Shepherd on the Search - A New Christmas Tradition You Won't Want to Miss!

Looking for a way to keep the focus on Christ this Christmas, but still want all the fun build-up of something like the elf on a shelf phenomenon? Then get your hands on this fabulous resource - it's the best of both worlds!

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Next week, after you finally emerge from your turkey coma, you'll probably start thinking about pulling all those Christmas decorations down from the attic (unless you're one of those people, who's so on the ball that you can flip your decorating scheme over in the blink of an eye!)  

If you have kids, you'll most likely be pulling out something special to help count down the days or follow certain traditions, as well.  

Many families use an Advent calendar, some put up a Jesse Tree (did you ever see this fabulous version that I wrote about?), there's Truth in the Tinsel, or you might even follow along here with our Celebrating the Season fun.  

Perhaps you're already wracking your brain to come up with the antics that your Elf on the Shelf will be up to this year, or you've started your RAK lists for your Blessings Buddies or The Kindness Elves, instead?

All of those activities are such fun to revisit each year.  Some years, it's fun to just continue with the old traditions and others, it's fun to change things up a bit and switch out the old for new -  or just add a new tradition to your holiday list of standards.

That's what we'll be doing this year and I am SO EXCITED about it - I can hardly wait!

Believe it or not, I'd never even heard of the whole Elf on the Shelf thing until I started teaching school.  My classroom would be all abuzz as the kids shared all the crazy situations these little elves were getting themselves into each morning.

I just didn't get it.

I mean, it was obvious the kids were having a blast with it all, but the idea of an elf spying on them just during the weeks leading up to Christmas sounded a little creepy and, well, odd.  Not to mention the ridiculousness of what some of these parents moms were going through each night, just to set the whole scene up.

Not that you're in any way ridiculous, if you are that kind of mom, because you obviously rate way higher on the cool-o-meter than I ever could!

But when my little lazy brain considers doing any of this stuff all month, it quickly shouts, "Ridiculous!" and immediately zones out to whatever Christmas movie I happen to be watching that night, while all those amazing go-getter moms are scrambling around creating Pinterest-worthy elf scenes:

Once Gv came along, I did start to see the fun in it all (and let's face it, as lazy as I am, I certainly go to great lengths to make amazing memories for my family sometimes - I'm still recovering from all the cooking I did for this month's "trip!").  

I sat down to consider the whole elf thing, but I found that I just really didn't like the idea of an elf who was always up to no good and making a mess of things.  I mean, isn't the whole point that the elves are supposed to be monitoring kids to see if they made the "nice" list?  

I came across The Kindness Elves and thought I'd found my solution. I absolutely love this idea, and think the creator is a total genius for coming up with it.

But it seems there are just so many service opportunities at Christmastime - throughout the rest of the year, not so much.  Besides, the holidays are jam-packed with so much hustle and bustle, the impact of helping others at that time seems a bit diminished.

I mean, I'm packing shoeboxes with the rest of you and we definitely enjoy picking a few ornaments off the tree to help this program each year.  When Gv gets a little older, I'll be happy to trot off to a soup kitchen or go hand out blankets (in the meantime, I've discovered this awesome organization), but I decided that the whole kindness elf thing would fit our family better some other time of the year (note to self: figure out best time for this & do it!)

But the biggest reason I nixed anything elf-related?

The focus.

Now, I'm no Scrooge, and I'm just as Santa-friendly as the next gal, but even though we ho-ho-ho with the best of them, around here we really want the main focus of the season to be THE main event.

None of the aforementioned cuteness and fun points to the reason for the season - the best gift of all, that most amazing moment in time when a King became a baby, instead of a baby merely growing up to become a king.

So you can imagine my incredible excitement when I heard about this new, fabulous tradition:  The Shepherd on the Search.

Several years ago, our church had a particular worship leader.  His name was Josh Helms and he was an uh-maz-ingly talented musician who not only led our congregation in singing each Sunday, but wrote and recorded some incredible worship music, as well.

As so often happens, those with great talent are afforded great opportunities, and before long, he made the move with his family to Franklin, TN.  Now he's probably neighbors with TobyMac and Steven Curtis Chapman, while we're all left down here with someone like Larry Dallas knocking on our door.

Even though it's been years since I've seen Josh or his family in person, I'm still his friend on Facebook, and I've had such fun following his TN journey since his move.  Last winter, he started hinting at a big project - HUGE - that he was working on, and I have been reading every update he's posted about it since.

When he mentioned that this project was being handled by Dayspring, I couldn't type fast enough as I sent off my email to their marketing department, because I knew I had to be a part of this exciting launch here on the blog.

