Messages in The Sky


I’ve got a fixation that I’m having a hard time shaking. When it takes hold — and it often does while the five kids and I are cruising along in the minivan — everyone knows what’s coming. The teens roll their eyes. The young ones sigh. They’ve given up on convincing me this obsession is unworthy. So they simply exchange knowing glances and turn up the radio while I indulge.

“Look at that one!” I’ll say. “That’s incredible!”

Yeah, Mom, whatever.

I’m obsessed with clouds. I’m absolutely in love with the sky paintings I see on a regular basis here on the prairie. And I’ve come to realize, in part through my friends who live in other places, that there’s something to this; that living in “God’s country,” the land of the Big Sky, well, it’s not like this everywhere.

Badlands/Medora, North Dakota (Emily Brooks)

Case in point, the above photo was supplied by Emily Brooks, a friend who shares a passion with sky shots. This one was taken in Western North Dakota near Medora in the “Badlands.” It doesn’t get much more divine than when untouched terrain meets the heavens. Add the perfect time of day when sun provides natural fill light, creating mesmerizing shadows, and you’ve got something; something worth capturing. Because the sun at the right time and place is fleeting.

I’ve been collecting these images over the past months and I can no longer keep them to myself. Since I don’t have a completely receptive audience here at home, I’m hoping you’ll oblige me.

“One Summer Evening at Dusk,” Fargo, North Dakota (Roxane B. Salonen)

Mind you, I’m not a professional photographer –though I consider myself a devoted amateur — and I don’t always have my Canon nearby when the moment strikes. Some of these were snapped with my cell phone. Not brilliant photography, though a brilliant canvas.  But even in the best of these, a true echo of reality isn’t possible through the camera lens, though I might die trying.

“Luminous Cloud in a Dakota Sky,” Fargo, North Dakota (Roxane B. Salonen)

Sometimes, the sun acts as a spotlight, zeroing in on one particular cloud that’s been touched pink by its descending rays, bringing it to the fore as the rest of the scene fades to gray.


“Tug of War Weather,” Carmel of Mary Monastery, Wahpeton, North Dakota (Roxane B. Salonen)

Other times it seems as though there’s a Weather Tug of War going on in the sky. Which will win — the gray or the white?

Cotton candy puffs are some of my favorites. I look at them and inhale their fluffy lovely.

But even the ominous ones have their place. They remind me of the might of nature.

“Chasing a Storm Chasing the Earth,” Fargo, North Dakota (Rebecca Raber)
“Today Matters,” Fargo, North Dakota (Rebecca Raber)

The above two were taken by our school’s choir teacher. She’s another who’s been captivated by the prairie sky. Note the sign on the school marquee, as well as the powerfully distinct cloud edges. (Yes, the small things make me giddy!)

 ”Poolside,” Island Park, Fargo, North Dakota (Roxane B. Salonen)
From the Shores of Lake Lizzie, Minnesota (Emily Brooks)

Summertime clouds can be particularly charming, inducing the viewer into a warm-weather coma.

And airplane clouds never fail to enrapture through their humility-prompting perspective.

“Scattered Sky Puffs” (Roxane B. Salonen)
“The Misty Earth Below” (Roxane B. Salonen)
“Sky Vistas” (Roxane B. Salonen)

So what does this have to do with faith? Everything, of course. All of these things of nature are exhilarating because they are a reflection of God’s intricately-designed, vast, moving, colorful world.

When I get excited about the clouds, it’s because I hear God whispering through them. And what is He usually saying, in the wisps of clouds at a soccer game, for instance?

I love you so much that I would not have been content to make you a gray world. I love you enough to give you variety, something to hope upon, something that will mimic the complexities of your human emotions to remind you that I know and understand all that you’re going through.

God’s messages in the sky are one of a million ways He relentlessly pursues us. If my husband writes me a love letter, I’m not going to respond with complacency. I’m going to relish the gift I’m being offered. And so it is when I receive a love letter from God.

Thank you, God, for clouds and the messages you send me through them. I delight in your ways, oh Lord!

Q4U: What do you see when you look up?

Copyright 2011 Roxane Salonen


About Author

Roxane B. Salonen, a wife and mother of five from Fargo, N.D., is an award-winning children’s author and freelance writer who also enjoys Catholic radio hosting and speaking. Roxane co-authored former Planned Parenthood manager Ramona Trevino’s memoir, Redeemed by Grace. Her work is featured on "Peace Garden Passage" at her website,


  1. thank you! we moved from montana to the east coast a few years ago, but i miss my big sky! your pictures are terrific! and definitely a love letter from God.

  2. They are beautiful. My husband applied for a job in Kansas that I really hope he gets. I was worried I would miss the beautiful views of the Hudson Valley but now I know there is something else to view and appreciate. Thanks!

  3. Greetings Gals! Kristy, I grew up in Montana, but I didn’t really get why we were called the Big Sky state until I lived in other places for a while. Thanks for taking a gander and the time to comment. I’m glad you enjoyed the photos. Every area has its beauty. I love the trees and landscape of the East Coast too but do end up missing the prairie and how you can breathe in it when I’m elsewhere. God will follow us wherever we go though, so that’s a wonderful thought.

    Jennifer, yes, you can always look to the sky. There, I think you will hear God whispering to you, too. I hope the job prospect works out for you all!

  4. Jennifer Schexnaydre on

    I totally understand your “quirky” passion. I am the same way with trees! I see tall tree, especially those that the sun is shining through and it makes me giddy as well. And my kids are like “Yeah she’s a little off”. But the same thing, it’s just the beauty of the nature that just captivates me! And I hear God too saying “I’m here, high up in the sky looking over everyone.”

  5. Jennifer S., oh, I love trees too! Same thing for me and I’ve got quite a few tree photos as well. That’s so fun that we moms are out there going nuts and our kids are all sighing. Deep down, though, they love us going nuts over such beautiful things, I just know it. 🙂 Their rolling eyes are all an act.

  6. Amanda, I just popped over to see the hand sign from God. Really beautiful. And the clouds surrounding it, equally gorgeous! What a special evening that must have been, and with so much affirmation from your Creator that you’re on the right path! Thank you so much for sharing with me. 🙂

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