Bethany FrayFounder

Forage is my heart’s work.

It is the breath and movement of an ongoing story of healing a broken child in a woman’s body, recovering from religion and trauma to find God, The Father, The Holy Spirit in beauty and truth and community. In flowers and mountains. In ancient practice and new science for healing the brain.

Forage is my love offering and gratitude response to the God of the universe, who held my hand as I walked backward into pain and forward into the light. Who stood beside me in joy as afternoon sunlight on golden aspens unlocked my heart. Who wept with me on an office couch as I put words to childhood abuse. Who dances with me as I learn to embrace this body that has endured much.

More about Forage

In the late summer of 2018, I started searching for a holistic retreat where I could surround myself in beauty, ground my mind in truth, and take in food and movement that healed my body. I found many experiences offered beauty and movement, or beauty and truth, but few that combined all three with a biblical foundation. So in November of 2018 and January 2019, the first Forage day retreats were held. The retreats included sessions focused on holistic healing of mind, heart and body, a healthy lunch, a dried floral wreath workshop, and ended with wine and charcuterie. After the second retreat, I got pregnant with my second son (our best and most unexpected gift of 2019), and I took the rest of the year to be present with my family and continue my own personal journey of healing.

Life with two little boys two years and under is a wild ride, to say the least. But as 2019 came to a close, I found myself longing to gather women around this idea of holistic healing again. I wanted to start again small with a sustainable, more frequent offering. In January 2020, I held the first Forage Monthly Gathering in my home. Twelve women cozied up in a living room with coffee and muffins, talking about healing.

Like all gatherings in the current season, the Forage monthly gatherings have gone virtual on Zoom. Though I miss being able to hug each other and eat and drink together, this has also allowed us to expand the community across the country. If you want to know more about our next virtual gathering, you can find that here

More about Bethany 

12 years ago…

I knew there was more, but I had no idea just how much more was available to me. I was good at surviving life, but my survival skills were starting to break down.

The anxious thought cycles were getting uncontrollable. Wild and scary images would flash through my head, causing me to feel terrified and out of control of my own mind. Dozens of times a day, sounds, smells, words, things I saw would trigger flashbacks of my childhood trauma.

I was twenty one. Newly married, finishing my last year of college, working around the clock, and questioning everything. Who was I? How the hell could God let those things happen to me? How was I ever going to be ok? What if all the awful things people said about me… to me… were right? There were two internal narratives competing for my identity.

The first: a victim of childhood abuse from a poor family with a father in prison and a single mother working multiple jobs. Loads of dad and mom issues. Likely to repeat family cycles of poverty and abuse. Likely to inflict self harm. Destined for a messy life of poor decisions, crippled by trauma.

The second: a good church kid who was well spoken with good grades and a likeable personality. Expected to set a good example for others. Likely do grow up and do good works for Jesus. Destined to become a quiet, submissive wife whose servant heart for her family would finally make her loved and respected. 

Those were the only two identities I saw available to me, and that “reality” set off a rage bomb in my chest. I was internally miserable. And every relationship I had was funneled through one of the two narratives: the victim or the church kid. The evidence I compiled was burying my soul. And here’s what I know now, that I didn’t know then: I fought against those narratives with my body. Striving and resisting became my being.

And my beautiful body carried it for me. 

 The first time I encountered the Spirit I was 23. Living in Alaska during the coldest November in one hundred years. I was over 2,000 miles away from family and friends and so wrecked with anxiety and depression. “Gah, Bethany, you’re so weak. This shouldn’t be so hard for you. Power through. Stick it out.” A daily “pep talk” from my broken heart that left me feeling like a failure. I found myself buying flowers from the grocery store almost weekly, and feeling guilt over my need for them. A good christian doesn’t need a crutch like overpriced flowers, I thought. A good christian isn’t affected by her environment. A good christian just needs Jesus and her Bible. 

I sat at my kitchen table one day, staring at my newly purchased flowers, shaming myself for not being ok. 

“They’re beautiful, aren’t they?” 

The end had come, or so I thought. I was finally losing my freaking mind. I heard the voice again. 

“I made them for you.” 

I just kept staring at the flowers, replaying the Spirit’s words. And a few minutes later, something came unlodged in me that had been dammed up for years. I wept. For the first time, I felt free. That was the day everything changed for me. I had a new narrative: 

a woman who finds joy in beauty

A few months later we moved to Colorado. Over the last eight years God has met me in the office of my therapist, sitting on my front porch swing, through the work of EMDR, through pelvic floor therapy and bodywork, on a friend’s living room couch, and laying on my home office carpet. Each time, removing a hidden layer of pain and adding a new line to my freedom narrative. 

This work is not easy. And my narrative is not finished. But I have found Him in enough places to know that His voice is my homemade bread. My spring water. The beachside sun that melts every tight muscle. And if I spend my life doing anything, I want it to be sharing that goodness with you. 


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