The Revival


by Jonathan Morningstar

Let me introduce myself: My name is Jonathan Morningstar. I am an itinerant United Methodist pastor, which means that I can be moved to a new parish at any time. My wife Amanda and I are always one phone call from the bishop away from moving to a new town, which honestly can cause a little anxiety. The parishes that I serve provide my wife and I with a more than adequate parsonage, but we have always wanted a place to call our own!

We started looking at our options, and found the Tiny House Blog! It has been such a helpful resource in this process. We decided to locate our little cottage in a campground that my family has been attending for years. It is a century old revival type camp-meeting in central Pennsylvania. At this campground, there are many small cabins owned by families that have attended the meeting, often for generations.

My grandfather was a minister too, and his small cottage is just down the way from mine, now owned by my uncle. Through the bat and board siding, the sound of hymns and spiritual songs and spirited preaching comes wafting through the cabin in the humid late summer heat.

The Susquehanna river is just down the hill from the campground, where we often swim and fish. It’s a perfect place to relax. We lease a small tent pad, which our 10X16 cottage occupies. We had the cabin shell built by a local shed company, and delivered to the site. We then finished the interior. Four of the 16 feet is porch, but we decided to maximize space by locating a sleeping loft above the porch. This puts the interior at around 120 square feet, 160 if you count the loft. We’ve kept an open floor plan, having a corner for the “kitchen” and “office,” a sitting area, as well as a centrally located pot-bellied stove that provides heat. The stove is quite small, I found it at a local antique shop. The bolt holes on the legs have always left me wondering if it in fact started life in a railroad caboose.


A small secretary desk provides a valuable workspace; much of what I do as a pastor involves writing and reflecting, and this quiet location is a great place to focus on this task. Most of the furniture is reclaimed, or heirloom. The heavy oak love seat, rocking chair, and chair are from my great aunt, and were used at the campground 50 years ago. My mother has had them for as long as I can remember, but a few years ago gave them to me. They are now back home!


The antique brass lamp was my grandmothers. We’ve decided not to insulate the cabin, and instead have left the walls open, you can see the inside of the bat and board siding from the interior. Only being a three season cabin, we didn’t feel the need to insulate, the little wood stove easily heats the place during cooler spring and fall days.

desk and light

The other reason we left the interior unfinished, other than to save a little money, is because leaving it “breathable” just feels more like the mood of the camp. Not too long ago, the campground was full of canvas tents, I slept in one as a kid. The canvas tents have been gone for a while now, and I believe the loss of the old wall tents takes a great deal away from the rustic feel of the camp. Our goal with our cabin was to make a space that was faithful to this “feel.”


Hope you enjoy our little cabin, which we’ve nicknamed “the revival.”

the cabin

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Joyce - March 26, 2014 Reply

Since you miss those canvas tents, try encouraging your friends to put up a Yurt. Many look like tents from outside and can be furnished for comfort similar to your cabin. Enjoy your quiet space. I love my quiet space but have a lot of work to do to finish my little cabin (a 22×20 with loft on basement foundation.

    Jon - March 26, 2014 Reply

    Hi Joyce! I am a big fan of yurts, and have always wanted to own one. This was actually the first avenue that we looked into, but we decided we could do this little cabin for a lot less money. A local Mennonite carpenter owns a shed building place with pretty amazing prices, I don’t know how they do it! I’ve always suspected that they have there own sawmill up on the mountain and don’t pay much for their lumber.

Jan & Stephen - March 26, 2014 Reply

WOW! An amazing use of space, respect for the past, love of the future, and fits you two soooo well! The only thing missing seems to be the guest room!
Jan for us

    Jon - March 26, 2014 Reply

    Hi guys! I didn’t know you were into tiny homes! I first read your post without looking at the name, and was puzzled. Amanda looked over my shoulder and said “it’s your relatives!” If your up this summer to camp I will show you the place!

DeCarlisle - March 26, 2014 Reply

Looks like a Great Awakening has come to the camp:-)
Great story keeping the faith and letting your roots grow deep in the spirit of the camp meeting.

Nanina - March 26, 2014 Reply

What a lovely, snug little cottage. This is a great option for you. I love seeing how people fit their lives and belongings into these little houses. You have turned your tiny house into a comfortable home.

