Foreword by Sheri Rose Shepherd
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The world is waiting to experience the gifts of each and every daughter of the King. But how do you rise to your calling when so commonly burdened by insecurity, discouragement, or lack of self-belief? The Sparkle Effect is a guide to the total, positive identity transformation that is possible in Christ. It will empower you with the confidence to achieve your biggest dreams and live fulfilled like never before. Once you stop wasting your time trying to meet worldly standards of beauty and success, stop feeling unworthy, and stop hiding in the shadows of your life, you will be open to claim your divine destiny.
“You have an extraordinarily unique brand of beautiful with which God wants to paint this world. Kristen shows us how to believe it, embrace it, and live it with the biblical understanding of who we are created to be.”
— Lysa TerKeurst, New York Times bestselling author and president of Proverbs 31 Ministries
I’m proud of you for having the bravery to pick up this book. The Sparkle Effect sounds so pretty and easy and twirly, but the art of having it and keeping it is not. As a young girl, I believed “sparkling” was for other girls…girls who were tall, thin, talented, smart, and those who came from wealthy families and had all the trendy clothes, gadgets, and boyfriends. The notion of sparkling was definitely not for me. I was overweight, depressed, dyslexic, and bullied. Not even my teachers believed in me. One of them told me I’d never go anywhere in life because of my reading impairment. If only I’d known Kristen.
Back then, I would have given anything to curl up in my bed to read the raw and powerful secrets and stories Kristen shares in this book. It could have saved me a long journey of mistakes, self-hatred, an eating disorder, believing lies about myself, and even a suicide attempt. I truly struggled. Then when I won the titles of Miss USA and Mrs. America, I thought that surely they would soothe all my self-doubt, insecurities, and inner pain. I thought they would give me confidence and make me feel beautiful. But I was terribly mistaken. They left me emptier and more lost than before. Titles and accolades only breed more emptiness when they aren’t driven by wholeness.
But could I be whole? Can anyone sparkle? Or is that just reserved for certain, special people God seems to love more?
It took me many years, in which I experienced heartbreaks that shattered me into pieces, before I realized my worth. I don’t want you to have to hit rock bottom to finally realize that you can sparkle, too, regardless of your circumstances.
That’s what I remembered when I met Kristen: that no matter what, I can sparkle.
One day, I received an interview request from Kristen Dalton Wolfe for her show on Trinity Broadcasting Network. Unbeknownst to her, I had been going through one of the darkest times in my life.
I canceled and rescheduled my interview with Kristen a few times. She was patient with me, and when I finally met her in January 2017, I immediately knew why God wanted us to meet. I came alive in our interview. She drew out the gold in me and made me feel on fire again.
As we talked, I remembered that I had watched her compete the year she won Miss USA. When the camera panned to her face during the Miss USA telecast, I knew she was a woman of faith. She had a light about her and a sparkle in her eyes. I actually prayed throughout the competition night that she would win. And thank God she did or I might not have gotten my fight back. Kristen said she has looked up to me as an author and role model for a long time, but the day we met, I told her that I was adopting her as my spiritual daughter. We began texting regularly after our first meeting. One day soon after, she wrote me about a vision God had given her for a women’s conference. She told me she wanted me to speak with her. I had barely begun to pray about it before God responded with a resounding YES.
What Kristen didn’t know was I was about to ask her to speak with me.
My standard is very high regarding the character of those whom I minister beside. The reason I felt confident aligning myself with Kristen is her pure heart. Her motives are pure. She is completely devoted to her walk with God and has no interest in settling, compromising her values, or selling out for fame. She isn’t driven by anything other than sharing God’s heart for other women. She has a fire in her soul to see women experience a personal revelation of their royal identity, to be free and confident in the Lord, and to boldly live out their calling. Many people set out to do this, but few have the character and persistence to match the task. Kristen has it; that’s why I’m glad you’re reading this book.
Kristen became a Miss USA because of the sparkle everyone saw in her eyes that night. Now, she is stewarding the platform God gave her to teach women like you how to unveil their sparkle, too. It starts on the inside. You don’t have to live with depression, self-doubt, shame, insecurity, or the constant urge to people-please anymore. You get to be the girl who knows herself, who loves the skin she is in, who commands respect, and who unapologetically lives out her purpose—no matter who hurts her or what obstacles she encounters.
This book is like no other I’ve read. No one has ever defined what it takes to have the “it factor” the way Kristen does. But this book is so much more than that. If you read it with an open heart, you will close these pages having become closer to the woman God made you to be: strong, bold, focused, determined, gentle, secure, dazzling, fervent, gracious, faithful, and irresistibly you.
