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Hi I'm Karen Berke Udall

I'm a Red Sox fan, a Coyotes fan, a cancer survivor and a mom with 3 kids. I grew up Jewish, embrace my heritage and I'm a Mormon.

About Me

I am the mom of 3 kids, who are all 7 years apart. People often think that's strange to have children so many years apart and often ask me if it was planned. I typically respond: "Not by me. But God knows me and He knows my patience level; and He obviously felt that I couldn't handle more than one child at home at a time." I grew up in a suburb of Boston; the daughter of Jewish parents who divorced when I was 2. My mother converted to the LDS Church when I was 4. The rest of my family is Jewish. I was taught both Jewish and LDS beliefs. By the time I was 7, I was living a bi-coastal, bi-religious life. I spent my school years, in MA, going to church with my mom; & my vacations in Southern CA with my dad who sent me to the local Jewish Community Center (JCC). I participated in all programs available which left me as a fairly confused teen, but I am very grateful for that religious upbringing today. I don't sew, I rarely cook, and we don't have a "traditional" family. I am a strong supporter of public education, have diverse political ideas and teach my children to treat others with kindness. I love to play the piano, but rarely take the time to do so, and I enjoy reading fiction. I love it when my kids get along and I hear their laughter. I laugh easily, love musical theatre and am a carb-oholic. I don't love sports in general, but I do love the Red Sox and the Phoenix Coyotes. It makes my day when I make someone laugh aloud.

Why I am a Mormon

My faith in God came from my days at the JCC. I developed a strong belief in God, and knew that He loved me. Even during my teen years of rebellion against my mother's religious choice, I believed in the power of prayer. Because I was raised with both Jewish and LDS teachings, I had a knowledge of the "basics" of both faiths but I kept my "worlds" separate: Jewish from LDS. Two different cities, two different sets of friends, two lives. From my experiences in my "Jewish world", I knew the peace that came from faith in God. I believed without a doubt that the stories of Moses, Abraham, Jacob, Noah & others from the Old Testament were things that happened literally, not metaphorically. Even with those beliefs, I did not live an active religious lifestyle. Fast foward: When I was 24, I was a single mother with a 3 year old and woke up one Sunday morning with the feeling that I should take my son to church. I hadn't been to any church, or synagogue, for many years but followed this "feeling" and went to a local LDS building. There I met some amazing people who were also single parents yet I still had to decide for me if this was a good place to be. I always felt that my Jewish heritage was an important part of who I was as a person; it helped define me. As I continued to attend church (for my son, or so I thought), I developed a belief equal to that testimony of the Old Testament prophets regarding Joseph Smith. I believe that his story is as literal and real as those prophets of old. I knew that if I believed in the Joseph Smith story, the rest must be true. I believe that God communicated with prophets in the days of old, and as a merciful God, he would, of course, communicate with us today. I prayed about what Joseph Smith went through, and about the Book of Mormon. I wanted to know if that book was the word of God, just as the Bible is. I felt such peace and knew in my heart that it was. Because it was undeniable, I chose to be a Mormon.

How I live my faith

I am grateful for the peace I feel knowing that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God; knowing that we have a Prophet today on the earth to guide us. I try to live my life in a way that would be pleasing to God. I am not always successful, but each day we have the opportunity to start again, and try again. I strive to remember that faith is not just belief in something, but is followed up with action. I try to serve others through volunteering in my community, serving in my congregation, and helping my family. Our faith is tested often, and it's how we rise to meet challenges that makes us strong. My oldest son, from my first marriage, and was born 8 weeks early. My 2nd child was a high risk, pre-term pregnancy also, and then I followed up with 3 miscarriages. We assumed we were done having children, and then found out I was pregnant with my youngest. Being high risk, I had doctors appointments early in the pregnancy, one of which led to the discovery of a tumor in my neck which turned out to be thyroid cancer. These challenges helped me recognize the power of Prayer, and the presence of God in my life. God knows me personally, and knows what I can handle; and helps me rise to the challenge. On Sundays, I teach the 13 & 14 year olds. Each week, this year, we've learned about Latter-Day Prophets, and about the challenges they faced and how they overcame adversity in their lives. We then get to talk about what teens face today, and how different it is for them compared to the Prophets in the 1800's & 1900's...and how different it was for me as teen. Each week I'm amazed at the faith of my students and their desire to make good choices in their lives. I try to surround myself with others who have similar values to mine. My closest friends are not of my faith, and their religious choice does not matter to me, but how they choose to live their lives does. I want to be an example to my friends, and I choose friends that will be an example to me.