Featured #TellHisStory Author: John Blase (And a Book Giveaway)

November 5, 2013 | 24 comments



#TellHisStory Storytellers Series

For most of 2013, authors joined us in this space to offer words of encouragement to writers and communicators. That series has ended, but I am excited to announce a new storytellers series.

I have invited authors to share their stories and/or books with us. You’ll find us gathering here every Tuesday night to tell stories about faith and life.

Our stories have the power to change the world, one paragraph at a time. And I want to be a part of spreading the message of great storytellers in our midst.

So, then, this series: The #TellHisStory Storytellers Series.

Welcome Storyteller John D. Blase, author of Know When to Hold Em: The High Stakes Game of Fatherhood.


I Love You
by John Blase

 So this bell calls us all…

~ John Donne

 It was Sunday morning coming down in Phoenix. I was there on business. My wife called that morning saying they don’t think Dad’s going to make it. I need to go. A little while later the cell phone rang and her voice held two words: He’s dead.

Her dad’s name was John. He’d been fighting pancreatic cancer. Then pneumonia crept in and he was just too weak. The writer Barry Lopez describes your death day as the day “the river calls your name.” That Sunday the river called John’s name.

My wife told me I got to talk to him…they put the phone to his ear and I said I love you, Dad. For that I am thankful. When someone dies alone, all they hear is the river, and while it’s possible you might hear angels or harps, I would think it could also be frightening, cold, lonely. But in addition to whatever sound was in my father-in-law’s ears was a daughter’s voice: I love you, Dad.

As I flew back to Denver, she flew out to Arkansas. She called again. My voice carried four closing words: I love you, Meredith.

Psychological literati skewer that “I love you” phrase, saying if you don’t really feel it, you shouldn’t say it. That’s about the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. You don’t say it because you’re trying to get the inside to match the outside; you say those words because the river always flows and you never know when it might call your name or the name of someone you love. Saying “I love you” is insurance; to not carry it is the stuff of which regrets are made.

One of the most precious human gifts we give one another is to do what we can to ensure others know the grace of our intentions, that we intend to be loving and kind even when we may not act like it or feel it. That’s the reason I strive to tell my wife and my kids I love you every day, without fail. Because you never know what any given Sunday may bring.

~ an excerpt from Know When To Hold ‘Em: The High Stakes Game of Fatherhood by John Blase

John Blase, Know When to Hold 'Em
John Blase is the author of Know When To Hold ‘Em: The High Stakes Game of Fatherhood (Abingdon 2013). He is also a poet who practices the craft at www.thebeautifuldue.wordpress.com. He lives with his wife and three children in colorful Colorado.


We are giving away a copy of John’s wonderful new book, Know When to Hold ‘Em. 

Blase Cover FNL

To enter, tell us about your dad or a dad you admire. Or simply let us know that you would like to be entered in the drawing. I will randomly choose a winner by Friday at noon (CT) and notify him or her by email.

This book is for anyone raising and loving tiny humans. Indeed, it is for anyone who has experienced the joy — and heartache — of family. Highly recommended. Five stars.




by | November 5, 2013 | 24 comments


  1. Janel A

    whenever I read what John writes it resonates so deeply.
    My father and I have butted heads in my growing up years, mostly because we are both so stubborn and sure that we are right. But no matter the choices I make, my Father has shown himself true in loving me regardless. And while we might not understand each other alot of the time, I know I can count on him for advice, love and even a shoulder to cry on when needed. Thank you John for reminding us of the power of I love you in the lives of those who we carry so dearly in our hearts.

    • John D Blase

      Hi, Janel. Thanks for taking the time to comment. I like very much hearing that about your Dad. Knowing you can count on someone means an awful lot, doesn’t it?

  2. S.Etole

    I would love to read this book. My father was a gentle man who rarely spoke of his love but he lived it every day of his life. I can’t recall ever hearing him raise his voice or seeing him raise his hand in anger. I deeply miss him.

    • John D Blase

      Susan, that phrase – ‘a gentle man’ – speaks volumes. Thanks for your comment.

