Sunday, November 8, 2015

My New Point of View on the LDS Church Leaders

I would like to start this post with my testimony of God's love for every single person to ever exist. I know without a doubt in my mind that God's love is unconditional. No matter your beliefs, your standards, your actions, no matter any situation, God loves you still. He loves us all endlessly; infinitely.
And I love God right back. The church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints teaches that the absolute most important commandments are to first, love God, and second, love your neighbor.

Following this, I will admit that my heart hurt when I first heard of the new update on children not being able to be baptized until they are 18 if living in a house where same-sex marriage is being practiced. I genuinely love the friends I have that are gay/lesbian. And they're children? I couldn't understand at first how the leaders of my church could seemingly 'punish' them. This simple new statement made me question the leaders of my church and their teachings. How could God give this world such a rule? 
But this is the moment that Elder Uchtdorf was preparing us all for when he said,

"Doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith."

So I knelt in prayer. I needed help to understand, help to know of the truthfulness of this new rule. I needed to strengthen my testimony of the prophet, Thomas S. Monson, and his apostles. I asked for the knowledge of where GOD would have me stand, because my ultimate goal is to follow God and his teachings, no matter where that leads me - in this religion or not.

And upon this prayer, I received a sure answer.

I am overwhelmed just writing this with love and respect for the dear prophet of the LDS church. I have always been one to stand beside him and his teachings, because that is what I have been taught. But now I've prayed to my Heavenly Father, and I would like to publicly announce that I no longer am following Thomas S. Monson because I was raised to do so. Now I follow him strictly because God told me I should. No questions asked. I know that God speaks to us through the prophet- and I KNOW that Thomas Monson is the true prophet, given to us and led by God Himself.

I cannot say that I completely understand everything Thomas S. Monson and past prophets have counseled us to do, but I know that what they say comes directly from God. And I always stand by God. 

On that note, I also have a testimony of the truthfulness of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I testify that if you sincerely pray, God will answer your questions as he has answered mine.
Before being angry with the leaders of the LDS Church, please ask God for truth and search for an understanding.

I end with noting that I fully sustain President Thomas S. Monson as the true and living prophet.

I write this post with love for anyone else who may have been hurt by this new rule- 

xo Zo

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Confidence is Key.

"And it came to pass that we lived after the manner of happiness." -2 Nephi 5:27 💙

Once again, this post is not for sympathy or for attention. It's to make a point.

I posted a few months ago about having dealt with an eating disorder. Following that post, and still to this day, I get letters and messages from people, telling me about how 'strong' I am and that they're proud of me.

I feel hypocritical.

And I feel like I should make it known, that I have not overcome the eating disorder. All I did was put it into words, what it's like. But that voice, it's still there. I did go through a quick period of time where I felt superior to the disorder, but lately I have come back to seeing myself as nothing most days. Since that post, I will admit that there still have been weeks where I have purposely eaten less and days where I made myself throw up.

It has never left my side.

In class the other day, my gals were talking about diets and working out and goals, yatta yatta, when one of them pointed out that every girl sees something wrong with herself. It seems as if there will never be a day that any girl is actually, honestly, COMPLETELY happy with who she is.

This hit me.

Even if I starve myself, even if I workout excessively and follow a strict diet, I will most likely still see myself as below average, as fixable.

So to break things down: I'm unhappy with how I look now, so supposedly I'm going to be unhappy while not eating and stressing out about my appearance, just to still be unhappy with how I look after losing whatever goal weight?


But that is pretty much what has been going on. So, rather that stressing out about 'looking perfect,' I want to try stressing out about finding happiness in myself.

Obviously that is easier said than done.

I realized today, there is never a time that I look into a mirror and don't critique something about myself.
That needs to stop.
I probably shouldn't even look in the mirror as much as I do, anyway.

I realized, as well, that I look at girls with envy. I judge my weaknesses next to their strengths, and I tear myself apart all day every day because of it.
I absolutely hate that. And I know I'm not the only one doing this.

