Whitefield Academy Blog

Redeeming Time in the Car: The Long Commute

by | Feb 4, 2021 | Parenting, Private Schools | 1 comment

When my husband and I began to consider sending our fifteen year old daughter Annika to Whitefield Academy, one of the costs we counted was travel, the minutes and miles we would spend on the road. We live forty miles from school and knew we would spend at least forty minutes in the car each way. We decided the long commute was worth it, and we were not wrong. However, it is a hefty commute– especially on those days when I make the two-way trip twice. Lots of minutes and lots of miles. I have been searching for ways to redeem that time in the car, both when my daughter is riding shotgun, and when I am making the trek by myself.


I’m not a morning person, nor is she, so I’ve found that when we pull out of the driveway at 6:45 we both feel more like listening than talking. Music is an obvious go-to and Spotify has made that so much more fun and interesting. Sometimes it’s her music; sometimes it’s mine. But much of it has become ours. The music we listen to together–whether it’s Carole King or Josh Garrells or Lin-Manuel Miranda– has become more than something to fill the silence; it’s a soundtrack of her high school years.


More recently, podcasts have become a part of our routine. My current favorite is Mike Cosper’s Cultivated. Cosper, director of the Harbour Institute for Faith and Culture, interviews Christian artists, educators, speakers, and writers who have unique perspectives on the intersection of faith and culture. The episodes are engaging, thought-provoking, and the perfect match for 30-40 minute drive. Guests include Sandra McCracken, Propaganda, Jackie Hill Perry, Gregory Thornbury, and Andy Crouch. I often listen to them on my way to pick up Annika and re-listen to them with her. The conversations we listen in on are the conversations I want to be having with her and with others. We’ve also tuned into West Wing Weekly and The Happy Rant. I know there are dozens more to explore.


Although I prefer to interact with characters on the page, Audible has been a great discovery as well. I have downloaded a few books–mostly ones we have already read and would love to reread but don’t have the time. Since we are familiar with the stories, we can listen more passively and follow the plot even if our minds wander to oncoming traffic or if Annika is making last minute preparations for school. Last week we were listening to one of our favorites, Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief, when the narrator used several German terms. As she applied her mascara, Annika perked up because she recognized some vocabulary from her German elective class. The 40 minute car ride flew by as we relived Liesel losing her family, stealing her first book, and meeting Hans and Rosa. Because of Winn Dixie and Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo are what’s up next.


I also take advantage of Bluetooth technology to listen and re-listen to sermons from our church. As the Scriptures are read and a familiar voice preaches the Word, my commute becomes worship. Of course, I am not confined to listening to just my pastors. Currently, I am re-listening to John Piper’s sermon series on the Book of Romans. I listened to it many years ago and am now listening to it in bits and pieces. I find that his preaching awakens, comforts and challenges. I pray that these voices will bring some focus and light to the chaos of our days.


Not all of our time is consumed with listening. We also use our car time to talk. There is catching up, venting, planning, rehearsing lines, reading papers, and just plain old visiting. Sometimes, though, I do try to purposefully make our conversations meaningful. On the way to school once, I asked Annika to name every student in her class and tell me the one thing she liked best about each of them. It was a fun and positive way to start the day, and I got to know her classmates better. I am hoping for more mornings like that.

Although I sometimes dread the drive, I am mostly thankful for the time God has given Annika and me in the car together. We have laughed as I have written grammar haiku, tapping out the syllables on my steering wheel. We have sung every song from Hamilton. We have rehashed every bit of joy and drama that entering a small private school as a sophomore can offer. Annika is the youngest of five, the last child at home, and the first one to venture away from homeschooling. So this daily commute is new for us. I’m more of chauffeur now than a teacher, but over the roads of Kansas City, through the wonders of technology, and by the grace of God, we are redeeming the time and getting to know each other and the world better. I know this season is short–she turns sixteen in May. I’m not sure how many minutes or miles that gives us, but I know it’s worth filling up the gas tank for the third time this week.

1 Comment

  1. Ashley Bean

    This is such great advice!

    The Kansas City Library (and I’m sure others in the area) have an app called Libby that is just like Audible but free!


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