Dugouts and Diapers

Jessica Starr Nichols


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A Huge Thank You

I’m writing this post to say, “thank you” to everyone who has helped support me in raising funds for my upcoming mission trip to Austin, Tx.


To those of you that purchased homemade savory and sweet treats from me during the holidays, thank you. I love to bake, and each item was prayed over and cooked with love. Thanks your kindness and generosity, I was able to raise just under $300 for my trip.


To my precious church family, thank you so much! Whether you chose us to wrap your Christmas gifts, dined with us at our fundraiser meal, donated baked items to our baked goods auction, bid on baked goods, or donated to our recent love offering, your support was monumental. It is a blessing to be part of such a loving and generous church family.

To my family and friends that chose to simply donate money to my trip, I love you all so much, and I’m so thankful for your selfless generosity.

However you chose to give, I’m so incredibly thankful. When God laid this trip on my heart last summer, I knew He would provide, because that’s who He is! It humbles me and leaves me in awe of my God to report that my entire trip (lodging, transportation, and food) is completely paid for through your generosity.

Some have asked specifically what we will be doing. Since we will covet your specific prayers each day, here is our schedule:

Sunday,  June 11- travel day! We will leave Dothan at 5am and arrive in Austin at approximately 8:30pm

Monday, June 12- orientation at the Austin Pregnancy Resource Center in the morning followed by ministering to patients at the center in the afternoon.

Tuesday, June 13- praying and witnessing at Planned Parenthood. This will be an emotionally and spiritually challenging day. We covet your prayers!!!

Wednesday, June 14- working at the APRC in the morning and we will be kicking off their on-campus outreach ministry at the University of Texas-Austin that afternoon

Thursday, June 15- we will be restocking the center and making house calls to those that are without transportation.

Friday, June 16- we will be working with patients at the center in the morning and continuing our on-campus outreach in the afternoon.

I ask you to specifically pray for lives to be changed both spiritually and physically. I ask you to pray that God will use our stories of teen pregnancy, single parenthood, adoption, and infertility to give hope to these ladies in such a hopeless situation. I ask that you also pray for God to grow and change me on this trip. I owe everything to Him, and I want to be my best for Him as well as for my family. 

I’m so thankful for each lady that He has clearly hand-picked for this trip, and I look forward to serving with them as well as my new friends at the Austin Pregnancy Resource Center. Thank you all again for your overwhelming support. I can’t wait to come back and share with you all what awesome things God did in Austin!❤️


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Fall Breakin in the Mountains

There has been so much going on in my family over the past two weeks. So, there is really only one fair way to do this….write two posts😜. To my faithful readers as well as my visitors, check back in tomorrow for another post.One thing my manclan has been begging to do is go camping. So, when you live in a house full of testosterone, you load up the van and head to the great outdoors! We knew Banks had his annual appointment with his pediatric neurologist on October 11, so we began googling campgrounds near Huntsville, and luckily we found Cloudland Canyon State Park. It was only an hour and a half from Huntsville, therefore we knew we could enjoy camping all weekend then load up on Monday morning and head to the doctor’s office before driving back to Dothan. We also knew camping would be an affordable option. There are not many four-day vacations that a family of four can enjoy at just under $100. I grew up camping nearly every weekend of my childhood, but I had never stayed at a campsite like this😳! You park your vehicle and hike about 1/4 mile to your campsite, and the only amenities are a leveled area for your tent and a firepit with a cooking grate over it. The closest comfort station, electricity, and fresh water was about 1/8 mile from our campsite. Now, thankfully, growing up, my mother was the world’s most organized camping wife. So, I learned a lot from her, and I was able to implement many of the same tricks she used, and spending my childhood watching my parents use camp stoves, lanterns, and clotheslines, I had no problem planning meals and organizing each person’s “bath house basket.” For a little TMI, when you are with a group of boys, and the nearest comfort station is 1/8 mile away, you learn to go #1 in the woods and only make that trek to the bath house when necessary. Following a cool night’s sleep in our tents, we spent day 2 hiking. We hiked a total of about 12 miles that day. Although all the waterfalls were dry, the scenery was majestic! I was so proud of Weston and my Chrissy! Weston rode in his stroller as far as the trail would allow, but he hiked a good 4-5 miles, and that’s a long way for his little legs. My Chrissy is part Beagle, part Bassett Hound, and her personality leans more toward a Bassett, but she loved sniffing out the trails, and she was an awesome hiking dog! While Weston preferred to stay on the ground, Banks was a mountain goat! If there was a place to climb, he found it! Have I mentioned that he is in incredible shape! I was planning my funeral at the end of the day, and once we got back to camp, he was still running up and down the side of the mountain with his Go-Pro strapped to him! We spent day three hiking a bit closer to our campsite. We discovered the cutest little bridge, a few very unique trees, as well as a strange bug or two! Day 3 was really special! Adam taught Banks how to make a campfire, and using only an axe, Banks chopped down a dead tree next to our campsite. Like I said, he’s in incredible shape! We had delicious meals the entire time, s’mores each night for Weston, and campfire smooches for my honey and me. 

