The Most Beautiful Thing I’ve Seen
Lisa Gungor thought she knew her own story: small-town girl meets boy in college and they blissfully walk down the aisle into happily ever after. Their Christian faith was their lens and foundation for everything—their marriage, their music, their dreams for the future. But as their dreams began to come true, she began to wonder if her religion was really representative of the ‘good news’ she had been taught.She never expected the questions to lead as far as they did when her husband told her he no longer believed in God. The death of a friend, the unraveling of relationships and career, the loss of a worldview, and the birth of a baby girl with two heart defects all led Lisa to a tumultuous place; one of depression and despair. And it was there that her perspective on everything changed. The Most Beautiful Thing I’ve Seen tells the story of what can happen when you dare to let go of what you think to be true; to shift the kaleidoscope and see new colors and dimension by way of broken pieces.Lisa’s eloquent, soul-stirring memoir brings you to a music stage before thousands of fans and a front porch where two people whisper words that scare them to the core. It is the story of how doubt can spark the beginning of deeper faith; how a baby born with a broken heart can bring love and healing to the hearts of many, and ultimately, how the hardest experience in life often ends up saving us.

The Most Beautiful Thing I’ve Seen Details

TitleThe Most Beautiful Thing I’ve Seen
Author
ReleaseJun 26th, 2018
PublisherZondervan
ISBN-139780310350439
Rating
GenreAutobiography, Memoir, Nonfiction, Religion, Spirituality, Christian

The Most Beautiful Thing I’ve Seen Review

  • Mike
    January 1, 1970
    Have a box of tissues ready—I cried on almost every page. The Most Beautiful Thing I’ve Seen will pry open the most cynical heart. Lisa Gungor is honest in a way most of us are too afraid to be, and the result is a book that balms the wounds people carry if they’ve ever found themselves in the outside: outside of a church, outside of a friend group, outside of a family. It’s marvelous.
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  • Taylor Cole
    January 1, 1970
    Fluffy writing. Confusing chronology. Not well-crafted.
  • Rebecca
    January 1, 1970
    (3.5) You’re most likely to pick this up if you know the band Gungor and enjoy their music, but I don’t think you have to be a fan to enjoy it. It is by no means a band tell-all full of road trips and touring shenanigans. In fact, the band hardly comes into it, and there are only a couple of moments in which Lisa pulls the curtain back on her songwriting process (I might have liked a few more). The big theme of this memoir is moving beyond the strictures of religion to find an all-encompassing s (3.5) You’re most likely to pick this up if you know the band Gungor and enjoy their music, but I don’t think you have to be a fan to enjoy it. It is by no means a band tell-all full of road trips and touring shenanigans. In fact, the band hardly comes into it, and there are only a couple of moments in which Lisa pulls the curtain back on her songwriting process (I might have liked a few more). The big theme of this memoir is moving beyond the strictures of religion to find an all-encompassing spirituality and grasp how inclusive the love of God is.Like many Gungor listeners, Lisa grew up in, and soon outgrew, a fundamentalist Christian setting. “I thought we went to church because that’s what Americans did. … Though I loved my tribe, I had small questions about its ideology. But you couldn’t really question authority figures.” She bases the book around a key set of metaphors: the dot, the line, and the circle. The dot was the confining theology she was raised on; the line was the pilgrimage she and Michael Gungor embarked on into a broader concept of Christianity after they married at the absurdly young age of 19. Lisa shakes her head at the memory of them as “two kids with grand egos out to change the world.” They “left something rigid and structured in search of something intimate.” You can sense that shift in some of their more questioning songs.But eventually the line faltered. They struggled with infertility and world events, and the way both politics and religion fail to address the reality of human suffering. At one point Michael told her he wasn’t sure he believed in God anymore – while they were leading a church in Colorado! When their second daughter, Lucie, was born with Down syndrome and required emergency heart surgery, it sparked further soul searching and a return to God, but this time within a much more open spirituality that encircles and values everyone – her gay neighbors, her disabled daughter; the ones society overlooks. “My perspective had to shift to see that actually all of the bushes are burning, the entire world is ablaze.” Her mantra from a silent retreat in California was “Divine Mother, give me eyes to see.” Being mothered, becoming a mother and accepting God as Mother: together these experiences bring the book full circle. It opens with a letter to her mother, regretting that they don’t see eye to eye on religion anymore and that her mother probably thinks she’s hell-bound for leaving her childhood church. The epilogue returns to that letter format, making what’s gone before a forthright confession. Barring the too-frequent nerdy-cool posturing (seven mentions of “dance parties,” and so on), this is a likable memoir for readers of spiritual writing by the likes of Sue Monk Kidd, Mary Oliver (whose poetry inspired their recent three-album sequence, One Wild Life) and Terry Tempest Williams.Out on June 26th.See also: Michael Gungor’s book.
