Author - Joan Voges

A new Career

In the 1990s, I told God that I loved Him so much and that I wanted to tell the world about Him. I had a strong desire to spread the Gospel, but I had no idea it would be in writing hymns and songs since I had never written music before. My education beyond high school was working in the family business for 45 years that grew from four family members to now 170 people. I opened up myself to God to let Him do with me whatever His plan so that my dream would become a reality. It's amazing the opportunities God has given me to serve Him. Here is my story.

Born in 1942,1 was the fourth of 13 children. We lived in a rural area between Walsh and Chester, IL. Dad worked at the shoe factory in Chester. When he came home from work, Mom had supper on the table so that no time would be wasted that he could get on the tractor to farm. I became Dad's "hired hand" on the farm for about three years. Since I had a "tom-boyish" nature, I would be more inclined to drive the tractor and help him on the farm. I loved the aroma of the newly plowed fields. This gave me time that I could be alone with my thoughts. I have fond memories working with Dad as he was always so patient and pleasant.

I attended Catholic schools for both elementary and high school years. During this time we studied religion from workbooks and the Baltimore Catechism but never actually opened the Bible. I remember asking one of my teachers about this and she said if we were to study from the Bible, we would probably believe that we were saved by faith, and we know that isn't true! She also said that's why we need a priest to interpret the Bible. But I often wondered what was in that Bible.

As a kid, I enjoyed doing acrobatics and thought for a while I may have a career in the circus. Then I broke my leg and that dream faded. I also loved playing the piano and would practice until I felt my head would fall off my shoulders. My oldest sister taught me the notes since she took lessons. My parents could not afford me lessons, and many songs I played in addition to my sister's piano books were songs I played "by ear" that I heard on television. Dad bought us a TV when I was in third grade. The TV became our chief source of family entertainment but not before we knelt down and prayed together every evening.

It was not my choice to leave home at age fourteen. My parents wanted a Catholic education for me. The convent school in Ruma became my Alma Mater. I suffered from extreme homesickness and vowed I would not return for my sophomore year. But the following fall, to my great relief, I was cured. To pay my board, in the evenings and when I was a freshman, I did domestic work for a doctor's large family. Then sophomore through senior years found me working evenings and alternate weekends at Red Bud hospital, first in the kitchen and then as a nurses' aid taking care of patients.

In 1961, a year after gradating from high school, I met and married Ken Voges, my husband now of 51 years. We raised three wonderful children. I worked in my husband's business and took our children to work until they reached school age. We

worked very long hours, and I felt a constant void inside because I wanted to spend more time with our children. As God always provides, Ken's parents gave them and us awesome love and attention. They also worked in the family business and lived close by.

When our children were in high school, I began to get more free time which enabled me to take piano lessons. Also, in the seventh grade, I got free piano lessons from one of the nuns in exchange for dad running errands for them during his lunch break a couple times a week.

In the first year of our marriage, I remember feeling a "pull" to join the Lutheran church. The "pull" was so great that I got on my knees and prayed, "Dear Lord, please don't let me lose my faith!" It was 1967 when our two older children attended Sunday School that I converted to the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. After examining the Sunday School materials they brought home, I felt all children should be given the opportunity to learn about Jesus in this way. Also I was very impressed with the dedication of the teachers. After converting, I became involved with Sunday School as well, playing the piano and teaching the early primary children.

In the late 1970s, Kenny helped our pastor recruit members of our church for Evangelism training. I became very involved in this program. From the time I was a teenager I hungered to tell people about God, and in high school, I gave serious thought of becoming a missionary. But because of my prone to homesickness, I changed my mind. So when the Evangelism program began, I delved wholeheartedly into training and visiting homes with other members for about ten years. My upbringing in a religious family, marrying a devoted Christian man, and being involved in the Evangelism program helped me to become the Christian I am today. Through this program my faith grew for I learned what a loving and personal God we have!

