Exclusive Content:

Jill Duggar Dillard Suffers Pregnancy Loss, Announces Stillbirth of First Daughter

Jill Duggar Dillard and her husband Derrick Dillard are grieving this week after suffering a heartbreaking pregnancy loss. The couple announced Saturday the stillbirth of their daughter, Isla Marie Dillard.

Stranger Takes Photo of Family at Disney—Then He Promises He’s Not “Creepy” & Makes 1 Heartbreaking Request

"Several minutes later the same man who had just taken our picture walked up to us, in tears, and asked if we had a moment. He promised he wasn't creepy and introduced himself as Scott and his wife as Sally."

Beyond ‘Sorry for Your Loss’: 14 Meaningful Ways to Express Condolences

Explore heartfelt and unique ways to say 'sorry for your loss' with our guide. Learn how to offer condolences that truly resonate, including personalized expressions of sympathy and thoughtful gestures to support those grieving.

You’ve (Still) Got a Friend in Me: The Charming Gravity of ‘Toy Story 4’

We need friends like we need air, food, and shelter. We may survive a few more years without friendship, but we will not truly live — now or forever — without finding a good friend.

That basic emotional (and spiritual) need runs, like a Randy Newman soundtrack, under every frame of animation in the Toy Story series. Now Woody, Buzz, and the rest of the toy chest have returned (with some new friends), almost a quarter century from the day we met them in the first Pixar film back in 1995. The fourth installment in the beloved series (which some of us feared because we didn’t want them to ruin what we loved about the first three) is actually really good.

What makes Toy Story 4 successful (no spoilers here!) is what has made them all successful. Pixar makes films that wrestle with the complexities of life that humans wrestle with, making us think, laugh, and inevitably cry. Toy Story 4 is no different, wading through sorrows only adults have known, while capturing the heart and imagination of children. I was a wide-eyed 9-year-old the first time I heard Buzz say, “To infinity and beyond!” This weekend, I took my own family. I now see (and feel) the layers of storytelling, and yet I realize I also somehow see less than my 3-year-old.

All of the important characters — a pull-string cowboy, a talking space ranger with built-in laser, a Little Bo-Peep doll, and a dozen others — are made of manufactured plastic, and yet they often feel more human than the flesh and blood we interact with each day. They wrestle honestly with their purpose and identity. They risk, and fail, and risk again. They experience anxiety and pain through life changes. They sacrifice. They make new friends, and they say goodbye.

Friendships make the movies — and friendships make (or break) our lives — because God made us to love and be loved.

Life Is About Friendship

Woody has marshaled this toy story all along, from that first staff meeting during the dreaded birthday party (the day he met Buzz Lightyear), through harrowing adventures at Pizza Planet, Al’s Toy Barn, and Sunnyside Daycare, to the day they said goodbye to Andy and met their new owner, Bonnie. Woody leads as a friend, the very best of friends — first to Andy, then to Bonnie, and to the many toys in between (including a skittish, insecure, and needy spork, who’s introduced in the new film).

Woody never abandons a friend in need, and he never leaves a friend behind. The pull-string sheriff stands out, again and again, for his selflessness, often putting himself on the line for others. Others may be smarter, bigger, and stronger than he is, but there’s no friend like our cowboy. We love Woody because we all need Woody. We all feel how closely friendship sits to the heart of humanity. And friendship sits close to the heart of humanity because of God.

It was God who said, at the very beginning, that it was not good for man to be alone (Genesis 2:18). Then, at the fullness of time, God sent his own Son into the world, not only to be a friend (John 15:13), but to make and have friends (Mark 3:13–14). Jesus befriended the lowly and despised in society (Matthew 11:19). He shared the deepest intimacy with twelve disciples, and especially Peter, James, and John (Mark 5:37Matthew 17:1Matthew 26:37). Those three saw him lifted high on the Mount of Transfiguration, and they watched him kneel down to plead with the Father the night he was betrayed. And then, most remarkably, Christ himself turns not only to his twelve, but to us all, and says, “You are my friends if you do what I command you. . . . I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you” (John 15:14–15). Even before God, in the flesh, made friends, he knew a profound and mysterious kind of friendship within the eternal Godhead — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit forever loving and being loved by one another.

The Christian gospel is that God himself is our friend in Christ — and he calls us to be faithful friends. Jesus says, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34–35). Friendship, ordinary as it may sound, is not peripheral or supplementary to reality but rests near the core of who we are and why we exist.

In his best moments, Woody has been a whisper of the friend we have in heaven and a faint replica of the love with which we’re called to love our friends on earth.

Life Is (Not) About Friendship

Yet, for all our admiration of how Woody loves his friends, he’s a complicated cowboy. He oscillates in the films, sometimes wildly, sometimes indiscernibly, between risking himself for others and doing whatever necessary to be the most loved. He often strives to find himself — his identity, his purpose, his worth — in the adoring eyes of a child. Isn’t that, after all, what a toy was made for?

Jill Duggar Dillard Suffers Pregnancy Loss, Announces Stillbirth of First Daughter

Jill Duggar Dillard and her husband Derrick Dillard are grieving this week after suffering a heartbreaking pregnancy loss. The couple announced Saturday the stillbirth of their daughter, Isla Marie Dillard.

Stranger Takes Photo of Family at Disney—Then He Promises He’s Not “Creepy” & Makes 1 Heartbreaking Request

"Several minutes later the same man who had just taken our picture walked up to us, in tears, and asked if we had a moment. He promised he wasn't creepy and introduced himself as Scott and his wife as Sally."

Beyond ‘Sorry for Your Loss’: 14 Meaningful Ways to Express Condolences

Explore heartfelt and unique ways to say 'sorry for your loss' with our guide. Learn how to offer condolences that truly resonate, including personalized expressions of sympathy and thoughtful gestures to support those grieving.