  3. Sheila Seiler Lagrand

    My dad just called me. He does that–just to check up. He thanked me for the recent photos of his great-grandchildren I had forwarded to him.

    When I was a toddler, I managed to find and chew up a rusty razor blade while we were visiting at a neighbor’s home. My dad swept my mouth with his finger and then put all the pieces together like a miniature, vital jigsaw puzzle just to make sure I hadn’t swallowed any bits.

    He doesn’t even like jigsaw puzzles.

    • John D Blase

      Sheila, you were quite a toddler! I love that image of your Dad making sure you hadn’t swallowed any bits…we don’t always accomplish that as fathers, but we sure do try. Thanks!

      • Sheila Seiler Lagrand

        I love that image too, John. It approaches telling all one needs to know about his dadding practices

  4. Jenna

    I had a guy step into the “Dad” position when I was the ripe age of 2.
    I still reflect back to the memories we have created, and everyone thought I was truly his. We seemed like a perfect fit. I was definitely the “daddy’s girl” growing up. I remember my childhood and how I longed to find someone who treated me so well as he did. Needless to say I married someone who does just that.
    It is great to have someone you can look up to. I would love a chance at reading this book! My “Dad” divorced my mom when I was 17yrs old and I still long for that relationship we once had.
    ~Jenna@ We’re Jumpin’ Books

    • John D Blase

      Jenna, you stirred up a few tears with that comment. Thanks. I’m glad you found a man who treats you well, like your Dad did.

  5. Lynn Morrissey

    Dear John……..ah, Donne….for whom the bell tolls……for whom the river flows. Bells and rivers–we’ll all experience them. Death is inevitable. So yes, a thousand times yes, let’s say “I love you” with abandon, while there is time. My father hailed from that generation, where men said “I love you” through actions, through earning a living, through caring for a home, through raising and protecting their family. And though Daddy demonstrated his love for me in countless ways, I longed to hear those three heartfelt words–just three words. In fact, I begged him to tetl me that he loved me. Finally, about five years before the bell tolled for him, before the river carried him away on a flood of pain and illness, what he coudln’t say, he wrote to me in a poignant and passionate letter that I have read and re-read countless times–my “assurance” policy of his love. In it, he recounted times from my childhood that he had shared with me, how proud he was of me, and yes, at the end, that he loved me. Those long-desired words etched with his pen, not just on paper but my heart, are enough to last me for the rest of my life. And I believe that he has taken my “I love you’s” with him into all eternity where they are echoing and ricocheting off the portals of heaven, along with the “I love you’s” of all the saints and angels, and God, Himself. It’s His “I love you” that allows us to say it at all. What you are saying here, John, is vitally important–a matter of life and death, really. Thank you so much for this beautiful excerpt.


    Lynn Morrissey

    • John D Blase

      Lynn, I’m so glad your Dad was able to write those words. I know of ‘that generation’…beautiful, beautiful people not quite as verbal as we are today, but oh so steadfast. Thanks so much for sharing a slice of your story.

      • Lynn Morrissey

        You are so right, John. THanks for commenting. And I do treasure Daddy’s letter more than I can say.

  6. Matthew Kreider

    Boys on the playground always talked about whose dad had the biggest muscles. While I knew my Dad certainly had his muscles on the outside, I was also conscious, even back then, of the strength and flexibility he possessed on the inside. There was something special about my Dad’s heart. I’m thankful for how he taught me to prize that muscle above all else.

    • John D Blase

      Matthew, funny, isn’t it, how we did have an awareness of those things about fathers and mothers at such an early age? Thanks for your comment.

  7. HisFireFly

    In the moments of his last day, body failing, mind long lost to dementia, I was honored to be able to hold my father’s hand, stroke his brow, and tell him that I loved him and that Jesus loved him and was waiting for him even if he didn’t believe. I will never know if those words cut through the fog but I needed to release the weight of them to receive the lightness of obedience.