In the seventh grade, I told Jesus I knew I had caused Him to suffer & die and that I would not sin again. But of course that didn't last long before I sinned. It was mainly through memorizing key points of the Evangelism program that helped me overcome thoughts of having to "work off' my sins. I heard myself repeating week after week, "Man is a sinner and cannot save himself; God is merciful and loving and does not want to punish man; God is also just and must punish sin." I memorized the Bible verses, "All have sinned and come short of the glory of God", "God so loved the world that He gave His only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life", "For by faith you are saved and not of yourselves, it is the gift of God and not of works less anyone should boast", and many more. The Evangelism program ended about ten years later, but what I learned and witnessed to others continues to impact my life today.

In the 1990s, Kenny and I were going through some tough times. When there was calm, I thanked God for those times as I tried to give thanks in all things. "If I could only work with a pastor", I thought, "I would like to write meditations." This was about the time I told God that I loved Him so much that I wanted to tell the world about Him. God heard my heart's desire, and about 2001, Dr. Paul Schrieber moved back to Red Bud because of health reasons. Not only was Dr. Paul renowned in his own profession, a seminary

professor and theologian, but he was gifted in church and classical music, and more. God had given me one of the best with whom to work!

Significant Miracles

A small Business in a Chicken House Grows to an International Business My husband started a tool and die shop in 1959 in a chicken house. Ken was 23 yrs. old at the time. We met and married in 1961. "When it rains, it pours." That saying became familiar for the hard times we experienced. I prayed, "Lord, please just keep the truck running!" He did and blessed us in so many other ways. We prayed for orders, God heard and answered our prayers. The business expanded substantially and gradually we began to build more technical products. I prayed for talented and dedicated employees to help. God answered those prayers more that we ever dreamed. Today, two of our children and son-in-law are the leaders in the two companies Kenny founded. One of the companies employs 170 people, the other employs about 70. I was involved with this company, full time and part time, for 45 years.

A Message and Prayer Saves Our Son's Life

When our son was in high school, he did more than his share of sowing "wild oats". One evening, about 11:10 p.m., I was awakened with the message, "Pray hard for your son". He was out that night and by the urgency of the message, I knew he was in great danger. I prayed hard for him, and a few minutes later, I felt peace and went back to sleep. The next morning our son told us what had happened. He said that another car with young men was chasing him. He lost control of his car at a sharp "S" curve and totaled his car. As his car was spinning in the middle of the highway, he saw the headlights of the oncoming car. When I asked him about the time of the accident, he said, "ten after eleven". Our son has always been conscious of the time of events. He and his buddy escaped without a scratch.

God's Presence Magnified in Our Bedroom

It was 2:00 a.m., the morning of my 49th birthday when I was awakened by the message, "You will die soon!" The message was so fearful that I felt I was being pulled alive into the grave. As a child I was taught the "Act of Contrition", a prayer that we should say in case we were about to die. I said the prayer immediately and within seconds I felt an overwhelming love I have never forgotten. It seemed to almost lift me out of bed. I felt it inside and outside of me. God's love was so vibrant. When the Bible states that "God is love", I feel I know something about that! I longed to experience this love over and over again. That love stayed with me but less strong throughout that day. The next day, it was less. Two days later, it was still less. Days later, I tried to relive this loving experience many times, but I could not. A couple weeks later I visited our pastor about the episode. He told me the initial message may have come from the devil, but the love came from God. He said I had nothing to fear because I belong to Jesus. I look forward to experiencing this love from God forever in eternity.

Our Car Spinning Out of Control and a Truck Heading for Us

Kenny and I were returning from visiting our daughter in St. Louis. She was attending school in St. Louis and was very homesick. It was winter time and when we left home earlier, it was sleeting. I had reservations about leaving home but Kenny thought the road conditions would be okay for travel. As we left St. Louis, several inches of snow had covered the ice on the highway. As Kenny was passing various vehicles, I noted our car was twitching, and it seemed we were going too fast for the road conditions. We had passed a large trailer truck a ways when Ken lost control of the car. As our car began to spin in the middle of the highway, I saw the lights of the oncoming truck. I had no fear but peace as I felt "arms" around me as if they were protecting me. Kenny got the car straightened out in time to avoid an accident. I never forgot those protecting "arms".

