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Full House

story by Kyle Kurlick

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After Gary Reckner gets home from work he helps his wife and children remove dead plants before dark. "Living with a big family is like having friends with you all the time," said Lindsae Reckner,19.

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"I don't need time for myself, God has filled me with the joy of being a part of raising His children for Him," said Kathy Reckner, 45. "It's a special gift and there are a lot of people out there who can't have children, you have to be positive, not negative."

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All 13 members of the Reckner family have boots by the kitchen door. They're for chores - like the ones five-year-old Wesley was getting ready to do - and other muddy activities on the family's 53-acre property.

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Lindsae Reckner, 19, and Brystol Reckner, 18, perform a duet on the piano. Starting with Lindsay and Brystol, the rest of the children were born 0-3 years apart in pairs, these pairs hold even closer bonds in a family with strong beliefs in unity.

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The Reckner family attends Liberty Missionary Baptist Church in Petersburg, ky. Denominations do not mean much to the Reckners, as long as the church fits their beliefs, they said. All 13 of them fill about a quarter of the pews in this small country church.

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Kathy Reckner, 45, reads Bible stories to her sons Emery, 8, (left) and Wesley, 5, (right). The portraits on the wall are of each child taken at 6 months. Each boy's portrait was taken in the same blue outfit. "A lot of people wonder why we had so many children, we felt something in our hearts saying that this was right for us," Kathy said.

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As the Reckners wake up, siblings congregate in their parents' bedroom to talk over plans for the day. Eight-year-old Emery Reckner hides his face behind baby brother Grayson as his family competes to see who can make him laugh the hardest.

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Schooling is a lifestyle for the Reckners. While his older siblings review a workbook, Emery Reckner, 8, plays with toy cars and waits for family friends to arrive. While the children instruct themselves for the most part, Kathy Reckner is still the teacher, and whichever room Kathy is in at the moment becomes the class room.

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Since the demands of being the area conservationist for Western Kentucky keep Gary Reckner,51, out of the house from 5 am-5pm during the week, he always takes time with his entire family, especially time to hold his infant son, Grayson.