Monday morning, we woke up with the sun, ate breakfast, packed up, and headed to Huntsville where Banks received an excellent report from his doctor. She even gave him the “go-ahead” to get his permit next summer when he turns 15, as long as he remains seizure-free, which we have total trust in God to keep him healthy.

Quite possibly the best part of the trip was the time we got to spend with Adam’s dad in Hartselle, which is just a hop, skip, and a jump from Huntsville. I am thankful for repentance, forgiveness, and reconciliation. I am thankful to know my helpmate felt love. Mostly, I am thankful for over a year of answered prayers! 

To say the least, our fall break was wonderful! We cannot wait to plan our next trip, and anywhere my manclan leads, I will follow!❤️


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Go, Serve, Love

This week I finally get to share some very exciting news!!!! At the beginning of May, I began praying for my VBS class, and I prayed specifically that the Lord would send more kids my way this year. VBS came, and He more than doubled the number I had from the previous year. I was pumped, and as if that were not enough, two young ladies in my class came to know the Lord! At this point, that flicker within my soul was now a flame!🔥 After VBS ended, I told God that I wanted to lead people to Jesus everyday, and as always, He answered me just as matter of factly as I speak to my friends, saying, “You can do this everyday, Jessica! You just have to be willing to be used by Me.” WOW! It was a real “duh” moment for me.

Mark 12:30-31…I could not get these verses off of mind. Everyday I would read them. Some days I would repeat them 3-4 times. What did this mean? I began praying over them, and soon enough, it was clear. GO, SERVE, LOVE!!!!! I was being called to head up a women’s mission trip. Who me???? Why me??? Seriously??? I also began to pray for confirmation, and I did not utter a word about it to anyone except Adam, and at the end of June, I was volunteering at our church for Wired, and throughout the week, three random ladies within our church mentioned that I would be the perfect person to organize a women’s mission trip like they once did annually at Southside Baptist Church. These are all ladies whom I hold in the highest regard, as they have been a part of my life since the day I was born. Isn’t God cool? Wow, ok, God, thanks for the confirmation! 

Now that I knew what I was supposed to do, I had A LOT to do. Where will we go? How do I even begin planning this? There were so many questions. I began by speaking to my pastor, and he said, ” I’m so excited about this, and I’m 200% behind you.” Awesome! What a blessing to have such a supportive and encouraging pastor and friend! Thankfully our church has a treasure in Mrs. Rhonda Grandstaff, who served as a wealth of knowledge and guidance for me in this planning process. Her husband, Dr. Jerry Grandstaff, just happens to be the Director of Missions for the Columbia Baptist Association, and he gave me a folder with 286 missionaries and their ministries to contact. I was completely overwhelmed! I persevered and over the course of two months, narrowed the selection down to four. After contacting all four missionaries, only ONE returned my call. I had prayed for clarity, and God could not have been more clear. We are going to Austin, TX to serve at the Austin Pregnancy Resource Center!!!!

From the first moment that I spoke to Lori Devillez, the center’s founder/director, I knew that this was the place. I cried as she told me about the situations these young ladies have found themselves, and I just praise God for allowing me to use my story to minister to the families. These young ladies have already made the most wonderful choice by choosing LIFE for their unborn baby, and now the Lord is going to allow this group of ladies from my church to share His Gospel and just show love to these precious “neighbors”.

We will be heading to Texas on June 11, 2017, and we will return on June 18,2017. I am still in utter disbelief and completely humbled that God chose me, but I am so excited to live out Mark 12:30-31, as my sisters in Christ and myself GO to Austin, Tx to SERVE the Lord at The Austin Pregnancy Resource Center and LOVE on these young ladies that are so courageously choosing life for their babies. So please join me in the coming months praying for this trip, the center, the people we come in contact with, the finances of the trip, and most importantly, the preparation of our hearts to serve. Again, I am so excited to serve Him alongside my sisters in Christ, and I am thrilled to love on these young ladies that are just as lost as I was fourteen years ago, and I just want to convey to them that I know exactly what they are going through. It will be tough, but they can do it with the help of God. They were chosen, hand-picked by the Creator. I am just thrilled! We appreciate your prayers and support, and I will be posting updates as the trip draws near. 