Break a Leg

On Tuesday, February 1, 2009,1 was scheduled to take a friend to a St. Louis Hospital. I went to choir practice on Monday evening as always. I intentionally left my cell phone at home to charge since I would be using it the next day to update friends after the surgery. Also with the church being only a mile and half away, I thought I surely won't need it. As I was going out the door, a still small voice told me, "You'd better take your cell phone along just in case." I went back into the house, got my cell phone, and put it into my purse. Our house is detached from the garage. When I returned home from choir practice, it was 9:05 p.m. I ran to the house after parking my car in the garage. There was a portion of sidewalk where earlier the water set and later froze. I noticed it being a little slippery when I left the house but had completely forgotten the slick spot when I returned home. Once I hit the slippery spot, I lost my balance and fell hard on the sidewalk. I felt my leg break (again as I did in the 6th grade) and I landed with my foot being turned on an angle from my leg. I thought, "What have I done; I want to help others and now I'm going to need help myself!" My purse with my cell phone which landed close by gave me the opportunity to call for help. If I had not had my cell phone along, chances are I would have spent the night in sub-freezing temperatures.

A Clean Refrigerator

Earlier that day, after I finished washing our lunch dishes and walked past the refrigerator, I felt arms around my shoulders that turned me back and beckoned me to open the refrigerator door. I hadn't planned to clean the refrigerator at that moment because I had more pressing things to do. However, when I looked at the crumbs at the bottom of the refrigerator, I decided to take the time to clean the entire refrigerator inside. After my hospital stay, I was visited by many friends and family who brought food and packed it inside my refrigerator. I thanked God that He saved me not only from spending the night outside in below freezing temperature but also for saving me from embarrassment from a less than clean refrigerator.

Miracle on the Lake

The most spectacular event of all was seeing a large golden cross on the lake. My husband and I live next to a three acre lake. At one point, the lake is about ten feet from our driveway. It was two days past Thanksgiving in 2007. A friend had come to visit for a few weeks. While I finished raking leaves outside, she decorated our Christmas tree inside. It was about 7:00 p.m. The sky was clear and the air was still which lent itself to a beautiful fall evening. The moon was shining on the farthest part of the lake near the dam. I called my friend to come and see this beautiful scene. Afterwards she went back inside and barely got started with trimming the tree when a large flock of Canada geese flew overhead. I called to her again to come and hear their usual happy squawking. Seonds later we laughed at the sound as they landed. As we were enjoying all of this, my friend and I walked down the driveway at its lowest point. We turned around towards the lake to see the moon's reflection after the geese had landed. But this time we saw a large, brilliant golden cross on the lake. The moon's reflection was now centered where the beams crossed. The cross had perfect square corners and was elongated in our direction and close to us! It must have been 40 feet long, and the horizontal piece was about 25 feet across. My friend went inside to grab her camera and call my husband. The picture did not show up. The vision did not last long, probably less than five minutes before it began to fade. The three of us saw it.

About three weeks prior to this event, I had a discussion with a relative about salvation. She stressed we can be saved by being good and generous. I countered that Jesus must have died for nothing. "Jesus is our only Savior and Lord", I told her. My words did not convince her and she began to raise her voice more each time I countered. Finally I decided to keep quiet so as not to cause a "scene". Days later, this person's words began to resonate, and I wondered if I was good and generous enough to get to heaven.

When this beautiful cross appeared on the lake, I was humbled. God knew of my doubts. It was as if He were saying, "Joan, let Me be clear. It is My grace that saved you through My Son's suffering and death, and not by any works of your own." And God, Who knows all things about us, sent an awesome miracle to restore my faith. Sometimes I think, "Who am I that God would care so much to send this beautiful cross to strengthen my faith!" But more than that, God sent His Son, Jesus, to live, suffer excruciating pain, and die for all of us that we may live with Him in heaven. This gift of His Son is for all who believe!

There are other miracles less noteworthy but miracles none the less that I notice often. God is with us; He promises never to forsake us; His love for us is greater than any words can adequately describe..

