Today’s society makes us doubt that finding a well-rounded, virtuous, faithful, Christ-like spouse is possible. As the popularity of one-night-stands increases, both women and men are left wondering if anyone exists who will see them and treat them as a child of the One True King.
Elly and Brendan started to wonder the same thing and soon learned that not settling, but rather, WAITING for the right one, is worth it.
In their book, “Worth the Chase,” Elly and Brendan give hope to those who feel discouraged in finding their future spouse.
1) Without spoiling the book, can you talk a bit about how you two met?
ELLY: I was scanning my prayer journal, unaware of the man who was stealing glances of me. Oh how can I forget that fateful day, December 17, 2014? I was at my lowest point. I went through sudden tragic deaths of my loved-ones and it was when I gave up a promising career to pursue my love for writing. Everything felt wrong. I didn’t know when, how, and where to start.
As I recalled how God had been faithful to me in the past, I decided to utter a bold prayer: “Lord, I know You called me to be Your writer. Now Lord, please give me a writing mentor.” I opened my eyes and there in front of the Blessed Sacrament, I saw the man who was looking at me intently without me even noticing. To my surprise he approached me and gave a business card. Little did I know that he had been waiting for so long for me to finish my time of prayer.
He said something but I didn’t understand even a single word as I was too shocked. I accepted the calling card and inserted it in my prayer journal. I couldn’t understand why my heart was racing. With trembling hands, I took out the card with words written: “Hi. I’m a Catholic missionary and author from NZ…” I couldn’t read the words written anymore as my tears blurred my vision. I was so amazed at how God answered my prayer for a mentor right after I uttered the prayer.
BRENDAN: On October 10, 2014, I flew from Auckland to Manila, Philippines in order to print my books there and give talks to various communities. I kept extending my stay in the Philippines. Then on December 17, 2014 I walked inside the St. Francis of the Assisi adoration chapel in Mandaluyong, Manila. When I was sitting down I looked over my shoulder and a beautiful woman caught my eye.
“She’s very pretty,” I thought. Kneeling in adoration of the Lord was this beautiful “angel”. I kept stealing glances of her. She was flicking through a prayer journal with screeds of handwritten notes. “Wow, she also keeps a prayer journal!” I thought. I waited and waited for her to finish her time of prayer. I wanted to say hello and give her my business card. At least we could be friends. It seemed like an eternity and she was still lost in prayer and her prayer journal. I then went to the back of the chapel and sat down to wait.
Big mistake! This was a woman of prayer! I waited and waited for her to finish her time but she still did not budge. I waited for people to leave the chapel. “If only we were the only ones in the chapel it would be easier to talk to her,” I thought.
Finally realizing she wasn’t going to finish anytime soon, I wrote on my calling card. I said that I was a Catholic missionary and author and like her, I love to keep a journal. I left my contact details. With my heart pounding and nerves galore I approached her. What will she think of me? Will she want to keep in contact? I walked up to her and said, “Excuse me. I’m a Catholic missionary and author. Here are my details if you want to contact me.” I gave her the card. I think she looked at me in surprise. Then I walked out of the chapel and I thought out of her life.
2) What is your book about?
We both believe that God is the author of Worth the Chase: Finding Love God’s Way and that we are His instruments. It was Him who orchestrated for our paths to cross. It’s amazing to ponder how the book had been in God’s mind even before the beginning of time and we are both humbled that He has chosen us to write such a book.
ELLY: I’ve always desired to write a book for women about chastity, true self-worth, and Godly dating. I felt the calling to write a book way back in 2013, but I wasn’t courageous enough to follow my dream as I was paying for my sister’s college education and worked two jobs to make both ends meet. It took a year for me to give up my career and pursue writing full time. What pushed me towards my courage zone was this verse, “Each of you should go on living according to the Lord’s gift to you, and as you were when God called you.” This verse came to me through a miracle. I wrote a whole chapter of my journey towards being an author (Chapter 11, Walk on Water) because the journey itself contains so many miraculous and grace-filled moments.
BRENDAN: This book was the brainchild of Elly but even more importantly, it was truly inspired by the Holy Spirit. In this book the message is of great love, forgiveness, healing of the broken-hearted, and respecting everyone as created in the image and likeness of God. It offers great hope that God loves us no matter what, that He is calling us to turn to Him totally and once again seek and obtain a pure heart no matter our past.
3) Prior to finding one another, did you feel your faith being tested?
BRENDAN: Yes. It was very challenging in today’s world to wait for the woman that God ordained for me. I saw many friends falling in love over the years while I was still single. I looked for love in the wrong places. They were only wrong because they weren’t where God’s plan for me was. I searched on dating sites and also dated women in my own country and in the Philippines before I met Elly. But I would always pray before a statue of Our Lady for my future wife, lighting a candle, and praying for God to prepare her heart.
Being a virgin was also a challenge in today’s world. But one should always remember that Jesus was a virgin. I also held dear God’s plan to keep myself pure in heart in a world which often thrusts contrary messages at us. At times it was a big struggle, but it’s awesome that the Sacrament of Reconciliation is a beautiful sacrament in which we can become totally cleansed by the grace of God.
