All posts by Pat Gustafson

Nurse’s Notes: 15 Germy Things You Touch Every Day

There are things we use every day and give little thought to the germs they may carry.  Keeping these items clean may just help keep you healthy and free from infections.

  1. Cellphone – It goes with you everywhere — even into the bathroom. As a result, it could be up to 10 times dirtier than a toilet seat. In fact, it could have  E.coli on it. That’s a bacteria that can give you diarrhea and stomach cramps. It can live for hours on a warm surface like your phone. The solution: Wash your hands with soap after you go.
  2. Remote Control – Everyone touches it — even the neighbor’s kid who picks his nose nonstop. And when it isn’t in your germy hands, it’s either on the floor or stuck between the sofa cushions — a cozy, dark home for mold and bacteria. Give it a going-over with antibacterial wipes every so often. <!–split–>
  3. Computer Keyboard – You eat lunch over it at work. The kids log on at home and wipe their runny noses while they play their favorite game. The cat hops up for a nap after she leaves the litter box. No surprise it’s covered in germs. To clean things up:  Shut down your computer. Give your keyboard a few good shakes to get rid of loose crumbs.  Use rubbing alcohol on a cotton ball or pad to clean around each key.
  4. Dish Sponge – Surprise! It’s the dirtiest thing in your house. By a long shot. That makes sense: It’s wet, absorbent, and you rub food and dirt with it all the time. Sponges are hard to keep clean. Your best bet?  Replace it when it starts to smell.
  5. Toothbrush Holder – How can this be? Your toothpaste kills germs, doesn’t it? Yes, but a lot of them stick to the bristles and drip onto the holder. This spot has one of the highest bacteria readings of anything you touch. Clean it often. One easy way: Remove the gunk, then stick it in the dishwasher.
  6. Anything in the Office Break Room – The microwave, refrigerator doors & faucet are all covered in bacteria. The vending machine buttons aren’t that clean, either. The damp, dark reservoir in your coffee maker could be full of yeast & mold. Wash your hands before & after you touch the appliances. Rinse the coffee pot between uses; run vinegar through it monthly.
  7. Dog Toys – You’ve probably heard a dog’s mouth is cleaner than a human’s. Doubtful. It isn’t that Fido has fewer germs, he just has different ones. Every time he slobbers on Mr. Squeaky, he doesn’t just transfer bacteria, he creates a sticky wet place for other germs to thrive. There’s no telling what his plaything picks up as he drags it around. Clean rubber toys by hand or in the dishwasher (top shelf only). Toss fabric ones into the wash.
  8. Money – You grab it all the time with your germy hands. So do other people. Researchers found that most dollar bills are covered in 3,000 types of bacteria — everything from the germs that cause acne to microbes from people who lick their fingers when they count out bills. Some countries are printing money on plastic, but the U.S. has yet to take that step. Until we have a cleaner option, wash up after you handle that cash.
  9. Your Office Coffee Cup – You fill it with coffee made from water that sits in a yeast and mold-filled tank. Then you wash it with a dirty sponge that’s full of bacteria. Take it home every day and run it through the dishwasher. At least use dish soap and paper towels if you clean it at work.
  10. The Laundry – Think a quick spin in the washer and dryer will get things clean? Maybe not. One study found that some nasty viruses, including rotavirus, which causes severe stomach troubles, made it through the spin cycle and the dryer. Wash things like underwear on hot, use bleach when you can, and don’t skimp on the drying time.
  11. Your Purse – You stick your hands in it all the time. So do your kids. But you rarely clean it. That accounts for the bacteria that live inside it. The places you leave it, like dirty counters, bathroom stalls, and car floorboards, account for icky travelers on the outside. Hang it on a hook when you can, and clean it with antibacterial wipes. Think about the outside, too — pebbly or uneven surfaces can make better homes for bugs than smooth ones.
  12. The ATM – People from anywhere and everywhere touch buttons on the cash machine. Scientists in New York City found microbes left behind from food like fish and chicken, bacteria from rotting plant and dairy products, and mold linked to spoiled baked goods. There wasn’t a difference between indoor or outdoor machines, but the ones in laundromats and stores were the dirtiest.
  13. Shopping Carts – You fill it with meat and then grab the handle. You sit your little one in it, and she fills her diaper. Birds poop on it while it’s out in the parking lot. That’s why cart handles and seats are often home to  E.coli, campylobacter, and salmonella, all of which cause diarrhea. If your store provides wipes near the cart corral, use them.
  14. Soap Dispensers – Your hands aren’t exactly clean when you give that soap dispenser a nudge, but that isn’t always the reason it’s full of bacteria. The soap inside the gadget can get contaminated if it’s refilled before it’s completely empty. If you wash with it, you’ll transfer the germs to anything you touch afterward.  Wash thoroughly and use paper towels to dry — jet air dryers can spread germs, too.
  15. Kitchen Towel – You don’t just dry your dishes and hands with it. You use it to clean off grimy little hands and faces or wipe up spills on dirty counters. The result: Your dish towel can be home to nasty things like salmonella or fecal bacteria. Good news: The more often you wash your towels, the fewer critters call them home. Soak them for 2 minutes in bleach first.