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  • Jonathan
    January 1, 1970
    This is probably one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read. I will admit at the start I was a bit taken back by the artistic and even seemingly “out there” style of writing/storytelling, but once I got into it and saw how the book was constructed, I realized that it is actually an artistic masterpiece. I’m a pretty straightforward, direct kind of person, so for me to say that, it takes a lot.I’ve been fascinated with the Gungors and their journey, particularly in regard to the unraveling of This is probably one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read. I will admit at the start I was a bit taken back by the artistic and even seemingly “out there” style of writing/storytelling, but once I got into it and saw how the book was constructed, I realized that it is actually an artistic masterpiece. I’m a pretty straightforward, direct kind of person, so for me to say that, it takes a lot.I’ve been fascinated with the Gungors and their journey, particularly in regard to the unraveling of their Christian faith, so to hear the story firsthand in more detail was incredible. Lisa has such a poetic way of telling the story of her life. It’s not too much, and it’s not too little. It’s just right.I will definitely be recommending this book to whoever wants to read it, and I’ll end with my favorite quote from the book. “To love is the most profound thing I know. Love is the narrow road, not the wide one. I mean, have you ever tried to truly love unattached? It isn’t what the masses are going for. It will leave you dropping all of your belongings and baggage as you go because there just isn’t room for all of that.”I was given an pre-release copy of this book and have agreed to write a review. This in no way influenced my opinion of the book or my review.
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  • Crae Achacoso
    January 1, 1970
    I've been having a hard time focusing on any reading material I have; I am currently in the middle of reading more than five books. None has captured me and made me commit to reading fully and eagerly until this one.This book walks alongside my cynicism and holds its hand.Do you know the disillusioning comfort of when your skin ends up touching the skin of someone you connect with? That's exactly what this book feels like.
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  • Faith
    January 1, 1970
    I first learned of Lisa and Michael Gungor through a hit song of theirs (it was Beautiful Things sung during a Lenten service). The song gripped me, so I bought it and became a passholder to their One Wild Life project; I don't want to brag, but while I downloaded the first installment, I only realized now that I never followed up on the other downloads, only because they were bogged down in the mess that can be my inbox of unread messages. Lucky for me that I subscribe to music services that wi I first learned of Lisa and Michael Gungor through a hit song of theirs (it was Beautiful Things sung during a Lenten service). The song gripped me, so I bought it and became a passholder to their One Wild Life project; I don't want to brag, but while I downloaded the first installment, I only realized now that I never followed up on the other downloads, only because they were bogged down in the mess that can be my inbox of unread messages. Lucky for me that I subscribe to music services that will let me still listen to the entirety of the album since the links have since expired.I was a peripheral fan of Gungor, following news of upcoming projects (albeit my success of that was hit or miss, as seen above). I remember coming across Lisa's blog post about her daughter Lucie's birth, as well as noticing the uproar created when some statements by Michael went viral and were viewed outside of their full context.When I learned Lisa Gungor had written a book, I was excited to get my hands on it. It begins with the birth of their second daughter Lucie and her diagnosis with Down Syndrome. Then there are flashbacks to Lisa's childhood, her college years, tensions with her home church and family, her deepening relationship with Michael.The words can feel poetic, which I trace back to Lisa's songwriting roots. I'm not ashamed to admit I highlighted an indecent amount of this book. It is poignant, honest, and vulnerable, and we witness Lisa transparently share what happened when what she relied on fell away (their church, home, healthy family, career, faith).I, personally, found myself close to tears because Lisa so genuinely captures grief and uncertainty that I was immediately transported to how raw the feelings were after we welcomed our first daughter Katherine quite prematurely, then had to say goodbye six short days later. Then there are the emotions surrounding my complicated relationship with my mother. Lisa's words were a balm and a reminder of lessons I have learned.Many will be able to resonate and connect with wrestling over acceptance, belief, and individual significance and meaning in the world. I was provided a digital advanced readers copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Mayzie Mayfield
    January 1, 1970
    This is a book I can't put down. Lisa has written this book like she writes songs- lyrically, intimately, drawing you into each page. This book has pulled me in and not let me go, and I'm recommending it to everyone. Written almost as a letter to a mother, I deeply connect with the ebb and flow as Lisa describes her relationship with her own mom. As a person of faith, my Spirit, mind, and heart have been refreshed and reminded that the questioning is okay, that, to paraphrase Lisa, "if something This is a book I can't put down. Lisa has written this book like she writes songs- lyrically, intimately, drawing you into each page. This book has pulled me in and not let me go, and I'm recommending it to everyone. Written almost as a letter to a mother, I deeply connect with the ebb and flow as Lisa describes her relationship with her own mom. As a person of faith, my Spirit, mind, and heart have been refreshed and reminded that the questioning is okay, that, to paraphrase Lisa, "if something is out there and it is good, it will catch me." This book will minister to all facets of who you are and, indeed, open you up to wonder at the world, the mysterious universe, other humans, and even yourself.
