Sunday, September 18, 2016

The Inner Views of Lyli Dunbar

"For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified."
I Corinthians 2:2

I never tire of reading about and listening to the life stories of those who have been redeemed
by the blood of Jesus.
And, I never cease to be blessed by the precious souls I have met through this amazing and wonderful world of blogging.
The dear blogging friend who is sharing her heart with us today is one of those special people
whose path has crossed mine, while blogging.

Each week on Thursday, she hosts a link-up on her blog,
and I try to head over to add whatever God has recently inspired me to write.
She writes straight from her heart, and we are all so blessed to draw from the depths of wisdom
that spring forth from her writing, inspired from her own life experiences and personal pain.

If you don't know her already, you are going to love getting to know her today.

With joy and gratitude, I bring to you the 
Disciple, Wife, Educator, Mentor, Writer, Social Media Manager,
Lover of Stories & Chocolate,
Lyli Dunbar.

Cheryl:  Can you tell us about your childhood?

Lyli:  My parents are Cuban immigrants. Mom and Dad came to the States alone as teenagers, shipped off to freedom out of the clutches of Communism by their sacrificial parents who stayed behind. They met on a street corner in Long Island, New York and married two years later. My birth was a traumatic one, and my dad learned to drive a car in order to transport his baby girl with the deformed right leg to endless doctor’s appointments in the big city. I was fitted with a prosthetic leg, but walk with a marked limp as my right hip joint never fully developed. 

We moved to the warmer climate of South Florida just after my 5th birthday. My maternal grandparents had escaped Cuba in time for the wedding and followed my parents to the Sunshine State about a year after our arrival. They served as a stabilizing force in my childhood and always lived right around the corner. 

Despite being “born special,” my childhood was idyllic. Mom and Dad never did quite get around to having more babies, so I had the undivided love and attention of my “familia.” Mom worked her way back to school and became a CPA, and dad found his niche as a process server. They scrapped together a nest egg to buy a little house on a lake, and we spent many Saturdays treading water and telling stories there in the backyard or at the beach. My mom also passed along to me her love of reading -- we devoured all the Agatha Christie and Ellery Queen mysteries. 

Cheryl:  How old were you when you became a Christian? What led you to take that step? Is there a particular person who has most influenced you in your walk with Jesus?

Lyli:  When I finished elementary school, my parents decided I’d picked up some undesirable habits and vocabulary in public school and determined I’d attend a private high school. A drinking buddy of my Dad’s shared that his girls went to a Christian school not too far from home. Mom had attended a Presbyterian boarding school in Cuba, and she loved the idea of my getting a religious education. Soon, I was attending a daily Bible class at a Baptist school and participating in weekly chapel services. Not long after, I jumped out of my seat in the balcony of the church sanctuary in response to an altar call. The chapel speaker shared the Gospel in a way that awakened my heart to the reality that I was a sinner, and I was overwhelmed to realize that Christ had died on the cross to pay the penalty for my sins. I deserved hell, but God was extending grace to me. I surrendered my all to Jesus and never looked back. For the next 6 years, I learned to walk after Christ by following the example of my passionate teachers. Their impact changed the course of my life. Four years later, I returned to the same building as a teacher myself. 

Cheryl:  We would love to hear your love story. How did you and your husband meet? Was it love at first sight? When did you realize he was “the one” for you?

Lyli:  I spent 17 years serving in the high school trenches as a teacher. My days were filled with grading papers, chaperoning Friday night football games, and coordinating youth group slumber parties. I never married. I’d had a crush or two, but my Boaz never surfaced. I continued to pray about marriage, but I tried not to put life on hold while I waited. I wanted to keep growing, so I earned a doctorate degree, pursued short-term missions on my summers off, and joined a wonderful women’s Bible study group. I focused on loving and serving my family, my church, and my “kids.”

Then, after two decades of planting seeds in the same orchard, God decided to uproot me and cultivate new fruit. I accepted a position at a small Christian college that catered to middle-aged adults seeking to complete their college degree at night. I moved to a new church and joined a singles’ Bible study. 

I didn’t picture life changing so radically, but God loves to shake things up and surprise us. 

In the midst of my new normal, I volunteered to decorate a Christmas tree for a needy family at the church. I showed up after a long work day to put tinsel on a fake evergreen and never realized that choosing to serve that night would radically change the direction of my life. 

