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*Cleaning Toilets*


If you enjoy this free email service, I encourage you to spread the word to family and friends that we may bring inspiration into the lives of many! If you are not on the list and this has been passed along to you, join the thousands of readers around the world by sending a blank e-mail to:

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CalCon Corner (Stories from our two little boys!)

Grandma was talked into having a pretend sword fight with our 2-year-old, Connor, so they picked up their plastic swords and faced off. Grandma assumed the proper fencing position and yelled out, "On Guard" in her best French accent. Connor, without skipping a beat, also assumed his best fencing position and yelled out, "I'm Jesus!" He figured if Grandma was going to be God (he thought she said, "I'm God!") when she dueled with him, he better be Jesus to keep the match fair...


Cleaning the Toilets

by Al Batt

I went off to college with a head full of mush and no money.

I needed a job.  If there were no job, there would be no college. I found a part-time job and it was a dandy.  It was a dream job-if you were the kind who had a lot of nightmares.

The job I had was cleaning the toilets in a dormitory.  I was qualified because I grew up on a farm cleaning up after pigs, cows and chickens.  All those animals were much easier to clean up after than were college students.

I didn't like the job very much, but I needed the money.  It was good, honest work and nothing to be ashamed of.  Sometimes, I would be working away at my labor on a Sunday afternoon while it seemed like the rest of the world was relaxing and enjoying itself, and I would wonder.  I would wonder how I ever came to be involved in such an endeavor.  I would wonder why I couldn't have been born rich and have been able to bypass such menial tasks as scrubbing porcelain while on my knees.  Maybe it was meant to be? Maybe it was fate? 

My Great-grandfather Sundstrom left Sweden and headed to Iowa many years ago.  Why Iowa?  To quote a couple of characters in the movie, "Field of Dreams,"

"Is this heaven?"

"No, it's Iowa."

It sounded like heaven to a family struggling just to get by in Sweden.

Great-grandpa Sundstrom accompanied by his wife and five children boarded a boat and floated for days and days before arriving in New York.  The voyage was made to seem even longer thanks to the seasickness that visited every family member.  Once in New York, they boarded a train and headed towards the state where the tall corn grows.  Algona was their destination.  My great-grandparents had saved as much money as possible in order to give themselves a good start once they arrived in Iowa and had begun a new life.  They spoke no English, only Swedish, but they had a sponsor in Algona who would be helping them adjust to their new home. 

Then an odd thing happened.  It was one of those occurrences that leads to an entire change of circumstances that alters lives dramatically.  My Great-grandpa Sundstrom needed to use the bathroom on the train.  The old toilets on the train had a pretty simple septic system.  Whatever went into the toilet, went right out onto the tracks.  When my Great-grandpa came out of the bathroom, he discovered that his wallet was missing.  He went back to the bathroom and searched for it.  It could not be found.  There was no doubt that it had fallen onto the tracks.  He talked to the conductor about his loss, but the conductor spoke no Swedish.  My great-grandparents were in a country that they knew little or nothing about.  They had five children who needing caring for and they were completely broke.  At least they still had their sponsor who had promised my Great-grandpa a job once they arrived in Algona.  Great-grandpa had already paid for the train tickets.  They spent the trip being hungry.  Some kind travelers gave the children crackers and bits of apple. 

When they arrived in Algona, they were surprised to find that there was no one waiting for them.  They thought that perhaps their wires had become crossed with their sponsor.  My great-grandparents had nothing to go by except the address of their sponsor.  They left the railroad depot and walked and walked, slowly making their way to their sponsor's home.  There they were informed that their sponsor had died and along with him, so had the promise of a job. 

My great-grandparents had many difficult years.  My Great-grandma got a job cleaning houses.  They were proud people who refused to ask for much help.  They raised the children right there in Algona, Iowa.  My great-grandparents refused to speak Swedish while the children were at home.  They demanded that the children learned to speak English fluently.  The five children all graduated from high school, something that neither of my great-grandparents had been allowed to do. The four girls all went on to further their education and became teachers. A flu epidemic took one of the girls during her first year of teaching. The son went to law school and became an attorney. 

Oh, and what did my Great-grandfather Sundstrom do for a living that allowed all of his children to lead productive and rewarding lives?  What did he do to make it possible for them to go to college?

He cleaned toilets.

Al Batt

Write Al and let him know your thoughts on his story!


Al Batt is a husband, father and grandfather who lives on a farm near Hartland, Minnesota.  He is a writer, speaker and storyteller.  He writes a newspaper column. He does a regular TV and radio show, contributes to many magazines and newspapers, and is an avid birder.

Al Batt
71622 325 St.
Hartland, MN 56032


Thought For The Day:

"Wisdom is the quality that keeps you from getting into situations where you need it." --Doug Larson

Verse for the Day:

"I would have you learn this great fact: that a life of doing right is the wisest life there is. If you live that kind of a life, you'll not limp or stumble as you run." --Proverbs 4:11,12

Kid's Thought For The Day:

"Where you're going is more important than where you stand."

Parent's Thought For The Day

"Children are natural mimics - they act like their parents in spite of every attempt to teach them good manners."

Coach's Thought For The Day

"Anything will give up its secrets if you love it enough."--George Washington Carver

Writer's Thought For The Day:

"A poem is never finished, only abandoned." --Paul Valery

Deep Thought For The Day:

"If you get to thinkin' you're a person of some influence, try orderin' somebody else's dog around."



"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." Galatians 2:20

Video Imagery --Michael's Video Production Business

Dear Michael,

I just wanted to take a minute to thank you for the beautiful video you made for me! It was so special to see both of my parents in tears as they watched their children grow up in pictures before their eyes! I loved the way you made Estania's part set aside from the rest--that was the part that really got them! The music was beautiful. My mom kept blubbering, "What song is that?" I don't know how you did such a beautiful job with the video in such a short time. I really appreciate your doing it so quickly. You have a wonderful gift, and I thank God that you are using it to create such sentimental memories. I hope that I can find my niche like that in an area that I love. Your video gave us one of our most lasting Christmas memories! I hope yours was filled with moments to be treasured forever! Love, Trisha Silverhill, AL

Let me make you a video from your photos! Check out my video production business by visiting:


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Do you feel as if life has no meaning for you?


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Reading Books, Changing Lives!

For those of you who would like to purchase the books from the bookstore via your credit card, you can now do so!

You can now order a number of different autographed best-selling inspirational books for the same price you would get them in the store, the shipping to you is paid for, and you are helping change the lives of teenagers and those they come in contact with! And best of all, every penny from the book sales are going to youth ministry!


A number of people have written to us asking what an EBook is, since our book is being offered in both print and EBook versions. An EBook is a book that can be downloaded and read right on your computer. The advantage of ordering the EBook is that is costs less, $8.95 (No other charges), as compared to $14.95 + shipping and handling for the print book. Plus you can download the EBook and begin reading the stories in a few minutes! EBooks are read via Acrobat Reader, which is software that most of you already have on your computer. And if for some reason you don't, it can be downloaded free of charge at the web site. So for those of you who don't want to wait for the print book to be delivered, check out this web site to order the EBook version of Straight From the Heart "A Celebration of Life."
Transfer your photographs or old home videos over to DVD or MP4 files! Give the gift that will touch your family's heart and soul.

You can join the 15,000 followers on his Facebook Nature Photography by clicking on the link above!

Touching Lives - One E-mail at a Time!
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