Our Children's Faith Today

When our children were teenagers, I prayed for them a strong faith. I told the Lord that it wasn't so important that they would be successful in business but please give them a strong faith. God answered my prayers. These days, all three of our children have a strong faith and one that does not hesitate to witness. They volunteer to teach Sunday School, VBS, and witness of our Savior Jesus at every opportunity.

Those Beautiful Hymns

Several people ask me how these hymns come to me. They come in various ways. First of all, it is important to spend time with the Lord in prayer and devotions each day. I thank Him for various things throughout the day. He knows my heart.

Some melodies come as I'm waking up. I jot them down or record them on my keyboard immediately before they're forgotten. When I read the recommended Psalm for the day from Portals of Prayer, I notice that the melody fits. Sometimes a melody comes while I'm reading the Psalm. When I feel lifted up and have a special feeling of peace, I know that is my cue to go to my keyboard and play something. Even though I don't know what I'm about to play, I press the record button. The keyboard and my work table set in the comer of our bedroom. When I pass by the keyboard, I press the play button. Gradually I hear the words in my heart for that melody, and I quickly jot them down.

The hymn, "Sing to the Lord, You People of God", came in this way. For two summers as I watered my flowers outside, in my thoughts I told my flowers to praise the Lord for their beauty. Then eventually I began hearing the words, "Sing to the Lord, You People of God". About the same period of time, a melody came to me as I watered and talked to my flowers. I recorded the melody when I went back into the house. Shortly after, Dr. Bob Weise visited our congregation and conducted a Bible Study on creation. He took us to Hebrews 1: 2 & 3. A few days later I was reading Psalm 148, the Psalm that tells God's creation to praise Him. I had made a note of the Hebrews" verse and upon reviewing it, I knew it was a perfect opening for Psalm 148 and the melody I had recorded on my keyboard. The verse is this, "The Son is the radiance of God's glory. Through Him the universe was made." The melody I had recorded was long and not precise, but Dr Schrieber helped me. This is one of the favorites on our first CD album, "Lift Your Eyes".

The idea to write the Creation Hymn was suggested to me by friends of Ken Ham and the Creation Museum in Kentucky. I searched Scripture including Genesis, Job, and the Psalms. The Bible footnotes and Concordance steered me through the Bible for this hymn. Dr. Paul also lent some important lines for it. We are a team.

Certain people have come into my life at perfect timing as I may be struggling to get started on a hymn. I had the music for the Christmas story, "How Could They Know" , I needed to get started with the lyrics. About that time, Rev. Jim Likens called as we were working on another project for Christ Our Savior Lutheran High School. Jim was a hymn writer himself. I told him what I wanted to do. He asked me to play the music for him which I did. We hung up and in less than five minutes, Jim called back with the title and the first lines. I'm convinced God has His hand in all of this.

When my daughter asked me to write a hymn for her daughter's wedding, I drew a blank. I had seven months to write it. The melody had come to me shortly after she asked me. Then I asked myself what wishes or prayer would I write for this couple. Then the words came easy and I named it, "The Wedding Prayer". Several people including Dr. Paul told me that it needed another verse. Dr. Paul said it should include thoughts about after we pass through this life. I spent an entire day trying to come up with the words but to no avail. The next day as I was walking and praising God for His beautiful creation, suddenly the words came to me. I kept repeating them until I arrived at our house so that I could jot them down. They are: "Treasures of Your grace; the hope to live with You. So stay beside them through life's race, Your love will see them through. - The wedding feast in heav'n; a banquet that will last; the wedding garments You have giv'n, they'll wear when this life's past."

Dr. Paul and I met Chris Bergmann through Dr. Paul Devantier and Rev. Jim Likens, friends of Chris. The first hymn Chris produced was the "Wedding Prayer". My husband, daughter, Dr. Paul, and I were called to the KFUO studio to hear it for the first time. We were very touched by its beauty. It was Divine Providence, our most gracious Lord, that lead us to this awesome artist and producer, Chris Bergmann. Chris sometimes changes words and melodies to give the hymn a more unique "flavor". I've received many letters from the mission field as well as remarks from non-Christians of "how calming the music and lyrics are". Chris Bergmann and Kristin Heard, the female vocalist, have truly brought these hymns in such a sweet way to resonate praise to God.