The singles pastor sent an email to everyone asking for volunteers, and I remember praying as I hit the send button with my reply: “Lord, let that guy Bruce be there. He seems like a nice guy, and I’d love to get to know him.”

I’d prayed crazy prayers like this many times. God in His mercy had always protected me from my love-struck foolish requests.

I’d prayed crazy prayers like this many times, which is why I am fairly certain my mouth dropped open when I arrived at the church to decorate the tree with 3 other girls and Bruce. 

I drove home smiling like I’d swallowed sunshine. “Lord, Bruce was there. Now what?” 

Thankfully, Bruce was Boaz personified, so he purposefully pursued. I continued to pray, and God filled my heart with peace that this man was the one. 

Cheryl:  What are you most passionate about? What fulfills you most?

Lyli:  I love a good story. I love telling stories, reading stories, and writing stories. I find great fulfillment in seeing how God is at work in lives of those I rub shoulders with every day and encouraging them to keep the faith. 

Cheryl:  Looking back over your life, what do you consider to be your darkest season? How did your faith in God see you through those difficult days?

Lyli:  I thought I knew what spiritual warfare was when I worked in youth ministry, but then I got married. I’ve learned that the enemy of my soul hates my marriage and loves to try to disrupt the peace of my home. Over the course of my seven years of marriage, we’ve faced one sucker punch after another. I’ve learned that limps are not just physical; sometimes we are limping along inside where no one sees. 

My most difficult battle truly was when I struggled with clinical anxiety and depression after a medical crisis in 2012. I’d faced dark days before, but during this season my mind and body were at war with my spirit. It’s hard to keep fighting when you can’t see the light at the end of a very dark tunnel. I fought hard every day to flood my mind with God’s promises and to continue to pray, even though I wasn’t “feeling it,” or seeing any visible results. I wrote daily in my spiritual journal – a habit I started during college. Looking back at those pages now, I see how God was clearly speaking to me through the verses I recorded. At the time, I didn’t recognize His voice, but He was walking with me step by step through the darkness. 

Cheryl:  What is your greatest strength? How does God use that trait to help others?

Lyli:  My spiritual gifts are teaching and encouraging. I am a natural cheerleader, and I love to help others keep pressing forward as they pursue Christ in faith. 

Cheryl:  Do you consider yourself an introvert or extrovert?

Lyli:  I am an extrovert, but I’ve learned to adapt to the introverted lifestyle. Before I got married, I lived alone for close to twenty years. I don’t shy away from solitude, and I love getting lost in a good book. This makes my task oriented, introverted husband very happy. However, by nature, I thrive in community. I find great joy in having friends over for dinner and lingering at the table to talk. 

Cheryl:  What is the most exciting ministry you have had the privilege of becoming involved in? 

Lyli:  Currently, I mentor women who facilitate online Bible studies through It’s a joy to encourage women as they dig into the Word in community. The LGG studies are translated into several languages, and their free Bible study materials help women all over the world grow in wisdom. 

Cheryl:  Tell us about your blog, 3dlessons4life. What prompted you to start blogging? How did you decide upon the name of your blog? How has blogging impacted and enriched your life? Where do you find inspiration for blog posts? Is there a particular place you like to go to write?

Lyli:  I started blogging in 2010 after I had a miscarriage. Just 4 months into my marriage, we lost our little one, and I was so confused and sad. A former student reached out to me on Facebook and shared her infertility story. She introduced me to the blog world, and I found healing in reading the authentic stories that brave women were sharing online. I decided to start sharing my story in hopes of encouraging others on their faith journey. 