Your Parish Nurse, Kara

Meeting God During Lent

It’s my sincere prayer and hope that during this season of Lent that we will draw closer to God and seek to do His will.

Here we are: It’s the season of Lent, and I’m wondering if I should tell you the truth about it. Most of us pastors agree that this is the most important season of the church year, seven weeks that come to a grand climax with Easter Sunday. Church attendance is traditionally at its best in this season. The most loyal believers look for ways to deepen their faith, and even those out on the periphery often acknowledge that during this period  they hope to do better than they’ve been doing. But as we gather on this Sunday, I keep asking myself if I should tell you the truth about it all. <!–split–>

Perhaps I should begin by telling you where Lent comes from. For many hundreds of years, Christians have set aside 40 days before Easter as a time of preparation for Easter. These 40 days have been counted in a variety of ways, but for many centuries they have been the 40 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter, except for the Sundays.

Why 40? Because through the Bible, 40 has been the number for testing, or in some cases, the solitude that provides a setting for testing. Thus, Moses was alone with God for 40 days as he received the Ten Commandments, and the prophet Elijah traveled for 40 days and nights without food to reach Horeb, the mount of God.

But the number 40 came to its highest significance in the life of our Lord Jesus Christ, which is the story in our Scripture lesson of the day. Jesus had just been baptized by John. It was an electric moment, for as Jesus was coming out of the water, the Holy Spirit descended on him like a dove, and a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”

Into The Wilderness          

Then, the very Holy Spirit that had so signally recognized Jesus led him “into the wilderness,” where he was tempted by the devil. There he fasted for 40 days and 40 nights. It must have been a time of very intense seeking of God. Some of us know what it is to fast for a meal or for a day. Once, long ago, I fasted for three days. But 40 days! I can’t even imagine it. More than that, they were days of utter solitude. In such a wilderness, the sounds of human life are lost in silence, and in the subtle, usually unheard, voices of nature.

I’m told that after several days of fasting, one’s desire for feed begins to diminish. At the same time, a person’s spiritual sensitivity is greater. The barrier between the soul and God slowly fades, until at times the divine is more real than the natural. I suspect that Jesus was enjoying just such communion with his Father. Still fresh from the waters of baptism, eager to begin the ministry that was the purpose of his being, Jesus must have felt as if he would burst with the excitement of what lay ahead.

Then a discord shattered the ecstatic beauty. It was a quiet voice, but a demanding one. There was no escaping it. The voice that so long ago had intruded on the perfection of Eden now invaded Jesus’ holy solitude. “You’re hungry, aren’t you?” (He had almost forgotten that hunger existed.) “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become bread.”

Temptation is always complex, probably because you and I are such complex creatures. There was the very real, natural fact of hunger. When one hasn’t eaten for 40 days and nights, the insistence of appetite may have diminished, but the need is crucially real. There’s a limit to how long the body can go without fuel, and now that the suggestion had been made, natural need must have come on like a flood.

But more than that, there was a challenge to Jesus’ very identity. The baptismal voice had said, 40 days earlier, “my Son, the Beloved.” Now the devil snickered, “If it’s so, prove it! Goodness knows you need bread, so put your supposed powers to some good and practical use.”

As the gospel writer tells the story, Jesus met the temptation quickly, easily, succinctly. I wonder, though, if the Master’s answer came slowly, perhaps even haltingly, out of a huge wrestling of the soul? We can never know. In any event, when he gave his answer, the enemy moved to a whole new playing field. This time the temptation had to do with the power and goodness of God. The devil reminded him of a promise in the book of Psalms, and suggested that he should leap from the pinnacle of the temple, because God’s angels will watch over those who trust him.

As temptations go, this may well be the most popular one these days. We live in a culture where people expect to get what they want, and to get it fast. So we treat God the way inconsiderate people treat a table server. “I want healing. A better job. A bigger house. A growing church.” “And why shouldn’t I ask it?” someone says. “Doesn’t God want the best for us?”

God does, indeed, want the best for us. And the truth is, in many cases if we got the things we ask for, right at the moment we request them, it would be like casting ourselves from the pinnacle of the temple; getting what we want would destroy us. The promises of God are very wonderful; so wonderful that we’re sometimes tempted to worship the promises rather than worshiping God. Our power-hungry, give-me-what-I-want age needs desperately to know that God is God and we are not, and that God can be trusted to know how our prayers are best answered.

The devil tried again. (You may have noticed that the devil is persistent.) He held out before Jesus “all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor,” and offered them if only Jesus would fall down and worship him. I believe the most important thing Jesus knew about himself was this, that he had come into the world to die, and that the course he must take would lead eventually to a cross. On the surface, the devil’s offer was appealing. Jesus gave a clear, fierce answer. “Away with you Satan! For it is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.’”