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Read, Drive, Play…And Repeat

Gosh, since school has started, we have been busier than usual! Since Banks is playing for both JV and Varsity football, he has games twice/ week as well as practice every afternoon until 6:30 p.m., and workouts two mornings/ week at 6:30 a.m. Nichols Taxi Service is counting down the days until he can drive himself everywhere!!!!

Although we are burning up the roads, we are happy to do it, because our Banks is doing great! First of all can we take a minute and talk about his varsity football picture??? He’s really handsome, and I’m well aware that I’m partial as his mother, but even if I weren’t, I would admit that he’s a good-looking young man! He didn’t think he would get any playing time on varsity, but he’s actually gotten to go in for 8 plays in 3 weeks. On JV, he plays the entire game, and boy did he have a great first game! He even made the local newspaper! He caught a 20 yard pass and ran the ball nearly 70 yards for a touchdown. Adam and I were so proud! You can check out his awesome touchdown as well as the newspaper article below.

Banks isn’t the only member of my manclan making big memories! Our church library held a reading competition for all of the children, and Weston was the big winner. He’s always seemed so laid back like his daddy, but once he found out there was a prize to be won, he tapped in to his mom’s competitive nature! For an entire month, we checked out 5-10 books/ visit, and we read and read and read! Weston read a total of 45 books! Adam and I were so proud, but we were also ready for a reading break. We have always been advocates for reading to our children, and we are so thankful that both boys enjoy reading on a regular basis.

All of the kids were so excited to be recognized for their accomplishments. For winning the competition, Weston won a $25 gift card to Lifeway, some bookmarks, a certificate, stickers, and some candy. That’s a pretty great prize package for a three year old! Of course, he ate all the candy in one sitting, and I’ve found stickers EVERYWHERE! 📚 

He was so excited to use his “credit card”. He bought himself a Bible, which he was thrilled to be able to carry to church Sunday morning, a sticker book (no, none of the stickers he won went in the book. He preferred to stick them on furniture and walls😉.), and in classic Nichols boy style, a Veggie Tales bat and ball. It’s always ball season at our house!⚾️

So, although we’ve been extremely busy lately, Adam and I couldn’t be more proud of our boys. They are both incredible, and we are the blessed ones to be their parents. Bring on the craziness! It makes parenthood FUN! 


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Our Friends Are Our Family

One Sunday, a few years ago, Adam and I saw a young couple visiting our church, and we made a point to invite them to Sunday school the next week, and we had no idea the beautiful friendships that would evolve. Rebecca and I became fast friends. We have a lot of characteristics in common, and Daniel and Adam are both much alike as well. They also had a little girl, named Ella Kate that was just a few months younger than Weston. So, basically, it was a match made in heaven.


In January 2016, our sweet friends added to their family with the birth of a little boy, Hudson Michael Morrison. Everything was completely normal for the first few months. Sleepless nights, tons of diapers, bottles, etc… It was a Thursday afternoon in May, and I was on my way to pick Weston up from the babysitter’s house, and my phone rang. It was Rebecca. She was sobbing and said, “Jessica, I need you to stop what you’re doing and pray right now! Something is wrong with Hudson. His blood counts are very low, and the doctor is sending us to Flowers Hospital for a blood transfusion and from there, he will be airlifted to UAB Children’s Hospital. We don’t know what’s going on, but it could be Leukemia. I know you will pray and get others to pray, and that’s what we need right now.” I felt sick! I pulled the van over into a parking lot, and I immediately prayed for Hudson, our friends, and the medical team. I emailed our entire Sunday school class right then telling the few details I knew and asking them to join me in prayer for our friends.

After days of waiting, they found out that it wasn’t Leukemia, but the doctors still didn’t know what was going on. They had one possibility of Hudson having a mitochondrial disease called Pearson’s Syndrome, but they had a better chance of winning the lottery TWICE than it being Pearson’s. After all, there had been fewer than 100 cases diagnosed WORLDWIDE since its discovery in the 1970’s! 

Well, after an entire month of genetic testing, the mystery was solved. Hudson was diagnosed with Pearson’s Syndrome. My friends were devestated, but they had faith, and none of us had a clue what the Lord was about to do in Daniel and Rebecca’s lives! When parents are told that their child has a disease that has no cure and no current treatments available because so little is actually known about their disease, most parents would give up, and allow their circumstances to overwhelm them, but not my friends! They are fighters! They fight every day! It is phenomenal to watch their faith grow, and it’s incredible how God is using this little baby to change people’s lives!

