Twenty Seconds of Courage

Twenty Seconds of Courage
Catherine Calderwood, Grammar School Latin and Kindergarten Instructor

“You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage and I promise you something good will come out of it.” ~Benjamin Mee, We Bought a Zoo

Sometimes in my life, I feel like this is exactly what God is saying to me. I know it’s what I quoted to myself on the day I pulled into the parking lot of the Sedgwick County Zoo, gripping a resume folder with increasingly white knuckles. It’s what I said as I typed my very first email to Wade Ortego about a job I wanted. I had started the extensive application, and wanted him to know that I was interested in working for this school I’d only really heard about the night before. I already felt the tug on my heart of what God could do with and for me at CSW.

Twenty seconds in each of those cases was both a split second and an eternity. God has also taught me to wait. I’ve had stretches in my life where I put one foot in front of the other and stayed the course. Each one of them was an exercise in trusting that God knew what he was doing and that my next “twenty second” decision was on its way.

My family began talking about going on the mission field when I was about twelve. We finally moved to Spain when I was 14. The “twenty second decision” I made then was that, no matter what it was like, I was going to enjoy the adventure. And adventure we did! My parents worked at a K-12 missionary kids school that was smaller than CSW, and I had the opportunity to travel and see the world. From the minute I got there, I was helping with the younger children on the field and at the school. It also ignited my passion for languages, as I learned Spanish during those three-and-a-half years.

That “twenty second decision” at the zoo has been a fun one. What started as a search for a summer job transitioned into a nights and weekend part time position, which has taught me an infinite amount about both animals and people. If you’ve ever wondered what the education department of the zoo does, ask me. I’ve probably done everything at least once. Also, third graders and parents, I look forward to continuing our new tradition of a sleepover in the gorilla building this February.

Probably the silliest “twenty second decision” I made was buying my camera. I dreamt my whole life of having a camera like my dad’s old SLRs. I had finally saved the money, done the research and was ready to buy. Unfortunately, Wichita was in the middle of one of the worst February snowstorms on record. We’d already missed two days of school and were set to miss another. I was feeling very stuck in my little one-bedroom apartment with only the cat for company. When I called my parents, my dad volunteered to come pick me up and drive me to the store to purchase the camera. We drove through whiteout conditions and bought it that night. The good that has come from that is a passionate hobby that has helped at CSW, as I’ve been able to get pictures of Grammar School events and sports games.

My newest “twenty second decision” was teaching Latin and Kindergarten. We all experienced a period of waiting as we watched what God was going to do with CSW’s future. I certainly felt the words of Isaiah 26:3 as I felt the perfect peace of God steady my heart and my emotions while I trusted in His plan.  When the needs became clear, I knew God had been preparing me for this my whole life. Spending high school working with kids of all ages gave me the confidence to work with Kindergarten. Loving languages and speaking Spanish ignited a passion in me to teach students to love Latin. Even my past two years at CSW have helped, as I’m excited to see how much my past students have grown.

We’re four weeks in, and I can confidently assure you that twenty seconds have never brought so much good.