Big Hearts Little Hearts

Every night when I put Ti-James to bed I do something…

I rub his little chest. This has been my routine since I heard found out that I have HCM. I touch his chest and wonder what lies in his little heart. I look at that clean slate and the thought of him going through the tests he will have to, the ECG’s and Electrocardiographs the MRI’s, i am slaughtered.

The night time routine is DaddySon time. It is one of those rare occasions that it is just Ti and I. I love it. We chat and we talk about nothing and everything (he is three).

Last Thursday was the hardest day of my life.  The past two years have seen more than three instances of “sudden cardiac death” for me, two surgeries, the near collapse of my marriage, seeing my wife and family go through the pain of my “crap heart” (both the physical and emotional ones), I left the ministry I felt built for (for fear it might kill me amongst other reasons) and learned a new profession. But nothing, not one single thing in my life was as hard as watching my son lay on that ecg bed covered in leads and wires and scream “no more machines” with a panic and terror I have never seen.

It is not hard to understand consequences as an adult. I touch fire, I get burned. I only eat pork fat, i get fat. I cheer for the Toronto Maple Leafs, I suffer. These are known consequences. But when you look at your child, the embodiment of innocence and see him in abject terror, guilt sets in. He was going through all of this purely because he was my son. I looked at him and told him it was necessary to find out if he had “a sick heart like daddy”.  He looked at me, and then cried out “no more machines mommy, no more machines… mommy!!”. Once set free from his wires and sticky leads he calmed a bit, the promise of lunch and juice can manage many preschoolers fear. My fear, my terror, the image in my mind did not fade as quickly.

All test came back clear for both Ti and Kora. As of the ages of 3 years and 5 months neither of my children showed signs of my “sick heart”. They will be tested again in 3 years.

The next three years will carry a lot for us, I will adjust to life with a defibrillator/pacemaker unit in my chest. Leah will adjust to life with a husband who is limited in what he is able to do. Ti and Kora will learn and grow and play and love and be children.

The look in my sons eyes that day, and comments he made the week prior tell me he understands more than we imagined. He tells us he has a Happy Heart, when every my sick heart is brought up. He reassured Leah “don’t worry mom” when I was having my second surgery back in February while telling her “ti worries, so its ok”.

This all came bubbling out because I read the blog of an old acquaintance. She has spent the last 7 months or so preparing to deliver a baby with a “sick heart”. Her blog is brutally honest, and filled with Hope. In going through all of my cardiac crap I have been able to take most of it in stride. I have worried about others wanted them to be taken care of. I have been strong, joked with doctors and nurses, and done my best to make this a good experience. Being at sick kids hospital ruined me.   Hope arrived yesterday. If you pray, Pray for Amy, her husband Shawn, little girl Sadie and especially for little Hope!

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Shhhh don’t tell anyone

I fail

Common affliction, most do it.

I have come to the realization that the failure is inconsequential. It is the decision to let that failure control your life and actions that is the true problem.

I spent a good portion of last year doing just that. I allowed my failures to control and dictate who I was. That made me a horrible person for the most part. I focused so much on me, that I ignored the world around me… my family, my friends, my passions. I basically stopped giving a shit about what truly matters to me. I done with that now… I really really want to give a shit. I noticed this morning… I am giving a shit again. I seem to have found that man who rattled the cage and called for action. He is a little quieter now, but he is finding his voice.

This space will soon be filling again, my poor grammar and disjointed writing style will once again be something for you to ignore. But it will help me become the man I’m supposed to be… it will be part of the shit I give…


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My now

my spiritual now

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As Per Mr Blondel, My Mind was blown

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My Last Night

November 8th 2005 I walked through the door of the Switch Yard at the request of Jenn Martin and John Coles to “come check it out, and see if it’s something you would like to be a part of”.

November 22 2005 I turned the key and unlocked the door for Drop in at the Switch Yard for the first time.

June 28th 2011 I locked the door of Drop in at the Switch Yard for the last time.

Since word has slowly spread of my resignation from Switch Yard I have heard all sorts of rumours. Some quite comical, some hurtful, and some down right bizarre. I have many reasons for stepping aside, some of which I am quite free with while others are personal and will stay that way. The primary reason for leaving, is that it is time.

In working for Switch Yard, I thrived on the adventure and rush this work provided. As I began to see the need, and the direct contact I got to have with kids in our community, my passion grew and burned. It became evident to those around me I was built for this. I enjoyed the conflict, because I enjoyed the resolution of it. I loved the times of boldness, as well as the times of subtlety.