After being in contact with a family from North Carolina, whose son also has Pearson’s Syndrome, they found out about The Champ Foundation. Donations to this foundation help fund research for Pearson’s Syndrome. This foundation is near and dear to the Morrisons and every other family that is dealing with Pearson’s. 

Daniel and Rebecca have made a website Hudson’s Hope for a Cure where they explain exactly what Pearson’s Syndrome is. They also have Hudson’s story posted as well as updates on his health, fundraisers for The Champ Foundation, and how God is working in their lives.

Everyday these precious friends wake up ready to fight whatever obstacles may come their way. They haven’t asked for any assistance other than prayer. I would urge you all to follow the links in my blog to both Hudson’s Hope for a Cure as well as The Champ Foundation and read about Pearson’s Syndrome and donate any amount you can to The Champ Foundation to help fund research for this rare disease. If you are local, there are some fundraisers planned, in which all the profits will benefit The Champ Foundation. T-shirts have been made and are being sold by some of Rebecca’s co-workers. The information is on Hudson’s Hope for a Cure website, or you can contact me directly if you would like a shirt. Our church is holding a huge yard sale in October, and any items laying around your house can be dropped off at Southside Baptist Church every Monday-Wednesday. Drop off deadline is September 30. 

Please help contribute to the research through The Champ Foundation, and if you aren’t able to donate, I urge you to pray for my dear friends and the few babies and families around the world like sweet Hudson and the Morrisons. My friends need an exuberant amount of strength each day, and their baby needs a miracle! One thing those of us closest to Daniel and Rebecca have learned is that when things seem so bleak and dark, our God is bigger! Our God is stronger, and our God has a plan! I could never fit into one blog post the amount of admiration I have for my friends! They are indeed family, and I pray everyday for healing, whether on this earth or in heaven for Hudson. I pray that lives are changed through this baby and this family’s story. I pray for God’s will to be done. I pray for strength, faith, and courage for my sweet friends. I pray for a miracle! Won’t you join me?


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New Beginnings

First off, allow me to apologize for my brief hiatus. I have been terribly sick for two weeks. I finally feel human again. As all of you moms know, life doesn’t stop simply because you aren’t feeling well. There’s still a manclan to be fed, laundry to be done, a house to be cleaned, and bills to be paid. Did I mention that it was also time to start back to school???? The uniforms needed to be ordered, school supplies purchased, haircuts, etc… Needless to say, being sick did not fit into my schedule.

This year didn’t merely consist of getting Banks ready to go back to school, but Weston would also be starting school. Both boys are marking milestones this year. Weston, as he begins his journey at Houston Academy in the 3P program, and Banks, as he begins high school at Houston Academy in the 9th grade.


The first day, as every day, began with prayers for both of my boys. I prayed that they would both be light in the darkness, do what is right, and basically, have a great year. I thanked the Lord for such intelligent and kind children. As we sat at breakfast, Weston could hardly eat due to his excitement. Banks was his usual cool, calm, and collected self. Since he had worked all summer, we didn’t have any issues with waking up early, and thankfully he looks forward to going to school each year.


Both boys willingly gave me a smile for the annual first day of school picture, and then we were off. As I dropped Banks off in front of the high school building, I began to have tears in my eyes, but I knew I had to hold it together in order to avoid sending Weston into a major meltdown before his first day. On the first day, they allow parents to walk pre-schoolers to their classroom. So, I parked the van, and as I reached for Weston’s hand, he told me, “I don’t want to hold your hand, mom. I want to walk all by myself.” 😭 So, instead of allowing him to see my broken heart, I told him how proud I was of him for being such a big boy. I walked alongside of him to his classroom, and I said goodbye and left.


He was not thrilled that I wanted yet another picture of him and his teacher, Mrs. O’Connor. When I picked him up, he couldn’t quit talking about all the great friends he had made, the story they read, but most importantly, the playground! He was so excited! 

After Banks finished school, he had football practice. So, it was nearly 7pm before I heard about his first day. He too had a great day. He told me about all of his teachers, the expectations for each class, and of course, we talked about football practice. He is playing on both the JV and Varsity teams this year, which he is overjoyed about, and Adam and I are extremely proud of all the dedication and hard work he has put in to accomplish such a feat. A freshman playing varsity requires hard work, talent, and a personal invite from the varsity coach. His first varsity game is this Friday night. We can’t wait! Go Raiders!


