The Bowser's Story in Clinton, Mississippi

A few years ago I made a photographic bucket list.  One item on the list was photographing a "large family".  And after meeting Heather Bowser's family of 15 in Clinton, Mississippi, I finally got to check that off my list!  

The kids' ages range from 9 months to 22 years and at the moment all the kids are living at home.  So, Heather wanted to document this season as it will soon change.  I was expecting their home to be out of control with kids running around like wild animals, but it was quite the opposite. It felt sort of like 3 mini families living under one roof.  Kids sticking with those whose ages were closest to their own but also mingling with others from time to time through out the day.  The older kids went to work, the middle ones did school, the little ones played and napped and Heather gracefully wove through the little groups of children.  Then everyone came together in the evening for dinner and swimming. In many ways, It wasn't much different than any other family.     

Heather asked if my husband and I planned to have more children.  I blathered something like, "Oh we are DONE.  I had varicose veins with Oliver. And the kids are so crazy and I am tired.  We are SO done."  Then I realized I was talking to a lady with 13 children and all of my reasons felt trivial.  Heather did not mind so much about the veins or the crazy or the tired.  I still think we are done, but watching Heather and Lance with their children made me very aware of all of the things that I selfishly cling to:  my time, my body, my money, my space.  In my life, those things are meant to be hoarded.  For the Bowsers, they are meant to be spent.  C.S. Lewis said,

To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket—safe, dark, motionless, airless—it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.

Lance and Heather Bowser are a tremendous example of the fruit of sacrificial love.  Their hearts are laid open -- trampled, stretched and covered in smudgy fingerprints.  Yet their hearts are beating strong.    

Molly Flanagan Photography:  Family Storytelling Photographer based out of Anderson, South Carolina

Click here to learn more about my Visual Storytelling course offered in January.