For as long as I can remember, Iíve written to figure out how I feel. When Grandpa Gregory died and I was in elementary school. When I became a parent and faced a different level of responsibility. When questions arose about my faith or when I needed to think through something challenging.

For me, writing brings order to chaos. Once Iím done praying and wrestling the words down on paper, I understand.

Itís a process I trust.

But writing and telling stories at a keyboard is different than spinning tales at a podium. There are people watching, and there is no backspace, no delete key. So, I get nervous speaking to groups of more than 10 or 20 even if I know many in the crowd, even if the subject is something as important to me as womenís education.

In June, I fretted and paced and finally walked up on stage to talk about Cottey College, a womenís college in Missouri thatís owned by P.E.O., a group that raises money for scholarships and low-interest loans.

Representatives of P.E.O. chapters from throughout New York ó including my own chapter ó filled every seat. More than I had even imagined.I told them how Cottey College had changed my life, had made me stronger in the classroom and in the world.

I remember applause and following the other speakers down the aisle into the crowd, and then I remember my friend stepping into the aisle and hugging me. Others from my chapter joined in, their hands on my shoulder and my back. And they held me. Other speakers had to walk around. The business portion of the meeting had to wait.

My body was still physically shaking from having been on stage, but in that moment I remembered I was not alone ó and I never had been. Not on stage. Not when my husband lost his job in our first year of marriage. Not when waiting on Mamaís medical tests. Not ever.

It can seem lonely and vulnerable at the podium and in life, but love surrounds us always. Even in the very beginning, God was bringing order out of chaos, beauty out of ashes. And I need to trust the process.

ó Marketta Gregory is a former religion reporter who canít stop writing about what is sacred and holy. She is a native of Oklahoma but makes her home in Rochester, New York, with her husband, two crazy boys and one very vocal Pomeranian. Find more of her writing at SimplyFaithful.com or check out her book, ďSimply Faithful: Finding the Sacred in Everyday Life.Ē