Precious girl, let these pages take you on a journey to discover the sparkle within you and to ultimately let it shine.
Sheri Rose Shepherd
Letter from Kristen
Writing this book is a dream come true. For a long time, I’ve had a heart for helping young women step into their true identity. I want to take you on a journey that will release a radiance that stands out beyond beauty. You will discover that it’s not always the qualities on the outside that make a girl stand out on her quest to fulfill her dream. Having the Sparkle Effect isn’t about having the best résumé, clothes, hair, body, skin, money, fans, followers, family, or circumstances. Having the Sparkle Effect means that you emanate the special it factor when you’ve experienced Jesus as the identity transformer. Throughout this book, I will explain what this means, how I learned to have the Sparkle Effect that helped me achieve my dreams, and how you can, too.
One Sunday, I was in worship at church. My eyes were closed as I soaked in the thick, sweet presence of God. My mind drifted to an image of me as a thirteen-year-old girl. I had short hair and was sitting at the fireplace in our family living room. My eyes were sad. There was a heaviness over me. As I recalled how I felt back then, tears started rolling down my cheeks and I grieved for that young girl. A young girl who felt alone, rejected, and depressed, yet who was so good at smiling and acting happy. I hurt for the girl who was unsure where she fit into the world, while trying to convince the world she was sure. My heart also broke for any girl who ever feels this way.
Then, in a vision, God showed me who He is and who I really am.
I saw Jesus crown me and suddenly my sadness was lifted and everything burst into color, brilliance, and sparkle. The cloud looming over me was eradicated by light. My eyes became bright, clear, and joyful. It was as if the fairy godmother from Cinderella had touched me with her wand and transformed my rags into a glittering gown.
As I saw this vision, tears fell down my face. My life flashed before my eyes, like a movie reel, clearly revealing how God had transformed me. The moment I let Him crown me, my life changed. He wants to crown you, too.
Jesus is an identity transformer. He crowns us with renewal, radiance, favor, blessings, and tender loving mercies. When we know who we are and confidently walk in our Kingdom inheritance, a sparkle emerges. It’s a sparkle that’s undeniably magnetic, and a sparkle that can change the world around you for good.
God has beautiful dreams for your life. You may feel trapped, lifeless, hopeless, or clueless right now. You don’t have to stay that way anymore. As I take you through this journey, let’s forget all the ways the world has taught you to stand out or succeed. Let’s unmask who you were created to be. Let’s transform your heart and ignite the radiance in your eyes. Let’s unveil what it really takes to have the Sparkle Effect.
On that day the LORD their God will rescue his people, just as a shepherd rescues his sheep. They will sparkle in his land like jewels in a crown. (Zechariah 9:16 NLT)
The Sparkle Effect
I don’t remember a lot about the moment I was crowned Miss USA 2009. I stood in the top five after my final questions were complete. The runner-up placements were being called one by one. The stakes were the highest they had ever been in my life. Adrenaline was pumping through my body as I waited to hear if I was moving to New York City the next day or going back home. This was the moment I had dreamed of since I was a little girl. The reality of my dream was about to be determined, after a commercial break. A surreal elation swirled around me, I let out a scream, and my hands flew over my face! I couldn’t believe it, but I could totally believe it. I had envisioned it so many times, it was seared into my subconscious mind.
I was so excited to meet head judge Shandi Finnessey after the competition. She was Miss USA 2004 and one of my role models. Earlier in the night, I had been so giddy when I saw her looking up at me from the judges panel.
How am I going to stay composed in the final question with her sitting there? I wondered.
When Shandi and I met afterward, she congratulated me and I thanked her. Then she told me something I will always remember. She said, “After the top fifteen contestants were announced, all of the judges leaned in and asked me, ‘Every girl here is beautiful. How do we know who to choose?’”
“You will see it in one girl—the one who sparkles,” she answered. “You will see it in her eyes and smile.”
After the commercial break, they all leaned back in and said, “We see her. We see the girl who sparkles.”
She looked at me intently and said, “That girl was you.”
In that moment I was so thankful and humbled, but it wasn’t until later that I would realize the magnitude of her statement.
Since I was three years old, my dream was to become Miss USA. My mother is a former Miss North Carolina USA, and we watched the Miss America and the Miss USA pageants every year with my sisters. It was like a holiday at our house. My mama would curl our hair in sponge rollers, we’d eat popcorn with Milk Duds and sip orange juice out of a thermos we all shared.
