Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Happy Birthday?

On 15th October, ICFW turned six. Hard to believe we’ve been going for so long already. Happy birthday everyone—it’s been an awesome ride!

Just over six weeks ago, I turned the double five in Dallas, Texas, far away from home. No husband, no children, no grandchildren—absolutely no family to wish me, and kiss me, and spoil me rotten. I wasn’t even connected to them via cyberspace.

The day started off in the presence of nearly five hundred authors. That morning was Zone Breakfast and I was seated at a table of ten other writers from around the world—my Beyond the Borders ACFW Zone 11 sisters. They hailed from Australia, Canada, Brazil (and I think one or two other countries I can’t remember) and they sang “Happy Birthday” to me before our meal was served. It was at this breakfast that I got to meet our very own, Lisa Harris, for the fist time, even though we both live in the southern part of Africa.

Zone Breakfast - Beyond the Borders, Zone 11
Lisa Harris and me.
The first official day of the 15th American Christian Fiction Writers conference, the hours passed by in a flurry of workshops, and agent and editor pitches. Bill Myers, the keynote speaker was brilliant—entertaining, funny...most of all, SOOO encouraging. But as usual, I struggled through worship. I find it hard to sing these days without the tears flowing. So most of the time, I just kept quiet and enjoyed the praise and worship in silence.

Some of my closest and dearest writing friends insisted on treating me for dinner that evening. As we’d all flown in, and the conference was held at the Hyatt Hotel at Dallas Forthworth Airport, leaving the hotel was not feasible. But the hotel had a great steakhouse—an expensive steakhouse—where we all ate anything but steak. Although I was being treated by my friends, I could not justify them paying what I perceived being the price of half an ox back home for one steak (it was impossible to turn off the forex calculator that kept multiplying each dollar by fourteen to get a rand amount). Salad and soup with Judith, Narelle and Heidi was great though, and they’d arranged a tasty birthday dessert that we shared. It was fun! Joined later by my other crit partner, Janet, we relaxed after dinner in the lounge area that buzzed with authors, agents and editors.

Birthday dinner with Narelle Atkins (another ICFW icon)
Special writing friends, Heidi McCahan and Judith Robl
celebrate my birthday with me
The day, however, was bittersweet. Although my friends made me feel so special, I could not ignore the fact that this particular birthday sat right in the middle of two very sad milestones. The day before my birthday, my mom had been gone for two months. The day after my birthday would be a month since my dad joined her in heaven. This was the first birthday where there’d be no birthday phone call from them, the first where they would not wish me for the day—not because I was on the other side of the world, but because they were on the other side of life.

Turning 55 is a birthday I’ll never forget...because of the unusualness of the day, but mostly because of the sadness September 18th brought.

Happy birthday to me? Yes. And no.

Have you ever celebrated something that was sweet and at the same time, bitter?

MARION UECKERMANN's passion for writing was sparked when she moved to Ireland with her family. Her love of travel has influenced her contemporary inspirational romances set in novel places. She now lives in South Africa in an empty nest with her husband and their crazy black Scottie, Wally.

Visit Marion at her website: www.marionueckermann.com


  1. I think life is full of those moments, as often even the happiest beginnings mark the end of something else. Thanks for sharing your thoughts... and the photos!

  2. Happy belated birthday, Marion. How wonderful that you were able to enjoy such a special time with the ICFW girls to celebrate in this season of grieving. May the Lord continue to nourish you and heal your heart.

    Thank you for sharing the photos and happy 6th birthday, ICFW. I wasn't aware of that and I'm proud to be part of this writing community.

  3. Hi Marion, I know it was a rough day for you, and I'm glad Judith, Heidi, Janet, myself, the Beyond the Borders group, and our other friends were able to surround you with love and hugs. It was a memorable dinner, and I loved having the opportunity to spend time with you all in person. :) Take care, my dear friend xox