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  • Holly Smith
    January 1, 1970
    Not my cup of tea... Felt completely ungrounded, and scattered and reaching, but not finding. I didn't find the beauty others saw.
  • angelareadsbooks
    January 1, 1970
    "Suffering is what happens when we want what is in front of us to be different from what it is." This is the story and faith journey of Lisa and Michael Gungor, popular Christian recording artists. And their struggles with the birth of their daughter Lucie, born with Down Syndrome. They married at a young age and set out into life, expecting one story and find themselves in another, In many ways we can all relate to this story. I know when I set out on my own journey I expected a different story "Suffering is what happens when we want what is in front of us to be different from what it is." This is the story and faith journey of Lisa and Michael Gungor, popular Christian recording artists. And their struggles with the birth of their daughter Lucie, born with Down Syndrome. They married at a young age and set out into life, expecting one story and find themselves in another, In many ways we can all relate to this story. I know when I set out on my own journey I expected a different story, and not the twists and turns I have experienced. I have had moments of strong faith, and other moments where I wondered why I believed. And even why I work in a church. In one part she writes "The things I thought would crush me became the very things that made see the world as more magical and vibrant than I ever have."I enjoyed reading Lisa Gungor's stories and reflections. I have heard bits and pieces of it, reading an article here and a Facebook post there. I have long admired their music and their honesty. The only reason I am giving it 3 stars personally is because there were points I had a hard time relating to her story as a mother, being that I am a single woman I found it harder at points for me to unearth those truths. Otherwise a beautiful book, with beautiful reflections on faith and doubt.I was provided a copy of this book by Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for my honest review.
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  • David Libby
    January 1, 1970
    I've been on a ride for the past few days. I have eagerly awaited the release of Lisa Gungor's new book for a few months now. Her blog post a few years ago about the birth of her daughter Lucie absolutely slayed me. It was thoughtful, reflective, and did not hide from the extreme emotions that she was feeling. As someone who spends his living walking people through the difficult parts of their lives, I wanted to know what Lisa had learned, and what she'd experienced since that blog post.What I g I've been on a ride for the past few days. I have eagerly awaited the release of Lisa Gungor's new book for a few months now. Her blog post a few years ago about the birth of her daughter Lucie absolutely slayed me. It was thoughtful, reflective, and did not hide from the extreme emotions that she was feeling. As someone who spends his living walking people through the difficult parts of their lives, I wanted to know what Lisa had learned, and what she'd experienced since that blog post.What I got, instead, was a greater reflection on everything that has shifted her thinking and understanding of the world since childhood. And it's powerful.Lisa has written a book that speaks to me in the same way that When Bad Things Happen to Good People and Stumbling Toward Faith did. It forces the author and the reader to ask the difficult faith questions. "Where is God when things fall apart?" "How can a good God allow evil and pain and suffering in the world?" "Is God even real? Can God be real if such horrors exist in the world?" These are important questions of faith, but are questions that are often stifled by Christians.Lisa doesn't shy away from these questions. And many of her answers come through great suffering. From Christians turning on their band, to being asked to leave their community of faith, to the death of a loved one, to finding out that her child has Down's Syndrome, Lisa and Michael have suffered greatly. However, through it all, Lisa has found beauty and joy in the present.I loved this book. I needed this book right now.
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  • Allison Waters
    January 1, 1970
    Lisa keeps with the deep transparency and honesty that has made the work of "Gungor" so powerful for all these years. Digging into some of the hardest and best parts of her life to bring it all to light so she can learn and grow and help us to learn and grow right along with her. This book reminded me how important it is to be me. How to radically accept my whole self just as I am am and to do that for others. It reminded me that strong relationships are based on on bringing that whole self to s Lisa keeps with the deep transparency and honesty that has made the work of "Gungor" so powerful for all these years. Digging into some of the hardest and best parts of her life to bring it all to light so she can learn and grow and help us to learn and grow right along with her. This book reminded me how important it is to be me. How to radically accept my whole self just as I am am and to do that for others. It reminded me that strong relationships are based on on bringing that whole self to someone else. Her story mirrors my own in many ways, marrying your sweetheart young (who I met in our high school band room), starting an alternative church, loosing a community, working to have a child and then that child changing my life, and eventually, loosing the faith of my youth. This book will make you cry, and if you are sensitive to infertility or NICU stories, just know that is a big part of the book.