 Big Soul-Business

Now here’s the part I’ve hesitated to tell you. This wilderness experience ― the 40 days and nights of fasting, that concluded in such incisive temptation ― this is the basis for our Lenten season. Hundreds of years ago our Christian ancestors, led by the Holy Spirit, set aside 40 days of preparation for Easter, and they built the whole idea around Jesus in the wilderness.

Which is to say, Lent is really big business. Big soul-business. So it’s no wonder that we’re inclined to cut it down to size. We like to put easy chairs in our Lenten wilderness, with refreshment centers and frequent reminders that God will bless us for what we’re doing. I know, because that’s the way I like to go about it. We mean well, but we want a manageable wilderness. Some of us have planned to give up something for Lent, especially if by doing so we might also reduce our waistline. Others of us intend to begin, or to improve, a habit of daily devotions. Still others have promised God that they will make a special Easter offering.

And bless your hearts, all of this is good. I don’t want to discourage you from it. But I’d like so much if we would remember that the idea of Lent was born in a wilderness. I’m troubled that our culture has influenced us so to the point that the only cross some folks can imagine is one we wear as a necklace or a lapel pin. We have forgotten that Christianity is a heroic religion, one that produces spiritual giants. And it does that because some of us choose, voluntarily, to go into a wilderness of true discipline, in the hope that we might become the kind of people God intends us to be.

 Free But Not Cheap

There’s one more thing, to be honest, that I must tell you. I hesitate to do so, because it might sound as if I’m softening the hard truth I’ve just described. But it’s part of this Bible account, so here it is. Matthew tells us that after Jesus had resisted the devil, “Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him.”

This Christian life is a magnificent way. It does, indeed, include angels, and bread for life’s journey, and God’s power and glory. But these things are too real to be cheap. Mind you, they’re free, because they’re gifts of grace, but they’re not cheap. They’re most likely to be found by those of us who are ready to follow our Lord into the wilderness of a high discipline.

I invite you, this very day, to join me in that Lenten commitment.

Wells4Wellness: 2018 Walk For Clean Water

This fundraiser is a community-based and family-oriented, 6-week walking program where we (and you!) live. It involves people throughout the U.S. and the world. It’s not just one day, one place. Form a team or join a team! <!–split–>

This walk not only improves your health but also brings the people of Niger, Africa access to fresh clean water. Our goal is to raise $35K for 5 wells in 2018. Participants solicit pledges and walk between 11 March and 22 April.

Bethel Wesley will again be participating as a team. Please join us as we help to make water clean for everyone! You can participate in several ways: be part of the walking team and keep track of your miles, collect donations and pledges for your miles walked, and/or make a donation to Wells4Wellness. Last year Bethel Wesley’s participation helped build 5 new wells in Niger, Africa. Think how many people have clean water now and so many children are able to go to school now instead of spending their day walking to haul water! You are awesome!

Signup sheets and pledge sheets are available. Come join our team! For more details, visit the website at

Your Parish Nurse, Kara Ade

Easter Worship Schedule

MAUNDY THURSDAY SERVICE – 29 March, 6:00 pm, Communion Service

GOOD FRIDAY SERVICES – 30 March, Noon & 6:00 pm  (two services)

EASTER SUNDAY SERVICES – 1 April, 7:00 am & 10:00 am  (two services)

There will be a Pancake Breakfast in-between services on Easter Sunday.

Nurse’s Notes

Saint Valentine

Saint Valentine, officially known as Saint Valentine of Rome, is a 3rd-century Roman saint widely celebrated on 14 February and commonly associated with “courtly love.” Although not much of St. Valentine’s life is reliably know, and whether or not the stories involve 2 different saints by the same name is also not officially decided, it is highly agreed that St. Valentine was martyred and then buried on the Via Flaminia to the north of Rome.

“Lord, grant that I might not so much seek to be loved as to love.”– St. Francis of Assissi  <!–split–>

African American History Month

This February celebrates African American History Month. Learn about how heart disease, cancer, and stroke impact African Americans and how to improve your health.

To commemorate and celebrate the contributions to our nation made by people of African descent, American historian Carter G. Woodson established Black History Week. First celebrated in 1926, the week was expanded into Black History Month in 1976 as part of the nation’s bicentennial. Each year, the U.S. President proclaims February as National African American History Month. Heart disease, cancer, and stroke are the leading causes of death for African Americans. Learn about these conditions and what you can do for health.

“People will forget what you said, People will forget what you did, But people will never forget how you made them feel.”  –Maya Angelou

Your Parish Nurse, Kara

Summer Church Camp

The 2018 Camp Guides are here. Take advantage of early bird discounts if you register and pay in full by 16 April 2018. Also check into the sibling discount and bring-a-friend discount. Camper scholarships are also available. Pick up a brochure outside the office on the wall display.