 But there are those immaculate people, though, who radiate confidence. People who have found a way to be happy with themselves, despite the flaws they see.
I dream to one day be one of those people.
These people, whether 378 lbs or 85 lbs, buff scrawny old, whatever, THESE PEOPLE ARE RADIANT TO EVERY ONE WHO MEETS THEM.
And that is a fact.
Confidence brings people happiness, happy people make other people happy, and if you make someone happy they automatically like you, and if they genuinely like you they just see you as spectacular. End of statement. Confidence is key.

So to sum this all up, I still struggle. But my newest goal is to do what makes me happy.
I'll run and workout, because I like to, and I'll eat healthy most of the time, because it makes my body feel good, but I'll still eat a box of Samoas, because I like them. And I won't stress out about it. I shouldn't care that I don't look like Candice Swanepoel, because I'm just not her and I will never ever be her. And that's no big deal.

I do what I want, when I want. 2k15.
xo Zo 💜

IG: @zoevanwinkk

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Off My High Horse.

"O my dove, that art in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the stairs, let me see thy countenance, let me hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely." Songs of Solomon 2:14 ❤

(Note: this post is purely personal opinion. Don't be offended.)

Straight to the point: your testimony & your relationship with God are your top attributes.
Since I've started cosmetology school, I've caught myself getting too tied up in the worldly ways to be 'physically beautiful'. Sooo many girls these days get hair extensions, eyelash extensions, spray tans, meal plans, gym passes; anything they can to look 'perfect'. I know I have.
But I realized, all of these things were taking up so much of my time and mind that I hadn't made my testimony or relationship with God a top priority.
They should always be your top priority.

When I meet people that are not overly concerned with their physical appearance, but radiate the light of Christ in their countenance, they are absolutely stunning to me.
One should not be overly concerned with their physical appearance.

I want to marry a guy who loves God more than he loves the world. I would choose a guy with an amazing testimony over a guy who belongs on the cover of GQ any day. But you know what they say, you have to be the kind of person you want to end up with.
It's a new goal of mine to focus less on trying to look perfect and focus more on my testimony and my 'light', because I know I still have that problem.
I hope to see myself the way that God sees me, rather than the way that the world wants to see me.

So I guess all I'm trying to say is that if you're ever feeling less than beautiful - if you're ever upset because you don't feel like you fit in with today's ridiculous standards:
The strength of your testimony & your relationship with God are the only things about yourself you can REALLY control.

Keepin' it short, love you all
xo Zo ❤

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Road to Heaven - Tyler Robinson ❤

"But there is a resurrection, therefore the grave hath no victory, and the sting of death is swallowed up in Christ. He is the light and the life of the world; yea, a light that is endless, that can never be darkened; yea, and also a life which is endless, that there can be no more death." Mosiah 16:8-9 ❤

It's been two years, today.

I met Tyler Robinson when I was the new kid in our 4th grade class. He was always goofy, bubbly, the happiest and kindest in the room. I'm tempted to share all of the crazy memories him and I made in our years of friendship, but I want to focus more on the impact he made during his later years.

When I found out that Tyler had cancer,  we were both sophomores in high school. I remember how surreal it felt; cancer had been fictional to me up to that point in my life. He missed our entire junior year of high school, though, and part of our senior year.
We'd visit him, of course. And he seemed no different, other than his lack of hair. He smiled and laughed and joked, pulling the 'cancer card' occasionally. ie:
   "Hey will you grab that for me?"
   "No, get it yourself...."
   "But I have cancer."
Funniest kid I think I know.

He was declared cancer free during our senior year, and he came back to school. Seeing him in the halls again was an unreal kind of happiness! As Dan Reynolds once said, Tyler has a positivity that fills a room.