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  • Crystal ✬ Lost in Storyland
    January 1, 1970
    Lisa Gungor thought she knew her own story: small-town girl meets boy in college and they live happily ever after. Then her husband told her he no longer believed in God, a friend died, relationships and career unraveled. She lost a worldview and gave birth to a girl with two heart defects . . . leading Lisa to depression and despair. There, her perspective on everything changed. The Most Beautiful Thing I’ve Seen is Lisa’s memoir on how doubt can spark deeper faith and how the hardest experienc Lisa Gungor thought she knew her own story: small-town girl meets boy in college and they live happily ever after. Then her husband told her he no longer believed in God, a friend died, relationships and career unraveled. She lost a worldview and gave birth to a girl with two heart defects . . . leading Lisa to depression and despair. There, her perspective on everything changed. The Most Beautiful Thing I’ve Seen is Lisa’s memoir on how doubt can spark deeper faith and how the hardest experience in life often ends up saving us.My ThoughtsI was drawn to Lisa Gungor’s memoir for its story about doubt and despair—and overcoming it.This topic can be challenging to many people, especially those who haven’t gone through a similar experience. I remember doubting my faith as a young teenager and getting into many fights with my mom because she couldn’t understand what I was going through. I found this book enlightening in Lisa’s descriptions of her experiences with a restrictive church. While I had problems with people at my childhood churches, they were never to the extreme that Lisa experienced. This challenged me to consider how I would respond to questions and doubts raised by individuals who have been hurt by the church and people claiming to be Christians.The format of the memoir was difficult for me to follow. While I like how the overall structure is united through the concept of the dot, the narrative itself didn’t have a clear direction. The memoir is told in stream of consciousness as Lisa jumps from one memory to the next; there is no clear rationale for the sudden shifts in direction. As a result, though the synopsis says that this is a book about moving from doubt to faith, it felt more as if Lisa was telling her life story, albeit out of chronological order, than telling a story about saving faith.I do not agree with everything that Lisa says or affirms in her memoir. Nor am I entirely sure, based on what she says, where exactly she stands on some biblical issues that come up in the experiences that she shares. I believe this is better read as one singer-songwriter’s memoir than a book conveying biblical truth. The focus of Lisa’s memoir is more about her personal experiences: from the bad experiences she had growing up to finding healing in music and in the love others gave her later in life. This is important in its message that it is okay to have doubts, that a return to faith is possible and okay, and that we are loved.The Most Beautiful Thing I’ve Seen is about growing up, letting go, and reconnecting with loved ones. It is about doubting one’s self and one’s faith, shattering these doubts, and coming back stronger than ever. It is about love, hurt, and healing.Even if you do not agree with everything that Lisa says, I believe that this is worth a read to see how some churches have damaged the faith of the young in their words and actions, to see how love is carried out in the community, and to consider how we can personally show love to others.Initial thoughts - posted 7.23The stream of consciousness narration made this difficult to follow. I don't agree with everything that the author says or affirms, but I found this a valuable read in the author's sharing of her experiences with the church growing up, her doubts with faith and the hardships she went through, and the answers she finds.
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  • Ash Parsons
    January 1, 1970
    I hesitated to write a review for awhile because I respect and admire Lisa Gungor deeply. I also think, as a reader and writer, there is a difference between living a good story and writing one, so I write this for my fellow writers and readers who felt like they kept stubbing their toes on the words like I did. I wanted to love this book so much, because I have such affection for Lisa. She's one of those kinds of people I'd love to have dinner with, and suspect she is one remarkable human being I hesitated to write a review for awhile because I respect and admire Lisa Gungor deeply. I also think, as a reader and writer, there is a difference between living a good story and writing one, so I write this for my fellow writers and readers who felt like they kept stubbing their toes on the words like I did. I wanted to love this book so much, because I have such affection for Lisa. She's one of those kinds of people I'd love to have dinner with, and suspect she is one remarkable human being. I respect Lisa and Michael immensely for the work they are doing, for the Liturgists podcast, the music they make, for their outlook on faith and doubt and special needs and ableism and how love should intersect with the world and culture. I wanted to like this book as much as I like what I know of Lisa and the things she stands for and has given her life to, but - for me - the writing was a let down. It could be my problem, that, as a mother, I came to it thinking she would speak more about the journey of motherhood, her growth with her children, as the book starts with the image of a bedroom being prepared for little girls. Even beyond unmet expectations, though, I found her writing confusing, as she switched tenses and lost chronology, as well as leaving a lot of beginning threads unfinished. It felt like there was never a real narrative arc that resolved the story. The book ended without showing any scenes resolving the tensions with her mother (what she bookends the book with), without spelling out any ongoing relationship with the church, faith, or religion. Some of the most confusing elements were statements peppered through the book about much deeper, complex elements (most notably patriarchy / feminism, and a hinted-to sexual abuse) that were never given full voice or unpacked, so it left me as the reader confused and feeling a bit frustrated, un-companioned. To simply hint at these things without giving them voice and unpacking them can trigger the reader, and so it felt a bit manipulative or like she maybe just wanted to include too much in this first book.I know writing a book - particularly finding the live wire / thread for a memoir - is incredibly difficult work, so I want to give credit to her for doing the inevitably hard work of getting the words on the page. I also applaud her for being willing to share her journey of wrestling with her faith and her relationships in the faith community, and I can see how many people are finding hope, solidarity, and their own reflection in her story. Personally, though, I just wish she would have picked that as her clear theme and not tried to include the other peripheral storylines that, in the end, muddied the waters a bit.
