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He First Loved Us

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Desires to serve and honor the Lord led Michael and Natalie Huscheck to open Well Grounded Coffee Community, a coffee shop that helps provide women who were formerly incarcerated a chance to change their futures through work, education, community, and faith. Through the Lord’s provision and guidance, they learned new ways to steward their time and gifts.

How did you come to know the Lord?

Michael: “For most of my life, I would’ve said I was a Christian. I knew Jesus died for me, but that didn’t affect my lifestyle or how I made decisions. I led a lifestyle of self-sufficiency. Even with poor and sinful decisions, I never faced many repercussions. I was careless and pursued relationships that weren’t godly.

“I ended up in an adulterous relationship and knew something had to change, but I wasn’t sure what to do about it. I didn’t know Jesus was the answer. I knew something was missing.

“As I attended church, I continued to hear that Jesus died on the cross for my sins and then rose again. I decided it was time to surrender my life to Christ. From there, I let the knowledge of God fill me and show me how to apply the truth of salvation to my life. Later, I went through re:generation, Watermark’s recovery ministry, and started to work through my struggles with control and anger. I have learned to surrender more to His love and His plan for me. I know He is in control and my angst is just waste.

Natalie: “I grew up with a very perfectionistic mindset. I was raised Catholic, and I thought I had to be perfect, or I’d be shamed. I never knew a time in my life when I didn’t believe in God, but I thought God weighed my good and bad.

“In college, a classmate invited me to a Bible study. During the study, she asked me, ‘If you died tonight, do you think you would go to heaven?’ I told them I hoped so, and that I tried to be a good person. They pointed me to Scripture that says being a good person isn’t how you get to heaven. They showed me that salvation is a free gift from God, and it wasn’t based on anything I could do (Ephesians 2:8-9). I wasn’t used to opening my Bible, but from there, I started going through the New Testament. The Holy Spirit opened my eyes to the truth.

“Still, I brought my perfectionist mindset into my new faith, and soon into my first marriage. My husband became abusive as our marriage continued, and he eventually filed for divorce. I always viewed God as a disapproving parent. I felt like I could never be enough. The divorce and single parenting seemed to confirm this false narrative.

“I moved to Texas with my parents and found a local church to join. That is where my healing and understanding of the gospel really began to grow. Through God’s people and my time studying God’s Word, I continued to grow more in my faith and learn about what the Lord desires for us. Those were painful years, but at the same time, I was healing and learning to trust God.

“Michael and I both brought a lot of pain and baggage into our relationship. God helped us to really understand our issues and struggles through community and re:generation at Watermark. Now, we get up and daily confess together. We’re learning how to abide in the Lord daily and to sit and rest in Him.”

How did the coffee shop begin?

N: “Because of the examples of inspiring nonprofits we’d seen as we’d traveled for Michael’s work and our love for serving our local community, we had an idea to start our own nonprofit to help give second chances to formerly incarcerated and other marginalized women living in Dallas transitional homes by hiring and training them as baristas. We’ve been doing this for almost a year and a half and have walked alongside 11 women. Every day is an opportunity for us to learn from them, and we hope that they are also learning from us.

“Above all, God has helped us create a safe place for our baristas to heal and grow. He’s also created a safe and warm place for our customers. We get to show the love of Christ to our neighborhood through this coffee shop.

“We call it our joyful exhaustion. It feels like high-speed sanctification as we experience circumstances where we must rely on the Lord to help us through. I’ve looked back at 10-year-old journal entries and read about how I wanted to empower women, lift them up, open doors, and walk alongside them. Now, God is helping us do that.”

What has the Lord taught you through challenges at the coffee shop?

M: “Every day, there are so many opportunities to be poked and prodded away from the Lord. It’s important to start our mornings quietly and pray continuously. Whether it be employees, children, or our circumstances, we know God has a plan in all of it. Our circumstances change all the time, but His Word doesn’t.”

N: “I’ve learned that kindness is the greatest thing we can do to point others to Christ. It’s not just big initiatives, like a coffee shop, that make a difference. It is how you interact with every person you meet – my husband, my sons, the baristas, my daughters, anyone. Kindness is what draws people to Christ. I want to look like the love of God so much that it draws others in.”