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Sunday, December 31, 2017

Looking Back on 2017

In January, Hutch and I experienced his first Monster Truck Jam, but by intermission, our eardrums had taken a beating, so we went to Wendy’s for a Frosty. After enjoying the processed cocoa, in traditional New Year’s fashion, I started exercising and ended up shedding 20 pounds, just in time for bikini season. By the time of the writing of the annual summary, I have officially returned to my fighting weight with solid plans to repeat the cycle in 2018. We finally finished the backyard treehouse, which the kids nicknamed “Odyssey.” It’s already hosted a dozen middle school Bible studies and a few “peeing for distance” contests. Our church began construction on our new property at New Garden Park, formerly a 9-acre landscaping nursery located by the airport. It’s been an incredible answer to a decade of prayers. In February, we said farewell to “The Greatest Show on Earth” and watched our last Ringling Bros. circus. Our kids became enthralled with “American Ninja Warrior” and my brother, Blake, taught Honey to ride a bike. It was a treat to get to speak at Calvary Day School’s morning chapel and be back in my old stomping grounds.

After seven long years of allergy shots, I finally got to hang up my needles and can now take a bath in pollen. The spring never smelled so good. For some reason, our kids fell in love with Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror,” and it became the post-dinner dish-washing soundtrack for March. After the table was cleaned, we developed a routine of playing a few new card games called “Sushi Go,” “Sleeping Queens,” & “Shaboom!” Honey would highly recommend adding them to your family’s game cabinet. We sadly had to replace both our vehicles, but the Lord showed off in typical fashion and provided through dear friends. Our driveway is now home to 2 mini-vans. (Mama, I made it.) In retired grandpa fashion, my dad graciously built a loft bed for the kids’ room. They still feel like they’re sleeping in a playground. Nat discovered her true calling doing skits for the women’s retreat. She does a mean “Lil Nemo.” Our annual college guys reunion coincided with another Final Four victory for the Heels and Honey stayed up late with me on Monday night to watch Roy’s Boys cut down the nets! It was a great b-day present as I entered my final year before climbing over the hill. In May, our local toy store held their annual Lego building contest and the Hill kids surprisingly brought home the silver medal and accompanying gift-cards. They quickly spent their spoils with great delight. After seven years in Greensboro, we finally attended our first Grasshoppers minor league game, although I’m not sure the kids watched a single at-bat. Honey had her first dance recital and was on stage for 6 minutes of the 90-minute show. In May, Hutch turned 5 and sadly said farewell to his best bud, Simeon, as the Lovejoy family moved to Fayetteville. After officiating Evan and Sasha Albertson’s wedding in Asheville, Nat and I enjoyed a brief get-a-way to celebrate Mom’s Day while the kids caught turtles and tubed with the Crafts and Hills at High Rock Lake.

In June, Nat turned 37 and spent many days sunbathing chasing our kids at the neighborhood pool. We planned an adventure with ten other families to bike 17 miles on the Virginia Creeper Trail. The ManTrip tradition continued as I took a dozen high school guys camping, hiking, and jumping off waterfalls in the NC mountains. They caught frogs, cooked them over a fire, and shamed me into tasting one. Is it still called “peer” pressure if they’re 25 years younger than me? The guys got to spend a day at Carolina Point during a week of Capernaum Young Life camp. During the Hill/Craft Beach extravaganza, we took a family photo wearing all khaki. It took scouring a few thrift stores, but we were able to almost perfectly match our clothes with our skin tones as well as the sand. During the photo shoot, my sister, Abby, revealed she was pregnant and we can’t wait to meet that baby boy in January! Our summer interns, Justin and Lindsey, helped us pull off the 3rd year of Camp Booyah. The camp speaker was my college-friend, Dave Reule, and my parents came again to help with everything from community service projects to the “50’s Sock Hop.” In July, Honey turned 8 and celebrated by riding motorized animals around a mall. One of the year’s most memorable moments happened by the Auntie Anne’s pretzel shop as we watched Natalie’s mom navigate an electric zebra scooter around a crowd of middle school boys. I led a summer group for college guys where we learned ancient spiritual practices from St. Ignatius like the Daily Examen, Lectio Divina, and Imaginative Prayer. Natalie cherished catching up with her college gal pals in Cashiers, NC at their annual gathering. This year, they took a page out of the ManTrip manual and went sliding down Turtleback Falls. After losing Nat’s dad and Mamaw over the past two years, we wanted to switch up the typical Leonard family beach vacation and create some new mountain memories, so in August, we went to Boone. The kids loved Tweetsie Railroad and canoeing at Price Park. Hiking the Grandfather Mountain trail with Honey, cousin Pierce, and Uncle Nate was a few hours I won’t soon forget.  