For close to 6 years, this place has been my life.  I molded my identity around it. I became it, and It became me. It was a dream come true… or so I thought. I have always struggled with Identity. I’ve spent most of my life being an obnoxious chameleon. One who was able to meld into most situations (primarily due to my ability to retain seemingly useless nuggets of information about every topic imaginable) yet find a way to chat and talk with people so I was able to hide in plain sight. I was now, the “Switch Yard Guy”. I could study and learn and observe my way to actually having a clue what I was talking about… and not just appear (or not) as though I did. I had found my passion.

Last June I had a health scare. Several things came clearly into sight. The clearest of those, was that I was not “Switch Yard Guy”. I was/am James Forde. I am a Husband, I am a Father. My vocation, is not who I am. But I let it be that. I put all other things in my life on hold for it, and I defended doing it because it was my passion.

353 days after my heart went ballistic on me I handed in my letter of resignation. I have a plan, and will be going back to work in an office setting (doing something else I believe I was born to do!). I will be a full time husband and full time dad. I know there are many who have been able to do both… to work in a ministry like Switch Yard, and be a great husband and father. I wasn’t able to. Which made me realize, that although this was a passion, a God given one. That it was no longer my time to be “Switch Yard Guy”. It was my time to be “babe” and “dad”.

As a man who believes that Jesus is The Way. I have come to realize that if I claim to follow him and serve him, then my family is to be my priority. To me, that means my order of responsibility goes like this; God, Family, everything else. So that is the reason I am leaving, the #1 being I am accountable to, told me I needed to focus on the #2 thing I am accountable to… Period!

I love Switch Yard. I bleed for these kids… I cant imagine not loving this place. So as I put the key in the door I cried. I took two laps around town and couldn’t stop the tears. I was not just leaving a job… not just closing a chapter… I was walking away from the identity I had hid behind.

In my almost 6 years of being the director of The Switch Yard Youth Centre, I have seen more than I could ever have imagined. I learned, I grew, I regressed, I lost hope, I lost faith, I found hope, I found faith, I cried, I broke, I ran after, I was run after, I fought for, I fought against, I grew tired, I almost died, I saw too many die.

For those of you who have worked/lived in ministry you nodded your head at many if not all of those things. You know that each one of them makes you able to do what you do, and be who you need to be. They all also take their toll. That toll in my life was my family, and that was an unacceptable toll to pay!

So thanks for understanding, and if you still don’t, come talk to me. I have valued your prayer and support in my years as “Switch Yard Guy”. I really would love to keep getting them as “Babe” and “Dad”



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I am riddled with things I want to ask God.

Matthew Paul Turner and Cross Point Church did a great job on this video.

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I work in a ministry.

I work in a fairly “unsexy” ministry.

We don’t protect unborn life, we don’t show up at your door with the money for your heating oil. We don’t cut split and stack your firewood. Nor do we have a parade of our kids flooding your church lobby, or youth group.

I call our type of ministry, seed planting.

The thing with planting seed is, you have to get your hands into the soil. You have to get dirty. There are times you are on all fours in the muck of some ones life. There is sweat, pain, blood, and lots of muck.

Our ministry isn’t seed planting in the heart of the garden… its the rocky edges, the tough soil, the clay, the gravel, the stone. We can’t just throw the seed there, it gets picked at by birds, or washed away by the next rain of pain and trouble. We have to get in deep, move stuff around, and know that patch of ground so well that we know when the seed can take hold.

This type of planting, has a low yield. We sometimes have to celebrate the lack of erosion, instead of harvest. You see, we rarely get to see harvest. We are on all fours, still learning that next place to plant.

We hear stories of our people, moving away, starting a new life… and then being harvested. We see just as many lately, just wither and die.

We see pay cheques go uncashed, bills go unpaid, but we have to carry on. We must abide in His faithfulness and hope. We know for many, the harvest is plenty but the workers are few. For us the harvest seems so distant.

We believe we are where God wants us. In the lives he wants us in, but sometimes we would just love to see one of “our” kids make that big jump. We want to sit in the back of a church and weep, not for the life lost, but for the redemption found. We will just need one, and it will fuel us for a thousand years.

You see, that is the thing with planting, you plant to see harvest. We have been told, that we are wasting our time. Our seeds wont take root, our soil is too tough, too rocky, too leached of any value. So we hold out for a smaller harvest. That bit of fruit. Value understood, worth redemption, created for love and connection. Those are our fruit.

So please, celebrate with us when we see our harvest come in. It may look unfamiliar to you, but trust us, it is glorious!

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