commanded me to be his partner in redeeming the destiny of those who will listen.


The manuscript is in its final stages, and excerpts from each chapter are posted on the right side of this page. Gestation feels nearly complete, and the book seems to be “crowning,” to borrow a labor and delivery term. One small bit of uncertainty remains… how painful is this birthing process going to be?