A Bundle of Blessings
November 2019 Issue
by Jacie Elizabeth Millen
Photography by Karin Curtis
Blessings come in many different shapes and sizes. For Thomas and Rebecca Joyner their most recent blessing came wrapped in a pink baby blanket. On August 12, 2019 the Joyner family welcomed a cute, sweet, squishy, little human into the world, Nancy Margaret Joyner, named after both of her great-grandmas and the technical first child to be born of Thomas and Rebecca. Mom and dad aren’t the only ones obsessed with “Nan.” Besides the kisses from grandmas and snuggles with grandpas, Nan’s biggest fan is her older brother, Thomas Daniel Joyner, aka “Tee,” named after his daddy and Rebecca’s brother. Tee is the oldest Joyner child, adopted by the Joyners and taken home on day three of his arrival. “I am living the dream,” says Rebecca.
Thomas and Rebecca were not expecting to adopt. Three years of passing fertility tests with flying colors, and they still weren’t pregnant. When Tee came into their lives, life seemed like it couldn’t be better for the Joyners. When he hit 9-months-old, Rebecca had the surprise of her life. She was finally pregnant! Nine months later, Nan came into the world and they couldn’t be happier. “Tee is so outgoing and has such an amazing sense of humor, and Nan is so laid back and affectionate. I have the best of both worlds, and I just love them so much.” Rebecca says. “But it’s funny because, see, I would love to adopt again, and I would love to be pregnant again eventually. Thomas is like, ‘Haha, you need to slow down,’” Rebecca laughs.
A former Hilton Head Christian Academy teacher, Rebecca took time off to be a full-time mother, but she found her niche in doing so. She came across the opportunity to write high school curriculum and sell it to teachers at schools all around the country. “Its my dream job, I get to continue to do what I love while staying home with the kids. It’s perfect,” Rebecca said.
Rebecca also helps out Thomas at his work. He is the area director for the youth ministry, Young Life, an outreach youth program that seeks out disengaged kids from the ages of middle school to college and helps them get engaged with the word of God. On Mondays they have “Club,” which is a co-ed group that meets weekly, and then throughout the week, they have bible studies that are split by gender. “I love Club, but the bible studies are where we really get deep into scripture and the meanings behind God’s word. It’s an amazing thing to see how these kids react,” Rebecca says.
Twice a year, once in the summer and once in the fall, Thomas takes the kids from this area to a Young Life retreat center. There are more than 20 Young Life Retreat Centers across America, but Carolina Point in Brevard, NC, is one of his favorites. Carolina Point is an amazing, beautiful facility, which offers activities like cliff jumping, go-karts and paddle boarding to keep campers active all day. It is an ideal place to get closer with friends and God.
Thomas and Rebecca have been involved with Young Life for 13 years and still love every second of it. Thomas also coaches lacrosse at Hilton Head High School, where Tee sometimes tags along. “Thomas is such a great dad. Tee is so obsessed with his daddy. When Thomas gets home, I know he’s tired from working all day, but somehow he is always ‘on’ when he sees the kids. I also love how tender he is with Nan. He calls her ‘pretty girl,’ which is so sweet,” Rebecca dotes.
One never knows what God has planned for his or her life path, or the joyful surprises that occur along the way. For the Joyners, it is obvious that right now children are their biggest blessings, especially in being able to have a family they weren’t sure they ever could. In turn, they are doing loving and connective things that will make a difference for a life time for the youth community in Beaufort County. As we all know, it takes a village, and we are so fortunate our “village” has two people like Thomas and Rebecca to look up to and count on.
Go Tigers: Both Thomas and Rebecca are Clemson graduates. “I swear I didn’t even try, but Tee is already obsessed with the Tigers.”
Future Careers: “Tee refuses to watch kids shows, he only wants ESPN on. I’m serious, his first words were ball and dog—his two favorite things. Kids toys? No, we have a bucket of full-sized sports balls in our hall. As of right now, Nan is just squishy, but I can only imagine her being a sports newscaster because Tee will probably only let her watch football.”
Other Opportunities: Young Life also offers a bible study for young teen mothers. Beaufort County is known to have a high teen pregnancy rate, and this program offers young moms a chance to be involved just as much as the next person.