The back to school excitement has continued throughout the week. Weston and I spent the majority of yesterday morning on his first homework assignment. He had to make a “Me doll”. It was a fun project, and he was excellent at painting and using the glue stick. I did all of the cutting, but the quality time together was priceless. Banks has already had two quizzes, and today is only the third day, but he seemed confident in the material, which was over the three books he had to read for summer reading. 

The new beginnings really hit home this morning, as I went into Weston’s room to wake him up, he was already completely dressed including his socks and shoes. As I walked by the bathroom, Banks was shaving his face. Those same tears that filled my eyes two days ago were coming back. After Weston hopped right out of the van in car line this morning, the tears began to flow. I prayed and asked God to take care of my boys, and I decided that I could handle this one of two ways. I could cry and be sad that my babies aren’t babies anymore, or I could be thankful that I have such intelligent, independent children that love God and love others. My daddy offered me some great advice this morning as he reminded me that this is all just part of the process moving on from one chapter to the other. So, as for these new beginnings, I’m thankful. I’m thankful for an incredible school like Houston Academy. I’m thankful that no matter what, our boys will always be our children, and we will always be there for them when they need us, and I’m thankful for the village of family and friends that have helped mold and make Banks and Weston into the wonderful young men that they are. Here’s to another fantastic school year!


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Family, Food, Freedom, and FUN

After taking a week off from blogging in order to volunteer my free time to cooking food and serving over 150 youth and chaperones at our church last week, I was in desperate need of some  relaxing, family time at the beach. 

My parents have a vacation home at Baypoint in Panama City, FL. They just moved in March, so this was our first visit. My brother and his girlfriend drove down, my sister was there, and obviously my parents were there too. It was fabulous! The photo above is the view from their living room. My dad had us all stop what we were doing to watch the most amazing sunset I’ve ever seen, and it was breathtaking! 
Saturday was a beautiful day on the Gulf of Mexico! The sugary white sand was so soft and relaxing, and the water was perfectly cool and clear. We set up camp in front of Schooners, which has been labeled “the last local beach club.” 

Adam, Weston, and Aunt Hope built the most amazing sandcastle of all time! Weston also enjoyed jumping the waves with mommy and daddy and picking up sea shells along the beach. My mom, Ashley, Jud, Banks, and I all gave paddle boarding a shot. My mom is extremely fit for 60 years old. She teaches yoga for goodness sake. About a month ago, she decided to buy a YOLO board, and I’m so glad she did! It was absolutely the worst day to try this for the first time due to the number of people in the ocean as well as the number of boats and jet skis passing by, but we all had a blast trying this new sport. I promise it is NOT as easy as it looks. We all were able to get up to at least our knees on the board, but Banks was practically a prodigy. He did awesome! I can’t wait to try it again. I wish we had more photos of us trying it.

After spending all day on the beach, we had a laughter-filled evening grilling burgers and playing cards. Adam and I played my dad and Jud in a game of spades, and Adam and I got slaughtered! I love my husband with every ounce of my being, but there isn’t one competitive bone in his body, but we surely did laugh….A LOT!!!! Banks dominated Aunt Hope in a few games of Skip- Bo, my mom just watched, and Aunt Ashley and Weston enjoyed snuggle time and went to bed early.

Sunday was my baby brother’s 33rd birthday, and I’m so thankful we were able to be together to celebrate. My manclan and I spent some of the morning taking family photos outside the condo in front of the bay. While some may view my obsession with family photos as lame, they mean the world to me. I’m so thankful for my manclan and want to document every memory that I possibly can.

I’m so thankful for wonderful weekends like this one, and I can’t wait until Christmas because I’m sure that will be the next time we are all able to get together again. My boys loved getting to spend time with their TG, Pops, Aunt Ash, and Uncle Jud. No matter the time or distance between us, through technology, we are able to talk to one another on a regular basis. We all enjoyed getting to meet Hope, and she definitely has my stamp of approval! She was a perfect fit! As I was praying Sunday morning, I was thinking about all those grains of sand that slipped between my toes on the beach, and I was thinking of God’s love for me. How incredible to have a God that loves me more than all the grains of sand on all the seashores. I know that my family loves me and my manclan pretty close to that much, and it’s all such a blessing. Thanks, mom and dad, for an amazing weekend, and a huge happy birthday to my brother, and a very humble thank you to all of our forefathers that risked it all to give us this incredible country!