We began our 3rd year helping run The Covenant School, and it’s been one of the most faith-building experiences of our lives. In August, Macy Heart turned 3 and started two day-a-week preschool down the hall from Hutch, in pre-K. Honey started 2nd grade, and they all adore their teachers. We experienced “solar eclipse regret” after missing our chance to witness totality, but we’ve marked our calendars for April 8, 2024. The Lord answered another huge prayer by providing help in my roles at Redeemer. Caleb Harris came on staff as our worship intern, and Melissa Lewkowicz and Valerie Sagero joined the youth team. They’ve been Godsends and feel like family. In September, Nat’s brother, Nate, turned 40 and we helped Suellen throw a surprise party in Morehead City. Natalie joined a Thursday morning Bible Study and has been encouraged pursuing Jesus alongside these women. We took a trip to Bath, NC with the Sassers and Dukes and it was a blast until Friday night around 9pm, when in a moment of klutz-like miscalculation, I slipped between the boat and the dock and broke a couple ribs. It was an 8-week long recovery, and I tried to milk it for as much sympathy as I could get, but in the end, it made me grateful for the ability to sleep in the fetal position and for every single moment I get to wrestle with our kids. In October, we made a few trips back to Winston-Salem, one for the Dixie Classic Fair and another to celebrate 60-years of Young Life in Forsyth County. My college friend, Antony Yiu, came to visit us from Hong Kong and Graham Monroe and I pulled off a surprise visit to our good buddy Peter Twaibu at Elizabeth City State University. Our Tuesday night small group continued the beach weekend tradition of 5 families under one roof. Nat and I celebrated 13 years of marriage with flu shots, soft pretzels and thrift store Christmas shopping. Honey began her first season playing basketball and thankfully she has her mama’s hops. After a year of writing and many rounds of edits, I finally finished a 60K word manuscript that is being published by New Growth Press and comes out in August of 2018. The title of the book is “Alongside: Loving Teenagers with the Gospel.” I wrote it for parents of teenagers, Young Life leaders, and anyone in youth ministry. Natalie is the real MVP as she held down the fort over many weekends while I went away to write. For Christmas, Santa broke the NO PETS rule and brought two Gerbils. "Lil Bob" and "El Loco" survived their first week in the Hill house. 

Happy New Years! -Drew, Nat, Honey, Hutch and Macy Heart

Friday, December 30, 2016


I'm just now catching my breath. I feel like I held it last night for 2 hours straight. Nat and I went to see the new film "Lion." It wasn't relaxing or enjoyable. It was painful. Beautiful. Moving. I haven't felt that way leaving a theater in over a decade.

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

2016 In Review: The Hill Holiday Holla

Lolli and Pops graciously hung with the grandkids for a week so we could head to Orlando for the Young Life staff conference. Later in the month, my NWHS Senior Guys Campaigner group went on the SNOW-MAN-TRIP, a snowboarding trip to the NC mountains that was ironically cut short because of too much snow.

Nat’s nightmare came true and we had the stomach bug for 10 days. Honey got her ears pierced, just in time for the fancy city-wide Daddy Daughter Dance. Emily Roberts, a dear friend from Denver Seminary days, came to visit from Texas. Drew “competed” at intermission of the US Olympic Table Tennis Trials and was embarrassed by a 14-year-old girl. We celebrated Mamaw Craft's 90th birthday. Nat and I had the privilege to speak at our church’s marriage retreat. We told the story of how, over the last four years, the Lord has brought incredible healing and resurrected our marriage from a place of deep brokenness.

Our nephew, Bennett Allan Sharpe, was born. We visited Abby, Allan and baby B in Charleston and enjoyed some of the greatest parks and playgrounds our kids have ever seen! My dad retired after 34 years as the “minister of fun” at Calvary. Natalie continued to foster her love for Young Adult fiction as she read “The Selection Series” by Kiera Cass, which also contributed to my lack of REM sleep due to reading lights not being turned off at a proper hour. I continued meeting with my spiritual director/life coach, Jerome Daley, who was the most influential person in my life this year.

We had our annual Tarheel guys reunion in West Jefferson and celebrated 20 years of friendship. The timing was perfect as we watched the Heels win on Saturday night of the Final Four. The championship game was sadly a heartbreaker, but Roy’s Boys are looking hungry for another shot. Our church found out the exciting news that we were going to be able to purchase New Garden Nursery and have recently closed on the property. We hope to be meeting in the new location by May, 2017.

