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Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Lindens: A Brief History

Some who don't know the Lindens all that well have requested some biographical information. Unfortunately, they asked me.

Matt and Holly Linden were married in the fall of 1992. I remember this specifically because I was away at college at the time and unable to attend their wedding. Being a poor liberal arts major, I sent them a wedding gift: McDonald's Gift Certificates. It was only partially a joke: I couldn't afford anything else. Imagine my elation when I was informed that they actually used them!

I came to know Matt, as many of you did, at the YMCA's Camp Fox on Catalina Island. He was the junior high and high school camp director for a while and when I took over the job a few years later, all I heard for the longest time was, "Well, when Matt was the camp director he did it like this..." which would be followed with some long-winded diatribe on the virtues of the Linden Leadership Method. I always listened patiently and dolled out due respect to his followers' earnest pontification, whilst the cockles of my heart were surely warmed at the sound of those words. (And by "warmed" I mean "heated into a fiery hostility".) Seriously, his innate wisdom and charisma always engendered admiration, however misplaced.

He went on from his work at the YMCA to finish his degree at Pt. Loma University and become a youth pastor at both the Idaho Church of the Nazarene in Twin Falls and the Bethany Presbyterian Church in Seattle, including a mission trip to Trinidad and Tobago which is a story that still garners rapt attention at its telling. It was during this time as a pastor that many of the leaders at Camp Fox pegged him as the man who would officiate at their weddings, to which he eventually obliged. I have been fortunate enough to attend a few of those weddings, and can report in all honesty the impressive display of sincerity and hope that Matt instilled in those personal and significant events.

Instead, my wife and I chose Matt to be the Best Man in our wedding ceremony (and Holly a bridesmaid.) And though we appreciated Matt's sincerity in our own commitment, and his genuine hope that our marriage would be a passionate and fulfilled one (it is), we had never imagined that he would lead the congregation in singing the Village People's classic anthem, "Y.M.C.A." -complete with dance moves and hand gestures. Thank you, Matt.

I know for some of you that Matt helped and advised you in the purchase your first home, when he was a real estate agent in Seattle, and then Holly helped decorate it with her art, which has always been her blessed gift. I can't tell you how many people have commented on the beautiful painting in my own home, which Holly painted. It is one of a few simple Calla lilies, reminiscent of the ones in our wedding. It is a touching rendition, one that lifts my head at the end of every day when I come through my front door, and a reminder of my wedding day that is slowly overshadowing that other memory, the one of everyone in my family, everyone I know, with one hand behind their head and another pointed off to the sky, while they chant "It's fun to stay at the Y - M - C - A !"

Many of us eagerly anticipated the Lindens moving back down south, where we could enjoy them more thoroughly -much to the chagrin of those up north who hoarded our old friends to themselves! And when they finally moved back to San Diego in 2002, there was much rejoicing. Holly continued her work as an optician, doing some art on the side, and Matt began a new career in the Real Estate market as an escrow officer for Fidelity Title and, more recently, Commonwealth. I had recently opened my construction business when both our families took the plunge and decided to purchase our first homes, fixer-uppers both. He helped me move my stuff, which is, in my mind, the measure of a true friend. We had arrived! Marci and I had our first child, other friends whom Matt had married had theirs, and our youth work from here on out would be confined to our own. Utter fulfillment was on the horizon. I will never forget Matt and Holly cradling my daughter the day she was born, loving her as if she were theirs. Over the next couple years, we would watch helplessly as our properties devalued by about $100,000.

Unfortunately, Matt Linden found himself employed in the field that the downturn in the housing market had affected most. Though 50% of the people in his industry were laid off and the incomes of the other 50% were cut in half, Matt held on to his job. If you've read his blog in recent years, you know of his struggles working all hours of the week to make ends meet, hanging on where most of us would have walked away. As Matt worked longer and longer hours, the projects he began on his new home slowly fell by the wayside. Making the mortgage payments had become a priority to eclipse all other priorities. Matt and Holly watched as those around them began to raise their families, and it was obvious that they wondered if their own circumstances would ever allow them such joys.

And recently, the hopes of the angels have coalesced, and there will be Annabelle Linden!

All our children look forward to a new best friend.

Sean Hawkins

Matt & Holly Linden, in a more carefree time:

1 comment:

Nicole Schairer said...

On this day of your life, I believe God wants you to know that how bad things may look right now means nothing. It's how good you know they can look with God's help that counts.

~ Neale Donald Walsch