    • John D Blase

      You told him, and that’s what matters. What an honor…

  8. Dave Vander Laan

    My Dad was an educator by Education but his hobby was building things from wood. He is a man of integrity, he loves Jesus and serves by using his gifts of administration – and well as his gift of building things – including Building Up the Body by teaching Sunday School and serving as a Deacon and Elder.

    • John D Blase

      Dave, what a wonderful description of your Dad. Thanks so much. He sounds like a solid man.

  9. pastordt

    Thank you, John. And thank you, Jen, for inviting him here. Looking forward to other storytellers in this series. From the earliest moment of my conscious awareness, I knew this truth: my father loved me. Totally, freely, gracefully. And that truth has made all the difference in my life – in my ability to believe in a loving God, in my admiration and love for my husband, who fathers our children and grandchildren so very well, and in my growing ability to love myself, as scripture asks us to do. A father’s honest, deep love is a gift beyond compare. I look forward to reading John’s book – I love everything else he writes out here!

    • John D Blase

      Thanks, Diana. Fathers are not gods but they’re not schmucks either. We are something inbetween, something that I believe matters a great deal.

  10. Kimberlee Conway Ireton

    My dad does not wear his heart on his sleeve. To say the least. He’s rather gruff. And very private. And not given to emotional outbursts (unless he’s angry). Which is perhaps why this memory is seared in my brain:

    He and my mom had argued about something she wanted that they couldn’t afford. Whenever they argued, it was about something she wanted that they couldn’t afford. My dad stormed out of the house. I followed him a few minutes later and found him in the back yard, on his hands and knees pulling weeds. Vigorously.

    I stood beside him for a few moments while he continued yanking weeds out of the ground and then said softly, “Daddy?”

    He turned his face and looked at me, and I saw there were tears in his eyes. It was the first time I had ever seen him cry. He said, “I wish I could give your mother everything she wants, but I can’t. I can’t.”

    I had never loved him so much as I did in that moment. For the first time ever, he wasn’t just my dad, but another human being, someone who felt deeply, loved deeply, and was vulnerable to pain. It is one of my most precious memories of him.

    • John D Blase

      ‘Precious’ indeed. We want and wish to do so very much for those we love…but sometimes, as your Dad said, we can’t. Thanks for sharing this.

  11. dukeslee

    It’s been a privilege to have you here this week, John. I’ve long been an admirer of your writing. I love your new book and am recommending it to friends. I think I first “met” you because of your relationship with Brennan Manning. I thank God often for that man; he profoundly influenced my thoughts on grace.

    About my Dad: He lives with us for about a month in the spring and a month in the fall when he comes to help my husband with the spring planting and fall harvest. Which means that his grass-stained New Balance shoes are pushed up along that jagged shoreline of footwear in the mudroom. His enormous shoes are like these two canoes anchored next to the girls’ flip-flops.

    Dad’s always been bigger than life like that to me.

    I still see him as the man I walked with every Sunday as a little girl to church. I took two steps for every one of his. We always held hands on the way to the church.

    I’ve heard it said that a child’s view of her Heavenly Father is shaped by the Dad she had on Earth. Maybe that’s why I know that God loves me so much.

    My dad was the biggest, strongest man I knew — and no matter what I believed about him (I was eventually a teenager, after all), he never stopped believing in me.

    I grew up with a Dad who was not stingy with his affection or his time. Growing up, Dad and I spent hours on the driveway basketball court playing HORSE, or tossing the Frisbee out back by the evergreens. He carried me to bed every night on his back, and woke me up singing “Wake Up Little Susie.”

    But the best moments with my father have happened while fishing. You can’t help but grow close in the confines of an 18-foot Lund fishing boat. That’s especially true if the catching is slow. So, you pass the hours reconnecting in ways that you never could on land.

    Photo: Me and dad by the Christmas tree. 1973-ish.

    • John D Blase

      Jennifer, thank you so much for the invitation to post here at your place. Your photo is wonderful…I believe it brings God mucho pleasure when he sees scenes like that, I really do.


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