Honey lost her first tooth. Nat lost her voice. It was the beginning of a frustrating 5-month journey. She was constantly hoarse and unable to project her voice, which made conversations quite difficult, especially at places like wedding receptions, loud restaurants, and trying to get the kids attention at the pool. We wrapped up the first year at The Covenant School and while it was way more work than we ever imagined, it was super faith-building to watch the Lord answer so many specific prayers. Hutch turned 4 and I retired as the music teacher at his preschool. Honey started her 2nd year on the swim team at Green Valley Pool. I was ordained as a priest in the Anglican Church and started my 6th year on staff at Church of the Redeemer. We hired Austin Drake as our summer youth intern and he quickly became a member of our family. When he returned to Berry College in the fall, the kids quickly experienced “Austy Withdrawl.”

The guys in my Campaigners group graduated from Northwest High School and we celebrated with the ManTrip, a  backpacking expedition in the Pisgah National Forest. Uncle Nate, Aunt Su, Pierce, Creed, and Selwyn came to visit us from Morehead City. The Hill-Craft beach extravaganza did not disappoint and continued the traditions of nightly homemade ice cream, crabbin’, OIB pier walks, and watching Jimmy Kessler rip his shirt off during family sing-a-longs.

Nat had a relaxing reunion with her college friends in the Hamptons. Honey turned 7 and learned to water ski on High Rock Lake thanks to Uncle Terry driving a boat like a boss. We had an unforgettable week at Camp Booyah, our second year running a camp for Anglican youth in North Carolina and Virginia. Watching teenagers encounter the love of Jesus never gets old. My parents joined us at camp and were a huge help, both with our kids and serving behind the scenes. Pops spent 3 hours microwaving 50 bags of popcorn! After camp, my mama had double knee replacement and we’re planning on her learning to water ski next summer. 

Macy Heart turned 2 and began introducing herself with her full name and age. I went to a youth ministry conference in Wisconsin. Natalie continued to indulge in Young Adult fiction with Sabaa Tahir’s series, “An Ember in the Ashes.” We jumped on the Michael Phelps bandwagon and savored the summer Olympics. Mamaw Leonard was diagnosed with cancer, 11 months after Nat’s dad passed away. We were grateful to be with her for the Leonard-Ludwig Beach Week before she moved into a nursing home in Salisbury. The “freak-out moment” of the summer happened while riding the giant inflatable North Myrtle Beach waterslide. Uncle Nate and cousins Selwyn and Pierce were at the top of the slide, 40 feet high, when it began to deflate on one side and tip over. It felt like the entire beach started screaming and everything happened in slow-mo. By a miracle, everyone escaped without injury. We got our money back and used it to ride carnival rides next door, which I’m sure were much, much safer. A carny convinced Honey she could capture Pikachu at the top of the Ferris wheel, so actually, that was my biggest “freak-out moment,” wrestling my iPhone away from a 7-year old while she’s playing Pokemon Go at 150 feet.

We started building a retaining wall to make our sloping backyard more usable and create a space for our youth group to hang out as “Sunday Night Live” is held in our basement each week. The Covenant School kicked off our second year with 40 students and 6 teachers. Hutch started 4-year old preschool and Honey started 1st grade. I spoke at the Cru Fall Retreat and Macy Heart fell in love with a baby cow at the camp. The cow’s name is Chocolate and Heart prays for her nightly. Our small group has been meeting on Tuesday nights for 6 years and each September we do a weekend together at the beach. This year we were at Ocean Isle and with 16 kids, age 9 and under, in one house. Hutch almost drowned, but Charlie Heritage pulled a Hasselhoff and saved the day. We also spent a couple amazing days playing on the Pamlico River with the TCS board and families.

After 5 months with barely any voice, one afternoon in October the Lord miraculously healed Natalie. It was crazy! We’re so thankful! I adore getting to listen to her sing again, especially when her headphones are in and she’s doing dishes and singing really off-key on those Lauren Daigle ballads. Hutch had an eventful month as he learned to ride his strider bike and also punched out his sister’s 2 front teeth. Honey was so thrilled to double dip from the tooth fairy that she wasn’t even mad. While Honey lost her teeth, Hutch lost his hair. The preschool sent out the dreaded email to all parents: “We want to make you aware that one of our students has lice.” The next day the Hutch man showed up completely bald, bearing his scarlet letter. Honey got the hair bugs too and thus began “The Lice War of 2016.” After dozens of loads of laundry, hours of vacuuming, disgusting Google searches and really expensive shampoo, we finally emerged victorious from the field of battle.

After 3 years of dreaming, the backyard basketball court finally became a reality. Even more exciting than the court was the miracle that my cousin Kinsley and her husband Andrew bought the fixer-upper next door and hope to move in by the spring. We celebrated our 12th anniversary with a 34-mile tandem bike ride on the Virginia Creeper trail. The first 17 miles were so fun. The last 17, not so much. We can’t wait to go back and do it again with our kids. If you haven’t been, we can’t recommend it enough! Without a doubt, the most exciting part of 2016 was when my parents discovered Bitmoji and created personalized avatars that they now regularly use on our family’s text messaging group.