God has answered my desire to tell the world about Him in such a unique and beautiful way. The hymns are a result of His doing and putting our team together, a theologian, a musician and artist, female vocalist, and me, the main author. I have dedicated my life to telling of God's love and promise through this music and meditations found on These CDs are a delightful way of witnessing to others. I've given them out in the hospital waiting room while I also waited, as a tip to someone who carried a heavy package for me, to a waitress along with a monetary tip, and at the LWML convention two years ago while working in the KFUO booth. The ways of spreading God's Holy Word through these CDs are endless. A third CD of various Psalms, "Give Thanks, Give Thanks", is now available and is being given to LWML visitors to the KFUO booth in Pittsburgh. We pray that God's Word will be spread through these beautiful hymns throughout the world.

May Jesus be praised over all the earth!

P.S. Anyone may purchase the music through KFUO Radio, I Tunes, or

Editor - Dr. Paul Schrieber

Dr. Paul L. Schrieber is professor emeritus at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, MO, from which he graduated with a Ph.D. in Exegetical Theology, emphasis in Old Testament. He joined the faculty in 1981 after teaching for five years at Concordia University, River Forest, IL. In addition to his duties as a seminary professor, Dr. Schrieber was active in preaching and teaching in many settings including minority ministries.

Dr. Schrieber has a long-time love of music. He began playing drums for the high school band in the third grade and since then played in a wide variety of music groups. He regularly plays timpani for special services at Concordia Seminary. He has been a church organist and the accompanist for choirs at St. Paul's College, Concordia, MO; Concordia Senior College, Fort Wayne, IND; and Concordia Theological Seminary, Springfield, IL.

Upon retiring to his home town of Red Bud, IL, Dr. Schrieber became acquainted with Joan Voges' ability to write devotional material when she made a Sonshine Ministries visit with his father. Dr. Schrieber was very impressed with Joan’s creativity in expressing the Gospel in a clear, heart-felt manner. Dr. Schrieber continues to encourage and advise Joan in her writing of hymns and other meditations.

Producer / Artist - Chris Bergmann

Chris Bergmann has been professionally producing, recording, writing, and arranging music since 1988 and full time since 1993. Since that time he has produced and engineered over 2500 full production songs and over 500 vocal and piano recordings through his company
RFJ Music Production Ministries.

His extensive list of clients include the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod Commission On Worship, Concordia Publishing House, LCMS Black Ministries, LCMS Youth Department, Creative Communications for the Parish, Lutheran Hour Ministries, Augsburg Fortress, Parabolic Productions, Lutheran Bible Translators, children’s video series “Grandpa Jim”, Lutheran Women’s Missionary League, LCEF, The Wheatridge Foundation, Charter Cable, The Lutheran Church Extension Fund, Concordia University St. Paul, Christian Board of Publication, Lutherans For Life, Association of Courageous Churches, Smith Lee Productions, AM 850 KFUO Radio, LCMS Youth Department, Family Shield, numerous St. Louis churches and countless St. Louis artists and bands.

One of the most prolific producers in the Midwest, his extensive portfolio includes full production recordings of many different genres, jingles and advertising music, and custom music for film, video and television including award-winning dramatic and children's material.

Artist - Kristen Ashley

Kristen Ashley is a lifelong performer, entrepreneur, and professional recording artist. Her singing and speaking voice can be heard on radio station branding around the world.
Kristen's versatile vocal technique includes opera, musical theatre, jazz, pop, rock, and country styles. She is also a multi-award winning stage actress and dancer.

Career highlights include being a lead performer with recording artist Peter Mayer for the ELCA National Youth Gathering to a crowd of over 30,000 people, and later recording an album together.   She was also privileged to have performed several times in America's largest outdoor musical theater, the St. Louis MUNY.

In her spare time, Kristen enjoys writing music of her own. Kristen feels blessed to succeed in doing what she loves, and thanks God for the doors he has opened.