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
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
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.
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!
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
lilyfields.org. 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.
Jesus be praised over all the earth!
P.S. Anyone may purchase the
music through KFUO Radio, I Tunes, or lilyfield.org.
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
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.