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  • Andrew Sabonis-Chafee
    January 1, 1970
    The Most Beautiful Thing I’ve Seen is the most beautiful thing I’ve read. Lisa Gungor pours out her heart onto the page and I felt privileged to be offered a glimpse. She uses her own beautiful story to unpack the truths she’s learned along her painful, joyful, scary, song-filled, inspiring life. She reminds us that scary things can become your favorite things, that there is often the most beauty in the most painful, how beauty and wonder are everywhere.You will laugh. You will feel utter joy. Y The Most Beautiful Thing I’ve Seen is the most beautiful thing I’ve read. Lisa Gungor pours out her heart onto the page and I felt privileged to be offered a glimpse. She uses her own beautiful story to unpack the truths she’s learned along her painful, joyful, scary, song-filled, inspiring life. She reminds us that scary things can become your favorite things, that there is often the most beauty in the most painful, how beauty and wonder are everywhere.You will laugh. You will feel utter joy. You will want to call your mom. You won’t want to ugly-cry, but you will. You will want to go stargaze. You will want to hold a child. You will want to call everyone in your contact list and tell them you love them. You won’t want to put it down.Thank you, Lisa, for sharing your journey and becoming a beautiful part of so many other’s journeys by baring your soul. This book will change lives. I think it’s changed mine already.
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  • Nora
    January 1, 1970
    As someone who grew up an atheist and then found Papa G and then was unsure and then became a pastor but then was unsure again but was suspicious of the Church the whole time because... patriarchy, this book RULED. An easy read, simple and actually profound. Lisa Gungor bares her soul and I cried like a baby for most of it. I read it in two days and I was a total weirdo and sent her a message on instagram telling her how much this book meant to me. Ugh, be cool, Nora! Super duper recommend. The As someone who grew up an atheist and then found Papa G and then was unsure and then became a pastor but then was unsure again but was suspicious of the Church the whole time because... patriarchy, this book RULED. An easy read, simple and actually profound. Lisa Gungor bares her soul and I cried like a baby for most of it. I read it in two days and I was a total weirdo and sent her a message on instagram telling her how much this book meant to me. Ugh, be cool, Nora! Super duper recommend. The only thing I would say to the mamas and the wonderfully sensitive out there, her baby is totally beautiful and healthy now but struggled in the beginning so it was hard to read about baby heart surgery.
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  • Jocelyn Taylor
    January 1, 1970
    To say this book was beautiful is an understatement. I am undone. I have been a fan of Lisa Gungor and her husband, Michael, for quite some time. I have followed their story through their music and through Michael's podcast, The Liturgists. Hearing the story through Lisa's eyes, as well as her observations about life, the world, and the Divine, is nothing short of a holy experience. She tells her story in the same way she writes her song lyrics- beautifully poetic. I listened to the audio book. To say this book was beautiful is an understatement. I am undone. I have been a fan of Lisa Gungor and her husband, Michael, for quite some time. I have followed their story through their music and through Michael's podcast, The Liturgists. Hearing the story through Lisa's eyes, as well as her observations about life, the world, and the Divine, is nothing short of a holy experience. She tells her story in the same way she writes her song lyrics- beautifully poetic. I listened to the audio book. I now plan to go purchase an actual paper copy so that I can highlight and take notes in the margins.
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  • Heather Bottoms
    January 1, 1970
    This book hit so close to home for me. Lisa Gungor’s experiences with church, sorting through messy doubts about her faith, her worries and fears about parenting, facing her own ugly personal failings. So much of this resonated with my own spiritual upheaval of recent years. And while this book recounts a lot of struggle, there is so much beauty to be found in the midst of it, which in the end, is the whole point. The prose is just stunningly beautiful. Gungor has a way of giving voice to the mo This book hit so close to home for me. Lisa Gungor’s experiences with church, sorting through messy doubts about her faith, her worries and fears about parenting, facing her own ugly personal failings. So much of this resonated with my own spiritual upheaval of recent years. And while this book recounts a lot of struggle, there is so much beauty to be found in the midst of it, which in the end, is the whole point. The prose is just stunningly beautiful. Gungor has a way of giving voice to the most complex and nuanced issues and feelings. Just gulped this book down in two days.