Friday, March 1st: standing with him after school, he had his hat on - covering his hairless head - as always. A teacher walked by and told him to take it off, and he smiled and nodded, acting as if he would. We asked why he hadn't pulled the 'cancer card' like he sometimes did. He said that he liked that teacher too much and would have felt bad -- he was always thinking of others.
He said he felt kind of sick. We didn't think too much of it.

Saturday, March 2nd: my friend and I were getting ready to crash our rival school's prom. I called Tyler and his best friend, Chad, over and over, hoping they'd be our dates. They never answered. We went about the rest of our night without a second thought.

Sunday, March 3rd: I found out at church. Someone said he'd had a seizure the night before and was now if a coma; he wasn't expected to wake up. Once again, surreal. Tyler wasn't going to die, there was no way. I left church early with two of my friends and we rushed to the hospital where we were told we could visit him. 
His eyes were closed, but he was breathing. His fingers would sometimes move. I had full hope that he would wake up; miracles happen every day.
People were saying 'rest in peace' in their posts on social media, but he was still breathing. They took him off of life support, still breathing. Snoring, even, while in a coma. What a Tyler thing to do ;)

Monday, March 4th: a little after three in the morning, Tyler stopped breathing.

For some reason, I still thought it was necessary to go to school that day. I looked a little rough, to say the least, and I cried the whole day long. Half way through the day, I realized that Tyler would not act this way over his death, so why should I? And THAT IS THE MOMENT something in me changed.

I realized right then, that in Tyler's time of trial, he found healing in making other people happy. He never sought after attention or pity. He had confidence and optimism, he never came off as dramatic, and I decided I wanted to be just like him. I hate that it took him passing away for me to have this change of heart, but I can testify that he was a missionary for me even after he left this earth, and he continues to bring me closer to Christ.

After his passing, I once was at his house with his mom. She shared with me parts of his patriarchal blessing that had not 'come to pass' while he was here. She told me that she knows those things will still happen for Tyler, but in a different way than expected. She is the strongest woman I have ever met in my entire existence, and I admire how willfully she leaned on her testimony during such a hard time.

She shared with me a quote that says,
"In the midst of adversity, lies opportunity."
(Or something like that)

In the midst of Tyler's trial, he found the opportunity to spread a light that continues to glow. He touched people's hearts who continue to pass that light on in memory of him.

In the midst of the Robinson's trial of him passing, they found the opportunity to be the ones who spread that light. The band, Imagine Dragons, and Tyler's family stated the Tyler Robinson Foundation which helps make a difference for families who are affected by childhood cancer. Cancer sucks, but Tyler somehow turned it into something positive.

Since then I've tried to live in such a way that, if I were to simply not wake up in the morning, hopefully my life was not led in vain. The impact that one person can have on this world absolutely blows my mind. I cannot even thank Ty enough for the impact he had on me, and the impact that he still has on my heart every single day.

Tyler was, and still is, like sunshine - everyone would agree. He found ways to laugh when expected to cry, and he could make anyone smile when they thought they had no reason to. I'll always always love that kid, because his big heart touched mine.

I hope to never take anyone for granted another day in my life.

Love you all lots,
xo Zo ❤


Sunday, February 15, 2015


“We must remember that those mortals we meet in parking lots, offices, elevators, and elsewhere are that portion of mankind God has given us to love and to serve. It will do us little good to speak of the general brotherhood of mankind if we cannot regard those who are all around us as our brothers and sisters.” Spencer W. Kimball ❤

I'm just going to jump straight to my point: I am absolutely sick of hearing people talk badly about others. What gives ANY OF US THE RIGHT to judge anyone? No matter the circumstance.

So what, someone comes off annoying or creepy or awkward or whatever else it may be - maybe they legitimately have something off in their mind. Maybe they were abused as a child, or had a mother who treated her body badly while pregnant with them. Chances are, they can't control the way they act, they're just like that.
So what if your neighbor sells drugs out of their garage, of course I don't agree that they should, but who are we to be their judge? Maybe they were raised poorly and weren't taught any better, maybe their daughter is in her death bed and needs several thousand dollars for surgery, and they're desperate.