While there have been dozens of joyful highlights from this year, as I close out this letter, my heart is heavy. The news screams of devastation, plane crashes, and wildfires. Dear friends are in the trenches of broken marriages, sickness, and addiction. It is in this season of Advent that we cling to the hope of the coming Christ. We look to Jesus and see the God who cannot be seen. We fix our eyes on the One who heals the brokenhearted and brings the dead to life.

This Christmas, it’s our prayer that, no matter what trench you’re in, you would know the nearness of Christ. He’s closer than the skin on our bones.

Come let us adore Him,

Drew, Natalie, Honey, Hutch and Macy Heart

PS- Natalie would like me to include that she has also read some Adult Non-fiction books this year.

Young Life Support
I am still raising support for my role on staff with Young Life in the Communications Department. If you would like to make a tax-deductible donation, you can do so here: Thank you!


Friday, November 25, 2016

2016 Christmas Lists

Thanks for shopping for our kiddos! If you buy something from the list below, please email Drew and I'll delete it from this list.

Macy Heart 
(Size: 2T)

Any kind of clothing with animals on it (Target has a lot of cute outfits with animals on it)

Hutch (
Size: 5)

Gift cards to Target  

Honey (Size: 7)

Any leggings from Target

Gift cards to Target


  • Fun and comfy leggings
  • Fabric scissors
  • New kitchen mat (for right in front of sink)
  • Long skinny table to go behind our coach to put a lamp on, something like this, doesn't have to be perfect, bc it mainly won't be visible. 
  • Lamp
  • Earrings and necklaces


Drew & Natalie

  • Super soft king size bed sheets
  • Babysitting (so Nat and I can go on a date)
  • Anything fun for our backyard (patio furniture, etc...)


Monday, September 19, 2016

The Dawn Will Always Beat The Night

It has been a year since Natalie's dad passed away. A friend sent us this song during the initial grieving period and it ministered to us deeply. If you feel like you have nothing left, this is for you.

My heart has known the winters
And my feet have known the snow
But my eyes have seen the glory
Of a seed begin to grow

There is a time to uproot, darling
But most days just hold on tight
For there’s a time for darkness, honey
But dawn will always beat the night

Sometimes death will come calling
When you’ve been good and warned
And other times its cold hands will cradle
Dreams yet to be born

There is a time to dance on sorrow
And a time to kiss her cheek
There is a time to mourn in silence
But justice aches to hear you speak

And I don’t know the end, or tomorrow’s story
But I have found the one who gives me rest
And I will make my bed in His promises
For He holds true when nothing’s left...When nothing’s left

There is a time when laughter will echo
Through your halls of peace
But war is known to change your locks
And carry off the family keys

There is a time for healing and pain
A time for drought and a time for rain
There is a time for everything
Until we crown the risen King…Until we crown the risen King

And I don’t know the end, or tomorrow’s story
But I have found the one who gives me rest
And I will make my bed in His promises
For He holds true when nothing’s left...When nothing’s left

So crown Him in your mourning
And crown Him in your laughter
And crown Him when it all turns dark

Crown Him when you bury
And crown Him when you marry
And crown Him when your faith finds a spark

Crown Him for He’s faithful
And crown Him for He’s worthy
And crown Him for He is good

Crown Him for His promises
Cut through the blindness
Of children that have barely understood

The beauty that has come
And the beauty yet to come
And the beauty that is yours and that is mine
And that death produces life
And that we are made alive
By the King who paints beauty with time

And I don’t know the end, or tomorrow’s story
But I have found the one who gives me rest
And I will make my bed in His promises

For He holds true when nothing’s left...When nothing’s left

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Our Father

On Sunday mornings I usually lay eyes on Nat and the kids for the first time just as they come down the aisle for communion. Since Redeemer meets at a local high school, it takes us close to three hours to change the school into a church, so I sadly miss seeing the fam in the mornings.

Today I was leading worship and the time came for the communion liturgy. I still hadn't seen the kids or Natalie, since she was keeping the nursery. The Lord's Prayer began and at the exact moment we all began to pray "Our Father" I heard one voice above all the others in the congregation. Nat had snuck in the back of the auditorium and was holding Macy Heart. That red-headed bundle of giggles saw me at a distance and loudly called out "DAAA-DAAAA, DAAAA-DAAA." 

At the same moment I was crying out for my Heavenly Father I heard the voice of my daughter crying out for me. It was if God was saying, "Drew, do you see how big you're smiling right now when you hear your child calling out your name? Right back at ya buddy."

It made me eager to cry "da-da" way more often. 

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The Year In Review: 2015

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. 

Young Life
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

If you would like to financially support us, you can make a tax-deductible online donation hereUnder 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