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  • Joe
    January 1, 1970
    What would it be like to lead a Grammy-winning Christian band and slowly lose your faith? And what would happen if - in the middle of that transition - you unexpectedly gave birth to a child with Down Syndrome?The Most Beautiful Thing I've Seen is a spiritual memoir written by Lisa Gungor, who - along with her husband, Michael - lead the band Gungor. Their breakout single "Beautiful Things" is still sung in churches across the country. In an era of (let's be honest) terrible and repetitive Chris What would it be like to lead a Grammy-winning Christian band and slowly lose your faith? And what would happen if - in the middle of that transition - you unexpectedly gave birth to a child with Down Syndrome?The Most Beautiful Thing I've Seen is a spiritual memoir written by Lisa Gungor, who - along with her husband, Michael - lead the band Gungor. Their breakout single "Beautiful Things" is still sung in churches across the country. In an era of (let's be honest) terrible and repetitive Christian music where every band is trying to emulate a style that can only be described as "Coldplay-lite," Gungor was a breath of fresh air. Vulnerable lyrics, deft instrumentation and a complete disregard for genre or easy classification made Gungor was the most interesting bands on the Christian music scene.Personally, I've probably seen Gungor in concert more than any other band, and have followed along on their spiritual journey since 2010 (I'm also an avid listener and supporter of The Liturgist Podcast). If you pick this up because you love the song "Beautiful Things," this will be a very tough read for you. Lisa tracks her early spiritual development in a fundamentalist home, her relationship with Michael, and the eventual dissolution of her comfortable faith. She asks some brutally honest questions that will no doubt send you spiraling into a faith crisis if you haven't already taken the time to think outside your own tribe and be self-reflective of your own faith.To be honest, it's refreshing to read a book like this that doesn't tie up every insecurity, doubt, and calamity with "It's okay! God's got this!" Lisa is a masterful songwriter, and she writes with a detached style that may be offputting to some but is nonetheless able to conjure up beautiful imagery. While it fits the mold of other "deconversion stories" (such as Rachel Held Evans' Faith Unraveled or Jamie Wright's The Very Worst Missionary), Lisa's lyrical prose, naked vulnerability, and unique life perspective ensure that her voice pierces through the noise and the clamor of an increasingly common experience.While I would have loved to hear more about the Christian music industry and how their faith transition affected their careers (the bits Lisa drops are tantalizing), but I know that's not really the story Lisa is trying to tell here (but I would buy that book in a heartbeat).This is a story about family and sticking together in the midst of drastic change. It's about letting go of tribal identities, certainty, and finding love and truth in the most unexpected of places.(And, by the way, Gungor is still making great music - even without the "Christian" label).
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  • Matt LeFevers
    January 1, 1970
    I knew my emotions were going to be in trouble pretty much right away.This book starts with almost a nested set of framing narratives - one a letter of sorts written to Lisa Gungor's mom, an attempt to bridge the increasing gulf between their worldviews, and one a hospital story about the birth of Lisa's second daughter, which the reader is dropped into in medias res but gets more details about as the book unfolds. As both a fairly new dad and a leader in a progressive church (with all the hosti I knew my emotions were going to be in trouble pretty much right away.This book starts with almost a nested set of framing narratives - one a letter of sorts written to Lisa Gungor's mom, an attempt to bridge the increasing gulf between their worldviews, and one a hospital story about the birth of Lisa's second daughter, which the reader is dropped into in medias res but gets more details about as the book unfolds. As both a fairly new dad and a leader in a progressive church (with all the hostility and blowback that entails, from family and strangers alike), both of these themes hit me right where I live.This book is well written on both a micro and macro level. The non-sequential arrangement of the narrative and the way stories will be begun in one place but finished in another beautifully underlines the book's themes, how life is not a series of discrete events or a straight line occasionally interrupted by surprises but a messy, complicated blend that is all connected and all valid. The prose itself is also beautiful, which I shouldn't have been surprised by - Lisa is a first time author but a very accomplished songwriter and lyricist so it makes sense some of those skills would transfer. Her writing voice is conversational and unpretentious but there are sentences scattered abundantly throughout that are deeply poetic and would cause me to stop in my tracks while I read them again.It's hard to characterize what has been created here because the book includes such a range of human experience. I've been an almost fanatical fan of Gungor (the band) for years but it wouldn't matter if you weren't - besides three or four glimpses into how events from her life came to inspire songs, it doesn't really talk about the band that much. The genre category printed above the book's ISBN code says Religion, and certainly Lisa's deconstruction from her fundamentalist upbringing into a more holistic and loving faith is a major current in the narrative, but this isn't a Rob Bell or Peter Enns book that's going to systematically tackle those ideas. I think the story of her daughter(s) is the beating heart of the thing, and definitely all of the chapters that made me cry were the ones I connected with as a parent.What ties all of it together is a palpable grace and love - even in the chapters that are full of anger or despair or crushing fear. This is a really beautiful book that made me feel a lot of feelings.
