My children have moved more times in their young lives than most adults ever will. Several years ago, before we moved to Africa, I asked a therapist what I could to do help the transitions go smoothly. "Keep talking," she said. "Be real about how everyone's feeling."

I've tried hard to make our home, wherever it is, safe for all the feelings. We want to avoid the ministry kid syndrome I know too well—that for the sake of others, for the sake of "making God look good," you plaster on a grin and pretend you're nothing but thrilled at whatever lies ahead.

Disney's newest Pixar film, Inside Out, is a story of such transitions. 11-year-old Riley moves from Minnesota to San Francisco just on the cusp of puberty. The animated movie explores the feelings that accompany big changes, venturing into the most complex system we know: the human brain, which in scientific terms gives rise to what we experience as the mind.

Through the stunning visuals we’ve come to expect from Pixar, viewers follow Riley from birth as her emotional range expands, and as the personifications of different aspects of her personality evolve. The plot tension inside Riley's mind mirrors the tension outside as Joy and Sadness (voiced by Amy Poehler and Phyllis Smith) each vie for supremacy.

Joy—a Pollyanna-esque control freak who verges on being just a little too happy—wants all of Riley's most important memories to be happy ones. But Sadness creeps around and accidentally touches and tinges Riley's happy memories.

When Riley stands to introduce herself on the first day at her new school, telling her San Francisco classmates about life in Minnesota, she begins to cry: ...

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