I promise you, if you knew someone's full story, you'd love them, no matter their flaws.

I have had multiple times in my life where rumors were spread about me and I'm sure the majority of you have been through this same thing. I remember the absolute pain it caused my heart, the fear I felt of going to school because I knew people were believing the disgusting lies that were told about me. I bet that no one who has been through this would ever wish it on anyone, yet I catch people on a daily basis talking crap on people who I have come to love.

And I cannot stand it.

On that note, I once watched a documentary on bullying. The number of people that attempt to, or even successfully, commit suicide because of being treated poorly by their peers blows my mind. I think we overlook the commandment, 'Thou shalt not kill' because words do, in fact, kill. If you hurt someone so badly with the way you treat them, and they kill themselves because of it, is that death not kind of sort of on your hands??

Back to the first thought, of judging people: it is a fact that everyone has some kind of special need or disability, we're just all at a different level of severity. HOW DARE YOU judge someone because they were blessed to be a little more odd than you. You have your own dang issues, too.

I am positive that God hears you when you talk badly about his other children, and I can imagine his disappointment.

JRJFBDISJDBFKFK. CRBRJD  I'm getting angry just writing about this. So please, learn to love, and know that I love you all, still.

xo Zo

"This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you." John 15:12 ❤

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Dear Future Husband-

WARNING: The content in this post may or may not be cheesey and potentially girly, so if you're not about that life then maybe you should click away ;) Or don't. That's cool too.

"You are hoping to catch that perfect man. I have yet to see one who is perfect. Aim high, but do not aim so high that you totally miss the target. What really matters is that he will love you, that he will respect you, that he will honor you, that he will be absolutely true to you, that he will give you freedom of expression and let you fly in the development of your own talents. He is not going to be perfect, but if he is kind and thoughtful, if he knows how to work and earn a living, if he is honest and full of faith, the chances are that you will not go wrong, that you will be immensely happy." Gordon B. Hinckley ❤

So I go to cosmetology school in Orem, Utah, and considering that it's a building full of young girls living near BYU, the topic of marriage comes up a lot a lot a lot. Like really, a lot. One day, the only male student in the whole facility turned to us and said,
"50% of marriages these days end in divorce. Of that last 50%, how many of those couples do you think are actually happy? Marriage is a gambling game and I don't think it is worth it to end up miserable, fighting all the time." (Or something along those lines.)

My thoughts? Well, of course: Happiness is a choice.

I have witnessed a fair amount of broken marriages, I have been given every reason to think that love is a hoax. But that has honestly never even crossed my mind. Like I said several posts ago, I'm known to have a 'silly heart'. I've always had full faith that God has someone in mind for me. This being said, though, I believe you need to be living in a way that the Holy Ghost can guide you to him (or her). If you are acting in a way that pushes the spirit away, even in the simplest of situations, how do you expect Him to guide you day-to-day?

My patriarchal blessing is very specific about the man that I will one day marry, to the point where sometimes I can go on a few dates with a guy and know it just isn't him (if you don't know what a patriarchal blessing is, please message me!).
I literally don't want anyone other than the guy that God sees fit for me, so obviously I pray every day to be the girl that that guy deserves. I pray that he'll keep God's will at the tippy top of his priorities, and that we'll be able to make it to each other. I have no doubt that our marriage will last our entire lives and then for eternity afterwards, because I am the type that chooses happiness. Giving up on someone cannot be an option if you sincerely want to last forever. All of this being said, here is my inevitable letter to the boy in my patriarchal blessing:

