The new year began with a trip to Georgia to see old friends in Athens and Atlanta. As a late anniversary celebration, we saw “Newsies” off broadway in Charlotte and I tried to convince Nat to have another kid just so we could name him “Cowboy.” Over MLK weekend the 5 couples in our small group took a kidless trip (except we brought Macy Heart) to Knoxville to stay at the Chesney’s farm and Natalie and I finished 2nd place in the sharpshooter competition. As we thought about Honey going to Kindergarten in the fall we discovered the University-Model School model, somewhat of a hybrid between traditional school and home schooling. We began dreaming about one starting in GSO.
We surprised the kids with our 1st trip to Great Wolf Lodge indoor waterpark. They’re convinced it’s even better than Disney World, so please don’t tell them differently. Greensboro became a Winter Wonderland and we had snow much fun sledding with the neighbors. We formed a board for the school, choose a name and embarked on the whirlwind that would become The Covenant School.
It was good for my soul to have a weekend away in the mountains with some college buddies. I’m grateful for 20 year old friendships that continue to draw me closer to Jesus. Natalie also had some girl bonding on the Church of the Redeemer women’s retreat at Ocean Isle.
I turned 37 and celebrated with 30 days of yoga poses on Instagram. It was a treat to get to be back out in Colorado at Crooked Creek Ranch for the WyldLife Summit (Young Life for middle schoolers).
Hutch turned 3 and Honey graduated from Mt. Pisgah Preschool. She quickly transitioned to summer time, joining the swim team and taking tennis lessons at our neighborhood pool. We picked a lot of strawberries and enjoyed water skiing at High Rock Lake with the Crafts. We began holding interest meetings for The Covenant School and started the process of hiring teachers and a school director. Nat’s dad, Bill, began a steeper decline in his health due to his battle with cancer.
Nat turned 35 and we celebrated with a new HVAC unit after being without AC for 15 days. I lost 7lbs of water weight….which I quickly gained back through nightly consumption of homemade ice cream on the Hill-Craft Ocean Isle Beach extravaganza. My brother, Blake, convinced us to take family photos on the beach dressed as Hipsters, another one of his many strikes of brilliance. Our 2nd born assumed a new identity as ‘Super-Hutch’ after we shaved his head into a Mohawk. I enjoyed my only time cooking this year as I was assigned chef duties for our Church of the Redeemer staff retreat in the mountains of Virginia. Our Senior guys Campaigners group braved the cliffs and waterfalls of Pisgah National forest on the annual Young Life ManTrip. After an unsuccessful surgery, we had to move Bill into a nursing home.
Honey turned 6 and we went to her 1st ever concert for the Outcry Tour in the Greensboro Coliseum. Applications began to come in for TCS and we fervently prayed and frantically searched for a location for the school. I loved getting the privilege to speak to high school students for a week at Camp Impact outside of Houston, TX. Our highlight of July was launching ‘CampBooyah,’ a brand new summer mission camp for Anglican youth. We gathered teenagers from 5 churches in NC and are excited to do it again this coming summer in Kannapolis, NC.
Macy Heart turned 1 and we went to North Myrtle beach with Nat’s family. I was pumped to have a ton of new small group leaders volunteering with the Redeemer Youth Ministry and we went hiking at Hanging Rock. We hired 3 teachers for TCS and found out that my sister, Abby, and my brother-in-law, Allan, were expecting their first child in April. Nat’s daddy continued to weaken and we received the hard news that the end was near. We moved him home with hospice care.
On the morning of September 2nd, Bill Leonard went to be with Jesus. My brother in law, Nate, gave a eulogy at the funeral that would’ve made his daddy so proud. It still doesn't seem real. At our family Christmas gatherings I’ve caught myself looking around for him. Please continue to pray for Nat, her mom, Mary, and our family as we grieve his loss and yet rejoice in his healing. On the morning of September 8th, the doors of The Covenant School were opened for the first time.
After a summer filled with camps, vacations and taking care of Bill, we finally celebrated Heart’s 1st birthday, 2 months late. We spent a weekend in Virginia Beach celebrating Natalie’s cousin, Mary Kate, getting married. I was privileged to speak at a spiritual life emphasis week at a high school in Augusta, GA and on the way home discovered that our rental house in Athens had been wrecked by our renters. It led to a nightmare of repairs that thankfully has finally wrapped up. Being children of a YL leader, our kids claim Halloween as their favorite holiday and love playing dress up so much that the largest closest in our house is completely devoted to skit clothes. My parents, Lolli and Pops, were great sports and completed our band of 7 ninjas as we terrorized the neighborhood on Oct. 31st.
We celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary and my favorite year of marriage yet. The longer I hang around Natalie Hill, the more I see Jesus. The hardest part of November was sadly saying farewell to Hutch’s Mohawk after school picture day. Those were a special six months. We miss ya Mo’. We attempted a family photo shoot to get a Christmas card picture. Thankfully it was not as miserable as it could have been thanks to my brilliant wife, tons of candy, and monetary bribery.
The senior guys Campaigners group pulled off an amazing 6th annual ‘Northwest Young Life Mr. Christmas Tree pageant.’ Nat and I went to Andrew Peterson’s annual ‘Behold the Lamb Concert’ with our small group and the kids loved spending the night at Chuck E Cheese with the Crafts. Natalie made me cry like a baby when she surprised me and turned our basement guest bedroom into a prayer room and sacred space to meet with Jesus. Honey sang her first solo, “Happy Birthday Jesus,” in our children’s Christmas program. The kids were excited to discover a new trampoline in our back yard for Christmas and the summer weather in December has made it extra enjoyable.
In addition to my job as the associate pastor for youth and worship at Church of the Redeemer, we're continuing to raise support for my part-time job with the Young Life Communications department running YoungLifeLeaders.org.
If you would like to financially support us, you can make a tax-deductible online donation here. Under gift designation, search by staff member’s name for ‘Drew Hill.’ Choose a monthly, quarterly, or 1-time donation.
You can also mail a check to: Young Life, PO Box 70065 Prescott, AZ 86304-7065. Please make it payable to ‘Young Life' and include “1900- Drew Hill” in the memo. If you need help, feel free to call or email me. THANK YOU!
Happy New Year,
Drew, Natalie, Honey, Hutch and Heart