ELLY: Absolutely! Before Brendan came to my life, I was broken. I was suffering loss of loved- ones, I had no job as I gave it up in order to follow my calling, I was struggling financially, my mom couldn’t understand my decision to let go of a promising career to be a writer, and the man I loved (we dated for 7 months and he treated me like a princess) dumped me for another girl. It was an unlabelled relationship; we were dating but I never really knew where I stood in his life. Just when I had mustered enough courage to ask if he really loved me, he just stopped contacting me. The romance ended even before it started. Just like that. No explanation. No goodbye. That was when I started asking myself, “Am I not worth being pursued?” “Am I only an option?” “Don’t I deserve love?” “Am I not enough?” and a million other questions.
I was often laughed at for my decision to remain pure until marriage but I held on to God’s truth that sex is beautiful and sacred within the covenant of marriage. To cope the struggles of waiting for love, I started writing letters to my future husband which later on I gave to Brendan as a gift on our wedding day.
God didn’t waste my hurts. God used all the pain I went through so I could have even more reason to write a book for women who struggle seeing their real worth just like how I was.
4) What’s one of the biggest things that helps your marriage?
BRENDAN: Prayer is what keeps me sane. Marriage is beautiful but crazy at the same time. Sometimes, my wife’s emotions are all over the place and it’s only by God’s grace that I am able to handle her crazy moments. Even in her grumpiest, I still see her as the woman I promised God to love for the rest of my life.
Through these times God has been teaching me patience. There were some moments which were very stressful for us both. But it is our faith, the sacraments and a wonderful parish priest that have enabled us to overcome these testing times and grow spiritually as a result. It is my deepest desire to be true to God’s calling in Ephesians 5:25 which says, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved His Church and gave Himself up for her.”
ELLY: Faith in God. Even when we lose faith in each other, once our faith in God is alive in our hearts, then we can overcome whatever challenges that come our way. Just recently, I found my husband’s 1987 journal and I was literally squealing with excitement because through that journal, God revealed to me once again that even before I was born, He already had Brendan in mind for me. That during those times when I was freaking out because I couldn’t find “the one” He would have told me, “Relax Elly, you two will meet at a perfect place, in my perfect time, at the center of my will.” (but I failed to listen) During the toughest times of our marriage, I always hold on to my faith in God, believing that it is Him who brought us together; who wrote our beautiful love story.
5) What advice would you give to a young man?
God loves you intimately and is proud of you. Treat every woman as God’s daughter; deserving of utmost respect as she is created with dignity and is an heir of God’s Kingdom. Pursue a woman with clarity; lay down your intentions. Guard her purity as well as your own. Lead women closer to God, not to sin. Fight the fire of lust with the fire of God’s Word. You are created for a divine purpose. Surrender your desires to the Lord and trust that God has prepared the right woman for you from all eternity if marriage is your calling. If God is calling you for another vocation, trust that it’s towards a life worth-living. Read and learn from the Saints. You are called to be a man after God’s own heart. Live that noble calling.
6) What advice would you give to a young woman?
Your worth is not how you see yourself in the eyes of men but in the eyes of God. Know that you are beautiful, you are enough, you are forgiven by the mercy of God. You deserve genuine love no matter your past. You are worth far more than rubies (Proverbs 31:10) Do not settle for less. You are more than just your body. Treat your body as the temple of the Holy Spirit. Remember that a woman of God only unveils herself to the one she married. There’s so much beauty and mystery about you than what can be seen on the outside. Be empowered through this verse, “I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold, or pearls, or expensive clothes, but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.”- 1 Timothy 2:9-10 This doesn’t mean you are not allowed to adorn yourself with jewels, but that your inner beauty must come first. Remember that a woman is in her most beautiful when she is serving the Lord with love.
7) What advice would you give to a couple?
Pray together. Marriage is both beautiful and challenging beyond words. Love requires sacrifice because love demands faithfulness. Each of you must make spending time with God your top priority because He is the ultimate source of true love. Satan never stops wrecking homes so you must never stop praying. Communicate God’s way. Forgive and encourage your spouse to be better each day. Do not let money, or the lack of it, destroy your marriage. Talk things out in a calm way, invoking the presence of the Holy Spirit. Serve one another in love. Always seek new ways to connect with your spouse. Build intimacy. Do not let the sparks die. Laugh and have fun together. Take the time to tickle your spouse and make them laugh, especially when they are grumpy. Date your spouse; it doesn’t have to be an expensive one. Just spend time together and cherish each other. Embrace marriage in all its sweetness and challenges. We wrote an article about this entitled, “7 Essentials of a Joyful Marriage” which is published on our website.
8) How has Jesus’ example of unconditional love helped your marriage?
Jesus tells us to give thanks in all circumstances. When we see our challenges as a blessing or as Mother Teresa said as gifts, then we are able to learn from them and mature through them as well. In having grateful hearts we experience unconditional love through each other.
Many people have a fairy-tale view of marriage, but Jesus’ example is one of sacrificial and total love. He showed us that true love exists even in the darkest moments with His disciples. There have been times when one or both of us want to run away but Jesus showed us that we must love each other. Jesus taught us to see the best in each other and be compassionate towards one another.
We love how St. Pope John Paul II says that marriage is designed by God to be an image of Christ’s love –free, total, faithful, and fruitful. Through Jesus’ unconditional love for us, we are empowered to love and serve others through our ministry. We are a team for Christ. We give talks together on the Catholic faith, purity, and following Christ. God has blessed us with moments of grace in reaching out to others through our books.
We both cried when we read a testimony of one of our readers saying that she suffered through severe depression and lost hope but after reading our book, Worth the Chase: Finding Love God’s Way. She found the courage to live and continue the journey our book has inspired her to take.
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