By Melissa McLaughlin
Ever wonder about the Holy Spirit? Who is He? What does He do?
As Christians, our core beliefs include the Trinity. The names Father, Son and Holy Spirit effortlessly roll off our tongues when we communicate about our Christian faith. We understand God and we understand Jesus, but how much do we really understand the Holy Spirit?
Author, Jessie Mattis, tackles this often untouched, untapped yet powerful and essential part of the Trinity in her exciting debut book, Power Up.
I’m thrilled to feature this interview with Jessie! Please take a moment to read and enjoy as Jessie shares the heart and vision behind her newly released book for middle-level kids who desire to know, listen and follow the Holy Spirit for an active and adventuresome life in Christ.
But I’m here to testify…this book is more than just a good read for kids. Power Up is loaded with plot twists, friendship detours, gentle family fun and tearful surprises. Best of all, the story line is interwoven with solid Biblical theology in a way that is both easy to understand and deeply inspiring. This is a wonderful book for all ages! I highly recommend Power Up for anyone who wants to better grasp and experience a dynamic Spirit-led Christian life. Now let’s hear more from Jessie.
Jessie Mattis, it is an honor to talk with you and hear about your new book, Power Up! First off, please tell us a little about yourself.
I grew up in a Christian household in rural Potomac, Illinois, which was at least thirty minutes away from anywhere. That meant I did a lot of reading, using my imagination, and hanging out with friends and family. It was a quiet, simple, wonderful time!
I’ve always had a heart for children. After working two summers as a camp counselor at a fantastic camp for inner-city children in California (The Oaks), and graduating from Greenville College with a BA in social work, I worked in the field of child welfare, which was a heart-wrenching, incredible experience.
I’ve been a ministry volunteer in some capacity or another ever since graduating from college in 2003, usually working with children.
Currently I live with my amazing husband, Chip Mattis, and our three awesome kids in Bloomington, Indiana. I’ve been a stay-at-home mom for eleven years now, and love (almost) every minute of it! We homeschool, which has been a huge blessing for our family.
When I’m not teaching or running my kids to and from lessons, you can usually find me hanging out with my family, reading or writing, or sneaking off to Target after Chip gets home (to grab a Starbucks almond milk latte and browse for cute stuff I have no intention of buying).
How has your journey of faith in Christ impacted your life in general and your life as a writer?
My life has always been guided by my faith. Growing up in a Christian household, my faith became my own at a young age and I had close Christian friends, which was great because we were able to help keep each other on track through high school, college, and even now!
I attended very traditional churches (Methodist, Church of Christ, etc.) until my parents began attending a Vineyard Church in 2006. Chip and I soon began attending too, and it was one of the best decisions we’ve ever made. There, we began to find answers to some of theology’s difficult questions, and it was the first time I encountered the presence of the Holy Spirit. Suddenly, the Holy Spirit was no longer the inactive third wheel of the Trinity, but was a very real being who became a huge part of my every-day life. It was life changing.
After a huge health battle in 2012, which led to me hearing from God more powerfully than ever before, my husband, three kids, and I made the difficult decision to relocate to Valparaiso, Indiana to be part of a church plant. We spent four years doing the hard, rewarding work of helping plant Rolling Hills Vineyard Church. It was a life-changing experience that, in many ways, shaped the person I have since become.
My faith has greatly impacted my life as a writer. It was just a couple years ago when I suddenly developed a strong desire to reach people for God’s Kingdom through writing. It’s been such a good fit for my Jesus-loving, introverted, opinionated self! Whether I’m writing a book or a blog post, my ultimate goal is always to encourage people to reach for Jesus and go deeper in their relationship with Him.
What prompted the idea for your new book, Power Up?
My kids have always been big readers. When my oldest daughter was nine, she had already sped through tons of books and was thirsty for more. I sought out Christian books for her, and while they were good, they didn’t go very deep. She was thirsty to read and thirsty to learn about God, and I ended up finding a great book called Growing Up With God, by Shawn Bolz. It was geared toward early elementary aged kids, so I read it aloud with all three of my kids. It introduced the concept of children listening to the guidance of the Holy Spirit and we all absolutely loved it. When it ended and I couldn’t find anything else similar on the market, I decided to write one of my own, and gear it toward children ages 8-12.
The idea for the story itself came to me before I had even considered writing a book. It was one of those moments where you have a great idea and say, “Somebody should write a book about that.” Months later I realized, “Oh, wait! I should write that book!” So I did.
What is the premise of Power Up?
Power Up tells the story of an eleven-year-old girl named Lexi. She’s been a “church kid” all her life and doesn’t think there could possibly be anything new to learn about God…until a new Kids’ Church teacher shows up at church and shakes things up with her new ideas about the Holy Spirit. This new teacher even gives homework assignments, which means Lexi is putting her new knowledge of the Holy Spirit to work in real life situations throughout the weeks. Through a stressful school situation and a family crisis, Lexi has to decide if she’s going to listen to the Holy Spirit and believe that what God says is true, or throw up her hands and be done with it all.
Power Up was an award winner in the 2018 Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference annual contest.
What is your goal in writing this book and what do you hope readers will remember most by reading Power Up?
I’m a firm believer that the majority of adults don’t expect enough out of children these days, which leads to boredom and unfulfilled potential in many kids. Many children’s church programs are still geared toward babysitting or entertaining kids while the adults are in church, instead of providing a solid faith foundation for kids to build on. I don’t want children to settle for simply being “church kids,” and I don’t want Christian parents to let them. I want to inspire church kids to become Spirit-led Jesus kids!
My purpose in writing this book is to inspire Christian kids, through following Lexi’s exciting journey, to reach out and take the reins of their faith. To help them realize that, even at a young age, they are empowered by God himself to be filled with the Holy Spirit and spend their life (childhood included) listening to and following the guidance of the Holy Spirit. And for not-yet-Christian kids, I want to introduce them to a loving, powerful, exciting God. I want eyes to be opened to the possibilities and adventures that the life of a Spirit-filled Christian provides.
When and where is Power Up available? How can readers follow your blog?
Power Up was recently released and is available on Amazon in both Kindle and paperback.
Click here to order on Amazon: Power Up
I would love to connect with readers! At jessiemattis.com, readers can check out my blog, sign up for my email list to receive occasional new blog posts and newsletter updates, or contact me directly with any thoughts or questions they may have. Thanks for taking this new, exciting journey with me!