Hey Boo ;)
I've loved you for as long as I can remember, and I miss you every single day. I already know how lucky I am to have a guy like whatever you're like, because God knows exactly what it is I need. I promise that when we are married, I will fight for you. Trials will come, I've been told.
But losing you is already one of my biggest fears.
I promise to tell you I love you, every single day, and I promise I'll try my hardest never to take you for granted.
I promise to never fall in love with another man, aside from our son(s). I promise to raise all of our children strongly in the church, and to put them before anything else, right after you.
I promise to throw rad Superbowl parties with all of your buds (unless somehow you don't like football.. I don't know what I'll do then. Shoot.), and to bake cookies and random things spontaneously. I also promise to make you sandwiches, because I don't mind being stereotypical. 
I promise to (most likely through clenched teeth) allow you to call me out when I'm being dramatic or 'psycho' or whatever. I'll try to fix my flaws, and I also promise to be forgiving of yours.
Lastly (for right now) I promise to do whatever it is I need to do to make you happy for the rest of your life, because if you're happy, I'm happy. 
Until then, I'll keep my sights set on you ❤
Lots and lots of love,


Saturday, January 24, 2015

A Denied Mission Call: my dark side.

**disclaimer: this is a story that I am always hesitant to share, even with the people I am closest with. I am embarrassed by how I once acted, and would like to assure you that I am no longer the same as I once was. This story will seem dramatic; I promise I am not looking for attention. I am 100% better now.
"And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them." Ether 12:27 ❤
I was 9 when my sister turned 12 and moved up from Primary to the Young Women's program in my church. I remember one Sunday, she came home with a badge that said Future Missionary across it. I listened in excitement as she told me why she wanted to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, she went on and on, and I was captivated. That was the exact moment that I decided I would serve a mission, as well.
Finally, at the age of 18 and after much preparation, I started my papers, turned them in as soon as they'd let me, and I waited. And waited.
They told me that three weeks was the average amount of time it should take to get your mission call in the mail. Well, three weeks passed by, then four, and they kept on building up. Almost two months after I had submitted my papers, my stake president asked me to meet with him. Walking into his office, my heart felt tight. My bishop was there, as well, and the three of us knelt in prayer to open our meeting. I could sense what was coming. We proceeded to sit down, and my stake president looked straight into my eyes, a look of empathy across his face.
"Sister VanWinkle, I have been informed that your mission call was denied."
I had no words. I nodded, stood, shook their hands, and returned to my car. I all of a sudden felt lost; I thought I knew exactly what God had wanted me to do. Why had he changed my plan? I called my best friend and, for the first time, I told  her the whole story.
My best kept secret.
I believe it started in the first grade. I critiqued myself harshly starting at a young age. I hated that I was bigger than the other kids in my grade, though I was not overweight, just taller and stronger. But to me, it wasn't how I was 'supposed to look'. Since I was six, there has been a constant demon deep in the back of my thoughts, telling me I'm inferior, that I'm 'less than'. I always thought it was just my own lack of confidence, I didn't recognize that there was a disorder in my mind feeding me lies about myself. I mistook it's voice for my own. For a while, it just chiseled away at my feelings of self-worth, but as I got older it began to tell me how to fix my problems.
Eighth grade. For the first time, I attempted to make myself throw up. I remember sitting on the bathroom tile, crying as the shower ran and music blared, in hopes that no one would hear me. Over the next year and a half, I did this same thing only enough times to count on one hand, but the spark had ignited.
High school. I started rugby. I began to be immensely proud of my strength and the eating disorder was less present than ever before. But then, senior year. There were several events that broke me down, the rugby season was coming to a close, and I just didn't care anymore. I let the eating disorder take over.
Let me pause and explain to you,
  An eating disorder is not a choice. Like having depression or being bipolar or any other kind of mental disorder, it is something that is off inside of your brain. In MY OWN RIGHT MIND I knew I wasn't overweight. An eating disorder is like a little person that sits at the back of your mind and tells you lies about yourself all day long, until you end up believing it. You can choose to ignore it, like I did for quite some time, but that can only go on for so long. Once you give in even in the slightest, it gets more aggressive.