The winning moment got me every time. I remember sitting there in my red-and-white-striped nightgown, eyes wide and my heart palpitating when the final two women held hands on that stage. My sisters and I held hands in hopes that our favorite girl won. But when they announced the winner, it didn’t matter who it was. Her reaction emanated redemption of past rejection, hard work that had paid off, and adversities she had overcome. Even as a little girl, I cried during the crowning moment. It was as if I could feel everything the new Miss USA was feeling. I looked up to her and I wanted to inspire a little girl like me one day as well.
Growing up, I had a quiet, inner knowing that becoming Miss USA was my destiny. It inspired decisions I made and helped me cope with whatever I was facing.
For example, when I was getting my braces painfully tightened in the orthodontist’s chair, I visualized having a beautiful white smile in my winning moment onstage. When I was excluded or felt awkward in a social setting, I imagined confidently walking into a room and making people feel comfortable and at ease.
Even though I believed it was a dream I could achieve, other people didn’t. Just like in any sport or subculture, fans, critics, and message boards exist. After I won Miss North Carolina USA, predictions, rankings, and opinions about who would place and win at Miss USA became prevalent. I remember being called “plain, a clapper, average, and big-nosed.” I wasn’t a front-runner at all. But I didn’t let that derail me.
“It’s okay,” I’d tell myself. “They just don’t know yet.”
I wasn’t on people’s radar, but I was on God’s radar. You are always on God’s radar, too.
Since I won Miss USA, I’ve been on several judges panels and have seen firsthand that Shandi’s words are true. One woman rises to the top by the end of the night. She is the one who sparkles. She has a gleam in her eyes and in her smile. Her aura is aglow. You can’t help but be drawn to her. Something about her is captivating and warm. But you can’t really put your finger on what it is.
If someone has this type of presence, you may have heard it referred to as having the it factor. But I call it the Sparkle Effect and it isn’t just for some girls, it’s for you, too. The problem is, it’s never been defined.
Pageant competitors spend a lot of money for a winning wardrobe, for lessons on hair and makeup, for modeling coaches, and for glamorous headshots. But the Sparkle Effect is much more than what meets the eye. It’s the radiance, connectedness, and confidence that transcends all other factors. It causes a woman to stand out whether she’s onstage, when dating the guy she likes, when going in for an interview, or when vying for a dream.
It’s a radiance that must be nurtured from within. The “fake it ’til you make it” strategy will get you only so far toward reaching your goals. A true winner in life has sparkle about her all the time, whether she is performing or serving, whether the lights are on her or she is in a season of hidden preparation. She has the Sparkle Effect on everything she does. But what is it? How does one get it?
When I got to the Miss USA competition, I didn’t have the most expensive gown, the biggest cheering section, the most fans, or even the money to buy everything I needed. What I relied upon was my dream, my faith, my persistence, my resilience, and my God of promises.
I have spent the last years contemplating what defines the mysterious Sparkle Effect. I’m convinced that it starts with your relationship with God and the truth found in His Word for you. I will explain as we go along, because it can work for you. You will be able to believe in your dreams with such fervor that nothing or no one can shake them. You will truly know and be confident in who you are created to be. No matter what your dream is, having the Sparkle Effect is the secret to living it out.
You don’t have to fake it anymore. You don’t have to rely on the wrong things to give you confidence. You don’t have to feel the pressure of “turning it on,” because when you step into your royal identity, the Sparkle Effect will naturally flow from within. This journey is going to demystify what it takes to have the qualities of a woman who stands out with radiance beyond beauty.
You don’t have to feel the pressure of “turning it on,” because when you step into your royal identity, the Sparkle Effect will naturally flow from within.
The Sparkle Effect is powerful and attainable. All you need is an open mind, a right heart, and a willing spirit. The little girl inside you, full of wonder and hope, is waiting. The world needs you.
Are you ready to discover your true identity?
The thirty-one chapters of this book will each highlight a quality of one who sparkles; amplify that quality with prayer; and supercharge its effect with Wonder Words. You’ll confidently grow in the embodiment of each quality and have the Sparkle Effect by seeking God through the Word and prayer. This journey isn’t about becoming someone you aren’t. It’s about becoming the woman God created you to be.
Releasing your radiance isn’t just for your benefit. It’s for those you are called to impact as well. God has called you to shine like a city on a hilltop that should not be hidden (Matthew 5:14). It’s time to break out of the dullness. It’s time to start sparkling.