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  • Marissa
    January 1, 1970
    The Most Beautiful Thing I've Seen is a memoir by Lisa Gungor of Grammy-nominated Gungor fame. The memoir details her life from a small town-upbringing, to marriage, to church-planting, to the birth of her first, then second daughter born with Down syndrome and serious heart complications and her corresponding journey of doubt, loss of, and rebirth of faith. Lisa Gungor tells her story with simple power and astonishing wisdom with her love for the Divine and compassion for the world illuminating The Most Beautiful Thing I've Seen is a memoir by Lisa Gungor of Grammy-nominated Gungor fame. The memoir details her life from a small town-upbringing, to marriage, to church-planting, to the birth of her first, then second daughter born with Down syndrome and serious heart complications and her corresponding journey of doubt, loss of, and rebirth of faith. Lisa Gungor tells her story with simple power and astonishing wisdom with her love for the Divine and compassion for the world illuminating every page. This is a book that will resonate most powerfully with people who have been a part of the Gungor's lives directly or indirectly in the past few years, but I'd recommend The Most Beautiful Thing I've Seem to just about anyone - I'll admit to my fear that this would be an easy one-dimensional story, but it was anything but. Lisa wrestles bravely and without finding simplistic solutions to the problem of pain, Church politics, and what it means to be a woman practicing an ancient faith in modern America. There were very few sections of this book that gave me a break from crying.This is a beautiful, beautiful, convicting memoir about how our doubts are invitations into deep, authentic faith and the most harrowing, painful experiences of our lives often end up saving us. I had the chance to see the Gungors on the book tour in an old church basement in Denver. For the second year in a row, I had the privilege of enjoying a wonderful night of song, laughter, and vulnerability. Reading this book, specifically as a woman in the Church, is both a cathartic and empowering look into doubt and insecurity and a reminder of what Christ really believes about us. For me, reading this book was a deep dive into my pain, unconsciously held biases and beliefs about the other, and reminder of the glorious truth of Divine redemption and love. Lisa Gungor's life is a gift and The Most Beautiful Thing I've Seen reminds us that all life inherently is. I couldn't love this book more.
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  • Cristi Jernigan
    January 1, 1970
    Lisa is such a captivating story teller. She had me hooked from the very first page. In The Most Beautiful Thing I've Seen, she tells several of the stories who have made her into the woman she is today. Stories of giving birth to a daughter who has Down's Syndrome, struggles of family relationships, shifting faith and her relationship with herself. Reading this book has inspired me to begin to take a fresh look at how I viewed my own story and my own relationship with myself. Meeting Lisa in pe Lisa is such a captivating story teller. She had me hooked from the very first page. In The Most Beautiful Thing I've Seen, she tells several of the stories who have made her into the woman she is today. Stories of giving birth to a daughter who has Down's Syndrome, struggles of family relationships, shifting faith and her relationship with herself. Reading this book has inspired me to begin to take a fresh look at how I viewed my own story and my own relationship with myself. Meeting Lisa in person only solidified my opinion. She cares deeply about those around her and strives to make this world a better place. I highly recommend this book to anyone who has struggled with their faith, with finding meaning in the hard things that happen to all of us, and with looking for the wonder and the beauty in it all.I'll close with one of my favorite quotes from the book:"But we really don't know just what will happen when we ask "Open our eyes." It may hurt more than we think if we are thoroughly grounded in a perspective. But the journey is a vital one. Our political, social, and very ecological climate hangs in the balance. What we value, how we take care of what we value, how we view each other - it affects everything. Our perspective of the world informs what we put our hands to do or destroy. "Open my eyes" isn't just a nice sounding refrain; I believe it is vital to the future of humanity. Who and what we are opening our eyes to affects who and what we are opening our future to. If we keep our eyes shut, much will be lost around us and within us. We will not only miss but kill this very beautiful life and world. I used to believe there was some line between what is sacred and common, miraculous and mundane. My perspective had to shift to see that actually all of the bushes are burning, the entire world is ablaze."
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  • Mayda O'Brien
    January 1, 1970
    This book is absolutely beautiful! Makes you think, makes you thankful, makes you want to be present. Lisa lets you in on her journey of life, from the start as a young girl to having her own children. She talks about moments in life where what she once knew was challenged in the most authentic way. The tagline of this book is "open your eyes to wonder" and it does exactly that. It takes you on a journey that feels familiar. This book is for anyone really, but if you are someone who has ever que This book is absolutely beautiful! Makes you think, makes you thankful, makes you want to be present. Lisa lets you in on her journey of life, from the start as a young girl to having her own children. She talks about moments in life where what she once knew was challenged in the most authentic way. The tagline of this book is "open your eyes to wonder" and it does exactly that. It takes you on a journey that feels familiar. This book is for anyone really, but if you are someone who has ever questioned your faith and its doctrines this book is for you. If you have walked away from your community of faith this book will encourage you and help you to see that you are not alone. It’s a safe place to process and heal and start your own journey of discovery.
