You wouldn’t guess the long, emotional journey that Dr. Alanna Bree endured to establish A Children’s House for Pediatric Dermatology – nor its nonprofit counterpart, A Children’s House for the Soul. Her face only beamed joy last Friday as supporters streamed in the doors of The Health Museum in Houston. They were there to support the first happy hour fundraiser for the nonprofit. Bill Brown, the longtime voice of the Houston Astros emceed an evening of tasty bites, signature cocktails, and auction items.
But Dr. Alanna’s whole-hearted investment was evident when speakers began sharing the impact of A Children’s House. A child life specialist explained the deep needs that the nonprofit fulfills in children and teens with skin disorders and birthmarks. A high school student with a rare genetic skin disorder talked about the respite from bullying that he enjoyed at the “Love The Skin You Are In” Family Days. A woman with a highly visible skin condition praised the nonprofit for helping her to embrace her unique beauty as a teenager. Through each speech, tears flowed quietly down Dr. Alanna’s face.
The pediatric dermatologist is finally revealing her miraculous journey in her new autobiography, A Children’s House: A Small Story About a God-sized Dream. The 140-page book chronicles her path to becoming a successful pediatric dermatologist – and the four unmistakable words she heard from God that set her on a path toward true hope and healing. It’s a stunning read for everyone – medical students, professionals, believers, and nonbelievers alike.
We sat down with Dr. Alanna to ask a few questions about her journey – and what it was like to write her book.
How did you get the idea to write a book?
It started out as more of a journal for myself to help me remember all that God had done in the process of building A Children’s House. It served as a personal source of encouragement for when times were tough and a reminder of all He was calling me to do for His glory.
But I realized it was a story that was just too good not to share! I often say that if I had the cure for cancer, I wouldn’t keep it to myself but would gladly share it with others. Well, I have something even better: a God who loves us so much that He gave His only Son so we can have eternal life with Him. Now, that is a story that I couldn’t keep to myself!
Your book tells about the ups and downs on your journey toward building A Children’s House. What is your favorite memory?
When I think back, there are so many good memories. But my favorite is when I went on a personal prayer walk through the house before the construction began.
I wrote scriptures on each of the walls and asked for God’s protection and blessing on every aspect of the process. I dedicated myself and all my earthly treasures to what He was calling me to do. I knew that building A Children’s House was something that only God could do since it was something I did not feel equipped to do on my own. Putting God in the center of the process and placing my trust in Him gave me such strength and hope during the ups and downs.
Tell us about what it was like to put pen to paper. What did you find to be most difficult or surprising?
The most difficult part was writing this testimony. It was like nothing I have ever done. It definitely took me outside of my comfort zone, but I’ve reminded myself throughout the process that this story is not about me. It is a story about what God can do if you are obedient to His calling. I am just a vessel and am humbled by the fact that God is willing to use me for His glory.
But the surprising thing was that it didn’t take me long to write the original draft. It seemed to flow easily.
What about the process of transforming your manuscript into a book? How was the publishing process?
As a novice author, I didn’t know how to go about sharing my story with the world. I researched self-publishing options and talked with several authors and publishers. But the process and cost seemed overwhelming at the time – so much so that my story came to a halt and sat around for several years.
Then I met Ella of Stellar Communications Houston, which turned out to be the most enjoyable part. It has been a privilege to collaborate with such a talented editor who helped me navigate the process. Honestly, it has been easy and pleasant with her guidance and expertise. I’m thankful she is willing to share her gifts with others in such a special way. I could hardly wait to open each chapter for review as we collaborated. Seeing it all come together was so exciting, and I was encouraged by the early endorsements that we received.
What a privilege it has been to work with you too, Dr. Alanna! Now we’d like to hear more about this beautiful photograph on your front cover.
It was taken while I was examining a patient at the Baraka Health Clinic in Kenya through a program called Passion to Heal. I didn’t realize there was even a photographer in the room, so I was surprised when the photographer emailed it to me after the trip. He said he had been walking through the clinic on another assignment but snapped the moment because it was too perfect not to capture. I am so glad he did. The image has served as a reminder of my time in Kenya, where I received even more than I gave.
What do you hope readers gain from reading your book?
My hope is that fellow Christians are encouraged on their walk with the Lord and convicted in their obedience to His calling. It is sometimes scary to step out on faith, but it is so worth it to be able to see the Lord at work in your life. So, it was with me too, and I am sure others will see parallels in their own lives as they read my story.
I also hope it encourages others to share how God is working in their lives, because as Christians it is our duty and privilege to shine our lights to help others see the love and joy of Christ though all we say and do. My biggest desire is that my story will also introduce those who might not yet know Jesus in their hearts and lives into a saving relationship with Him. If one more person is in heaven one day because they read my story, then I will have succeeded beyond my wildest dreams!
What’s next for you and for A Children’s House?
Gosh, I can only imagine! I feel so blessed to be living out my calling through A Children’s House at this time and place in my life. Doing what I love so much brings me such joy, and I only expect great things for the future! There will certainly be ups and downs, but I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I can fully trust God, and I plan to prayerfully follow wherever He leads me!
How can readers who are touched by your story provide support for A Children’s House?
Prayers are the best gift. I would love for others to pray that my story will touch the hearts of those who will benefit from its message.
I would also love for readers to share this story with anyone who might need to hear it.
And we would appreciate support for our mission at A Children’s House. We’re here to encourage and unite those affected by skin conditions and birthmarks by providing opportunities for social, emotional and spiritual support. Donations that will positively impact the life of a child with a skin condition or birthmark can be made at www.achildrenshouse.org/donate.
What a joyous project! Thank you, Dr. Alanna. We wish you and A Children’s House all the best. If you’d like to learn more:
Ella Ritchie (pictured, right) is the founder of Stellar Communications Houston, a business communications and book publishing team, including graphic designer Elena Reznikova (pictured, left), that brings clarity, quality, and integrity to nonfiction authors, business leaders, nonprofit organizations, and federal government agencies. Connect with the team on LinkedIn, Facebook, or the website for more information.
Alanna F. Bree, M.D., (pictured, center) is a board-certified pediatric dermatologist and owner of A Children’s House for Pediatric Dermatology, where she specializes in holistic care and effective treatments for skin conditions and birthmarks in infants, children, and teens. She is also the founder and executive director of a nonprofit organization, A Children’s House for the Soul, which provides social, emotional, and spiritual support for affected children and families in the Houston area. Connect with the clinic on Facebook and Twitter, or connect with the nonprofit on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.