Sparkle with Decisiveness
Believe every day, everything is possible
A magical journey awaits
—Shannon Saunders, The Glow
Before we get started, you must decide where you are headed and what your dream is. In order to be successful in anything, we have to zero in on what God wants to accomplish through us. Otherwise, we will be like a feather in the wind, blowing to the left and right in indecisiveness. What dream has He planted in your heart? If you feel unsure in that area, what do you know for sure?
As the prophet Habakkuk wrote in the Old Testament:
Write the vision; make it plain on tablets,
so he may run who reads it.
For still the vision awaits its appointed time;
it hastens to the end—it will not lie.
If it seems slow, wait for it;
it will surely come; it will not delay. (Habakkuk 2:2–3 ESV)
God gives us a vision for our future. I believe God’s dream for our lives is often revealed to us as children. When I was a little girl, I had many dreams. I wanted to be a dancer, a Broadway star, an author, a singer, an actress, a lawyer, a politician, and of course, Miss USA. I also secretly wanted to be a princess whisked away to an enchanted kingdom to live happily ever after with a prince. Do you remember what your dreams were?
These aspirations have varied based on what season of life I’ve been in, but there were two constants: to be Miss USA and to marry a prince. I remember doodling my name, “Kristen Dalton, Miss USA,” in my notebooks from the time I was twelve years old. I remember my mother reading bedtime fairy tales and Bible stories to us and watching Disney princess movies with my sisters. I was fascinated with the notion of being a princess, which I think is something the little girl in each of us can relate to if we are really honest with ourselves.
One of my absolute favorite things to do as a child was to go through the beautiful, glittering costumes in my mother’s big oak chest she turned into a dress-up box. I loved twirling around in her flowing white dress in the living room, wearing it as I ran in the big field behind our backyard and tiptoed my way into the outskirts of the forest. I imagined stories in my head about being in another time period in another land. In every story I made up, I was an advocate for justice, a difference maker, a believer in miracles and true love. The wonderful thing is, I now know those weren’t just fairy tales and stories. I can embody the qualities of the heroines I imagined myself to be, and so can you. I encourage you to sit down and remember the dreams of the little girl in you and keep them alive, no matter how difficult or how the world may scoff at them. You were given those visions for a reason.
As life would have it, we grow up and encounter distractions that lead us away from our dreams and goals. As young adults, we suddenly experience how the opinions of others impact us. Failure is painful. We consciously or subconsciously shift our aspirations to fill our need for the approval of others, or in order to prevent the blow of failing at the thing that matters most to us. It’s important that we fight against the urge to quit on our true dreams or to stop believing in ourselves, or most importantly, God. You’ll find it can be a difficult journey. I have experienced it.
When I was twelve years old, I remember noticing that I wasn’t taken seriously by my teachers and the classroom parents because I had blond hair. I dealt with the stereotype that since I was blond and cheerful, I must be dumb. All I wanted was to be smart and taken seriously. I felt inadequate when I didn’t pass the test to get into pre-algebra classes with my peers. I began fighting against the labels of others, and what was even more detrimental, my own self-doubts.
Since I didn’t qualify to take algebra in middle school, I took it later in high school. I remember coming home to do my homework. Frustration consumed me because I couldn’t understand the concepts. I would cry and say things to myself like, “You are so stupid; your brain is so dumb; you’ll never prove to everyone that you’re smart because you’re not!” At one point, I actually set a career aspiration to be a neonatologist, just so I would sound smart. I had no interest in becoming a neonatologist at all, other than because it involved babies. Have you ever done something like this? Have you ever tried to prove something about yourself because you felt inferior or deficient?
In some ways, my desire to prove my intelligence paid off because it kept me motivated and contributed to a résumé of accomplishments. But it would have saved me a lot of tears, heartache, self-loathing, and depression if I had just loved and accepted the imaginative, creative, musical girl God made me to be. I wish I had known sooner that true confidence comes in seeking His approval only. I want to help you understand how God loves the way He made you. Yes, even your perceived weaknesses like algebra.
Ask yourself these questions: What is the deep burning desire in your heart that you wish you could do something about? What innate gifts and talents do you have that the world needs?
Even your birth order can play a role into the dream you are meant to fulfill! As the oldest of four children, I have a big sister’s heart for my siblings that has transcended to all women. My heart can’t get enough of talking to girls about their value. I experience an adrenaline rush when, through heartfelt conversation, personal coaching, or speaking onstage, I get to help young women become unapologetically confident in who they are.
