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My life is a story about overcoming rape, tragedy, abandonment, rejection, murder and then at age 64 given a “death sentence,” after being diagnosed with an incurable lung disease and given six months to live. Today I am the happiest that I have ever been in my life.

So how did I find happiness? I learned that you can choose to have happiness by making up your mind to be happy, instead of choosing to dwell on the past.

The difference between being positive instead of being negative is critical in changing attitudes, and attitude is a major factor affecting happiness. When we dwell on the past, we can’t see any opportunity for finding happiness that might be knocking on our door.

We must learn to forget the past, we can’t change it, and instead choose to forgive it through the act of learning to have total forgiveness in our hearts.

When we dwell on the future to try to correct problems, we fail to have any impact on our life. We need to concentrate on the present, which is the only thing that we can do something about. In learning to be grateful for our many blessings, we began to receive more blessings.

After I was cured of my incurable lung disease, I found that I was so grateful and wanted to pay it forward by helping others to find hope and possibilities of being helped as I had been helped.

I had to understand what forgiveness was, that it requires making a decision about letting go of bitterness, anger, resentment, and revenge and understanding that who or what hurt you may always remain a part of your life but that you can still learn to forgive those people. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that you justified what they did, but that you are forgiving that person without excusing the act.

Forgiving may also help you to understand better the person or situation that hurt you and help you to have compassion and possibly learn that in some situations that the person wasn’t even guilty of what you thought. It can change your life by bringing you a kind of peace to be able to go on with your life.

In holding on to our anger against someone, we aren’t affecting that person; we are only hurting ourselves.. Forgiveness has to become a total commitment to change ourselves. We have to make a decision to do what is necessary to forgive others. It is a choice that we must make.

Another benefit of forgiveness is freedom. Freedom is what I feel in my heart after so many years of torment. Forgiveness is a slow process that may require a lifetime of forgiving.

“The happiest people don’t necessarily have the best of everything; they just make the most of everything that comes their way.”

“The brightest future will always be based on a forgotten past; you can’t go forward in life until you let go of your past failures and heartaches.”

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My mother was born a deaf-mute and after her mom died at age 31 during childbirth, she was abandoned. At age 21 she was raped and I was born from that rape and abandoned. I grew up in foster care and graduated from high school at age 17.

I worked my way through college. At Louisiana State University, I briefly worked as a page in the State Capitol and later I graduated at Northwestern University with a degree in accounting in 1961. I obtained my Certified public Accountant certificate.

My first wife and grandson were killed and I attempted suicide. In 1970, I entered Real Estate and my first year I made the Million Dollar Sales Club. In 1974, I opened the first of six real estate offices. In 1974, I met my current wife and we were married in 1975 and have been married 38 years. Together we have five children and fourteen grandchildren.

In June 2004, I was diagnosed with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis, an incurable lung disease and given six months to two years to live. I was cured in Germany in 2008.

In June, 2008, I wrote my first book titled "Does God Give Us More Than We Can Bear?", Zig Ziglar wrote my foreword. It became an Amazon Best Seller in July, 2011

In 2010, I started telling my story in order to offer others hope. I started public speaking, and doing radio and television shows. I was written up in the Dallas Morning News and several magazines. In 2012, I was a guest on the TV show "Celebration" on Daystar TV. Last month I taped three television shows to air on ION TV Media Network. I recently signed an agreement for a movie to be produced about my life based on my book. I hope the movie can be used to fund a Pulmonary Fibrosis Society Foundation to encourage funding and research for a cure.

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