When I first started blogging, I wanted to stay true to my teaching roots and title my blog “Lessons for Life,” but that was already taken. I added the “3-D” in front of it on a whim. My husband’s business is nicknamed 3-D, and it’s a phrase that we use often at Casa Dunbar. When I moved my blog to, I had to decide if I wanted to change the name of the blog. I prayed about keeping 3-D Lessons for Life or tossing it for a new “revamped title.” As I thought about who I am and what my space on the web had become, the Lord impressed on me that the phrase “3-D” needed to stay. God has called me to live a fully-dimensional faith. That’s the focus of my life and why I write about life lessons. I want to pursue Christ with all my heart, soul, and mind. Living a “3-D faith” means that I’m:

• committed to growing intimacy with Christ

• charged to affirm others and walk in community

• called to reach out in love and live a life of service

This 3-fold focus was birthed in my heart through studying Paul’s prayer:

“My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth.  I ask Him to strengthen you by His Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite Him in.  And I ask Him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love.  Reach out and experience the breadth!  Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights!  Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.”  Ephesians 3:14-19, MSG

I’ve met so many amazing women online through blogging, and I love that I now have friends all over the world. Blogging has deepened my love for community. I can share Christ with others from my living room and truly make a difference. How amazing is that?

I write about how God speaks to me through my every day experiences. When I am struggling for a topic, I usually either tune into worship music on the radio, or I read Eugene Peterson’s The Message until I am inspired by a metaphor or word picture. 

I recently purchased an inexpensive small table to use as a writing desk and rearranged some furniture to create a space that is all mine by a window. I love sitting there and looking out at the lake behind our home. I hope to write many stories in this spot, but in reality, I write anywhere I am when the inspiration hits – at work on my lunch hour and in bed with my laptop while Bruce snores happily beside me are two other spots you will often find me. 

Cheryl:  Is there a cause you care deeply about and would like to introduce us to? 

Lyli:  Many people never fully recover their joy and passion after losing a loved one. Over the last 7 years, Bruce and I have dwelled in the valley of grief multiple times. I’ve learned that I do not need to walk this road alone. Free support is available through a wonderful ministry called GriefShare

GriefShare grief recovery support groups meet throughout the US, Canada, and in over 10 other countries. They also provide daily e-mail encouragement. You can locate a group or signup to receive their e-mail here.

Cheryl:  At the end of your life, what do you most hope to leave behind? What legacy do you most long to create as you walk this journey?

Lyli:  I pray that my life will point others to the freedom that is found in Christ. When my life is over, I hope others will say she loved like Jesus with every fiber of her being.

Cheryl:  On your bucket list, what have you already experienced and accomplished? What do you yet hope to do?

Lyli:  I enjoyed going on short-term missions trips to Cuzco, Peru and Creve, Haiti in 2004 and 2009. Both of these trips helped me to understand how important it is to share the Gospel with boldness. 

I hope to write a book about how we can overcome the crippling circumstances in our lives. God longs to transform our limps into a launching pad for His glory as we step forward with renewed faith, roll into His sure-footed strength, and rise above our brokenness and pain. 

Cheryl:  Who do you consider to be your biggest hero? What person in your life would you most like to emulate?

Lyli:  I’m a huge Beth Moore fan. I love her passion for studying God’s Word and her heart for encouraging women. 

My “American mom” and mentor is my friend Janet Yates. She was my teacher in high school, and then my supervisor when I started teaching. Today, she is a good friend. I love her authenticity and appreciate her wisdom. She isn’t scared to tell you the truth, but she always speaks with love. 

Cheryl:  How do you personally stay encouraged? Are there specific Bible verses, songs, books, or other resources that you turn to in times of discouragement?

Lyli:  I find great encouragement from reading the book of Psalms and Proverbs. During difficult times, I will pray through passages daily during my quiet time. This past spring, my husband spent 10 days in the hospital battling pneumonia, and I prayed Psalm 91 over him daily. 

“Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name. When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation” (vs 14-16 ESV).

I’m a huge book nerd. Other women buy shoes, but I buy books. I have stacks of half-read books all around the house. A book that really ministered to me during a dark season is As Silver Refined by Kay Arthur. She encourages her readers to view disappointments as “His appointments.” 

When I am going through a valley season, I always have music playing. Now that I have a fancy phone, I can carry my Bible and worship music with me wherever I go. 

Cheryl:  How can we pray for you now?

Lyli:  I have a close family member who is not a Christ follower. I’ve prayed daily for this loved one for close to four decades. I like to call this person my “tough cookie,” so pray for Bruce and I to continue to love him sacrificially as we wait for his heart to soften.

Lyli Dunbar enjoys road trips with her husband, connecting with women through Bible study, and reading way too many books. She shares how everyday experiences help flesh out her faith at 3-D Lessons for Life. A disciple, wife, educator, and mentor, Lyli is just a girl working to keep the faith day by day. She serves as Social Media Manager for Missional Women and is a contributor at Start Marriage Right and Daily Devo
You can also connect with Lyli on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook.

