I'm so glad today to be sharing with you news of a new book I've had the privilege of reading before its launch. Megan Tietz and Lauren Oyer have written about life with babies and I know you're going to enjoy it! Megan agreed to share a little about the book here, AND we have a copy of it to give away! Just leave a comment telling us why this book would be a blessing to you. And please pass the word along!~Sally

I have a friend who is a perfect mother. I know there’s no such thing, but I’ve often suspected that God created at least this one exception. Just my age, but a few years ahead of me in parenting, she kept it all so beautifully together; an obedient toddler and contended baby, a marriage that still gave off a newlywed vibe, and a home that embraced guests with its warmth and peace. If my Bible had more pictures, her likeness would undoubtedly smile up at me from the 31st chapter of Proverbs.

She tapped me on the shoulder one day when I was pregnant with my first child, offering a book she said had helped her tremendously during her son’s infancy and then her daughter’s. Honestly, I was sold before I opened the front cover. So deep was (and is) my admiration and affection for this woman that I knew, just knew, whatever those pages held was the answer. Surely the way God led her was the right way for me too. Surely I didn’t even need to ask Him for direction. I’d just found it!

Then my daughter was born. And the path staked out in the books I’d read and trodden by the people I longed to emulate – well, it just wouldn’t work. No matter how desperately I tried to force myself and my baby girl to adapt to the mold it seemed we had to fit, I failed completely every time. My days and nights were a jumble of expectations unmet, and as I silently rebelled by ignoring the popular advice, I sat in harsh judgment of myself. Fear had overtaken me, whispering warnings that I was ruining my child, condemning my marriage, and turning my back on God Himself.

What I didn’t realize then was that I had allowed the noise all around me to muffle the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit – waiting to offer me freedom to step into the unique plan and purpose God had designed for my family. His way for us. If only I would dare to listen.

As followers of Christ, we all want to honor God with everything, especially parenting. Few of us have the luxury of raising our children surrounded by our families, and one of the best things about a faith community is that for many of us, we find a surrogate family. It is a natural tendency to look to the people in our faith community who are good parents, whose children are a blessing to be around, the ones who seem confident and sure in the parenting path they have chosen, and rather than simply gleaning wisdom from their lives and allowing them to mentor us more closely into the ways of Jesus, to decide instead that we must be exactly like them.

So we sit metaphorically at their feet, reading what they read, mimicking what worked best for their families, eschewing the practices that they call out as harmful. We assume we will find the same confidence, success, and peace that they did as they followed the Lord’s leading, and we forget to seek and ask and search out how our Creator – who formed us and our children with stunningly perfect uniqueness - might be guiding our families through the infant months.

That is precisely what marked the earliest months of mothering for my co-author Megan and me. Though we didn't know it at the time, we were on parallel paths, each of us wanting so much to make godly choices in parenting, and each of us perpetually frustrated because what seemed to work so perfectly for other families only created stress, anger, and disappointment in our own.

We felt so alone, so incredibly isolated in our struggles. Well-meaning questions from others about baby's sleep or schedule or playtime caused us to cringe and even lie to cover up the truth: we were failing miserably at following the instructions in the books that were so often turned-to and revered by our friends.

In Spirit-Led Parenting: From Fear to Freedom in Baby's First Year, we tell the story of how in the midst of our worry, inexperience, and fear, we had become so entangled in the opinions and experiences of people around us, that we had abandoned sitting at the feet of Christ to seek His guidance for this season of life. Because the Bible doesn't speak specifically to the day-to-day choices of infant care, we had succumbed to the temptation to let the voices of others drown out the voice of the Spirit of God.

As a loving and patient parent, God allowed us to discover that there was another way to approach parenting, a way which refuses to prey upon the fears harbored by many new parents, a way that offers, instead, the freedom to pursue His leading for each individual parent, child, and family.

So why on earth would two women who have, in moments of frustration, thrown parenting books to the ground then choose to write one ourselves?

Because to the darkest of struggles we endured in those days, God brought a powerful redemption. He allowed us to discover a radical idea: the first year of parenting should be less about training our babies and more about allowing ourselves to be trained by Him.

Because our tender Heavenly Father used that intense first year of parenting to teach us how to live a life that is fully surrendered to Him, a life that is saturated with His grace.

Because we know we aren't the only ones for whom that first year of parenting turned out to be so very different than we thought it would be, and we are compelled to share the message that parenting through infancy can be a year of discovering new and life-changing joy and a release from the captivity of guilt and shame.

Because He set us free.

Spirit-Led Parenting is the first release from authors Megan Tietz and Laura Oyer. Megan writes about faith, family and natural living at SortaCrunchy and lives in western Oklahoma with her husband and two daughters. Laura blogs her reflections on the real and ridiculous things of life at In The Backyard, and makes her home in Indiana with her husband, daughter, and son.