Anne - March 26, 2014 Reply

I love that you have used actual furniture instead of built-in boxes. Very cozy!

Anne - March 26, 2014 Reply

What a lovely little home you have, in all senses of the word… Bless you both in all your new parishes and your community there allows you roots to return to to rejuvenate with family (both physically and with fond memories) when needed.

Rick - March 26, 2014 Reply

Sounds like this may be at the nearby Mahaffey Camp. Hopeful as that would mean there are some Tiny house enthusiasts near me!

    Jon - March 26, 2014 Reply

    Hi Rick, Indeed it is! How far away do you live from camp?

Carol Bussey - March 26, 2014 Reply

The appearance reminds me of the fishing cabins along a favorite lake in Northwest Michigan! I believe I’ve always wanted to own one myself, which is probably why I’m such a “Tiny House” enthusiast. You are an inspiration to me!

    Anne - March 26, 2014 Reply

    If you know where the village of Arcadia is, I will be forced to pass out… 😉

Corri - March 26, 2014 Reply

Nice to see a tiny house enthusiast who built a house in PA, where I live. Is the cabin 4 season?
Enjoy and thanks for writing about a tiny house in PA– it is inspiring.

    Jon - March 26, 2014 Reply

    Thanks! I built it intending it to be three season, but as it turns out it’s not too bad in the winter. It doesn’t have running water, so no pipes to break. There is a heated bath house across the road from the cabin, with showers/toilet/sinks which helps on chilly days. The little stove throws out a surprising amount of heat. I went up in December and spent the night in 25 degree weather, and was pretty comfortable! Since the sleeping loft is up so high, the heat from the stove and a small electric heater rise and pool at the top.

Pat - March 26, 2014 Reply

Awesome little cabin with beautiful furnishings. So glad you found something compatible with the itinerancy obligations of the church. May The Revival bring you joy and haven for many years to come!

Marsha Cowan - March 26, 2014 Reply

Really nice! Love the family antiques, and they are the perfect size for a tiny house. I know you will be very happy there.

Marsha Cowan - March 26, 2014 Reply

One more thing, what a great idea to have a shed already finished on the outside brought to your property. Half the battle is done. Finishing the inside is the fun part! Good move!

Carl - March 26, 2014 Reply

I live in western Pa. and was wondering if you could give me contact information for the people that built your cabin? Please email information.

    Jon - March 27, 2014 Reply

    Hi Carl! I couldn’t figure out where I could find your email, so I will just post the info here. Their company name is Tuscarora structures, right off the 322 exit at Port Royal PA. Even being fairly far east, their prices were great even with the added shipping! Their email is: and phone number: (717) 436-5591. Dave’s a good guy and and he’ll do right by you!

david head - March 26, 2014 Reply

photos of people in these tiny houses are always smiling because that’s the effect they have. You could go into the Taj Mahal and be overawed, but it won’t put a smile on your face.It reminds me of the feeling i had as a kid in cubby houses or tree houses, that wonderful cosy feeling.Or remember the feeling of draping sheets over chairs and crawling underneath. Awhile back on a deserted beach up in North Australia i came across a small cubby someone had built out of drift wood, it was only about 4 ft high but i had the overpowering urge to crawl in there and just lay there watching the ocean through the cracks.A wonderful feeling.

    Anastasia - March 27, 2014 Reply

    Hi David,
    I agree, I think we all have that innate desire to have a safe shell around us, as we connect with nature and one another. Sitting in a huge room or house does not create a sense of safety, rather a sense of responsibility and work to be done to maintain. One also cannot hear if an intruder is coming in, and I think our primal selves have the desire to feel safe and aware of every bit of our environment, so we can protect ourselves.
    I have a friend who built one of those driftwood houses on the ocean last summer and spent a lot of time in it. The Boy Scouts here also teach how to do that, so if you are ever lost or stranded, you know how to build a simple shelter.
    I love this site- so many inspiring images and stories.

Tom - March 26, 2014 Reply

What an excellent little cabin. If you don’t mind me asking how much did it cost for just the cabin?

    Jon - March 27, 2014 Reply

    Hi Tom! Without shipping and tax, it was around 3700.