A huge thank you to Lyli for sharing such amazing insight and encouragement with us here!
I know her words will touch and bless the heart of every reader.

We appreciate you, Lyli, and you are such a blessing to us all!
God bless you abundantly, in return!

Please remember to add Lyli's family member to your prayer lists, dear friends.
"Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, 
seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them."
Hebrews 7:25
What a comfort to know that Jesus Christ is interceding for this "tough cookie",
right alongside Lyli and Bruce!

In the words of Lindsay Huggins, there is nothing He can't redeem!

If video doesn't load, click here.

Praise His name, as long as there is life, there is hope.
Let us pray on until the answer comes!

To read previous
click the links below.


  1. LYLI! I learned so much about you here that I didn't know! What a great conversation with our friend Cheryl. Thank you for taking time to think all this through and for your vulnerable sharing of life lessons that are so encouraging.
    Blessings to both of you - wonderful friends!

    1. Michele, this little exercise with Cheryl truly was a great experience. It's good for the soul to look within from time to time. So lovely to connect with you here! Hugs

    2. Thank you, dear Michele, for stopping and reading and leaving such precious encouragement for both of us! God bless you abundantly, sweet friend. :)

  2. Lyli, it was so good to get to know you through this great "inner view" with Cheryl...her divinely inspired questions truly get right to the heart, don't they? I especially love the way you refer to your husband as your "Boaz" sweet! Many blessings to you ❤️

    1. I prayed for that man for quite a long time, Beth. He was worth every minute that I waited for him. :)

    2. Thank you, dear Beth, for your kind words and sweet encouragement! I loved the way Lyli called her husband her "Boaz", too. Such a precious love story! Her whole story was such a dear blessing! Sending you love and hugs and God's blessings!

  3. Hi Cheryl and Lyli! What an amazing journey you've had Lyli. Our lives are such beautiful canvases for God to paint. You have had some very hard things happen to you, but here you are encouraging others through your writing and through your life. Thank you for sharing it here for all of us to learn from and appreciate.

    1. Lyli's story truly is a beautiful canvas that is such an inspiration to us all. Thank you ever so much for your sweet visit, Ceil! God bless you, my friend. :)

    2. No grit, no pearl. Right? Thanks for the encouragement, Ceil. You are a blessing. :)

  4. Cheryl,
    Thank you so much for inviting me to share here on your blog. I am thankful for your friendship. Iron sharpens iron -- and you, my friend, are very sharp.

    1. Dear Lyli! I cannot thank you enough for participating and being such a consistent blessing to my life. Sending you much love and gratitude, sweet friend!

  5. Such a blessing to know you better, Lyli! You are such a blessing to so many and to me! Praising God for His bounty in you.

    1. Thank you so much for stopping and leaving encouragement here. God bless you!

    2. Love you, Linda. Thankful that our paths crossed online.

  6. Lyli, you're a favorite of mine. Your honesty always refreshes me, and your insights are always so encouraging. This interview reminded me of that Christmas tree that you once decorated. You are that beautiful tree, and learning all these new things about you are the *ornaments* - the final product is a lovely thing to behold! I have found your words about anxiety and depression especially helpful, as I have those struggles, too. Thank you for always reminding me that God's light is there, every step of the way.

    Cheryl, another great inner view. Great questions that enable the interviewee to really give us a glimpse into their lives. Love it.


    1. Thank you for your sweet words, Sharon. God bless you, my friend. :)

    2. Sharon, the feeling is mutual. You are so authentic and open. Visiting your blog is always like a breath of fresh air. Thanks for your kind words here, friend.

  7. Praying for Lyli and "tough cookie" as requested; as well as for you and yours, Cheryl.

    God bless.

    1. Thank you for your faithful prayers and support, Victor. You are a blessing! God bless you, too. :)

    2. Thank you, Victor. This means so much to me. We will go down fighting on our knees. :)

  8. I enjoyed reading more about you so much Lyli!

    1. Thank you for reading, Barbie! God bless you. :)

    2. Waving hello, Barbie. So lovely to see you here at Cheryl's!

  9. Yay! Lyli is here! So grateful to get to know you better : ) Thanks for inviting her Cheryl and both of your thoughtful questions and answers!