  An eating disorder is also not classified by actions made. A person can have an eating disorder and never lose weight.  The disorder is the part of your mind breaking down your confidence; these are the thoughts that potentially lead to the actions of not eating or throwing up.
The picture at the end of this post is me at the heaviest I have ever been: 175. But looking back, I see that that number doesn't matter. I was mostly muscle, but I hated my size.
Post high school. The worst it got. I had an obsession with the boney look; cheek bones, hip bones, collar bones. I used to admire the athletic build, but as soon as this mind set switched my actions followed suit. I started counting calories: no more than 1000 a day. Whatever I did eat was a fruit or a vegetable, and I was taking handfuls of laxatives a day. I'd work out for two hours in the morning and then another few at night, I'd tell my friends I had plans and couldn't hang out then I'd sneak to the gym, again. I would weigh myself every hour of every day, starting first thing in the morning. I lost 10+ pounds a week, and I was thrilled. These actions, they were the final thing the eating disorder needed to break me, and just like that, my mind was no longer it's own.
All I thought about was how to avoid eating, what I could do to burn more calories. With every step I took further into this disorder, I also lost the feeling of self-worth. I was smaller than I'd ever been, yet I hated myself more than I ever had.
Once you start acting the way the eating disorder tells you to, you also start to believe the lies it tells you about yourself. I hated seeing my reflection; I would literally look in a mirror and cry. I could no longer look people in the eyes. I couldn't even feel the spirit like I used to be able to; I could tell Heavenly Father was disappointed in my actions. But I honestly didn't think it was that big of a problem. I thought that as long as I wasn't hospitalized, there was nothing to worry about.
Well, God disagreed. He prompted whoever it was that reviewed my mission papers to not accept them, and looking back now, I see it was for the best. At the time, it felt like a slap in the face, like Heavenly Father saying he didn't trust me.
So, like in any trial, I knelt in prayer.
I layed it all out on the table for him, admitting everything I thought about myself and the way I had treated myself. I prayed that I would grow to WANT to change, because at that time I was still attatched to the eating disorder. For months, I used Him as a therapist-like figure, telling him my every thought and problem. Every single day, I prayed for confidence. I prayed to be able to love myself the way He loves me.
Then, on September 10th, 2014, it clicked.
I was in my apartment, on Pinterest just like any other casual night, when a friend sent me a pin. She had no idea I had any kind of issue with myself, so I like to assume that she was prompted to do so. It said,
"Love yourself first, so you know what you deserve."
That got me. My best friend's mom says I have  'silly heart', because my whole life long I have been soo excited to know whoever it is that God will have me marry. I've loved him since I was one. I didn't want to be better for myself, but for him? Anything. I realized that whoever it is that I fall in love with deserves better than who I was at that time. My future daughters, they deserve better than a mother who could potentially teach them to critique themselves as harshly as I have. I would hate myself if they learned, from me, to dislike themselves.
So, I learned to love myself. I continued to pray for help, and I truly treated my body like a temple, and I monitored my negative thoughts. Everything negative in my life, I cut it out altogether.
I know that God loves me. Even at my worst, he loved me still. He refused to let go of me, and stuck by my side even when it seemed as if I was pushing him away.
"I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me, confused at the grace that so fully he proffers me. I tremble to know that for me he was crucified, that for me, a sinner, he suffered, he bled and died. I marvel that he would descend from his throne divine to rescue a soul so rebellious and proud as mine. That he should extend his great love unto such as I, sufficient to own, to redeem, and to justify. I think of his hands, pierced and bleeding to pay the debt! Such mercy, such love, and devotion.. Can I forget? No. I will praise and adore at the mercy seat, until at the glorified throne I kneel at his feet. Oh it is wonderful that he should care for me enough to DIE for me. Oh, it is wonderful, wonderful to me."
Now, led by my Heavenly Father, I have found complete happiness. And I am forever thankful.
xo Zo ❤