My Budget Sparkle Confession by Julie Arduini

This is hard to write, but I promised I’d always share what God prompts me to, so if this encourages you, awesome.

I’ve been in official menopause since my surgery in 2008. I wasn’t even 40, but the symptoms weren’t bad and I was so free from pain, it was a small price to pay.

Then I hit 45 and a new level of menopause seemed to hit. Weight gain. Big, dark circles under my eyes. Blotchy skin.

As I’ve learned the Curly Girl Method and faced trial and error with that, I’ve become more than vain, but afraid. I get I’m never gracing a catwalk. I know I’m inching toward 50 and few call that an exotic time of life when it comes to looks. But I confess I wanted something, anything that would make me feel a little special.

Enter Meghan Markle.

Or as I kept reading, Markle Sparkle.

She’s a romance author’s dream. American actress meets prince. Both from broken homes. Conflict between her not being English, her divorce, her career, and sadly I’ve read even her ethnicity as bi-racial has rankled those in the very elite circles that I can’t even imagine why that matters in 2019.

Anyway, when I saw clips from her wedding, and even as she’s visited places or been out with her husband, she glows. Yep, that Markle Sparkle.

And I thought, hey, I’d like to get me some of that.

Enter Google.

Instead of writing, like I should have, I spent the afternoon looking up that Markle Sparkle. Some attribute it to her personality, her marriage, her motivation, and then there was the skincare regime.

There were high-end products I’ve never heard of. Then there were products from Sephora that I have heard of, but that’s high-end for me, and I’m just not that girlie.

But, ah, down the list was something I could get on board with.

Could this budget friendly item supposedly part of the Duchess’ product list, be the answer that I’m seeking to get me out of my frump hump?


It’s a skin care treatment/healing ointment that I previously heard helped burns. The advice I read for that sparkle was to apply before makeup. Not a lot, and to rub in circles.

I’m so pale that my result made me feel like someone in the Twilight movies.

Then I thought I’d use a lotion that would also tan. Maybe it would bring out my freckles and highlight the glow!

You know what I have now?

A red face that looks like I’ve been drinking all night, and an acne breakout.

While Meghan has that sparkle.

But, wait. I’m not done.

I’ve also been doing quite a bit of reading, prayer time, journaling, and the like. Currently I’m working through a small group curriculum of Goliath Must Fall, as well as the study guide and book for Lysa TerKeurst’s latest, It’s Not Supposed to be This Way.

As I face some hard places and truths, I’m discovering new layers about myself and new levels of healing I didn’t even know I needed. I’m also working out regularly and trying to drink more water.

And although I’m still not loving what I see in the mirror, I saw a glimpse of something I haven’t noticed in a long time.


It’s that gift from God that doesn’t depend on feelings, good hair, a certain weight, or royal recommendations. I’ve clung to joy when I had no clue how things were going to turn out, but I knew God was very present in it all.

Sephora can’t market that.

It’s so much more valuable than anything the royals wear.

And I have it for free.

I’m not into sounding like a used car sales tactic, so let me just say this: If that last line has you curious, if the whole post resonates because you’ve tried it all, you feel blah, and you don’t get how joy makes a difference, God gave me His Son for free. Seriously. Jesus did all the work, and it’s taken me decades to understand that. Beyond agreeing with that, I want more than to just believe. I’m constantly learning about Jesus, talking to Him, reading, listening to music, it’s a relationship. I love spending time discovering Him, and hearing from Him. He offers much, and joy is one of those things.

I’d kind of let it get buried with my stuff.

Yes, I still use Aquaphor here and there because it helps with the winter dryness. Yes, I still read articles about Markle Sparkle because she’s just so intriguing to me and I have a mom-type soft spot for Prince Harry.

No, I don’t have a younger, dew-like glow to myself that’s set me free from my menopause self. Nor am I interested in product suggestions.

But I have joy.


Although Christian romance is my first genre, I’m working with our teen daughter on a series that’s both middle grade AND Women’s fiction. It’s two stories in one novella. The series, Surrendering Stinkin’ Thinkin, features a mentoring ministry with tween girls and adults. Each book features a character from each age group who needs to surrender a lie they are believing.

You’re Amazing is available on Amazon.

This post first appeared at

About juliearduini

Julie Arduini loves to encourage readers to find freedom in Christ by surrendering the good, the bad, and ---maybe one day---the chocolate. She’s the author of the new contemporary romance series SURRENDERING HEARTS (Anchored Hearts, Repairing Hearts, +four more.) Her other romance series is SURRENDERING TIME (Entrusted, Entangled, Engaged.) She also co-wrote a YA series with her daughter, SURRENDERING STINKIN’ THINKIN’ (You’re Beautiful, You’re Amazing, You’re Brilliant.) Her stand-alone romances include MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN and RESTORING CHRISTMAS. Julie maintains a blog at and participates in the team blog Christians Read. She resides in Ohio with her husband and two children. Learn more by visiting her at
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5 Responses to My Budget Sparkle Confession by Julie Arduini

  1. Oh, I could so relate. Hysterectomy when I was 38. Instant

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Aaah….I wasn’t finished. So to continue, I experienced instant menopause and horrible hot flashes. Medication helped. Over the years, I have struggled with my looks worrying about my weight gain, my face, how my hair looks that day and so on. Thanks for the reminder of where my focus needs to be.

    Liked by 1 person

    • juliearduini says:

      I always write what God shows me, when He shows me. I often believe it might be just to encourage one person, and I am more than okay with that. I believe this is God’s little love note to you, letting you know He sees you, He loves you, and you are altogether beautiful to Him. (((hugs)))


  3. Vicki Hinze says:

    Julie, just for the record, you always glow. You always have. Your posts carry that glow, too. Just mentioning this, because I have a strong feeling you don’t realize that. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • juliearduini says:

      Aw, Vicki, that is so sweet. It has been a struggle lately. I’d like to think I have the Markle Sparkle, but I’ve felt more like an oil spill! Thank you for the encouragement.


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