The premise behind The Shepherd on the Search idea is to daily follow an adorable plush shepherd who has heard the great news and sets off on a journey to visit baby Jesus in person.

Each night, you'll hide this fellow somewhere in your house - getting closer to his manger destination each day!

The high-quality kit comes in a nifty manger box - it not only stores your book and shepherd during the rest of the year, but serves as the final stop on his trip, as well.

The actual shepherd is a plush little guy who has actually not had a moment of rest from the second we opened our box - because Gv has been playing with him and his manager ever since we opened the package, waaay back in September.

Our shepherd is quite fond of dancing!

There are just so many fun aspects to this kit - and we haven't even used it for its intended purpose yet!

We love the beautiful hardback book - not only is the artwork adorable, but the rhyming verses are such fun to read.

The book alone is worth having!

I loved how the colors in the book helped convey the mood of what was happening in the story.
The rhyming text of the story just added to the whole book's effect.

Be sure to click over and read The Shepherd on the Search's Amazing Journey Around the World post, where I show you how we're using this idea here and where you can get your own Travel Kit to go along with all the fun!

I also wrote about The Shepherd on the Search Companion CD that can add a little something extra to your holiday soundtrack.

I think it will be easy to integrate our new little friend into our current main tradition, but I've got some new ideas for his inaugural year bouncing around in this old brain, too (click here if you didn't already check them out!)

Gv loves her new little buddy!  We're still deciding on a name for him - do you have any suggestions?

So as you enjoy the start to this holiday season next week, make sure to grab your own Shepherd on the Search kit and join in on the fun as we look forward to the birth of Our Savior!

Let me know if a little shepherd will be traveling around your house this year, too - I'd love to brainstorm ideas with you!  

And even if you don't have a little one in your home this year, I'd love to hear what you think of this incredible new tradition!

What are the Christmas traditions you most enjoy with your family? Are you as excited to add this one to your list as I am?  I'd love to hear!  Either leave a comment below or email me at lisahealy (at) outlook (dot) com.

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  1. Give him a good solid Hebrew name from the Bible. Maybe Zachariah?!

  2. what a great idea - I have always found the American attachment to Elf On the Shelf rather creepy too. I love having something positive to focus on the meaning of Christmas and who the kids would love (obviously he's very loved!)

  3. Love this idea! I love that the focus is on the true meaning of Christmas!

  4. Sounds neat! I haven't even tried the Elf on Shelf yet. Some days ago my 5 year old's globe kinna got detached from the base and I was like "it's ok, we can get another one" and he got so upset! He was like "you can't get another one! you HAVE to fix it! Santa got this one for me" . That 's when I realised that the kid really believed in Santa! A bit eerie for me if you ask! haha.


  5. Beautiful idea. I like the concept of the real meaning of Christmas. Pinning.

  6. Never did get the elf on the shelf thing either. Your shepherd is super cute though!

  7. I absolutely love this. I'm not an Elf on the Shelf person either. My kids are older, so they wouldn't get into this, but I think I might want to buy it for myself! I know I'm just a big ol kid but this looks really cool. I cannot wait to see what happens next and see how Gv enjoys the shepherd. Really excited to watch as we near Christmas.

  8. This is such a cute idea! I first heard of elf on the shelf when I was pregnant with Marianna and bought one straight away, as though they were going to disappear or something - I blame pregnancy hormones - but my friends seem pretty split on whether it's cute or creepy. I think this one is much less ambiguous on that front! :D

  9. I love this much more than the elf - thank you for sharing with I am Pinnable Lisa

  10. He looks absolutely adorable Lisa. I can see why Gv loves playing with him and you are so right. Christmas is a very special time of the year and we should be celebrating the incredible moment in time when baby Jesus was born and remembering all that he stands for.

  11. What is the upper age limit for this kit? I'm considering it, but I want to make sure it will engage my nine-year-old boy. I'm also featuring your post at the #LMMLinkup (just running a bit late posting this week). Your great post is a blessing!

  12. This looks absolutely adorable! Thanks for sharing this wonderful idea at Booknificent Thursday on!

  13. This is a fabulous tradition to get started with! I applaud your emphasis on the reason for the season too! This looks like such a fun activity for kids too. I've never heard of it before, but don't have littles.

  14. I bought this 'kit' last year - after Christmas - so I can't wait to use it with my class and my family this advent season. I would love to use your travel around the world idea (with a stop each day in a different country to learn about traditions people have) but I can't seem to access the printables??? Help

    1. I'm so excited for you to use the kit and add on the world travels, as well! Here's a link to the post with the printable information: (click on any of the "travel kit" links) and just in case you want a direct link to the kit itself, here's the link for that:

      Let me know if that works for you or not, because I can't wait for you to start the journey with your class and family this year!