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  • Amazonaute
    January 1, 1970
    I saw a video of her talking about her life and the book on buzzfeed, which led me to the book. I had never heard of her before.It was interesting to read the story of someone with a very different background and make up of identity to me. It was interesting to read the story of her on-going growing up including her spiritual on-going process, which seems to be moving into Vedanta.She comes from a devout Christian family, and married a fellow devout Christian, the son of a pastor. It was an inte I saw a video of her talking about her life and the book on buzzfeed, which led me to the book. I had never heard of her before.It was interesting to read the story of someone with a very different background and make up of identity to me. It was interesting to read the story of her on-going growing up including her spiritual on-going process, which seems to be moving into Vedanta.She comes from a devout Christian family, and married a fellow devout Christian, the son of a pastor. It was an interesting glimpse into the world of US republican evangelicals.This is a very vibrant emotional book. Recommended.
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  • Kaitlin
    January 1, 1970
    “‘She’ is not shame. ‘She’ is beautiful woman with beautiful body, capable of cosmic realities.” Lisa’s book did not disappoint. From her honest storytelling to beautifully crafted words - reading this book felt like peering into Lisa’s heart, process, and journey. I thoroughly enjoyed the read, broken into only two sessions because her journey pulled me along. Reading this book felt like sitting down with Lisa over a warm cup of coffee, hearing her doubts and her faith and her life, all covered “‘She’ is not shame. ‘She’ is beautiful woman with beautiful body, capable of cosmic realities.” Lisa’s book did not disappoint. From her honest storytelling to beautifully crafted words - reading this book felt like peering into Lisa’s heart, process, and journey. I thoroughly enjoyed the read, broken into only two sessions because her journey pulled me along. Reading this book felt like sitting down with Lisa over a warm cup of coffee, hearing her doubts and her faith and her life, all covered with authenticity.
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  • Maria
    January 1, 1970
    This book was water to my soul. I lost count of how many times I circled a paragraph or underlined a passage and scribbled "it me" in the margin. Lisa has put into words so many of the struggles related to faith and doubt and growth that I haven't been able to find language for. Her journey is beautiful and her words are life-giving. She also references Harry Potter AND Star Wars so, I mean, win-win.
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  • Steph
    January 1, 1970
    I remember when the Gungors were attacked by all kinds of religious people for their beliefs. As a long-time fan, I remember thinking "I wonder what really happened?" I continued to follow the Gungor's story and I am so thankful to have been able to read this book from Lisa herself. This is a thought-provoking, deep read that is also a fast-read. I wanted to read more and more! This is great for people who feel "on the fringes" or misunderstood in this polarized world. Thanks for writing, Lisa!
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  • Sarah
    January 1, 1970
    The Most Beautiful Thing reminded me that the most thing we need to be comfortable with is who God created to be, which is in His image and likeness. I need to be accepting of my flaws and be reminded that His love is powerful. When I am my authentic self, I can be real and be my whole and complete self through Christ. I enjoyed this book, and think it is worth a read.
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  • Abbey Barthauer
    January 1, 1970
    There are only a few books I can name that offer life changing words to receive during times in my life that I’ve needed them the most. This book was one of them. I can not recommend enough. Lisa is such a natural storyteller but I can’t explain how her autobiography transported me somewhere else. I kept hanging on the next word, the next story to tell. This book is such a gift.
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  • Mark Johnson
    January 1, 1970
    As someone who has been following the Gungors' journey for several years, I was very excited to read Lisa's book. And it did not disappoint! With that said, while I think someone who hasn't been following their journey would also appreciate this book, I am unsure that it would mean as much to them as it did to me.Though many may be uncomfortable with some of her current conclusions, Lisa effectively reminds us that regardless of where any of us are on God, faith, and organized religion, we would As someone who has been following the Gungors' journey for several years, I was very excited to read Lisa's book. And it did not disappoint! With that said, while I think someone who hasn't been following their journey would also appreciate this book, I am unsure that it would mean as much to them as it did to me.Though many may be uncomfortable with some of her current conclusions, Lisa effectively reminds us that regardless of where any of us are on God, faith, and organized religion, we would all do well to open our eyes wider to wonder and the Imago Dei in all things--in ourselves, in our enemies, and in creation.
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  • Ryan King
    January 1, 1970
    I love stories like this. Real, honest, and vulnerable. Lisa Gungor’s story reiterated the idea that you can’t argue or fight someone’s experience for someone’s experience and journey is uniquely beautiful. I want the same eyes to see others with compassion, to move from labels and to knowing people... to listening.
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