    1. Hello there, Bethany! Glad you were encouraged by this exchange. I learned so much through the experience. :)

    2. Yay, indeed!! Lyli is such a dear blessing to every one of us. Thank you for your sweet visit, Bethany! God bless you!

  10. Lyli,I've really enjoyed getting to know you better through this interview! Thank you Cheryl!

    1. Thank you, Laura! It was so nice to see you had stopped by! I so appreciate your support and encouragement. God bless you!

  11. I am your neighbor at tellhisstory! I am glad that I am to hear lyli's story. It is always interesting to hear stories that God has given to other people and how He was or is being glorified. Thank you lyli for sharing your story. Hope you both are well

    1. It is so interesting, isn't it? So thankful to see your sweet comments, Kristina! God bless you abundantly!

    2. So lovely to "meet you" Kristina! Thanks for stopping by and leaving some comment love.

  12. Thank you Cheryl and Lyli for the insight into the ministry of Lyli and Bruce. I love how God placed them together. The trials and tribulations are worth it all and Jesus is always there with us cheering us on to victory. Thank you for sharing with us here at Tell me a Story.

    1. Thank you, Hazel, for stopping by and leaving such dear encouragement here! God bless you!

    2. Amen, Hazel. It's a sweet victory won step by step. xo :)

  13. Hi Lyli ... it's been awhile since our paths crossed, so it's a treat to reconnect with you here today. Your story is fascinating and I feel like we've had a cup of tea and said 'hello' again.

    Blessings to you ...

    1. Thank you for your sweet visit, Linda! God bless you. :)

    2. Love you, Linda. I am quietly reading along with your blog still..... Bruce and I have been fighting colds, so I haven't been as chatty....but I will stop by and leave you some commetn love soon. Your blog is one of my favorites. :)

  14. What a great story… I love Lyli's straight forward and light heart, even regarding darker scenarios. I also appreciate her heart and compassion in helping others to overcome their physical limitations in a spiritual way. So often our strengths become our weakness… but not for the wise.

    Thanks to both of you for sharing your hearts and wisdom. I'm always encouraged by the folks you interview!

    Praying for Lyli, her hubby, career, writing, and family member.

    1. I love Lyli's heart, too, Floyd. She is such a dear blessing to so many! Your encouragement and support is such a blessing, too, and I can't thank you enough. God bless you, brother!

    2. Floyd, thank you so much for your kind word and, more importantly, thank you for praying for us. :)

  15. Great interview and what a wonderful story! I suspected I'd enjoy this interview as soon as I read Lyli was a lover of chocolate! Hearing about the sacrifices of her grandparents and parents--immigrants from Cuba--reminded me of the stories Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio told about their families on the campaign trail. How awesome that she came back to the same school she studied at as a teacher. Enjoyed her love story as well. And what a wonderful legacy to strive to leave--showing others there is freedom in Christ!

    Thanks Cheryl and thanks Lyli!

    1. Thank you, dear Bethany, for stopping by and leaving encouragement for both of us. I appreciate you so much! God bless you. :)

    2. Thank you, Bethany. We were sad that Mr. Rubio did not make it as a candidate this year. Had to have a few pieces of chocolate to cope! :)

  16. Lyli and Cheryl - So blessed by this beautiful testimony, Lyli - and thankful you shared it, Cheryl! I am touched by many, many aspects of your story - your beautiful heart is a blessing!

    1. And, we are so blessed by YOU, Sandra, and your sweet comments today! God bless you richly! :)

    2. Sandra, thank you for being a cheerleader friend. Thankful for you!!!

  17. What an incredible testimony to the power of the Lord working in her life when at a young age she surrendered her heart to the Lord! It was a true delight to read of her family's struggle with her disability and yet, how she has overcame this and gone on to great and mighty things in Jesus! A powerful testimony, and so happy to have met Lyli through you dear Cheryl! Always a beautiful time in my day to come here and be blessed and encouraged! Hugs to you my friend!

    1. Yes, amen, sweet friend! I can't thank you enough for your kindness, encouragement, and support. Sending you big hugs back!

    2. Waving hello from Florida! Thank you for the kind words. You are my 1st friend from Idaho. :)