If you have a passion burning deep within you that has never gone away no matter what the seasons or circumstances you’ve experienced, you already know what your dream is and the purpose God has stitched into your heart. If you feel unclear about what your calling is, there are powerful ways for you to discern it.
Before moving on in the book, let’s get clear on your dream. Create a relaxing space where you can reflect and pray. Grab a journal and pen. Close your eyes each time you ask yourself one of the following questions. Then wait to see what comes to mind:
1. What do you love to do? What do you despise doing?
2. What energizes and excites you? What drains you?
3. What feels easy and natural for you?
4. What do you often find yourself doing or talking about that you can’t help?
5. What group of the population do you want to help?
6. Where do you want to see change? How do you want to take part in shaping that change?
7. What do you want to experience and learn?
8. What makes your soul come alive?
I have decided my dream is:
(Note: Don’t be frustrated if you are still unclear. If that is the case, it doesn’t have to be a specific vocation. Just write what you know to be true. Your dream may be one that reveals itself to you season by season, step by step.)
God has given you access to wisdom and His voice, which will lead you to make strong decisions. Although the Kingdom dwells within you, there are several voices that can drown out the voice of Truth. Voices of parents, teachers, peers, siblings, the enemy, and even your own. While God has placed certain people in your life to guide you, one of the most important skills to develop is the ability to discern God’s voice from everyone else’s voice, including your own inner thoughts.
God has given you access to wisdom and His voice, which will lead you to make strong decisions.
Hearing many different opinions and judgments can cause confusion. But 1 Corinthians 14:33 says God is not the author of confusion, but of clarity and peace. When you feel confused or lost, that is not from God. The enemy loves to distract us from our true purpose and destiny because it keeps us right where we are—stuck, complacent, and not moving forward. The last thing He wants is for you to use your God-given gifts and talents for Kingdom influence.
Learning how to hear, know, and feel God’s voice more and more has been one of the most wondrous, rewarding journeys that I have experienced. It has proven to make my life more prosperous, protected, and awe-inspiring. I feel like every day is a treasure hunt, and He shows up in sweet, powerful ways when I seek Him.
As His daughter, you have the ability to hear and recognize His voice, too.
I challenge you to get clear on the dream God is calling you to step into. Get into the Word and pray. It is His pleasure to reveal it to you. Make an agreement to partner with Heaven in fulfilling this vision. Then write it down on paper, on a chalkboard, or in your journal. Doodle it every day.
- "You have an extraordinarily unique brand of beautiful with which God wants to paint this world. Kristen shows us how to believe it, embrace it, and live it with the biblical understanding of who we were created to be."—Lysa TerKeurst, New York Times bestselling author and president of Proverbs 31 ministries
- "This book is a magical read that conveys the truth of who you are, what you deserve, and what you have access to as God's daughter in a new, refreshing way."—Bianca Juarez Olthoff, freedom fighter, speaker, and bestselling author
- "Kristen...[equips] women to truly embrace who we are meant to be--not who the world expects us to be. Every girl should read these words!"—Jordan Dooley, author, speaker, and founder of Soul Scripts
- [Kristen's] message in this book is absolutely necessary in these times of self-doubt and fear.—Leven Rambin, Glimmer, The Hunger Games
- "With this book, not only will you learn to love yourself and learn how to sparkle, but you will know just how loved you are by our heavenly father."—Greer Grammer, actress, MTV's Awkward, ABC's The Middle
- "[Kristen's] words are encouraging and honest, and will be a great help to the reader! You will feel like you have spent time with a friend!"—Holly Wagner, pastor at Oasis Church, author of GodChicks and Find Your Brave, and founder of She Rises conference
- "A must-read for every woman. Whether you are personally struggling with self-worth or on the journey to embrace all God has for you, this book will be your guide."—Tammy Hotsenpiller, founder and president of Women of Influence
"In a world where so many struggle with their identity and worth, Kristen's book offers keys to being a beautiful reflection of God's attributes inside and out."
—Michelle McKinney Hammond, author of The Power of Being a Woman and Emmy Award-winning TV host
- "An inspiring guide to build up your heart to withstand criticism and judgement....Confidence found only in the arms of Christ is truly the 'Sparkle Effect,' and after reading this book you'll surely get your shine on!"—Alyssa Quilala, author, pastor, actress, and model
- "This book shares the necessary tools and truths that can help women of all ages begin to uncover who God made them to be!"—Spencer Locke, Jane, Tarzan
- On Sale
- Oct 2, 2018
- Page Count
- 320 pages