Joy - March 26, 2014 Reply

Welcome to the world of pastors and wives who have found this to be a welcome alternative! It’s especially nice when the parsonage is next door to the church. I know you know what I mean. We’re at a similar campground in DE County, Pa. We have several people in ministry at ours. Compared to your cottage, ours feels huge at 500 sq ft. It was built in 1903 and we’re the third owners. The great thing for you is that you can go to escape. We go to escape and end up doing repairs. Still, the quiet and ancient trees and the feeling of preserving the lifestyle of the camp meeting is an awesome experience. Even though it’s only twenty minutes from home and a mile from the highway and shopping and restaurants, it’s like stepping into the past the minute we pass the gate. The temperature and our blood pressure both drop by ten degrees instantly.

    Jon - March 27, 2014 Reply

    I totally agree! One of our churches is ten steps from our front door. No complaints!…but sometimes it feels good to get lost for a day or two!

John - March 26, 2014 Reply

Beautiful. Reminds me of my grandparents small (not tiny) house at a Methodist campground in Plainville, Connecticut. It also had uninsulated walls, since they stayed with us until after Christmas and then went to Florida. Their house also had a front porch as yours does, but the house was longer, and had a steep central stair to the second floor where the two bedrooms were. I don’t remember where the “facilities” were. My grandfather raised an American flag every sunny morning on a pole in a circle of white stones in front. The meeting hall was huge. All screened. Happy memories.

    Edie Rodman - April 2, 2014 Reply

    Gotta love those Methodist campgrounds!

    My teen-years camp was on the edge of Lake Webster in Indiana. On Saturday nights, the camp choir boarded a ferry boat, docked at a little lakeside community, and gave a concert to the townsfolk on the beach.

Anastasia - March 27, 2014 Reply

This was very inspiring to me.
I love that you are connecting with your roots, and teaching future generations that simple is good.
Blessings on you, teacher.
PS- I love sitting on the porch when it is raining- or any time the fresh air feels so good. I think that the combination of the porch and the loft are brilliant! Outside and inside rooms, perfect use of space.

christine - March 27, 2014 Reply

Oh my that is just a wonderful cabin! We too are followers of CHRIST and we would love to live small one day. We would love to know were your located in PA since we live in Northumberland PA. Any chance we could visit your church if you live in our vicinity?
thank you for sharing with us!:)

    Jon - March 27, 2014 Reply

    Hi Christine! I currently serve at Breezewood and Wesley Chapel UMC in Breezewood Pa. We’d love to have you at worship if your can make it out! I have two very good congregations, open, friendly and welcoming! If I recall, Northumberland is out near Harrisburg? Maybe an hour away if I’m thinking of the right place.

scooter - March 27, 2014 Reply

Please say that mandolin doesn’t hang right beside the wood stove all the time! It will crack from dryness. If it’s an instrument you love, put it in a case with a humidifier, as far from the wood stove as you can! 🙂

    Jon - March 27, 2014 Reply

    Hi! Yes the mando comes down when the woodstove is in use. It’s a cheap 50 dollar instrument, I’ve since moved on to a better one, but I leave it up at the cabin so that I have something to play in a pinch.

Ricardo Castro - March 27, 2014 Reply

Is there a chance for the wind to move this house?
I mean the regular winda, of course, …thanks

    Jon - March 27, 2014 Reply

    I suppose, there is a lot of wind cover around the area though.

Dewy - March 27, 2014 Reply

I like the Penn State sweatshirt, along with other details

di - March 30, 2014 Reply

To save space, place kitchen items on shelving between the 2×4’s.

The Revival - April 9, 2014 Reply

[…] is beautifully written, reflecting his textual career and the countryside surrounding him.   Good Read […]

Austin - June 11, 2014 Reply

I am also building a tiny house in central Pennsylvania. It is meant to be our permanent home when my fiancee and I are married in January. The house is in Mechanicsburg now and I need a place to put it to be near Messiah College. We are both Christian ministries majors and have one more year of college and would like to at least live in the house near Mechanicsburg from January-June/July. I briefly looked over your post and the comments so sorry if I missed it but where is the camp ground you are at? Would they be interesting in allowing us to live in our tiny house there? And do you know of any other places that may be interested in letting us live in our house on their property?

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