So many words come to mind as a picture silently speaks to the soul. That
effervescent smile behind the camera has given us a priceless gift, an image
of our journey. Oh the stories they will tell. Greetings in the name of the
Lord Jesus, our Savior.
As I search for words to contain all that is going on inside I thought of
a bottle of coke, so many tiny bubbles floating to the surface to be
released, exploding in little fireworks of liquid. My mind is full, my
thoughts are many and they just keep coming. Ah, the effervescence that was
Mr. Howie Hodge.
It was a cold fall day with mist in the air. We were attempting to close
out the Busch North Season for the third time. It wasn’t looking promising.
This rookie Chaplain with RWJM was more than a little intimidated. I was on
my own for the first time, not all too confident of the what, where and
how’s of the game. I needed some guidance and encouragement.
I parked on the wet grass labeled media, figuring that would be okay.
That’s where we met. Howie and Mary were arriving and came over to introduce
themselves and to offer any assistance they could. Thank you Lord for
answering my prayer. It wasn’t too long before I was standing with them in
the “media room” in a small green building on the main stretch. Did I
mention the coffee and Krispy Kreme donuts? God is good!
I knew the name, had seen some of the body of work, never actually met
them until that day. Most of my involvement in the racing community was from
a fan perspective. I had always imagined the view from the other side of the
fence. God provided a perfect guide.
Through his lens he had seen so many things, the good, the bad and the
ugly as they say. He knew what to cherish and what wasn’t worth giving a
second look. He had a gift for revealing to us the whole story. Regardless
of what was said the pictures told it all.
We have been given volumes upon volumes of stories recorded in pictures.
I am sure the words will never be written to cover each one. As you gaze
upon them and remember that moment, that day, that event, thank the good
Lord above for giving us such a dedicated servant that recorded the things
our mind may soon forget.
With such great memories there is great pain, grief, a sense of loss. We
have lost not just a member of the family, but someone who showed us our
true nature. Someone who recorded for us the snapshots of our lives. The
story that takes so many words to say.
The reality of life is it ends. We are given a certain time on this earth
by God through Jesus Christ. We are not told when that time has come. Jesus
determines our time, like a gardener that tends to the crops and determines
which ones are ready. He may pluck the most fragrant flower. He may remove
the choking weeds. We are here for only a moment. We need to use that time
to reach out and touch the lives around us.
That fact wasn’t lost on Howie, he touched so many with his kindness. I
am reminded of how we need to reflect the character of God. The key is to be
ready and watching. While God’s love for us doesn’t change, our usefulness
to Him depends on how we respond to that love. We must live a noble life,
reflecting the fruit of the Holy Spirit that we read about in Galatians
5:22, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
gentleness and self-control. We must remove the hatred, discord, jealousy,
rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, divisions and envy, those who live like
this will not inherit the kingdom of God. We must prepare to live a long
life, but be ready to go at any moment.
Romans 8:38-39, For I
am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,
neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor
depth, nor anything else in all creation,
will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our
The choice is ours. As we grieve we need to
reflect on how we are living our own life. We need to evaluate how our
living has helped or hurt those around us. We need to decide to live
differently. Don’t let this moment pass in vain. Search your life, turn to
God, He can and will have mercy, compassion and love for you.
We are remembered for many things in life, where we live, worked and
played. Polly Reid shared these thoughts;
“Most likely, Howard will be remembered for his nearly fifty years
of motorsports photography. Along with his wife Mary, they captured decades
of auto racing through their lens for such publications as Area Auto Racing,
Speedway Scene and The Chrome Horn as well as numerous other trade magazines
and speedway programs. In the earlier years, Howard and Mary used to operate
the photo booth at Stafford Motor Speedway and then the Waterford Speedbowl
as well. That evolved to the pair becoming NASCAR photographers for the now
called K&N Series as well as the Whelen Modified Tour. Working as a team,
Howard and Mary’s travels brought them to over 150 speedways around the
country with well-planned trips to local tracks along the way no matter what
direction they were headed. Their last assignment was with Area Auto Racing
Howard and Mary Hodge were married for fifty-three years. Earlier in
January, they were inducted into the Eastern Motorsports Press Association
Hall of Fame. A life lived together through the lens of the camera.
Please keep Mary and Kevin in your thoughts and prayer along with the
entire family. A special thank you for all their help to the staff at the
St. Francis Hospital Cardiac Unit. Messages of condolence can be sent to:
RWJM, PO Box 586, Tolland CT 06084 and we will get them to Mary and Kevin.
Howie, you were right again, we didn’t make the 11:30 boat. We made the
11:00! God Speed my friend, see you soon. Rest in peace.
Be a witness for our Lord with the ministry decals and
apparel. See them at the Show Your Faith Apparel Store at
www.rwjm.com. Send us
your prayer and counseling needs no matter what part of our racing family
you are in, or give us a call. Remember that God loves you, we love you and
Jesus is Lord over Auto Racing. GOD BLESS.
Mail reaches us at Racing with Jesus Ministries, PO Box 586,
Tolland, CT 06084.
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Please remember, we can only do what we do because of your prayerful
Numbers 6:24-26 "The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord
make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face
toward you and give you peace."
May God always Bless you, everyday in everyway. Rev. Don
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